Saturday, 5 August 2017

The Role of a Chief Medical Officer

LT Erika Stroem, Chief Counsellor

Having just done an exam for medical, it asked what it means to be Chief Medical Officer, so I had to do a poem on it.

I am Chief of Medical
On board a Starfleet ship.
Come and see my sick-bay,
It will be worth the trip.

My doctors and my nurses
Will care for all your pain.
They will not leave your side
Until you’re right again.

But I’m not like any old Doctor …
As I am based in space,
So it’s not just humans I see to.
I deal with any race.

I come across weird diseases
That can really drive me insane,
And I need to find an antidote
To make the crew better again.

Captain's ill? But Captain's stubborn
"“Don’t worry, I’m on my way,
So go to bed and do as you’re told
'Cause I out-rank you today."

In simple, I deal with all sorts—
Healing, surgery, concoctor,
Or should I make it easier…
Damn it … I’m a Doctor.

Friday, 30 June 2017

Meet our Crew: PO1 Holly Bowler

Although the Merlin is a diplomatic ship, the primary purpose of Starfleet is exploration and for this, a Chief Science Officer is essential. I am often found operating the science station on the bridge recording observations from sensors and providing the CO and bridge crew with real-time scientific information needed to make command decisions on our missions.

Sometimes I lead or manage teams of researchers and specialists on away missions for scientific study, which can be simply observational or as more often is the case, involves sample collection.  Sometimes we make use of automated and sensor probes, when the conditions of planet, nebula or other celestial body we are studying warrant it. My science officers and myself are frequently collating and analysing the data we’ve collected for research purposes and entering it into the ship’s computer database.

As Chief Science Officer, I am responsible for coordinating and monitoring activities in our science labs and the research and experiments taking place on the Merlin. I provide support to my science officers, including their work and achievements in a regular report to the CO. When I’m on duty but not on the bridge or on an away mission I’m usually in the exoecology lab on Deck XVI where  I’m currently studying the effects of an invasive plant species accidentally introduced by an as-yet-unknown race on the ecology of 4-Ashari which is causing devastation to the planet’s ecosystems.

I am a field expert in exoecology with experience in the planetary geosciences as well as botany and zoology.  Other interests include collective social evolution, exploration of alternate realities, study of alien cultures, the unknown, music, astronomy as well as active outdoor pursuits. I take care of Pippy, a rescue pipistrelle bat passed on to me by an old colleague who found her in bad shape after she flew in and became trapped in the kitchens at Starfleet headquarters. Pippy is ten years old, by human standards an old lady, and lives in the arboretum along with several other creatures that have been carefully introduced there.

In my spare time I can be found on the holodeck running athletic and dance programmes, in meditation in our arboretum, or in Ten Forward sharing a laugh and some Vulcan brandy with the crew. My grandmother was Vulcan but all of my human relatives are quite passionate people and as a result, I can sometimes be a walking talking contradiction.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Out of the Ashes 2.0: Report by PO1 Holly Bowler

