Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
Carick stepped into the Turbolift, called up the ships schematics and tapped on the Engine Room. The screen flashed red. The turboshaft on the map remained red after the screen returned to normal color. Carick understood that to mean a blockage of some kind within the turbo system.
“Computer,” Carick hesitated to ask the computer to calculate the best route to the Engine Room but time was of the essence.
“Working,” came the standard programmed female voice of the main computer.
“Engine Room,” Carick requested.
The car started moving. Carick wondered about the route the car would take with the standard shaft blocked. He noticed the lift was moving vertically. He thought it strange with the Engine Room below him.
“Roberts to Carick,” It was the voice of Cadet Kevin Robers coming from a speaker within the turbolift.
“Captain, we’ve got a serious problem.”
“There seems to be a build up of plasma running from the main engine core to the impulse drives on the saucer section,” In the background Carick could hear alarms ringing. Then a strong electronic male voice sounded a warning. “Vent Now. Vent Now. Vent Now.”
“Warren, I don’t know how to vent plasma get over here and help m......”
An explosion rocked the ship. Carick was thrown against the wall of the turbolift. The car stopped moving. Carick found himself in complete darkness for a few seconds until the emergency lights flickered on. He was floating. The ship’s artificial gravity was off line.
He tapped his com badge. No computer response. He pushed himself away from the ceiling toward the floor. He stabilized his movement with the hand rails. The computer screen was working. His attempts to access ship communications failed. A few more taps brought up the ship schematics.
“Oh God no,” he whispered to himself. The screen showed an entire section of the port bulkhead between decks 4 and 6 gone. The ship was exposed to open space.
“If they didn’t know we were here, they do now,” Carick said to himself, referring to the alien ship spotted earlier nearby. Its funny the strange things that pass through someone’s mind in a disaster. Carick thought about the Titanic. Ever since he was a boy the story of the greatest ship of its time sinking on its maiden voyager through a series of unfortunate events fascinated him. He thought about Captain Smith, standing on the bridge of the White Star Line’s Flagship, watching the water boil over the bow and onto the deck. Carick always wondered what the old captain was thinking about as his ship sank from beneath him taking him and 1500 of his passengers to their deaths. Now, for the first time, he thought he knew the answer.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Yesterday was 15 seconds longer than it should have been.
Today scientists are searching for the cause. What would cause the sun to stand still? What would cause the Earth to briefly pause in its never ending cycle of day and night? Some speculate that something with a very large gravitational pull must have come close enough to the Earth to slow the planet’s rotation. The Institute of Science says it may have been a passing, rogue miniature black hole. We know they are out there. What happened yesterday might be the proof scientists have sought for decades.
Of course, there are others who see phenomena this as a message sent by a vengeful God warning humans that the end is near and repentance is the key to unlock salvation and safety from the coming apocalypse. In many parts of the world churches are the fullest they’ve been in years.
Today we have another mystery. If the Earth’s rotation slowed by 15 seconds yesterday then logic dictates today would also be extended by 15 seconds. As of the writing of this post, Sunday is on time. The delay seems to have been a one day occurrence - making it all the more mysterious.
I’m sure there will be conferences on this subject. I’m sure heads of state the world over are consulting their greatest scientific minds on the subject and I’m sure theories will spread like a pandemic.
Such a reaction for something I understand.
Yes, I understand why yesterday was 15 seconds longer than it should have been. I’m tempted to notify the authorities but fear I wouldn’t be believed. The reason, my friends, may have to stay within our Space Center family and friends.
Yesterday, for the first time in 19 years, the Space Center served our overnight campers a breakfast with chocolate covered donuts alongside our normal glazed donuts. I ordered the change in our WalMart weekly donut order on Friday morning after realizing the price of a dozen chocolate covered donuts was the same as glazed. It always had been. I just never asked.
Opening those chocolate covered donuts for the staff’s early morning gathering created such a shock the Earth itself paused momentarily to regain its senses. So many our staff inhaled in shock (as humans tend to do) when I opened that first box and offered them chocolate covered donuts that a temporary vacuum was created in the Discovery Room. A wind, strong enough to blow the napkins off the front desk, rushed in from the hallway to fill the sudden low pressure system. Two of our older veteran staffed fainted. One hurt her head when it came down forcefully onto the tabletop. There were reports of lights flickering throughout the school and the surrounding neighborhood.
I blame myself for everything that’s happened and apologize for any inconvenience it may have caused. I didn’t expect such a reaction. I knew this was a dramatic shift in our normal operating procedures but didn't think it would be the cause for all this unpleasantness.
I’ll finish this post now. I've decided to come clean. I have several phone calls to make. I’ll start with the Astronomical Union. They will help notify others once I send them the proof. I sat one of the WalMart chocolate covered donuts aside in case something like this happened. I’ll take it down to the UPS store, have it wrapped in a box, then wrapped again in bubble wrap before sending it to Washington for analyses.
I’m hoping this won’t frighten people away from sending their children to us for camps, classes and field trips. It was all a mistake and I’m sorry for it.
Friday, November 20, 2009
The Space Center has a YahooGroup that is open to our volunteers and staff only. There are several good historical posts on the YahooGroup that I'll be posted here on the Blog over the next several months. I hope you enjoy reading them. They should bring back memories of your time here.
June 11, 2007
The Space Center's First EdVenture Camp for Summer 2007.
It is 21:58 ship time. We are well into the first evening of our second EdVenture Camp. All the ships are working. At my 12 oclock - the Voyager is running Greenpeace. They had a few network glitches at the beginning but we stalled sooo well that the problem was corrected and the kids didn't know they lost a good 10 minutes off their mission. We are so good - aren't we?
To my 9 oclock - the Odyssey. Chris is running Stakeout. I'm hearing the voices of multiple kids debating their situation. Right now a Phoenix staff officer is standing by the Odyssey's replicator hatch testing phasers. They are preparing for an attack. Lots of noise now from the Odyssey's transporter. They are debating with someone.
To my 6 oclock is the Phoenix running Curahee. "Everyone hold still!" was just heard from the bridge. There is a motion scan in progress. One of the volunteers just passed my desk all decked out as a Paklid. I wonder who is going to be really annoyed in just a minute. Stacy just passed with a bag of cookies from Subway. She just stopped and offered me a portion which I gladly accepted. The Paklid just walked by again. I got a good look at Abram's face. He has blacked out his eyes. He looks like a Paklid just finished with ascrape over his lunch money!
Red Alert sounds from the Phoenix echo around the Briefing Room.
"Captain, we got to get out of here right now!" Cally (Megan) shouted in character. BJ just tumbled out of the Phoenix in character. Hewas shouting that they had to escape right now! I'm hearing "Shoot, Shoot, Fire Fire..." Another voice is saying "I'm trying - stop shouting at me!".
One of the ship's doctors just passed. It is the Voyager's. It is Jennifer Halverson. She was a volunteer a few years back and is now attending BYU. Her little brother is volunteering on this mission so she decided to come back for the evening for old time's sake. Stacy has plopped down at the staff computer at my 10:00 oclock.
"Get up there and tell them to go, go , go.... freaking go!" Megan just said to BJ. He is going in as his character. "What are you doing here!" BJ is shouting at the captain. He is good - really good. I'd be jumping if I were the captain.
It is now 22:09. Explosions. I'm assuming large space battles are in progress. Some of the staff are in the Discovery Room admiring the new spot lights we installed in the ceiling this morning. It really makes the room!
"Whitney, fire the thrusters!"
"Impact in Five, Four, Three, Torepdos have missed!"
"Warning, imcoming weapon's fire."
The missions continue all around me. The Voyager is strangely silent right now. Our two staff photographers just walked by. They play Federation Reporters in the ships talking pictures. We sell the CD's after the camps. Two campers ran into the Odyssey's transporter laughing. They were rushing to get back into the story after a quick
trip to the toilet.
I'm looking at a stack of letters waiting to be opened. I'm looking at a new script for the Canada mission submitted by Kyle this morning. It is long and detailed. I need to reserve some time to digest that. The answer machine is blinking 5 messages. My spiral binder on my right indicates 12 calls to return for private mission bookings.
"Engines are overheating! 30 Seconds!" Phaser fire from the Phoenix. It is 22:16. This first rotation ends at 22:30. I'll meet the kids in the cafeteria for ice cream. I'll enjoy their stories of heroism. I'll enjoy their tales of bravery in the face of overwhelming odds.
Megan killed the Phoenix crew. They are getting a friendly lecture right now. Emily stopped at the wire basket to pick up the post flight survey's.
At 00:30 (12:30 A.M.)I'll settle down for a bit of sleep. I'll sign off now. I've got to get all the ship's their surveys. Enjoy your evening all.
and Space Center Flight Director.
