Star Trek and Everything After

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Ah “Star Trek.” I could probably say no more and my feelings would still be conveyed. Humanity at a state of heightened existence. The common cold eradicated. Money non-existent. People working only for the benefit of bettering themselves. The end of war and barbarism on Earth. The acceptance of aliens with strange appearances and strange cultures. It is perhaps the ideal future.

Every “Star Trek” series had its own spin, but the core values were the same. I have spent the past few years watching each series from beginning to end. My viewing is coming to a close and I’m left wondering what can possibly take its place? From Kirk to Picard, Sisko to Janeway, to Archer,  I journeyed with them all, where no one had gone before. There were so many characters and so many adventures, when I thought I had found my favorite, I was wow’d by another show. So in honor of the ideal world I’d like to share my favorites.

Favorite Series: Star Trek Deep Space Nine
Featuring Star Treks first black captain, DS9 was a groundbreaking series. The show paralleled so many real life issues including occupation, religion, race, women’s rights, war, and the almighty profit, to name a few.

Favorite All Time Character: Quark! The Ferangi started out as a money hungry, selfish, and entirely criminal bar owner, but throughout the show he transformed. He became a pivotal character in many story lines, saving the lives of his friends; overcoming (some) of his sexist attitude for the good of his mother, and (sometimes) forgoing profit because it was the right thing to do. He was humorous and lovable despite his flaws.

Favorite Captain: Captain Picard
Captain Picard was just the kind of sensitive, caring man that anyone would be proud to call Captain. No one else could keep Q in check like him. He encouraged his crew and genuinely cared about everyone. And he became a Borg, now that’s dedication, and pretty darn cool.

Favorite Quote:
“I’m a doctor, not a nightlight.”– The Doctor

Favorite Characters from Each Series:
Star Trek Original: Mr. Spock
Star Trek TNG: Geordi La Forge
Star Trek DS9: Quark of course
Star Trek Voyager: The Doctor
Star Trek Enterprise: Phlox

Anything after “Star Trek” will have some mighty big shoes to fill. Some may come close, but I don’t think they could ever take its place. Here’s to you “Star Trek!”

The Slow Life

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It’s been a year since I moved to the country. I found out quickly living in the country was an entirely different life than living in the city. The first night here I was struck by the silence. No noise of any kind. No machines whirring, no nightly trains going past. No noise from cars or sirens, no dogs barking or cats meowing. The only sound was nature. Frogs and crickets chirping, the wind rustling through the trees. There being no city lights or street lights, I could see the night sky aglow with more stars than I had ever seen before. A band of the Milky Way stretching across the sky, and shooting stars gave it a feeling of mystery and magic!

Having lived in the city in the same 5 mile radius my entire life, I was accustomed to quick trips to the store right around the block. Everything was within walking distance, or a very short drive. If I didn’t feel like cooking, a restaurant was always nearby. We had city water and city sewage. All these things I took for granted never realizing how much easier life was with them.

Upon moving to the country I found there would be no more quick trips to the store. No restaurants anywhere nearby, and none to deliver this far out. If we brought dinner home it would be cold. Frozen items from the store would be warm by the time we made it home. City water doesn’t flow this way. Instead we have wells. The local electric company won’t service our area so we had to join an electric co-op. Turns out the electric co-op is cheaper, and well water is not that bad; plus it’s pretty nice not getting a water bill.

Nature itself has proven to be the biggest obstacle of our new country life. Bears and foxes make straying too close to the woods at night a really bad idea. Caution is needed when driving at night because of deer crossing the road.  With no street lights, and fields and woods all around, they tend to sneak up on you. Alligators are nearby as well though I haven’t seen one yet. When it rains the yard becomes a swamp. With lots of woods there are often downed trees. When it snows our roads are plowed last. Kind farmers hitch plows to their machines and do what they can until the city plows get to our roads. In the summer dragon flies seem to have a dragon fly party, swarming and flying into anything, including the sides of the house; and people if they’re brave enough to be outside with the dragon flies. My vegetable garden is never safe from hungry animals. Also there are REALLY big snakes.

When house hunting our main priority was a yard. I wanted room for a garden, and room for the kids to play. We never intended to move so far out, but when I saw the picture of the yard I fell in love. A day later we were signing papers.  Now we live the slow life and despite its downsides there is nothing like sitting on your porch watching meteor showers or watching the trees change colors in the fall. Without a doubt it has been the best year of my life.

How People from Different Races and Nationalities Have Positively Influenced My Life

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With all the differences in the world today I would like to use this post to focus on different people. But not their differences. I would like to highlight people who are different than me who have made a difference in my life. Who I am today has been molded by different people. I will not post real names for privacy reasons, but I will share the stories because it is important to share with others, what others have shared with me; and to let the world know that all people have an impact on each other.

