The Top 5 Garden Pests and How to Control Them Naturally

Growing your own garden can be a rewarding practice and a ton of fun, but it doesn’t come without its challenges. It’s hard enough to deal with the weather and try to figure out the right amount of soil and water that you need for each plant, but there are other outside factors that want to damage your garden. Of course, we’re talking about garden pests, and they can be found in just about every garden around the world.

Out of the many garden pests that are out there, there are a certain few that roam around more often than others. We’ll take a look at five of those pests that seem to do the most damage to gardens, and how you can control them so that your plants grow healthy and full.


If you’ve ever gone into your garden and seen tiny little green bugs that look completely harmless crawling on your plants, there’s a good chance that you saw an aphid. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, aphids seem to seek out gardens, but they mostly stay in areas that are more temperature. Aphids love to munch on a wide range of plants including citrus plants, fruit trees, and flowers such as roses and camellias. 

Thankfully, aphids really aren’t that hard to keep away from your garden. Simply spraying your plants with a strong stream of water may be enough as they are easily rattled and probably won’t get back to the plant that they were feasting on when they become disoriented. If you have a continued problem with aphids, you can always mix a little bit of dish soap and cayenne pepper into a water bottle and spray the plants.


Caterpillars are one of the first insects that we learn about when we’re growing up. We all know that they turn into beautiful butterflies, but before then, they can be pests in your garden. Caterpillars need to feed because they are in the larval stage and are in a state of rapid growth. Unfortunately, instead of only eating grass (which wouldn’t really be a problem), they can end up having a buffet in your garden.

Let’s face it, none of us want to eliminate caterpillars, so we’ll focus on the most humane way to get rid of them. While wearing gloves, pick caterpillars off of your plants and relocate them. It’s time-consuming, but if you like caterpillars that much, you’ll take the time. The other options are neem oil or the same spray that you use to get rid of aphids.

Spider Mites

Having regular spiders in your garden can actually be a good thing since they tend to keep pests away. However, their cousins, the spider mites, can prove to be a difficult challenge. Spider mites are different in their shape and the way their webs are formed. Spider mites have a more dense and very fine web. When you start seeing these webs, that’s when you know you have a full-on spider mite infestation.

Once you have leaves that are covered in spider mite webs, it’s best to just get rid of those leaves altogether. From there, mix a cup of alcohol in 30 ounces of water in a spray bottle and apply it to both sides of all of the remaining leaves. Then continue to spray the rest of the plant, and the spider mites will be on their way out.


The pests that we’ve listed off so far definitely look like bugs, but scale insects are ones that look more like they belong on the bottom of the sea (or at least at the bottom of a boat). These tiny insects have around 8,000 species in total, with some of them looking simply like amorphous blobs on your plants. It can be hard to see some of the species unless you get right up next to them, but thankfully it isn’t too hard to get rid of them.

Insecticides won’t do much against scale insects, so you have to get a little creative. Pruning your branches is a big help, and you can forcibly remove them with a strong stream of water from your hose or apply neem oil to the plants. If you want to keep things at their most natural, you can introduce some other bugs that get rid of them, including ladybugs or even wasps. With that said, it’s probably best to go with the ladybugs.

Japanese Beetles

The Japanese Beetle is one of the more intriguing pests out there. In their native Japan, they aren’t even considered pests because they don’t feed on plants. However, when they make their way to Europe and North America, they become highly destructive. Between fruits like grapes and trees like birch or linden, Japanese Beetles ravage the eastern parts of the United States more than anywhere else.

Farmers suggest that the most effective way to get rid of these pests is to remove them by hand and place them into soapy water. If you don’t feel like taking the time to find every Japanese Beetle, you can spray your plants with neem oil. You can also be proactive and prevent them from even approaching your garden by placing row covers from May to June if you’re in the United States.

The Use of Computing in Space Exploration and Astronomy

Exploring space has been something that’s been on the minds of humankind for thousands of years, but it wasn’t until the 20th century that this became possible. That’s because we have access to technology that our ancestors never could have imagined, and most of that is thanks to the development of computing science. While we had the know-how in aerodynamics and mathematics, there was something a little extra needed, and that’s where computing came in.

Now, the future of space exploration looks brighter than ever thanks to the developments in computing used in the field. Let’s take a look at the history of how computing has been integrated into space exploration in the past, how we use it today, and what it might look like many years down the road.

History of Computing in Space

The first launches to reach outer space didn’t have computer aid, but they also didn’t serve the purpose of exploration. Simply put, we were more occupied in the 1940s and 1950s with simply getting an object into space that we weren’t too focused on much else. That all changed at the start of the 1960s when the Soviet Union launched Vostok 1, the first mission to put a human (Yuri Gagarin) into outer space.

