My obsession with Lego.

One of my toy cities...This is one of my toy cities, and aside from writing one of my obsessions is building cities like this. Lego road plates and blocks are my template, and my imagination, experience and improvisation do the rest.


I’ve been doing this since I was a small child, and me and my brother, Clifford, would build cities like this together. Sadly my brother has lost interest in toys, but I haven’t. I’m 20 and I am unashamedly a fan of Lego and building with it. My obsession with building these cities stems from strategy games like Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri (all hail the mighty Sid Meier!) and Simcity 4. This may sound strange but I’ve always tried to make my cities more realistic and even though that it is not really possible, the more closer I mimic a realistic appearance the bigger the buzz I get from building. Any here are several pictures showing some more detailed pictures of this toy city:

All of these pictures were taking in my bedroom, and please note the K’nex guns in the background (that is for a different post). I’ve built hundreds of these cities and there are usually two ways I build them. One is with those Lego road plates. This gives a nice symmetrical appearance (and I am obsessed with things being symmetrical), but the other way is without the road plates. I place everything on the floor and this gives a more organic feel to it…

These maybe toys but it is one way to express creativity and I really feel if you’re not doing something creative in sports, arts or toy cities (regardless of ones ability) something will feel missing inside yourself.

To see more pictures of this city go to Facebook, put in Miles Saunders-Priem , and go to pictures and then ‘toy city’.

Thanks for reading!!!


Behind the scenes: Secrets and Lies

Before I go on about this story, I’ll explain in two paragraphs how the series behind this story came about. Simply put DS9: the continuation came about from my love of DS9 and my realization of how open the ending was. However I decided that if DS9 were to continue let some time pass, say eighteen years. With that period of time I could have some real flexibility with developing the universe of DS9: the continuation.

Without really thinking I just ignored all the canon stuff from the DS9 relaunch books and just developed my own plots and my own ways of how the main characters developed. I finally settled on keeping four of the main characters (Kira, Odo, Bashir and Ezri) and keeping the rest to secondary roles. I added three new characters of my own creation and I thought they worked well with the other characters, and with the series plot.

So (with that out of the way) this story had to introduce everything and I’ll talk first about the version I initially published on Ad Astra, then the new and updated version, and finally the original version.


1. Version first published on Ad Astra.

This version was really to show case all seven of my main characters, and the main plot regarding the Tau Primia prison and Gul Bordak was more in the background. For the first chapter I took a leaf out of DS9’s book (think The Emissary) and decided to start the story two years earlier and focusing on Megan Felpes. This chapter sets up the plot, most of Megan’s back-story, and how she faces one terrible situation. I also introduce the story’s main villain Gul Bordak, though for all intents and purposes Bordak was simply there to develop Megan’s character. I also threw in a scene with Garak (now the President of the Cardassian government and the Cardassian Union) and the head of Section 31, Timothy Rooter, just for some added intrigue. Though at the time I wondered how I could add Garak into more scenes to the story but I just couldn’t…

Of this version I did not like the exposition of the scenes but I did not have the experience I do now to have improved them, so they had to stay. Sure they conveyed the story but in a clunky way. The same applied with chapter 2 where I fleshed out the remainder of the other character’s back-stories: Bashir, Ezri, Kira, Odo, Max and Holo. The story behind those characters is for another post, but the point I’m trying to convey is that I managed to lay down the basic ground work for each character and how they initially reacted to each other.

Chapter 3 actually drives the plot forwards and it returns to Megan’s character. I decided to avoid writing a torture scene with Megan and Bordak because I felt it would be too brutal and senseless, and that it would have no use for propelling the story along. Yes I wanted Megan to be a tortured character but there were other ways of achieving this without resorting to stupid and pointless violence. All the violence in this story, and others like it, are here to either develop the plot or to make a point to the reader about a character’s emotional state or something. Surprisingly this chapter develops the plot but in a very light way in that Ezri simply receives orders from admiral Ross, and heigh ho we’re off on a mission. Looking back this seems cheap to me but at the time there was no other way to spruce up the main plot and give it some weight and oomph.

Moving on to chapter 4 and we come to the main action scenes of the story. There is a space battle and then the capture of Tau Primia prison, and while fast-paced this chapter overlooks a few things. It is never really explained why the rebel Cardassians defended the planet, and for the reason for this was to hurry things along to reach the climax of the chapter; Bordak’s confrontation with Kira. Bordak is not bad and mad for no reason, however all three versions of Secrets and Lies connect Bordak with the Tren, and his mysterious link to the Vizorian Gilsa. The connection between Bordak, Megan, the Tren and the Vizorians is defined in later seasons of this series, but for now this story very loosely touches upon these connections. All I can say is that these underlying mysteries are core to Megan’s character, and what starts as one mystery branches off into several ones before it is all tied up.

