QESB - Unpacking My Closet: Letting Things Go

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Captain's Blog - Stardate 422518.0

Thirty years and one week ago, I saw the following trailer:

The following week, exactly thirty years ago today, I refused to sit with my family at the dinner table. Star Trek: The Next Generation would be on at 6:00 pm on WPWR Channel 50 and I was going to watch it. I needed to know who would be leaving the show.

See kids...back then...the internet wasn't around. We didn't know who had left their contracts weeks before airing. "Spoilers" weren't really a thing yet. Oh, and if you haven't seen this episode now would be a good time to stop reading. I mean, it's only been out for 30 years, so...

But I digress. I sat with baited breath on our enclosed back porch. it was April, 1987, so it was probably spring like weather. Unlike today. My mother had made me Chef Boyardee Spaghetti-O's and I stabbed at them anxiously with my Mickey Mouse fork, harpooning O after O and pulling them off the red, plastic "safe" ware as the minutes ticked by.

Who would it be? Three were hinted at in the teaser. Would it be the dashing Riker? Or the telepathic (and let's be honest, kinda whiny) Troi? Or would it be the bad-ass security officer who had become my favorite character, Lt. Natasha "Tasha" Yar? 

The episode starts, the groundwork is laid, and the away team beams down to the planet. We meet the creature of the week. You might know him from that annoying puddle under your car or the tar pit exhibit at the Field Museum. Looking back, he was not the most creative alien they'd developed. Maybe developed is too strong a word. Came up with that morning? Yeah...we'll go with that. But to my ten-year-old self, the dark nebulous form and rattly voice was a terror.

Because I knew, like it or not, one of the characters on my favorite show was about to die.

They sure didn't waste their time. Within minutes of the show's second act, Exxon Mobile hurls Tasha through the air with an energy burst. 

 And then the most devastating part of all...the entire crew basically sits around and lets her die.. Here's just a few of the gaping ways they blew it:

  1. After Year is thrown to the ground, Dr. Crusher runs over to her and starts tending to her while Data and Riker shoot at Armus. Okay, fine. But once he sinks into his pit and leaves the away team alone. THEY. JUST. STAND. THERE. Now, maybe she wasn't stable enough for transport, but Crusher never says that. They just all stand around listening to her tricorder beep-beep-beeeeeeeeeeep. WTF?
  2. So, Picard orders the transporter room to "get them up, now." So, they beam the team up. To the transporter room. "I need her in Sickbay, now," says Crusher. So she and Data grab Yar and CARRY HER. Probably down the hall, to the turbo lift, which then took however long to get her to the deck with sickbay on it.  WTFF?
  3. In literally the next episode, another person is in distress is beamed directly to Sickbay. You mean they could do that all the time?!?!?!?!
  4. So, after 5-7 minutes of NOT treating Tasha, we finally get her onto a bio-bed and of course nothing works. Not Nurip. Not the neural stimulator. Nothing.

I was stunned. Not by all these lousy details. i didn't figure out how badly they botched her resuscitation until i watched/listened to the episode about fifty-million more times. Back then, I was just stunned to learn that someone I cared about so much could all of a sudden, and for no good reason, all of a sudden be gone. The rest of the episode played out with lower stakes for me. They weren't gonna kill off anyone else.

But, what I wasn't expecting was the last ten minutes of the episode. Tasha's beautiful, farewell speech. In it, given her risky job, she took the time to leave a message for all her closest friends on the crew. We learn more about her character in that amazing speech than we did for the whole series thus far. As she closed, she taught me my first real lesson about death. "Death is that state in which one exists only in the memory of others. Which is why it is not an end. No goodbyes. Just good memories." The service ended and the crew departed.

Then, alone with Picard, Data taught me my second real lesson about death. "My thoughts are not for Tasha, but for myself. I keep thinking how empty it will be without her presence." 

