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    Tuesday, December 21, 2010

    "A Merry New York City Christmas" by Rob Thomas & Sidewalk Angels Link

    Rob Thomas "A New York City Christmas" - Video

    The Sidewalk Angels

    Call on your angels
    Come down to the city
    Crowd around the big tree
    All you strangers who know me

    Bring your compassion
    Your understanding
    Lord, how we need it
    On this New York City Christmas 

    Yeah I'm sending you a merry New York Christmas
    and a prayer for peace on earth within our time
    Hear the sidewalk angels echo hallelujah
    We understand them, now more than ever 

    So call on your angels
    You're beaten and broken
    It's time that we mended
    So they don't fade with the season

    Let our mercy be the gifts we lay
    From Brooklyn and to Broadway
    Celebrate each and every day
    of this New York City Christmas 

    Yeah I'm sending you a merry New York Christmas
    and a prayer for peace on earth within our time
    Hear the sidewalk angels echo hallelujah
    We understand them, now more than ever
    Merry New York Christmas 

    Call on your angels
    Come down to the city
    Let's Crowd around the big tree
    All you strangers you know me
    Bring your compassion
    Bring your forgiveness
    Lord how we need it
    On this New York City Christmas 

    Yeah, I'm sending you a Merry New York Christmas
    And a prayer for peace on Earth
    It's not too late
    Yeah the sidewalk angels echo hallelujah
    We understand them
    Merry Christmas
    Yes, a New York City Christmas

    Tuesday, December 7, 2010

    “The Emerson”

    The U.S.S. Integrity fairly limped back to Deep Space 9 in need of extensive repairs. The Dominion war had taken its toll on both the ship and her crew. The final push into the Cardassian system had all but ended her but the Cardassians had switched sides at the last moment and then, the Dominion had surrendered. 

                Captain Logan sat in his ready room and tried to get used to the idea that the war was finally over. It had taken so much from all of them, but now finally it was over. Many of his crew had died in the war and other officers had been given field promotions to keep the ship functioning. Ordinarily if a ship suffered such losses, officers would be replaced when the ship next made port but, Logan knew all too well, that all of Starfleet had taken such losses that he would be lucky to even get a full compliment.
                It was during this time, while Logan looked grimly over the logs and damage reports, that a high priority coded message came in from Admiral Ross.
    Logan entered his clearance code and tried not to show the tension that he felt at getting such a message while his ship was in such a state.
                “Good Morning Captain,” Ross said evenly.
                “Admiral,” Logan replied, “what can I do for you, Sir?” 
                “I’ve got a covert mission and I need a top pilot to pull it off,” Ross Said.
                “I see,” Logan said. He knew better than to ask for details that Starfleet Command were not inclined to provide but he still needed to know as much as he could if he was going to be sending one of his people into harms way. “What can you tell me, Sir?”
                “We need a lone officer to take a runabout into the badlands. The mission itself will be fairly straight forward but we need them to leave right away and they need to get where they’re going quickly,” Ross continued “Have the officer reach back to me once they’re on the way and I’ll brief them then.”
                “I understand,” Logan said, checking his data pad and looking over his available officers and still functioning shuttlecraft and runabouts “I can send Commander Tia in the
    Emerson. She will be underway within a few minutes.”
                Ross seemed to think that this was acceptable, “Very Good, Captain” he replied. “Ross Out.”
                Logan summoned Tia to his ready room and told her what he knew.
                “You’re my top pilot, just get whatever it is done and get back as soon as you can,” Logan told her.
                “What about you?” She asked baiting him slightly. They had often sparred over who had the better flight skills.
                Logan would not let her off that easily. “If the Admiral had wanted me to go he would have simply ordered me to do it,” he said smiling. Tia smirked at that and Logan relented a little. “Besides you’ve logged more impulse flight hours in the past few months than I have in the past year. I’m sure you’re up to it,” he told her.
                “Aye, Sir,” She replied smiling openly now.
                “On your way commander,” Logan told her and off she went...

                Hours later after docking at one of the upper pylons at
    Deep Space 9 Logan was sleeping fitfully after going through the repair list when another emergency, coded message came in. Logan snapped awake.
                “Logan here,” he said. The connection was audio only and full of static.
                “Captain,” he heard Tia’s voice, “I’m not sure what happened, Sir, I’m stranded in the badlands. I think an energy discharge hit the
    Emerson. The engines, life support, and the airlock have all been damaged. I can’t even get the hatch open from the inside.”
                “We can send a rescue team out,” Logan began.
                “No sir,” Tia replied sternly. “My mission must remain covert and now I . . . I’m really pressed for time, Sir.”
                “I read you Commander.” Logan took a moment to weight his options. “I’m on my way,” he said finally.
                “Thank you, Sir,” he could hear the relief in her voice and the channel closed.
                As Logan closed on the
    Emerson, he saw right away the damage to the front port nacelle. An energy stream from one of the intense ion storms had ripped through the Emerson’s shields and raked the entire port side of the craft. Tia had managed, using her thrusters, to get the craft into a relatively calm area between the endless storm fronts and slipstreams that raged through out this area of the badlands. Logan got into his EVA suit and exited the Thoreau. He could clearly see Commander Tia also wearing her EVA suit inside the Emerson.
                He examined damaged nacelle and hailed her, “We’ll need to replace this forward warp coil,” he said without preamble.
    Shuttles and runabouts carried accessible spare units but usually these kinds of procedures engineers performed in the shuttle bay. There was a procedure for doing it as an EVA but doing it here, in the middle of the badlands, was something no engineer had probably ever conceived.
                Logan worked carefully and quickly to remove the clamps that held the forward most warp coil in place. Once he had done the unit would slide free and he would mount the replacement and secure it. That is what the procedure said anyway. However, the blast that had destroyed the unit had also fused the unit in place. Logan worked at the unit, trying to find some leverage and pry it free but there was no hope and the clock was running.

