25 February 2013

I Have No Voice but I Must Scream...

  For someone who is always using his voice, being unable to talk bites.  Further, being unable to be emotionally expressive with my voice is making parenthood rough.  It's hard to say a forceful "No!  Don't throw the Wii Remote!" when you can't say much of anything at all.  Still, you try... and it hurts...

  Managed to get back to the gym a coupla times last week - feels good to be getting back into the exercise habit.  Maybe I can break 246 soon - that's the current bounce point of my plateau.  I had one at 256 as well, and one at 270 before that. 

  In any case, folks, I am going to have to apologise and make this a short post.  I'm quite tired, and groggy from alternating between DayQuil and NyQuil depending on the time of day.  Since Z and K are now asleep, blessedly on their own beds...  I'm going to give you fine folks a rain check and make my substantive post tomorrow.  Sorry, folks...

19 February 2013

A look back in preparation to move forward...

  Good day, folks.  Before I get into hobby stuff, the personal notes.  I am beginning Week Four of not having had a decent night's sleep due to various issues with the kiddos, and being stuck once again in a weight loss plateau...  I do however have some encouraging news for those who are following the saga of our foster care - we have a new CPS case worker from the adoption unit, which means we're officially in the pipe for the finalization of our adoption.  He came to our home last week and informed us that we'd be looking at two months on the outside, probably less.  That was pretty encouraging to hear.  My weight keeps bouncing from 246-250...  I have to admit that I just need to buckle down and get back to the gym, sleep issues notwithstanding.  It just has to happen, period.  I'm more than half way to my weight loss goal, and yet I'm still not quite there. Perhaps getting some exercise each day as I did before the New Year will help get me through the home stretch.  I got my confirmation of graduation - and it came with Honors.  That feels good.  I know most of the population of the US has no college degree, undergraduate or otherwise- but Great Things were expected of me when I was younger, and I've always felt more than a little guilty that I let my Sleep Apnea issues derail my education when the federal military was no longer an option.

  Even now, the spectre of self-criticism is rearing its ugly head.  Sure, I have an undergrad degree, says my mind.  But at your age and with your abilities it really means nothing until you get that Master's.  One of these days I'll learn to put these doubts aside and just be happy that I'm now one of the few college graduates in my family, and that over the last year I've lost 41lbs. and become a fairly decent Dad.  Intellectually, I know these are wonderful accomplishments.  Problem is, my gut tells me they're not enough.  Oh well, that's one for a shrink, and you folks don't come here to read about my mental issues - or maybe you do, inasmuch as they have to do with my chosen hobbies.

  Continuing with the threat I started earlier, I'd like to talk about STARFLEET and the gaming club that was, and the one that is to be.  As of this writing, we are awaiting approval to announce the launch of the starship Texas, NX-35.  This new chapter of STARFLEET is based heavily on the best traditions of the USS Ark Angel, which I helped create and still exists in the form of Ark Angel Station.  There's a lot of discussion and confusion on why those of us who chose to form USS Texas chose to do so - and in fact there's already been some criticism.  I am going to attempt to explain some of the thought processes that go into why the Ark Angel was so successful back in the proverbial Day, and why the announcement of the formation of the Texas has caused such an enthusiastic response.  These opinions are solely my own, but are backed up by over a decade of experience running these types of hobby group - keep that in mind as you read this.

  First of all, let's talk about what STARFLEET is.  I keep capitalizing it because that is the way the organization has presented itself.  STARFLEET, at the time of this writing, is a not-for-profit corporation registered in North Carolina as "STARFLEET - The International Star Trek Fan Association, Inc."  Fleet is a confederation of individual chapters grouped into Regions, which in turn make up the organization proper.  There is a Commander, STARFLEET and the Admiralty Board which serve as the governing body of the organization, and each Region has its Regional staff to administrate at that level.  Each Chapter must have a president and vice president, called a Commanding Officer (CO) and Executive Officer (XO)

  Most STARFLEET chapters are like one would expect a Star Trek fan club to be.  Folks get together, play games, watch Trek, stuff like that.  There's a strong community service undercurrent in Fleet, but it's not mandatory.  Each chapter is free to do as they please as long as they have ten dues-paid members and an elected CO and XO.  Each group in this way forms its own identity and own way of having fun.  This is important, since in my experience just saying "Star Trek Club" means differnent things to different people, and can result in effort dilution.