Thirty years later and I still miss Lt. Tasha Yar. Oh sure, she got to come back and die in a much more meaningful way. Only to have it botched by getting raped and kept by a Romulan in the past and giving birth to her daughter, Sela, and then get executed four years later. And yeah, the daughter is ALSO played by actress Denise Crosby...but then just fizzles out into nothing. 

But the potential of what Tasha Yar could have brought to TNG if the actress had stayed will always be a loss for me. Losing her was my first brush with the one fact that is true for all of us. 

As I unpack my mental closet, I am grateful for the devastation and inspiration of the character of Tasha Yar. May I learn to live my life with as much commitment, passion, and courage as she did. And may I book as much work as Denise Crosby, including one role that serves to inspire someone as much as Tasha inspires me.

QESB - Unpacking My Closet: It Figures

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Captain’s Bog: Stardate 42218.8

For as long as I can remember, I have been an avid collector of action figures. From He-Man, ThunderCats and Star Wars in the 80s, to the prolific Star Trek action figure line of the 90s (with well over 200 characters…most or all of which I have), to my current collection of figures on display. Suffice it to say…I have a LOT of action figures.

There’s a great series on Netflix called “The Toys That Made Us” that talk us through the phenomenons of Star Wars toys, He-Man and She-Ra, Barbi, and G.I. Joe. I highly recommend it. Anyone in and around my generation will definitely recognize some fo their childhood in this unexpectedly interesting docu-series.

One point they make that I completely identify with is one reason for the popularity of these toys. To paraphrase: These characters and universes are completely fictional, so when you can give a child (grown-ass man) a physical, tangible way to interact with this imaginary world, it can give them a great deal of joy.

This has never been so true for me as it has been with almost any iteration of a Star Trek toy, ever since I was introduced to Star Trek: The Next Generation when it debuted in 1987. Back then, a company named “Galoob” made ten action figures; six crew and four aliens. We found all six crew members easily at Kay Bee Toys, and collected a second set when they went on clearance. The aliens I never got until I was older and the internet was invented.

The line failed, but by 1991, TNG had grown considerably in popularity and Playmates Toys rocked it out! Multiple versions of each crew member, tons of aliens, plus the crews of the original series, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager. I had them all proudly displayed in my room in high school. I would even bring a few with me to class from time to time. It was kind of a social experiment. I would watch how different people would interact with them. A few boys made them fight each other. One girl actually played out her teenage relationship drama. Good times.

My most recent collections on display included some very beautifully sculpted, carefully detailed, more collector-base figures. They are beautiful and I love them all. But I realized something yesterday that gave me pause. With a handful of exceptions, many of these collections celebrated films or series that were 20-30 years old. Aliens. Ghostbusters. Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Even the excellent DST line of Star Trek figures, the characters themselves are not new. 

As I unpack my mental closet, I have decided that those figures, however cool, are looking in the wrong direction. With one shelf of limited characters from Star Trek as my exception, who will soon be replaced (I hope) with characters from the current Star Trek: DIscovery, I will be aiming to display only characters from current series. They will remain displayed as an inspiration of the work I hope to be doing. The figures that represent the past will be carefully put away. The past was great inspiration, but it is time to be present so I can focus on the future.

And hopefully someday make enough money to have a home with an office where all my toys can live.

QESB - Unpacking My Closet: Turning a Corner

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Captain’s Blog: Stardate 42118.7

It’s been over two years since I had to say goodbye to my dear, beautiful B’Elanna “Lana” Baer. One of the biggest challenges for me has been learning about and processing through the grief. People’s responses to my sorrow have ranged from heartfelt understanding to slightly awkward side-eye of people who think of pets as possessions rather than family members. 

To be clear, I am aware that Lana was not birthed from my loins. And while she was not my child, she was and will always be a life I nurtured, raised, and protected for fifteen years. I was with her through growth, heat, old age, and illness. She supported me through break-ups, depression, loneliness and pain, not to mention several cross-country moves. Her life enriched mine in countless ways.

I recently read (and cannot find to link to, I apologize) something about grief that I think was the most apt translation of how I’ve continued to feel since I had to let Lana go. I will paraphrase here: Grief is love. An excess of love. Grief is immense and strong love that has no where to go.

