Trek or Treat? Halloween for Star Trek fans

As we approach Halloween, there are plenty of things a Star Trek fan can do to get into the spirit of the spooky season.

Pumpkin Carving

It wouldn’t be Halloween without a bit of pumpkin carving! And what better way of showing how much of a Trek fan you are than by showing off your etching skills with a picture of the Enterprise, your favourite Andorian, maybe, or as shown here, a TOS Delta shield. And don’t forget to roast your pumpkin seeds with a sprinkle of Paprika when you’re done, and sit back and admire your handy-work.

Zombie Cookies – “He’s (un)dead, Jim”

How about making yourself some fun zombie cookies, and as a wicked twist, give them all an ill fated redshirt! Gruesomely good.

Giant Skeleton Cosplay

You could also recreate the appearance of the giant Spock skeleton in the Lower Decks season 2 episode “Kayshon, His Eyes Open“ with your very own full-sized skeleton for some Trek-appropriate cosplay. Shown here both as a proud Chat Pack member (with retro Defiant CD player, of course) and also sporting this season’s latest USS Cerritos athletic-wear.

Fright Night TV

Although Star Trek isn’t widely known for its scary episodes, that isn’t to say there aren’t some creepier episodes for you to watch this festive season.

One of the most traditionally halloweenie of them all has to the ENT episode “Impuse” where the Enterprise crew face a ship full of actual zombie Vulcans (yes, zombies!)! It doesn’t get spookier than that!

But there are also others, such as ENT “Dead Stop” which harks back to the chilling 2001: A Space Odyssey with its sinister AI system. Or you could also try DS9’s “Empok Nor”, an Alien-esq episode where an away-team find themselves hunted, one by one, by elusive drug-enhanced Cardassian soldiers.

Creepy Cocktails

And to complete your evening, a cocktail is certainly in order, and the new Star Trek cocktail book from Eaglemoss has plenty of terrifyingly terrific beverages for you to choose from. You can’t beat the Spock’s Slipper for a gloriously grotesque looking green cocktail. Add some dry ice if you can for that extra macabre effect.

Happy Halloween!

Legally Blonde: Inspiring women in law for 20 years

Located on Swansea’s Castle Street, Cinema & Co is an eclectic hub for movie lovers and nostalgia aficionados alike. It’s relaxed pallet seats were just so comfortable, and perfect for settling down with a pizza to watch a retro movie.

We had a wonderful evening on Saturday, as we enjoyed a 20th anniversary screening of Legally Blonde (wearing mandatory pink, of course!).

Many may mock the movie’s exaggerated rhetoric and fabulous styling, but it was undoubtedly a feminist movie ahead of its time. It had a profound impact on young women like myself, as we navigated our educational pathways towards life as professionals.

It was released when I was at University, studying English Literature, just before I started applying for law schools and training contracts. It didn’t inspire me to study law (I knew I wanted to be a lawyer, but I just didn’t want to study a law degree for my undergrad), but it gave me the confidence I needed to pursue this career in what was then, still a very male-dominated and traditional career.

I graduated from a London law school in 2005, and qualified as a lawyer in 2007 after completing my two-year training contract. 15 years later, and I am a Partner at the firm I trained with, specialising in technology contract, rather than Elle’s criminal, law.

Legally Blond taught me three important things that have influenced both my life & career ever since:

1. You don’t have to choose between being yourself and being taken seriously. It might prove difficult at times, but you should never stop believing in yourself and bringing your personality and uniqueness to the table;

2. It shows us that other women are our allies, and that we should not fall for the age-old trap of seeing them as the competition; and

3. It emphasises that we can succeed by being nice people, by giving people the benefit of the doubt, and always encouraging everyone to reach their full potential.

I love that Elle Wood has inspired so many women for two decades, and I hope she, and all those of us who have followed in her footsteps, continue to do so for generations of women to come. As Reese Witherspoon herself once remarked: “You can be unapologetically feminine but also smart and driven.” Always remember that.

#LegallyBlonde #Swansea #Cinema #womeninlaw

Star Wars Day 2021: A review of the official cookbooks

Star Wars Day 2021 was another lockdown special, and no options to share the day with family and friends.  However, we were very fortunate that a new Star Wars recipe book (Star Wars: Galactic Baking, from Titan Books) was released a few weeks beforehand, giving us some new tasty options for May the Fourth!  Last year we were introduced to the flavours of Galaxy’s Edge, in The Official Black Spire Outpost Cookbook, written by Chelsea Monroe-Cassel and Marc Sumerak, also from Titan Books. 

Over the past two years, I have really enjoyed tying out some of these recipes, and I have to say, the results have been exceptional.  Historically, franchise themed cook-books have left a lot to be desired, never quite working out as planned, including numerous errors in the recipes themselves.  However, this is not the case for the two latest Star Wars books, both of which have clearly been tested meticulously, and the meal pictures pretty much reflect the end result, which is so unusual for so many recipe books. All of the recipes I have tried so far have been delicious, which is ultimately the most important thing! I even use some of these as part of our staple menu options year-round, they’re that good and easy to make. I’d give both books 5 out of 5 stars.

