Happy 50th, Star Trek!

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All the captains! This image was found using a Google image search.

September 1966 saw the premiere of Star Trek and the world was forever changed. Star Trek brought us a utopian vision of a future that not only included the continuance of the human species but the inclusion of disparate parts of that species in the exploration of the universe. Then and now, 50 years later, that is still a remarkably optimistic vision that continues to inspire countless fans around the world.

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Earth as seen from the surface of the moon. Image courtesy of the LROC mission.

Star Trek inspired my brother, cousins, and I throughout our childhoods. I grew up with the voyages of the USS-Enterprise, the NCC-1701-D, station Deep Space Nine, and the USS Voyager. I can’t begin to count the number of hours we spent playing Star Trek first with homemade models then computer games on top of watching the shows and movies as well as reading the sundry paperbacks. This was a great way to grow up. I took it for granted that people of different skin tones, genders, and species could work together to understand different phenomena, solve puzzles, and broker inter-galactic peace. Of course women were lawyers, archaeologists, engineers, diplomats, admirals, doctors, counselors, security officers, teachers, captains, and mothers. There was no such thing as the no-win scenario. Instead, there was working the problem with your crew using the tools you had. Sure there was heartbreak, there was tragedy, there were sucky episodes, there were logical fallacies, there were disappointments. Aren’t there always? The average of good to bad, hope to despair, quality to hackery, and possibilities to dead-ends has always tilted high and that is where I continue to hang my trust in the franchise that is Star Trek.

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My childhood tribble that lives over my writing desk.

I’ve written about Star Trek a lot over the years. Over at Playtime: an Arts and Culture Magazine, I wrote about How to Be a Trekkie and Star Trek (2009). Here at my pond I’ve done a few crafty posts including both a quillow and a baby gift-set, a two-part viewing guide to Star Trek that included some recipes, and even a fundraiser inspired by my love of Star Trek’s tribbles. I’m cautiously hopeful about the upcoming television series and I’m looking forward to writing about Star Trek for years to come.

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All my homemade plushie tribbles! They are standing by to save my brain from multiple sclerosis. 

Thanks for existing, Star Trek. Thanks for all the inspiration, all the debates, all the laughs, and all the wonder. You helped me think that science was not only cool but achievable. You also helped solidify my conviction that the power of a good story told well can change the world for the better. Here’s to another 50 years of going where no one has gone before.

How about you, dear pond readers? Are you celebrating the 50th anniversary in any particular way? Do you have a favorite Star Trek memory or episode? Please, leave a comment below and thanks for stopping by the pond today. Q’pla!

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50 years calls for dancing Picard! 

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Tribbles and Troubles

That’s right, dear pond readers, I’m going to write about the cutest Star Trek alien ever: TRIBBLES!

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Kirk covered in Tribbles. Image found in a Google Image Search.

For some background, tribbles were introduced in the 15th episode of Star Trek: the Original series in season two’s episode “The Trouble with Tribbles.” They have no face, make adorable purring noises, make people inexplicably happy, and are practically born pregnant. Everybody loves tribbles except Klingons and they prove instrumental to resolving the conflict in the episode. Tribbles are a perfect invasive species with the capacity to cause major environmental devastation across the galaxy, even if they are addictively cute. Naturally, the Klingon Empire undertook to destroy them from the face of the universe in the name of conservation. Being Klingon, they succeeded. The story of tribbles was continued in the Deep Space Nine season five episode six adventure titled “Trials and Tribble-ations.” The episode was a love letter to ST:TOS and the franchise as a whole while prominently featuring the popular alien pets. I think these two episodes are two of the most accessible stand-alone Star Trek adventures that capture some of the fun of this imagined future, its bureaucracy, and politics with some good comedy.

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Quark covered in tribbles. Image found using a Google image search.

Ever since my first Star Trek convention when I was a kid in elementary school, I have cherished my tribble. I remember deliberating the exact tribble I wanted, debating the merits of fur color and fur length to what was no doubt an irritating extent to my long-suffering father and elder brother, before finally settling on a long-haired chocolate brown tribble. I distinctly remember combing its fur with my Barbie/my Little Pony combs and cradling it through numerous viewings of various Star Trek shows and VHS movie rentals. To this day, it still has its original tags and sits in a place of honor above my writing desk. As far as I know, they only sell officially licensed tribbles at ThinkGeek.com but they aren’t in stock and appear to be in only one color, so my tribble feels a little extra special.