During the decade, the United States launched Project Mercury and Project Gemini, both of which were operated manually via control sticks. With the launch of the Apollo program came the introduction of the Apollo Guidance Computer, making it the first space exploration mission to use onboard computers. At the time, the AGS weighed 70 pounds and had a microscopic amount of RAM compared to today’s standards.

As the years went on, though, the technology advanced to the point where computers became an absolute necessity. They also became much more convenient to have onboard, requiring far less space while also packing a lot more power.


They say that the best ability is availability, and it’s impossible to explore space without a working ship. With that in mind, computing is vital in making sure that the launch goes off smoothly and that anything that needs to be repaired in flight is easily identified. While humans are able to do a run-through and see if there are any glaring fixes that need to be made, computers are able to sense trouble before it starts.

This includes triggering alerts through sensors for problems possibly unseen by the human eye. Computers can alert the crew about what needs to be fixed and run backup systems preemptively without needing a human to switch them on. The previously mentioned Apollo Guidance Computer was even credited as saving the Apollo 13 and 14 missions.


There is a lot of detail that goes into a space mission and navigation is nearly as important as the safety precautions used on a craft. Through computing, we’re able to predict what day is going to have optimal weather conditions for a launch while also predicting the trajectory and paths that will be needed for a successful mission.

Shuttle flight software engineer Roscoe Ferguson said that guidance computers act as the “brains” of a shuttle and that the ones that we see today are lightyears ahead of what they once were, and far beyond the computing technology that we see even on commercial jets. “The environment of space is very harsh and unfriendly and not just space, but getting into space,” Ferguson said. “Something like a desktop might not even survive all the vibration. Then once you get into space, you have the radiation.”

Data Gathering

Now that we’ve seen how computing actually gets us into and through outer space, there’s the actual exploration part. It would be nearly impossible for a human to simply look out of a shuttle window and gather enough data to come up with anything conclusive. That’s where computing comes in as onboard telescopes can be operated to see what the human eye can’t.

Computing can tell us what’s far ahead, from another planet to simple space debris. This helps us put together a bigger picture of what lies beyond Earth’s atmosphere. We can use this data to run simulations which include taking a look at black hole behavior and how galaxies are formed. While we had hunches and theories about these things, computing gives us a more hands-on look.


Adding onto the data-gathering aspect of things, computing gives us the ability to operate rovers with onboard computers that allow us to gather data. This has been instrumental in helping us learn more about the surfaces of the moon and Mars over the years in ways that humans simply wouldn’t be able to do over long periods of time.

Computers also make it easier for those in a craft or shuttle to communicate with those on Earth. While we still need more simple technology like antennas to provide communication, computers keep everything running and efficient. 

5 Democratic Successes and 5 Democratic Failures – From State to Federal Policy

Alongside the Republican Party, the Democratic Party makes up the majorly two-party system in United States politics. Throughout its history, the party has had some significant triumphs while also having some major setbacks. Let’s take a look at both the highs and lows of the party since its founding in 1828, and how it either went wrong or right.

Success #1 – Civil Rights Act

After several steps toward full-fledged civil rights in the United States for African-Americans, the Democratic Party made sure that the full act was signed on July 2, 1964. This act prohibited discrimination in places of employment, schools, and other public places. This was also big for voting rights in the United States and passed easily through the House of Representatives and Senate before being signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson despite a 72-day filibuster.

Failure #1 – Not Fighting The 2000 Election Results

The 2000 United States election between George W. Bush and Al Gore was one of the most hotly-contested and monumental elections in US history. For the first time since 1888, a man who lost the popular vote ended up in the White House as Gore received over 500,000 more votes than Bush. Florida was the toss-up that was contended the most, but Gore ultimately conceded instead of furthering the count, opening up the door for the new Republican regime.

Success #2 – FMLA

Losing your job because a loved one was sick and needed care was one of the more difficult things that people could face before 1993. It was then that Bill Clinton signed the Family and Medical Leave Act, doing so just a few weeks after he became President. The act allowed employees to have their jobs guaranteed upon their return, with the compromise being that the absence of up to 12 weeks was unpaid.

Failure #2 – Carter’s Re-election Campaign

Ronald Reagan’s presidency really set the tone for the modern United States, with many saying that it led to a massive gap in income equality. However, that wouldn’t have happened with better handling of Jimmy Carter’s re-election campaign in 1980. Carter was polling rather well, but delayed getting into a one-on-one debate with Reagan until late in the campaign. He fumbled his numbers away and Reagan won easily, changing the course of Democratic history.

