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Hello Troops, It has been another week at the Space Education Center. What a stupid thing to write. Of course another week has passed. There are some things you write because ..... well just because. Things move along nicely this time of year. We are well into the groove. It is nice to come to work and jump into a routine. My body functions without conscious thought. I’m like a puppet at the end of several strings. Routine pulls the strings and I move. Soon this day to day routine will be indigestible. I'll be living on Pepto Bismal. By summer we will be ready for something different. We pass our time in Space Center seasons. We had a network hick up on Thursday. This happens every time I think how lucky I am the Voyager has been glitch free. It is like the simulator can sense my feelings. Freaky isn’t it? Back to the point..... It was Thursday. I was in a hurry because I had enough on my plate to choke a crocodile. I walked to school and nearly slipped on a skiff of ice. I was saved because of the wild flapping of my arms. I’m sure it looked comical to the innocent bystander but I saw my life flash before my eyes and swore I heard the sound of long deceased grandmother laughing. She enjoyed seeing people succumb to comical injuries. A second later my frame stabilized and I was firm on two feet. I didn't go down. The adrenaline not used in my hyper arm flapping surged through my veins causing my heart to continue the stomping in my chest. I adjusted my side bag, straightened my coat and replaced my near death facial expression with one that told anyone watching that I meant to look that foolish. I got to school and went straight to the Voyager to crank her into life. I started the computers. Everything seemed normal. I remembered wondering how long it had been since the Voyager had a temper tantrum. That brief thought was all it took. Suddenly the network slowed to an intolerable ably speed. Everything electronic was in slow motion. I tried flapping my arms wildly about. It worked earlier in the morning to save me from disaster but didn't work in this situation. The Voyager wasn't bothered. We had a school coming in 90 minutes so I had to do something. Its called having the buck stop at your desk when you would prefer it found a nesting place somewhere else. I put on my moth eaten thinking cap and went into problem solving mode. The computers all started correctly. Suddenly everything was wrong. What would cause that? I remember my computer geek high school programmers taught me to look up at the switcher to see if the lights were blinking. They were, in various shades of amber but I couldn’t make out the code. Did the flashing mean something? Perhaps a close, more sophisticated 21st century cousin of Morse Code? Soon I found myself lost in the symphony of light and rhythm. Minutes passed yet I couldn’t take my eyes off the intricate patterns. I was being pulled into the Matrix. “Get Hold of yourself man!” I remember hearing myself shout. Suddenly I was back in the land of the living. My lightheadedness compelled me to take a chair for support. I was never going to do that again. The switcher, like the sun, is something not to be stared at. I moved to the Voyager’s Bridge and paused. “Talk to me girl,” I whispered. I put my hands on the Damage Control desk and waited. I’m convinced inanimate objects can pass messages to the living if you are properly tuned and in a submissive state. I wiped my mind of all thoughts (which is very easy to do the older I get). I stood motionless..... waiting for something....... anything....... please....... wait, movement. I felt something shift - false alarm. I’d eaten a couple bowls of chili the night before. That movement could be ignored. It was too nebulous. I heard something else, very faint. It WAS my trans dimensional grandmother laughing from some other plane of existence. Of course enjoying my misery without the slightest helpful prompting. She wouldn't be any good at a computer problem anyway. She had trouble with letter openers, and we won't even talk about manual transmissions! The Voyager wasn’t in the mood to participate in this poor attempt at a Vulcan Mind Meld. I was left with one option. You know the “In Case of Emergency Break Glass” option. I positioned myself next to Sensors and rose my foot. A swift kick in the chops should get results. Then it came to me. Bad Network....Slow Network.....could mean excessive traffic. The sun rose on my problem. The dark night was fading into memory. A light from beyond descended on the Right Wing Power Station. "Thanks Grandma," I said to the ceiling. I knew the old gal would find someone over 'there' to help me in the end. I walked toward the light. There was the problem! The wire from the keyboard into the computer was frayed just at the point of entry into the keyboard. This had happened before. I jumped into action, rushed into the Briefing Room, fetched another keyboard, swapped them and restarted the ship. Beautiful was the only word to describe the moment when all computers flashed in unison. I leaned back in my control chair smoking a pen and sipping my Diet Coke. The planets were in alignment. The glitch in the Matrix was resolved.
Protesters in Space
I’m sorry. I did it again didn’t I? I was going to tell you a quick story about protesters in space and got side tracked on a something else. What I meant to say in the epistle above was this, “I had a computer network problem in the Voyager, discovered it was a faulty wire from a keyboard, replaced it and all was well.” There told. Now I’ll move on. A few weeks ago I was telling Intolerance in the Voyager. You know the plot; they encounter an escaped slave running for freedom. They bring him into the ship. His owner arrives through a wormhole in space. He demands the Voyager return the slave. The Voyager refuses. They fight. The Voyager is seriously damaged and runs (why do my stories all have the Voyager losing their first battles but winning in the end?). They run into a nebula cloud to hide. This particular mission had one of the best Sensors / Scanner officers in recent memory. He was sharp and did his job with precision. His reading was clear and enunciated. He kept up with the Scanning papers - which is very unusual. He was a joy to work with. We reached the point in the story where the Pennou moves into the cloud to finish them off. I pushed the ‘forward’ button on my computer to advanced the Sensors screen to the next scene. The text on the screen read: “There are protostars in this area........”. Protostars are newly forming stars which are fusing hydrogen atoms into helium to produce light and heat (now you can say you learned something from this article). If the Captain was worth his pay he’d realize a protostar could be an excellent place to hide, as long as you had full shields. This young fifth grade sensors officer started reading. I held my microphone ready to say my next part as Tex, the overly obnoxious engineer know it all. “Captain, there are protesters in this area......!” He stopped in mid sentence. I stopped and turned toward the camera. “Protesters?” I thought. He didn't read the word right. I expected him to reread the sentence so we could move on. He didn’t. “What the heck!” he said loudly. He turned to find the captain. “Captain,” he shouted. The Captain walked over. “There are protesters here. What the heck are they doing here?” he said looking truly perplexed. In my mind’s eye I could see what he was seeing. A large group of people carrying signs reading “Down with Slavery” or “Pennou Go Home” or “Citizens for the Prevention of Cruelty to Pennae” and “Pennou Stink” floating in a large colorful nebula cloud shouting rude and abusive obscenities at the Pennou. I started to laugh. The Bridge Staff Officer bent over and corrected the boy’s error. It didn’t make a difference. He didn’t know what a protostar was anyway. I thought protesters were more interesting than a protostar any day. Well Troops, a couple stories for you. We have more news coming on the new Galileo soon.
Note: The Voyager Club meets monthly at the Space Center. It is open to all Space Education Center fans between the ages of 10 and 14 years old. If you attend our camps and private missions and would like to get more involved (and earn extra class hour for your rank) you are welcome to attend. Contact the Space Center for more information or just show up at one of the meetings. Club news and meeting times are announced on this blog. Mr. Williamson
Voyager Alpha Club News: Mission
On Saturday January 17th the Voyager Alpha Club has a Mission in the Voyager Simulator scheduled at 11:30 AM to 2:00 PM. This mission is open to current Alpha Team members only. Mr. Herring will be the Flight Director and will have the Rank Advancement cards to hand out to those that have paid for them. The Alpha club has earned this mission by incredible participation in and discipline during club meetings. Alpha Club members please RSVP by sending an email to Mr. Williamson (firstname.lastname@example.org). There is not charge for this club mission. Voyager Alpha and Beta Club News: Next Club Meeting
Thursday February 12th will be the next meeting of the Alpha and Beta Voyager Clubs. Meeting times will be announced later (the clubs may have a joint meeting). The topic of discussion will be the New Galileo, Mark VI shuttle. We will have the students from BYU that are building the new Galileo as guest speakers and the Odyssey Flight Directors will be telling us about their new upcoming summer mission!