‘Twas late in the evening. Frost hung in the air. Leaves crackled underfoot as I paced through the camp, too restless to sleep. The magic of the clipboard wore on me, but our esteemed leader, Sir Williamson, looked so much more rested and refreshed. I paused near his tent.
“Ah, Mistress Aleta, come in. I have a new wonder to show you.” He beckoned me to his tent.
I approached warily. Only a few months past he had purchased the magic clipboard from a traveling peddler. I dreaded seeing what he had purchased this time.
Sir Williamson reverently unwrapped a bundle of green velvet to reveal a gleaming bottle of clouded blue glass. Its shape was odd–long neck and wide bulb at the base. Swirls of glass that looked like candle wax dribbled down the sides.
“What is that, pray tell?” I asked, doing my best to hide my fears.
“A magic bottle. The peddler spoke of a genie trapped within, a genie that will do my bidding. I but have to whisper the task into the bottle.” He held the bottle close, his lips moving silently. I strained my ears but could not tell what secret he whispered to the genie of the bottle. Sir Williamson smiled. “It shall be done by morning.”
We bid each other good evening. I stepped back out into the stillness of the night camp. I waited for magic to stir me to action. The clipboard was empty, no parchments rattled my pockets. I waited, knowing it was only a matter of time.
A figure stumbled from the troupe’s tent. He clutched a hammer in his hand. His eyes were wide. Moonlight illuminated his features. I grasped his tunic sleeve as he passed. “Master Parker? What evil has been wrought this night?”
He turned to me, his eyes terror-stricken. “Forsooth, I know not what evil spell hath possessed me, but I must repair the wagons or die!” He tugged his sleeve from my hold, lurching to the wagons.
I shook my head, pity filling my heart. Poor soul, to be so bound by magic. Parchment crackled in my pocket. We two shared a burden. Green light flashed from Sir Williamson’s tent.
For those who want to know: Jon Parker has taken over much of the maintenance at the space center. Mr. Williamson tells him what needs to be done, and Jon does his bidding. It is sort of like being a genie slave some days.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Practice missions with volunteer crews are necessary in the training of new Flight Directors. Are you interested in being on a test / training mission?
1. No Cost. They're free!
2. You get to come to the Center again.
1. The mission may have problems. Remember, your flight director is learning how to be a flight director. The mission may not run smoothly. You must be forgiving and willing to give good feedback at the end of the mission.
I'm looking for 6 volunteers to go on a test mission in the Phoenix this Saturday evening. The mission is called Currahee.
This isn't a new mission. You might have done it. You may not repeat it if you have.
When: Saturday, November 21
Time: 4:30 - 7:00 P.M.
Where: At the Space Center
Ages: You must be between 10 and 14 years old and A READER OF THE SPACE CENTER'S BLOG. We like to take care of our regular Blog Readers.
Rule: One spot per family.
If you're interested, please respond by email with the following information:
Your favorite Blog Post from the last Month:
Monday, November 16, 2009
“Extra, Extra, Read All About It,” shouted the freckle face red haired urchin standing on the street corner in pants that showed his sockless ankles and hat that let more rain in than out.
Space Center fans were streaming out of the dark subway stations rushing home through the rain, appearing and disappearing as they moved in and out of light circles drawn on the cracked pavement by the street lamps. They were rushing home in search of a nice hot meal, a bit of piece and quiet for their homework and, to top off a perfect night, a relaxing read of the latest Space Center news before their bath and bed.
They stopped to drop a penny into the dripping hand of the newspaper boy. His hand was blackened because of the newsprint mixed with the moisture. They tucked the folded newspapers under their arms and rushed away to their apartments and row houses.
What will they read in tonight’s edition?
BEN MURDOCK HIRED FOR THE GALILEO.
Ben Michael Murdock was hired today by Space Center Director Victor Williamson to flight direct missions in the Galileo Simulator. The paperwork was filled out and signed at 3:30 P.M. All cheered while Ben was rushed away into the Space Center’s ‘Room for Special Occasions’. He was led to the darkened room’s center. When the light’s came on Mr. Murdock found himself surrounded by the Center’s Collective. Each member of the Collective was dressed in their hooded robes. Their heads bowed to conceal their identity. No one spoke. A desk rose from the center of the room. On the desk was a parchment. Next to the document stood an ink well and quill pen.
“Read,” spoke a deep voice that rumbled through the room. Each member of the collective pointed to the parchment with boney index finger. Ben, noticeably distraught by the experience, stammered a moment and then began reading.
“By signing this document you swear to the Collective hear gathered your full devotion and allegiance to the exploration of Space and the mission of the Space Center. You are bound by this oath for life. You are duty bound to return to Space Center employment when called upon, even after you leave to pursue life's other life’s......”
The document was long and detailed. By its end Ben understood what employment at the Space Center entailed. Total devotion of time, talent and a willingness to work for dirt cheap wages.
“Sign, or leave,” the deep voice rang out once more. Ben gulped. He looked at the figures surrounding him and thought about the life he had, and wondered if he had what it took to give it all up for the Center.
The room remained deathly quiet while all waited on his decision. Then, a cell phone rang. Someone in the Collective had left their phone on. The hooded figure at 2:00 o’clock fumbled with her robe searching for the phone that had fallen into the woolen cloak’s hem through a poorly stitched seam in the cloak’s pocket. Ben recognized the ring tone. It was Stacy Carroll’s. She trained him in the Galileo. She taught him everything he knew. He couldn’t let her down and not sign. He grabbed the quill and scratched his name on the parchment.
It was done. He was now a member of the Collective. The Fellowship raised their arms in unison to welcome their newest member, then quickly exited the dark room for refreshments and home.
Welcome Ben to your new life. You’ll never be the same again.
MRS. HOUSTON DISAPPEARS. RUMORS SPREAD.
Mrs. Lorraine Houston didn’t go to work today at the Center. There was word she was preparing to be admitted to the hospital tomorrow for a few procedures to help with severe pain she’s suffered with for several months.
Everyone at the Space Center, along with our numerous readers, all wish Mrs. Houston a speedy recovery. She may be gone four to six weeks. What shall we do without her?
“I’ll starve to death,” Mr. Williamson was overheard saying while standing near the pen box in the Briefing Room. He looked hungrily at the empty counter where Mrs. Houston normally placed fresh baked treats for the daytime field trip staff when she arrived at work in the mornings. Luckily Mrs. Clegg was there to offer condolences along with the other daytime staff, Sheila, Jon, Bracken, and Stacy. Suddenly, Mr Williamson dropped to the carpet suffering from delicious carbo withdrawal.
Mrs. Clegg knew someone had to act quickly or the Center’s operations would grind to a halt. There was a class waiting in the loading hallway for their 9:45 A.M. mission. She rushed into the Discovery Room, opened the gift shop, grabbed a package of peanut butter crackers, returned ot the Briefing Room. Mr. Williamson was in a full withdrawal seizure. He was sprawled out on the floor shaking uncontrollably. The rest of the staff were too afraid to constrain him.
Aleta barked out orders, “Hold his arms and legs down!” The staff hesitated for a moment then carried out her orders. “Jon, hold down his head,” she said while unwrapping the crackers. Once the head was fairly immobile she pried open his mouth and shoved the crackers in. The effect was immediate. The carbos rushed through his body bringing equilibrium to his mind and body. Mr. Williamson, embarrassed by his complete lack of self control, thanked everyone and ordered the ships loaded. The rest of the day went fairly normal.
Sheila Powell is a teacher at the Space Center. She is also the State Chairwoman for the National Geography Bee. She also founded the new Lehi's Farmer's Market. What a gal!
From Mrs. Powell,
THIS IS COOL NEWS!!! I WAS SELECTED TO BE A GUEST BLOGGER ON THE
MYWONDERFULWORLD.ORG WEBSITE DURING GEOGRAPHY AWARENESS WEEK sponsored by National Geographic!!!
Look for my blog about "farmers' market geography" Monday Nov 16th!!!
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Snow fell yesterday in the Shire. I awoke missing the sun. My window framed a picture of the approaching winter. The canvas held the dark gray and white oils of a sad sky. The black branches of a leafless oak divided the scene into smaller parts. I watched the small branches shiver in the wind as the clouds blew by, driven by a gale from the Great Salt Sea. The scene brought memories of last year's cold. I remembered my aching bones. I remembered the dark mornings. I remembered the sun leaving us to the dark of night earlier each passing day. It was hard to conjure the spark of merry thought. I turned away to search the castle’s stone hallways for my fellow Troubadours. It was the week’s end. We entertained the noble’s guests until Friday’s late hours. They would soon be gathering for breakfast and then calling upon to conclude the tales and song begun the night before.