Success #3 – The New Deal

In the years leading up to World War II, the United States was undergoing some massive changes thanks to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, which was aimed at helping the country to recover from the Great Depression. The New Deal reformed Wall Street while also allowing for more benefits for the unemployed and farmers affected by the Depression. The rebound for the country allowed the United States’ involvement in World War II to end in victory.

Failure #3 – The Kansas-Nebraska Act

Prior to the shift in political policy, the Democratic Party had been on the pro-slavery side and stoked the flames of what would become the Civil War thanks to the Kansas-Nebraska Act which created both eventual states as US territories. Armed conflict resulted from this act, especially as the new settlers were able to vote on whether or not they wanted slavery instead of having it decided by Congress. The only true good to come out of this was the emergence of Abraham Lincoln.

Success #4 – Social Security

The New Deal covered a lot of issues that Americans were facing in the 1930s, but one that requires its own attention is Social Security. The Social Security Act of 1935 was signed into law on August 14 of that year and established a monthly payment to the elderly citizens of the United States. While Social Security’s future may be bleak, there is little argument that it was a great program for decades.

Failure #4 – Accepting Finalized Affordable Care Act

The original proposition of Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act would have given the United States healthcare similar to the other developed countries of the world in which the insurance industry would have been shrunken significantly due to Americans receiving free healthcare without the worry of massive medical bills. However, too many concessions were made and the ACA became more problematic than helpful in its final form as insurance prices actually increased for millions of Americans as it became mandatory.

Success #5 – Medicare/Medicaid

While the Affordable Care Act has had a lot of hiccups along the way, Medicare and Medicaid have made it so that every American at least has access to healthcare despite their income. Both established in 1965, Medicaid provides health insurance for those who are at 138 percent of the poverty line or below while Medicare provides insurance for those who are 65 and older or disabled.

Failure #5 – Handling The 2016 Election

The Democrats had a lot of in-fighting leading up to the 2016 Presidential election as Bernie Sanders gained a lot more steam than Hilary Clinton’s camp thought he would. Many thought that she would then coast to the White House against the inexperienced Donald Trump, but that proved to not be the case as Clinton lost the election (despite winning the popular vote).

How To Build The Perfect Home Gym: Advice for Each Budget

Going to the gym can be a bit of a hassle for a lot of people. Not only do you have to get dressed to go to the gym, but you have to remember to bring a gym bag that has everything you need including a change of clothes, lock and key, towel, and much more. There’s also the fact that you have to travel to the gym, which can be a pain if you’re in an area that gets a lot of severe weather.

Of course, there’s also the part about a gym membership possibly costing over $1,000 per year. The monthly fees can rack up quickly, which is why so many people are becoming more focused on exercising at home. As such, people are starting to put together home gyms, which can actually be done on a budget. Let’s take a look at how you can build the perfect home gym 

Frugal Budget

A lot of people think that they won’t be able to build a solid home gym just because they don’t have much money to spend. However, there are plenty of ways to get a good workout in, as long as you have a decent amount of space. As long as you have enough room to exercise, you’ll be able to get bodyweight exercises that include push-ups, situps, lunges, and more. For those that want to focus more on cardio, running in place (or even going outside on nice days) is a great exercise if you don’t want to splurge on a treadmill.

Also, you don’t have to spend much money on some great in-home equipment. Things like jump ropes and resistance bands only cost a few dollars but can add a lot to your workout in both strength training and cardio. Most budget home gyms also feature some free weights, which may be cheaper than you think.

If you’re looking for something a little more advanced for your home gym without spending too much, there may also be some used weight benches and cardio equipment like treadmills or ellipticals available in your area. Check websites like Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist to see if anyone is giving equipment away or charging a low amount. There are also stores like Play It Again Sports that sell used sports and exercise equipment for reasonable prices while also ensuring quality and offering a seven-day return policy.

Moderate Budget

Let’s say that you have the same amount of space as someone who’s working with a frugal budget, but want to spend a little more while not turning your extra space into a Planet Fitness. Instead of having to run in place or rely on used equipment that may not be working at full capacity, there are some cheaper options. In the cardio department, small foldable treadmills are available that can briskly walk on while some other affordable ones can support up to 275 pounds and allow you to run up to 10 miles per hour.

Small stationary bicycles are also a good option with a moderate budget, with some great options on websites like Amazon costing only between $100 and $150. These bikes don’t have large spinning fans or advanced entertainment centers but offer the same resistance workout that you come to expect. 

When it comes to your strength training, there are resistance bands that cost a bit more than the entry-level ones that we previously mentioned. Try to find ones that have handles and a higher amount of tension, as some of the best ones are able to attach to doors and walls without the worry of breaking. You can also buy a new adjustable bench for your free-weight exercises, and your budget may even call for larger weight equipment like barbells so you can perform chest presses, bench presses, etc.