  Sherman, set the Way Back Machine to 1999, the year the USS Ark Angel became more than just an idea rattling around in the heads of a few friends who were Trek fans.  Ark Angel started out different from most chatpers from the get-go.  A number of us were either prior service, prior cadets, current cadets, or had been a part of the military-themed Battletech club that preceeded the Ark Angel's formation.  This meant we built a chapter with a decidedly martial feel.  We put a premium on garb in the form of uniforms and on customs and courtesies.  We set out , to paraphrase Will Smith, "to make this look gooooood."  Ark Angel's crew looked sharp on parade, and took pride in our activities with STARFLEET.  We plowed through every challenge set before us, and jumped into community service work and helping run events.  We were noticed early on, and recognized with several awards and accolades.  Our STARFLEET Marine Corps unit, the 342nd MSG, is still considered one of the most decorated MSGs in the history of the Corps and still appears in several of the photos on the SFMC web site. 

  Where many chapters would take a laissez-faire attitude with meetings, we had staff meetings preliminary to our group meetings.  We made sure we had a formal agenda.  We appointed an officer of the day and a chief of the watch whose job it was to see to it the meeting space was arranged properly, and that everything was cleaned and put back when we were done.  We met at the Round Rock Public Library so we could avoid the informality of a restaurant or someone's home.  When the meeting began, the chief of the watch called the crew to attention, and the CO and XO came in, took their posts, and the colors were posted by the 342nd MSG.  Very formal, very pre-planned, very sharp-looking.  There was a side-effect to all this, though - we took pride in doing things our way, but we also got the business part over with in an organized and effecient manner.  Once the formal meeting was done we dismissed to a less formal location and broke out the dice.

  Now, I've had people tell me this formal and martial approach to STARFLEET is just plain WRONG.  That it's elitist and exclusive to expect members to take part in it.  OK, says I, everyone is entitled to their opinion - but let's look at some things.  First, the Ark Angel was one of the largest chapters in Region 3 for many years.  Not just on paper, either.  Our members tended to actually show up.  I've seen chapters with huge rosters that can't fill a minivan for an event.  There is something to be said in this day of Internet for online participation, and that's great - we're going to try it with Texas - but something about a huge roster and low turnout feels... dishonest.  I've made it part of my mission to give distance members something constructive to do to feel like part of the crew, but I digress...

  OK, so we had a large crew.  We also had a dedicated one.  People took PRIDE in being part of the Ark Angel.  Our professionalism and snap and polish set us apart, and the members enjoyed that.  It was worth learning how to stand in formation two or three times a year so that we could form up and sound off at chapter roll call with our trademark "BIG DAMN HEROES, SIR!"  We founded Region Three Game Day, an event that still carries on to this day.  We created the concept of a separate Marine muster, a concept that is being revived in April of this year.  Aside from the awards, we had a record number of our members appointed to Regional leadership and administrative jobs.  Our star was ascendant... and it was awesome.

  So why could the USS Ark Angel generate this kind of enthusiasm and energy and membership numbers when so many other chatpers cannot?  How did we maintain such energy for six years without burnout?  What made members go through the snap-and-polish and hup-ho of being a shiny chapter?

  I attribute the success of the Ark Angel to three things - focus, pride and leadership.  I attribute her fall before being resurrected as Ark Angel Station to overreaching and burnout.