I found my fellows in their sleeping quarters. They sat cold in their seats waiting for a fire’s warmth.
“This room is too frigid for sleep,” Master Merryweather complained. “My spit hath frozen in my mouth. I can barely speak,” The others agreed. Merry rose to speak for all gathered. “We must have better accommodations if we are to be asked to entertained so early. How can I sing when I can hardly mouth a sentence?”
Pastries were delivered from the cook house. I thought the treat would lift the dark spirit in the room. Most partook. Others sat motionless, except for the pronounced chattering of their teeth.
“I shall look into providing a sustainable fire,” I promised. Thanks were given and accepted. We could now move ahead.
I spoke when all were gathered. “Soon our guests will be rising. They will have their breakfast in the great hall. We will then entertain. Let us make haste with preparation.”
Our troupe sprang to action. Our stages and equipment were uncovered. Our instruments tuned and fires lit. Our oil backdrops of lands far away were unrolled. In the half of an hour our band of Troubadours were on their marks, ready to perform. The noble expected our performances to replace the missing sun. He wanted the hall filled with music, story and laughter. He needn't worry. We knew what was expected and performed in full voice.
We entertained throughout Saturday’s afternoon. All five stages performing for noble and peasant alike. The sunless court was warm in spirit as those gathered drew hands together to applaud our tales of danger and woe. I was pleased with my fellows. Our reputation was well earned. We are the best band of Troubadours in the Shire, nay, I will be bold and further my statement to include the entire Kingdom. Some in the village may argue and I welcome the debate. Let them show me other Troubadours that do what we do. Let them bring them hither and show my troupe their talents. If their talent exceeds ours, then I will be the first to surrender the argument. If not, then I beg their voices silent so we may continue.
Before the first curtains parted we gathered to bid adieu to Madam Lorraine. The first lady of our Band had horse and cart waiting. Her health has been a demon to suffer. The Nobleman’s best surgeon’s examined her. After countless attempts to find a cure using tonics, trinkets and leeches they informed our noble lord that a treatment was beyond their understanding. A special doctor skilled with knifes and stitches lived in a village near. Lady Lorraine was leaving to seek his treatment. Her journey back to health will take four to six weeks. We watched as her cart rocked back and forth over the cobblestones and out the castle’s gate. A moment later it disappeared into the gently falling snow of a gray fog.
Masters Kyle and Spencer spent much of the day working on our new stage. It was commissioned some time ago and is nearing completion. It will make a good addition to our other sets. It has been costly, draining a great deal of the troupe’s reserves but all who see it marvel at its beauty. Instead of wood the stage is supported by polished metal. Its designed incorporates movement, allowing this stage to turn and move. Our Noble Lord wishes it ready in a fortnight for Thanksgiving’s feast. Masters Kyle and Spencer offer their word that it shall.
Lady Stacy and Master Bracken spent the day engaged in the creation of new art for our canvases. Master Long and his small band of artists spent the day on the mathematics of movable set. A feature no other band of Troubadours offer. Their imaginations, along with the melody of voice and the spoken word, combine to transport our audiences to distant lands.
Our day ended at the stroke of 5. The peasants thanked us with applause then bowed to the noble lord in gratitude for his hospitality. The Great Hall’s doors opened giving them escape to the village and their suppers and bed. Our band worked diligently to pack our props and instruments away. Some went to their rooms. Others stayed in the Hall to talk near the fire. While others disappeared into the dark of night with invitations to enjoy meals elsewhere in the village.
I along with others sat near the flame of three candles to hear a new story told by a visiting Troubadour, not of our Troupe. This story captivated my imagination, holding me spellbound for the better part of an hour. It was the story of a magical round gate of stone on a great ship lost on the black sea around the stars of the night sky. The sailors passed through the gate and carried away by magic to a distant land in search of food. Their journey turned deadly when a small snakelike creatures was discovered roaming the land. These creatures attacked in the dark of night, moving with such speed our hero's arrows could not find their marks.
I wont’ go further in this retelling. Perhaps it is a story we may tell on our own stages.
I bid my fellows adieu and retired to bed. Tomorrow was the sabbath and our day of rest. I put out the candle and drifted away through the magical gate in search of new tales to tell, heroes to praise, songs to sing and demons to thwart. Such is the life of a Troubadour.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
There are many similarities between Harry Potter and Luke Skywalker. In fact, I sometimes wonder if JK Rowling’s world of fantasy wasn’t somehow based on Star Wars.
In both Harry Potter and Star Wars we find children of light facing dark enemies of frightening power. Both are orphans. Both had parents killed by ‘the Dark Side’. In Harry, The Dark Side is made up of an army of witches and wizards commanded by a Dark Lord. They are intent on extinguishing good and replacing it with evil. In Star Wars we see the same plot. The Dark Side in Star Wars is made up of an evil empire commanded by a different, yet remarkably similar Dark Lord. Instead of magic, Star Wars uses the ‘magic’ of technology and the Force.
Harry and Luke have extraordinary powers for their age. One uses Magic and the other the Force and technology. I believe they are essentially the same thing for story telling purposes. One power requires a wand. The other uses a pronounced mental discipline, the right DNA and a collection of cool Blasters!
The popularity and profitability of these two franchises proves the power of myth in today's society. Today we search for escapism in our entertainment. We look for a release from the common day to day grind of life. We seek parole from the Science and Discovery Channels. Millions of us spend our entertainment dollars on expeditions to the simpler days of multiple gods, demons, sorcerers, vampires and others - all spiced with magic and mystery.
The mysteries of the world and universe are plucked, dressed, and neatly served to us by science on a silver platter. Many mysteries of the past, once explained with magic and faith, are no longer mysteries. We have a good understanding of our place in the universe. We have a good understand of outer and inner space. We understand there is no Zeus on high Olympus hurling lighting bolts at the disobedient or a Poseidon deep in the depths of the sea. Science has stripped the world of these things. And strangely, we miss them.
Many come to the Space Center seeking a disconnect from the ever present world. They want the magic, mystery and fantasy of myth and story. And that is something we can deliver. We can take a youngling, put him in a uniform, and give him an imaginary starship as fantastic as any magic carpet. We give them a ship that travels to the stars at speeds once only available to the gods. Our younglings have the power of Zeus’s lightening bolts. They have the ability to transport themselves from the heavens and down to any planet. They face the overwhelming powers of darkness and, with the imaginary technology we give them, protect the good and defend the weak.
Story is the magic and myth and we are story tellers. We are the Troubadours of modern society. We nourish imagination. We take our younglings out of a world where their lives are governed by adults to a world where they have the power to make decisions and experience the consequences.
Staff and volunteers, we have five small theaters. You are on stage every time you come to work. Tell good stories. Make them magical. Think about the power of myth as you create future stories. Consider why myth is so powerful in today’s world. Recreate that magic in our ships. Our stories can be as powerful as any movie or book. It only takes you and your vivid imaginations.
Consider the following. I don't know the author but find it interesting in this discussion:
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Kyle Herring sent this link. Read it. It's good.
As for your questions about the Galileo.
- Yes, it comes with all its equipment (at least as of right now. I may have to keep the sound mixer if I can't get another one).
- Yes, you must take it apart. It won't exit the school in its current state. Too Big.
- This Galileo cost far more than its current bid. My guess..... to rebuild and equip the simulator just as it is now would run you around $15,000.
- Yes, the Galileo is in need of some TLC. We are building a new one just because of that. You should be fairly handy if you want to buy it, or at least know someone who is and would be willing to help you in the take apart and the reconstruction.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Left to Right. Landon Hemsley, Soren Seibach, Charlie Heaton, Bryson Lystrup, Randy Jepperson, Brady Young, Matt Long and Bryce Redd.
And of course, the old entrance to the Odyssey.
Nineteen Years have come and gone. The Space Center celebrated the event yesterday. I remember November 8, 1990 very well. I was nervous. I had doubts. I questioned whether I knew what I was doing. Others I felt had thoughts concerning my sanity.
It all started with a Young Astronaut Club and a trip to Japan. I saw a school with a small shuttle simulator and wanted one for my club at Central. Suddenly the dream took on its own life. The little ship Pegasus, destined to be built where the Odyssey is now, had exploded into the Voyager – a new addition build onto the school. So many
people were drawn into the project. Great amounts of money and manpower were spent. It had to succeed but I didn't know what `it' was. Failure wasn't an option. I didn't sleep well those first years. My health suffered. My poor heart never completely recovered. The anxiety attacks, I'm happy to say, lasted three years and ended.