The rest of this post includes a visual exploration of these recipes, as well as some bonus recipes that I discovered on the StarWars.com website.  If you haven’t already, go out and purchase your copies and start planning your menu for Star Wars Day 2022!

Star Wars: Galactic Baking

Mustafar molten lava cakes

Tie Fighter Ice Cream Sandwiches

Trashcompactor Monster Cookies

Sith (or what I like to call, “Mith”) Cookies

Yoda’s Rooftleaf Rolls (eaten with the Rootleaf Stew from Black Spire)

Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge: The Official Black Spire Outpost Cookbook

Huttese Slime Pods

Dagobah Slug Slinger

Gormaanda’s Glowblue Noodles & Golden Lichen Tuile

Ronto Wrappers & Chando Peppers

Xizor Salad and Chandian Dressing

Mustafarian lava buns

Starwars.com

Dianoga Pasta / Ahsoka Tano chip ‘n dip / Blue milk macarons / Chewbacca Hot Dogs / Jabbacado on Toast

And finally…

Wookie cookies – these are my own creation, made for my very first Star Wars Xmas party in 2014.  They are made using the Hummingbird Bakery Gingerbread recipe. I made a couple of batches and sent them out to friends and family.

Enjoy, and may the force be with you!

Quark’s guide to English contract law: Helping you maximise profit

Editor’s preface

As a contracts lawyer of 15 years, I was delighted to assist Mr Quark (son of Keldar and proprietor of Quark’s Bar, Grill, Gaming House and Holosuite Arcade on Deep Space Nine) with his preparation of an English contract law guide for his fellow Ferengi.  The differences between the two legal systems are stark: for the Ferengi, Greed[, rather than cake,] is eternal (Rule of Acquisition “ROA” #10), and it has taken Quark some time to get his head around some of English law’s somewhat alien contracting principles. 

This guide has been prepared using the Rules of Acquisition (the 285 guiding principles that form the basis of conducting Ferengi business) to assist our Ferengi readers, and supplemented with references to events taking place on Deep Space Nine (thank you Memory-Alpha for the text and pictures), with the main elements of English law providing the framework for the analysis of how Ferengi contract law principles differ from those applied by “hew-mons” who live in the Federation provinces of England & Wales.

Please note that the focus of this guide is on contract law, rather than other types of law that Quark experienced when on Deep Space Nine, such as family and divorce law, employment law and criminal law, but copies of these other guides are available at Quark’s (at additional cost, of course).” – E.England

Hew-mon English law principles

The first thing you need to know about how hew-mons conduct their business in England & Wales is that it can be very different to how we Ferengi are used to doing things.  It is, in my view, a significantly inferior system.  They don’t even have a set of written rules, and everything is regulated by what they refer to as “common law principles”.  Such primitive beings!

To help you navigate this rather puerile regime, and to help you have any hope of making a profit with these people, I have summarised the key deviations from our sacred Rules of Acquisition, and suggest you make it your business to familiarise yourself with this guide (price: 20 slips of gold-pressed latinum, if you please).

Who can enter into contracts

The good news is that the customer pool in England & Wales is very large, offering plenty of opportunities to exploit and increase your latinum potential.  Hew-mons permit all adults and corporate entities to enter into legally binding contracts, with minors being able to contract for essential purchases.

Clearly Ishka’s influence has reached Earth, as even women are treated like equals when it comes to contracting.  I know, you wonder how their society functions, when you and I know very well that females and finances don’t mix! (ROA #94) (Profit & Lace DS9 623.  Even though women can enter contracts, these hew-mons agree with us that you can’t make a deal if you’re dead (ROA #125) (The Siege of AR-558 DS9 708), but, death will not automatically terminate a legally binding contract, unless the party’s death itself makes performance impossible.

As with all of your business dealings, you would be wise to take heed of the fact that new customers (even your hew-mon ones) are like razor-toothed gree-worms.  They can be succulent, but sometimes they bite back (ROA #195/203) (Little Green Men DS9 408). Due diligence on your counterparts is king!  Not all customers are as reliable as my good friend, Morn.

How hew-mons enter into contracts

On Ferenginar, a handshake isn’t worth yamok sauce (Star Trek Deep Space Nine: Legends of the Ferengi: By Quark as told to Ira Steven Behr & Robert Hewitt Wolfe), but hew-mon contracts don’t need to be in writing or even signed at all to be legally binding.  This is great news, and means that you can try and find ways to trick your customers to agree to your terms.

This would have been very helpful for me that time I lost out on a consignment of self-sealing stem-bolts because I was distracted by the buyer (you all know that I just can’t help myself when oo-mox is involved) and I didn’t get the contract signed in time (Prophet Motive DS9 316).

For a contract to be legally binding, it need only satisfy the following conditions:

  1. There must be an offer on the table
  2. The other party must accept that offer as offered without any counter-offers or changes
  3. Both parties must intend to be legally bound
  4. There must be consideration. I’ll explain, this last one:

These hew-mon contracts do not need to involve actual currency or latinum or even worthless gold for that matter, they just require that something is exchanged or promised in return.  As I’ve always said, one man’s pricelessness, is another man’s worthlessness (Move Along Home DS9 110).   Having said that, the way I see it is that you should expect resistance if you try to apply the 82nd Rule of Acquisition when pricing your products (the flimsier the product the higher the price).