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My tribble on its shelf over my desk by E.A. Schneider

When I undertook to plan a nerdy, board game themed fundraiser this Summer for my walk MS team, Nerds for a Cure, I tried to think of something I could offer as a donation incentive that would be nerdy, recognizable, and easy-to-make. I remembered that I had found this pattern on Craftster.com and thought: I could make tribbles, by jove. Huzzah!

I have to say that, even without quadrotriticale, the tribbles just seemed to multiply. I’m kind of a compulsive person in a lot of ways but I still blame the tribbles: they are just so darn easy to make. Even with the chronic pain in my hands (thanks, Multiple Sclerosis! You suck!), I was still able to make tribbles with relative ease. There is also something immensely satisfying about having a giant tote bag stuffed full of tribbles next to your sewing basket. In the end, I made 30 in four different colors and used up a giant bag of poly fiberfil. At the fundraiser, I’m pleased to say that the giant bin of tribbles did draw several people through the door and they donated specifically to get a tribble. I was extra thrilled to place tribbles in their generous hands.

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Our info table at the Nerds for a Cure MS Fundraiser. Notice, the giant pile of tribbles in the purple bin with Kirk’s face. Also, the basket of bookmarks.

That said, even though the fundraiser went really well, particularly for a first attempt, I still have a lot of homeless tribbles sitting in my house. While I could be smart and save them for next year’s Nerds for a Cure MS Fundraiser, I think that I should try to find them homes and I do have fundraising yet to do with only about four weeks left until my walk event. Our fundraising goal is $5500 but right now we’ve only raised $3,851 and I’m not sure we’re going to make our goal.

So what do you say, pond readers? Do you want to donate to save my brain from the horror of multiple sclerosis AND get an adorable tribble friend to keep you company? Now is your chance. If you donate $12 to my personal fundraising for Walk MS Waukesha and put TRIBBLE! in the  personal note field, I will mail you a handmade plush tribble while supplies last.

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All the tribbles waiting for new homes by E.A. Schneider

Moreover, if you donate $15 to my personal fundraising for Walk MS Waukesha and put TRIBBLE+! in the personal note field, I will throw in three homemade bookmarks from our Nerds for a Cure MS Fundraiser event for you to enjoy with your tribble.

If you want to support my fundraising but don’t want to risk bringing even a plushie tribble into your home (or you just don’t want a tribble), you can donate $5 to my fundraising and put BOOKMARKS! in the personal note field and I will mail you three homemade bookmarks. The bookmarks were made by the talented ladies at the Drunken Library. You might remember the Drunken Library from when my nerd friend, the talented Amber Graham, joined me for a day of Star Trek watching. While I can’t include pictures of every single bookmark (they made 120+), you can see a lot of the designs in the picture below and you can watch their videos about making the bookmarks on their Youtube channel. The square bookmarks fit over the corner of a page and are hard to lose. The rectangle bookmarks are just pretty rectangles.

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Handmade bookmarks courtesy of the Drunken Library

Everyone who donates at any level will get a special Nerds for a Cure MS Fundraiser event pin as a thank you in addition to the tribbles and bookmarks while supplies last. The pins are all 1″ in size.

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Fundraiser event pins!

Finally,  you must put the specified text in the personal note field to be considered for this offer. Without the text in the personal note field, I will just assume you’re a super nice, generous person who doesn’t want any thank-you item and you will only receive a pin with your thank-you note. I have to say, it would be pretty amazing if I ran out of tribbles and bookmarks because all of you in Internet-land decided to donate a little bit to my fundraising.

Here’s a nutshell description of why I’m asking you to care: multiple sclerosis is a super sucky insidious, invisible disease that I will struggle with for the rest of my life. I’m not special, a lot of people are struggling with multiple sclerosis. I bet you know somebody in your life besides me who has been touched by this disease, but, I figure if you’re reading this blog, that you care a little bit about its author being able to continue writing it for your perusal. The National MS Society is doing a lot to fund research that will hopefully not only get us closer to a cure but also improve quality of life for people and their families in the meantime. The organization really makes a difference to those of us living with this disease and I hope that you will help me help them help everyone. You can always help by sharing this blog post and my team links on social media even if you can’t donate for whatever reason.

Thanks for reading my reflections on tribbles and my request for fundraising help. I really appreciate all my readers taking the time to keep reading Technicolorlilypond. You help me persevere. Please, leave a comment below with any questions or comments. Thanks for looking at my pictures, considering my request, and for stopping by the pond, dear readers!

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Muskrat by the Fox river by E.A. Schneider. This muskrat may not be a tribble but he is certainly an adorable little furry creature.