The fifth chapter is all about the Tren, and the Tren are the first of two key races I’ve created. All this story does is just hint at the threat the Tren pose and their aims in the Alpha Quadrant. It is also ironic that though the Tren are hinted at a lot more, real proper first contact with them comes much later than with the Vizorians. This chapter wraps up the small story regarding Bordak and Gilsa, and how they have worked together (of sorts) to keep Megan alive in that prison. In fact this chapter is primarily here to introduce this series mysteries and unknowns; the Tren, the Vizorians and so forth. Some years from now I will extensively post about the Tren and Vizorians and how important they are to the series, but for now that is mostly under wraps. Finally the fifth chapter sets up the who-dun-it part as Ezri (and later Odo) investigate who tried to assassinate Gul Bordak. It starts with Megan and the neural depolarizer Bashir removes from her brain, and the aim here was to make Megan a suspect and to make the reader think that she is somehow involved with Section 31.

Chapters 6 and 7 are about the mystery behind the last few fateful hours of the starship Liberty. Cue lots of Section 31 references and ping-ponging back between the two people suspected of trying to assassinate Bordak; Megan and Jack. Of course for Megan’s character to go anywhere she had to be innocent of this, but just to really torture the character, I thought making Jack her lover (and this relationship which she has so far kept a secret) and making him the guilty one would be the last straw for Megan. Again things are skimmed over in the story as the investigation takes precedence and I missed some opportunities to really develop Megan’s character and to explore her first tentative steps of recovery and exploring her freedom.

Finally chapter 8 is a simple wrap up and the main focus here is Megan. In fact you could argue that the three most important main characters are Ezri, Kira and Megan. How this came about is a bit of a mystery to me but what I do know is that Kira is a really easy character to write, Ezri is the commander of DS9, and Megan has a rather rich and lush storyline and plots about her.

To sum up this version of Secrets and Lies rather roughly introduced everything important to my series. It had a few good moments, but things were missing, and so nearly eight months later this inspired to me go over the story again and redevelop it completely, so we go to:


2. The new version of Secrets and Lies

This version was created to address nearly all of the flaws of Secrets and Lies: the incomplete plot, the somewhat underdeveloped characters (this applied to a couple of them) and some horrible exposition. This was a big undertaking as I both added new scenes to expand the plot, but not change the final outcome that much, while going over and improving (and tweaking) the old scenes where necessary. This version is 53000 words long, 22000 words longer than the first version. Each chapter can be summarised as follows:

  • Chapter 1 is simply a reedit with improved exposition and dialogue.
  • Chapter 2 greatly expands on Ezri’s character and introduces the start of the plot; the arrival of a fleet of Cardassian ships. So while there is a lot of introductions for the main characters, the threat of the Cardassians is always in the background, to keep the reader hooked.
  • Chapter 3 develops the key point of the plot; to capture Bordak and Tau Primia. Here I managed to get the opportunity of integrating Garak more fully into the story, and this is nothing more than to get fans of DS9 to get sucked in to the story (I say this with all honesty, plus with spilling the beans…).
  • Chapter 4 is quite literally a bridge that raises the stakes of the plot contents, and fleshes out Bordak and the Cardassians under his command. It finally explains why the rebel Cardassians will defend Tau Primia from the Federation/Cardassian strike force. I also partially include a torture scene where Bordak is in the midst of torturing Megan and is then interrupted by one of his glinns.
  • Chapters 5 and 6 are about all-out action, and it goes from a space battle between strike force and the rebel Cardassian ships, to what happens in Tau Primia prison, to a space battle with the strike force and one rather powerful Tren ship. I also took this opportunity to show that the Cardassians were not all bad (and this is important because it offsets Bordak and his evilness), with Gul Ackaron (the commander of the Cardassian fleet) sacrificing his ships to let the Federation ships get back to safety.
  • Chapter 7 is composed of nearly all new scenes, the key highlights being a thorough exploration of Megan’s character (and also how her mother came to DS9), and a somewhat lengthy scene with Kira and Odo where Kira tells her husband how bad she feels after the operation to free the prisoners of Tau Primia.
  • Chapter 8 is virtually all about Garak and I decided to throw in an assassination attempt which involved a Cardassian suicide bomber. This is not even intended to be political (or the dreaded t-word topical) but it seemed to me the most logical way for someone to bump off Garak without arousing his (or his guards) suspicion. It also has some Bashir and Garak interactions which I simply could not overlook…
  • Chapter 9 is all about the investigation into the Liberty’s disappearance and who tried to assassinate Bordak; Megan or Jack.
  • Chapter 10 develops a bit more regarding Megan’s character, and changes the ending which resides with Megan.