I recall my nephew Nog and the Captain’s son, Jake Sisko, exchanging self-sealing stem bolts for 7 tessipates of Bajoran land some time ago when they set up the Noh-Jay Consortium, and this type of arrangement would also be permitted under English law (Progress DS9 115). The good news is that very similar to the Ferengi way, the law doesn’t protect your customer against making a bad bargain with you.  Well that, I must say, is very progressive for these hew-mons.  Maybe they are more similar to us than they’d like to admit!  

Performing your obligations

If you contract with these hew-mons, you will be required to honour any contracts you enter into with them.  The 6th Rule of Acquisition that: a deal is a deal…until a better one comes along, will not apply, and both parties to a contract will be bound to perform the contract as negotiated.  And may I also remind you that you will not be able to get out of any unfavourable contracts you have agreed to just because you have contracted with a hew-mon.  If English law applies, my advice is to make sure you’re happy with it before it’s concluded (ROA #17: “A contract is a contract is a contract but only between Ferengi”).

The Rule of Acquisition #8 is also very important for English law business contracts.  Once the contract is legally binding, it doesn’t matter if the parties have read the contract or not, and they will be deemed to have accepted all of its terms.  As any good Ferengi knows, it is always important to check the small print before you sign! You don’t want to find that you have sold your soul to the Prophets, or worse, to the Federation!

Although satisfaction is not guaranteed (ROA #19), even in English law contracts, the average Ferengi might well find himself in an unpleasant situation because of what the hew-mons call “implied terms”. These insidious rules mean that, unless you have successfully disapplied them, the products you sell must comply with the descriptions or purposes you have given, and that any services rendered must be provided with reasonable care and skill. A prudent Ferengi will, of course, always exclude liability for what he sells, but extra cunning will be needed to avoid falling foul of these meddlesome rules.

And finally, I want to impart some further words of warning. I just couldn’t believe it when I discovered that, for hew-mons, the purpose of a contract is not to pursue profit at all costs, and the principles of “caveat emptor” apply only to a degree. Whilst in Ferenginar, you will be used to not being afraid to mislabel a product (ROA #239), this is a big no-no for English law (Body Parts DS9 425). Blasphemy, I say, and talk about a sure way to end up in the Vault of Eternal Destitution!

What happens if things go wrong

Both in Ferengi and hew-mon English law, a breach of contract is a serious matter.  Both our cultures provide recourse in these circumstances, and legal proceedings can be brought against the defaulting party. 

Remember that you will be contractually obliged to perform your obligations, and if that’s what’s written, then that’s what’s written (Favour the Bold DS9 605).  As is the case in Ferenginar, there are very few instances where you can be excused from performing your obligations, but it might involve a legal mistake (like that time I argued with Hanok that the extra charges added to the contract were a mistake (Starship Down DS9 406)), or because the contract is frustrated. 

Do you remember that time when I agreed to sell my remains to Liquidator Brunt via the Ferengi Future Exchange, but then I didn’t die? It could have ended in disaster, but I managed to get around that little problem by using my superior wit and cunning (Melora DS9 206). This might not have been possible if I’d entered into a similar arrangement with a hew-mon.

Contracts for hew-mons will often include specified contractual remedies for breach of contracts, and you can’t just rely on the 1st rule of acquisition that once you have their money, never give it back (The Nagus DS9 110 / Heart of Stone DS9 314). And let me tell you, the refund policies when your customers are individual consumers are intolerable, worthy of its own guide (copies available to purchase separately at Quark’s Bar)!

Helpfully, hew-mons don’t have a formal regulatory authority like the FCA (Ferengi Commerce Authority) for general contracts, and the revocation of a hew-mon’s right to conduct future business is reserved only for very serious breaches of specifically applicable conduct rules.  

It is also worth knowing that hew-mon contracts will only bind the parties to the contract, and hew-mons do not ostracise their family members if something goes wrong with their contracts.  With all the trouble I’ve had with Ishka, this is one of the few appealing aspects of English law, I must say! (Body Parts DS9 425). I can only dream of what life would be without the likes of Liquidator Brunt!

Home is where the heart is, but the stars are made of latinum

As this guide highlights, English law is far too provisional for my taste, and it reminds me of the more liberal ways being promoted by my mother since the amendments made to the Ferengi Bill of Opportunities (Ferengi Love Songs DS9 520).  But nonetheless, there are opportunities to profit from these hew-mons, and may the Great Continuum provide for you and reward your exploitations! Maybe one day you’ll be able to buy your own moon.