Thank you so much for a wonderful experience at the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center. Our students enjoyed the Space Center so much they wanted to go back the next day. When I asked the entire group to rate their experience with a thumbs up for "gas tank" full or thumbs down for "gas tank" empty, every student except one had their thumbs straight up. Many of the students were jumping up and down, holding their hands across their mouths as if to control the shouts of joy. I even had one student say that the experience, "changed my life". Wondering why one of the students had his hand at "half full", I ask him if there was anything wrong. He told me he got a little sick on the bus ride and didn't feel very well the rest of the field trip.
I enjoyed accompanying the students on this field trip. I was so curious to see how the students would do and what they would think about the experience. I had a great time watching the students in action and in their individual roles. It was a treat to see them all engaged in a 'mission' and figuring out how to work together 'for real'. However, the biggest treat was to see how excited they were on the bus home. I thought they would be exhausted! However, the bus was buzzing with excitement about their mission, position on the ship, what decisions they had to make, and what they think they will do next time.
As educators, we usually don't hear what the students say when they go home. Therefore, I wanted to take a minute to let you all know that what you do is phenomenal. The Space Education Center may be quite routine for you and your staff, however the students who visited on Dec 4 discovered a new world of opportunities. Thank you!
Thanks for all you do! Camine Fuhriman Discovery Coordinator Entheos Academy
Today is Monday morning. I walk to school. The sidewalk is covered with snow. I see something at my feet. I stop. I look. Cheerios. Dozens of Cheerios. I look up. A church building on my left. I smile and walk on. Mr. Williamson (It happened this morning. I'm still smiling)
Hello Troops, Several of you asked me to continue the story I started in December. So, here is the third installment. Please read the first two chapters before this one if you haven't already. This story continues this school year's story "The Children of Perikoi". Let me know what you think. I'll keep writing if the interest is there. Just remember, I don't have time to really polish these installments so you take them the way they are - mistakes and all. Also, Blopspot will not let me indent the paragraphs so just imagine the paragraphs indented. You get the picture.
McAuliffe Station. Earth
“Please come in and sit down,” Admiral Meredith said as he led his command officers into the McAuliffe Station’s Briefing Room. Admiral Mark Daymont of the Magellan Station was waiting in the room studying the holographs on the wall. He was home for the holidays. Behind Admiral Meredith were the Captains of the USS Lexington and USS Omar Bradley. Captain Brady Young of the Voyager walked into the room with Admiral Williamson. The last to enter were the Captains of station's training ships; Megan Warner of the Phoenix, Emily Perry of the Odyssey and Stacy Carol of the Galileo. They each found a seat at the large rectangular table in the center of the room. The Briefing Room of the station was located directly off the Command Deck. Along one wall were holographic pictures of military ships dating back 500 years. Large windows occupied the entire opposite wall. The vivid blue and white of Earth filled the first three windows. The other two showed the stark blackness of space dotted with glimmering diamond stars. “Lights half,” Meredith said. The lights in the room dimmed to half brightness automatically. “Thank you all for coming. You all realize the situation. Farpoint Station was attacked. A surprise attack. News is coming in on the military net but very spotty at best. This is what we know if you discount the rumors. Multiple alien ships arrived through wormholes. The station had no warning. The radio traffic was full of battle updates and then suddenly went silent. We must assume the station is destroyed.” Meredith pushed a button on the computer screen embedded into the table’s surface near his chair. A holographic view ring rose from the table top to a height of three inches. Hundreds of pinpoint lights appeared, emitting millions of colors around the circle. A ring of color rose slowly to the ceiling. A moment later the color condensed into a sharply focused picture of one of the attacking ships. “This is a picture of what is believed to be the command ship. Now compare this ship to the one I’m about to bring up,” Meredith pushed another button on the table top screen. The color’s changed bringing another ship into view. “This is a picture sent to us by your ship Captain Young. Do you recognize it?” Meredith turned to Brady Young of the Voyager. “I do. It is the alien ship we engaged at Perikoi,” Brady responded. “Yes it is,” the Admiral said. “I’ve reread the report you filed. We all know the general story. Perikoi is a planet inhabited by a primitive race of humanoids. The gods they worship are really alien life forms pretending to be gods. These ‘gods’ visit the planet every twelve years and kidnap hundreds if not thousands of children. These children are turned into slaves. You and the gods had a run in. The USS Copernicus was lost. You barely escaped with your lives. And if I’m not mistaken, the large alien ship was destroyed when the Copernicus exploded. Is there anything else to add?” Meredith looked at Brady. There was a pause while Brady reviewed all the omitted facts. “No Sir,” Brady responded. “You covered it very well.” “Their weapons were superior?” “Yes Sir, very much so. We escaped because of the sacrifice of the Copernicus.” “Thank you,” Meredith ended the conversation and turned to the company assembled. “You’ll see from this hologram that the ship destroyed at Perikoi is the same design and size as the ship that led the attack at Farpoint. They have superior weapons. They can travel through wormholes. A science we are decades from achieving. We haven’t a clue how this is done or where they could possibly get the power to make it possible. Of course you realize the danger to the Federation. An attack could come without warning. That is why this station, along with all other stations, are at red alert.” Meredith rose from his seat, turned and walked toward the windows. His hands were clasped behind his back. Worry was etched across his face as he looked down at the beautifully peaceful planet rotating below him. "What did you unleash upon us at Perikoi?" he asked as he glanced at Captain Brady Young from the corner of his eye. He held his hand up to silence a response. “Lights full,” he said softly. The room brightened. He returned to his seat and looked at each member of his staff. “I’m not a politician so I won’t comment on the justification of the attack although I'm sure you can understand their point of view. We were in their space. We interfered in their governing of Perikoi and we destroyed one of their ships. They see this as just retribution which makes the fighting very personal. I don't fault your actions Captain Young. You were defending your ship. I only wish the outcome would have been less severe.” Meredith rose from his seat. “We must be ready for war. A war that will, in an instant, turn day to night. Our lives may never be the same. We are going to institute the following actions, first.....” An alarm sounded from the wall speaker bringing the station to battle readiness and stopping the Admiral in mid sentence. Meredith's heart raced with a sudden injection of adrenalin. He touched his comm badge. “Command,” he said to the automatic switchboard in the most unsteady voice anyone present in the room had ever heard from his lips. “Command,” a small voice was heard. “This is Meredith. Why the battle alarm?” “We are picking up odd energy patterns in multiple places around Earth,” the voice answered. “Wormholes?” Meredith asked. He knew the answer before he asked the question. “Yes Sir,” “Thank you,” Meredith said touching the badge to close the link. He closed his eyes for a moment and then opened them. There was despair in the lines time had drawn on his face. “My God,” he said looking into the faces of those present. “Our fleet is still hours away. They attacked Farpoint to learn about our defenses. They know our weaknesses. They have come to strike a decisive blow.” For a moment time seemed to stand still. Every eye was on the Admiral. Every ear waited for his orders. He ran his hands through his gray hair and then down his face, under his chin, stopping around his neck. He looked out the windows. “It has begun. Day turns to night,” he said. Every eye in the room turned toward the view before them. Dozens of pinwheel lights were forming. Some closer to the station. Others far away.
