We are nearly at the end of another year and it’s certainly not lacked for crazy. Idiot in Chief Donald Trump has continued to lower the bar, stunning us all with just how low he can go. He supported misogynists, racists and neo-Nazis through his silence, just when he could have used his voice to actually condemn them. He’s taken the US out of the Paris Climate Accords, stoked fires with North Korea and given huge tax benefits to his rich chums whilst hurting the people who need help the most. Apart from that, he’s doing a great job…

Enough of him. On a personal level, how has 2017 been? Well, it began with me firmly entrenched in my job selling bathrooms. It began with me eagerly anticipating the arrival of the Nintendo Switch and virtually drooling over Breath of the Wild, whilst the year also saw my daughter make the transition from infant school to junior school – a big change and one that only underscores to me how my baby is growing up. I wish she could remain my little girl forever, but that’s not the way of things. I will always be proud of her though.

As the year moved forward we had a great time up in Scotland for a family wedding, which involved a week in a beautiful holiday home. Whilst there we took a trip on a gorgeous, rustic steam train and I went canyoning, which involved jumping into cold pools of water and walking down waterfalls (sort of). It was an amazing time that concluded with a wonderful wedding!

Later on came a trip to the Harry Potter Experience, a birthday treat for my step-daughter but also for me. Seeing up close how these films were made opened my eyes to the sheer scale of the work involved, with so many amazing contributions from so many people. It was during this time that I was a little distracted, for I was making a decision that was going to be of huge importance to not only my future, but that of my wife and of my daughter. I was enjoying my job with bathrooms, but I needed something that could bring in more money. It wasn’t an easy decision to leave, however it ultimately wasn’t about me. It was about my family’s needs, so I took the chance and moved on to a new job, closer to home. Each new day is a new experience to learn and grow, so my mantra going forward is very simple.

Be better tomorrow than you were yesterday. Be better today than you were yesterday. This is not simply for work. This is for everything. I wish you all a happy and prosperous New Year.

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So maybe this is unfair, but right now I really hate Ed Sheeran’s music. The radio station we have on at work is obsessed with him, to the point where I am starting to leave the radio off for long spells, out of disgust. I have nothing against Ed himself, or in fact his songs, except for the ridiculous over-saturation going on. I get it, he’s big right now, but there are other artists out there. Enough is enough already!

I’m not a fan of time-wasting customers – they come in, wander about aimlessly, decline offers of help and then mill about some more. Are you going to do anything or just take up our time needlessly?

There are some stupidly loud motorbikes that go up and down the road outside the shop. Is there really any need to deafen both yourselves and every passer-by? Is the noise of your exhaust inversely proportional to the size of your manhood? Because it seems like you’re compensating for something from where I’m sitting.

 

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What’s coming up? Well, in a personal sense, there is some moving and shaking soon – I am about to enter my final week with my current employer, before moving on to new pastures. This is obviously quite a big deal, with short-term and long-term repercussions and not a step taken lightly, but after deliberating and discussing and considering, it was a leap that needed to be taken. I have nothing but admiration, respect and friendship for the guys I currently work with, but this new job offers the opportunity to make more money, which will in turn bring other, positive impacts. I had to base my decision on what would be best for my wife, daughter and myself, and so, soon, it will be time to move on from bathrooms.

I need to tell you all about my recent visit to the Harry Potter Experience. It was a birthday treat for both my stepdaughter and myself and it was thoroughly enjoyable. There’s a lot of photos, so I need to spend a bit of time on that one. It would take a while to thoroughly describe the experience!

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Speaking of birthdays, my stepson and his girlfriend stunned me by getting me Super Mario Odyssey for the Switch. That’s in addition to a big Star Wars Cross Sections book and a Star Trek Borg ship model. I think they spent waaaaaaaaay more money on me than they should have, but guys, if you’re reading this, I am very grateful! At some point I need to offer up some early thoughts on Odyssey, and also on the Breath of the Wild download content, which was a birthday/Christmas present from my wife (along with my favourite tipple, Old Speckled Hen!).