To sum up these additions are designed to make Secrets and Lies a more meatier story, and to give it some oomph and effectively introduce my DS9: the continuation series. Every main character had his/her moment in the sun and it sets the general premise for my series stories; character studies/intrigue/complex plots/intense action scenes and more. With that I now go to something more reminiscent:

Version 3, THE original version of Secrets and Lies:

This version is nearly identical to the first version I mentioned above except for one glaring detail; Megan Felpes is the Section 31 agent. I came so close to publishing this version as I wanted Megan at first to be not only a tortured character, but a troubled and morally dubious one as well. Unfortunately I applied some intense logic and thinking to the plot, and the plot mechanism of Ezri in effect letting Megan off the hook through some legal mechanism (and how Section 31 is not supposed to exist) was too thin for my liking. Alas this version has not been retained as I moulded it into the first version of Secrets and Lies. This is why Jack Smith became the Section 31 agent.

Anyway I hope you enjoyed reading this and you get a better understanding of how I devise my stories (and series) plots.

Why mathematics is not to be feared

The common response of mathematics from people is either they’re useless at it, hate it or are just plain afraid. Another thing people confuse is mathematics and arithmetic. Well believe it or not arithmetic is not that important (just as long as you know the numbers from 1 to a 100, and know your basic multiplication tables) as that is what calculators are for.

Real mathematics is algebra, geometry, trigonometry, calculus, groups, proof and so and so forth (it is a huge list of topics and an even bigger list of sub-topics). Now I believe, academically speaking, that virtually anyone can learn maths up to A-level standard (or the 12th grade for you Americans), with just simply practice.

But why study mathematics? Firstly it is empowering, as mathematics is its own unique language and governments, businesses, politicians use facts and figures to inform you. An important branch of maths is statistics, and to even basically understand statistics just gives you a feel for numbers, figures and all that is quantifiable. Mathematics is one of the ultimate forms of knowledge, and to properly study it is to sharpen up your brain.

A second reason for studying maths is to teach your brain new skills; with lots of practice put into it, logic skills, memory, concentration and guesstimation all improve. However the math itself is totally unyielding and unforgiving, it is the Borg of all academic subjects. This puts off people, but with determination and deferred gratification (put in all the pain today for a reward tomorrow, a very useful skill to have), ones practice always generates results. That does not make maths any easier but it focuses you on how to break down a problem and make it as simple as possible.

Finally another reason for studying maths is that most of the good jobs out there: engineering, finance, law (yes even law since in America graduates must pass calc 101 or something), science, meteorology, computing and many other types of jobs require mathematical skills from higher education (A level and higher). Many people pick soft subject degrees like English, history, music, film studies and all sorts, and right now for today most employers who provide high-paying jobs want to see a degree more meatier (plus a person’s ability to work, work with others, follow orders, show initiative, common sense and all the other in-job skills) like the sciences, ICT, engineering or mathematics (there are others), all of which require knowledge of maths (A level and higher).

For the ambitious, getting some maths under your belt is one step to getting the degree you need to get where you want to go…

Of course there are certain crazies and diehards (I’m one of them) out there who study the maths for the fun of it, and for the constant challenges that arise. Hell you Star Trek guys go on about Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations, well maths is that and more! The number line that goes on forever, how a function can be continuous with each incremental infinitesimal point, proving an entire set of elements or numbers that belong to some other set, defining multidimensional spaces (above 3D), and so on… Mathematics will never be finished as a subject, and that is a good thing.

Before I end this, there are a few questions I have for you the reader:

1. What is the difference between speed and velocity?

2. Are prime numbers infinite?

3. A person travels one kilometre, stops then travels half that distance again, stops then travels half of that distance again and so on, to infinity. How far did the person walk?

If you can answer these questions then you have some skill with mathematics. If not I will give you the answer to all three questions with the next post tomorrow!

Hopefully this post will enlighten you a little about maths!

How I got into writing

First of all I am not a writer I am a storyteller, there is a difference. A writer creates stories but focuses a lot more on the prose and verbal finesse, whereas a storyteller focuses more on the plot and the dialogue. My aim is to create great stories, and use the prose to enhance it all, not the other way around.

I will post sometime in the future about how I created my DS9: the continuation series, but this is series of mine is what got me into writing. To sum up briefly I was forteen or fifteen when an idea came to mind to continue on from where Deep Space Nine (the 4th Star Trek series) left. I spent three or so years developing the entire plot for all seven seasons of my series. It was about two years ago that I started adding dialogue and roughly dabbling with scripts and stuff.

I did this out of curiosity, and then I decided just over a year ago that I wanted to actually write these stories of mine, flesh them out. I knocked up my first story in two months and it was riddled with errors, but it was through repeated rejections of the story (when submitted to SLWalker) did I develop the most rudimentary skills regarding how to write a decent and coherent story. However this post is about how I got into writing, not how I developed my skills.

