Saturday, 22 August 2015

What is a Best Friend?

What is a Best Friend?

Until this day I have never quite been able to describe what the term ‘Best Friend’ actually means? Can you?

When you think about it at a first glance it’s easy…as you can say that it’s someone I know; that could be a family member, wife, husband partner, or a person you have just met?

But for lots of people it’s that one person that they have known for a long time and who has been there through thick and thin. Sharing the good times and of cause the bad times. Which is when you’re feeling down, and they come and pick you up!

But to me, this is an easy and obvious response, which for me it doesn’t fully answer the question! Of what is it to be best friend?


Who was it that woke up one day and said “that person there, he/she is my best friend”, and then everyone else just wanted one as it had become popular overnight like trading cards or a tasty sweet?

I don’t buy it at all…hmmm I think I’ve just made it a 2 part question, anyway back to my blog madness!  

If we ignore what I just said about “Who is could be” because all the examples I just gave would spring to everyone’s mind straight away, and we dig a bit deeper and find out what a best friend really is.

Who they really are? And what is means?  As I believe a best friend could literally be anyone or anything, do you not agree?

Let me try explain and we’ll see what you think by the end!

Mans best Friend!

I think the relationship between mankind and canines, is a good place to start…as it’s a perfect example of friendship.

It’s a commonalty known fact that the humble hound is known as ‘Mans Best Friend’, and why wouldn’t they be!

From cave man hunter partners to loveable pets, dogs have been a core part of human society, since man discovered he/she had a brain, and more importantly how to use it!
But although roles have changed both man and beast still have a strong love for one another, and it is one of the strongest friendships known in our world. But how and why did this start?
What was it that made the first wolfs/dog see us as a friend? Now historians will tell you that humans and wolves worked together hunting. Wolves were the superior tracker but humans was the superior killer; thus wolves would lead humans to the prey and humans would leave some of the meat to the wolves.
This is a nice story and something that a lot of people could have come to the conclusion for themselves but WHY?
Was it our love and companion with them?   Was it team work that bonded a friendship? Or was it merely the fact that wolves were afraid of the dark and loved our camp fires? Maybe we’ll never find out?
Going back to the modern day domesticated dog. Any owner knows that they love us no matter what, they follow us no matter where we go. They know when we are unhappy, they know when something’s not right.
They’ll always love you through and through no matter what, and that the definition of a perfect friendship for a lot of people.  
But it’s a bit one sided, because the human might not always return the same love to the dog. Nonetheless this is similar to most friendships between humans, which is definitely something to ponder...

What makes a true friend?
I think this is an important next step on our search to find the answer.
The only problem is that it’s really in the eye of the beholder ‘what makes a true friend’ as everyone searches for something different.
We all have checklists or something we look for, be it similar taste in music, films, games. Or maybe it’s as simple as liking the same colour, or having similar background and upbringing.
These are all important things, but some friendships have to be earned, and it’s through these similarities that people form alliances that last a lifetime.
Another important part of any friendship is liking each other’s character. By learning things together, by being able to work well as a team and by learning (and playing) on each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Again all perfect reasons for having a friend…but they are all just starting points. I think in a true friendship there might be an extra element of closeness, as you start getting into their head. Knowing exactly what the other person’s thinking, even if they aren’t saying a word!
Ask any long term friends, why do you like each other? And half the time, other than saying some of the answers above, they might say something like “well I don’t know, he or she just knows me so well”.
This happens because at some point in there relationship something dramatic happened.  It could have been something small, it could have been something physical, or traumatic but regardless of the event that happened to one of them.
The other person would always be there for them...resulting in them becoming the one person they can put all their trust in at that particular important point in time. Even if that person failed or succeeded or in helping them.
The very fact that they did what they did showed the other person just how much they meant to them. I’m not talking like something you see in the films where someone is in a life threatening situation and their friend risks it all just to go and save them. It could be that smile, a hug, which helps them when they need it the most.
I can always remember when I was at school, me and my best friend made a really strong friendship that we still have today…just as strong!
I recall a particularly bad day, where the local oik was attacking (though bullying) my friend by just inflicting pain and verbal abuse (heckling) at him.
Seeing this happen I stepped in, and intervened something inside of me suddenly snapped, and I went completely red and this sudden rush came over me summing great strength from every part of my body. I remember grabbing the bully by his throat and lifted him up and over my shoulders. After that I grabbed his torso in one hand and moved my other further down his neck. As I wanted throw him against the brick wall (next to me). As god I was so mad!
Seeing the fear in his eyes, which made me feel so happy, happy that I was about to hurt him! How dare he attack my friend?
I was about to do it, when my friend told be stop by  simply saying “NO” I did. In that split second I had stopped, and put the tormenter down and let him go…. why? How did he stop me, I had too much rage and power…but yet he did?
It’s like I say, something like that happens which changes you forever.  It’s something you can never describe…but you never forget the feeling!  
It keeps you together even if you occasionally argue, even if you get frustrated…and want to call it there.
Then you don’t want to because of you remember everything they’ve done for you, and what you’ve been through together. That’s what I think is amazing about a true friend.
Wow that brought back a lot of memories, I typed out pretty much what I thought of without stopping to think or breathe!