The homemade birthdays from my little girl and my granddaughter were delightful! My daughter drew me a Star Wars-themed card and my granddaughter drew me a picture of Scrooge McDuck! It’s like they know me too well…

 

I regard myself as a second-generation Trekkie (my Mum is a first-generation Trekkie, and she got me into the franchise when I was a kid). I’ve seen pretty much every bit of Star Trek TV and film material, I’ve read several of the books, I’ve owned models, uniforms and toys. I’ve been lucky enough to attend a couple of conventions (thanks Mum!). My love of Star Trek runs deep. Being a part of this fandom makes me feel like I’m part of a truly special, warm and diverse community.

This is, in a way, what the Star Trek shows and movies are. They are a diverse mix, stretching across more than fifty years, all meaning different things to different people. It therefore pains me when I see some fans playing a divisive game on social media.

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Out of courtesy I’ve refrained from revealing the tweeter’s identity, but this sort of thing annoys me. It is anathema to what Star Trek is all about. It is not for me, or anyone else, to decide what is ‘true Trek’. The above tweet represents the desire to take a personal opinion and have it regarded as objective fact. It represents the wish to have one’s personal views override everyone else’s.

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This tweet is in itself an act of trolling. It’s deliberately creating an ‘us versus them’ culture. It’s telling fans of Discovery the show they like isn’t really Star Trek, and there’s the implication that they’re not really Star Trek fans. Such an attitude is incredibly arrogant, and deeply ironic too.

I’m sure there are fans of Discovery who take their defence of the show too far. For the record, they’re just as bad (though I’ve not actually observed any such behaviour directly). If you’re a fan of Discovery and someone else isn’t, just shrug and move on. If you’re not a fan of Discovery, don’t watch it, shrug and move on. Labelling certain things ‘true Trek’ certainly isn’t a sensible or mature approach, and the implication of it isn’t going to accomplish anything. To some, Discovery will be their first taste of Star Trek. To others, including lifelong Trekkies, Discovery will feel every bit as relevant and important to the franchise as TOS or TNG.

See, here’s the thing. As I mentioned earlier, Star Trek fans are a diverse bunch, and the shows and movies reflect that. To some, TOS and only TOS will do. Others might have never seen TOS and their first experience of Star Trek will have been through JJ Abram’s films. Some fans will love TNG and hate DS9 and some will hate ENT but love DS9. There is no ‘true Trek’, there is only different Trek that means different things to different people.

Back to Sci-Fi Analysis

 

Not for the first time my mind took me to some strange places in my dreams last night. I don’t know what prompted the first dream, and the other two were odd in different ways.

Hillary, World Champion?

It began in Las Vegas. At least, I think it was Vegas. My wife and I were watching a boxing match (strange really, as neither of us have any vested interest in boxing), between an unknown guy and… former First Lady Hillary Clinton. Yes, seriously.


Believe it or not, Hillary gave as good as she got, holding her own well into round 6 and possibly beyond. Even in the dream I couldn’t help but wonder ‘WTF’, and no, I don’t know how the fight ended.

War, with… Animals?

Onward to dream two (I don’t recall if this dream was a strange continuation of the first, but it’s so different it deserves to be classed as a separate dream). I’m driving a tank (or I’m a video game character driving a tank) and blasting enemy tanks in some sort of futuristic war. After wading through dirty sewer water, I’m talking to an anthramorphic fox when a nuke goes off. I blame a combo of Guardians of the Galaxy and the North Korean problem for that one.

Poignant Times

I know exactly what brought on the final dream. I was firstly waking around a supermarket with my wife and daughter, when for some reason we had to go off in opposite directions. My little girl wanted to come with me, so off we went to get a card for my Nan’s birthday, even though at this point she has been gone for five years. Still, it mattered to me to get this card – so off I went to find one.

Suddenly, we found ourselves in my Nan’s old home, even though it wasn’t actually her home. My brother was there, and my Nan was there too. She gave me a hug and it felt very real and very emotional (feeling a bit emotional as I write this). Sadly, my daughter couldn’t see her – my Nan was there for my brother and I.

Surreal and touching and emotional.