Posted in: Fan Club, Quotes, Star Trek, Technology

Mining Star Trek Trivia From Episodes

Today I had an opportunity to do something that I haven’t had a chance to do in a while. Mine an episode of Star Trek for trivia and quotes.

As most of my readers know, I am the Commander-in-Chief of a Star Trek parent organization in the form of a “Fleet”. Before I was asked to take a position in the admiralty, I was the Captain (chapter president) of a local chapter. Part of our job was to prepare the members to go up in rank as much as they wished. The higher the rank, the more they were willing to serve. In Starfleet Command’s Seventh Fleet, guidelines have been set for going up in rank from Crewman 3rd Class all the way to Captain. This is different from other organizations that I’ve observed as they leave the lower ranks up to the decision of the CO and only provide guidelines for the higher flag ranks. One of the items to accomplish for a rank advancement is passing off a merit sheet. This is a short 5-20 question document with trivia based on a wide variety of subjects (general trivia, specific trivia about an episode, race, ship, etc., Star Trek quotes or production history, real-life science, specific episodes or movies, etc.) Some examples of these merit sheets can be found on the websites of individual chapters. One of the things I noticed as a Captain is that some members didn’t know what merit sheet to take next. So I decided that I was going to make a merit sheet for each episode of Star Trek. This way I could ask the member, “what is your favorite Star Trek episode?” Once they responded, I would give them the merit sheet for that episode and suggest that they just sit down, watch their favorite episode and fill in the answers to the questions.

Yes that goal may seem daunting now with new episodes coming out all the time on Paramount+, but at the time Enterprise was the last series that had been released. So I started on the project and I got pretty far. I completed all seven seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation. I’ve been able to get through the first 4 1/2 seasons of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and I’ve done a hand full of episodes from the other series. I would plop in a DVD on my computer, pull up Memory-Alpha, and watch an episode. If something that sounded like a trivia question would come up, I wrote it down. Eventually I’d come up with 20 questions and the merit sheet was ready to go for use.

I also “mined” the episode for quotes for use on the Daily Star Trek Quotes twitter account that I run. Sure, Memory-Alpha had some quotes listed in the episode entries. But there was a lot more that didn’t get posted to MA. Since I was watching the DVD with the closed caption turned on, I could easily rewind the episode and make sure I got a quote that sounded good written down for use. I would later add these quotes to a spreadsheet broken down by series, episode and who said it. So far I have over 7,500 quotes in this spreadsheet from The Cage to the latest episodes of Lower Decks. I’ve been able to post quotes for an actor’s birthday that has even impressed the online fan clubs of those actors.

I had a system down. I had to watch the episode alone because I was doing a lot of stopping and rewinding to make sure I had the details and quotes correct. A standard 45 minute episode could get mined for trivia and quotes in 60-75 minutes. Some days I could knock out an entire four episode DVD.

As with most fandom activities, real life got in the way. There were days that I wanted to focus on another relaxing event such as spending time with my family, reading, writing or gaming. I also decided to return to college to earn my bachelors degree. Something that I’m very glad that I did, but soaked up a lot of time. While I was able to get an episode or two down, I wasn’t on the roll that I had at my peak.

On Friday a weird moment came up where I had some free time so I decided to mine an episode for the first time in a while. However instead of using a DVD, I used my Paramount+ streaming service and watched the DS9 episode “Hard Time”. First, I have to commend Colm Meaney for his excellent acting in this episode. This was one of the “O’Brien suffers” episodes where O’Brien is dealing with the effects of PTSD. It reminded me why this was one of the episodes of the series that I enjoyed the most. It didn’t have a ton of action, but the character building was intense.

I will say that the rewind options on the streaming service were not that good. I really wish there was a “back 10 seconds” option like I’ve seen on other services. The closed captioning was also not up to par with what I was use to from the DVDs. It almost seemed like an after thought. I use the CC to make sure I’ve got spellings of the unusual names correct for the merit sheet. It was nice to have the episode at my fingertips. I may check the series on other streaming services that have DS9 to see if the tools and closed captions are better. I want to get as many of these merit sheets done as possible so that members of the Seventh Fleet have options to help them with their rank advancements. Plus it’s a little fun for me as well. Re-watching an episode is something I always enjoy.

I’m really glad that technology is assisting me with my fandom.

Posted in: Dungeons and Dragons, Role Playing Games, Technology

#RPGaDay2021 Day 1: Scenario

This is my first year of participating in the RPGaDAY challenge. According to David F Chapman (the creator of the challenge) this is the eighth year that the challenge has been run. And since a lot of people (such as Halls of the Nephilim and The Other Side) are participating in this, I was inspired enough to give it a try.

Unlike the Character Creation Challenge, I won’t be creating the posts the day of the challenge. Certain schedules will not allow that (and it created quite a toll on the CCC). So there may be some entries that are created the day of (such as this one) or I may write the blog post in advance and schedule it to be published on the required day. I will also be posting other blog entries as inspiration strikes or that were scheduled to be posted (such as the Star Trek Quote of the day). This should make for a very busy month.