This has meaning to me because I can feel myself getting frustrated and angry at times when I have tried to place this love in other places and directions to compensate for her loss. I’ve also kept her cat tree in the bedroom since we said goodbye. 

She used the tree sparingly, and I often considered disposing of it while she was still here. Somehow, even if I didn’t say it out loud, whenever I was getting close to tossing it, she would suddenly appear at the top of the six-foot tree and look down at me like, “What? I’m always up here?”

Many people say that the best way to get over the loss of a pet is to rush out and get a new one. I made it very clear to everyone that I was not going to do that. It felt and feels disrespectful to her memory and, until I can shake that, I cannot adopt another cat. On top of that, my schedule has gotten increasingly complex, so I wouldn’t have the time to give a new cat the play and interaction they would need. 

So, I know that this cat tree will not have a practical use in the near future. 

Today I have move the tree out of the bedroom. My heart rate is up. I’ve shed some tears. And I’m not quite ready to take it out of the condo, but it is my intention to move it out by next Friday. I’m hoping to repurpose that corner of the bedroom which will then lead to a few additional changes on the other side of the room. 

I have asked Lana for permission to let this go. The next step will be to finally put a picture of Lana in our space. Her ashes are displayed but there are no images of her. It’s time for me to see her again, so I can feel that love and send it straight into her picture, into her memory, and into the love and light and joy she brought me for so long.

As I unpack my mental closet, I am letting go of the pain of this loss. This ties into my QESB because I have been inspired by the work these men have done with those who have lost a father, or a grandmother, or both, and how they free the space for the future while honoring and embracing the love from the past. Focusing on the pain denies me the joy of her memory and does her a disservice. Finding the right way to incorporate her love in this home will propel me to the future.

QESB - Unpacking My Closet: My Fanbase

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Captain’s Blog: Stardate 41918.2

Bonnie Gillespie is a name you should know if you’re pursuing a career in film. Or in the arts. Or maybe even just trying to be a good human. Her book and related online course work called Self Management For Actors (SMFA) has a number of mindset and practical tools for running a successful business.

Currently I am progressing through her “SMFA – Get in Gear For the Next Tier (GIG) 100 Day Program.” It’s genius, for what’s included it is VERY reasonably priced, and I am finding it enriching in all kinds of incredible ways. I cannot say enough about what this person and her work has to offer.

The day I just opened talks about our fan base. She breaks it into three categories, and each one is a third of the population. The people who get us, the people who are “meh” about us, and the people who do not get us. Her advice? Without spilling all her secrets (you gotta pay for that just like the rest of us…it’s worth it) she suggests that we spend all of our focus on finding, developing, and encouraging engagement with the third of the population who do, or will, get us. The other 2/3 will never come around, so it’s not worth the aggravation. And, by trying to appeal to people who are “meh” or not into us, we might end up changing ourselves enough that those people that DO get us no longer recognize us.

A perfect example is a comparison between two albums of two incredibly talented pop artists. Christina Aguilera and P!nk. In the same year, P!nk released “The Truth About Love,” and Christina released “Lotus.” One did well (Love) and one did not (Lotus). I will confess…I never listened to “Lotus,” but “Love” was the soundtrack for a huge turning point in my life for about a year.

Here are two women who got in the game around the same time, are both insanely talented, and are both sexy, (sometimes) blonde women. So what happened? Here’s why I think people love P!nk. As she’s matured, her music has grown with her. Her fan base, who totally get her, have also matured. So, they recognize themselves in her changing attitudes and can continue to connect to her story.

From what everyone told be about “Lotus,” Christina went in a different direction. Reviewers and friends of mine felt like she was trying to reach a “new, younger audience.” They said the sound was inauthentic. The kids wondered who this old person was trying to sell them music, and her original fans didn’t recognize her sound. In trying to reach fans who didn't "get" her, she ended up alienating many of the fans that did. 