“Something is coming toward us,” Stacy shouted as she jumped to her feet and pointed to several lengthening lines of glowing orange plasma exiting the nearest wormholes. Soon every wormhole in view was shedding the same orange arcing light trails. Each line trailed what appeared to be a missile. Several were streaking toward the station. “Full Shields!” Meredith shouted into his comm badge. The station’s shield generators came on line instantaneously. A wall of metal slowly descended over the windows hiding their fate. “Gibbons and Andrews to your ships and launch at once, defend the station. Go Go,” he said to the captain’s of the Lexington and Omar Bradly. They were up and out of their seats before he finished the sentence. “Williamson, get your cadets into the Voyager. We can’t use the transporters with full shields. Perry and Carroll take your ships into the Voyager’s shuttle bay. Warner you will prepare to launch the Phoenix. Brady prepare the Voyager for launch. If I’m right this is going to be another Pearl Harbor. One more ship won’t make a difference. I’m thinking of the safety of the cadets. The Station is lost. Launch and warp to the Magellan Station. Take Admiral Daymont with you. Move!” he shouted. Everyone ran from the room leaving Admiral Meredith alone, a commander at the wheel of a floundering ship. The party crossed the Command Deck and into the turbolifts. “Deck 12,” Williamson said as the turbolift doors closed. The lift began moving. Williamson tapped his comm badge. “Command Training,” Williamson said. “Clegg here,” came the worried voice of Commander Aleta Clegg. “We are on our way to you. Where is Lorraine,” Williamson asked. “She and Shelia are helping the cadets get packed,” Aleta said. “This is getting bad isn’t it.” The sound of the station’s weapons could be heard over the humming of the lift. “Yes,” Williamson said. “Get the cadets to the Voyager at once. They take only what they can carry. No more packing. Hurry.... we are under attack.” “Yes Sir,” Aleta said. "Will you be joining th........" There was an explosion. The station was hit near the Command Deck. It sounded like the outer hull of the station was being twisted and folded into a new shape. The lift shook violently and stopped. The lights failed momentarily. “Come on Come on,” Brady shouted as he pounded the wall. He felt moisture near his mouth. Reached up he felt blood running from his nose. “We've got to get launched," he said looking for something to stop the flow. “What happened to the shields?” Emily asked picking herself up off the floor. “They couldn’t fail so quickly.” There was another explosion. The sound was further away. The lift rocked again. Whatever was holding it in place was dislodged. It resumed its course. The deck numbers changed. The lift seemed to be running slower. The screen above their heads flashed ‘12’. The lift doors partially opened. Smoke streamed in from the ceiling of the deck. Williamson and Brady moved toward the blocked doors. Each took a door and pulled. The doors parted with a grind. The deck ahead was littered with debris. The lights seemed unsure whether to stay on or off. Sparks from exposed wires flashed up and down the corridor like fireworks on the fourth of July. “Go Go Go,” Brady shouted. Everyone ran from the lift coughing from the fumes. Another massive explosion rocked the station. The floor fell six inches beneath them. They struggled to regain their footing. They had to get to the Voyager. Hopefully the cadets would be there. The station was out of time.
Gattino, taken by a CCTV camera in the Chicago Bookstore Depository. No poodle is safe!
Wanted: Gattino (the Blade) Bruchelli. Last seen in Clawless Joseppi’s Catnipateria on 3rd and State in the Little Italy neighborhood. Crime: Wanted for questioning for the murder of several poodles in the Hamilton section of the city. Reportedly the number one hit cat of the Felino Syndicate in Chicago. Warning: Cuddly, cute, adorable - Murderer. Approach with extreme caution. Reward: $200 for the successful capture - alive. This reward is offered by Miss Marple after discovering her poodle “Princess” was brutally gunned down in the back garden while being a ‘good girl’. Her expensive rhinestone collar was missing. Contact: The Canine Protection League. 605-555-BARK. Your identity will be protected.
(Forgive Me.....One More. I Couldn't Resist. You're thinking "What do these posts have to do with the Space Center." Well, I'm just getting my Imaginary Workout and taking you along on the run. Join me. WRITE. THINK. DREAM. IMAGINE. Mr. Williamson.)
Me and that Fat Feller in the Red Suit's Funny Looking Sled Dog
“Don’t ya know...... When you get me mad the kettle boils and the pressure builds. Something’s gotta give. Now that little fat feller in the red suit that lives in some sort of tax free status in northern Alaska got me a mite angry when my holiday wish wasn’t granted. I wished for The White House and what did I get? A white house, my home buried in snow on Christmas Day. Well, ya don't mess with me or you and my Huntress 9000 here are going to have a problem. That jolly dwarf took a side and as far as I was concerned needed to be Palinized. Ya take something from me and I take something from you - but I take it one step further so ya learn the lesson. Enough said, now I’m going to the coastline and see If I can’t practice some Alaskan diplomacy and shoot me down something Russian.”
Sara with her laser guided 'Huntress 9000'. Rudolf didn't have a chance. Santa escaped without injury but had to violently change course. Over 35,000 Anchorage children had no Christmas
(Sorry, but another imagination seizure on my part...... Mr. Williamson) P.S. You Irish better be ready. Santa let her down and St. Patrick's Day is next. Sara feels she is owed a favor. Guard your leprechauns. She is locked and loaded and has a flight booked to Dublin.
Hello Troops, We are going to pause a moment and celebrate The Savior of Lehi, our very own Sheila Powell, Teacher Extraordinary at the Space Center. While many in this small Utah town were buried under 90 inches of snow, huddling around their fires and praying for deliverance, Sheila took matters into her own hands. Realizing she would be facing Winter’s frigid wrath, Sheila layered herself in warm clothing and moved toward her front door only to discover it was blocked by several feet of snow. Winter had entombed her and was in no mood to entertain an early release. What old man winter didn’t know was Sheila’s stage name - Sheila ‘Houdini’ Powell. There isn’t a cage built that can hold Sheila Powell. Sheila opened a second story window, braced herself in the windowsill and jumped. It was a belly flop into the powdery snow below. The force of impact left her four feet below the snow's surface. She fought and clawed her way to toward the light.
Her sun glasses surfaced first followed by a hand and then a knitted cap. A minute later a nose emerged searching for oxygen. With snow shoes in place she eventually surfaced like a submarine jumping free of the ocean. Wind propelled ice darts swarmed around her and yet she continued toward her tractor. Darkness descended like death and yet she continued. Neighbors, watching from their windows, shouted at her to turn back - yet she continued. Soon word of Sheila’s act of heroism spread by telephone. Lehi’s phone exchange was overwhelmed. KSL’s news helicopter braved the storm and moved into place above her home to capture this epic struggle. Thousands watched. Candles were lit and prayers said in churches statewide. A local Las Vegas television station picked up the news feed. Soon every casino’s large screen televisions were tuned to the Sheila Channel. Bet’s were taken. The odds were against her. “Forward girl Forward,” Sheila said to herself as she moved ahead one foot at a time. Her garage loomed before her - a large dark wall in the distance. She felt the cold penetrating the layers of her clothing. “My shields are down,” she shouted when she realized biting cold had broken through her defenses. Her fingers and toes screamed under the barrage. Then she stopped. The nation’s heart stopped with her. Everyone moved closer to their televisions. “Mommy is she going to die,” Little Susie Walker said from her warm home in Little Rock Arkansas. “I don’t know dear,” her mother replied, voicing what parents were saying to their children from coast to coast. Sheila looked up into the spot light from the news helicopter. “This is it,” she thought. “Death is here. I see the light,” She remembered a sermon from a tent revival she attend as a little girl. She remember the preacher stomping back and forth on the stage, his arms in constant motion as he waved his Bible between heaven and the congregation. She remember him saying that when it was your time Jesus would send a light to show you the way home. She moved toward the light. "If you want me Jesus I'm yours but not at Winter's hand!” she shouted into the wind. She reached out in prayerful supplication and thump! She hit the wall of her garage. Suddenly Sheila's senses were restored. She had reached the berth of her friend and tractor - Hercules. Her Olympic goal was in reach. “Thank you Jesus,” she said. She tried to open the garage door. It seemed frozen shut. “Lord, one more small favor. I’ll need your help with this door and then I won't bother you again." The ice holding the door in place cracked and gave way. The garage door swung open. "Thank you," Sheila whispered. She slammed the door behind her to hold back the cold wind. She disappeared from the camera. The world watched and waited. Some used the time for a quick trip to the bathroom and kitchen. Suddenly the large garage door pulled upward. The roar of an engine was heard moving through the howling wind. Out burst Sheila on her tractor named ‘Hercules’. She looked like a bundled cowboy on a very unhappy bull. The blade was down and in position. Smoke poured from the exhaust pipe. She surged forward at maximum warp. The tractor’s blade slammed into the snow bank. The power of the collision nearly sent Sheila over the steering wheel and into the maelstrom. She retreated. Once back in the garage she firmly belted herself into the seat and reached under the seat to find her mouth guard. She spent a fortune on her chompers and wasn't going to risk them getting damaged. She took a moment to regain her wits. She looked into Winter's wrath billowing in front of her. It was beautiful in its own way like the Siren's song but she wouldn't be deterred. She powered up the engine and slowly took her foot off the clutch. Again she attacked. The blade dug into the white wall. It budged! Almost imperceptibly but it did move. Winter's dam was breached. The snow was in retreat. Sheila had done it. She conquered the storm of the century.