Let’s go back to the beginning, 1st grade. I was a quiet, shy child; an introvert, but I didn’t know it then. I could generally be comfortable with anyone, but I wasn’t much in the way of conversation. Being 6, I could not read, or write very well at all. Our class would separate into reading/writing groups, I was always sent off with the slower group. My classroom teacher, a black woman, we’ll call her Mrs. J., noticed one day that i was left handed and being left handed herself, began to teach me herself instead of sending me off with my reading /writing group. Mrs. J. worked with me and taught me how to form my letters in the way of a left handed person. In a short time I learned to write, and becoming better and more familiar with letters and words she quickly taught me how to read. And i never stopped reading. This one woman, Mrs. J., taught me what no one else could. She gave her time and her knowledge to help me, and instilled in me a life time love of reading. 25 yrs. later, to my absolute delight, I found Mrs. J. was a teacher at my sons school. Not only that, but she was my sons reading teacher! All those years she spent tirelessly teaching our community. She is truly a blessing to my family, and to countless others whom she influenced and inspired.

Grade 3, Mrs. G. Still the quiet child, and by this time a total book worm; Mrs. G. my 3rd grade teacher, a black woman, would bring me her daughters books to take home and read. I would borrow one or two, read and return them to her and she would bring me more. Because of her kindness I read the entire series of “The Babysitters Club” during my 3rd grade years. She was amazing. She helped to foster my love of reading, and went above and beyond her job as a teacher. Not every teacher would be so kind as to share their children’s things with their students.

Fast forward to age 20. I was a single mother, doing the best I could. Maria was a Mexican women I worked with. On my day off, out of the blue, my boss called and asked if I could come in. Maria had offered to watch my son for me, for free, so I wouldn’t have to worry about finding a last minute babysitter, i could just bring him to her there, as she was getting off. She had children of her own and knew the difficulties of child care. I was amazed at her selflessness. Having just finished her shift, was no doubt tired, yet went home to care for my son, for free no less, along with her own. Because of her act of kindness, we went on to forge a great friendship. And we decided since we didn’t work the same shift anyway, that we would each watch each others kids while the other worked, saving each other money and child care worry. The impact she made on me was great. I decided then that since I was helped, I should also do the same for others. Because of this I have never accepted money for babysitting, rather I have tried to help others as Maria helped me.

Pastor T. was a man from the Dominican Republic. Coming to the states as a young man, his life took a turn for the worse. He killed a man, and ended up doing time. But during his time in prison, he found God. Now, many people find God in prison, but this man found him and did not forget him. Having paid his debt with incarceration he went on to take what he had learned and try to make a difference in the lives of any and everyone that he could. He became a Pastor and shared his testimony with many. He was a guest speaker at the camp i attended as a child and i was privileged to hear his testimony. What he said really helped me to see that people, even though they have done terrible things, are still people, and they can still have an importance and a place in the world. Not everyone changes but we should try to help them also, give them the chance to change, because we don’t know what influence they could have in the future; and what good they have the potential to do. Pastor T. showed me people can rise above the circumstances they find themselves in.

Mr. F. was a black man who was the manager at a place I worked. Mr. F. was retired military, born and raised in our town, a deacon at his church, and well loved by the community. His respect is testified to by the sheer amount of people who would stop by our work every day to say hello to him, or stop and have a conversation with him, or come to him for advice. Now, Mr. F. gave me a job when I was most in need, and at a time when jobs weren’t the easiest to find. He helped me in so many ways, but not only me. I saw this man give money from his own pocket, to anyone who was in need. If you didn’t have gas, he would make sure you got enough to get where you were going. If you didn’t have a car to get somewhere, he would make sure you got a ride. He sent me to pick people up often (paid and on the clock), and when i had car trouble he sent people to pick me up. If you lost your home, he would rent you one of his rentals at a price you could afford. Kids got free candy every time they came in. If you needed a few extra dollars he would pay you from his own pocket to help out around the store for a few hours. He would make loans with no interest to anyone he knew. He would buy medicine for anyone who couldn’t afford it. There is not much Mr. F. did not do. Granted he was able to do these things, but he by no means had to do them. He helped everyone he could and he did not care who you were, or where you came from, or what kind of person you were. Everyone loved and respected him and he made a difference in so many lives, my own included. He had the true spirit of love and my life will never be the same because I knew him.

These are just some of the many people who I have known who are different than me, inspired me, and helped to shape who I have become. Without their positive influences my life would be different, and I shudder to think of who I would have been without them. They are my beacons of light in a dark world. I would love to read about other people’s positive life experiences regarding how people from different races and nationalities have influenced and inspired them.

Genetic Testing and Who Will It Benefit?

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DNA is the code of life. More specifically, the codes to OUR lives. Recently, great strides have been made in the field of Genetics. The knowledge gained has empowered us with the ability to literally make ourselves a better species. And what we don’t understand yet, we will learn.