Yesterday, I wrote about not fitting into the “cool” crowd in seventh-grade and a painful attempt to make that work. In this context, I was trying to convince people in the other 2/3’s of fans to “get me.” That was never going to happen. Looking back, there’s a part of the story I don’t often think about. I did have some friends. Not many. Only one that fit into the “cool” group, and he was someone special to everyone. But there were a few people that year who “got me.” But I actively chose not to engage with them. It’s seventh-grade, so navigating the social field is always tumultuous. Nevertheless, I added insult to injury by not accepting the friendship of my “fans” in the attempt to woo those who would never be.

There’s a bright side. That summer, I engaged with a summer theatre program that, no exaggeration, changed my life. This program operated out of the other junior high, Percy Julian. This was the CAST (Communication, Arts, Speech and Theatre) Program. There I found like-minded people with the same interests, the same drives, and the same “outsider” mentality that I’d been wading through. My amazing parents pulled some strings and by the fall of eighth-grade, I was enrolled at Julian, an active member of the CAST program, and had found my path.

As I unpack my mental closet, I am tossing out any of the baggage that may still carry over from those seventh-grade choices. I will no longer be seeking approval from people who are not my “fans.” This goes for friends as well as professional relationships. There are people out there who will and do, totally and completely, “get me” and my work. It’s time to give them more of what they love.

QESB - Unpacking My Closet: When I Look Into Your Eyes

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Captain's Blog: Stardate 41818.1

I can't stop this feeling
There's nothing I can do
'Cause I see everything when I look at you.
- FireHouse

Taking a seat in the lunchroom my seventh-grade year was always a challenge, which is why I eventually finagled the illustrious private dining room known as the nurse’s office. But before I discovered this in-no-way-unfortunate accommodation, I would try to find a place to sit with the people I knew best: the kids from my grammar school.

What no one had told me, though it didn’t take long to figure out, was that someone had given most of these kids tickets to the cool side of the food chain, and mine must have gotten lost in the mail. One day, to try and short circuit the system, I sat down at “the” table before everyone else had arrived, poised and ready to take my rightful place among my peers. They couldn’t keep me from sitting there if I got there first.

Two girls stopped at the bench across from me at the lunchroom table. Hesitating, they both sat down slowly. If synchronized sitting was a sport, they would have medaled. What happened next was fascinating. The two of them both started staring at me. Right in the eyes. Not saying a word, mind you, just…staring. Then one of them, without breaking eye contact, leaned towards the other, slowly raised her hand to hide her lips, and whispered. All the while never breaking eye contact with me.

Smiles followed the whispers, and then they both stood back up, together, and selected a new table for the cool crowd. My master plan had failed, though I had succeeded in changing the map of the lunchroom biodome.

*  *  *  *  *

Ralph Waldo Emerson Junior High School at the start of the 1990s might as well have been a coming-of-age situation comedy on one of the major networks. The teachers’ names alone are better than any I could ever come up with: Monton, Pingle, Schick, Skowron, and the Southern Belle who gave us hell, Ms. Glada Vaughn (please reread the name with your best Blanche Devereaux) was our school principal. I have stories about each of them, though chances are I would have to change the names. And I can never find pseudonyms that would do the real names justice.

As I unpack the clutter from my “mind palace” (thank you Steven Moffat), I have figured out that my instinctual response to someone throwing me a lingering glance has been wired wrong since then. I almost always perceive eye contact as threatening, especially when evaluating a new situation.

For example, a friend once flattered me with the notion that finding dates at the bar must have been easy for me. It was never the case. Frankly, I told him, rarely did anyone express such an interest when I’d be out. But looking back, I do recall making extended eye contact with men from time to time. Which I reasonably understood as their way of asking me to leave. No doubt this eye contact issue has been present in other situations as well.