Friday, Stardate 201703-31

It was a sunny morning on Stardate 201703-31 and the Telfordians were expecting my arrival at 19:00 for the First Contact Day festivities hosted on their world. Starfleet planned for large numbers of Federation representatives to attend, and they would be joined by a diversity of aliens from many worlds, all gathering together in the great Intergalactic Centre, a futuristic and expansive venue located on the bustling central planet in the Shropshirian system. Shuttle Chiro was already positioned in orbit above the planet over the lushest part of the continent, a region referred to as ‘Ironbridge’ by the locals, but it’s so lovely I just call it ‘home’. I awoke early to a loud beeping as the scanners had picked up a Klingon vessel on approach. (Yes, even the Klingons were invited too.) While I waited for the USS Limburg to arrive to collect the storage containers transported from the Merlin’s cargo hold, I passed the time by ordering and beaming up some much-needed supplies from the nearby Planet Tesco. I then lounged a bit in half meditation, humming away to a tune Q taught me years ago and trying to imagine how the day would play out when I realised time was getting on. I was pulled out of my stupor quite suddenly by the sound of a hail. It was the voice of the USS Limburg sounding a little flustered … ah well, better late than never! It had been too long. Hugs abounded, kind words of reunion spoken and the ship-to-ship transport was a quick task, but before ‘The Baron’ set off he asked me if I would volunteer for an urgent away mission.
“Today?” I said.
“Ye-e-e-es” said he with a glimmer in his eyes and an almost pleading gesture as he leaned toward me.
“I have reports to catch up on but I can put them aside. What exactly is this mission, Captain … I mean, um … oh great Baron?”
It was in that single most unexpected moment that my heart did a somersault and hit my uvula when I discovered the full import of this assignment. It so happened that a certain high-ranking former President, Bruce Boxleitner, whom I have always greatly admired, and his lovely wife, Verena, a renowned Terran diplomat, were hoping to visit the Ironbridge region, required an ambassadorial escort, and I was perfectly positioned due to my familiarity with the area.
Oh happy day! I thought to myself and danced a mental jig.
After swift goodbyes, the Baron beamed down to the planet to start preparing for the big event, which was to last three days. I quickly contacted my husband, Josh, who is both tactful and skilled at social engagement, and is familiar with both outworld activity and former President Boxleitner’s history with commanding a deep space station. He was thrilled to say the least and immediately transported to the shuttle from the planet’s surface so we could quickly iron out our plans.
Shortly afterward, we collected these two most distinguished guests, tired from their extended space travel but as gracious and friendly as they come. As Bruce is a fan of history, we visited historic sites in the region and enjoyed tea and scones at a traditional Victorian tearoom the Telfordians had set up in preparation for the event. Sipping lemon and ginger tea we talked about such things as the passing of old and dear friends, childhood memories of headless chickens, Bruce’s Irish and German ancestries, how to tell a newt from a salamander and the mining history of the area. We exchanged ‘how we met’ stories, shared fears, pet peeves and triumphs as well as laughter in good measure. The experience was more reminiscent of a double date than of any official assignment. Before we left Ironbridge to return our new friends and prepare for the official opening ceremony we bumped into a small motley crew of acquaintances on an early celebratory tour of the local drinking establishments, one of whom was an eccentric EMH, the others, a hippy lieutenant and a young man who referred to himself as ‘Math Boy’. The locals were quietly curious but their whispers and raised eyebrows showed they knew something was up, but as no laws were being broken we were all seemingly left to our own devices. After a jolly greeting, a joke or two and few moments of generally being very silly we parted ways, shuttled the Boxleitners to their accommodation and breathed a sigh of contentment.
The opening ceremony that evening was attended by a wide array of lifeforms, the vast majority humanoid. General Martok and Captain Kargh of the Klingon Empire and Lieutenant Nog of Ferenginar were just a few of the special guests in attendance. In addition to the good number of Telfordians were visitors from Earth, Vulcan, Andoria, Q'onoS, Minbar, Gallifrey, Chulak and numerous other worlds as well as a contingent of boisterous and lei-strewn holidaymakers from Risa who sat opposite a party of Thermians who appeared to be suffering form perma-grin and were documenting every moment of the experience. The ocean of familiar faces of Starfleet colleagues, friends and friends-to-be, the looks of surprise and wonder on the faces of first timers, and the welcoming hugs shared generously and freely amongst all races, colours and creeds reminded me why I volunteered for this mission and why I contributed extra off-hours in preparing the Telfordians for the sheer joy and merriment that would be loosed on this place. They wouldn’t know what hit ‘em.
While reacquainting Josh with my fellow SO on the USS Merlin, Commander Tony Burr, I felt the softest hand take hold of mine and gently whisk me away, only to look up and find that the hand belonged to none other than our Ambassadorial Liaison Officer, LT Wil Ross! Wil took me to the foyer where I was thanked for my work with the Telfordians and given a high security pass. I promised to uphold the tenets of the event to the utmost, including having the time of my life! Shortly thereafter the brief ceremony began with guest introductions involving lively banter, a smidgen of slapstick and affectionate insults and witticisms shared amongst the guests and audience, which is a common symbolic and cultural peculiarity of all First Contact Day events and is expected. The ceremony was decorated with moments of pause and thankfulness as well as dark humour and rabblerousing, and with the ushering in of the festival to a sea of applause, it was time for the feasting to begin.
Upon my arrival in the banqueting hall, the tables were full to heaving of a hungry and colourful throng, the likes of which is rarely seen in any one place in the universe. I (and my stomach) groaned as I glanced toward the food line, my most sincere thought in that moment was that the queue was as long as Martok’s tale of his battle with the Cardassians! Blood and ashes! My thought must have invoked his name because who did I find when I about-faced but the owner of the one good eye staring back at me, glaring. ‘Tera’ngan Soj lujab’a’?’ he growled. I grabbed Martok by the shoulders and headbutted him as gently as I could while still preserving the full effect, and continued on through the tables, shouting for him to follow as my attention had been drawn to I another, much shorter queue on the opposite side. The other special guests, ravenous, were suddenly in his shadow and began helping themselves. I pointed at one partly covered pot, ensuring Martok saw that serpent worms were on the menu so he could relax. I took a helping of roast targh and spooned on some other dishes, including Captain Janeway’s famous cannelloni and found a seat with some crew from the USS Iceni and a threesome of Belgian governors. Conversations were as rich and hearty as the dinner, and the consciousness of time began to wane and become suspended, that was until the spell was broken once someone called and ushered us to queue once again for group photography sessions, tokens to take away and savour later the sweet memories. In the shot, I was positioned between Martok and Boxleitner, but luckily managed to escape with only a single bite from the Klingon General...a minor flesh wound. As the morrow would come at us at warp speed, it was an early evening for me although I know others chatted away into the night, too excited to sleep.

