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

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:

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

Valhalla Awaits!


A repost about why I don’t drink coffee…

This is a blog from a friend, Jasmine Pierce.  A beautiful, talented actress that it has been my great pleasure to work with on occasion.  Her thoughts are a reflection of my own about the subject of coffee… except the part about curling up like a cute kitten…

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

Nerd level: 1,000,000!

This weekend, we had the Star Trek: New Voyages Christmas/ Holiday/ Yule/ Channukah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice party. We paired this with an open house for the public to tour our amazing sets and a viewing party for several movies and a “rough cut” of our next episode: The Holiest Thing. During this party, I got to see many old friends and got to experience a “Nerd Level Event,” which is sort of like an “Extinction Level Event,” only not as death-y.

We started the viewing with Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. You know, the one with the whales? Watching this on the Bridge of the U.S.S. Enterprise was a cool experience. Watching it with Carl Sheldon, our living, breathing, simulation of Montgomery Scott, the Chief Engineer of the Enterprise, was amazingly cool. The scene where Scotty and Dr. McCoy are “negotiating” for the plexiglass they need to build the whale tank was made so much more fun by watching Carl’s face. “Hello computer?”

Then, we screened Star Trek: Into Darkness, the latest “Star Trek” movie by JJ Abrams. Now, personal feelings aside, this movie was popular with many people, and did well at the box office. Not my taste in Star Trek though. Nor is it liked by many of the New Voyages crew. We screened Into Darkness in the grand style of Mystery Science Theater 3000. We “roasted” the movie, yelling out the plot holes, the mistakes, the “lens flare” problem, jokes about “Robo- Admiral” (the evil Starfleet Admiral Marcus was played by Peter Weller of Robo-Cop fame) and much, much more. Fun was had by all.

What made this day even more enjoyable was the fact that my wife, Mary, came along with me to celebrate with my second “family.” Mary likes science fiction in general, and likes Star Trek in all it various forms, but is not what you would call a Trekker. She puts up with a lot of nonsense from me. I am not an easy person to be married to and I get kind of obsessed with Trek. In supporting me to help make New Voyages, she deserves a huge amount of thanks. Anything that I have been able to contribute to the effort, in time, money, and ability, is traceable directly to her massive support of me. I love you, Pooky!

Finally, we screened an almost final cut of our latest episode, The Holiest Thing. Still needing lots of dialogue and sound work, and not color corrected, the rough cut was still coherent and the special effects and digital effects were perfect. This episode will “fill in” some story plots leading directly to events in Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan. Carol Marcus, an important relationship from Kirk’s past, plays a pivotal role in the movie, as does David, Carol’s son by Kirk. This episode shows the beginnings of this relationship, and the “genesis” of a project that will have massive repercussions in the future…

This last screening was the most fun for me, as I was able to sneak up and sit in the Captain’s chair for it. This is one of the ultimate “Nerd Achievements” of my life. Sitting on the Bridge of the Enterprise, lit up and blinking away, and watching an episode of Star Trek: New Voyages that I helped to create, on the 80 inch Bridge viewscreen. Nerd Level 1,000,000: Achievement Unlocked!

Have a Happy Holidays, in whatever form you celebrate them.

Valhalla Awaits!

Jessica Jones: Further evidence of the well done MCU

I just got through binge-watching Netflix’s newest Marvel entry: Jessica Jones. I cannot express how good I find it. Very dark, edgy and violent, but at the same time, socially relevant. As an author friend I know put it: “wounded but powerful people making their way in the world.” These “heroes” are flawed, and don’t always do the right thing, even though they are working from morals. They don’t always fix the problem as the world is seldom “fixable.” Much like Daredevil, the first of the Netflix Marvel creations, JJ has a main character who, through an accident, has “abilities” greater than regular human people. Matt Murdoch has his “radar sense” and Jessica has super human strength. Unlike some superheroes, these two are not even close to invulnerable. They get bruised, bloody, and in some cases broken. Jessica doesn’t even have a “costume,” nor does she want one. Working as the stereo-typical Private Investigator, catching cheating spouses, Jessica is haunted by her past. She was once under the influence and control of the “Purple Man” from Marvel Comics, known as Kilgrave. Played magnificently by David Tennant, Kilgrave has the ability to make people do what he asks or tells them to do. So; Kilgrave likes your sports car? He can simple say “give me the keys” and you will willingly hand them over and let him drive away. He can tell you to step off the roof of a skyscraper and you will, falling to your death. Having escaped him over a year ago, Jessica has fallen into alcoholism and apathy, dragging herself out at night to take “dirty video” of cheating spouses for poor pay. Her agency “Alias Investigations,” gets visited by two parents of a missing college athlete. Thus begins season one…

This is not a children’s “superhero” show. There is violence, nudity, sexual acts, torture, murder, and multiple instances of jaywalking. Refreshingly, for Hollywood, a lesbian marriage is portrayed fairly, and two of the protagonists are in an inter-racial relationship and not one word is said about it. The violence is horrific and has actual consequences, unlike a lot of mainstream movies and shows.