Psychology Today confirms that eye contact can have a powerful impact on the psyche: “…that feeling looked at inclines people to become more attuned to their own body's physiological responses (heart rate, sweating, and breathing) as well as how they might be perceived by others.” While in many cases this can be a good thing, as it can help with memory retention and recall of verbal material, it can also have it’s downsides. “The gaze of others can trigger intense feelings of shame and other negative self-evaluations in socially anxious individuals, for instance.” (Katherine Schreiber, Psychology Today)

As I gave this interesting revelation some thought, I began wondering what my eye contact could suggest to other people. Wanda Thibodeaux of Inc. suggests that lack of eye contact can suggest one is “unprepared,” anxious, or that “think you're better or have a higher social standing than the person you're listening to.” Interpreted another way, lack of eye contact could be construed as an acknowledgement or admission that one does not deserve to be here.

Bringing it back to Queer Eye, one of the men on the show was a struggling comedian. When they asked him to do a set (in an American Legion, no less) and Jonathan’s one critique was that Joe wasn’t making eye contact with his audience. This meant, even though his timing was pretty solid, his jokes were funny(ish) and his overall act well-rehearsed, it wasn’t landing. Perhaps, if he wasn’t feeling confident that he should be there, he may have been communicating to his audience that they shouldn’t be either.

Which brings up another memory for me. Six years ago I took an amazing workshop with (humble brag) Betty Buckley. It was a weekend intensive and it was definitely a life changing experience. As we each worked on our songs, one of the final exercises was to select specific individuals to look at, directly, as we sang. The result, I still remember, was body shattering. It was amazing. As I think about that this minute, for the first time in a while, I’m not certain whether or not this lesson found itself manifest in my work. It’s an awareness I will definitely be checking in my practice.

As I unpack my mental closet, I am tossing out any of the baggage that may still carry over from that seventh-grade lunch room. I deserve to be here. We all do. And the next time I see you, I will look you in the eyes and tell you so.

Queer Eye for This Guy

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Captain's Blog: Stardate 41718.6

My boyfriend and I binged the new “Queer Eye” pretty hard over the course of a weekend. This was during the height of Mercury in retrograde, so we had to stop several times due to unscheduled power outages. What I thought we’d see was a slightly charming makeover show. What we got was something so much more.

Not knowing what to expect, other than loving Jonathan from his web series “Gay of Thrones,” I was truly surprised to be so inspired. These men were doing some amazing work, in a short time, with some people who’s lack of self-confidence had manifested itself physically in their home, their appearance, and their success (or lack of same).

During one of the power outages, I retired to our bedroom and took a quick glance at my side of the closet. While not as bad as some on the show, it was clear that I was holding onto a lot of old junk that didn’t need to be there and was cluttering my way to the clothes that make me feel like my best me. The closet and dresser became phase one of this process.

Three bags of donations later, I can look at my side of the closet and drawers and I know where everything is and where everything goes. My remaining wardrobe feels intentional, attractive, and manageable.

As I worked, I remembered an article I read that said that “how you do anything is how you do everything.” I started examining other areas of my life that may be cluttered. Some places have obvious clutter: my desk at my day jobs, our kitchen counter, our hall closet, our cabinets. I will be finding time over the next days to address these areas.

But I have discovered I have a similar problem in my mind. There are issues and items cluttering up my thought processes that are slowing down my momentum in areas I would like to be moving forward. Much of the work I’ll be doing will involve channeling some of the overriding messages of the Fab Five. Here are the top ideas I will be working with. I am paraphrasing or reinterpreting, so don’t throw down if I misquote your favorite QE guy.

  1.  You are worth taking the time you need to feel good about yourself. Self-care is essential for success and you deserve to take that time.
  2.  A cluttered home can cause stress and anxiety where you need to feel calm. With so much happening in our day-to-day, it is important to manifest serenity in your safe space.
  3. Elevating your look can elevate your sense of self-worth.
  4. Making sure you always make an effort in your appearance sends a message to those around you (both personally and professionally) about how you feel about them.
  5. There is no need to apologize for being who you are or where you are. Sometimes, we do this subconsciously and it presents itself through our dress, our body language, and how we put ourselves out in the world.