Saturday, Stardate 201704-01

Saturday, Stardate 201704-01, began with a bang and I was dressed and ready in science blue, phasers set to stun, for whatever experiences the day presented. Upon entry to the Intergalactic Centre we were greeted by the loveliest team of volunteers, mostly Terrans, but there were a Bajoran and Trill noted amongst them. This team are known throughout the galaxy for their tireless effort to make FCD the interstellar event that it is while still managing to offer a smile, and share a hug and kind word with everyone. We stepped into the first talk surprisingly led by Nog and Martok, which led us through the trials and tribble-ations of Klingon-Ferengi communication and negotiations. I sat in the front row next to a handsome imposing fellow from Chulak…I think he said his name was Teal'c. Despite a couple of snide exchanges between the hosts that seemed a much watered-down version of the bile-fueled vitriol that often results when individuals of these two species are left in the same room, Martok and Nog unexpectedly managed to find common ground, share stories and even more surprisingly discuss such ‘neutral zone’ issues like Klingon blogging and improvised dancing.
We managed to steal away for a quick break before the next talk, which would be led by a very distinguished photonic doctor who sometimes goes by the name of Bob, other times it’s Joe. I was already intrigued with photonic Bob having met him in Ironbridge the previous day, so I was really looking forward to more time in his presence. Out in the hallway I went to greet my friend Jane, only for her to turn around and attempt to assimilate me! It seemed she had become full-on Borg overnight! My reaction was a combination of joy at reuniting with my friend followed by the subsequent shock at seeing her sudden transformation and feeling the assimilation tubes pierce my neck that resulted in some seriously mixed feelings. Someone took my photo at that very moment, which caused a ruckus on the Merlin later, before I explained the situation to the crew. Luckily, I was pulled away from danger in time. After a brief chat with the ‘new’ Jane it was clear that she was okay with this new state of being and as long as she remembered to use sun-cream and didn’t try to assimilate me again, well who am I to judge?
Upon return to the main hall I took my seat once again and found myself regaled by the grandiose and clever stories and tales recounted by the great Doctor Bob, the swishest EMH in the delta quadrant. He shared deep secrets such as how he managed to maintain any sense of dignity when working with the stunningly attractive Seven of Nine, known throughout the cosmos for her beauty. Bob had his audience in stitches when he described how he lost all sense of dignity when he met Meg Ryan for the first time while wearing a thong. Bob really engaged with the audience, particularly the Telfordians who had never met a photonic being, and impressed everyone with his vocals as he joined with my friend Laura in singing ‘You are My Sunshine’.
Upon exiting the hall Josh and I grabbed some Denobulan tea and plate of hasperat and made our way to the agreed location to meet up for an Avalon Shift Meeting with others from the USS Merlin and those who were just simply interested in what we were doing. The latter including The Baron himself, master programmer Matthew Holt and one very smiley and slightly deranged Commander Data who completely out of character insisted on showing our XO Captain Anni Potts what was under his uniform and insisted I have a conversation with his talking tricorder. Counsellor Strohm brought her lovely granddaughter and was on hand with hugs for everyone, deftly attending to Data’s delusional state as Chief Counsellor. Even our own Aaron David Merlin joined in later entirely full of beans and with an impressive haul of supplies to show off.
After the meeting drew to a close we noticed that a great diverse gathering of species had erupted on the upper deck and so I took the opportunity to mingle…after all, how often do you get to see a mugato sidle up to Vedek Winn Adami of Bajor or the Borg queen and her drones striking a pose with some Andorian beauties, Klingon warriors and even Vorlon Ambassador Kosh. Captains Janeway, Sisko and Picard were present as were members of various Stargate teams and beings from distant realms unfamiliar to me. Taking advantage of the undeniable profit in such an unprecedented event, the Ferengi proprietor, Quark, rapidly ducked behind the bar and began taking orders. He certainly has the lobes! Gold pressed latinum and raktichinos were both flowing quite nicely. Nevertheless, it was soon time for former President Boxleitner’s talk, which was one of the highlights of the day, so there was an abrupt dispersal as everyone made their way to the hall.
Bruce was his usual understated yet commanding and handsome self, and easily won the hearts of all the attendees. He answered many questions about his experiences of commanding the Babylon 5 space station in a distant star system called ‘Aqua Tech’, and he spoke fondly of his former colleagues there, many of whom are now somewhere else distant and among the stars. He talked about his current projects and also his secret desire to take part in historical re-enactments on a far-off world occupied by continents he referred to as Westeros, Essos, and Sothoryos; I still need to check the computer database as I’m unfamiliar with such a place.
Although Josh and I had intended to be at Claudia Christian’s talk and live auction we found ourselves wandering and discovered various unoccupied vessels dry docked in bay 16 along with a variety of ships including the industrial ship Celestra, the Battlestar Galactica and a large freighter, but no Cylons were about thankfully. We ran into Captain Bergin of the USS Iceni to whom I reported my findings and also took part in the tombola his crew was running for charity. There were displays of museum pieces to view …old uniforms, historical weapons, ancient artefacts…some interesting items. We were admiring a pair of old data crystals in excellent condition when we heard the strangest sound, a sort of an echoing scraping noise. We followed the noise and met a man who referred to himself as ‘the Doctor’, but this was not the aforementioned EMH. Even more perplexingly, he was in Starfleet uniform. He said he was a time traveller and invited us onto his tiny ship, which was enormous on the inside compared to the out; we spent some time studying the ship’s engineering and design as well as chatting about FCD before politely taking our leave. The rest of the afternoon was highlighted by close and friendlier encounters with a Borg named Thor, Bob the EMH, General Martok and Kargh. We missed another talk and various photoshoots, but it had been a good day and it was time to prepare for the evening’s festivities.
Saturday night was full-on party night with proceeds going to the charity ‘Mind’ and the theme for the Kyber Crystal party was Icons! As everyone would be dressing up as iconic characters, I decided to dress as an ole’ swashbuckler I once ran into by the name of Jayne Cobb…a man who made a bit of a legend for himself throughout the ‘verse’. The attendees all looked amazing and the costumes were so well thought out. There was Princess Leia and her Jedi contingent of course as well as famous characters such as Laurel and Hardy, Janeway’s Arachnia, Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz and Marilyn Monroe and so many more. Kargh gave a moving and emotional talk about mental health and then the dancing started and continued into the night fuelled by large quantities of Romulan ale, bloodwine and Samarian sunsets. One of the highlights of the evening was dancing with the EMH, Bob, who had better moves than most of us organics on the dance floor. It was a good evening but I’m not the young cadet I once was and sleep was beckoning.