The stories I post are for both my entertainment and others. Each story I’ve created there is something I like about it plot-wise (or really love), or it could be certain character development which I adore. Basically if I get that same feeling of goodness inside my heart which I get from watching great Star Trek episodes, then I just know this stories plot is a good one, and with some hard work I will have at the very least a decent story.

Ultimately I write for the fun of it, and I like reviews (especially ones with constructive criticism) because they help me refine my skills. When I received some favorable reviews on Ad Astra for my first story Secrets and Lies that spurred me on to keep writing my stories, and to keep pushing forwards. Another reason why I got into writing was the creative freedom I had with my DS9: the continuation series. Creative freedom is an important thing because it means you are less constrained by the rigours of canon.

On a different note a more powerful writing influence, and a precursor to how I picked up writing as a hobby, are various films, music and real-world events. The Godfrey Reggio film Koyaanisqatsi (and the music Philip Glass composed for it) is probably one of my biggest influences with writing. An even more important influence is my religion, I am a member of the Baha’i Faith, founded by Baha’u’llah, a Manifestation of God. As such I am spiritual and I like to apply morale and spiritual themes to my series.

I don’t preach, I will never preach, but my DS9 series many a time examines morality and spirituality, and those two themes are the core of Star Trek (that and sci-fi and action). Even if I was not religious, I would still have an interest in spirituality. With writing I keep a balanced approach to make sure both sides (in a story) have reasons for what they are doing, and sometimes the good guys ‘win’ but most of the time with my stories one problem is resolved but others still remain. At the very least I want to try and explain to the reader why both sides feel they are right, whether either one (or both) is wrong is up for you the reader to decide.

Truth is in some of the stories I write even I’m not sure who has the morale high ground, and I prefer it that way. My series universe is a bit like Earth today. The citizens of the Federation have it good, but there are many other forces out there like the Breen, Romulans, Cardassians, Dominion and Tren, and the interactions between all six is somewhat resemblant of global affairs on Earth.

Hope this explains a few things.

Link to my DS9: the continuation series: DS9: the continuation

Link to Secrets and Lies: Secrets and Lies

And two links about the Bahai Faith (if you are curious): ,


Why I skateboard

Skateboarding is basically the art of doing the impossible. If it’s hard or nasty you try and do it, you way up the risks or you go in crazy and reckless, and just want to stick the trick. For me skateboarding is always a constantly changing ratio between just cruising around, enjoying the feel, and wanting to do new tricks.

Believe it or not skateboarding is the most accident prone sport in the first few weeks, and the vast majority of injuries happen in that time period. It takes a lot to break something (although it also takes very little) in your body while on a skateboard, and you don’t have to wear pads but there are some things were you will go splat, and pads can partially save your ass.

Take bs 540 axle stalls. You travel backwards up the ramp, spin around 270 degrees on the back truck, get both trucks on the coping (metal rail), and then spin around another 270 degrees back down into the ramp, and continue on your merry way. The dangerous part is the last 90 degrees, if you get the angle wrong you get thrown off the board and go straight to your rump if you go lean to far backwards. Conversely if you lean to far forwards something called a ‘wipe out’ happens to you.

A wipe out is where you going very fast or spinning very fast, and slam very hard on the ramp. Happened to be on this little miniramp doing the above mentioned trick, fell backwards, scrunched my bottom and whacked my right elbow. That hurt. I’ve had even worse slams but that is for a later post.

Despite the slams and pain it is still worth it, and you learn how to bail (step off your skateboard without slamming) and avoid most risks. Surprisingly if you know what you are doing you can do all sorts of big things and get away with it pretty safely. I’ve never broken any bones on a skateboard, I have mildly sprained my right ankle twice and my right wrist once, but that is all.

The other good thing with skateboarding is skateboarding with others. You learn new things, and strive to increase your game when the big boys come in. Skateboarding has a loose hierarchical structure, in that when skating on a say a miniramp, the skilled skateboarders are the ones who get the runs, while the less so can chip in, but like attracts like. This does not sound harsh or nasty, and its good seeing a beginner, or newb, pull something new for himself, just as it is good seeing awesomeness happen with some someone pulling something crazy or unexpected.

The buzz of skateboarding is being on top form, or pulling a new trick, or just going plain old crazy. But skateboarding can also be maddening at times, and down right frustrating. It is one of those sports where it is harder to learn the basic things while it is easier to learn the harder things.

So don’t be discouraged! Get on that skateboard, and get ripping!

Here are two skate videos I made (I’m the one skating), and with the first one try and spot the bs 540 axle stall!


Whaddup all

I’m experimenting with blogging, when I will blog I don’t know, but when I will blog it will be about skateboarding, fan fic writing, mathematics or something else that comes to my fancy…