  The USS Ark Angel had focus - gaming and what we refer to around here as "shiny" in deference to Joss Whedon's Firefly TV series.  "Star Trek" was at the core of the club, but we didnt' limit ourselves to Trek games.  We played whatever seemed fun at the time.  Battletech came up a lot.  D&D, since there's always room for gaming Jell-O.  Space : 1889 was popular.  We got the formal and business out of the way as effeciently as we could, and then we got about the business of GAMING.  The fun was the reward for the hard work.  The "shiny" was the other part of our focus.  We took pride in being the group that looked sharp, and took the hobby seriously.  I can't count the number of times we were asked to help out with stuff simply because the whole Region knew that the Ark Angel could be counted on.  We had a focus on setting the example, and having a hell of a lot of fun.  Note that this was two particular aspects of Trek fandom, not "Star Trek" in general.  I make that distinction because I honestly feel it's incumbent upon each chapter to define how they will express their fandom.  "Star Trek" is a big concept.  What does it MEAN to your chapter?  FOCUS.  Yeah, the formations and uniforms and dungeons and dragons games aren't for everyone - but they are for a subset of fans who really dig what we do.  We are here for that subset of fans.  For folks with a different interest or commitment level, there's a reason STARFLEET has so many different flavored chapters.  Doing what we did how we did it was not being exclusive or elitist, it was catering to a particular type of member.

  Pride is the second component that I think really drove the Ark Angel.  I had a member tell me he was more proud of making Lance Corporal (E-3) on the Ark Angel than most people would have been of making Commander (O-5) on any other chapter.  This was because it was much more difficult to move up in the world on the Ark Angel.  We took rank seriously, and handed it out sparingly to those who had EARNED it.  People wore their insignia with pride, even if they were Corporals or Petty Officers Third Class.  Those insignia MEANT something.  They stood for hard work and hard play on a chapter that made a difference.  It was an honor to be part of something as awesome as the USS Ark Angel was at that time, and that pride motivated the crew.  We weren't just another Trek fan club, we were the USS Ark Angel, by Crom, and we were going to continue to kick ass.  It's not for every chapter, but the focus on uniforms and bearing gave us something we could take pride in and make our own.  No other chapter was like us, and that was something we could be proud of.  Even today, I've got a former member who wouldn't go back to STARFLEET for all the tanks in Russia, but still has a sense of pride in what we did in those days.

  Leadership is the final component that I think was integral to what the Ark Angel was and what made it so different.  It is perhaps the most important, and perhaps the one that ultimately brought an end to the golden years of the chapter through overextension.  The most obvious expression of the leadership was in the chapter staff.  The CO, XO, and Command Master Chief were a tripartite team that made sure things were taken care of for members.  I cannot stress enough that leadership, on the old Ark Angel, meant SERVICE.  The Captain of USS Ark Angel was not there to lord over the members, the Captain was there to provide recreational activities and direction to those members.  Election to a leadership position meant WORK.  I've seen too many leaders in business, the actual military, and other clubs think that their rank means getting their ass kissed and having things done for them by their subordinates.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Why do some officers have an enlisted soldier to act as a valet, secreatary or diver?  Because they have responsibilities that mean their time is better spent working on those responsibilities than polishing shoes or driving a car.  It's the same in a club.  You do not get elected Captain of a chapter of STARFLEET because you want to be called "sir" and catered to.  It's a lot of work - at least it should be.  This is the same for every single post on a chapter that has any sort of responsibility or title.  Everything from the person who puts together the emails and facebook invites to events to the person who edits the newsletter is responsible for vital parts of the chatper's operation, and should take that responsiblitiy seriously.  If you're not going to work, don't accept the job.  On the Ark Angel we had a good track record of leaders fromt he top on down "getting it" and doing their jobs so the fun could be had by the members. 

  Leadership goes a lot further than the "obvious" leaders.  Leadership also comes in the form of the chapter settting the example for other chapters, for members setting the example for other members, and the chapter stepping up to assist the Region and the Fleet as a whole - and that's where we got into trouble.  The USS Ark Angel at one time had five members of the Regional Executive Committee serving as part of her crew.  That's two members over the old nominal limit.  Why were we allowed to go over the limit?  Mostly because everyone knew an Ark Angel member appointed to a job would *do* that job, and do it to the best of their ability.  When there was no Summit planned one year, we put together a Summit event in record time.  Hotel, program, whole nine yards.  The following year when another chatper's summit went a bit awry, we stepped in and provided the members to rectify the situation.  We created a Regional event, Game Day, and the Fall Muster as mentioned above.  LOTS of from-the-front example-setting leadership.  That was awesome - and it was also the beginning of the end.  The upper leadership was deeply flawed at that time, and the Regional Coordinator at the moment it all came to a stop was unsuited to the job, and openly dismissive of the earnest efforts of the Ark Angel members who had volunteered or been chosen to help steer the Region.  More on this in a later article.  Sufficient to say, two events into the administration of this RC and it was clear the administration had no vision, no direction, and worse - attempts to arrive prepared and ready to roll were met with "I guess I should have expected this from YOU PEOPLE."  Within three months of that last event, four out of five of the Ark Angel members who were part of the Regional Executive Committee had resigned their posts.  The Golden Age was over.