Sunday, Stardate 201704-02

Sunday was a bit of a later start for us than usual and was full of photoshoots and time for being social. Out of Starfleet uniform, I chose to adorn myself in a beautiful green Minbari-style dress and met up first with Bruce for an early photo. I apparently made a good choice because I was approached by a multitude of humanoids (even in the loo!) to share a photographic experience. This seemed to go on for quite a while, but it was a most enjoyable morning. Josh and I tucked ourselves away for a good while behind a table with Verena and Bruce and chatted about riding elephants, holiday destinations, politics, their next port of call and many other topics. It felt nice to find ourselves once again relaxed and in the company of these two.
It was time for lunch and so when we ran into our good dear friend, Niki, an Orion slave girl, and her husband Dave, we joined them for a lovely meal at a local restaurant called the Novella Lounge. The majority of local Telfordians here must have avoided the First Contact Day festivities as their sidelong glances suggested that they had not seen the likes of our species before. We gave them our best smiles and then it was back to the main hall for more talks with the special guests, the first with Bob the EMH, Kargh, Martok and Nog. It was an interesting discussion about morality and ethics, interspersed with stories about broken noses, bull semen and Bruce Lee, finished off by a rousing rendition of The Warrior’s Anthem and an emotional speech by Nog on PTSD and making an impact in this world…’ripples in a pond’.
Bruce and Claudia joined each other onstage once again to talk about working together on Babylon 5, the range of aliens that visited the space station, and the many trials and tribulations of running B5. They shared memories of the war with the Earth alliance, stories of one of their larger-than-life Narn colleagues, Ambassador G’kar, as well as discussed comedy and covered other topics such as Claudia’s book, ‘Wolf’s Empire’. Both were surprised to find one of the uniforms from their past being worn by an attendee from Germany. The talk was followed up by a charity auction and the closing ceremony.
Sunday evening was a time for the special guests, the FCD team and others to unwind and share a meal. Before we arrived at the venue, Josh assisted The Baron in delivering some new cargo to the shuttle. On one of the boxes was printed ‘Creature from the Black Lagoon’, but as the scanners did not detect anything out of the ordinary we let it go. The night was quite emotional for everyone involved. There was gambling, dancing, speeches, a special cake, a lot of lively banter. The EMH was still as energetic as ever, making the rounds from table to table, Nog was flirting with his lady love, and I found Bruce half dozing on a chair by the bar like the regular in one of those old cowboy flicks. All of us were sad to see FCD come to a close, but it had been an amazing experience and further cemented the feelings of camaraderie and sense of family FCD brings with it. Preparing to beam back to the shuttle, I caught a glimpse of my friends in their joy as a moment in time I’ll never forget. I’m holding on to that memory and to all of the memories of connections made at FCD very close to my heart.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Out of the Ashes 2.0: Report by LT Erika Stroem

Preparing for a fun filled weekend, Erika arrived on Thursday for a fantastic pre-event day and stayed for the duration of the convention. As an avid Cosplayer, Erika had a number of costumes including a fantastic Wraith to honour the two Babylon 5 actors present, but she didn't stop there. Erika also featured as a fantastic Nox (Stargate) and in steampunk. I asked her about the costumes.
"I made the Nox costume thinking it would be easy, but it was the hardest thing I had ever made ... but the best thing is if I have to ever have to do a repair, it is the easiest as there is no system to it. It just does not matter what the repair looks like."
Erika was accompanied by her granddaughter, Ellie, over the weekend who was really enthusiastic, too. She came as Rey from Star Wars.
One of Erika's favourite moments was "the constant smile on my granddaughter's face as she found the whole experience so surreal".
Erika met all the guests at the event, but her favourite was Rainbow Sun Francks.
"We have become soul friends and I love him to bits. We really connected, although David Blue was a very close second as he is lovely."
Another fond memory for Erika was with David.
"During the talk my phone went off, it was my daughter. I tried whispering, but after a while David Blue came over and took the phone off me and started talking to my daughter. He then put the phone onto speaker and put the microphone near it so all could hear the conversation. I was so pleased that my daughter does not swear much!"
Other great moments include David Limburg finding a new Data port (Lee Bradley—photo courtesy of Holly Bowler) but there were lots of really great costumes.

