Sunday, February 22, 2009
This is the last week of February. The call for March volunteering is out. Staff and volunteers, please send your requests back to me as soon as possible.
We had a good week for the most part. There was a glitch with the Odyssey’s Junior Simulator Controls. I suppose it was more than a glitch. They wouldn’t work at all. I should have described it as a cascade failure. I don’t know exactly why the word ‘cascade’ seems to make the word failure more horrible than it is but it does, don’t you agree? Christine was the Flight Director. She continued merrily (as Christine always does) and had two staff in the simulator calling out what the youngsters were doing so she could make the correct effects. If you work here long enough you soon learn the skill of dealing with no network. Your bridge officer says something like, “Oh look at that, you went to WARP 3 so well. I liked the way you clicked on that button. Such skill and wrist action. Good for you for taking the ship to WARP 3.” Of course if you’re working with an older group they give you a look of disbelief when you talk like that. I’m sure they think the Space Center is a place like Deseret Industries - you know - offering employment to special people.
On Wednesday I asked Alex A. to revise the Junior Controls so they are at best reliable and at worst semi reliable. He agreed. Results are forthcoming, which will make every Odyssey Flight Director happy, especially Aleta our Junior Flight Specialist. “Look at Aleta, She is Happy. Happy is Aleta. Good Job Aleta being so Happy!” OK , I’ll stop now and move on.
On Friday I had a real treat. I watched Saint Sheila of Lehi play football with a group of our young third graders before the 9:00 A.M. bell rang. You’re wondering why that would be considered a real treat? What if I told you she was wearing her Star Trek Uniform. Oddly funny is a better way to describe it. Every one of her throws wobbled to the point of almost being non-aerodynamic but they traveled far enough to get caught. Sheila kept apologizing for “Throwing like a girl”. The boys didn’t mind. Kids like a teacher’s attention, even if she is wearing a Star Trek uniform and standing on the school’s front lawn at the busiest time of the morning so every car pulling up to the school gets a full vision of life at Central Elementary. Yep.......... you got it. Of course I don’t know what is the stranger sight, Sheila in her Star Trek uniform or me in my bright Florescent orange pumpkin suit (Crossing Guard vest) complete with Space Center emblem?
We had Honor’s Night on Thursday evening in the Discovery Room. Not a very big turn out. That was OK by me - all the more cake for those of us that attended. Many of our staff and volunteers were awarded their 1 and 5 year service pins. Others received their pillowcases and blankets. And others got their simulator pins for passing off the stations. We have pins for every simulator. You wear the ship pin on your lanyard if you have its passes. Patrons may purchase the pins in the gift shop. A special thanks to Dave Daymont for his work on pin design. Dave says others helped, Stacy for instance, but I don’t know who all of them are so I’ll say thanks to all of you in a generic sort of way. Thanks.
We watched Megan’s slide show at the end of the evening. I’d never seen it and was impressed. Megan did a great job. If you’ve not seen it ask to see it. I think we will show it at all gatherings
Did you know there are some things you will never hear at the Space Center? Here are some examples only our employees and volunteers will appreciate. All others reading this post can go to sleep, browse elsewhere, get up for a drink, use the toilet or just go to bed.
THINGS YOU’LL NEVER HEAR SPOKEN AT THE SPACE CENTER IN A MILLION BILLION YEARS.
Mark Daymont: "We're going to do a different mission today in the Magellan. No Death Trap
Bill Schuler: “That was a great story on first reading. No further editing is required. Your story is good to be told. What skill, what writing. You are a credit to your family and nation. A new Ernest Hemmingway.”
Dave Daymont: “Thank you for calling me at the last second and asking me to take another Phoenix mission. I had plans to do something else but last minute missions are my specialty. Golly I’m lucky.”
Mr. Williamson: “If you’re going to Harts please pick me up a bottled water. One must watch one’s health. Don’t you agree?”
Aleta Clegg: “Perikoi is my best mission. I’m so excited when I get to tell it to our visiting sixth grade classes.”
Lorraine Houston: “I brought a cake from WalMart’s bakery. They are so much better than anything I can do at home. You know me in the kitchen - all thumbs I’m afraid. Well, thumbs and a bit of blood if you let me near the knifes.”
Metta Smith: “Please leave those shirts untucked. I mean right now! Don’t you make me come over there and untuck it for you. Listen all of you, you’ll get the sharp edge of my tongue if you don’t listen to me.”
Megan Warner: “ Please lean back in the chairs. Please leave your personal belongings in my Control Room and Briefing Room.”
Megan Warner: “Hello Children, this is our transporter room. Aren’t we excited? I can see it in your eyes you little darling. Now, we are all going to go into this room and wait for the transporter sound. You will be magically transported to the Phoenix waiting for you way up there in the sky. Also, be sure to touch the walls when you go in. There will be a shock but well worth the experience. Everyone in. Isn’t this fun? Are we all ready? “
Bradyn Lystrup: “Shadows is my mission. I own Shadows. I’ve always owned Shadows. Did I mention it was MY mission. Yes, I’m all that and more.”
Kyle Herring: “OK, I finished everything on the repair list. The Space Center is in tip top shape."
Christine G: “I’m so depressed. Nothing works right. I can’t get through this. Oh the humanity. I’m going to lay down right here on the control room floor and sleep. I can’t cope. I can’t go on.”
Rachel H: “Me too”
Stacy Carroll: “I know I’m early to work. It shouldn’t surprise you. I’m what’s known as a morning person. I thrive in the morning. I’m awake before dawn busy as a bee.”
Sheila Powell: “I’ve never met a child I didn’t like. Children are angels. If they are disrespectful in class its my fault. I must not be doing the right things to entertain them. Children can’t be expected to show self control. Its not in their nature.”