  So this brings me to the end of that golden age.  Overreaching and burnout.  Although the current Regional Coordinator, Reed Bates, is exactly what I think Region 3 needed to untie the knot of records and finances the previous two RCs left in their wake, the RC that preceeded COMM Bates managed to drive off some damn good people - myself included.  Some will never even consider a return to Fleet, and that's sad.  We had something amazing going, and it could have become even better.

  Lesson learned?  Well, this time we're focusing on the chapter level.  Will we eventually take our turn running Game Day, or Muster, or even a Summit?  Who knows.  Maybe.  But never again will the focus of the entire chatper swing so far toward Regional leadership that we forget who we are or why we are.  The focus of the Texas will be as the Ark Angel once was - gaming and shiny.  And it will succeed for much the same reasons, I predict.  Our newly elected CO has said he intends to suggest a rule that prohibits members of the Texas from seeking posts outside the chapter without the approval of the general membership, and I like that.  A safety valve to make sure we don't get ahead of ourselves. 

  So yes, the new STARFLEET Chapter Texas, NX-35, will require all hands to know the position of attention, and parade rest.  Members will learn customs and courtesies.  Members will be gamers.  Members will wear garb.  Prospects who don't like those things will be referred to other chapters.  Is that being elitist and exclusive?  Not at all.  STARFLEET is still there for those members who want a more laid back experience.  By setting expectations of prospective members the Texas will be able to cultivate and maintain the same kind of esprit de corps and "shiny" as the old Ark Angel did.   This is nearly demanded by the members of the Texas who are almost all Ark Angel veterans, and missed the old days. 

  Ark Angel Station continues on under the capable leadership of FCAPT Lloyd Bates, a fine example of a more laid back, general-purpose chapter.  They're our support chapter, what used to be called a mothership, until we commission.  We maintain a friendly relationship with them.  Both chapters are in this to have fun and express our love of Trek.  Each chatper is free to have its own flavor, however.  Theirs is theirs, ours is ours, and the Region and Fleet will be stronger for it.

  So there you have some of my thoughts on what makes our style of chapter so successful at the things it is successful at.  Time will tell if the new Starship Texas will prove these things to be true.  I think it will be a lot of fun, and an interesting social experiment to prove the naysayers wrong about our style.

In Service,

Lieutenant Commander
Executive Officer
Starship Texas, NX-35


11 February 2013

Back in the Saddle Again - Just call me Lieutenant Commander OldDragoon...

  A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...  wait, wrong franchise.  Of course, now JJ Abrams is directing both, so...  Anyway...

  I used to be active in the International Star Trek Fan Association, also known as STARFLEET.  I joined for the first time in 1993, and after a period of lapsed membership rejoined for good in 1999 and participated in the founding of what I truly believe is one of the most unique chapters in that organization's history.  USS Ark Angel was something to see in action.  For those of you who are uninitiated in such things, a quick trip to www.sfi.org can give some insight, but the organization has chapters that are named for fictional starships or space stations, and the members carry organizational rank within the chapters in recognition of their service to said chapter.  The president and vice president of each chapter carry the title "Commanding Officer" and "Executive Officer" and are free to create titles for their members to hold as part of the chapter staff.