In conclusion
So we know friends have a connection, we know they have something in common which has started their relationship however small, we know that something has happened between them to make them cement a special bond, and we know these bonds can last thousands of years even surpassing the original friendship.
I think it’s starting to make sense now. Like the wolves that worked with the humans a relationship that stands the test of time, so do great friendships it’s really makes you think about who you know, and who you trust, and who you deep down know are a true friend. I know who he is, and I know he’ll reminisce about another time we’ve shared together when he reads this.
Now I said to you that a Best Friend could literally be anyone or anything! Do you now see my point?
Whether they are someone you have just met, a family member a new partner or even your beloved animal friend. The bonds you make with them now, can cement a relationship that can seem quite small, will grow.
Never knowing where it might end up…and that’s the beauty of friendship.
I leave you with that thought.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

My sci-fi background!

Hi everyone! This week we will be warping back into my own past and exploring my sci-fi background, my own little Memory Alpha if you will! This is to give you a sense of where my love of sci-fi comes from as it continues to grow, with my journey still continuing today.This is in the form of TV shows and movies I have seen. So without further ado lets get stuck in!

Star Wars.

My first taste of sci-fi as a kid when I was nine years old is owed to Star Wars. More specifically Episode 1: The Phatom Menace.

Movie advertisement for Star Wards Episode I: The Phantom Menace. 

I went to see it with my father and loved it, for all the colours and the sense of wonder it gave out with Anakin Skywalker as a boy going out into the world on an adventure. It appealed to my sense of enjoyment in life as a child of going out to the park and having fun with friends playing all sorts of different games and starting my own adventures.

Since then I have watched all the Star War movies, but the Phantom Menace was my first glimpse into the world of science fiction. Little did I realize at that time how much of an impact sci-fi would have on my life. It was the beginning of my journey so to speak! But one particular sci-fi movie made the biggest impact and was the first turning point in my life of growing up.

Independence Day.

I have viewed a few sci-fi movies in my time like Star Wars, but Independence Day is the movie that I remember and have watched the most over the years.

I first saw this back when I was a teenager of about thirteen or fourteen. This was a time where I was beginning to really find my place in the world and understand a movie beyond the picture with the colours and explosions. It's a movie that made me feel more safe and secure in an increasingly chaotic world.

With it's obvious, but wonderful messages about uniting together and seeing past our differences to face a threat (in this case aliens) and great fun roles models that helped save the world.

Left to right Will Smith, Bill Pullman and Jeff Goldblum 

They including Steven Hiller (Will Smith), David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) President Whitmore (Bill Pullman) and Russel Casse (Randy Quaid).

Randy Quaid
Randy Quaid.

They made me feel safe and at times of strife in my life was an important reminder that despite all our differences, we all need each other to get through challenges in life, facing them with friends and family at our side.