                Logan thought the problem through and then hailed her again. “I’m going to force the hatch. I’m coming in.”
                “I’m ready,” Tia replied.
    As Logan forced the hatch opened, the compartment inside the
    Emerson vented completely and Logan slid easily into the craft.
                “Looks like you cut it a little too close that time Commander,” he said.
                “You’re not funny,” she replied tersely.
                “Alright,” he went on more seriously, “You will take the
    Thoreau and go complete your mission. Once you’re away I will send out a general distress hail and get myself out of here.”
                Tia knew what he was offering but once she was away, Logan might well be stranded out here for some time if help was not readily available and the shuttle drifted back into the storms or the storms suddenly intensified.
                Logan saw the concern on her face but cut her off, “That’s an order Commander,” he said. “Take the
    Thoreau and go.”
                This time it was Tia’s tern to weigh her options. She nodded finally and said “Aye, Sir.” She went out the open hatch and made her way to the
    Thoreau. A few minutes passed after she was away and she hailed back that she had made contact with whomever she was meeting and that she should still be able to complete her mission. Logan wished her luck and then turned back to his own problems. He checked the air supply and power levels on his suit, it read four hours remaining, and he set his suits internal alarm countdown.
    He sent out a general distress message, sat back, and waited. It wasn’t long before he got an answer but it was from an unlikely source. A Ferengi ship was in the area and offered to tow him out of the badlands. The Ferengi Captain told him he could get him out of the area but that was all as he had a perishable cargo and needed to keep to his schedule. Logan gratefully accepted but . . .
                “I, ah, I don’t have any gold pressed latinum with me,” he explained feeling somewhat awkward.
                The Ferengi Captain seemed mildly amused at this.
                “That’s not a problem,” he said, “Grand Nagus Rom has made it clear in his new edicts that rescue missions like this are to be strictly non-profit.”
                Logan had heard about some of the recent changes that had been happening throughout the Ferengi alliance but was still surprised.
                “Well, that will be grand,” he said.

                The Ferengi ship slid in place in front of the disabled Starfleet craft and towed the Emerson to a nearby cluster just outside the badlands. They were on their way again in less than an hour. Logan turned down the power setting on his suit, which made it colder for him but would give him a little more power in the long run and sent out another general distress signal. Then he settled in to wait for a response. This time the response was somewhat longer in coming but eventually a Benzite Freighter answered and offered to take him back to Farmingdale Station. That was risky but it was better than staying where he was, he checked his chronometer, 2 hours left, he took them up on the offer. Logan also hailed the Benzite craft and asked if they had any spare air but they only carried their own variety, which would be toxic to Logan.
                Logan tried to relax as much as could. In due course Logan found himself at
    Farmingdale Station but as he half expected the station was unmanned and running in automated mode. The Benzites efficiently docked the Emerson in an empty repair bay and departed. The shuttle was now safe but looking at his chronometer, Logan saw that he only had about twenty minutes of air and power left.
                He needed to get from the repair station to the empty habitat section of the small Starbase itself. The problem was that it was a long way from one to the other - if he went through the station itself. His only option was to risk a final EVA from one side of the station to the other. It would be risky in his nearly spent EVA suit but there was nothing for it. He would jump from the ledge of the open to space repair bay, run along the side of the station until he got to the habitat ring where he could let himself in through the airlock and then finally take off his helmet. After that, he could send one last call for help but he would finally have air, replicators, and time on his side.

                Logan estimated his trajectory, checked his chronometer one last time, and leapt. He drifted along the station for a short distance and then activated his mag-boots. He misjudged his distance to the surface and struck the side of the station slightly harder that he had intended but he was still on track. He began a light jog towards the habitat ring. After a few minutes the warning tone of his suit began letting him know he was running out of power and air. The cold was really beginning to seep in now and he pushed himself into a full run trying to shorten the time this trip would take and keep himself warm. The problem, of course was that it meant using up the last of his air. He tried to manage his breathing in spite of his exertion but he wasn’t sure it was helping. Finally, he reached the habitat’s air lock. He had the strange thought that if this airlock were not functioning for any reason someone would probably find his body out there next time anyone came back to the station. Fortunately, the air lock worked perfectly and within a few minutes, he was inside the station with his helmet off.

                After getting out of EVA suit Logan visited the replicators and order up a nice warm meal. Then he used the stations communications system to send out his final call for assistance. The person he heard back from came as a pleasant surprise. It was Captain Germann of the
    Legacy. Logan had thought the Legacy was in a distant sector but it turned out that Starfleet Command had reassigned them to a nearby system towards the end of the war. Captain Germann was only to happy give Captain Logan transportation all the way back to the Integrity at Deep Space 9.