Just don’t forget to grab a drink (or three), and maybe visit the holosuite or Dabo table before you leave…

Index

Rules of Acquisitions

(Star Trek Deep Space Nine: Legends of the Ferengi: By Quark as told to Ira Steven Behr & Robert Hewitt Wolfe)

#1: Once you have their money, never give it back

#8: Small print leads to large risk

#16: A deal is a deal…until a better one comes along

#17: A contract is a contract is a contract…but only between Ferengi

#19: Satisfaction is not guaranteed

#82: The flimsier the product, the higher the price

#94: Females and finances don’t mix

#125: You can’t make a deal if you’re dead

#195/203: New customers are like razor-toothed gree-worms.  They can be succulent, but sometimes they bite back

#239: Never be afraid to mislabel a product

The Battle of Endo(r) – A geek’s perspective on life with endometriosis [updated March 2021]

img_7641-1

[See post credit entry for March 2021 update]

I have never really spoken about my six-year battle with Endometriosis.  It’s been tough, and to date, I’ve never felt able or indeed confident enough to talk about it.  The recent awareness campaign culminating in the report issued on 27th March 2017 by the Women’s Health APPG spearheaded by Paula Sherriff MP, as well as the brave recent disclosures of the talented Lena Dunham, however, have changed my mind.  I feel now would be a good time to share my experience with others who may find it reassuring to know they are not alone in the galaxy, and that help is never far, far away.

Let’s start with the opening crawl: Endometriosis is a chronic condition affecting many women across the world (one in ten here in the U.K.) and causes endometrial tissue (which normally lines the uterus) to grow outside of the uterus, but is unable to escape the body in the same way as uterus cells.  This causes scarring and growth, which can take various forms, including lesions, modules and cysts.  The causes of the disease are generally unknown and diagnosis is particularly challenging in light of this lack of understanding, as well as the broad range of symptoms a person may be experiencing.

From the news reports last week, in some respects, I consider myself one of the lucky ones.  I was diagnosed with the disease within a month back in 2011, having visited a savvy ultrasound consultant in Cardiff who was investigating a large and painful nodule I had protruding near my belly button.  It was this incredible lady who made the connection between the unusual tissue protrusion and the cyclical pain I was experiencing and she referred me immediately to an expert private gynecologist who confirmed the prognosis within a fortnight.

After my initial diagnosis I had surgery to remove the large nodule (which was about 4cm and as diseased as the horrid Salacious B Crumb) shortly afterwards.

Instead of the average 7 years, my clinical diagnostic journey was more akin to the Kessler Run undertaken by the legendary Millennium Falcon, the speed (maybe not quite 12 parsecs) unquestionably efficient, and for that I am deeply grateful.

The empire strikes back

Whilst much of the emphasis seems to have been on the failures of diagnosis, what many don’t fully appreciate is that the disease is not curable and the options available are not always palatable, or indeed, fully effective.

Hormone treatment is presently the most effective option, and can be used following excision to manage and suppress symptoms for long periods of time.  Pregnancy can also alleviate symptoms temporarily but the presence of Endo makes this a less certain option for many sufferers by affecting fertility.

After my first surgery, I (naively) thought that would be the end of it, but three years later the pain escalated to such an extent that I would often be incapacitated for days at a time.  More surgery was recommended, followed by a 4 month hormone induced menopause and HRT treatment, which was hoped to force-blast any remaining tissue from my body.  I would not advocate this latter treatment as it resulted in horrendous hot flashes and angsty moodiness worthy of young Anakin Skywalker himself.

I didn’t think such pain existed. In any universe.

Part of the difficulty people have had in getting diagnosed is because the symptoms are diverse and often resemble other conditions.  Some people may not even know they have it, as some have no symptoms or pain at all, and may only discover the disease when they look to start a family and struggle to do so.  I am one of those who experiences chronic pain.  Whatever anyone says, the affliction is nothing like regular “period pain”, and the pain (together with other symptoms such as nausea, vertigo and headaches) lasts for many days at various points of the menstrual cycle.

As C-3PO once eloquently informed Jabba the Hutt about the unfortunate fate of Boba Fett having failed into the Sarlacc sand pit, “in [your belly] you will find a new definition of pain and suffering as you are slowly digested over a thousand years“.   OK, so I exaggerate a little. Endo is not life threatening, but its symptoms are collectively debilitating.  The pain is two-fold: the crippling cramps feel as if I have my very own Sarlacc presiding in the depths of my pelvis; the sharp stabbing pain akin to a cheese-grater-wielding General Grievous, trapped inside, looking for a way out.  On top of this, the nausea and general unexplained exhaustion kicks in. For up to ten days of every month, I suffer in relative obscurity as I try and keep it all under the radar and try to continue with my demanding job as a lawyer as best as I can in the circumstances.  I have been fortunate that my boss at work has been excellent throughout this time (notwithstanding the fact that I have never actually discussed the condition with him) and I couldn’t have suffered so long without the tireless support of my scruffy-looking scoundrel of a husband.

Strike me down and I will become more powerful as you can imagine (but not in a good Obi-Wan way)

After completing the course of hormone injections in 2014, I hoped that the disease would give me a break, or that maybe I would find myself expecting a little Luke or Leia to alleviate the symptoms via a more natural method, but here I find myself in 2017 sat at home recovering from my third bout of excision surgery.

It was an unpleasant experience overall (but the staff at the Spire hospital were fantastic).  What surprised me this time around was how extensive it was.  Not only had the disease spread like the Galactic Empire army to engulf most of my pelvic area, but also extended to my liver and setting up additional garrisons upwards onto my diaphragm.  This spread does explain, however, then chest pain I have had for a while as well as back and neck pain.  I had no idea it could move to areas outside of the pelvis, and I encourage everyone to relay all symptoms you may be having to your doctor, as it seems that most of all of my recent ailments can be attributed to this bizarre and capricious disease.  As this piece probably conveys, the disease is a complex weapon system much like the Death Star, but unlike the Empire’s most sophisticated weapon, Endo has no identifiable reactor core that can be taken out by a skilled X-Wing pilot.