One constant theme I realized is that our mind is like our closet. Who we are, or who we picture as our best self, is absolutely in there. For all of us. The question becomes: how deep do we have to dig to find it and what must be cleared out to make it easy for us to put on our best self?

Time to clean out the closet.

A Pencil Dot a Day: A Pre-Birthday Musing

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Captain's Blog: Stardate 40318.3

It was Passover and I was three years old. Reportedly, my aunt had purchased an adorable cake for my fourth birthday. Kosher be damned, this boy was eating a leavened cake to celebrate the gift his birth and adoption had brought to this family.

I refused. Wouldn’t even blow out the candles. There was not to be any singing, or cake cutting, of any kind. Not even presents.

My mother was deeply concerned. She hadn’t been this upset since we were in the shoe store when I was six months old and they said my feet were too wide for the shoes they had in stock. But this was something different. I was making a statement and no one seemed to know why.

Later, Mom sat me down and asked me what was wrong. I was very clear. “I don’t want to turn four,” I said, “so I’m not going to. I’ve decided I’m going to stay three.”

“Why?” she asked. My answer shocked the hell out of her.

“Because,” I answered in a very matter-of-fact way, “You don’t look the same as you did when you were three. I like how I am now. I don’t want to change.”

Stumped, my mother went back to the proverbial drawing board to ponder the surprising reason behind my birthday ban. What she came back with has been the subject of Bar Mitzvah speeches, special events, and Baer family storytelling for as long as I can remember.

“You’re not going to change overnight,” she reassured me. “You see, we all grow just a pencil dot a day.”

A pencil dot a day.

My parents never talked down to me as a child. Being around grown-ups so much, I was often spoken to a little beyond my immediate comprehension. And I certainly wanted to know the reasons behind everything I was seeing in this world. I was, and still am, not afraid to ask too many questions.

However inquisitive, I was also still three (almost four) years old. Mom and I would draw and color together. My mother is an artist and worked in graphic design. One day a few years after this birthday conundrum, I would come to her frustrated that my attempts to draw Mister Pretzel had failed miserably. I asked her to do it and watched in amazement as she replicated this dapper, salty fellow. I looked up at her adoringly and said, “Oh Mama, you ARE an artist.”

So, with all this time we spent with pencil and paper in hand, this analogy worked perfectly for me. I completely understood that I would not suddenly “age” overnight and leave behind the me I was happy with at age three.

I still didn’t have a birthday that year. However, the following April I was ready to turn five, and had requests for the cake and the party. I can’t tell you what they were…probably Smurfs, based on the Saturday morning cartoon chronology.

This weekend, I am facing another milestone birthday. It is also, once again, Passover. I have had some trepidation about this birthday and it’s deeper meanings. I’ve been tossing around words like “grown-up” and “…where I thought I’d be…” and so forth.

When I was three, I didn’t want the picture to change. Now that I’m turning…older…I find myself anxious to see what the picture looks like. But here’s the thing: the picture is never finished. We are always growing and changing a pencil dot a day. This analogy may have started as a way to explain change. But now that I’m a "grown-up,” I find it’s about patience. The patience to trust yourself, the artist, as you draw your own self portrait.

Introducing the Thoughts and Prayers Act

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Captain's Blog - Stardate 21518.8

This is my second blog about gun violence today. I cannot get it off my mind, I’m a quick text-typer, and I have a long commute.

I’m done. This has gone on for far too long. I am fully convinced that this must be the result that the NRA leadership wants. When you compile these recurring actions with white terror groups, evangelical hate speech, Fox News, and the fear and smear campaigns over the past forty years, what some may call the southern strategy, the fact that it is easier for me to own a gun than a motor vehicle must be by a strict design. 

If that's true, there must be a reason. Looking at the rhetoric that surrounds so many of the NRA positions, it seems that they are hoping for: stricter immigration laws, stronger sentencing for offenders of color, less funding for education and increased funding for the military while encouraging the use of weapons which may lead to an uptick in military enlistment… Gosh…I wonder if any of these policies are being considered… (For new readers...that's sarcasm.)

