The Ring Saga

This is the story of a Ring. Not the One Ring. No Sauron involved here. This is a story about one of my most prized possessions; my Star Fleet Academy class ring. Nerd alert! Also, Emotion Alert!

A long time ago, actually more than 20 years ago, I saw an advertisement for a novelty ring from Star Trek. It captured my attention as I tend to like to collect memorabilia that could actually be in the show or movie vs stuff that says “Star Trek” on it. I like tech manuals that are presented as “in universe,” for example. It is just what I like to collect. If I collect a replica of a phaser, it shouldn’t say “Star Trek” on it, it should just look like a phaser. So I saw this ad:one-ring
I wanted this ring so badly, that I made a fool of myself to my loving wife, Mary. I begged, I pleaded, I offered to sell one of the kids! Alas, we could not afford it as it was more than I made in about a month back then. I fully understood that this ring would never be mine. Fast forward to Christmas, 1994. Scattered around the Yule tree were 17 little boxes. Inside of the first box was a pewter Star Trek keychain. Inside the next box was… a pewter Star Trek keychain. Inside the next… you get the idea. Turns out there was a matching set of 16 pewter keychains from Rawcliff that showed up in a local mall and Mary had gotten each one for me. Each one in a small silver box. Like these:keychains

Did I say 17 boxes on the tree? I did. In the last box, perched at the pinnacle of the tree, was the Academy Ring! My wife stretched, scrimped, saved and twisted our finances and got the ring for me. She had gotten the mall guy to give her an extra box so that they would all match. I was stunned. I must admit that the tears flowed. That was, by far, the best Star Trek gift I had ever gotten. I wore the ring from that point forward.

I rarely removed it and it became a permanent fixture on my hand, and in my conversations with other Trek fans. I always showed it off. It got mistaken over the years for a Masonic ring (I am not a Mason,) a military ring (I have never served,) and once, some sort of satanic symbol (not a Christian or a Satanist.) It was always a point of contact with my love of Trek, my nerd-dom, and the love of my wife. I wore that ring, continuously, day and night, for over 20 years.

Just about 4 months ago, I cracked the stone around the delta shield Star Trek emblem in the center stone. I attempted a repair by adding in CA glue and that seemed to make it solid again. The actual crack was almost microscopic and I thought I had dodged a bullet. I was wrong. Just before Christmas 2016, I lost the entire delta shield out of the ring, and most of the stone. I suspect that I somehow banged the ring against something and that crack let go, but if so, I didn’t realize it when it happened. I simply looked down at my ring one night, and saw the horrible damage. I was heart broken. I called out to Mary; “My ring is ruined!” I didn’t know what to do. Mary calmed me down, and suggested contacting Josten’s to find out if the ring could be repaired, and how much it might cost. I was sure that even if it could be repaired, it would cost something close to the original cost of the ring, given 20 years of inflation.

I went to the Josten’s site on the web and looked for a link for repairs. They do indeed have a system for repairing class rings and I contacted a friendly operator in person to see if they had any idea about the cost. She said to me; “send us the ring. It has a lifetime warranty.”

“But ‘I’ broke the ring,” I replied.

“Send it to us anyway, and we will see if it can be repaired, and if so, we will let you know the cost first, if it isn’t covered under the warranty.” said my Customer Service Valkyrie.

I sent the ring to them the week before Christmas. I was notified that “We have received your jewelry item for adjustment. It is scheduled to be completed and returned to you at the address above approximately the week of (14-JAN-17).” No mention of cost to repair.

A tense 2 weeks later and here we are:
ring

Back where it belongs!

I want to give a big shout out and thank you to Josten’s! They went above and beyond and gave me back my prized possession. It is intact and beautiful! This is a prime example of the kind of customer service that has become very rare in today’s world. Josten’s, I salute you!

Valhalla Awaits!

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Happy Name Day, Norman!

Happy Name Day to my Son-in- Law Norman P. Gates. He is a wonderful young man and I am proud of him in so many ways. He is a hard worker and provides very well for my daughter. He is extremely intelligent and works for a defense contractor in Syracuse. He also plays Super Smash Brothers competitively, and DMs our family D & D group. He was my son’s roommate at Clarkson University and Marissa, my daughter, met him there. They hit it off and have been married for 2 and a half years now. I am so very pleased that he is part of my family! Rock on, Norm!

2016- you SUCK!

2016 has been a terrible year. So many of the actors, musicians and other famous people from my formative years have passed. Today, Carrie Fisher passed.
Losing people like Prince or Alan Rickman is definitely bad, but losing Carrie is a huge blow to my childhood. I was entranced by Star Wars. I was already a Star Trek fan, of course, but Star Wars was a huge spectacle and I drank it up like a sponge. I was 10-11 in 1978 when the movie came out and I was in loooooove with Leia. By the time ROTJ came out and the infamous “slave leia” costume was shown, I was totally gone. Now the beautiful and talented actress who brought Leia, and so many other characters to life, has gone. I know she had her own personal battles with addiction and the “hollywood machine,” and I know that she had depression issues and other mental difficulties, but I will never stop loving Leia.