Bill Schuler: “Please let me offer you my work space here in the Briefing Room. I’m working at the school today but see you need a place to work yourself. I’m perfectly willing to work right here beside you on the floor. I only need a little corner and access to electricity.
If there is anything else I can do to make you more comfortable at my desk please don’t hesitate to ask.”
Kyle Herring: “I’m changing my hair style to something more natural for my age. I think I’m going for a Victor Williamson hair cut. It has worked well for him for the last 50 years so learn from the best - that’s what I always say.”
Victor Williamson: “Wasn’t that fun having me spend the entire overnight camp in your ship watching you fly. I learned so much. This week I plan on spending all my free time in the simulators watching mission after mission after mission. I just can’t get enough. Hey everybody, let’s get together and discuss your mission ideas as well.”
Warren N.: “Socialism is the only real form of government. The government has a responsibility to care for the weak and lazy. We all need a rock solid safety net under us for hard times.”
Kyle Herring: “Ditto”
Jace (Central): ‘silence’
Brock B: “Mr. Williamson, I’d love to spend more time in the Magellan but you keep putting me in the Voyager. Please can I get to do what I want to do sometime?”
Spencer M: “I’m nothing. I worthless. I’m the worst player on my church ball team. I don’t know why they put up with me. If I could only make one basket. Oh what’s the use?”
Spenser D: “I really enjoy all the kids you send into the Voyager to work with me. They are so full of life and energy. It makes my day to get to train them how to do the acting parts. I get a kick out of the cute things they say. Oh, and if they refuse to do what I say as Supervisor, I’ll forgive them because, after all, they are just kids. We can’t expect them to accept responsibility and the value of a job well done, can we?”
Mr. Williamson: “The best part of my job is dealing with personality issues. I love to mediate conflict between staff and volunteers. I thrive on staff misunderstandings. I get a kick out of ironing out the petty issues that arise from any organization staffed with multiple humans.”
Yes my friends, those are things you’ll never, ever hear spoken at the Space Center.
Now let’s have a great week at school, at work, and at home. Remember, the Space Center is a home to all of us. Let’s work hard to help it achieve its potential and an influence for good and learning not only for the students but our staff and volunteers as well.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
This is the new pin designed by Dave Daymont with input from several other staff that happened to be passing the computer when he unveiled it to the universe. It arrived just in time for Honor's Night, held last Thursday. The package came from China. I got its tracking number from the Internet and had a semi enjoyable time watching it make the hop skip and jump from China to Hong Kong to Alaska to Seattle to Salt Lake and then finally Pleasant Grove. All in two days (and they say faster than light speed travel is impossible. NASA isn't consulting the right people. I say bring UPS on board. They'll show you how to get things delivered quickly. If NASA can get a probe to Mars in less than a years time UPS should be able to do it in a week. Remember, Brown can do it!)
Odyssey's Set Director is Emily Perry. She has a team of flight directors that do an excellent job keeping the Space Center's busiest simulator in tip top shape.
The Odyssey pin is available for sale in our small gift corner located in the Discover Room. Buy a pin and make Emily and her staff smile. Buy two pins and you get a hand shake and a two minute audience. Three pins and you've made friends for life!
Friday, February 20, 2009
This is a Blast Post from the Past. For many years I posted updates, news and comment on the Space Center's YahooGroup. Now we have this blog. I've decided to repost some of our YahooGroup's posts to the Blog for safe keeping. This is a post I wrote on September 2, 2007.
Background: That week in September I decided to scrap our problematic Phoenix simulator controls and install the Odyssey's simulator's controls in their place. The Odyssey's controls were stable and reliable. I felt it would make life easier for everyone and bring a sense of uniformity to the Center.
The reaction I got to my decision was quick and severe from many staff and volunteers. That reaction forced me to rethink my decision. In the end I relented and the Phoenix was given new controls programmed by Alex A.
This post was written at the height of the conflict when it looked like a lynching was in my immediate future. It was my way to attempt to bring a bit of humor into a tense situation.
And now, a Blast Post from the Past. September 2, 2007
It was rather chilly at the Space Center. The temperature at my desk was a good ten degrees lower than the rest of the room. It wasn't an atmospheric abnormality
that caused the difference but rather a human generated Arctic breeze, like a cold
front from Canada, powered by the bitter looks and icy purpose from many of the staff pushed in my direction by the toss of a head or the glance of an eye half covered with a dropped eyebrow. Accompanying the evil eye was a wrinkled nose associated with a putrid smell.
Lately I've been afraid to leave the safety of my extended desk. It was my fortress of solitude. I sat at my chair wearing my winter coat and double stitched long johns. I would watch for a drop in traffic to make a dash for the toilet or quench my thirst with an icy cola from the faculty room.
Friday afternoon I saw a chance to escape. It happened before the overnight camp. I moved from my desk toward the door. I took all precautions before making my move. I looked both directions and saw the coast was clear. I got down on all fours and put my ear to the carpet to listen for approaching footfalls. I heard nothing but found a quarter and two M&M's. They were quickly ingested to quiet a stomach left untended for several hours. I stood up, reached for the "Enforcer" and walked to the edge of the desk . I licked my finger and held it over my head to detect an approaching cold front - Nothing. I moved. I moved around the desk and raced for the Briefing Room's Door. I made the corner around the Phoenix and felt the air chill to the point my breath was visible. In the doorway stood Megan and Alex. They were backed by Dave, Stacy, Matt, and what appeared to be a mob of smaller humans all wearing black t-shirts with anchors on their back.
"Going somewhere?" Megan asked. The smile was penetratingly cold. I was still. My first instinct was to retreat to my desk. I began moving backward but stopped when I felt the chill rotate to my back indicating my escape was blocked by a human glacier.