                Commander Tia arrived back aboard only a couple of hours after Captain Logan. She found him on the bridge. It was almost disserted with only a pair of technicians making repairs to the Helm station and the Captain supervising efforts in Engineering and throughout the secondary hull from the Mission Ops station.
                “I see you made it back in one piece,” she said.
                “Well, you didn’t think I’d let you beat me back here did you,” Logan joked. “Welcome back, was your mission successful?”
                “I made it on time, thanks to you as for the rest, well, we’ll see.”
                “I understand,” Logan said.
                “I’m sorry about everything,” Tia said suddenly more serious.
                Logan smiled at that, “You’ll be happy to hear that I heard from the repair center and they’ll have the Emerson back to us in about two weeks, but” Logan turned to face her full on “after all we’ve lost recently, even if it was a total loss, as long as you’re alright, we always get another runabout.”

    Tuesday, November 16, 2010

    The Battle

    I had travelled far to meet my old friend before we set out to the bloodthirsty task we both knew lay ahead of us. I arrived in good time for the feast that all old warriors of our cut and vintage partake in as a matter of ritual. However, once we stood together, my old comrade told me this would not be any mundane or hurried affair. He had, and out of his own pocket, laid down a plan for us to share as magnificent a repast as any we had ever enjoyed. Indeed, as the servers brought out the food, I knew he had spoken true. The meat and wine were red and the portions plentiful and all of it as well prepared as any delicacies either of us had ever tasted. During dinner we talked little of the coming conflict but, as old friends are want to do after long separations, we spoke largely of our lives since last we were last together and of mutual friends one or the other of us had not seen in what seemed an age. We toasted the present company and the coming clash and ate until neither of us could eat another morsel.

    After that, we set off on foot to the battlefield itself for well we knew better than to ride out and risk being unable to ride back. It was night now and the air was cool but he told me milder than usual for the time of year in that region. The walk was long and gave us more time to reminisce but not so long as to be tiring. Which was good, for soon, we both knew we would need all of our strength. As we walked, my old cohort of many such crusades expressed his concerns about our advancing years and mixing it up with the young hellions were we certain to meet in battle that very night. I jovially eased his mind telling him I intended to slay the first of them quickly, that he should plan to do the same, and after that, I declared; “The devil may take the hindmost!”
    He laughed at this and we arrived on the battlefield in high spirits and thirsty for warfare.

    We met the enemy and, by virtue of our vast experience, sized them up quickly. Among them, I noticed at least one Titan and being an old hand of many wars I set my sites on him firmly and, as I had promised not a quarter hour before, ended him quickly and while I was still fresh. My friend ran ahead laying into one of their common soldiers who had the misfortune to cross his path. As soon as this first blow struck, he smiled back at me and yelled that all his reservations had died by that mighty blow. He took his time and slew his adversary. I had moved on to another target I spotted on the field. For there I spied a foppish character they called “the Brune”. I know not why they called him thus but he was as flamboyant and as brilliant a swordsman as any opponent I had ever faced. I saluted my adversary, which he returned, and we began circling each other warily. Soon our swords were fairly singing and members both companies near us stopped their own battle to watch the dance. After a fair time I put the man down and the mêlée resumed in earnest. My old friend had marked another Titan in our enemies’ ranks, following my example; he set upon him like a berserker of old, and dispatched him straight. That left the more common, rounder members of their company and although they were well clad for fighting and they knew it not, their cause was already long lost. We worked our way through them, each of us following the lead of the other, first him, then me and so on, with the steady efficiency of veterans from a thousand such campaigns.

    Later we walked away from the battlefield and made our way back to the safely and warmth of his home. Quite in our cups, we traded stories admiringly of the fight and quarreled good-naturedly about the exact numbers.
    “It was at least a dozen,” I declared.
    “Not so,” he answered laughing, “it was no such matter, but then again” he relented, “it was close enough I would say.”
    We reached his home and I remember sharing a toast to victory with Old Fezziwig who had been waiting there for us. In truth though, by this time, the battle had taken its toll and I had spent my aging vitality. I fell asleep where I sat and shortly had lain down on the floor before my chair. My old companion mocked my fatigue but then had the lack of good sense to drink one last toast with a treacherous Irishman. The next day I was back on my feet long before my old comrade in arms, but I kept the watch until he found his feet again later that evening.

    Sunday, July 18, 2010

    Catching up

    I am spending this weekend catching up on the more mundane, but necessary, chores that need to be done to keep us moving at the pace we've been setting. The last few weeks and months have been hectic. Between shooting on "Polaris" in Maryland, The Phase II episode "Origins" in Ticonderoga NY, "Sci-Fi Science" in Manhattan, going to our son's wedding in Buffalo and all our regularly scheduled madness Gina and I both need to regroup and put things in order around here.On the plus side, all of that stuff has been going really well. Gina's acting career seems to  be on track and moving into the next level. My episodes on Sci - Fi Science start airing September 1. Although I shot for all the episodes this coming season don't expect to see me in every one, but you should be able to catch me in a few at least.
    Speaking of that the final two episodes will be shot August 6th. If anyone wants to dress up and join my away team let me know. This is the last chance for this season and if you can make it you will get to meet the venerable Dr. Kaku. They shoot at about 2:00PM at Capsule Studios in NYC.
    I'm making real progress on my personal "Ripped in 2010" initiative to get in even better shape. Between careful dieting, the trips to the gym and swimming three times a day I'm making some real progress. I've been too busy to get in enough running and sword work but even so I'm stretching and keeping limber while steadily increasing definition so it's all good.
    Here are some pictures from or recent adventures.