This was also the first time I came into contact with Star Trek (though I didn't know it at the time) through the excellent Brent Spiner who played Dr Okun!

Image result for independence day movie
Brent Spiner (Dr. Okun)

As you know he played Data back in The Next Generation TV series, which had finished two years before, He who would go on to become a favorite character and inspiring role model for me.

This of course leads me onto the biggest influence (and still continues to be) in my sci-fi journey, Star Trek!

Star Trek

The first sci-fi TV show I got into through Simon and my father Chas was of course Star Trek, specifically The Next Generation with the movies and then the TV show followed by Voyager to start off with!

This has had the largest influence in shaping who I am today and how I tried to look at the world with a more objective eye with doing things I had never considered before including blogging and podcasting! Star Trek in essence is the exploration of one-self and how we can evolve to become a better human being!

The franchise also became the benchmark that led me to delve into other Science Fiction shows, the next being a franchise as popular and even longer running than Star Trek, and of course that is Doctor Who!

Doctor Who.

My first glimpse into Doctor Who, which formed my interest in it are those wonderful nemesis of the Doctors! I am of course talking about the Daleks!

A Dalek!
I loved them from the way they looked to how they talked and said "Exterminate!" No, please don't exterminate me! I just like the way you guys say it and...anyway.

Soon after Simon encouraged me to delve myself into Doctor Who from the Christopher Eccleston/Billie Piper era, straight through to Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman!

Christopher Eccleston (The Doctor) and Billie Piper (Rose) Season 1  

Peter Calpadi (The Doctor) and Jenna Coleman (Clara) Season 8 

I have watched most of the Doctor Who episodes from these two Doctors and David Tenant. But I still have most of the Matt Smith episode to watch (Seasons 5-7). What I love about Doctor Who is the notion of the Doctor living for so many centuries and traveling around in the TARDIS (A really cool way to travel!) and helping others from different periods of time. whether far in the past or million of years into our future!

It gave so much scope and possibility with all the different people and species the Doctor and his Companion encountered from all walks of time, which made the universe so open ended!

Battlestar Galatica.

For me Battlestar Galatica (2004-2009) was the antithesis of Star Trek, whereas for the most part humans have achieved evolving and enlightenment and had found their place among the stars. BSG was humanity struggling to pick up the pieces after using machines (the Cylons) to enrich their lives. It backfired as they developed an intelligence and started a war against the humans for making them their slaves (like the Terminator franchise). Humanity was trying to find it place in the world by trying to find Earth, so they could begin again.

The Cast of Battlestar Galatica.  

I loved watching BSG on Netflix for all on offering a edgier, more conflict aspect to the world in which human may inhabit in future. But like Star Trek it showed that we as all humans do make mistakes and have to continue to learn from them. Through struggles and times of strife whether with others or ourselves we all want to leave a lasting legacy in the world and learn what it truly means to be human.


I have currently only watched the first season of what would only turn out to be two season series, which I think has been underrated. V had a lot of promise with an interesting premise of like Independence Day, aliens appearing on Earth, but making their “intentions” known of wanting to contact a new species and get to know and help them, whilst really infiltrating and planning to destroy human kind.


Movie advertisement poster
This was a sci-fi movie that I saw last year and like Star Trek gave a wonderful message of hope with humans having the potential to achieve with the characteristics they have. 

Guardians of the Galaxy

The cast of Guardians of the Galaxy

This wonderfully fun, bizarre movie features a group of criminals who become unlikely heroes. I went to see this last year and had a whale of a time. With being not just it being a great summer blockbuster movie, it also has that great simple message, that some of us have it in us to change for the better for the wrongs we commit. It is possible for those who lose their way to come back again and make a difference for their past mistakes.

So that it's Treksters with my sci-fi background. I hope you enjoyed reading and gained some insight into what the world sci-fi has done for me, until next time...

This is Jamie from the Engage Podcast warping off into the unknown! Punch it!    


Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Origins of famous Starfleet ship names

Hi #Treksters
As you well know I love starships!
So I wanted to find a way of writing all about starships without getting all technical on you! 
Which is why I wanted to write this blog post all about the origins (and inspiration) for famous Starfleet vessels.
What I am hoping to do in this blog, is explain:
  • Where the ships have appeared in Star Trek cannon (and what they've done).
  • Who or what has inspired the name of the vessel, and the reason they are famous.
    That energised a member of the Star Trek Production team to commission a Starfleet vessel in it's or their honour.
USS Pasteur (NCC-58925) Olympic Class
The USS Pasteur is an Olympic Class hospital starship seen in 'All Good Things...' the finale for Star Trek: The Next Generation.
She is commanded by Captain Beverly Picard in an anti-time (alternative) future timeline set in the year 2395.
Which has been created by Q, but is unfortunately outgunned and destroyed by two Negh'Var Class Klingon warships.

This ship (and a 20th Century counterpart) get their names from famed French microbiologist Louis Pasteur. Who came to fame for various discoveries in healthcare and medicine.
Most notably in 1864 when he gave the world pasteurisation, a process to kill most of the bacteria that caused spoilage (in beer and wine), preventing these drinks from turning sour.
His other achievements include finding vaccines for smallpox, TB, cholera, and rabies throughout his entire career.
 USS Cochrane (NCC-59318) Oberth Class
The USS Cochrane is an Oberth Class science starship seen in a number of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episodes.
That being said, it appears to me as though it becomes affectively a transport ship!
Poor Captain...erm some guy!!!
It's first appearance is in the Fourth Season episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation in 'The Drumhead' where it transports Admiral Norah Satie to the Enterprise so that she can being her investigation.
Later, the Cochrane gives passage to cadet Wesley Crusher when he goes back to the ship for visit when he's on his Starfleet Academy holiday...but fortunately saves the day once again in 'The Game'.   
It fairs even worse in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, as it (briefly) appears in the shows pilot 'Emissary' when it transports a group of Starfleet officers including Doctor Julian Bashir and Lieutenant Commander Jadzia Dax to the newly established Deep Space Nine.
The ship then fought in the Dominion War...but reported numerous casualties to Starfleet Command in 2374. This information was displayed on an Personnel Status Update chart okudagram, in the wardroom in the episode 'In The Pale Moonlight'.
Unlike the last ship, the USS Cochrane doesn't get it's name from the real world...but from the 'in-universe' (canon) history of Star Trek.
This is because the ship's named after the inventor of Warp Drive...Zefram Cochrane. Which as you already know is also the first Human to travel faster than light (Warp 1).
He's seen both on the small screen in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode 'Metamorphosis' and on the big screen in Star Trek: First Contact, both encounters take place at different points of Cochrane's life.
Leading to First Contact being established between Humans and Vulcans. Cochrane achieved both of these impressive accolades on the 5th April 2063 (Star Trek: First Contact). 
In the years which followed those events, lead to the formation of Terran annual holiday of First Contact day. That celebrated humanities entrance into the intergalactic community. By focusing on the 'chance' encounter with the Vulcans.
A typical example of First Contact Day festivities is at the beginning of the Star Trek: Voyager episode Homestead, when Neelix decides to throw the crew a themed party!

USS Victory (NCC-9754) Constellation Class

The USS Victory is a Constellation Class starship seen in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode 'Elementary, Dear Data'.
Where it rendezvoused with the Enterprise-D at spatial coordinates 3629 by 584, in 2365.
After this very fleeting appearance it only got mentioned in a few okudagram's in later episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation and in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
Susanna Leijten and Geordi La Forge were assigned to the Victory in the early years of 2360s. When it was tasked with investigating the disappearance of all the Federation colonists on Tarchannen III in 2362.
Five years later in 2367, they later return to Tarchannen III on board the Enterprise-D in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode 'Identity Crisis'. 
In the same year (2367), the Victory is named on a Starfleet Operations-Sectors 21166-23079 chart (okudagram) on the Enterprise-D bridge doing a stellar nuclei population survey in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode 'Brothers'.