Saint Sheila of Lehi
Sheila is a hero and saint to all. We are honored to have her teach our visitors. You can meet her daily at the Center from 9:30 to 11:45 A.M. She is shy by nature but if you ask nicely and tell her you enjoyed her lesson she may give a lock of her hair. Keep it in your wallet or put it in a locket. Cherish it and it will bring you luck and perhaps a few years off your time in purgatory. Friends, Sheila is an example of the kind of people we have working at the Space Center. And you thought we were all just average Joes. Shame on you. Your penance is one snow angel. Now take a minute and book one mission in your favorite simulator. Have a nice day and may the road rise up to meet you.
I've been going back recently to the previous posts we've had on the goals, vision, or finding a mantra for the Space Center. In doing so I was reminded of a conversation with Victor Williamson from a long time ago, which has stuck with me all this time. This was from the early days, when the Space Center was really just the Voyager and the classroom (which now has 2 simulators in it!). It was a time when Vic, Bill Schuler, Dave Wall and I used to get together for brainstorming sessions. Sometimes Vic would refer to his original ideas for the Space Center's development, and one time he made a profound statement about the real, true purpose of why he built the Space Center and what he hoped it would do. Besides the obvious benefit of inspiring kids to learn about space, science, and mathematics, there was a higher, more subliminal goal: he wanted kids to become space- enthusiast voters! There's been a saying around NASA ever since its early days: No Bucks, No Buck Rogers. Which means to say, that without the funding, there would be no space program and no astronaut heroes. Vic's idea, which I totally supported, was that we wanted kids to retain their enthusiasm for space exploration even up to their adulthood, when they would become voters who would elect officials friendly to the space program. These days, that vision of Vic's has become even more vital. Because today, there is a war being waged over the relatively little funding that is set aside for space exploration. It can only be won on the political battlefield through the efforts of participating, and voting, space supporters. Over a series of posts I want to help all of you understand this battle, how it affects the Space Center, and how you can play a part. Although many of you are not voters yet, this is not going to be a short struggle and you will have your chance to be heard!
One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, "My son, the battle is between two "wolves" inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith." The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: "Which wolf wins?" The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."
(Sent to me by email. Great lesson to be learned Thank you. Mr. Williamson)
I’m proud to report that your Director was instrumental in stopping an ill conceived and poorly thought out attempt to escape from our beloved institution. I was walking down the south corridor at 1:40 P.M. The South Corridor contains the classrooms reserved for our youngest students. They range in age from five to nine years. The hall was quiet. You saw the children but didn’t hear them; a sign of strict discipline. This is the primary characteristic of a fine school preparing its students for the next round of national testing. After all, isn’t that what a school is all about? In today’s schools rigid discipline begins at a young age. Small humans are not to be pampered or coddled. Pampering a student by allowing them personal exploration can lead to independent thought and independent thought can lead to creativity and imagination. Why the very fabric of our standardize curriculum would be compromised, thus leading to a breakdown in society. Elementary students receiving exposure to art and music could lead to a national economic breakdown, hyper inflation in the currency, questionable paintings and books and the use of colored pencils on the test bubble forms! This decay of standardization will not be tolerated. Mr. Kyle Herring was walking with me down the corridor. A class marched by following one of our new teachers. They appeared to be seven years old judging by their size. Their faces were expressionless as they marched in a straight line noses forward. We stopped and watched. One young boy glanced in my direction. I looked back at him wondering what had caught his eye. He smiled! What would cause such a reaction in a small human so well trained? Time in the White Room was the punishment for not having your nose forward. The White Room was rumored to be the place where children’s souls and spirits were bleached. Once all color was exorcised the child was returned to class - nose forward. Mind you, I’ve not see this room but know of it from stories passed around in hushed tones in the lunchroom. They say that undisciplined children are taken downstairs into the White Room and given a series of state approved books. They are held in the White Room until all books are read and exams passed. Electronic shocks are administered if your reading pace slackens or you mispronounce words. Your voice must show enthusiasm while reading. The state knows what every student should read; government approved stale sanitized material which can be tested in standardized form . These books contain political correct stories populated by cardboard characters in controlled situations. Concerned for this smiling child’s future, I directed him to return his gaze back to the back of Susie’s head. He responded just before the hallway cameras turned in his direction. It was close call. “I wonder what made him look and smile at me,” I asked. “Maybe it was your tie,” Kyle answered. I glanced down. I was wearing my Marvin the Martian tie. “No Wonder,” I muttered. The state censors banned Marvin the Martian because he uses a ray gun to shoot rabbits. Marvin’s character was doubted because he wore a green plastic skirt. What kind of astronaut, human or alien, would wear a green plastic skirt? The latest theory said that children, seeing a Marvin the Martian cartoon, could experience creative thought which would spiral into antisocial behavior. This thinking might encourage children to seek out firearms and shoot rabbits. “Remind me not to wear this tie again,” I said as we continued to walk toward the outer door. Just as we passed the west corridor I heard a commotion. I looked down the hall and saw a teacher reaching out for a another small boy. He was wearing red, already an indicator of possible communist influences. I believe he was being taken to the White Room to begin a long series of correction interventions. I discovered later he was being punished for stating an unapproved opinion in class. This boy in red broke free. H e began running in my direction. “You Won’t Take Me Alive!” He shouted as his pace increased. What was I to do? No one escapes our institutions. Our new schools are escape proof, complete with security alarms at every door and the constant patrolling of the Literacy Gestapo slithering around the halls with clip boards in hand listening in teacher’s doorways for independent thoughts and lessons not mandated by the state curriculum for that date and time. Did this little six year old think he had a chance? The boy ran past us in a race for the outside door. I turned toward the teacher. “Grab Him,” she shouted. I heard the sound of a dropped clip board further up the hall. The gestapo had been alerted. I had to act. I went after the boy. He was at freedom’s doorstep. His hands were on the crash bar. The door flew open. He could smell the fresh air and feel the light from the sun. He tasted freedom and it wasn’t from a book - It was real. He was George Washington. He was the slave freed from his master. It was real and I could see the determination in his face not to let it go. My arms wrapped around the boy just before he jumped down the steps to the open road. He screamed and thrashed about. I pulled him away from the light and back into the long cold brick corridor. The open door closed behind me. The teacher took the boy from me. He was rushed away before his screams disturbed the other children. What has happened to the spirit of a free education? Do we still have freedom from oppression. Do we still have freedom of thought? May we learn from gifted teachers who use imagination and creativity to make their lessons come alive? Are there still teachers who mold their curriculum to meet the needs of the class as well as the needs of the state? I stepped outside, flashed my pass toward the guard tower, got the nod to proceed and drove away. I thought how lucky we were to have our Space Center, a little island of imagination in a dark sea.