Finally, some of us might want to do some more relaxing exercises, and a moderate budget can help you out with that. Your budget should allow you to afford a few mats that you can use for yoga, stretching, Pilates, and other floor exercises so that you’re not having to rely on carpet, hardwood, or concrete.

High Budget

If money is of no issue, there is a lot that you can do with a home gym. We already touched on cardio equipment like treadmills and ellipticals, and with a higher budget, you can get the top-of-the-line ones available. These ones are almost guaranteed to not wear out for years while also offering more resistance and a higher weight capacity, even adding a large entertainment system in the front console.

Assuming you have a higher budget, you’ll also have more space to work with. With that in mind, you can add plenty of other higher-end equipment including a power rack, rowing machine, Smith machine, and much more. These are the basics that you’ll want in your home gym, with more specialty pieces of equipment you can add along the way if you have the space and money. Lastly, you can really make it feel like a gym with a high budget by setting up a great sound system and televisions so you’re never bored while working out.

Discovering the World of Virtual Reality Gaming: A Guide to VR Headsets and Games

Virtual reality was once something that was merely mentioned by science fiction works during the early 20th century, though many who wrote about it weren’t sure if it would even exist, let alone what it would look like. Now that we’re well into the 21st century, we’ve seen that virtual reality is not only real, but it’s the future. There have been many forays into virtual reality over the years, and the technology has now become affordable and portable.

You don’t have to be part of NASA and work with heavy equipment and a ton of cables for an immersive virtual reality experience anymore. Headsets and games are easily available that will give you the full experience of becoming anything that you want to be, especially in the video game realm. Let’s discover the world of virtual reality gaming, showcasing the best VR headsets and games out there.

VR Headsets

When you’re shopping for a VR headset, there are going to be several options out there, and these ones are the top in the field:

Meta Quest

First released by Meta (formerly Facebook) in 2019, the Quest got a big upgrade the next year in the form of the Quest 2, which features four infrared cameras and an RGB LCD display. Operating on the Android system, the Quest gives you access to some exclusive games including GOLF+ and Space Pirate Trainer. The Quest starts at around $400, making it one of the cheaper headset options.

Sony PlayStation VR

Sony was aware of just how powerful the PlayStation 5 was when it was released and that the console was capable of virtual reality. With that, the PlayStation VR was developed with an OLED HDR display with four outward-facing cameras. Though the library was a bit limited at first, the PSVR has grown and comes with a price tag of about $550.

Valve Index

If you want something that’s more top-of-the-line, Valve released the Index headset in 2019 and has been the king of the jungle thus far thanks to a pair of 1440×1600 LCD IPS displays and user-friendly controllers. With backward compatibility and a long list of titles to choose from, the Index is a great system, but an expensive one, at an intro price of $1,000.

HTC Vive

The HTC Vive is one of the standards of virtual reality gaming after first being introduced in 2016 with a massive resolution and several iterations since then. These days, a top-end Vive can cost at least $1,400 with many saying that it’s worth the price thanks to the amazing hardware and wide game selection.

HP Reverb

Released in late 2020, the Reverb was HP’s entry into the VR market and it was an ambitious one with a 2160×2160 resolution while using the company’s own technology throughout. It’s one of the more affordable headsets, too, with an intro price of $600.

Best VR Games

Now that you have an idea of which hardware you’re going to get your hands on, it’s time to figure out which games you’ll want to add to your collection. Let’s take a look at the best ones across all VR systems:

Half-Life: Alyx

“Half-Life” is one of the most acclaimed video game series of all time, and many had been waiting for a sequel to the second game. While “Half-Life: Alyx” isn’t the direct storyline sequel, it has been named the best virtual reality game of all time. Playing as the titular character Alyx (a familiar name to the franchise’s fans), you shoot your way through the evil Combine while solving VR-based puzzles.

Beat Saber

In terms of rhythm games, there are three titans of the industry. You had the original “Guitar Hero” for the PlayStation 2, then “Rock Band” on the next-gen, then “Beat Saber” for virtual reality. Using your controllers, you hold onto two sabers and try to match the rhythm of popular songs in varying difficulties, slashing blue and red boxes in the right direction.

Astro Bot: Rescue Mission

When PlayStation released its own virtual reality headset, it wanted to make sure that there was a great early entry to really showcase what the hardware could do. With that, “Astro Bot: Rescue Mission” was released in 2018 and has maintained its spot as one of the best VR games available. 

Tetris Effect

Tetris has had many iterations throughout its long history, and Tetris Effect is the most stimulating for all senses. “Tetris Effect” has been part of all consoles since its release, and that includes VR. For the most immersive experience of “Tetris Effect” including the music and visuals, VR is the way to go.