The saying, “with great power comes great responsibility,” never applied more to the outcome of the human race than it does today. All around the world nations are coming into their own, acts of kindness abound, and there is hope of a better tomorrow. However, hatred, corruption, pride, and greed have managed to hang in there; and if we have learned nothing from them they will surely overtake us. Our genetic code is no exception. If we cannot stop the unfair treatment of people based solely on who they are, how can we expect fair and equal treatment based on blood, which is by the way, who we are?

“Give us your blood!,” geneticists cry. They always need more. More samples. More to study. But what happens when one day, they finally have samples of the blood of everyone? The story goes the blood will be used for breakthrough genetically tailored medicines. I wholly believe this. And it’s such an uplifting idea. Lessons learned show contrary, and insist caution, guarantees, and oversight from ordinary citizens are in order.

The past has taught us the lives of some are not held in such high regards as the lives of others. Will this somehow change once we have developed genetically based medicine for everyone? Or will the prices of such medicine be raised so high that only some will be able to afford it? And if so, is this right, seeing as how all people would have contributed to the development of these medicines with their very blood?

Worse yet, what if the government (any and all) decide certain genes are harmful and insist on gene deletions from embryos, so that a child being born is not born with the exact DNA given to them by their parents? Indeed there is arguably strong evidence children would benefit from certain genes being replaced, such as genes for fatal diseases. But who defines harmful? Does it begin and end only at the genes for fatal diseases? Or will this one day lead to things such as the entire deletion of genes which make us each unique or enable us to make difficult choices, and will we have a choice in this decision? What if genes for aggression were found and removed? Because aggression is dangerous right? But what if in lacking the genes for aggression, we are no longer capable of self defense? Surely, if everyone had their aggressive genes removed before birth we should all be safe. Except, humans are not the only thing we must defend ourselves against. And it must be expected that there would be holdouts, people unaccounted for, and very possibly people who will get around it somehow.

Genetic testing and the information gained from it will change the world. It is beyond doubt a good thing. Where we take it and what we do with it is where the problem lies. It is time for the world to come together and ensure that people everywhere will benefit from it and not be left behind. Rules must be set in place for all uses of genetic data, rules which are beneficial and neither a hindrance or oppressive; all peoples should have representation and a say in their DNA and what is done with it; the medical advances made from the knowledge of our blood must be equally accessible to all; and no one should be forced into gene alteration against their wishes.

The Idea of Utopia and Where Has It Gone?

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Once upon a time, there existed an idea, Utopia. Somehow we have forgotten where we wanted to go. The world goes on yet we do not change. We have become stagnant in our drive for a better world. So what steps do we need to take to get ourselves on track? What is necessary to make Utopia?

The appeal of Utopia is paradise for everyone. In paradise needs should be met, safety and health should be assured, not any one person should lack anything. Our world today is based on gain. We all need things. There is plenty in the world, but for most people, acquiring what they need is beyond their means. The problem is not gain in itself, but excessive gain, to the point of hoarding and price gouging, and requiring things from people who have not such things to give. In this way some end up with much, and many end up with little. Perhaps the first step to Utopia is each person taking no more than is reasonable.

Step 1: Abolish Excessive Profit:
Covering costs and paying employees is necessary. People don’t work for free. Materials don’t manufacture themselves. People must be able to save for the future. However, should we not set a cap to excessive profit? Why should a corporation be allowed to gouge customers and accumulate more money than any person, under any circumstance, could ever possibly need?

A house divided will fall. What does this mean? I have a house, hopefully you have one as well. But outside our houses there is a bigger house, the Earth itself. Just look around, the Earth is so divided, we need to unite it so it will stand. Therefore, the second step to Utopia should be to help each other.

Step 2: Help Each Other Don’t Hinder Each Other:
There are laws in certain states making it a crime to feed the homeless. This doesn’t seem particularly helpful. If a person has food (or anything) they would like to freely give logic dictates that this is helpful. Feeding a hungry person is not only helpful to the one hungry, but is one less meal the government must provide at a shelter; either saving tax payer money or enabling an extra person to be fed. This is not limited to food. Clothing, used vehicles, furniture, extra school supplies, among many things, can simply be given to people you know, neighbors, friends, strangers, anyone with a need, and at no real loss to you if you have it to spare. Clothing is necessary for a job (most jobs), school supplies are necessary for an education, a vehicle (or at least a reliable way to work) is necessary for a job, food is necessary for health, health is necessary to function properly and to be able to work and go to school. When people lack these things it is a hindrance to being able to get back on their feet. The world should not wait around on the government to take appropriate action. Rather, each and every person who is able to help another should take it upon themselves to do so. And we must say no to laws that hinder a person from being helped, or from rising up above their current situations. This is in the best interest of us all.

I will add more steps another day. I would love to read other people’s steps on how to move the world forward into Utopia, and not backward to the same things we are trying to escape. True discussions involve all sides, but discussion cannot happen unless all sides speak and also hear. All ideas and thoughts are welcome but please keep it civil.