I will miss you Leia, and I know that Carrie is in Valhalla, partying with Odin and the others, preparing for the final battles of Ragnarok.

Valhalla awaits…

Some Libertarian musings…

While I certainly don’t agree with everything Ken White has ever said/ written, I do like this blogpost and think it deserves notice:

 

Libertarianism as Ten Questions Rather Than Ten Answers

 

Read it with an open mind, and please, share any thoughts…

 

Valhalla Awaits!

Storm Drain: What the HELL is under your street?

A good friend of mine, Pony Horton, is an amazing visual effects wizard. He began working with Star Trek New Voyages/ Phase 2 back around 2009 for our episode “Kitumba.” He played the part of the mentor to the Klingon Emperor. His K’Sia was inspired. He also does much hard work behind the scenes of our episodes. Correcting small flaws in the sets, fixing things like makeup flaws and even creating whole locations that didn’t exist in reality. He created the alien ruins behind and around our “Guardian of Forever” gate set, for example. So Pony is an independent film maker as well. He makes great “shorts,” and is making a new horror film called “Storm Drain.” He has gathered several talented actors and has begun pre- production of this classic “creature” horror short.

I must admit, when I first met Pony, I was struck by his humble attitude. He has been involved in the movie and film industry for literally decades, but he behaved almost like a novice, eagerly soaking up “tips and tricks” from the other actors and crew, and looking around like a star-struck “fan boy.” He seemed delighted to be there. I only talked to him briefly that first shoot, as I was busting my ass being Key Grip for the biggest crew we had ever had, and shooting on location at Fort Ticonderoga. I watched him demonstrate some real cool skills with a bullwhip. Fast forward to the next several shoots when he and I got to spend some time together between setups and scenes. We became very good friends and when he told me of this project, I had to give him all the publicity my meager skills can provide.

This is to be a crowd funded film, and so far, has some pretty cool stars on board, including Tim Russ (who played Tuvok in Star Trek: Voyager) and Larry Thomas (who was the “Soup Nazi” on Seinfeld,) and a personal favorite: Anthony De Longis, (who has been in everything!)

Please give the website a look at : http://stormdrainmovie.blogspot.com/ and when the fundraisers start, please consider donating to this talented friend’s movie!

Valhalla Awaits!

Aviking in NYC!

I went aviking in NYC…

I traveled across waters, I strode upon the strange, foreign shores of Manhattan and I did acquire loot… The very definition of “Aviking.” I recently took my first real trip into NYC to visit friends and to see Iron Maiden in concert. I traveled down after work on Tuesday, March 29th and stayed with my good friend Rob on Long Island. It was a 5 ½ hour drive and I was pretty whipped when I got there at about midnight. Rob and another friend Ryan and I met up and went to a local diner for some really good food. My head hit the pillow at just short of 3 AM and I slept like a stone, something I don’t usually do on an air mattress.

Up and at ’em in the morning, we rode the Long Island Rail Road into Penn Station in Manhattan. Steve, Rob and I met up with Ryan and then Alex McDonald and his son, Phil. We wandered around lower Manhattan and saw many places that I had only seen in movies: Madison Square Garden, Battery Park, Herald Square, Broadway, The Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, The Empire State Building, and most importantly, Ground Zero and the new Freedom Tower.

The impact of the place is staggering. I consider my self pretty sensitive to emotions and “vibes” if you will and that place screams with sorrow. I stood, mute, and felt myself tearing up. The thought of the horror that those people went through before the collapse of the twin towers is very sobering. The “footprints” of the towers have been replaced with reflecting pools that have a waterfall on each side that drains into a central square. Surrounding the pools are carved marble “railings” with the names of the people who died carved into them. Looking along the rails, seeing the names, drives into your brain the loss of that fateful morning. When the wind blew a certain direction, the water from the fountains was wafted over me. I felt each drop. They mixed with the tears on my cheeks and carried with them some atoms of the victims and my sorrow. I did not get to stay as long as I wanted and I probably would have shot pictures of every single name if I had time, but I got to see it and feel it and, until I return, that will have to do…

At one point, while standing at the memorial, I was startled to see a low-flying air liner fly overhead. When I looked up, it was low enough to read the logo of the airline and it flew out of view past a tall building. The sound was exactly the same as the audio when the second plane hit the tower… I shuddered. I understand that the massive air traffic into and out of the airports around the city mean that sometimes the planes must descend that way, but it surely must be a stress trigger for anyone who was there that morning. I was not, and I really felt a shot of adrenaline when that plane flew over.