Friday, 19 May 2017

What is the Universe?

The European Space Agency has a super website for young people. It's also great for simple explanations about the complicated stuff for us biggies too!

The Universe is everything we can touch, feel, sense, measure or detect. It includes living things, planets, stars, galaxies, dust clouds, light, and even time. Before the birth of the Universe, time, space and matter did not exist.

The Universe contains billions of galaxies, each containing millions or billions of stars. The space between the stars and galaxies is largely empty. However, even places far from stars and planets contain scattered particles of dust or a few hydrogen atoms per cubic centimeter. Space is also filled with radiation (e.g. light and heat), magnetic fields and high energy particles (e.g. cosmic rays).

The Universe is incredibly huge. It would take a modern jet fighter more than a million years to reach the nearest star to the Sun. Travelling at the speed of light (300,000 km per second), it would take 100,000 years to cross our Milky Way galaxy alone.

No one knows the exact size of the Universe, because we cannot see the edge – if there is one. All we do know is that the visible Universe is at least 93 billion light years across. (A light year is the distance light travels in one year – about 9 trillion km.)

The Universe has not always been the same size. Scientists believe it began in a Big Bang, which took place nearly 14 billion years ago. Since then, the Universe has been expanding outward at very high speed. So the area of space we now see is billions of times bigger than it was when the Universe was very young. The galaxies are also moving further apart as the space between them expands.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Simple Star Trek Cookies – The Sweet Adventures of Sugar Belle

For full details, please visit the blog at the original article:

 You will need four cutters to make every cookie in the Star Trek collection. You can try them all or just pick a fave. Try eBay if you don’t have the Wilton boy cutter. It’s discontinued but its easy to find if you look around.

To make the Starfleet Insignia cookie, simply trimmed a star cutter.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Meet Our Crew: Petty Officer 1st Class Mark Logan

Next in our series on our crew, I would like to introduce SFMD Petty Officer 1st Class Mark Logan who is our Chief Medical Officer and a MACO Operative.
The Chief Medical Officer (CMO) is far more than a doctor. CMO’s have a wide variety of duties that involve them in away missions, emergency medicine, research, surgery, and the command structure.

On a starship a chief medical officer’s most obvious duties involve running the medical department, which normally consists of several doctors and nurses, and responsibility for catering to all the crew’s medical needs. On a daily basis this means providing general care to a community of several hundred; in deep space that can mean everything from treating minor infections and broken bones to dealing with possession by an alien parasite.

The CMO is responsible for operating a walk-in surgery, organising regular check-ups for the entire staff; I have the authority to order anyone to sickbay.

Of course, a ship’s sickbay is as closely related to a hospital as it is to a doctor’s surgery. A CMO is effectively the equivalent of the chief of surgery. The staff will include a number of specialists, but the CMO is normally the leading surgeon. In today’s world of multi-species starships the CMO must be familiar with a wide range of species anatomy. CMO’s often encounter new conditions, and they typically demonstrate a remarkable ability to improvise. These requirements tend to mean that CMO’s are generalists. Some of them do have particular areas of expertise, for example I myself have specialties in cardiology, dentistry, neurology, emergency and Military medicine, pathology, genealogy, immunology and medical research.

If the ship is engaged in combat, the main sickbay becomes an emergency room. The CMO coordinates all necessary medical treatment and acts as the liaison with the bridge, keeping the captain informed of the number and severity of any injuries. In the extremely rare event of a murder, the CMO serves as a pathologist, and may be called upon to perform an autopsy or examine forensic evidence. As head of department, the CMO has a variety of administrative duties that includes conducting performance reviews for the medics under their command, and making recommendations for promotions to the first officer.

In conjunction with the ship’s counsellor the CMO is also responsible for the mental wellbeing of the crew. Given the pressures of deep space exploration, this is a particularly important role. Under normal circumstances the CMO will make regular reports to the captain about the crew’s condition, and it is part of their duties to advise the commanding officer when the crew are overworked and would benefit from shore leave. In more extreme circumstances, the CMO has always had the authority to remove any officer, including the captain, from duty if they deem them unfit, though they are required to perform an examination to support their actions. In practice, Starfleet regulations mean that a CMO can only remove the commanding officer if they present an obvious danger to themselves or the crew. This authority is not related to the CMO’s rank. The position exists outside the normal command hierarchy, and CMO’s may have a relatively lowly rank, such as Dr. Julian Bashir who was a lieutenant when he took up his post on Deep Space Nine.

In planetary emergencies, CMO’s are often called upon to organise triage facilities and provide aid to the wounded. Large starships are equipped to provide significant help, and can accommodate hundreds of patients by converting the shuttlebays into emergency treatment centres. During such emergencies all personnel with medical training are placed directly under the CMO’s command.

During Starfleet’s greatest period of expansion, space exploration is extremely hazardous, and the CMO routinely joins landing parties in order to provide medical aid if anyone is injured or infected during the mission. Naturally they are thoroughly trained in field medicine and can treat most injuries with the aid of a standard issue medkit. Research is also an essential part of a starship’s mission; the CMO is effectively the head of the life sciences department and is responsible for studying the many new races a starship encounters. The opportunities this provides for research are incredible..