Jessica develops a “booty call” type relationship with a large black man named Luke Cage. Astute comic readers will immediately recognize him as “Power Man,” a practically invulnerable inner city hero that becomes part of “The Defenders,” along with Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and a martial arts using hero named “Iron Fist.” These 4 shows, hopefully 5 when The Defenders caps off the set of shows, are already batting 1000. Daredevil is awesome, and Jessica Jones is following right along with it. Next up is season 2 of Daredevil and season 1 of Luke Cage. Then Iron Fist, then The Defenders. This means several years of awesome Marvel television, and if the first 2 are any kind of harbinger, we are in for some fantastic shows!

I am not a fan of spoilers, so I won’t discuss some of the actions and reveals in the show, just gonna say: this show is fucking awesome and deserves your time! If you don’t have a Netflix subscription, this show, along with Daredevil and House of Cards, makes it well worth it. I would buy a year’s worth of Netflix on the basis of Jessica Jones alone!

Valhalla awaits!

There’s a Way to Stop Mass Shootings, and You Won’t Like It.

I have very little to add to this. My gun-control favoring friends will not agree. I don’t see anything in this that is not a provable fact…

Rob Myers

There’s a Way to Stop Mass Shootings, and You Won’t Like It.


That’s right. You’re not going to like it because it’s going to require you to do something personally, as opposed to shouting for the government, or anyone to “do something!”

You ready? Here it is:

“Notice those around you who seem isolated, and engage them.”

If every one of us did this we’d have a culture that was deeply committed to ensuring no one was left lonely. And make no mistake, as I’ve written before loneliness is what causes these shooters to lash out. People with solid connections to other people don’t indiscriminately fire guns at strangers.

I know what you’re thinking. That’s never going to work because no one is going to make the effort to connect with the strange kid sitting by himself at lunch each day. No one is going to reach out to…

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On this Fall Equinox…

On this Fall Equinox, I am thoughtful about the Nobel Virtues of Asatru (in no particular order):

Courage: doing what you know is right, even if others disagree. Being afraid is okay; courage means doing it anyway.

Truth: honesty

Honor: honesty, loyalty, standing up against wrong

Fidelity: loyalty

Discipline: self discipline, and respecting and requiring discipline in others

Hospitality: giving of your last meal to help others…

Self Reliance: don’t refuse help, but try and get by without it.

Industriousness: work hard, play hard

Perseverance: don’t give up

That’s a lot of concepts to try and assimilate all at once. They should be self-evident, but according to what I see and hear on the web and news, a lot of people can’t get their minds around these things.

Honesty for example. Do we really think anyone at that school thought that was a real bomb? If so, why didn’t they evacuate the school? In all honesty, this was simple harassment of that 14 year old kid.

All anyone should do is try to be honest. Don’t lie. It’s that simple really. Don’t lie, either by commission (actually telling a falsehood) or by omission (not telling someone something that allows a false conclusion.) I’m not talking about the easy stuff. No one minds a little lie once in a while to maintain social tranquility. “Does this outfit make me look fat?” “No honey, you look fine!” is not the kind of thing I am talking about. It is wholesale falsehoods, by both sides of the political aisle. It is completely slanted “news” stories, intended to create fear or hatred. It is the ongoing assault on individual rights as “simply common sense” or “for our own good.”

We are looking at at least another year of this “political cycle” leading up to the Presidential elections next November. Please, I implore you, find facts for yourself. DO NOT listen to the media. If a candidate says something, look deeper than the 15 second sound bite. Look for primary sources, not just the news channel, web site, blithering idiot of the moment. Look for the motive. Look for the money. Look at everything you can to establish truth. Listen to opposing viewpoints. Read what other people are saying. Compare what you are told to what you know and discard the one that is false or incorrect. I know that is a lot of “work” but this is important. This election and maybe the next 2 or 3, could very well determine the future of this country. If the government continues to grow its own bureaucracy, and continues to ignore the Constitution in favor of “laws for our own good,” and self justifying Government agencies who create laws so that they will have something to enforce, this country is ultimately doomed.

