TarValon.Net’s October 2020 Recap

TVRecapOct20

 

October of 2020 at TarValon.Net saw a significant increase in activity. Also, many people are getting excited about the end of the month and the Halloween celebrations!

 

EventsOct2020
During this month there were many exciting things happening:
  • Discord has officially replaced IRC as TarValon.Net’s primary real-time chatting tool. We now have an official Discord server that you can join here.
  • The Merit Badges for October were announced and many people were awarded merits in different categories. You can check all of them in Part One and Part Two in Site Announcements.
  • A mysterious announcement with the title “Coming Soon…!” has appeared, written by Erin al’Denael. Keep an eye out for our upcoming blog post all about this mysterious event!
  • The Executive Branch and the Board of Directors at TarValon.Net have postponed all live events until further notice, due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, to prevent any of its members getting infected. You can read more about it in the announcement regarding 2021 events.
  • More exciting things will be coming next month, so keep your eyes peeled for the Tar Valon Times Takeover, starting November 1, 2020.
HiringOct2020
Several positions at TarValon.Net were filled in October. We would like to give our congratulations to the following members and thank them for their service to our community.
RaisingsOct2020
We’ve had several new people joining the ranks of Citizen of Tar Valon. Many congratulations to our newest citizens:
For our Junior Members – Novices, Recruits and above, we have a new thread in the Gardens forum, which might be of interest. If you haven’t checked it out already, visit this thread learn more about the TarValon.Net Companies.

 

BondsOct2020
We saw the start of a new bond, created under the Light, connecting two people, who have sworn to fight the Shadow together!
Congratulations to Ashara Koh’inor of The Gray Ajah and Brandon Tataru of Dai M’Hael Company on their bond

 

OpenPostOct2020
We’ve also had a few positions at TarValon.Net open up during October:
We would like to say thank you to Jeryn Lekar for his service as Company Commander of MDD and to Thaddius al’Guy, who has been an amazing Game Master during the past year. And best of luck to all the applicants!

 

The end of this month sees the start to one of our annual Freeweeks Shaoman. During Shaoman the Faire Grounds forum opens, people change their avatars to festive ones, and everyone comes together to play in the activities which the Outreach Activities Team has planned for them. Shaoman will run from October 30th till November 5th. Come join us in the fun!
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Shaoman 2020 – Are you ready?

Shaoman

 
The Little Red Riding Hood wiped the blood from her axe. After the thunder of the battle the forest seemed so peaceful and quiet, the pale moonlight creeping through the branches of the ancient trees. It was the perfect night for a hunt, she thought looking at the big mass of fur lying in a puddle of blood. The Little Red Riding Hood stood up and fixed her clothes, brushing the dirt and the leaves. ‘I’ll need to wash the blood stains though. What a mess.’
 

It was a long night indeed. She was looking for that wolf for more than two weeks. He seemed always a step ahead of her, always making his move and disappearing without a trace. She finally managed to find his lair, climbed on top of a tree, and started waiting. The moon raised, the night forest was singing. The Little Red Riding Hood saw the big black wolf approaching the little spring to drink water. She jumped from the tree, her body filled with rage and power, her eyes glowing in the dark with devilish light. A howl echoed through the forest…
 

The Little Red Riding Hood sighed and prepared for the long walk back home. She slid through the bushes with ease. ‘It has been a while since I have last used a path in a forest’ she smirked. ‘Only scared little girls follow the paths, preyers take the shortcuts.’ All of a sudden, a little noise made the huntress stop abruptly. In a small meadow secluded among a circle of birches, on a carpet of blooming wolfsbane, the Little Red Riding Hood saw a small female figure wearing a snow-white dress trying to stand up. Walking unsteadily the stranger stretched her arm and a source of light appeared dancing above her bare hand, illuminating seven bands of color at her cuff. The Little Red Riding Hood tightened her grasp on the axe handle and approached silently.
 

Shaoman
 

Do you feel the Darkness coming? Channel your way through a twisted universe of beloved fairy tales from 30th of October till 5th of November in the Faire Grounds. Solve various puzzles, hunt for clues, and write down your adventures. Take your friends, brothers and sisters and find your way back to Tar Valon to discover who is the one responsible for all the mischief and confusion, but most importantly have fun!