    Wednesday, June 2, 2010

    My Run

    With a little help from my friend Lainey I have been able to make a pretty good estimate of the distance I've been running and it comes out to about .83 miles. I must admit I thought it was closer to a mile but I don't really mind. I can just loop in a a little more as I go and it's very scenic. Between my diet, this run, swimming two to four times a day and my employer paid gym membership I should be able to enhance and maintain my overall condition pretty well.
    Those are tennis courts on the left and two baseball diamonds.

    My Vegan Banana Brownie Recipe

    As some of you know, now that the kitchen is nearly done, I have started experimenting with cooking and recipes to try and improve my overall diet. Here is an example of a Brownie recipe I've put together that I believe is pretty good. Made without butter, white sugar, eggs, or dairy products these still taste great.

    1 cup Vanilla Soy Milk
    1 Banana
    1/2 cup Light brown sugar
    1/2 cup Dark light brown sugar
    1/3 cup Unsweetened Cocoa powder
    1/2 cup Whole Wheat flour
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon baking powder
    4 oz chopped Walnuts

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
    Lightly grease with vegetable oil an 8 inch square pan.
    Blend Soy Milk and Banana
    In a large mixing bowl combine 1/3 cup cocoa, Sugars, 1/2 cup flour, salt, and baking powder.
    Mix in Soy/banana mix
    Spread batter into prepared pan.
    Gently place Walnuts over the top until well covered.
    Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes.
    (Cook until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.)
    Allow to cool for 15 minutes
    Remove from pan and enjoy

    Monday, May 17, 2010

    Apogee - Jethro Tull

    Just because I like it:

    Sailing round the true-blue sphere---
    Is it too late to bale out of here? 
    Well, there has to be some better way
    To turn back the night,
    Spin on to yesterday.

    The old man and his crew---
    After all these years,
    It's apogee.
    Pilot training and remorse---
    Spirit friends fly too,
    At apogee.
    Apogee --- solar bright.
    Apogee --- through the night.
    Apogee --- over ground.
    Don't think I'll be coming down.

    Screened for a stable mate
    With nerves of ice we flew,
    At apogee.
    No creativity allowed
    To pass through stainless veins of steel,
    At apogee.
    Apogee --- put the kettle on.
    Tight-lipped --- soldier on.
    High point --- communicate.
    Don't forget to urinate.

    So glad they put this window in.
    How to explain, how to begin? 
    See! Tennyson and Wordsworth there
    Waiting for me in the cold, thin air.

    Beware a host of unearthly daffodils
    Drifting golden, turned up loud.
    Tell the boys back home,
    I'm gonna get some.

    The wrong stuff's loose in here ---
    I'm climbing up the walls,
    At apogee.
    So hoist the skull and bones ---
    Death and glory's free,
    At apogee.

    A stranger wind, a solar breeze ---
    I'm walking out upon the starry seas.
    See pyramids, see standing stones ---
    Pink cotton undies and blue telephones.

    Goodbye, cruel world that was my home ---
    There's a cleaner space out there to roam.
    Put my feet up on the moons of mars ---
    Sit back, relax and count the stars.

    Thursday, May 6, 2010

    Patrick tells it like it is on Teabaggers

    1) The term "teabagger" was coined by teabaggers themselves. Here are some pictures demonstrating that:

    It was only when somebody tipped them off as to what the term meant that they suddenly declared the term to be a mocking epithet.

    2) If the biggest racist you know of is Al Sharpton, then I recommend you go to some of these tea parties which you are defending so ardently. Pictures of Obama as a witch doctor, Obama as a chimpanzee, signs decrying his being a Muslim (which of course is false) who should go back to Kenya (where he wasn't born). Or maybe take a trip to Arizona after you hit a tanning salon and see how friendly they are to you.

    3) The tea party movement is based around two notions, the first being that Americans are now taxed too much, most of it due to Obama. This is a lie. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, commonly called the stimulus, included $275 billion, billion with a B, in tax cuts. These cuts lowered taxes for over 90 percent of Americans.

    4) The second notion is that the tea party movement wants smaller government. This is a lie so outrageous and so patently false that it still defies belief every time a teabagger (yes, that's what I'll call them) tries to tell it with a straight face. The teabaggers said nothing when Bush wiped out the Clinton surplus without cutting spending. The teabaggers said nothing when Bush pushed through Medicare Part D and No Child Left Behind, both huge and expensive expansions of the federal government (and ineffective, but that's another conversation). The teabaggers made not a peep over indefinite detentions without trial in Guantanamo, American citizens like Jose Padilla held in jail FOR YEARS, WITHOUT OUTSIDE CONTACT, WITHOUT BEING CHARGED!!! Didn't bother them. (Well Padilla was the wrong shade, really.) The teabaggers didn't give a damn about the TOTALLY ILLEGAL Terrorist Surveillance Program wherein Bush had the NSA spy on phone calls, email, and text messages of American citizens, without warrants of any kind. Not a peep. When BushCo proposed Operation TIPS (Terrorist Information and Prevention System), to get Americans to inform on one another like something out of East fucking Germany, when BushCo supported the massively intrusive project of social engineering known as the Federal Marriage Amendment, and when it passed the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban to interfere with doctors and their patients, and when it decided to funnel taxpayer money to churches through
     the White House Office of Faith-Based Initiatives, when BushCo was found to be WATERBOARDING PEOPLE, a crime for which we HANGED German and Japanese officers after WWII...
    The teabaggers. Said. Nothing.
    When a Democratic President acts to provide government health care, something that is accepted by the governments and peoples of every other industrialized nation on Earth as a responsibility for every society to provide, something that is part and parcel of any just and humane civilization, the teabaggers, who thought that George W. Bush was just the bee's knees for the first 7.5 years of his administration (if not his whole term), suddenly, suddenly, for the first time ever, and based solely on the intellectual merits of their arguments, and not at all on Barack Obama's presence inside their White House, suddenly decided that they were for small government. Well, keep in Medicare and Social Security and everything they like. But still: small government! Small enough to keep the "wrong sort of people" out in the cold.
    They have no coherent intellectual argument other than an appeal to resentment and rage. The tea party movement is nothing more than pure and undiluted sore loserism. That's it. That's the beginning and end of their agenda: We lost. Not fair. Do over. I'm telling Mom.
    Fuck the fucking teabaggers.