I am sick and tired of thoughts and prayers from congress and leadership. Guess what…if there is a God, you’ve been sending thoughts and prayers for years and at this point one of only two things is possible:

  1. God has heard you and decided that there are better things to do than answer them.
  2. God has already given you the tools for you to make grown up, adult, difficult, and necessary decisions and is sending thoughts and prayers back to Earth that you will do your job and make them. 

I'm betting on number two. So, at this point, I will accept only the following thoughts and prayers. Introducing…The Thoughts and Prayers Act.

The Thoughts and Prayers Act

  1. Immediate and permanent ban on the sale of AR15s and all automatic and semiautomatic weapons in stores or gun shows or between private citizens.
  2. The immediate ban on the sale of all firearms to:
    1. Those deemed mentally ill via comprehensive medical exam
    2. Violent offenders
    3. Domestic abusers (married or not)
  3. Required written and skills tests, like with driving, before the purchase of a firearm. Proof of passing this yes must be renewed every five years. 
  4. Required liability insurance for ANY OWNER OF A FIREARM. This insurance must be presented when purchasing ammunition.
  5. Required background checks for all gun purchases, including individual sales and gun shows.
  6. Any gun sale that is carried out without the required testing, insurance, background checks, and other reasonable processes will incur a fine and possible jail time for both parties. 
  7. A reasonable cap on ammunition purchases within a year.  
  8. Any firearm whose primary purpose is offensively (as opposed to defensively) taking a human life shall be evaluated by a bipartisan task force. 
  9. Ammunition for automatic and semiautomatic weapons will no longer be sold in stores, at gun shows or between individuals. Failure to comply with this will result in a fine and possible jail time. 
  10. Bump stops are to be permanently banned from sale in the US immediately. 
  11. Those who already own automatic and semiautomatic weapons are expected to keep these weapons separate from their ammunition and safely locked. Any one of these firearms that are used in any form of human violence, the owner will be considered an accomplice for that violence and face charges accordingly.
  12. A deposit program for automatic and semiautomatic weapons will be established. Owners will have two years to return these weapons and be reimbursed for the value of the weapon. After the two years, they may still be turned in for a tax credit. 
  13. A non-compulsory registration system that comes with discounts and awards for members. The RRA, or Responsible Rifle Association will be a group dedicated to gun safety education, proper and responsible gun use, and the transparency of the gun lobby. This is encouraged but not mandatory. 

So, come at me with reasons these do not make sense. And no, as anyone who has stood in line at the DMV will tell you, inconvenience is not a good enough reason.

"Bad people will still do bad things" goes out the window when you look at...oh I don't know...all of our laws! Look at ALL the rules we are supposed to follow when driving. Still confused? Read my previous blog.

Hunting is not a good enough reason to own a semiautomatic or automatic weapon. Now, I don't hunt, but if you can't kill an animal without raining a barrage of bullets at it...perhaps a new hobby rather than a new weapon should be considered.

What else ya got?

 

Please note: I am not anti-gun ownership, responsible gun owners, or the sport of hunting. It's not my thing, and I am saddened when people are hunting animals to extinction, but that's another topic. I believe that these ideas are common sense stuff that responsible gun owners are doing anyway. However, clearly common sense alone isn't enough. So, let's figure this out.

Grounded (Or Why People Make Laws)

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Captain's Blog: Stardate 21518.4

I was a very good boy…for the most part. This holds so true that I believe I can remember the first time I got grounded. Ever. I was a teenager and was making a little extra cash mowing lawns.

One summer day, I was heading to do a lawn in my brand new, white, gym shoes. My mother told me not to wear them because they would be permanently stained. I said fine, but didn’t listen. Sure enough, her prediction came to pass and I was grounded for not heeding my mother’s request.  

At that time, silly as it may sound, a rule was established that I was not allowed to wear new shoes to mow the lawn. I was required to wear old shoes…which of course were now these new shoes with the yellow green ombré pressed into the rubber. 