  The freedom of each chapter to operate as it sees fit can be said to be the greatest strength and the greatest weakness of STARFLEET at the same time.  On one hand, it embraces the philosophy of IDIC (Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations) so often touted by Trek fans of the older school.  It allows each chapter to be whatever it wants to be as long as it turns in reports on time and has ten dues-paid members.  On the other hand, it means that aside from these two requirements, no chapter has anything else asked of it.  This allows for chapters with individually tailored tastes and focus, but it also allows for chapters with a distinct lack of focus - and as I will discuss in this article or series thereof, lack of focus is a dangerous precedent if one wishes to have a successful organization.

  Long story short, from 1999-2008 I was active.  VERY active.  To the point my wife considered herself a STARFLEET widow.  During that time I served as a CO, an XO, a Marine unit commander and Marine unit Sergeant Major.  I went beyond chapter duties and served as Brigade Commander over the states of Texas and Louisiana, as a Branch Director for the STARFLEET Marine Corps Academy creating courses and exams and grading them, as a Deputy Chief of Staff to Region Three (again, Texas and Louisiana) and later Vice Regional Coordinator South.  During this time I was recognized with every service award Region Three had to offer all the way up to the now deprecated Polaris Award 2nd Order, of which I only know of about five recipients over the course of the decade.  I was promoted into the flag grades, rising to Fleet Captain, then Commodore, and finally to Rear Admiral before my semi-retirement in 2008.

  Why do I bring all this up?  Well, it's not to dazzle you with my STARFLEET club rank or awards.  I bring it up to establish a baseline for future discussion.  You see, I was at the time and until quite recently absolutely baffled as to why I kept getting promoted, and issued these service awards.  In my head, I was just doing the jobs I was elected or appointed to do.  In that paradigm, I don't see the point of showering someone with accolades for doing a competent job.  An exemplary job, sure.  An amazing job - absolutely.  But as far as I was concerned, all I was doing was the common-sense requirements of the posts to which I was assigned.

  Only in the last six months have I begun to believe that I was terribly mistaken in this belief, and that I was selling myself short.  You see, it's all my mother's fault.  I say that in jest, and with no ill will toward my Mom, but it was recently pointed out to me by Dr. Lisa that all my life I have been surrounded by people who are above the curve.  Mom can paint, draw, sew, decorate cakes and arrange flowers and do all of these things at a professional proficiency.  She tends to go into a job, organize the hell out of everything, and square things away.  I've seen her do it at several of her jobs.  She basically runs Catoosa County, GA after a few years working in the clerical staff.  From glorified secretary to being allowed to trigger the explosives for the highway construction project she's now in charge of, Mom was an overachiever and a perfectionist at everything when I was growing up.  I learned that good enough was never good enough, and that above and beyond was adequate.  Couple this with being blessed with an above-average imagination and IQ.  I was placed in gifted classes in the first grade, and stayed there until graduating High School.  I gravitated toward others like me, or in many cases they gravitated to me.  I never really gave it much thought before, but I've been something of a leader figure in almost all aspects of my life for as long as I can remember.  On Facebook this week, one of my old elementary school friends, Richard, made the comment that I was "COMMANDER of the playground" in third and fourth grade at Robertson Elementary.  Looking back, what I did on that playground is not so different from game mastering or running a LARP.  I organized my fellow kiddos into scenarios based on the television series "V" and we played out the conflicts between the Visitors and the Resistance, complete with lizard makeup consisting of green marker and masking tape as tearaway skin.  None of that seemed out of the ordinary to me, but Dr. Lisa starting putting my recollections together and noticed a pattern.  In Middle School I founded my first Star Trek fan club along with some other uber-geeks.  We came up with ship manuals, regulations, and even scratch uniforms.  We discoverd Dungeons and Dragons, Battletech, and the Star Trek Roleplaying Game, among others.  I joined the Boy Scouts and was a patrol leader before I could make it past 2nd Class.  I was an SPL for a while as well.  All without really looking for the job.
  In High School I excelled in Marine Corps JROTC.  I was Battalion XO my senior year, despite having started the first day of school as a Cadet Staff Sergeant due to being on the wrong side of one of our instructor's bad days and getting busted out of my lieutenancy late in my junior year.  The high school incarnation of our Star Trek club did some amazing things, including marching in a parade in Georgetown in our Trek uniforms.  Oh, I miss those Monster Maroons.
  After graduation, I went to college and joined the Army ROTC at University of Texas and worked toward my commission as an honest-to-God officer.  It was here that I hit my first brick wall - sleep apnea.  I was medically disqualified from picking up the ROTC scholarship that should have finished my degree and started my career.  I was crushed.  I got lazy, and put on weight... and before the ink had dried on my medical disqualification I was starting a Battletech-based club called the Caladan Highland Dragoons.  We were the largest Battletech club I'd ever heard of, with over thirty members at our peak, and were organized into a short battalion of two companies with a GM staff.  The stories were EPIC, folks.  It was good times, and I made friends that I still talk to and roll dice with to this day.  I was married in my CHD dress uniform.  My best men were my XO and our Sergeant Major.
  The CHD fell apart when we discovered LARPing.  Instead of one big team of 30 MechWarriors, Amtgard gave everyone the opportunity to become a boffer-wielding hero in their own right.  The group fractured, but we all played Amtgard for several years.  Once again, I ended up becoming a leader.  I had a park of my own to be Baron of, a noble household and became squired to the king.  I founded the Army of the Celestial Kingdom and we had a successful engagement or two.  I hear the ACK is still going in Amtgard.  My wife hated the Amtgard culture around here - too much drinking and drugs mixed in with the contact sport.  It didn't help that the first overnight event I took her to involved a knifing and someone staggering in front of a car and getting hit.  Ugh.  So it was out of Amtgard for me... and on to STARFLEET.
  When we formed the USS Ark Angel, I constructed the chapter the only way I knew how.  I drew on my experiences of what the "proper" way to run a chapter should be.  We had a fairly rigid organizational structure, a promotion system that made advancement tough, and consequently more valued when it did occur.  We stressed military bearing and snap when in persona and in uniform.  We went on to win chapter of the year every second year more or less for six to eight years.  Our Marine unit got organizational (international) unit of the year twice in a row, a feat not done before or since by any other single unit.  We had officers of the year, volunteers of the year, newsletters of the year, etc.  We raised almost two thousand dollars (actually, $1889, our NCC number) for the Battleship Texas foundation.  We became the defacto color guard for Region Three.  In short, we rocked.