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Welcome to Darkfriends and Dragons!

Darkfriends and Dragons

 
Well met fellow adventurers! Welcome to Darkfriends and Dragons!
 

Do you love the Wheel of Time series? Do you also love Dungeons and Dragons? Have you often dreamed of mixing the two together? What class would Perrin be: Ranger or Fighter? How much extra power would an angreal bestow on Moiraine? What kind of stats would a Trolloc have?
 

If you had a ready answer for any of these questions, look no further! Welcome to Darkfriends and Dragons, a new series coming to the Tar Valon Times. In this series, we will be diving into all things WoT, combined with all things D&D.
 

Each entry into the series will explore a different aspect of WoT combined with core tenets of D&D. The series will start with a look at Eye of the World, and eventually move from book to book until we reach a Memory of Light. A few topics you can expect to see are Alignments, Classes, Monsters, Magical Items and much more!
 

Alignments

 

Character Alignment in D&D represents a character’s attitude, reaction to the world and morality on a whole. Alignment represents good, evil and every shade of gray in between. They are Lawful Good, Neutral Good, Chaotic Good, Lawful Neutral, True Neutral, Chaotic Neutral, Lawful Evil, Neutral Evil and Chaotic Evil. In the Alignment entries of Darkfriends and Dragons we will talk all about WoT characters from EotW and how they fit into each alignment group.
 

Classes

 

D&D has many classes, subclasses, archetypes and prestige classes. The game is designed so that each character created is highly customizable and the only limitation is a person’s imagination. In the Classes entry of Darkfriends and Dragons we will look at which classes our favorite Emond’s Fielders, Warders, Aes Sedai, and other characters fit into.
 

Monsters & Magical Items

 

The Darkspawn in WoT are unique and monstrous to say the least, but what type of abilities and stats would they have if translated to D&D? How much extra power do angreal give an Aes Sedai, and how much more would sa’angreal? What are the stat differences in a regular sword and a sword forged in the Age of Legends? We will look into all that and more in Darkfriends and Dragons.
 

Together we will delve into each Wheel of Time book and take a look at what characters, items and Darkfriends would look like in the different Dungeons and Dragons settings. So, my fellow intrepid adventurers, let us see where this journey takes us!
 

If you have any suggestions or questions please comment below!

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“Was It Something I Read?”

Was it something I read

A review of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.

Available in Paperback and Hardcover from the TarValon.Net Bookshop.

 

Greetings Fellow Tar Valonians and Fans of WOT. I am Adina Sedai of the Blue Ajah, and I love books. All kinds of books, any genre, for all ages. Please join me in my reading adventures!

 

Why I chose this book:
Given the nature of our site, I feel it is safe to say that many of us are fantasy and fiction lovers – however, I wanted to start this series out with a bit of “reality” as it impacts the events of our world right now.

 

The COVID pandemic and Black Lives Matter have both had an undeniable, far reaching presence across the globe. I chose this book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot, because it features a woman of color, some interesting science that has impacted all of us, and research that could possibly play a role in coming up with a viable vaccine for COVID. An added bonus in selecting this book is that, as of the date of this article’s creation, it is banned book week in the United States, and this book has been banned (or at least challenged for banning) in Tennessee. The mother who pushed to have the book banned challenged it because she felt it was too indelicate about female bodies and sexual issues. However, the author’s response to the challenge was “A parent . . . has confused gynecology with pornography and is trying to get my book banned . . .” After having read this book, I agree with the author and did not find the book to be inappropriate or sexual, but there is a whole lot of science going on.

 

What is it about?
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is based on a real woman named Henrietta Lacks, who passed away from cervical cancer in 1951 at the age of 31. She was a Black woman who spent her short life working to take care of her large extended family, and then of her own five children. She was known for her kind and generous nature, her beauty and love of life, and her welcoming home. Her story is told over the course of decades, with the time period and focus changing with each chapter. Some chapters focus on Henrietta herself, some focus on her daughter Deborah and other family members, and some focus on the science and history of her cells and cellular research.