Horizon: Call of the Mountain

Sony has some great exclusive intellectual properties, and among them is the Horizon series. With two main story games released already, “Horizon: Call of the Mountain” enters the fray as the first virtual reality entry. Instead of playing as Aloy this time, though, you take on the role of Ryas, a master of archery and mountain climbing.

Indonesia On A Budget: 5 Essential Tips

Indonesia is one of the five largest countries in the world, behind only China, India, and the United States. With more than 275 million people, Indonesia has a wide range of cultures to experience while also being the 15th-largest country by area. Surprisingly, though, Indonesia barely ranks inside the top 10 in terms of international tourist visits in the Asia-Pacific region with around 15.5 million visitors per year.

There are many people who are missing out, though, as Indonesia offers some of the most stunning visuals for nature fans. Indonesia also happens to be one of the cheapest countries to visit in the world, so there really should be more people who make the trip. While Indonesia is already great for budget travelers, let’s take a look at five essential tips that will make your Indonesian vacation even cheaper.

Getting to Indonesia

In most major countries, the cheapest airport to fly into is going to be the busiest or largest one. Without a doubt, Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta is the largest with around three times as many passengers as any other airport in the country. With that said it’s also going to be the cheapest option by a longshot. Ngurah Rai International (Denpasar) and Juanda International (Surabaya) airports offer affordable options, but Soekarno-Hatta will be the target for any budget travelers.

Now that you have the airport picked out, you’ll want to visit during the cheaper times of the year. October is the start of the cheap season for travel, and it runs all the way through April. Out of all of those months, though, January and February are going to be the cheapest. This is because the likelihood of rain is much higher while temperatures hover around 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

Enjoy Natural Beauty

In a lot of countries, people want to visit because there are a lot of things to do in the cities throughout the day, and that can end up costing a lot of money. When it comes to Indonesia, though, much of the allure is the natural beauty that you can take in without spending a dime. There are five main islands in Indonesia and a total of over 18,000 smaller islands and inlets that make up the country.

Instead of spending all of your time inside, try getting out and walking around so that you can see places like Bali, Yogyakarta, and Lombok. While you might have to spend some money to take ferries from one island to another, it’s certainly going to be worth it. Thankfully, these ferries often run for just a couple of dollars, especially if you’re taking tha trip from Bali to Lombok for under $4.

Getting Around Indonesia

It seems that whenever someone on a budget is looking to visit another country, they plan on taking as much public transportation as possible because the cost of renting a car can be exorbitant. However, there are some countries where the reverse is the opposite, and Indonesia is one of them. Many experienced drivers opt to rent a scooter while in one of the larger cities, which only costs around $3 per day.

Driving around on a scooter in the middle of a busy city where traffic laws are much different can be a bit overwhelming, though. If you don’t feel comfortable with that, cars are still a cheap option compared to most countries. On average, it’s around $10 to $15 per day, which can end up being cheaper than public transportation depending on fuel costs. 

Eat Local

There are a lot of international visitors to Thailand, many of whom are business executives that end up in some of the finer restaurants in cities like Bangkok. While those restaurants are amongst the highest rated in all of Asia, they are also going to be the most expensive. If you want to save a lot of money, eat like the locals would and seek out the smaller stands and restaurants that aren’t in the heart of downtown areas.

These types of meals are going to be incredibly cheap. If you’re a fan of noodles or rice, you can get meals for under $1. Even local buffets only cost around $2 to $3, meaning that you can chow down for an entire week for less than $40. Just make sure to stay away from alcohol, though, as it’s more expensive than in other countries.

Learn to Haggle

Indonesia is one of those countries where price tags don’t mean much, and that’s even if items even have a price tag. Indonesia has a haggling culture, so make sure that you’re not paying full price for something at a market. Instead, try to talk with a merchant to see if you can get the price knocked down by a few dollars.

Always show respect when you’re haggling prices with a merchant, though. You don’t want to insult them, especially if you’re a tourist. Saying that you don’t have much money is a good start when haggling, and won’t make you a target.

5 Ecotourism Adventures

When we think of tourism, the first thing that comes to mind is usually heading to one of the major cities of the world and experiencing the culture by eating in local restaurants and getting from one destination to the other via taxi or railroad. However, there are plenty of people who are more interested in exploring the most beautiful natural areas that a country has to offer, and thankfully, almost every country has some amazing sites.

Traveling to take in these natural sites and promoting conservationism is known as ecotourism, and it’s increasing in popularity with each passing year. While all ecotourism can be seen as great, there are a few adventures that really stand out above the rest. Here are five ecotourism adventures that you should know about if you want to get into this wonderful hobby.