Epilogue: Schools nationwide are struggling with national legislation titled “No Child Left Behind”. Schools are modifying their curriculum to match the national tests. This is forcing teachers to teach to those tests. There seems to be a one size fits all approach in teaching methods and style. I was thinking about how education has changed since I started teaching 25 years ago. Then I remembered an event that happened to me at school. A young boy tried to escape. I stopped him. That was the source of the story you just read. Writing this highly exaggerated account gave me a chance to drive home a point. Some (not all) of the changes made in education over the last several years should be reconsidered - especially now because of a new administration coming to power. What I’ve written is my opinion. It may not be yours. That is the glory of our way of life. Freedom of expression!
Hello Troops, Christmas is over. The New Year has taken its watch, properly toasted and saluted by all I'm sure. January 5th, the day dreaded by students worldwide, dawns in a few days. School bells will ring. Teachers will arrive first to ready their lessons, stoke the coal fires, and review their list of sarcastic remarks intended to put overly sugared students back into their proper places. One hour after teachers arrive, students will slither back into the classrooms calming themselves by repeating the date of the next holiday in a meditative style. It is all quite sobering – isn't it?
"Do I look like I'm happy to be back!?"
I'll be back in my role as crossing guard on the street at 8:30 A.M. I take a lot of abuse on the first day back from Christmas Vacation. I do my best to properly greet each child but I wouldn't place a wager on the number of optimistic responses I get back. Usually the children return dirty looks to my friendly greeting. Some spit. Others throw snowballs. The younger ones like to kick me in the shin. Its all OK. Teachers will always have the last laugh. Remember, once these darling students are in their seats they are under our control. They are caged animals.
Cherish Prudence, Student Class President photographed the morning of the first day back from Christmas Vacation.
I like to start the day by dragging my fingernails across the blackboard. Once I have their attention I list five hours of homework assignments on the board with a note saying, “Due Tomorrow”. That always gets their attention. Big tears form in the corners of their eyes. They are beaten down and submissive. Then I start the positive reinforcement. If I hear a positive comment about my lesson or appearance I’ll erase one of the assignments. Soon, just like Pavlov’s dog, I’ve got them trained. They remember to use the toilet, they eat with knife and fork, they use a Kleenex to wipe their ever running noises, and stop using their index finger to probe their nasal cavities. After a few hours they start to resemble proper young ladies and gentlemen. By the end of the day they are speaking the Queen’s English and controlling their bodily functions. Its all good.
Students After a Day of Retraining
I'm hoping each of you had a good vacation and will be ready to return to school and the Space Center. "Is Mr. Williamson ready?" you ask. My answer comes in three parts.
Yes, I'm ready to return to school and get back to running the Space Center.
Yes, I'm ready to enlighten the minds of my sixth graders with new Pre- Algebra concepts.
No, I'm not ready to jump back into missions for one simple reason – I always forget whole sections of my flights.
You see, the older you get the less memory you have to work with. Years ago long breaks were no problem. Monday I'll sit in the Voyager ready to tell my mission and find I can't get the correct memories to surface. "What's the song I play here?" I'll ask Metta. "What do I say here?" I'll shout out to anyone listening. "What comes next on the video?" I'll ask a sixth grader whose glance of confusion will mirror my memory to a stitch. The remedy is to spend some time on Saturday reviewing my notes and watching the video for the billionth time. It won't take long for autopilot to kick in and away 'll go unhindered until Spring Break.
As Director of the Space Center and ‘Boss’ to many of you I feel it prudent to take a moment at the start of this new year and share bits of wisdom I’ve learned over the years . Remember, I’m from South Dakota, a beautiful state many of you have never heard of. It lies below North Dakota (as if that helps any of you place it on the map). Contrary to what you’ve heard, South Dakota has indoor plumbing, highways, and airports. The Denver to Deadwood Stagecoach stopped running years ago. You can visit the State without fear of Indian attacks. And best of all, South Dakota doesn’t have a state income tax! The American Dream is alive and well in this capitalist oasis on the northern plains.
Luella Mae Stump, South Dakota Director of Tourism on the upcoming Superbowl commercial: "Come see the Beauty of the West in South Dakota!" (side note: South Dakota has a severe shortage of dentists but you won't find a better buffalo burger anywhere)
I was raised in rural South Dakota. This is cowboy country. Cowboys have a unique, down to earth wisdom that seems to apply to anyone no matter what side of the tracks you come from. So, to get 2009 off to a good start, here is some excellent Cowboy Wisdom I've picked up over the years. Get you cowboy boots and 10 gallon hat on, play a good western CD and get ready to get yerself educated.
Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.
Don't squat with your spurs on.
Lettin' the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier'n puttin' it back in.
If you're ridin' ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it's still there.
If you get to thinkin' you're a person of some influence, try orderin' somebody else's dog around.
After eating an entire bull, a mountain lion felt so good he started roaring. He kept it up until a hunter came along and shot him... The moral: When you're full of bull, keep your mouth shut.
Never kick a cow chip on a hot day.
There's two theories to arguin' with a woman. Neither one works.
If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin'.
Never slap a man who's chewin' tobacco.
It don't take a genius to spot a goat in a flock of sheep.
Always drink upstream from the herd.
When you give a lesson in meanness to a critter or a person, don't be surprised if they learn their lesson.
When you're throwin' your weight around, be ready to have it thrown around by somebody else.
The quickest way to double your money is to fold it over and put it back in your pocket.
Never miss a good chance to shut up.
There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading, the few who learn by observation, and the rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.
"I got a fire goin' and the biscuits are hot. I'll be waiten for ya."
Now I‘ll be plannin’ on hitching up the horse and goin’ after the strays. Ya’ll enjoy the next few days of yer freedom. If ya’ll have some spare time get yer horse and come on out and help me check the fences. Bundle tight, It’ll be colder than a mother in law’s kiss out there.
After serious & cautious consideration . . .
Your contract of friendship has been renewed for the New Year 2009!
It was a very hard decision to make. So try not to screw it up!!!
My Wish for You in 2009
May peace break into your house and may thieves come to steal your debts. May the pockets of your jeans become a magnet for $100 bills. May love stick to your face like Vaseline and may laughter assault your lips! May your clothes smell of success like smoking tires and may happiness slap you across the face and may your tears be that of joy. May the problems you had forget your home address! In simple words . . . May 2009 be the best year of your life!!!