I had a building but no real understanding what to do with it. I envisioned a science lab on board a futuristic spaceship but that idea never took root. I experimented with a scientific mission to Mars. There are people that remember that first school mission. We flew at warp speed using HyperCard controls I programmed. Once there we used a Mars laserdisc for special effects. We flew around the planet learning about its climate and features. I stood on the bridge next to the Tactical screen. My 6th grade staff (2 kids) sat in the control room listening and waiting for clues on when to play and pause. How primitive it was compared to what we do now. After a few Mars missions I felt something was missing. The students showed little excitement. They were just bodies sitting at the computers listening to me. I was in command giving the captain orders on where to go and what to do. It wasn't working.
I thought back to my days in the classroom with the overhead projector, boom box, and paper controls. Then the idea came – do what you've proven successful. Introduce some drama. I quickly pulled a few of my "Star Trek" videos and, using two of the school's VCR's, I edited an ending with of a Romulan warbird showing up orbiting Mars. It was a crazy idea but crazy ideas built the Center. I guess being
willing to act on crazy impulses is a character trait I should be proud of.
The idea of adding the Romulan scene at the end of the mission worked well. The kids got excited to see the Romulan ship. The little battle thrown into the end of the Mars mission was successful. It convinced me that my original idea of taking a class on an EdVenture into space would work with the general public like it did with my captive class. I quickly sat down and wrote another mission. I believe it was called "Epsilon". It was a story of a planet in the Klingon Neutral Zone. Half the planet was under Federation control and the other was under Klingon control. The treaty, allowing joint
control of the planet, was soon to be reviewed. The planet would be awarded to the government that demonstrated it could best care for the planet's population.
The story had the Voyager entering the Neutral Zone bringing a new kind of wheat to the planet. This new wheat was genetically engineered to grow well in the planet's harsh climate. The Voyager had a few close calls on the way to the planet and a few others while in orbit. At the end of the mission our classes left the Voyager so excited. I knew I had found the formula and the rest, as they say, is history.
Now here we are 19 years later. The one ship is five. Our stories are much more complicated. Our simulators are ten times more sophisticated. Our work force has exploded but here I am – still sitting at the helm of the Voyager with microphone in hand. The years have taken their toll. I'm getting older and gray but the magic is
still there. Someone once asked me If I would ever move on. I've thought about that many times over the years. Sometimes, when everyone is gone, I go onto the Voyager's Bridge and sit under the dim lights in the Captain's chair. I look at the walls. I imagine the voices of 225,000 children swirling around the room - in the very fabric of the ship. I look over at the left wing and see the original staff, training crews before the days of training tapes. I see Jacob over in the corner asleep when he should be doing his job as a bridge staff. I hear Russell downstairs playing the blind doctor. I watch a much younger Mr. Schuler coming up the stairs in full Star Trek uniform. I
hear a child's voice shout, "Admiral on the Bridge!" I still see that silly mask popping up over the loft and staring at Security. I hear the screams, the laughing, and the quiet that came from sadness when Blossom died in a fiery crash into a planet so many years ago. The memories are happy and so I think I'll stay awhile longer.
Perhaps some day video game technology will become so evolved that children will do one of our missions at home connected to some kind of virtual reality machine. The computer will play my part, telling the story and reacting to the kid's decisions. The class will sit with goggles covering their eyes showing them the bridge of some futuristic ship. Gloves will give them the feel of working the controls. Perhaps the Voyager will still be around. A museum they will visit with their grandparents. As they tour the simulator the sounds of our voices and the blaring music with red alerts will mix with their grandparents stories of when they flew the Voyager to places far distant.
Thank you everyone for Nineteen years. Thank you volunteers for volunteering hours of your time each month. Thank you staff. The pay isn't great but you're creating lasting memories that will stay with our students forever. Finally, thank you students, campers and parents for your constant support! We are here because of you.
Monday, November 9, 2009
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Whew...... Last week we had one of those days.
Renaissance and Freedom Charter Schools were on the schedule for the 9:30 A.M. field trip last Wednesday. Renaissance called the day before to request the 9:30 A.M. mission. There was an issue with one boy leaving early. I agreed. We also had a reporter from the Salt Lake Tribune coming at 10:30 A.M. to take pictures of the Renaissance kids for an article they are writing on our sale of the old Galileo.
I informed the staff that Renaissance would fly first, Freedom second. Everything seemed fine. What followed next had be my fault. For some reason I forgot Space Center Rule One:
- Space Center Rule 1: If everything seems to be fine - BEWARE. A catastrophe will be forth coming.
Two hours later Aleta came into my math class to relieved me so I could load the first class on the Bridge. I stood on the Bridge waiting. I heard the children's voices. The first ones rounded the spiral staircase. I saw a problem. This crew was wearing red school shirts. Renaissance wore white shirts. Why were Freedom students coming up my stairs? Where was Renaissance? I stopped the loading and removed everyone from the ship. I 'fast walked' to the Starlab to fetch Renaissance while Lorraine followed behind with the now confused and bewildered Freedom students. Precious minutes disappeared from the day's mission times as I tried to sort the mess out. I knocked on the Starlab dome and told Shiela she had the wrong class. The Renaissance teacher chimed in and told me it was OK. They would take the afternoon mission.
Now, thoroughly embarrassed, I took the Freedom kids back to the simulators. Loading started once again. This time the students ascended the winding staircase without their Voyager and Odyssey uniforms. There was no one in the crew quarters dressing and organizing the campers.
"Oh Fortuna, you vixen," I thought with a growing sense of respect for this Goddess of Fate.
We got the mess sorted out and the mission commenced very late. I did everything I could to speed the crew through the story, only to find resistance from the command officers. They were indecisive. They seemed like deer in the headlights. We worked the story and reworked the story doing everything we could to push them.
The 11:30 A.M. flight started late because of the extra time I gave Freedom. The Renaissance command officers also seemed shell shocked by the experience. It was slow going all through Midnight Rescue. By 1:40 P.M. it was all done. We sent both groups home.
That's when I noticed one of my tension ear aches coming on. Some people get headaches, others get sour stomachs - I get an earache in my right ear when I'm stressed - and that ear ache was a doozey! At 2:00 P.M. another bus arrived, bringing two classes of sixth graders from J.A. Taylor Elementary. I had the 2:00 P.M. mission. Bracken was scheduled to take the 4:00 P.M. Midnight Rescue was their choice of mission. That meant four tellings of that story that day. We were all sick of it.
Training went slowly. I was once again pressed for time. I did my best to push them through the mission. It was 4:00 P.M. I was suppose to stop. I wouldn't. I was determined to finish this mission come heck or high water. The Voyager was at the Federation border. The mission was at its climax. Tension was everywhere. I clicked my mouse to advance to the next card and that's when she struck again! My computer shut off. Luckily the tactical showed an 'Intruder Alert'. I stalled for time as I restarted the computer. A few minutes later I was running again. I logged on and once again clicked the mouse to move the Tactical forward. My computer shut off a second time! SHE STRUCK AGAIN. NOW IT WAS GETTING OLD. It was 4:10 P.M. I had no choice but to stop the mission. The other class was lined up in the hallway waiting to board and I had an flight computer that wouldn't stay on.
We removed the disappointed crew the Voyager. I sat perplexed, wondering why my computer kept shutting down every time I clicked the mouse. That's when I remembered Space Center Rule 5:
- Space Center Rule 5: When facing a problem, always start with the easiest solution first.
That's when I remembered Space Center Rule 21:
- Space Center Rule 21: Old flight directors are required to wear their reading glasses when running a mission.
At a bit passed 6:00 P.M. J.A. Taylor Elementary pulled away. We had less than 30 minutes before 50 teenagers were scheduled to arrived from some LDS ward in Orem. All the simulators were either started or reset for the new arrivals.
"Come on Fortuna, you can't be finished with me yet," I mumbled from my desk. "There has to be more. I know you all too well."
At 6:15 P.M. Brittney, Magellan's Set Director, approached my desk and stood there. Of course, that meant a problem.
"The Admiral's computer is dead. It won't stay on," she reported. There was the faint sound of a woman's laughter. It was a voice from Mt. Olympus, carried on the winds of Fate. Fortuna made her presence known once again.
From memory, I reminded Brittney of Space Center Rule 32:
- Space Center Rule 32: Deal With It.
Bracken stepped up to the plate and attempted to organize the mass confusion. He took everyone into the Discover Room for sorting. I stayed out of it. My ear hurt. A few minutes passed. One of my flight directors came by my desk.
"How many are here?" I asked.
"57," came the reply.
"57!" I shouted. Now, we all know 45 is the maximum number we take for private missions. I got up and went into Discovery to help with the mob. I informed the chaperons that there wasn't enough room in the simulators for them to take positions. Most of them would have to wait in the lobby or the Discovery. I left all other problems to be sorted by my capable staff.