    - Patrick

    We here at Elysian Visions respectfully agree with every single syllable.
    (Also we wish he would write more often.) 

    Thursday, April 29, 2010

    Tractor Beam Version 1.0

    Laser 'tractor beams' to tidy up space junk - tech - 29 April 2010 - New Scientist

    A new thruster design could make it possible for dead satellites to be pushed, pulled and steered by lasers aboard other craft

    - Not really a tractor beam as such but at least they're thinking along the right lines. 

    Tuesday, April 20, 2010

    Star Trek: Phase II

    Gina and I have been asked to join the cast of Star Trek: Phase II and we are very excited to be involved.
    We are shooting in early June but we are going to try and keep the summer Pool Party on June 18th.
    Senior Executive Producer James Cawley announced today a succession of casting decisions for the Star Trek New Voyages: Phase II's "Origins" episode slated to... MORE>>

    Put on Star Trek: TOS uniforms and play Star Fleet officers on full classic Star Trek sets you say?

    . . .
    Why yes, I think I can do that!

    Monday, April 12, 2010

    Our Best Pictures From Meeting Buzz Aldrin

    Here are the best shots of our meeting with Buzz Aldrin this past Saturday at Yuri's night.

    I love this shot and everyone always enjoys meeting Gina.

    Sunday, April 11, 2010

    What do Yuri Gagarin, Buzz Aldrin and I have in common?

    Answer: The NYC Yuri's Night Party of 2010.

    These parties are celebrated all of the world to commemorate Yuri Gagarin's famous first manned flight into space. If you've never heard of them that's understandable given our current culture. In point of fact I had never heard of them until I was on the set of "Sci Fi Science" a few weeks ago. There I met a very nice woman named Carol. She told me about the party and introduced me to her friends who were setting the whole thing up.
    I almost missed it because I had miss remembered the date, but I got word from Carol yesterday that none other than Buzz Aldrin himself might be attending. Needless to say I was all about the chance to meet the famous astronaut. Also the Yuri's night party is a big costume event so I of course broke out the Star Fleet uniform again. (As an aside, to those who go around saying I just look for any excuse to wear that damn thing  . . . you are 100% right.)
    This time Gina was feeling better, so off we went into Manhattan's lower east side, to a club named "DROM" for a night of live bands, science talk and a chance to meet one of the first men to walk on the moon.
    Well, not only was Mr. Aldrin, and his very nice wife, already there but he seemed to be in a really pleasant and talkative mood.
    Once I was introduced to Mr. Aldrin, who according to his wife really does prefer that everyone call him "Buzz", I asked him about what he thought about the recent advances in technology. His response was focused on the recent set backs in manned space exploration, but this was fine with me. I had expected nothing more than a brief polite introduction and then to be overtaken by others perhaps more interested in his recent appearance on "Dancing with the Stars" but this was not the case at all. This crowd was focused on science more than reality television which I must say suited me just fine.
    After a while the conversation, which involved a few of us now, drifted into what Buzz thought the future of America's manned space program should look like. I must say he had some really well thought out and wide ranging ideas on the subject, as one might expect. We talked about Mars, Space Elevator technology and low Earth orbit operations as opposed to the Lunar exploration missions he was part of and many other topics.
    Eventually I asked him about the work of Dr. Marc Rayman and using some of the technologies developed in "Deep Space One" and to my surprise, he didn't seem to know anything about it. I went on to explain the ion drive and other new technologies that had been developed and that's when he asked me to send him more information at his email address. This, of course, I did last night, before I even went to sleep.
    Gina and I had a great time and went to the restaurant upstairs from the club and had sushi for dinner.
    All in all it was a great night and we had a wonderful time.

    Friday, April 2, 2010

    Meeting Michio

    Forgive me for the title, I know it makes it sound like the venerable Dr. Kaku and I are on a first name basis, but he is truly a very friendly fellow and we did actually get to talk a little about self replicating nano-technology.

    Let me not jump ahead though. As I already wrote I noticed in my Twitter feed that the Discovery / Science Channel was having a contest to be a guest on the set of “SCI FI SCIENCE: physics of the impossible.” To enter you had to tell them why they should pick you, what you would wear (costumes were encouraged) and then write a VERY short essay on how you would terraform a planet and how you would colonize the galaxy.
    I entered and got called back, interviewed over the phone and finally told where and when to be for the shoot.

    Gina was originally going to come with me but she has been ill and despite really trying to get it together for the shoot she just couldn’t do it. In any case, she did spruce up my Star Fleet uniform and off I went.
    Now the shoot was in Manhattan at 5:30 and I left the house at about 3:15. Plenty of time I thought but as fate would have it there was a jam at the Lincoln Tunnel and I lost more than 90 minutes. I’m sure I was quite a sight, sitting there in full Star Fleet regalia raging silently at what I was sure would now be a missed opportunity. I saw 5:30 come and go and I was still crawling up to the tunnel. I held fast though, I would get there and see what, if anything could be salvaged of the situation. I finally get in to the city, find a place to park near the cross street I’m looking for and catch a cab to my actual destination. I arrive 45 minutes late only to find that everyone is still outside.