Two years after that in 2369, the Victory is still reported to be doing a stellar nuclei population survey...but has moved on to Sectors 21538-23079. When it is seen in another Starfleet Operations chart (okudagram) this time in the Enterprise-D observation lounge, during the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode 'Chain of Command, Part I'.
The Victory then fought in the Dominion War...but reported casualties to Starfleet Command in 2374. When the information was displayed on an Personnel Status Update chart okudagram, in the wardroom in the episode 'In The Pale Moonlight'.
(same okudagram as the USS Cochrane [NCC-59318])
The inspiration for this ship is from one of the most famous navel vessels in British history the HMS Victory, commanded by none other than Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson (Memory Alpha & Wikipedia pages).
The ships most infamous battle was with the French at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 (Memory Alpha & Wikipedia pages)...where Lord Nelson lost his life.
This is even referenced in the Star Trek: The Generation Episode 'The Best of Both Worlds, Part I' when Captain Picard tours the Enterprise, and talks to Guinan in Ten Forward about Nelson's tour of the Victory before the Battle of Trafalgar.
Just prior to the ship being forced to leave the Mutara Nebula, leading to a confrontation between them and the Borg Cube.
A model of the ship is also seen in the aforementioned Star Trek: The Generation Episode 'Elementary, Dear Data'. When Geordi La Forge builds the model so that it can be given to Captain Zimbata...but due to Professor Moriarty's tampering with the Holodeck the model is slightly damaged.
But it also fought at numerous other battles like the two battles of Ushant in 1778 and 1781 respectively. It was also at other major engagements including the Battle of Cape Spartel in 1782, and the Battle of Cape St Vincent in 1797.
I'm probably not doing this ship enough it's just so infamous in British history, so I can only apologise!

 USS Gorkon (NCC-40512) Excelsior Class

The USS Gorkon is a Excelsior Class starship first seen in the Star Trek: The Generation Episode 'Descent, Part I'. Where it is seen as Admiral Nechayev's flagship in charge of an armada, combating a possible renewed Borg invasion.
The inspiration for this ship, is another historical figure from the 'in-universe' (canon) history of Star Trek.
This time, it's in the form of Chancellor Gorkon from the film Star Trek VI: Undiscovered Country.
In Star Trek history he is most known for being one of the 'architects' in starting peace talks between the Klingon Empire and the United Federation of Planets, after the Klingon moon of Praxis explodes (due to excessive mining).
But before he could reach the peace talks on Earth, he is assassinated by a group of conspirators plotting to stop the peace process. His death results in his daughter (Azetbur) inheriting his position as the Chancellor of the Klingon High Council.
Who continues her fathers will...she changes the location of the conference to Camp Khitomer for security reasons.
The conspirators find out and attempt to assassinate the Federation President. Which fails due to the combined effort of the Enterprise & Excelsior crews.
The Khitomer Conference lead to the signing of the Khitomer Accords, which brings peace between the Klingon Empire and the Federation.

USS Mayflower (NCC-1621) 'Abramsverse' Miranda Class
The USS Mayflower is a starship seen in the new 'Abramsverse' Universe. So there isn't much information on it...although it's closest 'Prime Universe' equivalent is that of a Miranda Class starship.
The Mayflower's only (brief) appearance is seen in the flotilla going to Vulcan at the beginning of Star Trek (XI) from 2009. Where it is later destroyed by Nero's starship (the Narada) at the Battle of Vulcan.

The USS Mayflower was named after a ship of the same name (obviously!) called the Mayflower. This is a ship which all our American readers (and listeners) will be familiar with.

As it was the ship responsible for transporting the Pilgrim Fathers from Plymouth (United Kingdom) to Cape Cod (America).
I do however want to point out that there is some controversy over the Mayflowers route to America, as the ship may have docked at Newlyn (United Kingdom). Before heading out into the Atlantic.