"Get Him," she shouted. Alex moved quickly diving forward and taking me down with a thud. The back of my head hit the carpeted floor knocking several of my senses loose thus causing the temporary loss of movement in my arms and legs.
"Bring Him," was the next thing I heard half dazed from the trauma. I was half carried and half pushed down the hall to Discovery.
"Put him in the docket," I heard Dave say. My head was clearing. I was able to make
out my surroundings. It was the Discovery Room - but different. I was led to a roped off area. At the front of the room I saw a large statue of a blindfolded woman holding scales in her outstretched hand and a sword in the other. Along the far wall, half
obscured by darkness, sat a jury of twelve staff and volunteers. I was placed in the
defendants box, guarded by two members of the Programming Guild armed with phasers. Discovery's door closed behind me with a bang. There was mumbling. Heads turned from me - toward the front of the room and back to me. One person walked toward the cage. It was Mr. Mark Daymont wearing black legal robes. The white wig of an English Barrister rested awkwardly on his head. I leaned forward to tell him to take the stupid thing off but was cut off when he placed a finger to his mouth motioning that I should remain quiet.
"I'm your defense attorney," he whispered.
"Nice wig," I replied forgetting his admonition to stay quiet.
"Get Serious," he said sternly looking around the room as if trying to find a sympathetic face. "You are in a lot of trouble and I don't know If I can get you out of it. Luckily my brother is one of the judges."
"Its about the new Odyssey controls being installed in the Phoenix isn't it," I said,
already knowing the answer to my own question. He looked at me as if I were stupid and nodded his head. "I knew I should of consulted the Phoenix staff and others but
..." he stopped me from continuing.
"That `but' you were about to add, will be your defense and possibly save you from Madam Guillotine," he moved from my cage, took two steps forward, and sat at one of the tables reserved for the defense. I peered across the dimly lit room trying to
recognize the prosecutor. It was a female. It was Megan! Her table was covered by Space Center Law books, legal pads, and pens. She was surrounded by well wishers. The looks on their faces provided the meaning to the words I saw them speaking but couldn't hear because of the distance. At that moment I fully realized how my decision to replace the Phoenix Controls with Odyssey Controls had upset so many people.
I noticed that my defense table was empty except for Mr. Daymont pouring over copious notes while shaking his head as if in pain. The head motion was accompanied by an occasional hissing sound as he took in air through clenched teeth.
The room grew quiet. The hour had arrived. I felt I had made the right decision but
executed it poorly. Now it was time to pay the piper. Would the staff let me keep my head or was this it. A sound was heard outside. It was he sound of wood sliding
across wood and then a loud CHOP followed by a pause then repeated two or three more times. The `Madam' was being prepared. A few minutes later Discovery's door opened. In walked two of our new volunteers each wearing red armbands. They held trays of newly cut watermelon.
Dave Daymont, the head judge, nodded his head giving them permission to pass the fruit out to the spectators. My heart sank as Mr Daymont's head dropped to the table amidst the sound of slurping.
"This is good. Look very few seeds," Kyle Herring said as he studied his slice.There were a few grunts of agreement from those around him.
"Sometimes the best of intentions can go wrong," I thought. I leaned back in my seat
thinking what I would say in my defense. My thought was interrupted by the sound of the gavel. Everyone sat up and faced the front. The trial of the century was about
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Are we guilty of spreading humanism in Shangra La, our valley that time has forgotten? According to a phone call I received this week we may be. If so, the penalty is swift and severe. First, a knock at your door. This usually comes in the middle of the night. A car is kept running in the drive waiting to take you to the inquisition. From there you become a number in someone’s logbook kept in a dusty desk drawer.
The phone rang on Thursday. I answered. A kindly woman’s voice was heard on the other end. “I’d like to speak to someone about a concern,” she said. My hear rate increased. We receive compliments on a regular basis. I’m use to those. But complaints are a different matter. They are rare and when they surface my entire body reacts in a primal way. I’m guessing its in the genes. My glands pour adrenaline into my veins as I prepare to fight or run.
“Go ahead,” I answered, waiting eagerly to find out the cause of the phone call.
She explained that her 12 year old son visited the Center the night before with a group of home schoolers and did the mission ‘Perikoi’. He came home very excited and began telling her the story of the primitive planet with people that couldn’t learn science because the Gods wouldn’t let them. The Gods wanted to keep the people naive and stupid. He explained that they destroyed the Gods so the poor unenlightened people of Perikoi could study science and advance.
“I was shocked when I heard him tell this story,” the mother continued. “Who writes these stories?” she asked.
“I do,” I replied. My heart was beating faster. I knew where the conversation was going. I knew I was talking to a very religious mother who believed I was on some kind of public school crusade to root religion and its apparent numbing effect on the masses out of the children that visited the Center and replace their faith with the false religion of science.
“Is that what your son got out of the mission?” I asked.
“No, he had a great time.” she continued. “The message didn’t sink in but it could have. I’m wondering what the purpose of that mission was. You must understand that it seems your telling the children that President Hinkley could be a false prophet and using religion to take tithing from the people for his own use.”
I wondered why she was using President Hinckley instead of President Monson but I let that go.
My first reaction to something like this is to attack back. I explained to her that ‘Perikoi’ has been told to thousands of people, most of them LDS and not one complaint. Missionaries did this mission. So have church youth groups. All left without a complaint or concern. All had a great time.
After a few minutes I realized she wasn’t calling to nail me to the wall but to simply voice her concern that the message of Perikoi may not be the one I think it is. She listened cordially as I explained the plot of the story. I told her that from a religious viewpoint the story had a very good lesson - beware of false prophets. Aren’t we told that by their fruit ye shall know them? The ‘fruit’ of the false Gods of Perikoi was evident in the story. I explained that the story was one of greed and the abuse of a primitive people by others more advanced. It is a story of slavery, it is a story of European colonialism. In Perikoi the student astronauts liberate a planet from false prophets and slave traders.