  Then it all came apart.  The death of my grandfather in 2006 started my mental slide away from being as hard core as I had been from '99 up until that point.  I spent two years lame ducking it even as I ascended to Regional leadership positions.  The political jockying that screwed me over later just cemented my decision to go into a sort of retirement, and sadly the politics and bullshit broke the back of the most impressive organization I have the honor of having lead.  There are members who will never again look at STARFLEET as something fun or desirable to be a part of.  A few monumentally bad leaders destroyed what could have been the sharpest command team in the history of Region Three...

  But none of that was to be.  And to be honest, it all turned out for the best.  I'm a dad now, and a college graduate.  Would I have been able to complete those goals if I was working overtime on STARFLEET regional organizational stuff?  I've also got to admit that the current RC is precisely what Region Three needed to clean up the mess left by the last two RCs.  One was a micromanager, the other was...  You know, it's been five years and I still don't know how to describe precisely how unsuited to leadership this person was.  It was impressive.  And now that I've begun...  the story is bound to come out.  In any case, the current Regional Coordinator of Region Three at the time of this writing is Commodore Reed Bates.  She was just what R3 needed.  Reed has a keen eye for rules and organization, and considering the mess that was the Regional records, finances and staff what was needed was a crack organizer who wasn't afraid to dismiss people who weren't pulling their weight.  That's what she did - cleaned up the town.  Now there's a bunch of new faces on the Regional staff, and that's partially what lured me back.