Hello Troops, My nephew flew to Argentina to serve a mission last Friday. For the most part he is a good kid, at least on Tuesdays from Noon to 2:00 P.M. when the sun is out and the temperature is between 60 and 75 degrees. The church is turning him loose on the Argentines the same way you release your German Shepard on the UPS man that failed to deliver your holiday packages. At the end of his two years I'll bet Argentina will redirect its hatred for the British with a new fear and loathing for America - all thanks to one seemingly sweet and innocent 19 year old lad (at least on Tuesdays from Noon to 2:00 P.M. when the sun is out and the temperature is between 60 and 75 degrees) who breached their solidly Catholic defenses. I can be a calming influence on Brayden so I feel it my duty to keep in touch but this poses a bit of a problem. He is allowed to email his parents only. This means all news is distributed by my lovely (an adjective used purely to help bring her out of her holiday blues) sister Jilane. You see, she has an exotic personality quirk. When everyone around her is happy she is miserable and when everyone around her is miserable she is happy. Let me explain. When she was a child her left eye had its own personality. It always pointed 40 degrees away from where her right eye was looking. Strangers were thrown off by it. They never knew what eye to look at when they spoke to her. Of course this also gave her the misperception that everything in the world came in twos because she saw everything double. My brothers and sisters took bets when she started to walk on whether she would pick the right doorway. One image was the proper doorway and the other was the double created by her lazy eye. Fifty percent of the time she would walk into the wall. The roof would raise with laughter. Surgery was required. She was admitted to the hospital. In South Dakota we like to do things the hard way so the surgeons removed her brain to get to the eye. The eye's muscles were repaired and the brain reinstalled. Unfortunately we think the brain was put in upside down causing her to act in an opposite way. Hence, when we're happy she's not and when she's happy we're not. To make a long story shorter, I asked her to forward Brayden's missionary emails to me. Because I asked politely - she rudely said 'no'. "If you want to read Brayden's emails and see his pictures you'll need to create a Facebook account. It is the only way so get out of the 18th century and join us in the modern world," she answered. "What's Facebook?" I replied, knowing it must be some Internet thing. I was directed to its web site. Now I'm not stupid, and after several hours I understood the reasoning behind this seemingly useless application. Facebook seems to be a place for people to write things about themselves nobody in the world cares to read. There is also a place for you to put pictures nobody will ever look at. You can even tell everyone what you are doing at that exact moment - as if anyone had the time to be bothered. "I get it, Facebook has created a place to spy on your neighbors and friends with their permission. Instead of standing at the window peering through a crack in the blinds you can access everyone online and see what they are doing. It has created a new Internet land - The Confederacy of Dunces! " I said with the gleam of understanding. "You're stupid, You've always been stupid , you will always be stupid and you will die stupid," was her response. "Get a Facebook account and you get all the news. Stay off the Matrix and continue to live your life offline. You'll die a painful solitary death. I mean how will we know when you kick the bucket if its not posted on Facebook?" She gave me that look of having mentally check mated me. I let it go. So........... I'm announcing to the world that I have a Facebook Account. I'm in the Matrix. I'm connected. The chip has been implanted into my brain. The Government can read my thoughts. Privacy is as old as last week's casserole. Now, I'd better stop this post and get back to my Facebook account to update everyone on what I'm doing right now. But wait, once I write what I'm doing right now then it wouldn't be right now it would be right then? That means I'd have to write something else in the Right Now box but only to find it immediately becomes Right Then....... OH Crap.... I'm falling behind every second I'm not updating my Facebook. (Mr. Williamson is writing in his facebook) (Mr. Williamson is breathing) (Mr. Williamson is getting out of his chair to get a drink) (Mr. Williamson is wondering if the world will stop long enough for him to get off)
Voyager • The Voyager’s summer story of 2009 is finished. • Alex Debirk returns as a Flight Director. He begins in January. He will work every other Saturday and one other evening per week. Alex will be taking the occasional overnight camp when Brady or Bradyn need a weekend off. • Spenser Robinson has worked on several Voyager repair projects. We are doing our best to keep the Voyager in tip top shape.
Odyssey • The Odyssey’s staff is working on a new summer story. • The Odyssey dial and switch station has been removed. Matt is refurbishing the panels with heavy duty switches that can withstand the abuse of day to day use. • There are other repairs in the works, especially a few pieces of black plastic in the Odyssey’s engineer section. • The Odyssey is getting more and more requests for the Junior Program. • BJ received a mission call to Japan. He leaves the Space Center in March. • Rachel H. and Todd R. are training to become Odyssey Flight Directors.
I want to thank Emily Perry for the extra time she takes working as Odyssey Set Director. Emily has a real love for the Center and her simulator. She had an accident a few days before Christmas break. He car was totaled but she is OK. Emily really needs a car. I’m hoping someone out there reading this has a good, cheap used car Emily can buy.
Galileo • The Galileo is maintained by a dedicated staff led by Stacy Carroll. • The Galileo staff spend most of their free time working on the controls for the new Galileo. • The new Galileo is under construction at BYU. We were selected as one of BYU’s Capstone Projects. Our new ship should be delivered this Spring. We hope to have it ready for the summer camp season. • Bridger and his staff of programmers are working with Stacy on the controls. The Galileo will be our first simulator programmed in Apple’s programming language - Cocoa. • Kyle Herring is leading the Galileo redesign team. He is working closely with Alex Debirk, Stacy Carroll and the BYU team to ensure our new ship is perfect from day one.
I want to thank the entire Galileo team for their hours and hours of unpaid time. They are working hard to bring our students and patrons the finest simulator ever built at the Space Center. The spirit of volunteerism lies at the very heart of the Space Center. This Galileo team represents this spirit at its finest. Thanks Stacy, Kyle, Alex, Taylor, Rachel and all the others that make the Galileo one of the favorite ships at the Space Center.
Magellan • The Magellan has a new Engineering Section installed by Matt Long. This new feature lies in the hallway just off the Magellan’s Bridge. • Spencer Robinson finished several repair projects in the Magellan. One problem solved is the hanging rope lighting. • The black plastic covering the computer screens is a constant repair problem in the Magellan. We don’t have a solution yet but are working on a few options. • Mark Daymont has a couple of new stories in development for summer of 2009.
Phoenix • Way to Go Megan! Megan is another one of our Awesome Set Directors. She has pride in the Phoenix and puts in hour after hour of unpaid time working on repairs and improvements. • The Phoenix is following the example set by the Galileo team and has regular scheduled staff meetings to discuss problems and fine solutions. • The Phoenix has a new dial and switch station behind the Captain’s Chair. • The Phoenix control room will get a complete make over next week. • We worry about the Phoenix. The new Galileo will hold 6 students. The Phoenix holds 6 students. The new Galileo will move. This will put the Phoenix at a disadvantage for missions and missions mean income for the Space Center and the Phoenix staff. We are working as a Phoenix staff to find ways to make the Phoenix unique. The Phoenix invites input from anyone on ways to improve their programs. Send your ideas to Mr. Williamson through the Space Center’s Contact Us web page.
General News • Dave Daymont has finished the designs for new simulator pins. • The Space Center’s gift shop carries new simulator pins for the Voyager and Phoenix. New pins are ordered for the Galileo and Magellan. The Odyssey pin will be ordered this week. • You may purchase Space Center pins, hats and T-Shirts in the Center’s Discover Room. • The Space Center has hired Brian Bennion as an evening custodian. Central’s custodial staff leave the school at 8:00 P.M. Our programs go to 9:00 P.M. Often our customers make messes in the school’s hallways and bathrooms after they were cleaned. Brian comes in at 9:00 P.M. and cleans up after us. The school is always clean and ready for Central’s teachers and students the next day.
What is Happening to the Land Next to the School? • Alpine School District purchased the old church building and land next to Central School. • The old church, originally built in 1893, has been demolished. It was the site of the first Central School. Back then it was called the ‘District School’. • Mr. Williamson met with District officials before Christmas Break to discuss the future use of the land. The following items were discussed. A. The land will be used for a new parking lot for the school. B. The District may, in the future and if money is available, build a new Space Center on the land. Of course there is no money at the present and may not be if the economy doesn’t improve. Unless the Center can raise two million dollars any new Space Center plans must be placed on hold until a decision is made to include the Center in the District’s next bond proposal. C. The District asked Mr. Williamson to design a new Space Center Building for the open land next ot the school. The district will build a new parking lot with the Space Center’s building in mind so in the future the land would be ready for construction if and when money is available.
• Mr. Williamson has ordered all improvements to the Space Center Be put on hold for the next few years. The Center will be maintained for quality but all remodeling plans will be stopped. All current and future money raised will be reserved for the possibility of a new Space Center building. We have the land, now we need the money to design and build a Center the way we want.
The Space Center wishes to thank our friends, students and staff for their hard work and dedication.