The Great Barrier Reef

Off the coast of Australia is one of the most beautiful natural wonders of the world, the Great Barrier Reef. With around 900 islands in total, the Great Barrier Reef covers more than 133,000 square miles and is home to more than 9,000 different species. Each year, around 2 million people make their way to the Great Barrier Reef to take in its natural beauty, but not all of the tourism is eco-friendly.

Because of the species that rely on the Great Barrier Reef not being disrupted, ecotourism wasn’t always an option, but thankfully that’s changed. Resorts along the reef have started banning the use of plastics while also focusing on sustainable and renewable energy. These resorts are also teaching ecotourists to not grab anything from the reef while teaching mindful swimming tactics so that you can see things with your own eyes without making contact with the natural life.

Galapagos Islands

Well off the coast of Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands are made up of 21 total islands (18 of them major islands) that were discovered during the 16th century. Since then, a small population of around 33,000 has built up on the Galapagos, and the islands are talked about in history classes because it’s where Charles Darwin studied natural selection en route to his theory of evolution.

The islands have seen a big movement toward using locally produced products so that there aren’t massive shipping boats coming to and from Ecuador and surrounding countries. Many of the workers that you’ll run into are from the islands thanks to the Galapagos National Park Directorate passing an act that makes visiting a must-do for ecotourists.

The Canadian Rockies

Upon first glance at a map, the Rocky Mountains in the United States and Canada aren’t any different, but there are some notable differences once you see them in person. The Canadian Rockies are composed of a different type of rock (sedimentary) than its American counterpart, featuring more shale and limestone. The Canadian Rockies, on average, are also less “peaky” which makes them a great destination for ecotourists.

Thanks to the rise in ecotourism, there are many more options available that are low-impact on the natural life in the area. With plenty of hiking, backpacking, and wildlife viewing, you can see all of the animals you’d come to expect (like Bighorn sheep, moose, and bears) without leaving a heavy ecological footprint.

The Amazon Rainforest

The Amazon Rainforest is one of the most well-known places on Earth, and whether you’re from North America, Europe, or any other continent, there’s a good chance that the Amazon was taught to you during your early years of education. Spanning eight different countries, a bulk of the Amazon Rainforest is in Brazil, though it has been under attack due to deforestation which many environmental groups are hoping to reverse.

There are three major hubs for ecotourism in the Amazon Rainforest, all of which are located in Peru. Going through these hubs allows you to see some of the most popular sites in the rainforest without disrupting the environment all while experiencing the local culture. These locals help guide you through the rainforest while staying safe and learning about the efforts to keep the rainforest intact. 

Costa Rica

To wrap up the list we focus on the only ecotourism spot on the list that’s an entire country. Costa Rica received its independence from Spain in 1821 and over the years has seen a lot of changes. With over 5 million people in Costa Rica, this Central American nation has under 20,000 square miles in area while offering up some of the best ecotourism destinations in the world.

Costa Rica is rich in biodiversity and there are laws in place that prevent the ecosystem from being disrupted. This peaceful nation has a ton of national parks, with a quarter of the country being protected from any development. In the early 2010s, Costa Rica completely banned hunting, taking it from a country that was already in contention for the best ecotourism vacation destination to the best. Places like Arenal Volcano National Park and Ballena Marine National Park are just a couple of spots where ecotourists will thrive.

Gardening for Food Security: Tips for Growing Your Own Food and Reducing Waste

In an increasingly uncertain world, where climate change, economic fluctuations, and global pandemics disrupt food supply chains, there is a growing recognition of the need for food security. The concept of food security goes beyond having enough food available; it encompasses accessibility, affordability, and the sustainability of our food sources. In this context, gardening has emerged as a powerful tool to enhance food security at an individual and community level.

Growing your own food not only provides a sense of self-reliance but also contributes to reducing waste and promoting sustainable practices. Whether you have a sprawling backyard or a tiny balcony, gardening can be adapted to any space, making it accessible to people in various living situations. If you’ve been interested in growing your own food for the amazing benefits, here are some tips on doing just that, ensuring you that you’ll have food security.


The art of fertilizing is simple, yet greatly beneficial to the health, size, color, and flavor profile of your homegrown produce. With the addition of fertilizer, you will be giving your produce the chance to thrive and grow a far better product than you would otherwise. When it comes to which fertilizer to apply, homemade is always the best option. 

Store-bought doesn’t even begin to compare and is usually full of harmful chemicals. You can make your own fertilizer at home by gathering grass clippings, small twigs, leaves, and kitchen scraps, such as egg shells, coffee grounds, fruit and vegetable peels, and other organic matter. With time, the contents of your homemade fertilizer bucket will begin to decompose and create a delicious treat for any and all of your plants, especially your beloved produce.