Although their arrival at Cape Cod was a 'happy accident'. Due to the fact that they were being blown off course from their original destination of Virginia colony.
This meant that when they arrived at Cape Cod the English could easily strengthen their ability to claim land in North America. As the English had established the settlement of Jamestown in 1607, giving them a foothold on the east coast on America.
This was crucial as Spain had claimed the entire continent (that they called "La Florida"). Which encouraged others (Dutch colonists) to settle in the same region (east coast on America), leading to the formation of the Thirteen Colonies.
If you as me they sound like the Thirteen Tribes from Battlestar Galactica!

I am well informed by a Profession Historian (Ted), that without the Mayflowers arrival in Cape Cod in 1620. We would be 'most likely' be without the Thirteen Colonies.
Which makes me think that the they wouldn't have got their independence in 1783...that wouldn't have sparked the American War of Independence.

Making it possible that we may not have had a 'modern day' America.

Before I move onto the next ship, I would just like to spend a moment to thank Rick & Ted for they're assistance writing about the Mayflower. As I'm sure without the help they provided an awful lot of the facts (and history) would have been totally inaccurate and wrong!
As I was a #ConfusedBrit, while I was researching about the Mayflower!!!

However, if I've (still) made a mistake in my interpretation then let me know...and I will make a change!

USS Yeager (NCC-61947) Saber Class
and the
USS Yeager (NCC-65674) Yeager Class
The last ship (or ships as it were) is an interesting case, as there is quite a small gap between the production of the two ships (NCC-61947 and NCC-65674).

This 3,727 difference between the registries can be put down to the fact that Starfleet will have wanted to replenish its ships, after losing them against the Borg.
Making it quite unlikely that the USS Yeager will be the only example of Starfleet doing this. In order of replenishing its lost ships with 'updated' (newer class starship) replacements.

The first USS Yeager is a Saber Class starship (NCC-61947). First seen in the Battle of Sector 001 at the beginning of Star Trek: First Contact, where it is destroyed by the Borg.  

It's Yeager Class starship (NCC-65674) replacement, makes it's first appearance in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode 'Doctor Bashir, I Presume' orbiting the station.
The ship also helps retake Deep Space Nine after the Dominion occupation (Operation Return). Then it becomes part of the defence force protecting Deep Space 9 throughout the duration of the war.

Both ships (and the class) get their names from Charles "Chuck" Yeager (Memory Alpha & Wikipedia pages) the famed United States Air Force Test pilot.

Who became the first human to break the sound barrier, on the 14th of October 1947 at the Muroc Army Air Field (now Edwards Air Force Base). When he flew the experimental Bell X-1 at Mach 1 at an altitude of 45,000 ft (13,700 m).

"Chuck", named the Bell X-1 "Glamorous Glennis" after his wife. The plane is now on display at The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC.
On top of that both can be seen (briefly) in the opening titles of Star Trek: Enterprise.

Star Trek is littered with another three different references to "Chuck" Yeager and his achievement.

The first example of this comes from the Star Trek: Enterprise episode 'Demons'.
When Ensign Travis Mayweather says that he overcame his fear of tense piloting by mimicking Charles Yeager.
Who said; "I never let myself be afraid. I just focus on the dials and concentrate on flying".

Star Trek: The Next Generation also has a some 'subtle' references hidden in a couple of Season Five episodes as well.

Like in the episode 'New Ground' when the Enterprise's Chief Engineer Geordi La Forge said that the upcoming soliton wave test was like "being there to watch "Chuck" Yeager break the sound barrier".

Lastly "Chuck" also had a flight maneuver named after him (Yeager loop), which was mentioned in a bit of dialogue in the episode 'The First Duty'. When the cadets are talking though the display flight plan.
I hope you've enjoyed reading my starships blog post, hopefully it has given you an insight into how (over the years) the Star Trek Production team have decided what to name the Starfleet ships seen in the series and subsequent films.
Make sure you look out for the other blog posts being released this month during our Hiatus.

This is Simon from The Engage Podcast signing out!