Once again, she was very pleasant in voice and was kind enough to listen to everything I said. I told her I would consider her feed back. The call ended with both of us thanking each other for listening.
When I wrote Perikoi I had a gut feeling deep inside that someone may misunderstand its message. This happens whenever a mission encroaches into something controversial - be it politics or faith. But you realize that history is messy for it is an account of the good, bad, and ugly in humanity. History is something I can't change and it is best we face it head on and not skirt around its edges in fear we may not be PC or offensive to a segment of the population. Let's face the facts, Europeans were considered Gods by some of the primitive inhabitants of America when they arrived and abused that position of respect and worship. This story of the strong unjustly enforcing their will on the weak is as old as humanity itself. It is something our young people should understand.
I won’t change Perikoi. It is a good story with a strong moral; however I want everyone to understand that I’m not on a crusade to replace religion with the faith of science and Darwinism. I don’t think the God I worship would appreciate that and he is someone I don’t want to displease. Perikoi teaches students to respect and study science for what it is and can do for them. Science is a driving force for change and has both radically improved our lives and in some cases made life more difficult. We are surrounded today by the by products of science It is in everything we touch, see, feel, and smell. Science is our way of understanding the universe and that, in my believe, is the essence of God himself. I believe that science and religion need not be enemies. How can they be? To me they are one and the same. If they seem to be at odds then something isn't understood fully - and that can be something from both disciplines.
So, Perikoi continues to be told in its present state but with the acknowledgement that a few may misunderstand its message. I urge all flight directors to be mindful of their students. It may be wise to review the message of Perikoi with the leaders of religious youth groups and let them debrief the kids at the end of their missions. We should emphasize the true meaning of the mission - education can be a protection against devils in sheep’s clothing and that we have a moral responsibility to look after, support, and defend the weak.
Now, I’ll swab my front door with lamb’s blood and hope the angel of death passes me by in the night.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
The Space Center really has two personalities: 1) The ship flight directors/support crews and the educational staff. While the flight directors and their staffs are busily engaged torturing children in the simulators, there is another group of hard-working folks busily working to keep the "second field trip" group engaged with activities in the Star Lab and Discovery classroom. The educational staff members include Lorraine Sheila, Aleta & Megan. Out-of-site and out-of-mind during the morning field trips simulations, these ladies handle wound-up, excited (occasionally rude and unruly-yikes!) classes of field trip classes in the Star Lab, Classroom, lunchroom and preparing the students for their flights. They have a tight schedule to follow…just as in the simulators…"Have those kids ready for transport at 11:45 am sharp!" But prior to this, they must gather the school lunches off the busses and get them into the lunchrooms, brief the students on CMSEC/Central Elem behavior expectations, take the kids on potty breaks, move the kids through the school to the Star Lab and the Discovery Classroom, make sure they have a quick lunch, and get them properly lined up and introduced to the transportation procedures all before 11:45 am Sharp!!! A daily juggling act of time vs. student/class needs!!! Sheila, the newcomer, has been leading the morning classes, while Lorraine assists on the Voyager. Then, Lorraine, takes the morning simulation group into the Star Lab and Classroom. Aleta was the designer of the amazing classroom experience! Aleta and Megan love occasionally taking a break from flight directing the Odyssey and Phoenix to cover the classes as well….which gives Lorraine and Sheila a break.
These "classroom warriors" loosely call themselves the "Redcoats", because there are days (unbeknownst to one another), when they all wear red jackets or sweaters all on the same day. Their jobs in the Star lab (a student called it the "Star Igloo" the other day..hahahhhaha), classroom and moving the kids through the school is tough…just like in the simulators. As the Flight directors struggle with incohesive groups during a mission…the education members struggle as well. Here's the difference, though, between the simulation groups and the classroom groups: The flight directors can torture the non-cooperative groups with tough alien negotiations and help from "Tex"…the classroom directors must deal upfront with rude comments, noise and disruptions in the Star lab and classroom settings. Handling the classroom experiences can be tough, but SO rewarding at the same time. There are days when the groups are talkative and refuse to listen and behave…Whew, those are tough classes! On those days, the Star lab is shut down early &/or the classroom experience is "simplified" just to get through the time. Too bad, because the class is missing out on some fine inspired learning! On the other days--when the classes and teachers are well=behaved, engaged and prepared--the morning and afternoon field trip classes are so much fun to teach! The kids are excited and willing to learn! they ask lots of great questions and appreciate what the education staff are presenting to them. Those days are memorable and fun to teach for the educational staff!!!!
Needless to say, then while the flight directors and crews are directing student field trip groups in the morning…so are the "Red-coats" directing students through "the other aspect"…the educational side…through CMSEC at the same time. We are all working together to provide a one-of-a-kind, unique experience for kids….and loving every minute of the experience. No matter what kind of classes come our way!! Both "sides" of CMSEC staff handle the daily challenges the individual school/classes present to us! Separate, maybe at times, but all of us are working together as an amazing group that thrills, inspired and amazes children daily!!!!
Monday, February 9, 2009
This is Mr. Herring, not Mr. W.
Some of the builders of the new Galileo will be visiting the Space Center for the upcoming Voyager Club Meeting with blue prints and first hand accounts of their efforts! If you can't come to the meeting, keep you Internet browser on this blog as we will be posting pictures of some of the construction efforts.
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.
Voyager Alpha and Beta Club News:
Next Club Meeting
Thursday February 12th will be the next meeting of the Alpha and Beta Voyager Clubs. Alpha club will meet at 4:30 - 6:00 and Beta club at 7:00 - 8:30. 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!