Hello Troops, From time to time I'll post a guest article from one of the Space Center's 'old timers'. Old Timers are volunteers and staff that have moved on in life but still remain a part of the Center either through occasional visits (even to volunteer) or through emails and letters. This post was written by Austin E. (he is still a minor so I cannot include his full last name). I want to thank Austin for taking time to write and submit this. Mr. Williamson
As requested by the esteemed and "HONOR"able bossman, I have been given the task of writing a segment about my experience, and memories of the place in this edition of "The Troubador". I accepted, knowing my absence at that place must be a blessing upon mankind, so if I can bring a temporary bad taste to your mouths, then I must do so, with extreme pleasure. (Just kidding... or am I?) As we all know, the beloved space center has been around for many ages, ranging from the old, spooky, and very... uhm... shall we say, interesting Voyager, to the new and "improved" Phoenix, and of course everything in between. (The Galileo being the futhest excluded) And as such, I have many memories, some good, others bad. But even being my rebellious, and punk nature, I never outgrew the magic and laughter that came from it. In my younger days as a little trouble maker, I was always in trouble, either from talking back to the teacher, to throwing something in class and getting my recess revoked, or my activities taken from me. But there came a day when I was told about this Space Center that we would be going on a school feild trip to. I was so excited, I could barely keep from shouting out loud! I had been an avid fan of Star Trek (in secret of course), and when asked about it, I shrugged, and said, "Eh. It will get me outta class for a while, right?" But my teacher noticed an extreme change in my behavior. The first thing I remember about the center was when I took my first steps up the twisted staircase of the Voyager. I was in total awe. The giant viewscreen displayed a crystal clear image of the computer screens, and the music was blasting loudly, with Vics old loading music. I was dumbstruck. In that instant, my popularity melted away, and my self awareness disappeared. I couldn't make a sound, and my jaw was dropped. As I was guided to my seat at damage control, and I took a seat heavily, I knew in that instant, this was something I needed to be a part of. I was performing like a champion at my post, repairing systems as the began to appear like bills, and I never once got bored with my job. The time flew by like no other and before I knew it, the music stopped, the screens went blank, and I heard Mr. W's booming voice tell us it was time to return to reality, and I almost wanted to scream. I was at home sitting in that uncomfortable chair. I was alive clicking rapidly on instructions and running papers down to the communications station. And in an instant, I blinked and it was all over. I reluctantly pulled off my uniform, and folded it, taking my time to perfectly fold it into a square, as to prolong my experience. As everyone shuffled off the bridge, I was at last alone, save for the blue shirt collecting uniforms. Ignoring him, I turned around to my seat, and silently said my farewells, placing a forgiving hand on the rail as I turned away, sighing as I walked down the steps. I guess for me, this was a stepping stone in my life. I have held this place as a temple, a holy ground in which only the truly, and worthy could ever hope to understand. I love how much it has turned out to be a place to bring not only campers closerer together but also its staff. Growing up has been a struggle for me, but I have made many lifelong friends and met so many special people there. I will never be able to replace these friend and memories. I don't know what the CMSEC means to all of you who have taken the time to read this. But for me it has been a gleaming beacon in the distance and a lighthouse for the lost. It is a place to find unity, to build friendships, as well as a sense of security in knowing your not alone. I have found many friends and even love in this place. So, comrades, we are one together and the magic will always remain in its halls and decks so long as we stay united. And most importantly, never forget why it is there. We are the instruments in which it needs to survive and without your help, it won't stay on course. That's it for me. I will return to my life working as a mechanic for Toyota and you will return to checking your email. But let's never forget the place where we always find acceptance and will never be turned away from. The Center has many years left in her and if we help her and its captain through the gauntlet, we will live to see her prosper, and live on, long after we are gone. With my regards, respect and love, L8tr guys, Austin E.
Once again I write about our staff in a different setting outside the Space Center of 2008. I enjoy taking bits of current staff news and placing it in a story set either in the future or the past. All I ask is that you humor me as I exercise my imagination.......
The Priest’s voice echoed through the cathedral. The gray stone walls tossed his words back and forth until all that remained was a whisper lost in the rafters. My knees rested on a dark wood plank attached to the pew before me. My hands clutched each other in prayer. My eyes closed then opened. His Latin was both a stranger and friend to my ears. A stranger, for the meaning was lost to all but those who spoke the Roman tongue. A friend, for I knew the Priest’s words were spoken in supplication to God on my behalf. It gave me comfort on that bitter cold Christmas morning in the Shire. I watched my prayers escape my lungs forming white clouds disappearing as moisture on my hands. Each prayer asked God for health, the warmth of summer, good harvests and good stories with song. I pulled my woolen coat closer to my chest. I was disappointed that my coat had surrendered the argument to winter's temper. The priest wore fine silk and linen. I wondered if he felt the cold. His vestments were fine compared to the simple wool my fellow troubadours and I wore. He lifted a golden goblet filled with wine toward heaven. An alter boy rang a small bell. We are told this is the time the wine turns to Christ’s blood which was shed to take away our sins. The sacraments connect us to God, forming a bridge between Earth and Heaven. There is comfort in knowing this when the time comes to lay down our earthly cares. I took my attention off his words and gazed down the pew to my fellows. This was the right place and time to thank God for such fine company. There assembled were the Christian souls I shared my days with. All on bent knee - some in reverence, others in respect and the youngest out of duty. My thoughts were disturbed from behind by soft laughter. Two of our maidens were whispering. Their eyes found the Baron’s oldest son. They seemed more interested in discussing his fair nature than attending to their praise of Christ's birth. I cleared my throat and lowered my eyebrows to show displeasure. They understood and redirected their devotion. Our younger Troubadours are growing older, and with age comes thoughts of love. It is natural but not in chapel. I returned to my prayers. The choir sang. The melody of their voices in chant brought a sense of warmth to the congregation. I saw Master BJ accompanied by his sister Maiden Megan. He seemed content. Word had come from the Bishop that his application to join the brotherhood was accepted. He will soon wear the robe of the traveling friar and join our former troubadours Masters Bracken and Casey as they carry the gospel to the heathen in far off lands. Our travels take us to distant points as we practice our trade of story and song but Master BJ’s road will take him even farther still. He will embark in the month of March for a place beyond the Holy Land. A place known only to God. Maiden Emily joined us for the service. We were pleased. She escaped a wagon accident without injury. She had a misunderstanding with another wagon concerning who should yield the right of way. She lost the argument. The wagon can be replaced but not the talent of a gifted performer. She has a spirit that never stops but we hope she remembers that wagons must from time to time. My thoughts were brought back to the present by the ringing of another hand bell. The congregation began to repeat the Priest’s words. I heard something that didn't sound like Latin. To my left I saw Master Mark asleep with head in hand. His snoring was gaining volume in an attempt to challenge the cathedral organ for dominance. Staying awake past dusk was a challenge for him. Staying awake during Midnight Mass required a miracle. That miracle came in the form of Maiden Brittany. She nearly sent him to the stone floor with a gentle nudge. There was hushed laughter from the younger Troubadours. Maiden Metta brought reverence back to the pew with a glance and a finger to the mouth. Master Mark glanced up and down the bench. He would remain awake as long as our eyes were upon him. I'm reminded once again that Living a simple life teaches you to find humor in the simplest of things. The Mass was nearing its end. I returned to my prayers. We live in troubled times. There is uncertainty in the Kingdom with a new king soon to be crowned. There are wars in foreign lands. There is news of a plague in nearby Shires. So tonight, and all nights of this holiday season we remember how fragile our time is and how grateful we are for another year with family and friends. We are blessed by the knowledge that as long as we have our kinsman and friends we can weather all obstacles. Again, my thoughts returned to the Mass. My knees felt locked with the cold. I was glad the service was at an end. It was time to stand. The large wooden doors of the cathedral opened introducing us to the north wind. A warm fire and bed awaited.
BJ Warner is one of the Space Education Center's top flight directors. He works in the Odyssey. BJ sent me this email a moment ago and I want to share it with our Space Center staff, volunteers, and patrons. Congratulations BJ from all of us!