After being in surgery for four hours, I returned to my room and was hooked up to a drip and other breathing apparatus to recover.  I felt dreadful, the internal trauma caused by the excision of the significant amount of rogue tissue, quite considerable.  I was swollen from thighs to belly, as immobile and puffy as the blue organ playing elephant, Max Rebo.

My first venture to the bathroom was a particular highlight, the transition from a lying position to a sitting up one forced ghastly retching, which produced a substance that I can only describe as putrid Bantha milk.  That I concluded was the remnants of the anesthetic, but who really knows.  A Cantina worthy cocktail of morphine, codeine and paracetamol kept me going through the night and into the days that followed.

Recovery has been frustratingly slow, and it’s taken some time to become less of a clumsy Gonk Droid and to start being able to fend for myself.

A new hope 

Whatever happens next, I am sure that I do not want to have to revert to this option again, and living with the pain is no longer an option.  With most of the tissue removed, I have a short window of time before the cycle will inevitably start again.  So for me, I have some difficult decisions to make.

The reason I have not taken more permanent action to date was because I had plans to have a family of my own, and taking the hormonal option would (of course) not have been a viable option taking account of this aspiration. Sadly, however, the past five years have passed all too quickly: It’s been one long emotional Speeder chase, during which I have had to come to terms with the increasingly likely alternative reality of not being a mother due to my Hoth-like, inhospitable reproductive system.

This realisation and subsequent reluctant acceptance has involved a strange grieving process for a life you will never have but that you’d always hoped you have, as well as grieving for the youngling you will never help bring into this world.  Whilst biological motherhood may not be what the midi-chlorians had in mind for me, I take a great deal of comfort in knowing that I already have four beautiful and very special padawans in my life.  I will always be there for my nieces and goddaughters as the Organas and Lars’ were there for the young Skywalker twins.

That being said, today is a new day, a new beginning and I am not quite ready to give up and take the permanent option just yet…

For all of you brave women out there fighting their own Battles of Endo, may the force be with you, always.

Post credit scene (9 March 2021 update)

I’m pleased to say that since I wrote this back in 2017, the increase in awareness of endometriosis has been significant, with the 2021 campaign looking collectively at women’s health and how changes need to be made to support women more generally.  For too long women are not being listened to and their symptoms dismissed.  The APPG has recently released its report, which is available here: https://endometriosis-uk.org/endometriosis-appg .  Remember that your voice is important, and that you deserve to be treated with respect by health professionals and your workplace.  We are not living in the Galactic Empire, you know!

From my personal perspective, I had about 12 months after my 2017 surgery where I felt like a human being for the first time in a long while, but just like the Emperor himself, the disease resurrected itself from the deep, forcing me to find new ways of adapting to this insidious condition.  In the midst of this, we had some initial consultations with a fertility clinic, but the bureaucracy involved meant that by the time we had had a couple of appointments, my condition was already gathering pace, and reached a new height of pain in 2019.  I’d had enough, and we banished the fertility options into the Unknown Regions, and I set to look at the options of more permanent pain management options and to establish my own Resistance to the disease. 

But then the Covid-19 crisis struck, as suddenly as Order 66 and just as devastating. Because of the initial restrictions, I was unable to schedule some important investigatory examinations last year.  In the meantime, I have been experimenting with a cocktail of drugs (no not Spice), but different contraceptive pills, none of which are succeeding in alleviating all of the symptoms. 

For example, the progesterone only pill made no difference to pelvic pain and in fact, caused even heavier bleeding and clotting which was intolerable.  The combined pill on the other hand is mercifully easing some of the pain, but this is counterbalanced with crippling nausea migraines for 10 days per month with regular pain relief doing nothing to diminish it.  The discussion between Bail Organa and Obi-Wan Kenobi comes to mind:

What in – Kenobi, are you sick?”
No. A headache. It’s nothing.
It’s not nothing. You look like you’re about to retch.”  Yup, that’s pretty much how it feels!

The one saving grace of this pandemic has been that working from home has enabled me to hide my symptoms more easily, by having the freedom to take short breaks to lie down etc., without anyone knowing I’m having a bad day.  I know that I am no Jedi, and that I will continue to have bad days, but I take comfort in knowing that more is now being done to find better treatments and solutions for women across the galaxy.   

As Poe Dameron eloquently once put it: “We are the spark that’ll light the fire that’ll burn the First Order down“. 

Together, we can fight for a more equal health care future.

Further information

www.endometriosis-uk.org

http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Main_Page (reference guide for the non- Star Wars fan)

Do go to your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:

Chronic pain (including pelvic, back and chest pain)

Headaches/ nausea

Fatigue/lack of energy

Depression/isolation

Problems with a couple’s sex life/relationships

An inability to conceive

Difficulty in fulfilling work and social commitments

Admiral, there be Wales here!

Happy St.David’s Day!