Sunday, February 8, 2009
I've got an Idea. Let's adopt these outfits for our Simulator Uniforms. Your Thoughts?
It’s the kind of Sunday I enjoy. Its cloudy, its spitting with rain but not too cold. It reminds me of an unsettled early spring day. I was out and about today. While driving I noticed Pleasant Groves’ roads are getting pocked marked with blemishes. Some of them are large enough to feel in spite of my Battlestar’s (my Lincoln’s) luxurious feather bed suspension system. Dodging the pot holes meant dodging the other cars around me. It made driving entertaining. I think I’ll go out and drive some more once I finish this post.
People usually steer clear of my Battlestar. Its big, its heavy and its something they don’t want to mess with in their little shrink wrapped cars. And if the Battlestar’s size doesn’t convince them to give me a wide berth one look at me will. I wear my aviator’s leather cap with goggles and my Nottingham Forrest Soccer Team scarf wrapped around my neck. I drive with the window down and head stuck part way out so the scarf flaps behind me in the wind. If I’m feeling lucky I’ll open my sunroof, straddle the center arm rest, and stick my head and shoulders up through it. I steer with my knee. The cruise control provides thrust. Forget braking, so I do this on a long open piece of road. What a rush. The locals call me the Red Baron of PG as I dodge the potholes in a beautifully choreographed dance of rubber on pavement.
OK, back to reality. Forgive the way my brain works. I get a thought that sometimes get stuck in a loop as it works its way from my head to my finger tips. Its the potholes in my brain. They are the result of age and the company of 600 hyper kids a week. One day I’ll take a long rest in Willowing Acres Rest Home for Teetering Teachers. I’m paying a little bit monthly so the Home will reserve a room for me on the third floor. My family and friends know my thoughts on having a room with a view. Willowing Acres is quite a nice place - known for peaceful quiet and green gardens. Its attached to a monastery hidden somewhere in the Uintahs. The monks will subsidize your rent if you spend time copying their old books onto parchment. I suppose the monastery is a few hundred yards off Modern Road but I’m good with sitting on a hard bench and doodling on vellum with a quill and colored ink as long as I get help with the rent. I refuse to wear the woolen robe but will consider wearing the funny round skull cap. It would be something nice to cover my growing bald spot.
OK there i went again. Will somebody stop me!? I’ve got to get focused on what I sat down to write about............. What did I want to write about? If you know send an email and I’ll write about it next week. Until then I’ll talk about a few things that happened this week.
We had Monday off from school so no field trip. I sat through teacher training meetings. They took us into the gym to show off Central Elementary’s new PE equipment. I got to stand near a cone and jump on one foot. After that they said to gallop like a horse in circles. I felt like a right twit! Wait, it gets worse. I was handed a hockey stick and plastic puck. We stood in the four squares painted on the gym floor and had to pass the puck around the square to the other three players. Kind of hard to do when the stick is designed for midgets. I may have slipped a disk in my back. After five minutes of that I used my stick as a cane and kicked the puck with my foot. What was the teacher going to say? One look on my face and she walked by with her eyes glued to the floor and her lips holding back the laughter. Willowing Acres was looking better and better.
Don’t remember a thing about Tuesday at the Space Center. Funny to live through 24 full hours and not remember a thing about it. Kind of like driving to the store and realizing you drove the entire way unaware of anything. One minute you were getting into the car and the next you were fighting some messed up lady wearing sweats and carrying two snot nosed kids for the shopping cart shaped like a rocket.
Wait, something is coming through. There is a memory emerging from the fog in my head. I remember telling Kyle Herring he had the Voyager private mission that day. Of course he had forgotten. He is the only person I know with a memory worse than mine. I remember him as a young overnight camper. He was the kid that would arrive for breakfast still in just his underwear and Marvin the Martian slippers.
“Kyle, go put your clothes on,” I’d say to him as he entered the cafeteria. He’d stop, look at me, then look at the shocked faces of 44 other campers - all frozen in horror, some still in mid chew. A few, with weaker stomachs, swallowed down their rising partially digested doughnut . There was always one that fainted. Oh I forgot the screamer. Yes, you could bank on a screamer.
Kyle was the kid that always dreamt he went to school without his pants. We’ve all had dreams like that. In Kyle's case, it wasn't a dream.
“Is this a dream?” he would ask.
“No Kyle. This isn’t a dream. Now go get dressed.” I’d reply in a calm understanding way.
Once he was gone I’d explain to the kids that the whole thing was planned. It was a way to save him further embarrassment. I told them that the ghostly white thing they saw was a a lost alien trying to hitch a ride home on one of their starships.
Wednesday and Thursday:
Parent Teacher Conferences both nights. I’ll get a parent or two of one of my pre-algebra students wanting to visit. I’ve got a great class this year so the conversations were pleasant. We ran a few Odyssey missions in the evenings. One was a junior mission. Poor Emily, Aleta and BJ. They truly distress over Junior Missions. You want to see what someone looks like after getting run over a car? Come look at Emily, Aleta, or BJ after a Junior Mission and witness what an adult looks like after being savaged by 9 hyperactive, uncontrolled pre-humans! Oh the humanity! I feel for them. I truly do. CAUTION, they shouldn't mistake my sympathy for a desire to give them battle pay for Junior Missions.
Overnight camp. We hosted 37 students from Cedar Hills Elementary. They were great kids. No throw up - the Gods be praised! They were kids from the school’s STY sixth grade class (they call it ALL - you know, the gifted kids. I call them STY standing for ‘Smarter than You’).
Brittney and I had a laugh Saturday morning as the kids ate breakfast. No, Kyle didn’t come walking into the cafeteria in his underwear - get that image out of your head please.