    Victory! I had not missed a thing.

    I chatted with some very nice Mandalorian Mercs from Virgina and took a few pictures, posting them directly to my Facebook page. I met some excellent people and even got invited to a “Yuri Party” in the city.
    Yuri Parties are global events, I had never heard of, that celebrate Yuri Gagarin’s first journey into space and the larger ones even feature a costume contest like the Farpoint or Shore Leave conventions.

    Once on the set they had lager and wine waiting for us and the whole thing was more like a party than a shoot with the director, Adam Warner, interrupting only occasionally to give us direction. Dominic Aston and everyone on the set was very friendly, professional and easy going. It turns out the whole production is run out of England so everyone had those charming accents and were just generally more polite that the typical New York inner city dwellers.

    Finally we got to meet Dr. Kaku who comes in and presents his ideas on the big screen of how to terraform Mars. I was fortunate enough to be up front, center of the crowd for this episode and had the opportunity to be the first one to ask a question. (They liked it so much that had us repeat the entire exchange on the reverse angle shot.)

    Now this was a Television show, so everything had to be repeated four times of so from different angles, between takes Dr. Kaku would invite questions and chat it up with us. I noticed that this could be pretty hard on him as some of the questions were either based on a ridiculous movie premise or a really poor understanding of basic physical laws. He handles these situations gracefully though, like a politician he would ask them to repeat the question and then simply give a short answer to the question he wished they had asked, followed by a polite but firm “next question”. With those of us who were better able to keep up however he talked at length about his ideas and what he though future trends might lead to.

    We filmed two episodes, one on terraforming Mars, (look for me in this episode next year) and another on colonizing space (if you see me at all in this episode it will be the wildest stroke of luck.)
    I won’t post any spoilers here but his solutions were elegant and economical as always and he seemed a genuinely pleasant person. At the end he posed for pictures as we chatted some more.
    I know this will only serve to reinforce my hardcore geek status but I must say it was a real honor to have the chance to meet and talk with him.

    Monday, March 29, 2010

    And We Have a Winner!

    This is really big news (well, for a geek like me anyway.)

    Recently I saw through Twitter that the Science Channel was having a contest.
    I entered and had to describe how I would terraform a planet and how I would colonize the galaxy.
    Those who know me know that these are among my favorite topics to ramble on about, but the contest (like most of my friends) had a 100 word limit and, as you might guess, that did pose a challenge for me.
    Nevertheless after editing down my original 300 word answer I sent it in and, along with a lot of other people, I won.
    It means a chance to be on the show "Sci-Fi Science" and meet the host the esteemed Dr. Kaku himself.
    I am a big fan and often listen to "Exploration", his Wednesday show on NPR, as well as watching his many appearances on my favorite Science shows. I would welcome a chance to talk about his take on any number of topics. Gina is also invited and, if she isn't working, is coming with me.
    The only minor down side is that it's filming this Thursday night so I will not be around for the usual festivities.
    On the plus side they want us to wear our full Star Fleet uniforms and, of course, we will!

    Friday, March 19, 2010

    "Peaceable Kingdom"

    This is an original lyric I recently turned out.


    Running in the wide, wide world
    We always seem to be miles off track
    Out of patience, out of time
    And no chart to find our way back

    To that peaceable kingdom
    Where out of many, we are one
    And everyone understands that hope
    Doesn’t flow from the barrel of a gun

    Walking in the streets of the city
    You’ve got to keep your guard up high
    Excitement comes with an edge
    And we all keep a watchful eye

    Looking for that peaceable kingdom
    Where I trust you and you trust me
    And everyone understands that force
    Can’t keep us safe or set us free

    It’s hard enough
                (Why must it be so hard)
    Just to survive
                (When we all want the same things)
    To keep my self respect
                (Simple security for our families)
    And keep us all alive
                (And the peace of mind it brings)

    Late at night with you in my arms
    I let all the pain and anger go
    I breathe out and close my eyes
    I can finally find it and at last I know

    My one and only peaceable kingdom
    Where out of two, we are one
    And I trust you and you trust me
    Here, together, between you and me

    Our one and only peaceable kingdom

    by Frank J. Hernandez
    inspired by an idea from Pete Gilman

    Thursday, March 11, 2010

    "Synthohol" Version 1

    Scientists discover booze that won't give you a hangover - Holy Kaw!
    Like to have a few cocktails with friends, but dread the next-morning-hangover? You’re in luck. According to a new Korean study, scientists have successfully developed a booze formula that’ll get you silly while eliminating the drawbacks.

    Sounds like Party Time to me.

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010

    More than a mere status update

    Gina and I did indeed talk last night. We also cried, screamed, argued, accused, denied, walked away, came back and tried again and so on.

    We are both really hurt and angry and the issues between us are complex and easily misunderstood. As is often the case in such situations between people who care about each other, but who end up here, we are both right and we are both wrong.

    On the other hand a few days in Hell can sober the mind and dissipate the anger as few things can and when two people care enough to try and remain respectful to one another despite their pain communication is at least possible. Even if solutions seem out of reach.