On the 1st March each year, Welsh people across the quadrant celebrate the rich culture and identity of Wales. It does not usually involve any form of geek culture, but this year I decided to make Star Trek themed Welsh Cakes (using my newly acquired Delta Sheild cookie cutter) to mark how the Welsh language became further established into Star Trek canon in 2019, albeit in a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ sort of way.

In Discovery Season 2 Episode 4 (DIS “An Obol for Charon”), I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard Lt. Bryce (played by Ronnie Rowe Jr.) speaking Welsh on the bridge. Welsh!!

The scene, you will recall, was when the USS Discovery’s universal translator had gone awry after its encounter with the Sphere, and the crew were heard speaking many different Earth and alien languages, including Welsh. I had to rewind the scene a couple of times to make sure I hadn’t mis-heard, but there was no question about it. It was definitely Welsh that was being spoken.

Of all the different languages that they could have used, Welsh was certainly an unusual choice. I would love to know how the writing team made the decision to include our beautiful, ancient language on the show.

But this is not the only time Star Trek has recognised Wales. Memory Alpha tells us that there have been two other references to Wales in previous televised iterations of the franchise since its inception. 1) Montgomery Scott once sang a Welsh song called “Yr Hufen Melyn” (translation, “The Yellow Cream”) in the TAS episode “The Lorelei Signal”. 2) Janeway is partial to Welsh Rarebit, which her grandfather used to make for her as a child. Neelix, on the other hand, had never heard of it. (VOY: “Death Wish”/ Kathryn Janeway Autobiography, edited by Una McCormack).

As we are talking about the connections between Wales and Star Trek, I would be remiss not to mention the time when (back in 2015) a Welsh Government Minister responded to questions about UFO sightings at Cardiff Airport in Klingon: “jang vIDa je due luq. ach ghotvam’e’ QI’yaH devolve qaS.” (translation: “The minister will reply in due course. However this is a non-devolved matter.”). I’ve heard that Welsh speakers have an advantage when learning Klingon, due to the two languages’ similar use of consonants such as “ll” & “ch”, but I haven’t yet tested that theory personally…

It was such a delight to see that Welsh, our little language of the heavens, had boldly made it into the 23rd century! Thank you to CBS – Diolch!

DYDD GWYL DEWI HAPUS, PAWB!

LLAP

All Star Trek shows available on CBS All Access & Netflix / Blog post title inspired by pun-master extraordinaire, Ryan T. Husk, Co-Host and Producer of the 7th Rule Podcast

Trek the Halls: USS Discovery Gingerbread

To help spread some festive cheer in what will be a very strange Christmas this year, I decided it was time to make another gingerbread structure. It’s been a few years since my last one…

I re-connected with Star Trek (having always been a fan of DS9 and of the movies (old and Kelvin) towards the end of 2018 when I heard about the new podcast that the late Aron Eisenberg and Cirroc Lofton were planning with producer Ryan T. Husk. Focussing on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, this was the perfect conduit for me getting back into the franchise, and I have been a super fan of the podcast since then, becoming an Associate Producer early in 2020. To get involved, find T7R on Twitter, Facebook, Patreon. We’ve also had some great Trek to watch over the past couple of years, including new Discovery and Picard, with more coming to our screens shortly. In the UK, we’re still awaiting Lower Decks…

Over this time, I have met some wonderful people. I joined Starfleet Command and was welcomed onboard the USS Aron Eisenberg, and look forward to my weekly interactions with T7R #ChatPack as well as via new friends on Twitter. This kind and inclusive community has been such a blessing in helping us all cope with the challenges that we have been facing since the Covid-19 pandemic hit back in March.

The USS Discovery

Season 3 of Discovery started airing on 16th October, and this was my inspiration for the 2020 gingerbread spectacular! The USS Discovery! I decided to go with the original NCC-1301 design, rather than the 32nd century retro-fitted A version, although this was going to be my “Plan B” if the icing decided not to hold the nacelles. I have always loved the design of the Discovery, and love the spore drive flip!

The Crew

I hadn’t originally planned on making the crew, but having found a teeny-tiny gingerbread man at the garden centre a couple of weeks back, I thought it would be fun to make some of the crew to sit alongside the ship.

I had forgotten how many great characters we’ve been introduced to over the past 3 seasons! Far too many to have the time to make representations of, and so I took the difficult decision to focus on those characters who have appeared in this season.

That meant omitting amazing characters like Pike, Spock, Lorca etc. I also retrospectively made a Nahn after feeling a little bad for her having been left at the floating seed bank a few episodes back, and had enough leftover gingerbread to make a L’Rell (who I’ve missed this season)!

They are all so cute! Who is your favourite!?


Construction

I used the recipe I always use for my gingerbread, and it means that it will be entirely edible if we can bring ourselves to actually eat it! It’s the version from the Hummingbird Bakery recipe book. It is incredibly reliable and I’ve used this countless times to make all sorts of designs. Best of all, it tastes delicious.

For the glue, I made royal icing, which I made slightly thicker than usual to help keep everything together.

I deliberately made the structure fairly small, as I was concerned that its integrity might suffer if it were too large. After some digging around in the pantry, I had a light-bulb moment when I found some plastic cutlery containers that I decided to use as stands for the model. These took all of the stress off the joints, and after 3 days it hasn’t transformed into the NCC-1301-A model! Phew.