In short the position of Chief Medical Officer is extremely demanding and is only filled by the most able and versatile medics of the day.

"If you are interested in becoming a member of  the USS Merlin and STARFLEET, take a look at"

Monday, 24 April 2017

Meet Our Crew: LT Erika Stroem

Welcome to the first of many articles on our vessels command and section chiefs.
First, I would like to introduce Lieutenant Erika Stroem, our Chief Councillor.

Erika undertakes numerous duties aboard to protect our crew's wellbeing and ensure we are working harmoniously. She also has the responsibility of checking our commanding officer is working in the best interest of the USS Merlin. This can be down to stress and fatigue as our commanding officer and our crew are committed to their roles. Along with this, she has the ability to recommend crew who are not fit for duty of any rank.

Our counsellor is also required to assess every crew member within two months of them coming on board and evaluate how they are coping with leaving family and friends behind. All our crew undergo a yearly assessment to ensure they are OK with being in space and whether they have any anxieties as these could build up to stress.

Being that our counsellor is one-quarter Betazoid, she is provided with a chair on the bridge to convey her thoughts about going into the unknown to the commanding officer or officer in charge.
The wellbeing of our crew is important so she tries to ensure that spirits are high and that crew receive some personal time or get together in Ten Forward and have a good time.
"I am not just there as a colleague, I am  there as a friend too."

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

The Role of the Chief of Wellbeing and Counselling

LT Erika Stroem, Chief of Well-being and Counselling

The mind is a mystery… People have been trying for years to work out on what makes us tick …
There are so many avenues we could talk about, but I shall concentrate on one at the moment—a dilemma I come across very often in my talks with the crew, namely, how they feel about being offended by someone.
More often than not the client focuses on how THEY feel about the situation … Am I being childish? Have I gone OTT with my response? Would I have done better just accepting what they have thrown at me?
Mostly the answer would be, “mo, no and no”, however, there are normally two sides (or more) to every story and until you have heard both/all sides, you have no way of giving sound advice as not only is the mind a mystery, it can be a funny old soul too. There is nothing worse than giving wrong advice as this can lead to all sorts of complications and as the person is not in sound mind at that time, it can also lead to misinterpretations.
Sometimes all can be sorted by just listening and often, if you can nudge them in the right direction, the client often answers their own questions. Needless to say, there are times where we have to go a step further and sort some kind of mediation. A far better way of getting true facts is putting them in front of each other to explain what or how each of them 'put it, took it and absorbed it', as so many times I have come across something that has been said and it has been taken the wrong way. It could even be that the person giving it out did not realise (did not think) they were doing any harm, but this can be construed as bullying and it needs to be nipped in the bud, and the perpetrator needs to be made aware that they are doing it. But be prepared; mediation can also confirm that the accuser is just stirring trouble for someone.
This is just one of the more simple tasks I have in a day’s work.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

New Merchandise for 2017 (UK)

The advent of the new year always brings with it a wealth of goodies to tempt the sci-fi fan and separate him/her from their pocket money for the next year or two. This year we have some really tempting goodies covering Star Trek, Star Wars and other franchises. Here are a selection of them …

STAR TREK: The Graphic Novel Collection

Celebrating 50 years of classic Star Trek graphic novels, you can revisit all the classic characters and incredible art from the STAR TREK comic archives. Every edition has a specially-commissioned introduction to provide context to the story. Every book contains a number of collected comics and a bonus reprint of one of the comic archive’s classic stories.
The extraordinary new collection spans decades and contains all the key moments of STAR TREK comic history from Gold Key’s first STAR TREK comic published in 1967 to the latest adventures, all beautifully presented in brand new hardback editions with brand new introductions.
Issue 1 is just £1.99 but Issue 2 is £6.99 and further copies £9.99. Books are issued every fortnight and having spoken to Eagle Moss, I can confirm that currently, they have 130 issues "planned" for this collection, which suggests that it may be more! Subscription with the publisher also gets you a range of extra goodies and, of course, a range of other special offers at discounted prices.

STAR WARS: Build your own R2-D2

Collect the magazine and build your own R2D2. The magazine contains step-by-step assembly instructions to make it easy to put together the parts supplied with each issue. You will build your R2-D2 from components engineered just like the original Star Wars props plus state-of-the-art modern electronic components. Taking inspiration from the remote-controlled film prop, your fully robotic half-scale model R2-D2 is engineered in the same way, and has been authentically detailed to look exactly like the droid from the movies. Apparently, with his sensors, camera, microphones, sophisticated logic boards and powerful motors, R2-D2 can interact with his owner, move and behave "just like the droids from the Star Wars movies".
Issue 1 is £2.99 with subsequent editions working out at £9.99 each although they are delivered in two or four issues together. In total, 100 issues are planned. Binders are extra.
As usual, there are lots of free gifts if you commit to a subscription too.

BACK TO THE FUTURE: Build the DeLorean

The model is a scale replica of Doc Brown’s DeLorean time machine from the Back to the Future trilogy. It is 1:8 scale (over 50cm long apparently) and is principally constructed of die-cast metal with a wealth of working lights etc. Making it is very straightforward and all the parts simply click or screw into place. All Doc’s modifications have been carefully recreated from the nuclear reactor to the cables on the floor, and the model has a wealth of lights. You even have the option to build the versions that appeared in the sequels.
To build the fully functioning, time travelling model, there will be 130 issues.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

SALMON PIE - A delicious pie filled with salmon and creamy onion sauce.