    The one thing that has been strange throughout this was going through all of this in such a public way. First at the Farpoint Convention and secondly on line through Facebook and so on. This has been both very difficult and embarrassing to us and yet, at the same time, the source of great support and compassion. For those of you who have known us for any length of time you know this is not how we usually conduct our private business and it’s been very painful for both of us.

    I want to apologize first and foremost to our children who through no fault of their own have had to endure the emotional brunt of this. I want to apologize to all our friends and other family members for putting them trough this as well. I especially want send a special apology and thank you to Dawn, Dennis, Jo, Paul, Steve and to my friend Pete for being there for both of us.

    I am so sorry for all of this. Please believe this and try to find the grace to forgive me.

    In the end Gina and I have decided to try and reconcile.
    We have both apologized to each other and agreed to redouble our efforts to work things out.
    We’re taking it slowly, but we both want to try and that’s something.

    To that end, last night, we each placed our wedding bands back on each other’s hands.

    Monday, February 15, 2010

    Remember My Name - Toy Matinee

    Living by the printed page
    The landmarks of the age
    I find... a coat that's poorly lined
    Handed down from time to time
    Waiting for the sun to shine

    Standing here amidst this crowd
    And wondering aloud
    I find... a joke that's poorly timed
    Thinking back to simpler days
    Of waiting for a light to change

    No one can take this away from me
    The martyrs and madmen I learned of in school
    Will remember my name
    Some things are never the way they seem
    Bury our centuries' wasted regrets
    And remember this reign

    Walking from the weary gloom
    The din of empty rooms
    I find... a poem that's poorly rhymed
    And waiting for the walls to fall
    I'm stunned by the failure of it all

    No one can take this away from me
    Spellbound in anger my heroes have failed
    To remember my name
    Some things are never the way they seem
    Buy up our centuries' bleeding remains
    And remember this reign

    It's only water falling down
    It's only water in my tears
    It's only water drowning me
    It's only water for all these years

    And waiting for the walls to fall
    I'm stunned by the failure of it all

    News and 10 things I want you to know

    First the news:

    After ten years of marriage, Gina and I have split up.

    Now the 10 things I want you to know:

    I’ve been through a bad time lately and when I asked for a little help, I meant it.
    I really did try!
    In the short term I will be looking for some additional work (nights and weekends) to pay down some debt, so I may not be around much.
    I’ll be taking this time to reinvent myself and will be replacing a lot of old past times (Science Fiction Cons & Renaissance Festivals) with new ones (Undecided and I have no idea yet).
    I am not looking for someone new, nor is there anyone “waiting in the wings”. I’m alone and I deliberately intend to be alone for some time to come.
    This is not acrimonious. I still care about her and will do all I can for her and wish her nothing but good things in her life.
    I have been lucky to have her in my life at all, and I know it. We had a great run and, while it lasted, it was the best thing in my life.
    Lately we’ve grown apart, fallen out of touch and just seem to be headed in different directions.
    I still love her and always will but . . .
    It’s over.

    Thursday, February 4, 2010

    Captain Logan’s Star Trek: Online Review

    Before we delve in here let me be clear, this is not a video game review written by someone who is an expert on video games and video game play. This is review written from the perspective of someone who is knowledgeable about Starship Operations and Starship Combat.
    (That may seem odd but just play along and it will all make sense as we go. I promise.)

    The game itself:
    Despite attempts to mix in some more peaceful, exploration based missions this game is a pretty straight up combat game. The peaceful exploration missions are clearly just filler and by that I mean that they are basically a walk through. There are not a lot of options to allow for different outcomes. Orders and Reports come in with suggested actions. Not even a menu of choices beyond “do X to proceed” or “Exit”.

    Okay it’s a combat game. So, how is the combat?

    Space Combat:
    One of the first things you notice in the simulation is that they got the distances wrong. Starship weapons optimal range is 40,000Km. Yet in the game you cannot fire at all until 10,000Km. (As a side note; space is really big and if we’re within 10,000Km someone's finger better be hovering over the collision alert alarm.) This seems like a random number that could have been easily reset to the scales we’re already accustomed. Also there is apparently no combat at warp speeds. I’m not sure why this is and in fact the whole impulse / warp speed scale seems a bit off.
    (Here is a Warp Table that spells out Time over Distance:
    But we can't wait for all that we need to keep things moving around here. This is a simulation after all.)

    In actual starship combat there are a number of options. Of course, due to relativistic effects, Phasers are just this side of totally useless at warp, but Torpedoes work just fine provided you fire along the right vector or compensate for the enemy’s position and motion. You can even fire blind against ships that have just cloaked, not here though, impulse only combat and no fire option without a weapons lock.
    Also what looks like a single opponent at warp may in fact be an entire fleet once you drop out to engage. This happens way too often and, if the enemy force is overwhelming, once you engage the enemy fleet you are often destroyed before you can even get a proper scan going. Some of the combat seems lopsided to the point of making one wish for a simple Kobayashi Maru simulation.

    Okay let’s cut to the chase, we’ve got a combat game that only let’s us fight at Impulse speeds, forget everything else how does this work? Well again it’s kind of strange. Let’s start by remembering that actual impulse speeds are not fixed but rather refer to a rate of acceleration. However I can understand that putting all of that acceleration math into the simulation would limit play to super computers so let’s leave that out as well.

    Here we are then, Impulse power, Shields, Phasers, and Torpedoes.
    Let’s break this down.