To boldly go

I couldn’t be happier with the result, and I’ve received so many wonderful comments on social media, including from some of the Discovery actors, as well as featuring in a fabulous article by the team at Daily Star Trek News! So amazing and thank you to everyone who took the time to comment!

The success of this year’s model has certainly sparked my enthusiasm for getting back into this tradition, and I am already thinking of some new ideas for next year. Do let me know if you have any suggestions:)

Check out some of the festive designs I’ve made in the past, including a Nakatomi Building, The Wall, Tardis and AT-AT. Full “how-to” details are available on these links.


HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO YOU ALL, AND LIVE LONG AND PROSPER!!

Birthday Blood Bowl

The release of the updated edition of Blood Bowl coincided with James’ new year birthday and it was the perfect theme choice for his birthday supper that year.

Blood Bowl is a fantasy football game created for Games Workshop as a parody of American Football, and features Warhammer favourites, the Orcs going head-to-head against a human outfit. It was first released in 1986, and a second version launched late in December 2016.

James loves Games Workshop. I, however, am not a big fan. It might well have something to do with the fact that James chooses to buy the most grotesque of the range, with the Orcs being his favourite! I believe there are also more aesthetic robot-types available, but alas, James cannot be reasoned with.

Using the board-game packaging as my inspiration, I constructed a particularly deadly looking football using an American football cake tin, and used a specially cleaned rugby ball to texture the fondant icing. The little models are in fact the pieces from the game.

These figures are actually from the 1986 edition, painted in the Rugby Six Nations colours!

For dinner, we ate a very green pesto pasta dish. Delicious!

Go Team!!

Raktajino to go!

I have always admired the on-board travel mugs used by the crew of the USS Defiant (NX-74205).

For any fan of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, these mugs will be very familiar, having made their debut in Season 3, when Starfleet revealed the prototype Defiant class battleship, which was originally commissioned to combat the Borg. This small ship “with teeth” would prove to be a critical asset to the Federation in its war against the Dominion over the remaining seasons.

DS9’s elegant ceramic Raktajino mugs would have been entirely unsuitable for the battlefield, of course, and hence a new type of utility mug was born.

And so, you can imagine my excitement when I finally discovered the correct Thermos flask needed to replicate the cup!!! I was ecstatic, and set the ball rolling to re-create this coveted cup!

Thanks to the guys at Forum Appliances for making these available. The model you will need is the Thermos JMF500 thermal mug (black), and you can buy yours here: https://www.forumappliances.com/thermos-thermal-mug-jmf500-500ml-black/ . Shipping made it more expensive for me, but if you are in North America the mug itself is approximately $25, which is the typical cost of a Thermos brand product.

The mug does include the Thermos logo on one side, but the other side is blank ready to apply the delta shield and ship designation decal. The vinyl I used was custom made and sized to fit the mug by SciFiVinyls, a UK seller on Etsy. SciFiVinyls processed and shipped my order within a few days, and were very accommodating. Here are the dimensions I used:

If you’re not in the UK then you should be able to find a local supplier online. The decal from SciFiVinyl is good quality and was very easy to apply onto the mug.

And here is the finished product! Attack pattern Delta!

I’m so pleased with how it turned out. It was incredibly easy to make once you know where to find the Thermos!

And for anyone interested in getting their very own ceramic Raktajino mug (the style used at the Replimat), these can be purchased online. The design is know as a Highwave Hotjo travel mug and comes in many different colour options.

Live long and prosper 🖖

“I didn’t know there was so much green in the whole galaxy” – Take a trip to Takadona (after lockdown, of course!)

2015 was a great year for Star Wars fans. It was the year that Episode VII: The Force Awakens, was released, the first Star Wars movie since the release of The Revenge of the Sith in 2005, and heralded the first of the final trilogy for the franchise.

It certainly didn’t disappoint. A beautifully shot production, providing an emotional introduction to the next generation of protagonists and villains. It also gave us more stunning locations to admire, and two of these were shot right here in the UK: The Lake District (the second largest of the UK’s National Parks); and Puzzlewood (a quirky, and much smaller natural treasure located in the Forest of Dean). We visited both of these in the Summers of 2017 and 2018 respectively.

The Lake District, England a.k.a. Takodana

The Lake District is not a stranger to the silver screen, having been the setting for a number of movies in the past, including 28 Days Later, but it can now boast being part of the Star Wars universe standing in the forest planet Takodana, (which is located in the Western Reaches of the Empire, in the Mid-Rim). After legendary duo Han Solo and Chewbacca are re-united with the Millennium Falcon, they set off with Rey, Finn and BB-8 in search of the knowledgeable Maz Kanata, who will certainly help them return BB-8 safely to the Resistance.

FACTOID: Did you spot that Anakin Skywalker has a statue if Maz in his bedroom in Episode I: The Phantom Menace? Interesting, I hear you say, and likely a nod to Maz’s ancient connection with the Jedi and how she originally came to be in possession of Anakin’s lightsabre…).