I usually hover over the kids to keep them from escaping to the rest rooms. If you let one go you’ve lost the group. We keep them in the cafeteria until they finish eating. The flight directors take them to the rest rooms for hand washing and drinks afterwords.
I saw one boy holding a banana sitting at the table nearest to me. Now remember, this is an STY child. The boy was staring at the banana in apparent confusion. He turned it one way and then another. He smelt it and ran it over his face to feel its texture. He started to peel it and stopped. He noticed that the peeled portion of the fruit would flap as he moved the banana up and down. He was totally engrossed in this wondrous work of mother nature. I was doing everything in my power to keep from bursting into laughter. I walked over to him.
“That is what we call a banana,” I said. “Its fruit and you can eat it.” He looked at me like I was the stupid one. Then came the smile. He understood what I was talking about. I turned away and started laughing. Brittney was sitting on a small table near the serving line. She was laughing as well. She saw and heard the whole thing. Sometimes Kids say and do the craziest things.
I Love My Job.
Take Care Troops and Have a Great Week,
P.S. I made up the whole thing about Kyle and his underwear. He will kill me but I told him I’d get even. He always makes fun of my Cloverdale Blog. He tells me I need to get a life. So there Kyle. We are only partially even. Go ahead and say something derogatory about Cloverdale now. I’ll show you what a true Dunce is capable of doing when you get their dander up. ;)
Friday, February 6, 2009
The Titan series of rockets is one of my favorites - and today marks the 50th anniversary of the first test launch of a prototype Titan ICBM, called the A3, from the Cape Canaveral station. Of course, by 1959, ICBM development was in full swing as the nation tried to create superior launch missiles against the Soviet Union and their successful heavy launch rockets. Eventually, the Titan series would develop into a wonderful satellite launcher and the propulsion for the Gemini spacecraft- but that was in the future.
Sunday, February 1, 2009
This is a telling of the goodbye party we had last night for Brent at my home. I'm guilty of changing the setting and putting it into one of my worlds and for that I apologize, but it is a written gift from me to Brent and a thank you for his years of service to the Space Center.
Thank you Brent. Any now your story.......
The Guests Assembled
Last evening the Great Hall glowed in torch and candle light when the guests arrived from all parts of the Kingdom to bid adieu to Sir Brent Anderson, a member of our troupe of troubadours for many years. The lord of the manor was in particularly good spirits and remained with his guests until the twenty second hour. Such a night of levity was unusual for him at the end of a week. The pressing duties of the manor weigh heavily on him. At week’s end the burden forces him to take to his bed for an early evening’s rest.
The banquet table was crowned with delicious foods from all parts of the kingdom creating a festival of colors, smells and tastes. Many suspect this enticement was the reason for the lord’s stamina. We are familiar with the lord’s weakness for fine dishes and their effect on his palette; therefore we noticed that, as the evening progressed, the lord never strayed far from the feast. He beckoned his guests to him rather than the opposite to spare him from missing a newly arrived dish from the cookhouse. The servants brought platters of new cuisine from the cook house across the courtyard in a never ending stream to insure his spirits remained high.
Earlier in the day at chapel, the King knighted Sir Anderson into the Order of Saints for his technical creations bringing the castle new masterworks of thought and craftsmanship. His creations were evident everywhere one traveled in the castle. His newly designed serving carts carried twice the amount of food the old carts could carry, and kept the dishes warmer between the cookhouse and Hall. His invention of multi wicked candles and chandeliers suspended by pulleys for ease in lighting brought savings in time for the castle’s staff. His works in pipe and fittings brought fresh running water from the wells into the castle’s rooms. Sir Anderson credited the Romans for that innovation.
Sir Anderson’s mixings of powders and liquids, derived from his herb and vegetable gardens, along with fungi and weed gathered in expeditions in the lord’s forests, brought relief to many afflicted with sickness and melancholy. All assembled in the hall could testify to cures after ingesting one of his remedies.
Sir Anderson’s greatest contribution to the Kingdom came from alchemy. In his never ending search to find the relationship between iron and gold he found new ways to strengthen brass and iron, thus strengthening the King’s swords and cannon. These inventions brought security to the land and stability to the crown.
Sir Brent Anderson's Arrival at the Feast
“Sir Anderson,” the Footman announced in a loud commanding voice. Sir Anderson’s arrival into the hall brought hushed silence from those assembled. All stood standing as the lord departed company with the banquet table and moved through his maze of subjects toward the double oak doors framing the figure of one so well respected by a Kingdom. The Lord embraced him and then turned toward the assembly.
“Here is a gentleman this manor and kingdom owe great gratitude,” spoke the lord as he raised his arm and swept it across the room to demonstrate everyone’s indebtedness. “We gather this evening to bid him adieu as he leaves the Kingdom to answer a call from His Holiness to carry the words of salvation to God's children living in the lands of the Czech.”
The assembled gathering gasped upon hearing his destination. It was assumed that Sir Anderson would be accompanying the Cardinal to Rome to take a position in the Office of the Holy See. All expected him to exchange his black cloak for one of Cardinal Scarlet. Now, instead of power and glory, their Knight would wear the simple wool of the traveling friar and bring risk and perhaps even death upon himself laboring in the land of the Czechs. Many women in the room drew handkerchiefs to their eyes. Men grasped the hilts of their swords in a jester of kinsmanship to the great task that laid before him.
“All will be well my friends,” The lord said to comfort the hushed room. “Why would God want to take Sir Anderson away from this Earth? If he died he would go straight to heaven and want to change everything from the rotation of celestial bodies to the size and shape of the clouds in our blue sky. God would grow quite weary of this I think,” The stillness broke into laughter and the somber mood lifted. Scores of well wishers pushed forward to embrace this Knight of God. The musicians broke into song and couples took to the floor in dance.