  Oh, there I go.  The point of this whole damn post.  Bobby Dean, currently the head of the Battletech club that's been active since 2008 - The Royal Dragoon Guards - has not only decided to become a member of STARFLEET, but to initiate the creation of a new chapter of STARFLEET consisting for the moment of members of the RDG who wish to be affiliated with the Fleet.  We're calling the chapter USS Texas, and she'll be a battleship vessel built in the time of Captain Archer and NX-01 as a response to the Xindi threat, and that of the Klingons and Romulans.  I thought I had put leadership in the Fleet behind me, and moved on to other things, but damnit, Star Trek runs in my blood.  I've been a Trekker as long as I can remember, and the thought of Trek-flavored roleplaying has me unshelving many old FASA books and writing all kinds of plot in my head.  I'm looking at garb, I'm only 30lbs from my TXSG goal weight, and soon I could be wearing a STARFLEET uniform alongside my ACUs.  In short... I'm jazzed.  Excited.  Elated.

  There are risks, though.  Amtgard destroyed the original Highland Dragoons.  STARFLEET came when I stopped playing Amtgard.  The Royal Dragoons replaced the 342nd Marine Strike Group (part of the Ark Angel) when I retired from Fleet in 2008.  I do not wish to see the RDG go away.  If it becomes an aspect of the USS Texas, or vice versa, that would be awesome.  I never intended the RDG to be a completely separate entity to begin with - but circumstances warranted that at the time.  I suppose we'll tell that story, too, as all of this develops.

  In short, Bobby Dean will soon be commissioned Commander Bobby Dean of the USS Texas.  He'll need an XO, and I've agreed to serve.  Although STARFLEET will no doubt continue to send me emails and address me by the two star rank they gave me back in the day, I am absolutely content to be Lieutenant Commander Webb as befits the XO of a chapter in shakedown (the first nine months of a chapter's formation) along with Master Chief Baum as part of the tripartite command team.  You'll notice we're the same team that leads the RDG as Battalion Commander, XO and Sergeant Major.  This is intentional, as we want the Fleet and Battletech aspects of the club to be two different skins or feels to the same group of people.  In effect, we'll each have a persona for each side of the house, except for the folks who are absolutely against having anything to do with STARFLEET.  At present, there are two of them out of 14 or so.  I honestly hope we can show them that Fleet does have a point, and that it will be a hell of a good time.

  I'm off now to read up on Trek gaming, and get some much-needed sleep. I think in addition to my normal musings about parenthood, gaming and the like I'll add a goal to tell the story of the rise and fall of my Fleet experience, and chronicle the launch and subsequent commissioning of the battleship USS Texas as a STARFLEET chapter.

Live Long, and Prosper my friends.

04 February 2013

Returning to Where no Man has Gone Before

  As long as I can remember - almost literally - I have been a Star Trek fan.  One of the first toys I have recollection of that wasn't a Fisher Price item was a wonderful model of the Star Trek : The Motion Picture Enterprise.  My uncle Jon sat on the base for it so I couldn't use the stand anymore.  I saw one at a con a few years back but wasn't wealty enough to drop the $200 it would have cost me for that little piece of nostalgia.  I had a Spock uniform t-shirt as a toddler.  My maternal grandmother hand-embroidered a TOS engineering arrowhead on a sweat shirt for me, using the Franz Josef technical manual as a guide.  I was big into Trek.  BIG into Trek.  Somewhere along the line, that love began to run as an underground river.  I got out of Trek-specific fandom, haven't run a Trek RPG in years, and have focused on other things.

  Lately, I have been thinking about the wonderful age when I first began to really dig into the world of Star Trek.  TNG had not yet premiered.  When you said Trek, you meant the original crew.  No bloody A, B, C or D.  The Holy Bible of Trek Geeks was the Franz Josef Star Fleet Technical Manual.  Mr. Scott's Guide to the Enterprise was a close second.  LOTS of fandom publications could be found at cons, like the Star Fleet Line Officer Requirements series I was just looking at earlier today.  FASA's Star Trek roleplaying game and ship combat game were brilliant for the time.  The miniatures stared at me from the advertisement in Starlog magazine.  It was truly an awesome time to be a Trek fan.  Wrath of Khan, Search for Spock, Voyage Home.  Monster Maroons were the standard uniform, and I saved many Luby's paychecks to purchase my set.  I proudly wore them to school.

  I am organizing some thoughts to expound on this... but I will admit the tiny keyboard attached to my tablet and the parental duties of the hour force me to come back to this later in the week.  There are thoughts here... stick around and you'll hear them.