Our Inner Space Stations

Did you know that inside each and every one of us are super-cool structures that, in my mind, behave like a futuristic space station? Because there are.

Of course, I’m talking about the humble cell. Wait, what do you mean that wasn’t obvious? Maybe I should explain.

Picture a multi-structured station floating in space. Surrounding it is a protective forcefield. Now, this forcefield isn’t actually solid like a wall is solid, but instead is made up of a constantly shifting, interlocking series of tiny bits whose design will allow authorized ships to pass through it. That’s your plasma membrane, a selectively permeable membrane that resembles a “fluid mosaic” according to my text books. It only lets a few structures through easily.

But, hey, sometimes you need people that aren’t part of the space station to get in. So the station will send out a shuttle to pick up those passengers, so that they can travel through the forcefield in a safe environment and then get taken to their destination. And if it is discovered that they’re actually enemies of the station, there is an automated defense system that will blast them to bits. Those shuttles are called vessicles, and they do precisely what I just described.

There’s also a third way in for some very important people that the station has already vetted. They are known entities, already proven not to be dangerous, and they get a special wormhole that opens inside the station, tunnels out past the forcefield and lets those folks pass right on through before pinching shut again.

Now. Every station needs one central command center. That’s where decisions get made and in my mind, it’s also probably where specialized programmers who keep the whole station’s computer system going would work. That’s the nucleus.

What about a power station that keeps the lights and holodecks going? That’s the mitochondria. Okay, there’s actually no cellular holodeck, but these little darlings are what produce the energy the cell needs.

Your space station would also need some kind of superstructure that gives the thing its shape and holds it all together. In the cell, we call those microfillaments. Some of them are bigger and form tubes, which would be microtubules.

Heck, there’s even a system for altering things from one state to another. It’s the future, so it can do all sorts of neat stuff. You put raw materials in one end and they travel through a series of rooms and come out the other end altered, then sometimes get loaded into a shuttle and shipped out to other parts of the station. That’s your Golgi Complex.

I could go on. This whole metaphor is one I came up with back when studying to become a massage therapist to help myself learn the structure of the human cell. Or relearn it, I suppose, as high school biology class clearly made no lasting impression. I was reminded of it the other week while taking a review course. I thought it might be a bit of a peek into the honestly strange way my brain works. And, hey, if there’s anyone out there studying high school bio (or any first term massage therapy students), maybe it will help.

Be kind to yourself and others. And me. Though you can laugh at me a little for this one, I fully accept the absurdity of this post.

Want to follow or interact with me on social media? Find me on Twitter by following @jennifermorash or head over to https://www.facebook.com/jennifermorashblog. I post blogs every Wednesday.

Why D&D Is Fun

I’m sure you’ve all heard of D&D, and at least a few of you have played it. Mostly, I’m aiming this particular post at those of you who haven’t played and perhaps don’t even understand what it is and why on earth anyone would want to spend time doing this thing.

So, what is it?

D&D stands for “Dungeons & Dragons”. It is a game system involving multiple players with one of them taking on the task of running the game and the rest participating. The leader decides on the setting and the story or adventure and leads the other players through it, while they are each playing a character in that world and react to the situations described.

Each character has a set of traits and skills that decide how good (or how bad) they are at different things, and often dice are used to determine how well the character does at a chosen action. This naturally cuts down on instances of “I win because I said so!” “Nuh-uh!” “Uh-huh!”

Characters come in different classes. This is like saying they have different roles. Some are combat-heavy, like Fighter (does what it says on the tin) or Barbarian, some are magic heavy like a Wizard and some fall between the two. You can also play as different races. This is a magical fantasy world, after all, so you’ll see more than strictly humans. Think elves, dwarves, halflings (picture hobbits from Lord Of The Rings) and the like, plus some things you might not even think of like bird people.

The combination of race and class is great for winding up with a group of very different characters all working together.

Now, that is as basic a description as I could give without getting into stuff like the varying number of sides on a die, magic spells and the difference between a Dragonborn and a Half-orc. I’m pretty sure I’d lose those of you who don’t play if I went that far.

Okay. So that’s what it is. What’s the draw?

In short, it’s fun. But I know that isn’t a very satisfactory answer. D&D is like collaborative storytelling, where you’re all working together to tell a fun and fantastical tale. It’s also like improv theatre where everyone is responding to what everyone else is doing. It involves creativity, puzzle solving, strategizing and occasionally getting absurd.

It’s also about the community of hanging out with some friends and working together while having fun.

And, okay, sometimes it’s about having your Sorcerer just hurl a fireball spell at a problem. Look, it’s cathartic, okay? Don’t judge.

There is a bit of escapism involved, yes. That’s not a bad thing. Honestly, this year when I started playing again after a very long hiatus, escapism is kind of one of the features. My BFF decided to run a game over Zoom and I signed up to play along with one other person I knew from online and two people I didn’t know, but have since discovered how awesome they are.

We’ve been playing most Saturdays since May, and it’s been a godsend. For a few hours each week, I’m not in the midst of a pandemic. I’m Neera, a charismatic half-elven Sorcerer stranded in a world that isn’t her own along with some other folks, just trying to get home.

I get to do cool stuff like disguising myself with magic to look like a feudal lord dude instead of a pointy-eared young woman in order to steal a magical hunk of rock instead of having the group of us fight an entire castle full of guards. Last week, one of my new friends got to cast a spell that let her talk to a mama bear and her cubs so we didn’t have to fight them.

C’mon, doesn’t that sound like fun? It’s totally fun.

I think a lot of people would actually end up absolutely loving it if they just gave it a try.

As always, please do be kind to yourself and others. Talk to that mama bear first.

Want to follow or interact with me on social media? Find me on Twitter by following @jennifermorash or head over to https://www.facebook.com/jennifermorashblog. I post blogs every Wednesday.