Sir Anderson worked his way across the Hall toward us, his fellow troubadours. We waited patiently for his company. A quarter candle later he sat and took food and drink. Sir Anderson was first and foremost one of us. A lover of story and song. In his short nineteen years he traveled beside us across the length and width of the land bringing joy to village and hamlet. His nature kept him behind the curtain providing the support and expertise to ensure each presentation went flawlessly. His creations made the life of a troubadour bearable, and for that , we presented him our thanks.
“Entertainment,” shouted the lord from his High Chair while waving a leg of turkey in each hand. His voice bellowed across his audience of delicious dishes to the crowd assembled.
Maidens Emily, Stacy, Lorraine, Aleta and Brittany rose from our table and walked to the center of the hall. The chief musician stuck the tune and the ladies took to pose. On the second chord they began to move with the music. The step was identified as The Rave. Their arms moved gracefully overhead as their hips traveled in extended circles causing their dresses to sway in motion to the melody. This display of flexibility caused several of the ladies present to turn to each other and engage in critical whispering, the nature of which was not understood because of covered mouth. The men kept their gaze fixed on the performance, bringing new rounds of whispering from their fair ladies.
At the end of the dance we joined the maidens. With me stood Masters Maxwell, Long and Alex the Younger. Our combined voices filled the hall with song. With an approving nod from the Cardinal, Sir Anderson joined us for one last performance.
At the end of the banquet table sat our friends, brothers Daymont, Master Hadley and Master Clegg. They were completely ignorant to our entertainment. They were in deep thought as they discussed the news of the Kingdom and other such things. There was occasional laughter which spoke of the levity of some topics.
The evening drew to a close. The entertainment was complete. The cook house closed and all that remained eating were the lord’s dogs, finishing the remains of a great feast. Sir Anderson rose to leave. All stood with him. He walked toward the towering doors and stopped at the same place where he entered hours before. He turned toward us, his fellows, and surveyed a scene he would not see again for two years.
“God Bless you all,” he said in spirited voice.
“May God Bless You,” we all answered. Silence followed the closing of the oak doors. He was gone. His horse was heard galloping away into the cold winter’s night toward the Salty Sea and from there - onward to the Land of the Czechs.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
I'm told it can hold all the Mormons in the Republic. Well, not for long. Elder Brent Anderson is about to unleash religious fury throughout the land.
A special announcement. Brent Anderson will be going into the MTC on Wednesday. He was called to serve a mission in the Czech Republic (its in Europe for those not educated in Pleasant Grove). We will have a humble open house for him at my home in Pleasant Grove Saturday afternoon / evening. Wits End (my home's name) will welcome you no earlier than 5:45 P.M. We will wrap things up at 9:00 P.M.
I know for many 9:00 P.M. is when the party should be starting but remember my age and the fact that I’ll be coming home after 21 hours at the Space Center nonstop.
I’m exhausted on a Saturday night but can keep my mental facilities until 9:00 P.M. after which I collapse into a semi liquid ball of gelatinous matter and remain that way until Sunday morning when I congeal into a solid shape for worship (and no you may not stay and watch. I’ve been told it can get gruesome as my ligaments release their hold on my bones).
This Open House is open to all Space Center staff, volunteers and past staff and volunteers that know Brent and who are high school seniors and older. Sorry younglings, but adults only. There is one exemption to the age rule. If you are a younger brother or sister of an adult worker you may attend with them.
So stop by and say goodbye to Brent anytime between 5:45 and 9:00 P.M. Of course there will be refreshments and engaging conversation as always at a Space Center gathering.
Monday, January 26, 2009
by Lorriane Houston
Space Center Educator
Teaching in the classroom is like giving a performance on stage. Each day the afternoon class comes in with full tummies and an attitude. The simulation is over and thirty small bodies enter into the classroom, They glare at me and I sense their thoughts; " nothing you can do will ever be better than the space ships. I dare you to teach me something!"
The lesson begins with the usual spill on Christa McAuliffe first teacher in space. Some adults ask questions but most of the time they settle in for a long nap. I then introduce them to Edwin Hubble an recite his words: "equipped with his five senses man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure science." I tell them to sit up straight, buckle their set belts and stare into the main screen. We are going to take an adventure into space. By this time most of them are listening and ready to see what the classroom has to offer. I turn up the volume as loud as I dare and push the button. On the screen stars appear, Star Wars music plays while the words "LONG AGO IN A GALAXY FAR FAR AWAY" roll across the screen. The words continue " WAIT, HOW LONG AGO? HOW FAR WAY? WHAT ARE GALAXIES? WHERE DO THEY COME FROM? DO WE LIVE IN A GALAXY? The last question asked is,"WHAT HAPPENED IN THAT GALAXY FAR FAR WAY, ANYWAY?
I can always tell by their reaction what kind of class they will be.
Once in a great while the class will respond by laughing and be ready to learn all about galaxies. One day last week I had a class really enjoy the lesson, they were asking questions and participating. Their expressions of awe where gratifying, the way you flight directors feel when you have a crew that listens, learns and screams at the right time. At the end of the lesson the teacher had the students give me a round of applause, a standing ovation.
It happened with two classes on the same day, it was an unprecedented first. The classroom has begun to rise in competition with the simulators!
Maybe I did exaggerate just a bit. I had the students standing ready to leave when the teacher had them clap. Still, It was a standing ovation!
The awesome teachers and classroom lessons are beginning to compete with the simulators!
This is Mr. Herring, not Mr. W.
Many comments have come in for Mr. W. to stop his endless stream of crazy rants about loons in Rapid City, South Dakota and to start talking more about the awesome projects we are working on at the Space Center, especially the new Galileo, Mark VI.