    Shields: It seems Shields are always up and on full. Power cannot be manually rerouted from one set to another. Also there is not a representation of a dorsal or ventral shield. For the sake of the simulation you get four shields (Port, Starboard, Fore and Aft) in two dimensions. In order to change the enemy facing shield you need to maneuver the entire ship and that brings up another weakness in the simulation. There doesn’t seem to be any compensation for speed versus maneuverability.
    A starship at full impulse does not turn on a dime; you have to bank and turn wide even with your Structural Integrity Fields and Inertial Dampeners running full out. To be fair that does seem to be the way the ship handles in the simulation but there doesn’t seem to be any commensurate ability to turn faster at slower speeds. When I reduce speed I want to be able to spin around and fire on a target not drag my way through a painfully slow rotation just in time to see the target drift past my arc of fire. Maybe this is actually built in to the simulation but, if so, it needs to be tweaked.

    Phasers: Phaser banks are the weapon of choice for overcoming enemy shields, in the simulation and out, but they do much more than that. In the simulation though Phasers seem to have only one setting - full power. The target lock is nice and works as it should but there is no manual ability to increase fire rates by reducing power output. Also the arc of fire is pretty limited leading to a bad habit of just giving the fire all weapons order.

    Torpedoes: The Torpedoes are hull and ship killers but again the configuration is limited and if there is a way to use them as mines - I haven’t found it. The arc of fire here is also pretty limiting. One of the nice things here though is that proximity counts.

    Overall Configuration: The way the Simulation tries to compensate for all of the above is actually pretty interesting. What they have done is allow more exact configuration via NPC assignment. Train up crew people put them in the right stations and the overall stats go up based on where they are. I can increase torpedo yield for a few seconds by telling my Tactical Office to do it. I can use my Science Officer to scramble the enemy’s targeting sensors and so on.   Also my character avatar acquires new skills as I play, I can engage in evasive maneuvers, once I acquire the skill for it.

    How do I make this all work for me?
    As you close on targets, time your orders (IE: scramble the enemy’s targeting sensors) to go into effect just as you enter weapons range. Use the weapons range limitation to your advantage by isolating targets, move just to within 10,000Km of a single target and reduce your speed. Use your Phasers to overcome their shields. Then increase speed, go straight at the enemy, get in close and hit them hard with the Torpedoes. When things get too hot and the shields are failing, don’t panic. Increase speed away from the battle front and let a long sweeping arc give your crew the time to get the shields and weapons back on line, then come back strong.

    Having said all of that it’s still a lot of fun. The map and interface for long range navigation are fairly elegant and allow for a large universe to explore and play in. As a simulation this is one of the nicest features. There is a political history built into the simulation that seems to lend itself to some interesting story telling and expansion in the future. There is some new race called the Undine that are making trouble throughout the galaxy and the Gorn and the Klingons are raising hell. If I had to guess, based on what I’ve read, I’d say the Undine are perhaps a spin off of the Changeling race from the Gamma Quadrant. Maybe one of the Changelings sent out to explore the universe with no memory found a way to reproduce and that ended up creating a new race with no memory of the original race and their own belligerent agenda. That is all speculation of course but part of the fun of the simulation is that it leads to this kind of speculation.

    Look for more updates from Captain Logan as we learn to master the simulation going forward.  

    Tuesday, February 2, 2010

    To Gina

    I know it's a bit early, but Happy Valentine's Day Baby!
    You make my life worth living!

    Create your own video slideshow at

    Love Always, 

    Monday, February 1, 2010

    Robotic Breakthrough May Change The Game

    French Scientists Build First Transistor That Mimics Brain Connections
    Popular Science By Jeremy Hsu

    Let's get that positronic brain rolling

    The thing about this is that it's going to mean a possible radical change in possible design parameters. One of the most exciting things is the possibility of finally crossing the brain / computer interface divide.
    In fiction we've almost always seen artificial brains that are designed separately and that are just as isolated as our own human brains. In reality the solving of the AI problem may be more of a merger between living brains and artificial augmentation right from the get go.    

    Saturday, January 30, 2010

    Missions to MARS

    There and back again!
    A visual guide to every Mars mission.
    Good Stuff from Gajitz.

    Wednesday, January 27, 2010

    That's What Love Can Do

    Look in the mirror
    The face is familiar
    But not the one I used to see
    Got a fever, can’t shake it
    There’s no way to break it
    Something’s got a hold on me

    And I can’t give it up
    I won’t give it up
    It feels good to me
    But I don’t know the man
    Standing in my shoes
    That’s what love can do

    Turn a wise man to a fool
    That’s what love can do to you
    And I lose my head every time I see you
    That’s what love can do to you

    Bitter tastes sweet
    I’m dreaming on my feet
    I’m looking for the missing clue
    Heartbeat jumping
    I never saw it coming
    Hit me right out of the blue
    And I can’t give it up
    I won’t give it up
    It feels good to me
    But I don’t know the man
    Standing in my shoes

    That’s what love can do
    Turn a wise man to a fool
    That’s what love can do to you
    And it turns my world around
    That’s what love can do
    Well it’s crazy but it’s true
    That’s what love can do to you
    And I lose my head every time I see you
    That’s what love can do

    I’ve found a new game to play
    It’s taken my breath away
    I’m on top of the world
    Looking at you, how can I lose?

    And I can’t give it up
    It feels good to me
    But I don’t know the man
    Standing in my shoes

    That’s what love can do

    -Lyrics by GO WEST From the Album "Indian Summer"
    Photo by Chrispics Photography