 

Henrietta Lacks discovered a tumor on her cervix, and sought treatment at Johns Hopkins hospital. As part of her exam, a doctor removed a sample of the tumor and passed it along to a coworker who was doing a cell study. Unlike all prior attempts at culturing cells with other unaware patients’ sample tissues, Henrietta’s cancer cells did not die. They in fact robustly lived on, and multiplied rapidly. The research scientist named the cell line “HeLa,” and passed samples of the new cells to a friend, who passed them to another friend, and so on until one day someone decided to monetize the cell acquisition system. The HeLa cell line is so productive and useful it is now found in virtually all labs that do any kind of cell studies.

 

Cells from Ms. Lacks have been used to come up with numerous medications, vaccines, and information in all areas of science. They have also caused millions of dollars of damage to other trials and experiments because the cells are from a cancer so productive and invasive that they regularly and easily contaminate other projects.

 

The thing is, despite their value scientifically and monetarily, no one ever asked Ms. Lacks for her permission to take her cells, and no one ever came to her family after she passed away to ask if they could continue to do research with her cells. This is where the sections with Deborah and the rest of the family come into play.

 

Deborah’s quest to find out more about her mother and sister dominate the family sections. Deborah is the fourth of Henrietta’s five children, and was only a toddler when her mother died. She was not even told she had an older sister, Elsie, the second of the five, until much later in her life. The family were poor, under educated, and undervalued, and chose not to seek out regular medical care because of the rumors of doctors experimenting on Black patients. Some would say they were taken advantage of, and that they should have been cut in on the profit that was eventually made from the HeLa cells. Others (including this author) argue that at the very least the family should have been made aware of the situation long before they were.

 

I found the sections with Deborah to be much more of an emotional read than I was expecting for this type of subject. It was very clear over the course of the years this book took to develop that Ms. Skloot came to care deeply for the Lacks family and felt a genuine burden to help them understand the situation and uncover as much information as she could. Because of her and Deborah’s perseverance we got to read about Deborah discovering the truth about her sister’s death. (It was not pretty.) We also got to experience Deborah getting to view some of her mother’s cell line for the first time. For a person who spent so much time in fear and frustration over what happened with her mother, Deborah is an extremely positive and forgiving person. Deborah wanted the world to know that “HeLa” was a real woman, named Henrietta Lacks, not Helen Lane, and now we know.

 

My personal take:

 

It is always a good thing when a book teaches you something. In this case, it taught me more about science, racial inequality, and the ethics (really, lack thereof!) of the medical field at the time this ground breaking research was taking place. The study of cells and tissues is wide and deep, legally speaking. I was surprised to learn that at the time of the book’s publishing in 2010, and despite the field having developed patient privacy and consent laws, the patient whose body the scrapings came from does not own, nor can they patent anything that is developed from their body. Makes me wonder what my tonsils have been up to since I forcibly evicted from my body so many years ago.

 

I admire the author’s dedication to the story. She spent over a decade working on interviews, at her own personal cost, helping Deborah to find the answers she desperately wanted about her mother and sister. Some of the experiences that did make it into the book seem like they would have been pretty intense, and if it was me, I probably would have “noped” out of there on more than one occasion.

 

I am thankful for all that has come from cellular research. I am thankful to know now who Henrietta Lacks was, and is, and how very important she is to all of us. I hope you take the opportunity to learn more about her as well.

 

Similar reading/books like it that I have read and recommend:

 

1. The 1978 article by Michael Rogers that first broke the news about Ms. Lacks’ race, and the contamination issues that resulted.