Seems kinda silly to make a rule like that once I’d already learned my lesson, right? 

Let me give you another example. 

One night, I said I would be home from a move at…I don’t remember…let’s say 10. Suffice it to say, my teenage angst and defiance (which compared to many may seem measured but felt of paramount importance and volatility to me at the time). When I got home my mother was distraught (and my father, too, but as much from worry as from having to keep my mother from calling the police). Yes, I was grounded. A curfew was established and also the rule that if I am going to miss curfew, I must call when possible (remember…no cell phones…) and let them know. 

So, a poor behavior was perpetrated. Then a rule was made to curb that behavior. Fascinating. 

What’s my point? Glad you asked. 

I understand that a small number of people feel that additional gun laws are restrictive and also punitive. And to a degree, they may be absolutely right. Some of those complaining may be responsible owners of semiautomatic weaponry and not feel it is necessary to restrict these sales because they can behave. 

However, it is clear that your fellow citizens cannot. They were given the opportunity to demonstrate responsible behavior and there have been far too many examples that demonstrate this fact. 

So, while I understand you’re unhappy about it, it’s time for stricter gun laws and a ban on automatic and semiautomatic weapons. 

I get it. No one likes to be grounded. But now it’s time for you to go to your room and think about what you’ve done. 

Deep Space Nine turns 25

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Captain's Blog: Stardate 010318.1

While "Star Trek: The Next Generation" will hold it's place for me as the gateway into this iconic franchise, "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" remains one of my favorite series in the "Star Trek" pantheon. Many disagree with me on this, but here are some of my reasons.

1. It dared to be different: DS9 was billed as a darker series than it's predecessor and the further in we got, the more accurate this statement became. Characters waded in murky moral waters. Any time the writer's could make matters worse for our heroes, they would. And having the crew live on a station rather than a starship that was always on the move meant they could not flee the consequences of their actions. Most importantly, this was the first time "Star Trek" dabbled with the ongoing story arc instead of stand-alone episodes. And it was worth the payoff.

2. They dealt with Religion: Faith was a very present issue for DS9. While it was not any of our Earth religions, the Bajoran faith played a pivotal role in many of the series' high-stakes episodes. Seeing people not just of different races, but different faiths, interacting and having conversations about their faith is more necessary now than it was back in the 90s. 

3. Lesbian Kiss: TNG approached the issue of homosexuality once in "The Outcast" where a member of an androgynous species had illegal female tendencies. But in DS9, the convention of the Trill symbiont allowed for two women (one of whom was male in a previous "life") to fall in love. There was even a controversial kiss. 

4. Excellent Ensemble Acting: This was a truly exceptional cast, from captain to the recurring characters. There were some stellar group scenes that were smart, fast-paced, and so engaging that there were rarely any moments where these talented actors lost their momentum.

5. Social Commentary: The issues covered ranged from religious power in politics, military control of the government, racial discord, and so many more. With the volatile issues of the world right now, "Deep Space Nine" is almost MORE relevant now than it ever was. While it is unlikely that it will get the HD remastering treatment that "The Original Series" or "The Next Generation" received, it is still some excellent storytelling that has been getting some new viewers thanks to Netflix and CBS.com. 

Coming soon, the producers of DS9 have pulled most of the actors, writers, and behind-the-scenes staff to create what promises to be an exciting documentary of the making of "Deep Space Nine." What We Left Behind should be an exciting look into one of my favorite series. And I can't wait to watch.

Happy 25th Anniversary Star Trek: Deep Space Nine!

TOP TEN EPISODES:

  1. Emissary
  2. In the Hands of the Prophets
  3. The Homecoming/The Circle/The Siege (three-part story arc)
  4. Equilibrium
  5. Rejoined
  6. Trials and Tribble-ations
  7. Far Beyond the Stars
  8. In the Pale Moonlight
  9. It's Only a Paper Moon
  10. What We Leave Behind