We walked all around Battery Park and then walked out onto the Brooklyn Bridge. I shot the obligatory shots of the bridge structure and appreciated the view very much. I also shot the front of a big square block of a building that was the “secret MiB headquarters” in the movie Men in Black. I like architectural photos and shot some amazing cornices and sculptures, over 200 shots in all. I wanted to just hold down the shutter button on my Canon and let it just go and go…

I had a waffle from a street vendor at Herald Square and it was fabulous. I now know what Speculoos is. I also got some Gyros at a shop right across from Madison Square Garden. Too much to eat actually. My little niece, Lydia sent with me a tiny little stuffed bear so that I “wouldn’t be lonely” on my trip. I took him all around with me and shot photos of him to show Lydia where I went. I also shot the little bear at the Iron Maiden concert, so she will get to see him there, as well.

Denise, and Dave & Theresa, some friends who live in New Jersey came into the city for the Iron Maiden concert and we met at the Gyros place. About the Maiden concert, I will just say this: I hope to be even HALF as active as those guys are when I am 60! Bruce Dickinson, in particular, was leaping around the stage for all of the 2 hour long show and never even looked like he wanted to slow down. Jumping 6 or 8 feet into the air from the top of a speaker stack and running from one side of the stage to the other to make sure everyone was able to see him!

The “loot” I mentioned? I bought some neat keychains from a street vendor at a great price! It felt like I stole them!

I had a tremendous day, thanks to my friends acting as “native guides.” Once again Steve, Rob, Ryan, Denise, Theresa & Dave, Alex and Phil; thanks so much for taking a naive, tourist and showing me around! I have visited cities plenty of times in my life, and like Chicago a great deal, but to visit the “Big Apple” has given me a new definition of “big city.” Cannot wait for another trip and more sight seeing!

Valhalla Awaits!

Repost: 5 Reasons why voting third party is not a wasted vote.

http://theodysseyonline.com/columbus-st/voting-third-party-not-wasted-vote/370886

Kasey Cross puts forth a cogent and very clear position:  Vote.  Don’t “vote for the lesser evil,” vote for the candidate you would like to see in the White House, regardless of party.  I, personally, favor Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party Candidate for President, but there are many other people, NOT in the established 2 Parties, that you might choose.

Look at this site, and do your own research:

http://2016.presidential-candidates.org/?other=other

I am not telling anyone who to vote for, but vote you must…

Valhalla Awaits!

Happy Name Day, Norman!

Today is my son- in- law Norm’s Name Day. Norman came into our lives a few years back when he was my son’s roommate in college. My daughter (The Vocal Offspring) met him and they struck up a relationship. He graduated and shortly thereafter, he married my little girl. He is a hard working man who works for a defense contractor in Syracuse. He takes excellent care of my daughter and we have welcomed him into the family with open arms. I love you, son.

He is a gamer and competes nationally at Smash Brothers. He is a great fit for Marissa and I hope that they have many years of happiness together. Happy Name Day, Norm! May Thor hold his hammer between you and harm, and may Loki, the Trickster find you always vigilant.

The passing of a friend

A long time friend of mine passed away recently and I just learned of it. Erika McKinstry, who I have known since 1983 or thereabouts, passed away from lung complications arising from a blood clot. She died suddenly, in the arms of her husband, who administered mouth – to – mouth but was unable to save her. She fought valiantly and tried so hard to live.

I met Erika back in the early 80s through my friend’s Eric and Norman. She was in the Civil Air Patrol with them and we met at a party at Norman’s house where, among other things, Erika and I danced the “Time Warp” from Rocky Horror Picture Show. I was in and out of contact with her over the years and was surprised to learn that she had a daughter, Aislinn. My daughter and Aislinn got to be really good friends through school and I considered her one of my “other daughters.”

I got back into touch with her before the 1998 Ice Storm that pummeled the northern NY region. My family lost power at our house and we gathered up the kids and the pets and traveled to the home of my friend Jamison Long. During that week without power, we “rescued” Erika and Aislinn and brought them to Jamie’s house to weather the storm. Once there, Jamie and Erika really hit it off and began a relationship that has lasted to this day.

Jamison and I just spoke on the phone about Erika and what happened. He and I (and Erika) have fallen out of touch the past few years for what seem now like silly reasons. I am ashamed to say that I haven’t spoken with her, other than online, in well over two years.

Erika was an artist of the first order. In fact, one of my prized Star Trek possessions is a portrait of me, as a Klingon, holding a bat’leth overhead. It is hanging, framed, in my den right now. A creative light is gone from this world. She was artistic in so many ways, and loved animals. I will miss her.

Please do not wait. Do not fail to talk with friends and family. The Norns have a fate mapped out for us, a wyrd, but man may not know of it. A person can be gone from your life in an instant, so do not miss an opportunity to tell them you care for them. I failed Erika in that respect, and in doing so have failed myself.

I wrote this when my wife’s mother died, from very similar causes as fate would have it; and I think that Erika would appreciate it:

Carried gently on the wings of the Valkyrie,

Borne happily over the Bifrost,

Seated at Odin’s right hand in the Hall of Valhalla,

Know that you have battled long enough,

Know that you are home now, and forever,

Know that we will all see you again,

Feast, drink and laugh for all time, until the end of all.

Goodbye Erika