And now BJ's Email: So, something awesome happened to me Christmas Eve. I GOT MY MISSION CALL!!! I woke up in the morning expecting a call from the post office explaining that my mission call was waiting for me if I was willing to come get it, otherwise they'd send it to me with the afternoon delivery. When I checked the voicemail and caller id, I didn't see anything but a phone call from my grandma and an unwanted solicitor. I'm not going to lie, I was somewhat devastated! So many things had gone wrong with my paperwork and timing issues that I thought this was the one thing that couldn't be messed up! After checking the phone however, I decided someone was trying to teach me a bit about patience. I continued my day, solemn as it became, like any other Christmas Eve, until.... Right before we left for a ward Christmas party, my Dad walked in with an envelope addressed to an "Elder Brett J. Warner"! I was so excited that I didn't pay much attention to the Christmas program. Long story short, my friends and family gathered at Eight O'clock for the long awaited unveiling. Everyone waited anxiously as I pealed open the letter. With each tear of the delicate church style envelope my heart beat faster. My hands were shaking as I shed the envelope and help the papers signed by the big man himself!! I read the paper:
"Dear Elder Warner:
"You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the Japan Nagoya Mission."
With tears in some eyes and complete joy and pride in others, I circled the room, giving and receiving congratulatory hugs to all my closest friends and family.
I leave to the MTC on Wednesday March 25th, 2009! There I will learn to serve the Lord to the fullest of my capacity. I'm excited to be doing the will of my God! I'll miss you all. Thank you for everything you've done for me. Hopefully I'll get to interact with you all one more time before my alleged "two year vacation".
Hello Troops, This is Chapter two of a story started on December 24th. If you haven't done so, please read Ch. 1 before reading Ch. 2. Thank you. Mr. Williamson
December 22, 2321 01:10 Hours McAuliffe Station, Earth Orbit.
Commander Williamson entrusted the briefing of the cadets to his instructors. They parted company on Deck 12 of the McAuliffe Station. “Brief the Cadets and put them to bed. I’m going to the Command Level to get more information. Meet me in my room when you are finished here. By the way, it’s OK for the cadets to place calls home if they can get through.” Williamson said to his staff as they exited the lift. They turned right and walked briskly away nodding to say they heard and understood. The turbolift doors quietly closed leaving Williamson alone with his thoughts and the humming of the lift as it sped along through the shafts of the Station. Williamson wondered how chaotic it was going to be on the Command Deck. The turbo lift doors opened revealing a busy room. The atmosphere was tense as Officers scurried about. It was obvious that everyone was caught off guard by the attack on Farpoint Station. You could tell from the comments heard in passing that more attacks were expected, it was only a question of when and where. Out of the corner of his eye Williamson saw the new Command Officers of the Starship Voyager, a ship assigned to the McAuliffe Station to assist with the training of new midshipmen from the Command Academy. The tallest of the three was Commander Alex DeBirk, recently transferred to the Voyager from the USS Francis Scott Key. Next to him was Captain Brady Young and furthest away was Lt. Commander BradynLystrup. Against another wall he found a group of very familiar faces. They were the command officers of the Station's other training ships: Megan Warner of the Phoenix, Stacy Carroll of the Galileo, and Emily Perry of the Odyssey. It looked like everyone had the same idea. If you want news go to the source. Wiliamson suddenly realized he was blocking the entrance to the turbolift. An officer nearly knocked him off his feet as she rushed to catch the lift before the doors closed. "Excuse me," the yeoman said as she entered the compartment and turned around. She glanced up giving an embarrassed look for nearly knocking him over - then she looked down to her feet. She mumbled something to the computer. The doors slid shut and the sound of the moving car rapidly faded into the hum of a busy Command Deck. A moment later Williamson recognized who she was - Admiral Schuler’s Assistant. If she was here then so was the Admiral. Williamson stepped back from the lift entrance and attached himself to the wall. Best to stay out of the way for a moment and listen. He would ask questions once he found someone he knew would take a minute to answer them. "Where can we find the Station Commander?" Williamson overheard DeBirk ask the science officer. "We have orders from the Commander to report to a briefing,” Captain Brady Young said giving a purpose for their presence. "He is in his ready room with the Admiral. You can wait here. By the way, Admiral Schuler is in a real state. Many of the Inland Defense Ships are on maneuvers with the Centaurus. They are several hours away at max warp. We are orbiting with our pants down. The Training Ships are pretty much it at the moment. I expect that's why you are all up here. Watch out, here they come." The door to the Commander’s Ready Room parted and out came Admiral William Schuler followed by Admiral Meredith - Commander of the McAuliffe Station. Williamson wondered what the legendary Admiral Schuler was doing on the station at this time of night. The only explanation was the Station Christmas Party. The appearance of Admiral William Schuler was enough to make the hair on a captain's neck stand at full attention. The Admirals walked toward Williamson. Suddenly Schuler stopped and planted himself toe to toe with Captain Brady Young of the Voyager. Brady stood at attention staring through the Admiral. Debirk and Lystrup were also at attention thinking how glad they were that Brady was standing in front of them. “Are those Captain’s Pips?” the Admiral asked with a sound of complete disbelief. “Who are You?" he continued in his loud booming voice hardly giving Brady time to answer either question. Brady was wondering what was louder, the beating of his heart or the Admiral’s agitated voice. "Captain Brady Young just appointed captain of the USS Voyager Sir!" was Brady's shaky reply. "The Voyager, You?............You?! How old are you? I'm expected to provide some kind of Earth defense with training ships under the command of children? What is going on?" The Admiral raged. Brady wanted to defend his record but was smart enough to realize the Admiral wasn't asking a question but making a statement. "Sir," came a reply from behind Brady. It was the voice of Alex Debirk. Brady thought he was either very stupid or very ........very.......no, just plain stupid. "You have something to say to me?!" Admiral Schuler said as he moved toward Debirk like a cat about to bounce on its prey. "Captain Young is a decorated war hero from the Borg war. Why he alone was responsible for saving the USS......." Admiral Schuler didn't let him finish his sentence. Instead he let loose a stream of profanity that slowly turned the color of the bridge's atmosphere from clear to a faint green, not to mention a slightly acidic smell. Williamson noticed the turbo lift open during the "attitude readjustment". Two junior officers stepped out, saw what was happening, and immediately did what everyone else wished they could do - disappear. They turned and shuffled back into the lift praying the doors would slide together quickly. Brady didn't know someone could swear as artfully as the Admiral. The words seemed so well chosen and fitted together like an expensive crossword puzzle. The Admiral was a master of communication. His reputation was well earned. Brady waited for the right moment to tell Alex to shut up and leave it alone. He couldn’t do it while the Admiral was spewing at full gale. He waiting for an opportunity. Suddenly the Admiral’s attention was diverted to a new piece of news coming in from Command. The Admiral turned his back to them. Brady’s saw his chance. He didn't want to get caught breaking attention so he had to act quickly. He turned his head and gave Alex the look. Alex’s eyes returned Brady’s gaze and confessed his mistake. He should have kept his mouth shut. He was learning a hard lesson. Brady noticed moisture droplets covering Alex’s face. It was spittle spewed from the Admiral's mouth. Not only did he get to hear the Admiral's dressing down but he got to bathe in it as well. The Admiral turned back to his wounded prey. He drew in enough air to arm both lungs and prepared to continue his description of Alex’s genealogy when the ship's intercom sounded. The Admiral was being ordered to report immediately to Starfleet Command. He stopped in mid sentence. “Good luck,” he said to Admiral Meredith. He snorted at Brady and half marched half walked to the turbolift. Shuler nodded toward Williamson as he passed. Williamson prayed he blended artfully into the wall. No one on the Command Deck moved until the lift doors closed. Alex leaned back on the wall for support while wiping his face with the sleeve of his uniform. Admiral Meredith motioned for everyone to follow him into his Ready Room. "We have problems," Williamson throught as he crossed the room. His cadets and the training ships may need to step up to the plate. The Command Training Academy's simulations would be put to the test.