The main setting for the planet, and specifically for Maz’s castle, is around Derwentwater and Thirlmere, two of the many large lakes that make up the Lake District. As the Millennium Falcon enters the atmosphere, the ship finds itself over Borrowdale and Derwentwater (which has been digitally enhanced to make the lake appear even larger than its original form), and we can see views of the large fell, Skiddaw in the background.

You can visit Colin Bell’s blog for more specific identification of the Takodano landscape as it is quite difficult to work out the precise locations due to the CGI modifications made to the original landscape.

The arrival above Maz’s Castle shows Walla Crag on the left hand side, with Maz’s Castle in the distance, opposite the spectacular fells of Catbells and Maiden Moor. From this direction, the scene has been modified to make it more “alien” but it is still very recognisable for those who frequent the area.

The main town attached to Derwentwater is Keswick, a lovely market town with its very own pencil factory (which is really cool)!!

To get the view from Maz’s Castle, we ventured out beyond Keswick, to the opposite side of Derwentwater, near Friars Crag, where you get the sense that you are near the ancient watering-hole.

Whilst we were unable to find any exact locations (which were quite possibly not even filmed here), we think this was near the vicinity where some of the shots comprising the Stormtroopers vs X-Wing showdown we’re supposed to have happened. It was truly stunning area of the lake to visit, and incredibly quiet compared with the hustle and bustle of Keswick. It is certainly worth the hike along the water’s edge if you have the time…

Even though finding the precise locations from the movie was difficult in practice, it is easy to see why the location scouts chose the Lake District to represent Takodana. We are looking forward to being able to return here after the lockdown craziness ends!

Puzzlewood, Forest of Dean a.k.a Takodana forest

After discovering Maz’s collection of mysterious artefacts deep within the castle, Rey finds herself in a strange woodland, adjacent to where the Millennium Falcon was parked up. Now this is no-where near the Lake District, but instead, was filmed at Puzzlewood, located in the Forest of Dean in Southern England.

Puzzlewood is as amazing and quirky as it sounds, and is one of the most unusual places I have ever been to within the UK. It was a real joy to explore this ancient woodland and to explore the unusual rock formations covered with moss and ferns. Lucasfilm could not have chosen a better location for the lightsabre spar between Rey and Kylo Ren, which culminated in Rey being captured by Ren for questioning over the map of Luke Skywalker’s whereabouts, as even without any added lighting or enhancements, there was something quite surreal about this place.

Get yourself to a UK spaceport

So if you want to visit Takodana, you will need to schedule two separate trips, one to the North, and one to the South of the United Kingdom. Both are very much worth the effort, even if you’re not a Star Wars fan.

Let’s explore the galaxy together

We would love to visit more Star Wars locations (particularly Endor (Redwood National Park), and so far we have visited Kashyyyk (Episode III), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand (also the location for Saramanga’s lair in James Bond), and Tatooine (Episode IV), Death Valley National Park, California.

MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU, ALWAYS!

Walk For Endo 2020

Thank you to everyone who sponsored me for Walk For Endo. 

I’ve raised an amazing total of £408 (which includes gift aid donations) thanks to you all for supporting me and this worthy cause.  This money is desperately needed to help fund more research into this chronic disease, and just by supporting me, you have also helped to raise awareness. 

I documented my own personal experience of having Endometriosis a few years back on my blog: https://geekchic-hq.com/…/the-battle-of-endor-a-geeks…/ and I have continued to suffer with the condition since my last treatment, with recent lockdown restrictions forcing ongoing treatments and consultations to be cancelled.  It is a constant struggle to feel positive and well, and the taboo of talking about so-called “women’s problems” continues to make those of us who have this condition to play-down and avoid talking about their symptoms. So when I saw the Walk for Endo fundraiser, I was keen to do my part to try and help other women cope with the disease and to help give the condition more awareness. 

Endometriosis UK is doing excellent work to support women across the country, and their focus under this particular campaign is to raise awareness with the aim of reducing the unacceptably long diagnosis period.  The Walk for Endo campaign quotes: “it takes on average 7.5 years to be diagnosed with endometriosis – that’s too long! Walk 7.5k with us to support those on the path to diagnosis.”  Whilst I was fortunate to have a very speedy diagnosis initially, there is so little understanding of the disease, and no known long-term treatment or cure, which means there are no real prospects of permanent relief for any of us any time soon.

As part of my challenge, I aimed to walk a 7.5k walk each week in July and August.  I even managed to get a couple of extra ones in as I extended the challenge into September!

Here is a pictorial summary of the hikes I did with my husband and parents over the Summer.  It was such a great experience, and it made me realise how fortunate we are to have such incredible places so close to us to visit.

  1. Rhossili Down Hillend & Beach (11th July)
  1. Four Waterfalls Walk (18th July)
  1. Llandeilo to Dinefwr Castle (25th July)
  1. Mumbles to Langland (2nd August)
  1. Quarr Abbey (9th August)
  1. Ryde Seafront & Appley (multiple times)
  1. Penllergare Woods (29th August)
  1. Neath Canal & Abbey (5th September)
  1. Henrhyd Falls (13th September)
  1. Kenfig Nature Reserve (19th September)
  1. Llyn Y Fan Fawr (27th September)

Thank you all once again for all of your love, support and encouragement.

THANK YOU!!!

#WALKFORENDO #ENDOMETRIOSISUK