Grow What You’ll Eat

There’s a saying “Waste not, want not”. Meaning, a person who wastes very little will be happier with fewer needs than those who do. Being wasteful is often simply a product of laziness or ignorance. Once you educate yourself on how to make use of unwanted and unused products, being wasteful will be a thing of the past. 

One way you can reduce waste is to use leftover plant matter from your garden in your fertilizer bucket to continue the plant life cycle. Another simple way to reduce waste is to only plant what you know you will consume. If you happen to plant too much or produce that you dislike/have no use for at the time, you can always share it with family, friends, or preserve, and can it for future use. 


If you are serious about wanting to grow your own produce on a regular basis, despite your climate and weather conditions, then a greenhouse would be the absolute best thing to invest in. The space, safety from outside disturbances, and temperature-controlled environment are essential to growing healthy produce all year round. 

You can use your greenhouse for just about anything, making it a wonderful investment for all of your planting wants and needs, even beyond produce. A greenhouse can go for a few hundred, to a few thousand, depending on size and quality. Find what works best for you and your garden’s needs.


Jarring and canning are fantastic ways to preserve the longevity of your fresh produce. Fresh produce is best eaten as is, or used as a tasty ingredient in a tempting dish. For the times you have an overabundance of fresh produce that you do not want to waste, preserving and sharing your goods is your best option. 

The process of canning is relatively easy and can be done at home with very little skill. You will want to do your research, so you go about preserving it safely and properly. There are tons of different recipes. You can use it for various fruits and vegetables. Salsas, jams, jellies, toppings, butter, and spreads. All delicious, and not a bit of it wasted.

The History of Computer Animation: From Wireframes to Photorealism

When you think of the earliest forms of animation, you think of artists working tirelessly on cartoons to make sure each frame is drawn and painted precisely how it should be so they move seamlessly from one to the other. This is a style that would become rarer with each passing year, and while it’s still around, it has gone almost entirely extinct thanks to computer animation.

Computer animation comes in many different forms. From CGI imagery in live-action motion pictures to simple one-panel comics, you probably won’t go another day in your life without seeing a form of computer animation. Most of us know that “Toy Story” in 1996 became the first film that was completely done with computer animation, but how did we get to that point? Let’s take a quick look at the history of computer animation from wireframes to photorealism.

The Early Years

The beginning of computer animation wasn’t from the cartoon world, and might not be the form you’re thinking of. When younger generations see older movies that predate the modern computer, many tend to wonder how these films were able to have the types of graphics that they did. Much of this was thanks to wireframe animation which was used with technology that allowed animators to draw directly into a computer.

This is known as wireframe technology and acts as a digital blueprint for what would appear in the finished product. Much of this early technology wasn’t seen in major motion pictures, but were rather short films that people these days would likely refer to as “tech demos.” At the time, computers were seen more as a militaristic tool, and it wasn’t until the 1970s that more modern computer animation was used.

Blossoming Technology

1972 saw the advent of polygonal animation with Ed Catmull drawing polygons on a model which were then digitized. While the graphics looked crude by today’s standards, it was a revolutionary thing to see more than a half-century ago. Much of the 1970s would see the development of this type of technology, as well as the first film with CGI mixed with live action in the form of “Westworld”.

The following decade was when computer animation went from being what some called a “fad” or “gimmick” to being something that was an absolute necessity. One man that helped to spearhead the movement of making computer animation more common was George Lucas, who began Industrial Light & Magic. The release of his film “Star Wars” was perhaps the most important film in the history of computer animation, to boot.

New Wave of Animation

After the 1980s saw films like “The Last Starfighter”, “Tron”, and the “Indiana Jones” series making use of amazing computer animation, movie studios were wondering if they could make a film entirely with the technology. As we mentioned, studios had been using a blend of standard animation and computer animation in films by the time the mid-1990s rolled around, but it wasn’t until “Toy Story” that a film used nothing but computer-generated imagery (CGI). It would take a while before this became the industry standard, but these types of films were becoming more common by the start of the new millennium.

As for live-action films, CGI was taking a massive step forward during the 1990s. Many of the films we remember from the decade including “Jumanji”, “Titanic”, and “Spawn” were achieving firsts in movie history. In order, those movies featured the first photorealistic animals completely done in CGI, the first photorealistic fire, and the first photorealistic water.

Further Advancements in Computer Animation

When the new millennium kicked off, some of us wondered how animation could possibly look more realistic than it did thanks to movies like “The Matrix”. However, animation would become more refined and detailed. Animators were able to develop the ability to make people look like their younger selves, completely motion-capture people, and place them into media, including video games.

Speaking of video games, the medium has seen perhaps the fastest advancement in terms of computer animation. During the early 1990s, people were used to playing games with just 16 bits, but in less than 30 years, games began featuring photorealism and saw the release of gorgeous productions like “Ghost of Tsushima”, “Red Dead Redemption II”, and “Death Stranding”.