 

How about you, my friends? What are you reading? Do you have book recommendations for me that you’d like to see reviewed in the TVT? I’d love to hear from you! Please drop me a PM, all genres welcome!
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The Culinary Travels of Alora Gaidin – Chapter 2: Tear

Culinary Travels Alora Tear

 

The next morning Lok and I set off east along the sun drenched road that ran between Illian and Tear.  Lok, being more worldly than the average Illianer with regards to traveling the countries formed after the reign of Artur Hawkwing, as opposed to only traveling the open seas, did not have as much distaste as he might normally have for visiting his rival country Tear.  But he would not be living up to the oaths of the Aes Sedai which he took upon being raised if he said he was looking forward to being among the Tairen people in their own land.  Still, it was a stop on our trip and an opportunity for me to explore the food and culture of this place so different from my own country of Arafel that he was gentlemen enough to acquiesce to my desires and declined to comment negatively as I described with enthusiasm the things I’d only read about the City of Tear. 
 
The weather held, warm and sunny with the cool ocean breeze caressing us as we rode during the day and stayed in various small inns at night.  Once we entered the country of Tear, however, inns were scarce due to the custom of Tairen lords discouraging the growth of outlying cities.  This did not put us off and was indeed a welcome adventure after years of staying within the walls of Tar Valon.  Finally the light woodlands gave way to the rolling, low lying hills, and then the shining walls of the City of Tear came into view.
 
As we rode along the increasingly muddy streets, nobles and commonfolk alike eyed us newcomers with a mix of curiosity and suspicion. This quickly gave way to disdain, as the nobles took in our obviously inferior horse breeds (Tairen horses are known for being among the finest horseflesh in the Westlands), Lok’s obviously Illianer raiment, and all classes of Tairen looked askance at Lok’s Great Serpent Ring and Red fringed capelet.  Being Illianer and Aes Sedai was not going to bar him from the city, but it would not win him any friends, and channeling was, by custom and law, prohibited.  We had long decided we would stay in less fancy inns to avoid Daes’Daemer as much as we could, and so we made our way to the White Crescent, which had decent reviews.
 
We had no issues, surprisingly, getting settled in, and after taking the time to relax after our journey, we got ready to enjoy the inn’s well crafted dinner.  Tear had a similar climate to Illian, and though they rivaled each other in seafood and olives, they differed in other ways.  Tear had more of a focus on fine wines and other fruit brandies, the pastures were dedicated to their horses instead of cattle, and goat cheese and grains were common and indeed were big exports.  Rice flourished in the muddy floodlands of the River Erinin, and grains such as wheat and rye and barley grew upon the rolling plains.  Instead of mostly ocean fish in Illianer cuisine, Tairen recipes feature both ocean, and freshwater fish such as catfish; a dark, spiky, and whiskered monstrosity the likes of which I’d never seen.  Despite its looks, the flavor was delicious in the simple way it was served with mixed rices, olive oil, wine, and fresh herbs from the forested areas of the country.  This was accompanied by a savoury fish stew with a lovely spice, served with a crusty brown bread fresh from the oven, and a rich salted butter made from goats’ milk.  White wine was served with both courses, and for dessert a simple but sweet and tart pomegranate brandy served to carry us through an uneventful evening of relaxation.

 

Tairen Catfish and Rice
  • 2 catfish fillets
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter or ghee
  • a splash of white wine
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • juice of one lemon
  • basmati, brown, and wild rice
Use a large cast iron pan, and add enough olive oil to coat the pan, heating it on medium.  Add the butter, wine, and seasonings, rolling the pan from side to side to gently mix them before adding the fish fillets.  Cook on both sides, squeezing a lemon onto the second side while cooking. After cooking for about two to three minutes on each side, serve on a plate with a generous helping of herbed mixed rice, and garnish with lemon slices and fresh parsley.

 

Stone of Tear Seafood Stew
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 shallots, chopped
  • 1 garlic bulb, minced
  • 2/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 medium sized tomato, chopped
  • 8 oz of clam juice
  • 2 tsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 pound sea bass fillets, cut into bite sized pieces
  • Pinch of dry oregano
  • Pinch of dry thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon Japanese 7 spice
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon of salt, plus more to taste
Saute the shallots in the olive oil until caramelized in the bottom of a stew pot over medium heat, then add the garlic, parsley, and tomato paste, giving each a minute to cook before adding the next.  Let these cook for about 10 minutes on low before adding the clam juice, white wine, and fish.  Simmer until fish flakes apart, then add seasonings, mix and serve with crusty brown bread, butter, and a white wine.

 

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