Another delicious recipe from Ten Forward's LT Aaron Stingray


1oz. butter
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 pint prepared white sauce, made with full cream milk, and quite thick in consistency
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Salt and white pepper
3 tablespoons double cream
1lb. cooked, flaked salmon
1oz. lightly toasted breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon fresh, chopped parsley
one-quarter teaspoon fresh, chopped thyme
8oz. prepared puff pastry


  1. Beaten egg to glaze
  2. Melt the butter in a pan and cook the onion until soft and transparent, then stir into the white sauce with the lemon juice and seasoning.
  3. Heat through, stirring all the time, then add thr cream.
  4. Allow to cool slightly.
  5. Place a layer of salmon over the base of a 2 to 3 pint pie fish, then spoon over a layer of sauce.
  6. Continue in this way, finishing with a layer of sauce.
  7. Mix together the breadcrumbs and herbs and sprinkle over.
  8. Set oven to 450 degrees F or Mark 8.
  9. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface and cover the pie, trimming the edges and making a steam-hole.
  10. Decorate with the trimmings and glaze with beaten egg.
  11. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F or Mark 4 and bake for a further 20 to 30 minutes or until thr pastry is golden brown.
Serve with boiled potatoes and green peas.
Serves 4 to 6.

Monday, 30 January 2017

Grandma saves the Merlin!

My Grandma spends some of her time on a Starship called USS Merlin, but it is not a magic ship.
One day aliens tried to take over the ship ...
My Grandma had a banana gun, orange gun, apple gun a water gun. Not forgetting the cup of tea gun and water gun.
She fired them at the aliens ... all of them did nothing except the cup of tea gun which injured them a bit.
Then Zigley, Grandma's XO bought in a light gun which electrocuted them. It injured them a lot.
Then Grandma and Zigley tied them to the back of the ship and when they went round and round it made them dizzy. Then they drove them to Starfleet, where they put them in prison.
Grandma, Zigley and the crew was safe again and when I am old enough, I also want to drive a Starship.

Sandy, aged 4

I don't know about him being a pilot, but I think he has the makings of a good marine already!

Sunday, 8 January 2017

The Doctor Who Experience, Cardiff

With the BBC's Doctor Who Experience set to close at the end of May of this year, I was determined to go sooner rather than later. After a little negotiation, I was given permission to wear my Fourth Generation Doctor Who scarf but NOT the whole outfit. Fortunately, I was also able to sneak on my Doctor Who jacket by teaming it up with a pair of matching trousers. There was no way I'd get away with the hat, though, so I didn't even bother to try.
We had chosen the Bank Holiday Monday after the New Year and it proved ideal. Traffic was very light on the roads which meant we arrived in plenty of time for our scheduled visit and were able to dock Shuttle Koenig and amble to the venue at our leisure, passing such monuments as the Merchant Seafarers War Memorial and The Water Tower aka The Torchwood Tower. The weather was bitter cold so I was doubly thankful for the scarf. It was so cuddly and warm!
Once inside, the visit began with an interactive adventure with the Twelfth Doctor, inside and outside of his TARDIS. This is the only area where they ask you not to take photographs so that there aren't any spoilers for others. These are normally the sort of requests I ignore but in this instance I obliged as they made it quite clear we could take photos anywhere else. In other words,
they weren't just trying to make sure you bought their guidebook. They truly did not want it spoilt for others, so I shan't spoil it for you either because it was actually very good.
Once through the adventure stage, you enter the museum stage. It's not the largest exhibition I've ever seen but doesn't disappoint. It is well presented on two floors with a number of TARDIS sets and dozens of aliens and costumes available to view. The really nice thing is that things are not locked inside glass cases. You are asked not to touch, but you can get up close to see how things are constructed. (Did you know that David Tennant's coat is suedette?)
I had a great time in Cardiff and it really did finish off what has been a great break for me. Christmas isn't usually a fun time for me, but this year has been great.

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Finding North without a Compass

First off, you need an analogue watch set to the correct time; if it has been adjusted for daylight savings set it back an hour.

In the Northern Hemisphere  
(the United Kingdom is in the Northern Hemisphere being north of the equator).
  • Point the hour hand (the little one) at the sun.
  • Imagine there is a line down the middle of the angle between the hour hand and the 12 o'clock mark.
  • The line down the middle of the angle is pointing south; so the opposite direction is north.

In the Southern Hemisphere: 
  • Point the 12 o'clock mark at the sun.
  • Imagine there is a line down the middle of the angle between the 12 o'clock mark and the hour hand.
  • The line down the middle of the angle is pointing north.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Soul Cake ~ A Shropshire Recipe

Submitted by PO1 Aaron Hall

Note from the XO: Aaron and I both live in Shropshire so it's especially nice to see a recipe from our "neck of the woods".