Movies have continued to develop computer animation to the point where actors are mostly wearing motion-capture suits and acting in front of green screens while everything else is digitally added later. Think of movies like the “Avengers” series where the actors had very few scenes where they were acting without massive sets that were covered in green screens.

Now, there’s an increase in artificial intelligence that’s able to create computer-generated imagery all on its own. Many are taking advantage of this technology to the point where many feel that films, music, and more will be completely AI-generated in the future. It’s hard to say for sure what will happen in the coming years, but one thing is for sure, and it’s that computer animation will only improve.

The Health Benefits of Eating Dark Chocolate

For many of us in the United States, we hear the word “chocolate” and think about candy bars like Butterfinger, Snickers, or Kit Kat. The type of chocolate used for these candy bars is milk chocolate, though, which is much different than dark chocolate. While not as sweet as milk chocolate due to the lack of sugar, dark chocolate is very tasty and also leaps and bounds healthier than milk chocolate.

Not everyone is the biggest fan of dark chocolate, but they should be, because there are a ton of health benefits that come with eating it. Because of our fascination with milk chocolate, we might not think of “healthy” when hearing chocolate, but if you make the switch to dark chocolate, here are some of the amazing benefits that it comes with.

Lower Risk of Heart Disease

Milk chocolate is loaded with saturated fat to make it sweeter, but dark chocolate is incredibly low in saturated fat. A vast majority of fat within dark chocolate is unsaturated, and the right amount of unsaturated fat is good for your heart. Studies have shown that eating a small amount of dark chocolate each day can lower your risk of heart disease thanks to lowering cholesterol and bad fats.

Doctors do say that you should keep it to a small amount, though, as dark chocolate is still high in calories. Another major study shows that eating two (with a maximum of six) ounces per week reduces the chances of an irregular heartbeat by 15 to 20 percent while reducing the chances of a stroke tremendously. Maintaining that amount of dark chocolate per week also lowers LDL cholesterol by more than 10 percent on average over the course of two weeks.

More Nutritious Than You Think

There aren’t many people that naturally consider chocolate to be filled with nutrients, but the dark version is very much packed. Dark chocolate contains a healthy amount of dietary fiber, which can help your body’s digestive system improve. There are also vitamins that include vitamin K, vitamin B12, and niacin just to name a few.

Manganese and iron are the most prevalent nutrients to be found in dark chocolate, making up nearly your daily recommended intake. Other significant minerals include zinc, copper, potassium, and phosphorous. For those that are trying to build muscle, you can also count on plenty of protein to be found.

Improved Insulin Resistance

Without much of the sugar that you find in milk chocolate, there is still some to be found in dark chocolate. However, you can help control your body’s blood sugar with a small daily amount of dark chocolate. Your body will be able to control your insulin more efficiently by fighting off free radicals via flavonoids.

Chocolate bars tend to be very high on the glycemic index, but that’s not the case for dark chocolate. You have probably felt a blood sugar spike after eating milk chocolate, but that won’t be the case with the dark version. It has even been found to help control diabetes, which is welcome news for diabetics that crave chocolate. In fact, taking a daily amount of dark chocolate can reduce insulin resistance in just over a week.

Skin and Teeth Boost

Eating chocolate naturally makes you feel better as it’s comfort food (and dark chocolate helps to relax by increasing blood flow and reducing stress hormones), but it can also make you look better, too. Milk chocolate can make you gain weight or have your skin break out, but dark chocolate helps in both of those areas.

Teeth are helped out by dark chocolate thanks to its theobromine content. Not only does theobromine strengthen tooth enamel, but it can help you get over a cough. Thanks to the antioxidant properties of dark chocolate, you can also kill some of the bacteria found in your mouth that lead to disease.

Your skin also sees the benefits of dark chocolate, especially if you spend a lot of time out in the sun. With better hydration thanks to your increased blood flow, your body will have a better resistance to UV rays. One study showed that it took twice as long to become sunburned for patients that ate dark chocolate for three months compared to those that ate regular chocolate. This doesn’t mean that you should lie on the beach all day eating dark chocolate, but it’s a good benefit to keep in your pocket.

Anti-Inflammatory Properties

There are certain foods that have anti-inflammatory benefits that can help prevent a wide range of diseases from cancer while lowering your blood pressure and improving your mental health. Dark chocolate is among the foods that are highest in antioxidants thanks to the high level of flavanols.

These compounds increase your blood flow and can do so within just a couple of hours after being ingested. The biggest reason for this is that dark chocolate is made up mainly of cocoa, one of the world’s best sources of flavonols.