I grabbed my coat and walked out. It was time to unwind during my long walk home in the dark. I knew they had a tough crowd. Now don't get me wrong. The teens were really great people, but...... put that many teenagers together, on a school night, after having been shut up in school all day, and ask them to role play a space opera...... see what I mean? You have the potential for disaster.
As I walked home I wondered if a message would be waiting on my answering machine. There was. Why didn't it surprise me?
"Mr. Williamson, this is Jon. One of the girls on the Magellan threw up. Emily is trying to clean it up. We can't find Rosa. Thought you might want to come down. Well, bye..."
Later I discovered the truth behind the vomit. One of our own staff hurled. That was followed by one of the campers vomiting twice.
My apologies to Emily, but I didn't go back. I went to bed and hid under the covers - except for one outstretched arm waving a white shirt. I surrendered to Fortuna on behalf of the entire Space Center staff. I proclaimed her absolute Victor and vowed my staff and I would never again take a string of good luck for granted.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
And let's not forget "....have access to five starships loaded to the rafters with photon torpedoes, phasers and an interesting variety of gadgets and trinkets designed to enslave all but the most technologically advances species in the universe."
Friday, November 6, 2009
The sale of the old Galileo continues to attract attention. The Salt Lake Tribune printed an article in today's paper. The link is below:
We've just had a call from Channel 2 News. They are sending a reporter to do a piece for tonight's news. I wish I would have known earlier. I would have showered, shaved and deodorized. Now the camera will get me in all my glory ;)
I guess you don't see many Starships up on the auction block. Kind of a unique situation. The Center is know for creating unique situations.
Thanks to Aleta for contributing to The Troubadour. I enjoy posting articles and stories written by members of our staff (if I can get them to write!!!)
And Now Aleta's Story
The Magic Clipboard
By Aleta Clegg
I peered across the camp. Flashes of dull greenish light emanated from our esteemed leader’s tent. I paused in my nightly rounds. The members of our troupe lay in their bedrolls, wrapped in well-deserved slumber. Autumn was well upon us, frost touched the air. The crisp scent of fallen leaves hung over the camp, mixing with woodsmoke. In but a few short days, the troupe was due to encamp in our winter quarters, settling for the long season of snow and ice. What sorcery could Master Williamson be concocting this late in the season?
His tent glowed sickly yellowish green. This was not the usual magical smoke and trickery we used on our summer audiences. This was deep, dark magic. I shivered even as I approached.
“Master Williamson?” I whispered outside the tent.
“Come in, Mistress Aleta.” His mellow voice was the same as ever. He had not been possessed by demons or his voice would have changed, much as it did when he channeled the spirit of Dr. Markus.
I pushed aside the door flap of his tent. “Is all well? It is late and I could not help but notice the eerie light in your tent. Is is perchance a new effect for the bedazzlement of our audiences?”
He smiled. His face, reflecting green light from the object hidden in his lap, was a devil’s mask. “It is something much more wondrous. Behold!” He reverently drew the object from the velvet coverings. “It arrived just this evening by special messenger.”
I wrinkled my brow in confusion. It looked like nothing I had ever beheld. It was rectangular, a clear greenish yellow object like a flat board with a metal clip on one end.
“The magic clipboard.” Master Williamson stroked the smooth surface. “I have merely to place my problems on parchment and clip them thusly. The problems disappear! A dissatisfied audience? I write it on parchment and place it on the magic clipboard, and poof! No more dissatisfied audience. A patron who neglects payment? Place the bill on the clipboard and payment magically appears in our bags of coinage. Wondrous, is it not?”
He demonstrated, placing an overdue notice on the clipboard. Greenish light flashed. We blinked, blinded momentarily. The parchment had vanished.
“Wondrous indeed,” I murmured. “Good night, sir. Thank you for showing me.”
I left his tent, a creeping feeling of dread riding my back. I pushed chilled fingers into my pocket. Parchment crackled. I pulled the overdue notice from my pocket. Magic compelled me to slip from the camp, bound for the abode of Count Wasatch, who owed us for our performance a month past.
“So that is how the magic clipboard works.” My feet stirred leaves as I walked through the autumn night, locked by the spell into solving the problems placed on the clipboard.
For those of you wondering if the clipboard really exists, yes, it does. It resides under Mr. Williamson’s desk and has the following message written on it in permanent marker, “Aleta’s clipboard. Touch it and die. Mr. Williamson.”
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Sorry but all positions are filled for this special telling of The Grand PooPah in the Voyager. Keep reading this Blog. We will offer special missions to our Blog Readers regularly throughout the school year.
The Voyager is open for tomorrow night's overnight mission. I'd like to put a group of Frequent Flyers and Blog Readers together to do the Voyager's new mission "The Grand PooPah". Now don't let the name fool you. This mission is full of action and suspense and a good number of battles.
If you are on our Frequent Flyer list and a reader of the Space Center's Blog (how do I know? Because you're reading this now aren't you?)
you can get in on this special telling of "The Grand PooPah". Normal overnight price is $43.00. You can do this mission for $36.00. If you're interested send an email right away (after checking with your parents of course). My email address is Director@spacecamputah.org. I'll put you on the list and send a Confirmation email. You pay when you arrive tomorrow night at 7:00 P.M.
This is open to everyone age 10 to 14 years old. The camp ends Saturday at 10:00 A.M. We provide a late night snack and breakfast. You should eat supper before you arrive. If you want to do the mission but don't want to stay overnight you can leave Friday at 11:10 P.M. and return Saturday morning at 7:15 A.M.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Well, talk about the little ship that could!
The old Galileo is stirring a bit of interest on a few major tech blogs. David Andrus sent me the following links in an email earlier today. Give them a look. Be sure to read the comments people are making. David said he would bird dog this for us and correct misunderstandings.
It's fun, isn't it?
And Now, David's Email........
Hey Vic and Kyle,
Just thought you'd be interested to know that the sale of the old Galileo has been picked up by two fairly major tech blogs:
Oh...and of course the actual state auction link:
Monday, November 2, 2009
There were many things to fear during my childhood on the hills and prairies of western South Dakota. There were man eating rattle snakes. I was always afraid of being caught in a stampede of buffaloes. Another was getting caught in a sudden blizzard and freezing to death on the open plains while trudging through waist deep snow on my way to our one room school house heated by a single coal stove.
Getting beat up by my older (and meaner) sister was a more domestic fear. She was one heavy drinkin, tobacco chewing, card playing, sharp shooten sixth grader picking on her younger and meeker brother. She was vicious but could be counted on to keep meat on the table. If it wasn't a deer picked off with her Winchester at 100 yards it could be the neighbor's dog. We didn't ask questions, just kept several bottles of ketchup on the table.
Having to deal with my younger brother’s violent temper was another. I could push him only so far before he snapped. And when you heard that POP, followed by a wild look in his eyes, the only safe and logical thing to do was to run for dear life. In his delirious state he would stop at nothing until you were bloody and unconscious. Yes, I could wrestle him down to the floor and hold him there, but that plan had its flaw. At some point in the day you’d have to let him go, and when you did, you’d better be quick. You needed to get into the bathroom and lock the door before a flying knife or Tonka Truck struck you in the back of the neck. He had a good arm and could nail a squirrel at 50 paces.
Rapid City was a town of 40,000 unique individuals. The infinite prairie boarded the city to the east. The majestic Black Hills boarded the city to the west. My home town was the bright spot of civilization for half the state. We had a hospital. We had three movie theaters (each with one screen). We had a Red Owl, Piggly Wiggly and Safeway grocery stores. We had the Chuck Wagon Restaurant with it famous Friday Night Fish Fry. We thought we’d hit the big league when Kmart opened a store at the Northgate Shopping Center. Imagine Rapid City with its very own Kmart. Now we could buy things at a discount. I loved the Kmart. The Blue Light Specials fascinated me. They just never had a special in the toy department. It was always linen or house wares of ladies underwear of something silly.
I was asked once if we feared an Indian uprising. After all, during my high school years the Indians became militant and took over the courthouse at Hill City, a little mining town thirty minutes or so out of Rapid. They burned the courthouse down, broke a few windows, and made a real nuisance of themselves. Taking all that into consideration, I can honestly say I never feared the Indians. Most of them stayed on the reservations. The ones in town kept to themselves and their bottle, if you know what I mean.
Some feared being a Mormon in a city full of Lutherans. We were teased because of our religion several times while growing up. It didn't’ bother me. I could give back whatever they dished out, especially to my Jehovah’s Witness friend.
No, the real thing that my brothers, sisters and I feared growing up was a lose tooth. You never wanted my mother to see you working on a lose baby tooth because if you did, the most unimaginable torture awaited. My mother was raised on a Montana ranch. She was the daughter of proud Swedes and stubborn English/Scots. She laughed at pain, especially having delivered 8 children. She had a motto that whatever was good enough for her was good enough for us. If her loose teeth were pulled by a string and a few good yanks then so should ours.