Day 1: Scenario

There is only one suggestion for Day 1, Scenario. We all have them in our various role-playing games. I could have posted some memories of a past scenario that I’ve either ran or participated in. Or I could have posted about a favorite scenario that I’ve read about. However I’ve decided to talk about keeping notes for a scenario that I’m trying out.

My last Dungeons and Dragons game ended in 2019. I was thinking that another opportunity would come up to jump into a game. Then 2020 hit (we won’t relive that year of hell). I haven’t had a chance to sit around a table, eat unhealthy snacks and just roll some dice with friends. Yea the online gaming programs are out there, but I’ll leave my thoughts about them in another blog post.

So I decided to create a new world from scratch that a series of Dungeons and Dragons (or insert your favorite Sword and Sorcery RPG system here) games could use to explore. In my head I started thinking of the recent history, why things were bad, what allowed adventurers to explore but keep serfs tied to their master’s land, etc. Some was inspired by our own history (this part of the world is ancient Greece, here are the deserts of Egypt, Vikings are located in this portion of the world, etc.) and some was inspired by preexisting RPG scenarios that I’ve found from different sources (just twist this around, add a few more bad guys to add conflict and bingo).

Keeping it all in my head is a bad idea. A very bad idea. In the past I would use plain old pen and paper to write up some notes, draw some maps and more. While this was good, it has several problems. 1- If I lose this notebook, there goes a lot of time and energy. 2- I will not always have the notebook with me when inspiration strikes. I could be eating a meal in a mall food court or in the middle of a family event when ideas float to the surface. Ideas have come to me while watching a historical documentary or cheesy 80’s fantasy movie with bad special effects.

So I decided that I was going to keep everything in a soft copy. I’ve used Google Docs and Google Keep (think electronic post-it-notes) for various simple and detailed notes on other subjects. Both Google and Microsoft have online version of spreadsheets. While those are good for planning things out (such as what topics I want to use for each day of this challenge) it’s not what I was looking for. I eventually decided to utilize the Microsoft OneNote program. I could type things up like a word processor. The search feature really impressed me when I was quickly trying to find things. Uploading images and attachments are another feature that I found very useful. The program is free for anyone to use and connects to your Microsoft Office account (note: You don’t have to use an email address to create a MS account). With the Office account, you can save the data in the cloud storage. This means that you can access it from the program on your computer, a web browser via or an app on your smart phone or tablet. This way when I’m away from my computer, I can quickly write down a thought for the game and then expand it after getting back to the keyboard.

The only downside is that the free Microsoft Office account only comes with 15GB of storage space so you can’t upload a lot of stuff. But students and employees at certain large companies may get a discount for a paid version which comes with more space (1TB of space).

With my usage of the OneNote program, I’ve been able to compile several scenarios together with notes on how things might go. Before I know it, I’ll have enough notes to start up a campaign. Now if I can just keep project creep from affecting what I write down I’ll be good to go.

Final Thoughts: Scenario was a good suggestion for a day 1 RPG topic. I could see different possibilities for #RPGaDAY2021 posts by both players and game masters.

RPGaDay 2021 chart
The RPGaDay 2021 chart
Posted in: Archer, Doctor Who, Star Trek, Technology, The Orville, Transformers

I still buy DVDs & Blu-rays

Raiders of the Lost TARDIS
Yes the search for bargains continue.

So in this modern day of streaming services, why would anyone still buy movies and TV shows on DVDs and Blu-Rays? There are many answers for this. I call my physical media my “Offline Versions” of my favorite shows. There have been times that the internet has failed to function properly (luckily not very often). There have also been times someone needs to stay off of the internet because of a project that takes up a lot of bandwidth. This is when the physical media comes in really handy.

Buying the disks has also become a catch phrase for me when reviewing a show. I remember after watching a stream of the Transformer’s movie “Bumblebee“, I stated that I would buy the movie on DVD. And the next time I saw a copy, I did just that. I also watched the Spy-Fi/Comedy series “Archer” on streaming first and I enjoyed it so much that I picked up the seasons on DVD.

The final reason that I still purchase DVDs is because then I always have a copy of the show so it’s at my fingertips. I’m not wondering “Is The Rocketter on Netflix or Hulu this month?” (spoiler: It’s not found on these services, it’s on Disney+). There have even been some shows that I haven’t been able to find on streaming at all.

Just the other day I was able to find DVDs for season eleven and twelve for the new Doctor Who series. I can’t wait to sit down and watch them. I can’t wait to watch the special features (which may or may not be on streaming).

Now don’t get me wrong. I love streaming services. I see some really off the wall shows on several services. It also gives me a chance to check out the movies that I might enjoy, but not really buy on DVD. Streaming services also give life to genre shows that might not find footing on network and cable television (such as the new Star Trek and the next season of The Orville). But I plan to continue to buy physical media in the near future.

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