The Galileo, Mark V was built over 12 years ago in the Provo School District as an experimental "portable" simulator. The Galileo history is a long story for another time but the short version is 10 years ago the Space Center bought the simulator and renamed it the Galileo.
I built the Galileo and I was the first and only flight director for the Galileo for over 4 years, until Mr. Billings arrived on the scene. Now the Galileo has had over 10 Flight Directors and countless thousands of flights!
If you take the approximate cost for the Galileo the Space Center has spent over 10 years, about $10,000.00. Divide it by 10 getting = $1000.00 per year. Running Approximately 200 + Missions per year. Costing the center about $5.00 or less per mission to run. The Galileo has been a whale of a deal in my opinion.
Six years ago Alex Debirk and I began working on designing the new Galileo, we affectionately named the "Mark VI". We had a grand vision for the new ship, one that would require a lot more expertise then both of us has.
Two years ago I discovered the BYU Capstone Projects and the possibilities for our design to come to life with their help. For the next year I worked at getting the monies and permissions to begin the Fall of 08'.
The Capstone Team has taken our design and polished it, worked it to fit within budget constraints, made it much more portable and put it through simulations testing. Next week they will start construction with a scheduled completion of the structure, shell and doors by April 1st were then it will be on display at BYU and then transported to Scenic Service Specialists for painting, completion of the interior and electrical.
The new Mark VI in my opinion is awesome! It has an aluminum exterior, steel bulkheads, sleeping for 4, Torpedo launching tube (yes you will have to manually put in the accessories for your probe or torpedo in the casing, place it in a tube and lock it in, to be fired!), has a crew of 6, custom designed chairs, interior like a jet aircraft except for the diamond plate aluminum floor, sliding interior door, drawbridge exit aft door, emergency escape hatch in the front, and touch screen controls! I think that is most of the key features…
Some of the builders of the new Galileo will be visiting the Space Center for the upcoming Voyager Club Meeting with blue prints and first hand accounts of their efforts! If you can't come to the meeting, keep you Internet browser on this blog as we will be posting pictures of some of the construction efforts.
All the Best!
Sunday, January 25, 2009
The Glass Ceiling (a term commonly used to describe a situation where a woman can see the top of an organization but can't reach it because of a male dominated workforce) shattered this weekend. All males at the Space Center dove for cover from the flying shards.
“It was ghastly,” reported Bradyn Lystrup, still shaking after the explosion. Paths of dried blood etched down his cheeks. The number of injuries overwhelmed the Space Center’s two first aide kits. Todd was dispatched to our local WalMart to pick up new supplies of bandages.
Many that escaped physical injury were effected emotionally. The Odyssey’s beds were full of volunteers and staff suffering from shock. I nearly called for an ambulance but wanted to keep this from hitting the local news.
I moved from bed to bed assuring the casualties that all was being done to stabilize the situation. I found Kyle Herring on the bottom bed. I knelt down. He grabbed my hand and asked me if all was lost. “Can we make this right again?” he whispered through his cracked lips. His skin was cold and clammy - a sure sign of extreme shock. I lied and told him everything would be just like it was. It seemed to calm him. I took out my Star Trek Commemorative Coin to give him something to hold onto. I motioned for Emily Perry, our EMT, to come take his blood pressure. He pulled back into a fetal position upon sight of her. She backed away realizing from her training that he may be beyond hope of saving. She needed to treat those that still had a chance.
I walked to my desk wondering if I had done the right thing. Look at what my decision had wrought? So many affected. So much blood. Such sadness. I sat down and put my head in my hands.
“It will be OK,” a weak voice said in front of me. I looked up. It was Carson. He seemed unscathed by the event. He was helping Spenser D to one of the chairs that run the length of my long wooden desk. Spenser’s arm was in a sling. I later learned it was a dislocated shoulder.
“Will you be OK?” I asked them both. They nodded . “I’m sorry this happened without warning. I take full responsibility.” I sat back and watched as broken glass was picked up buy the few remaining males that could still stand.
“You did the right thing,” Stacy Carroll said as she carried in a just emptied trash can.
“It had to happen. That glass ceiling was growing weaker and weaker.”
I agreed. It was the right thing.
The explosion of the glass ceiling was the direct result of one thing. Emily Perry, a female, flight directing a paid private mission by herself without a coach on Saturday. This day will go down in infamy - January 24, 2009. After 18 years the last remaining male stronghold of the Space Center fell to the advancing female column. The white flag was raised over the Fortress at 11:30 A.M. The glass ceiling exploded at 2:00 P.M. just as Emily finished the mission and placed the microphone in the stand.
My Friends, according to many males who survived the event, the Fat Lady Sang and Hell Froze Over.
I apologize to all my fellow males for allowing this ‘abomination’ as you put it. But I say this once again - it is time to leave the 19th century. Girls can vote. They can own property and they are allowed out of the kitchen. We have many fine female flight directors. They can hold their own in a mission to mission face off with any male. Trust me on this.
Some of you may feel I’ve lost my bearings and turned my back on my gender but once again I say - GOOD JOB EMILY! YOU DID IT! YOU RAN THE VOYAGER’S FIRST MISSION DIRECTED ENTIRELY BY A FEMALE. The glass ceiling is shattered. We live in a time of change and change can be good.
I want to thank Emily’s supervisors Spencer D and Carson M. for helping with this special event. They did their jobs well giving Emily the supported needed to pull it off.
Now, I’m sure emails and comments of congratulations will come pouring in from all. I’m also ready for the backlash from our unhappy males. I can live with that but I warn you against toilet papering. Oh yes...... you don’t want to go down that road.
Your Progressive Sleepless Leader,
P.S. Emily did a great job and was supported by everyone. I do like to exaggerate but it makes for interesting reading and writing. Good Job Emily.