My mother specialized in capturing us unexpectedly. It was usually just as you left the bathroom. She'd catch hold of you, pin you to the ground, lasso your lose tooth with a bit of yarn or sting and then start the agonizing one, two or three mighty yanks required to capture that baby tooth. My teeth surrendered easily, flying out of my mouth on the first or second pull. Some of my siblings weren't as lucky. Many lost a section of jawbone when mother was forced into a fourth pull. I still remember the screaming to this day. Of course in those days parents could pretty much torture their children without fear of the law, especially in South Dakota.
That was the floor method. My memory also recalls another clever use of string and door knobs. She’d tie the string around your lose tooth on one end. The other end of the string was tied to a door knob. You sat in a chair near the door. She’d stand by the open door and count down to zero. At zero she'd slam the door. The motivated tooth flew across the room, just barely ahead of the blood curdling screams following.
Yes my friends, let this picture be a reminder to all that survived the tooth on the string application of mom’s love. We grew up tougher for it.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Carick stood up and wiped the moisture away from his eyes and cheeks. His sleeve took care of the nose, something he regretted the moment he did it. He laughed to himself thinking how it would look to the cadets seeing their Cadet Captain giving life and death orders with a trail of snot running down his right sleeve.
“As if that’s the least of my worries right now,” he mumbled to himself. He straighten his tunic and turned toward the door. It’s two panels slid open with a hiss giving him an exit into Deck 12’s hallway. Every step along the way to the turbolift brought Carick a renewed determination to deliver this ship whole, with its complete crew compliment, to Starfleet Command. There were two things he needed to know to accomplish his goal.
1. Where were they?
2. Are the engines capable of warp drive?
He entered the turbolift.
“Destination?” came the automatic voice of the computer. Again, Carick waved his hand across the schematic to silence the vocal prompts so he could manually select his destination. Carick needed to become familiar with every aspect of the ship’s layout. Studying the deck plans on the tubolift wall was one good way to do it. A quick index search for ‘Stellar Cartography’ would of resulted in an immediate location, but that wouldn’t accomplish his goal of learning the decks. He pulled up the plans for Deck 3 and started looking.
“Call Waiting,” the computer announced. Carick understood that to mean someone was waiting to use the lift.
“Continue,” Carick said, giving the turbolift permission to move on to collect the next passenger with him along for the ride. The car picked up speed as it moved gracefully through the Voyager’s lift shafts. First horizontally then vertically, then horizontally again before slowing to a stop. The door opened.
“Captain?” Third year Cadet Roberts stood in the doorway with quite a surprised look on her face. “I was just coming to find you.”
“What deck is this?” Carick asked while waving the screen into standby.
“Deck 4,” she answered. “Where were you going?”
Carick walked out of the lift and into the hallway. There were no signs of damage. The walls were half fabric half metal. The floors seemed to be some kind of textured rubber, soft underfoot. The flat ceilings were lit by indirect lighting. Holographic projector bands appeared across the ceilings every ten feet or so. Larger blue force field emitters appeared at every hallway crossing. They protruded five inches from the walls and ceilings forming a large square upside down U.
“I was on my way to see you,” Carick answered. He started walking forward, leaving Roberts behind at the lift door. “Let's go to cartography.”
“You’re going the wrong director,” Roberts said as she pointed to the hallway on Carick’s left.
“Well, I hope I at least look like I know where I’m going,” he responded with a turn. “You lead on.”
They started walking. Roberts was anxious to make her first report to her new captain. “It didn’t take me long to find Cartography. I just told the lift where I wanted to go and it dropped me off here.”
“Yes, that what the lift does I’m told?” Carick answered.
Roberts nervously laughed. She wanted to impress the Captain with her ability to carry out assigned tasks quickly and thoroughly. She knew this adventure, if they returned alive, would cement a place for her in Starfleet Academy - especially if Carick gave her high marks.
“Anyway, the hard part was actually finding the room,” Roberts continued. “This is one of the larger decks on the saucer section, by the way, you knew that’s where you were didn’t you, the saucer section?”
“Is that why the hallway keeps turning toward the left, in a circle?” Carick responded sarcastically.
“Oh, that was stupid. Of course you know where you are. You’re the captain - I mean duh......” Roberts started laughing at herself nervously. .
Carick was loosing his patience. He increased his stride hoping to find Cartography. “Roberts, where are we?” he asked again.
“Deck 4?” she responded, wondering whether or not Carick was listening to her or not.
“I know this is Deck 4,” Carick stopped in mid sentence. Roberts bumped into him from behind nearly putting them both down on the floor. She stood and started apologizing for not looking where she was going.
“Stop. Listen to me Roberts. I want to know where the ship is. Can you show me?” he asked slowly and deliberately.
“Well,” Roberts answered with a prominent case of red faced embarrassment. “I have a pretty good idea. Cartography is right here,” she said pointing further down the hall. Carick resumed his quick pace. Roberts bit her tongue, making a verbal promise with herself not to say anything else that wasn’t absolutely necessary to answer the captain’s questions.
Stellar Cartography was a large round room, very much resembling a planetarium capable of seating twenty people. The center of the room held a series of holographic projectors pointing upwards toward the gray domed ceiling. Carick sat in one of the comfortable padded chairs near the doorway. Roberts walked half way around the room to a raised platform housing a desk with built in touch screen. She waved her hand over the screen. The projectors illuminated the center of the room filling the entire dome with a sphere of laser light.
After three more taps with her index finger Roberts brought up a detailed star map. Each star shone with its own color and size indicating the type of star.
“As you know, we can’t rely on constellations to pinpoint our exact location because from out here the constellations we know in Earth’s night sky look different.” Roberts felt it necessary to explain to Carick how she was able find their location in space. “So, without the constellations, you triangulate your location from the Federation’s navigational grid. I did a grid scan,” she waved her hand across the screen. A large yellow wave of light swept through the large holosphere occupying the center and dome of the room. Nothing was added on the map.
“As you can see, nothing. That is a bad sign.”
“That really is a bad sign,” Carick repeated. “Go on.”
Roberts voice increased in pitch revealing her excitement in having an audience of one. “So, the next thing you do would be to look for standard pulsars. Each pulsar has its own signature, kind of like fingerprints. If you can find three of them you should be able to find your location.”
“Reasonable. I would of done the same. Again, go on,” Carick urged her to continue.
“I scanned for pulsars,” she waved her hand again. Once again yellow bands swept around the sphere. This time the bands identified four pulsing pulsars. “Ta Da! and there they are!” Roberts proudly exclaimed. “With that success I can now identify our location. So, without further delay - I give you our location.”
Roberts tapped the screen, inserting the Romulan, Klingon and Cardassion borders. The sphere added the Federation’s boundaries, leaving only their location missing. Then with one final tap lines extended from each pulsar toward each other until they intersected. A bright orange dot appeared at that one point in space.
“From my calculations we are 53,435 light years from the Federation Border in the Alpha Quadrant. Of course I could be slightly off the mark depending on where you consider Federation space starts. I suppose the furthest any ship has been in this direction is, well, this ship and the Copernicus during the Perikoi encounter.” Roberts tapped again on the touch pad. Perikoi’s location flashed in amber very close to Cardassian Space. “We are exactly half way between Federation Space and Dominion Space.”
“So, the fastest way home isn’t in the direction of Earth is it?” Carick questioned as he stood and walked around the projection to get a better look at the terrain. “The fastest way home is toward Dominion Space and the Bajor Wormhole exit.”
“Correct,” Roberts agreed. “By my calculations, at warp 6, it should take approximately 37 months to get there.”
“Only 37?” Carick asked sarcastically. “Traveling three years toward Dominion Space. No problemo. Piece of cake. In a ship crewed by cadets with little if any space experience.”
“There is the problem of where we are now,” Roberts interrupted. “We exited the wormhole as it was collapsing. I’m guessing we may be in space controlled by the Anouway. Remember, the Alpha Quadrant is largely unexplored.”
The sound of static filled the silence as both Carick and Roberts stared at the sphere. Murdock’s voice emerged crisp and clear.
“Murdock to Carick.”
“Ben, you got the comm. systems running. Good boy. I ...”
“Oh, not me sir,” Murdock interrupted. “It was that kid Colin you sent up. He knows his stuff. I’ve got him working on the rest of the systems now.”
“Listen, we have our location....”
“Captain, sorry to interrupted again but we have a problem. Colin was also able to get long ranger sensors online. We had to gut one of the deflector back up relays to do it but that’s beside the point. We’re looking at the sphere now. There is something on the very outer edge of range, moving slowly, well sort of moving slowly, in a round about way, towards us.”