On All Souls' Day, 2nd November, the dead are remembered and children would go 'a-souling', singing 'A soul-cake, a soul-cake, please, good missus, a soul-cake. One for Peter, two for Paul, three for Him who saved us all.'
They would receive, in return, a cake marked with a cross.
  • 6 oz. butter, softened
  • 6 oz. caster sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 lb. flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon allspice or mixed spice
  • 3 oz. currants
  • A little warm milk


  1. Set oven to 350ºF or Gas Mark 4.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl until fluffy, then beat in the egg yolks.
  3. Sift together the flour, salt and spice and fold into the egg mixture with the currants, adding sufficient milk to form a soft dough.
  4. Divide into pieces and form into flat cakes, marking each with a cross.
  5. Place on a greased baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes or until golden.

If desired, a few threads of saffron can be soaked in the warm milk, straining it before use.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

NASA's IXS Enterprise

Old news, perhaps, but this is NASA'S futuristic star ship, the IXS Enterprise. Named after the Star Trek's USS Enterprise, it is a conceptual superluminal spacecraft designed by NASA scientist Dr. Harold G. White and revealed at SpaceVision 2013, designed for the goal of achieving warp travel.
The conceptual spacecraft would be a modified version of the Alcubierre drive* which uses exotic matter (not to be confused with antimatter) to travel faster than light.
While the concept had been out since 2013 the design of IXS Enterprise was popularized in June 2014 after a series of media outlets reported on the conceptual artwork done by Dutch artist Mark Rademaker in collaboration with NASA. According to Mark Rademaker, over 1,600 hours have been spent on the conceptual artwork that he created.

* The Alcubierre drive is a speculative idea based on a solution of Einstein's field equations in general relativity as proposed by theoretical physicist Miguel Alcubierre, by which a spacecraft could achieve apparent faster-than-light travel if a configurable energy-density field lower than that of vacuum (that is, negative mass) could be created.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

All aboard the Merlin

LT Erika Stroem

All aboard the Merlin
We … a brand new crew
We’re now on our adventures
To visit planets, old and new.

Richard is our Captain
A brilliant CO
He gives us all encouragement
And he’s very nice to know.

Anni‘s our First Officer
Third Klingon, Human and Trill
The mixture is incredible
So argue ONLY at your will.

Scott P is from the Alba
He’s here to oversee
To guide us on our journey
And give his expertise.

Scott T is our security
He makes us feel protected
By keeping safe, our humble ship
Plus, intruders are rejected.

Erika is Ship's Counsellor
Keeping everybody sane.
She’s also there to talk to
Or deals with stress and strain.

Aaron he will feed you.
In Ten Forward he will be.
He’s our Chief of Logistics
But chucks in the odd recipe.

Ambassadorial Liaison Officer,
Long title for someone called Wil,
But do not underestimate,
I’ve known this crew-member to kill

Patrick’s the CO’s Yeoman;
He’s his right hand man.
Nothing will get past him.
Just try it if you can.

Well that concludes our Officers,
A tight and loyal crew.
We aim to seek intelligence
And have fun while we do.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

DSTE Birmingham, October 2016

PO1 Scott Turner (aka Scotty), USS Merlin

I attended the three-day DSTE event in Birmingham. I won't comment on what I thought of the con as no two people would have had the same experience, but while I was there I managed to meet up with some old friends, and along the way met some great people and saw some awesome Cosplay outfits. I also had a chance to meet some crew from other ships mainly the USS Iceni. If the previous Destination Star Trek cons are anything to go by, I look forward to the next one in 2018.

Monday, 14 November 2016

The Starbase 24 10th Banquet (2016)

COMM Richard Sams, Commanding Officer

Really special this year for me—it was my first Banquet as the CO of the USS Merlin, and thanks to the Banquet I got to meet two of my crew for the first time!
It’s also a great chance to catch up with other members of Region 20, and the wider Trek & Sci-Fi community in the UK.
A new venue this year—the Peterborough Marriott. A cracking hotel that really looked after the Banquet and its guests well. I even made use of the pool and went for a morning swim on the Saturday! We had a HUGE function room that was just for the Banquet to use, it had its own bar, and the hotel had loads of breakout areas where we could just sit, chill out and chat with friends.
For those who haven’t been to the Banquet before, there is a Friday night buffet, followed by a quiz designed and presented by our R20 RC, COMM Dan Adams. Finally, there’s a great disco for those with the energy to dance the night away.
Saturday was completely stuffed to the gills! It kicked off with board games, etc at 09:00, and then there was a full day of talks and photoshoots. A great array of guests joined us this year, including J.G. Hertzler, Alan Flyng, Virginia Hey to name a few. What makes the Banquet special for me is that it’s not a convention in the usual form. We’re talked about sitting around chatting freely to the guests, who all have fascinating and hilarious stories.
Before you had a chance to blink, it was time to gather for the actual Banquet that the weekend is themed around. We took the opportunity here to take a picture of all the members of (The USS Merlin) (Region 20) who attended. We had another great meal, followed by some hilarious auctioneering by General Martok himself. Another fun-filled disco rounded off a superb weekend.
There were a few bleary eyes at breakfast the next morning, but everyone agreed that it was a great weekend, and the consistent phrase on everyone’s lips was “see you next year”.