Vote for a candidate that is telling the truth. Vote for one that wants less governmental power, not more. Study, learn, and vote carefully. This may be one of the last times you get to make a difference.

Being grateful on my Name Day

I thank the Gods often. Not because they want or need the attention, just to remind myself that there are larger things in this Universe and we should be mindful of them. Today, on my Name Day, I am thankful to Odin for watching us all, and to Thor, for standing between the innocent and those that would harm the innocent. I am also thankful of Baldr, who reminds us to be truthful and honorable. I am also thankful for all of my friends. There is a continuing stream of “Happy Birthday” wishes coming in on Facebook, and I am thankful to know you all. There has even been a “Happy Birthday” in Klingon! (Thanks Lorena!) I take an hour or two each Birthday and do a “mental review” of the year. What happened, who I was with, why it happened, and what I want to have happen this year. I don’t share this review, it is only for me. I do share memories about individual events with the people involved and want everyone to know that I love you and value your friendship. Valhalla awaits!

Finding My Faith: Vocal Offspring Edition

This is a blog post written by Marissa Gates, Kent Schmidt’s daughter. It in no way reflects how he feels on any topic, and all posts made by me (Marissa Gates) will be identified by a “Vocal Offspring” in the title of the post.


Growing up, I was a very keen observer. Most called me shy, but in reality I just preferred to listen rather than speak. Being so observant, I knew from a young age that my family struggled deeply with religion and their own personal beliefs. I was certainly no exception, primarily because of the lack of religious direction in my household.

I’m not saying that absence of religious consistency was necessarily a bad thing, but you can imagine growing up in a primarily Roman Catholic hometown. Everyone seemed to know what they believed in, why, and how they would practice their beliefs.

I, myself, felt no real connection to any religion, despite having free reign to believe however I wanted with no influence from outside sources trying to push their beliefs. (I thank my parents for not pressuring me to believe how they did.) As I grew older I began to severely dislike religion as a whole because of what I’d seen people do in the name of it. In high school I would have told you I hated all religions. I considered myself to be atheistic and while I didn’t shove my ideals down people’s throats, I would make it known how I felt about religion if you asked me. No censor included.

I didn’t know it at the time but the hatred I felt toward religion wasn’t hatred at all. It was envy. I wanted to believe in something. I wanted to have faith in something. I wanted to be connected to something more. I just couldn’t. Catholicism, Christianity, Judaism, monotheism, polytheism… I couldn’t identify with any of it, but I spent plenty of time  trying to force myself to.

To make matters worse, when I graduated high school and fell in love with a man whose family is deeply religious and certain in their faith, I felt more lost than ever. It made it hard to see how they could believe in something that could affect them so wholly. Even my husband is a Catholic (non-practicing, but still very sure in his faith).

I felt like I was on the outside looking in.

But that feeling made me realize something: I was on the outside looking in.

Society likes to put things like faith into boxes. You either belong in one box or another. I don’t like boxes, never have. I’ve never fit into any of societies boxes, be it religion, politics, or even sexuality.

I’ve come to realize I don’t believe in any one religion. I believe in all of them. God is God. He or She or They aren’t Christian, Jewish, Muslim or any other religion. God is all of them. God is all things.

Some religions even come right out and say “God is all things” but then turn around and try to convince you that those who believe in a different God or Gods are wrong. That doesn’t make sense to me. Everyone is so concerned with fighting over which box is the right one, but everyone is wrong. And everyone is right.

As for the Bible and other religious texts, I believe they are written by man to control man. People shouldn’t need a book to tell them to be good and to inspire good in others. And I refuse to believe that any God would want to punish or hurt us, or for us to hurt or punish others in His/Her/Their name. Truly the all-powerful, all-seeing God wouldn’t be so petty. My God certainly isn’t. My God allows mistakes. My God allows us to have individual life experiences– good or bad– and loves us all anyways.

As for death and the afterlife, I sincerely don’t know. Not knowing scares the crap out of me, but I think there is something beyond this world. I hope there’s something. I have faith that there’s something. And that’s all anyone has, really. Faith that there’s something more.

My God is everyone’s God and I believe he loves us all no matter what we choose to put our faith in. That’s what I choose to put my faith in, and I’ve never been so at peace with my relationship with God as I am now.