“Roberts, can we tie into ship sensors from here?” Carick asked walking toward Robert’s touch pad controls.
“Yes, I found that link earlier. Its this import button. Watch.”
The cartography sphere flicker then a copy of the Bridge sphere appeared before them. They immediately saw the yellow flashing icon moving in somewhat their direction. It was moving in warp so it couldn’t be a natural object. Suddenly the yellow flashing turned to bright red. The object changed its course directly toward the Voyager.
“Murdock, put the ship on red alert. I’m heading to the Engine Room. Calculate how long before that ship gets into firing range and let me know.”
Carick moved toward the door. “Roberts, to the bridge,” he said as he left the room for the turbolift.
The ship’s intercom sounded the call to alert stations. It rang, as per regulation, for 30 seconds. Then it rang again for another 30 seconds. Then again, to the point of annoyance. Carick tapped his comm badge.
"Connect, Murdock," he said to the ship's computer as he stepped into the turbolift. A moment later Murdock's voice came through.
"Don't play with the alarms. Ring it as per regulation and leave it. The Voyager isn't a fire truck. Got it?"
There was a short pause. "Yes sir," Murdock answered. Carik heard him start to chew Colin out before the line closed.
“What's next?” Carick asked himself. A question he didn’t want answered.
Friday, October 30, 2009
Employee / Volunteer Suffering from Dark Friday Dementia
The Space Center celebrates a Dark Friday tonight. Dark Friday is defined as one of those rare Friday evenings without an Overnight Camp. I decided not to schedule a camp on October 30th because of Halloween. I reasoned the staff would enjoy a weekend off for spooky merrymaking. I since discovered my reasoning was flawed. The staff made it clear their desire for larger paychecks took precedence over released time from service to search our village for Halloween parties willing to accept bewildered Space Center staff and volunteers.
So, a couple dozen camp regulars are free tonight. I’m hoping they have someplace to go and don’t end up aimlessly wandering the streets of Pleasant Grove looking for purpose and direction.
For a Space Center employee freedom on a Friday night can cause a form of dementia. This malady, a distant cousin of Alzheimer's, is temporary - usually disappearing with Saturday’s sunrise. During the evening hours family and friends of Staff should be prepared to offer support and treatment if necessary. Please check for Friday Dementia's symptoms by answering these questions concerning your loved one's behavior:
- Is your loved one aimlessly wandering through the house asking if the crew has arrived.
- is your loved one taking sheets off the beds and covering every light fixture in your home?
- Is your loved one looking through the kitchen’s cupboards and fridge for Little Caesar’s Pizza?
- Is your loved one forcing Grandma to sit through station training at the living room computer?
- Is your loved one rifling through your closets and dressers for any item of clothing that might identify them as an Orion Pirate?
- Did your loved one interrupt your Friday night video with popcorn and Diet Coke with shouts to find cover, the Shadow was coming?
- Is your loved one asking you for a midnight snack of ice cream sandwiches and WalMart Orange Soda?
- Is your loved one sleeping on the floor with their computer and /or iPod, oblivious to the world - lost in some TV show recorded on iTunes and heard through a pair of ear buds?
- Did your loved one throw a tantrum when your breakfast of cold cereal and pop tarts not include a WalMart glazed donut?
- At 10:30 A.M. was your loved one standing in front of you telling you his/her name and asking for your vote?
- At 10:45 A.M. was your loved one asking how many votes he got and when can he pick up a WalMart card?
These are the symptoms of a Space Center Staff / Volunteer suffering from Dark Friday Dementia. I suggest you take your child in your arms if you see these symptoms, and with a big hug, explain that all will be well. Remind them another Friday is only 7 days away. Explain to them that life outside the Space Center exists on a Friday night. Hand them a phone and tell them to call a friend. In serious cases, please call me. I’ll order them to bed. They are programmed to follow my orders
As for an old Space Center Director, my Dark Friday will be spent doing what I love most - Sitting Quietly.
Happy Halloween to all. Give your pancreas a work out this weekend and consume mass quantities of sugar and don’t forget to do what we love doing most - scaring the snot out of younglings tomorrow night :)
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
All Points Bulletin
Paul (The Razor) Bauman, once a supervisor at the CMSEC, escaped on Monday. He was last seen at 5:40 P.M. running across the west lawn toward the electrified hedge separating the school’s ‘play ground’ from No Man’s Land. No Man’s Land, as all our ‘students’ know, is the seemingly peaceful neighborhood surrounding the ‘school’. Of course, the homes are all empty. They are for show only. This ‘show case’ community is another way we convince local authorities (and pesky representatives of the International Red Cross) that Central is a real school, and not a cleverly disguised asylum for the slightly off balanced.
The photograph above is the latest picture of Paul in the ‘school’ enjoying a bit of free time with his co workers before the next batch of cadets arrived for ‘treatment’.
Paul (The Razor) Bauman worked at the institution for a number of years. He began as a ‘camper’ at the Institution’s ‘Space Center’. After surviving several rounds of treatment (the staff refer to them as ‘missions’) Paul was rehabilitated and recruited to work as a volunteer. Paul was popular with the ‘campers’. He brought a caring, human touch to the treatments. He told stories at bed time and always had time to listen to their concerns.
Paul’s talents at calming the ‘campers’ by making treatments seem fun convinced the Commandant to place him on the ‘school’s staff. Last week Paul approached the Commandant and requested a release from his duties. The Commandant reminded Paul that once on the Institution's payroll there was no release. He could appeal the Commandant’s decision but such a move was risky. If his release was authorized by the Board, he would be subject to a painful ‘debriefing’. Memories of his time at the Center would be erased using electroshock therapy. Debriefing was effective 50% of the time. The unfortunate ones that didn’t survive are housed in a special section of the ‘school’.
Yesterday, Paul finished working a treatment. As the ‘campers’ were escorted away from the ‘simulator’, Paul saw a lapse in security. Private Spenser Dauwalter was in the office filling out paper work instead of securing the perimeter. Our security cameras tracked Paul as he escaped through the ‘simulator’s’ back door and bolted across the blacktop and onto the lawn. Automatic sensors were triggered. Alarms rang. Sharpshooters, hidden in the trees, did their best to bring him down. Unfortunately, due to extreme wind, they couldn’t get a clear shot. Branches and flying leaves obstructed their view. Paul pulled out a classified document when he reached the electrified hedge. It held the combination to disable the electric current. He climbed the hedge/fence and landed in the false neighborhood.
He ran into one of the hollow brick homes. The security camera in the fireplace's mantle showed him consulting his iPod. He carefully traced his moves around the land mines hidden in the lawns, driveways and tree trunks on the device's touch screen. He walked to the screen door, looked for approaching agents, found the coast clear and ran. It took several minutes of dodging and jumping before clearing the field.
Six minutes after leaving the 'school' Paul faced one last wall. Freedom waited on the other side. With a chimp's agility he scampered up the wall and went over the top. He startled a young couple walking their dog near Harts when he landed directly in front of them on all fours. From there he disappeared into the dark.
The Commandant is authorizing a reward for the successful capture of this escaped, deranged and confused ‘camp’ supervisor. Approach with caution. He will not allow himself to be captured and repatriated without a fight.
(Troops. Paul Bauman left the Space Center after several years as a volunteer and employee. He is a senior now and his life is filling with several things. I want to thank Paul for his devoted service to the Space Center and our students. The campers really loved Paul and the staff will miss him. Thanks Paul for everything. We wish you the very best of luck and do stay in touch. Mr. Williamson)
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Space Center Educator
Monday, October 26, 2009
We are getting closer and closer to finishing the Galileo. Kyle Herring and his team worked this weekend on odds and ends.
- The movable control room was delivered. Spencer Robinson built it over the last couple weeks.
- Alex A. is finished with the new controls. He started testing them in the school's computer lab on Saturday. He will install the controls once we get the computers and network in place
- The Programming Guild spent all day Saturday working on the Galileo's Cocoa Programming.
- Kyle and Taylor (his nephew) polished the ship up nicely on Saturday and snapped this picture.
We are excited to welcome this new ship to the Space Center's Fleet. The old Galileo should be up on the Utah State Auction Site if you're interested in bidding on the old Galileo.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
This is Chapter 8 of a new mission I'm writing. All the chapters are posted on this Blog.
I enjoyed writing our school mission 'The Children of Perikoi'. I enjoy telling it even more. I've wanted to continue the story and did once several summers ago. The mission was told in the Galileo. It was OK but not what it should have been. I blame myself for that. Not everything you write is good. This is another attempt at a continuation of Perikoi using our own staff and volunteers as characters.
Enjoy and post comments. I'd like to know what you think.
December 22, 2321
Lost, Somewhere in the Galaxy
Continued from Chapter 7.
“Who is it?” Carick asked.
“I honestly don’t know.” Cadet Merryweather responded. “I remember seeing him in the hallways at the Academy but third years and first years don’t really mix,” Merry was focus on a piece of bright yellow cloth that seemed to be welded onto the boy’s burned skin. Using tweezers, he tenderly took the fabric by a corner and slowly pulled back. Meredith reminded him to spray the wound with Regeneration after every few centimers. The young cadet stopped squirming. The pain took him into unconsciousness.
Carick turned and walked across Sick Bay to the dozen or so cadets suffering from less severe wounds. They sat two or three to a bed. Carick questioned each of them about their circumstances. He thanked them for their work and reassured them that they would get home. He asked them to get stitched up and return to work as soon as possible.
“We don’t know where we are. I’ll be honest about that,” he said. “But we are alive and the ship is holding together and for that we can be proud.”
He thought for something else to say. His mind was blank. He’d said everything he thought a real captain would say in their situation. He ruffled the hair of another first year and turned to leave.
“Going so soon,” Payne called out. She just finished putting the last stitch in Rowberry’s arm and was spraying it with Regeneration. “You know I may not be able to send many of them back, right?”
“Do what you can,” Carick answered. I don’t know our current situation so I need anyone that can read and punch buttons working, even if they're all elbows."
“What’s the biggest problem?” Interrupted a second year cadet wearing a baby blue Academy shirt.
Carick turned toward the questioner. “What ‘s your name?” he asked.
“Colin,” the boy answered. He held his swollen wrist up against his chest. His face was a mixture of dried sweat and dirt. His dark hair was dusted with some kind of white powder and his brown eyes were outlined in red from lack of sleep.
“Well Colin, the ship’s main computer is down. That’s the biggest problem if I had to pick just one.”
“I think I can fix that,” the boy struggled to get to his feet. Carick reached out to stabilize him. “I’m top in my class in main frame logic and networking .”
Carick looked at him closely. He knew he recognized his face from somewhere. “Are you the second year cadet that won the Academy programming competition? The little Einstein genius kid that put all the older students to shame?” Carick asked hoping for a positive response.
“That’s me,” Colin beamed with pride. He was happy some of his fellow second yearers were there to see the Cadet Captain of the Academy actually recognized a lowly second year.
“Payne, this boy is next.” Carick took Colin by the shoulder and walked him to Cadet Payne’s table. “I need him on the bridge asap. He might be able to get us back on our feet.”
Shouting was heard down the hall from the Sick Bay’s entrance. It became understandable as it got closer.
“We need some help here.” came the voice of someone Carick knew very well.
“Nuila?” he shouted as he ran from the sick bay toward the sound of Sixth Year Cadet Warren Nuila’s voice. He froze dead in his tracks when he saw the reason for their urgent call. Nuila, accompanied by two other younger cadets, was carrying the lifeless form of a full grown adult. It looked like a man in his mid to late fifties.
“Is that Tex?” Carick asked, afraid of the answer.
“Yes. Help us?” Nuila answered. Carick reached under the lifeless body being held up by six other hands and helped carry it the last fifteen or so steps into the Sick Bay and onto Payne’s Diagnostic Bed. Colin jumped off the bed and stood back to make room for the chieif engineer.
“Sir, I’ll come back later. I can manage with this wrist. Permission to go to the bridge to begin work on the mainframe?” Colin asked.
“Go,” Carick ordered.
“Yes Sir!” Colin responded. He turned to leave.
“Hold it,” Merry grabbed a sling from a supply cabinet and quickly positioned the injured wrist up against the boy's chest. “Go.” he said pushing the young cadet out the door.
“Payne adjusted the body of the Voyager’s Chief Engineer under the scanner and activated the arm. A series of laser lights washed over the body indicating where the scan was working. The scan would take several minutes. Payne stared intently at the screen beside the bed, watching the results as they came in.
“What happened?” Carick asked. Nuila was out of breath. It was obvious it took all their strength to move him from the lowest deck to Sick Bay without the aide of a fully functional turbolift.
“We were all strapped in. The ship was getting bounced around real bad. Sparks were flying everywhere. Then the decompression alarm went off. He looked at his screen to see if the automatic force fields were engaging. I heard him swear over the twisting metal. He was punching away at his terminal. Whatever he was trying to do wasn’t working. He released his safety harness and tried to get to a set of manual controls on the other side of the room. Then a hugh jolt shook the ship. It threw him into a wall and then down to the floor. He stood up looking really dazed. He made it to the controls and manually shut the bulkhead doors then collapsed to the floor. He never regained consciousness.” Nuila stopped to catch his breath.
“What’s the damage?” Carick asked.
“Are you talking to me?” Payne responded without taking her eyes off the diagnostic readouts.
“No, Nuila,” Carick said. “What’s the damage to the ship?”
“There’s a tear in the hull running along the side of the ship.” Nuila explained by using his hands. “Its just like the Titanic except instead of water leaking in, the Voyager was loosing its atmosphere and temperature. Tex was able to manually close the bulkhead doors but we’ve lost access to large sections of the ship.”
“Well at least the bulkheads are holding,” Carick said looking relieved for s sliver of good news.
“Well, they may not hold for long,” Nuila answered. " As long as we don’t move the ship we should be OK. But, if we have to move, the rupture may grow. Engineering is the next section to decompress. It’s not good at all.”
“Suggestions?” Carick asked.
“Roberts is looking at the situation now. I’ll go back down to help.”
“Roberts?” Carick questioned. “You mean Kevin Roberts?”
“Yes Sir?” Nuila answered.
“I totally forgot he was on board.” Carick was relieved to hear the news. Cadet Roberts was a Sixth Year Cadet, nearly ready to graduate. His position in Starfleet Academy was guaranteed. “ He knows his way around a Starship for sure. Best Sixth Year we have for Engineering. OK, tell Roberts he’s the ship’s new chief engineer. You’re his second. I want a solution to the rupture asap. If we are in enemy space, and I think we may be, we will need to move and fast. Go!”
“Yes Sir,” Nuila said leaving Sick Bay to retrace his steps through twisted metal and down several decks to Main Engineering.
“Update?” Carick turned to Payne. She looked worried.
“His brain is swelling. This is beyond anything I can fix.” She thought for a moment.
“Merry, I need Meredith. Are you good for a bit?” Cadet Merryweather continued to work on his patient.
“Go,” Merry spoke to the Meredith Hologram. It dissolved and reappeared next to Payne.
“How may I assist Cadet?” Meredith asked. The hologram seemed solid yet pixelized enough so one could easily tell it was a high def hologram. She looked to be a woman in her mid 50’s with dark brown hair, a kind face with green eyes. She was dressed in a standard issue medical uniform.
“Meredith, suggestion for treatment on bed 4?” Payne asked.
“Stand By,” Meredith said. Her program was beautiful in design. Even while processing information her hologram stood like a person deep in thought. She had one arm across her chest. The other arm rested on that arm bringing her index finger up against her right cheek.
“Let’s begin by reviewing the data.” Meredith said, sounding like a teacher. “Please tell me your conclusions and the method by which you came to those conclusions.”
“Meredith, override teaching mode. Emergency situation. Activate consulting mode,” Payne knew Tex had very little time. She needed advice and she needed it immediately.
“Working,” Meredith said as she switched from teacher to medical consultant. “Patient is suffering from Brain Edema.. Your treatment suggestions follow. Begin with oxygen therapy. Put the patient on a respirator. Two. Insert an IV. Fluids will keep his blood pressure from dropping too low. This will help to make sure that the body -- including the brain -- is receiving enough blood. Three. His body temperature must be lowered. Lowering his temperature will relieve the swelling and allow the brain to heal. The medicine to place in the IV is listed on your PAD.
If the patient does not improve then a Ventriculostomy would be proper.
A small hole will need to be cut in the skull for the insertion of a plastic drain tube to drain away the Cerebrospinal fluid from inside the brain, helping to relieve the pressure.
“Meredith, I can do everything but the Ventriculcstomy.” Payne said while consulting her PAD for the proper medicine to place in the IV.
“Understood,” Meredith answered. “Then let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.”
“Payne, we need him. Do what you can?” Carick said while placing his hands on her shoulders. “Keep me informed of developments. Send a runner if you need to.” Carick quickly left the Sick Bay and down the hallway toward the turbolift elevator. He stopped short of the lift and entered Biology Lab Two. The room was completely dark. He waited for the door to close then sank down to the floor with his back against the wall. His body shook with spasms of fear at the responsibilities resting on his shoulders. He was only 17 years old. For a precious few minutes he could still be a boy crying alone in the dark. But only for a few minutes. People were waiting for him and he had a ship to command - a ship lost somewhere in the Galaxy.