Monday, February 15, 2010
Sunday, February 14, 2010
I sat in a large oak chair surrounded by our troupe of Troubadours called from their rehearsals to hear news from the north. Once gathered I begged attention and spoke.
"My Friends, sickness has been our companion these past few weeks. We all remember our Sainted Sheila once stood on death's door." Lady Sheila stood from her chair to acknowledge my words. She nodded in appreciation to her fellow Troubadours for their visits, prayers and the candles lit in the Castle's chapel for her recovery.
"Are we not glad she is with us and in good spirits? How fortunate we are the door did not open. Our Lady Lorraine, again here present, still recovers from a terrible undeserved blight but assures me, and all assembled, that she is better each and ever day. I fear Misfortune has called upon us and found a home. The proof of which came in a parchment delivered on the Friday."
I cleared my throat to continue to speak. A few of our younger Troubadours, having forgotten their manners, were quickly silenced by Lady Brittney so I could continue.
"Master Bracken has taken to his bed in the village of Logan four days by carriage to the north. This news came by his own hand, written on parchment, and delivered to the castle by a herald, sleepless these past two nights. The parchment is written in Master Bracken's own hand, shaken I can see from pain."
I stopped talking to try to read Bracken's marks. It became apparent I couldn't. I needed more light than the Great Hall's fire could provide. "Let us all vacate the Hall for the intimacy and natural sun light in the library," I suggested. All stood, exited the Hall, and ascended the stone staircase to the warm library above.
Once seated, our band of wintering Troubadours fell silent about me as I read Master Bracken's own words:
I awoke with great pain radiating from my lower side giving such discomfort as to cause me to sound an alarm. A doctor was presently called. His lateness in arriving due was the fault of a peasant suffering from a similar complaint. My suffering steadily increased as I awaited the physician. My Grandmother administered herbs. They took no effect. I thought of using spirits but thought the better of it not knowing how it would affect my condition. To occupy my mind I took quill and parchment to write this letter. I stop now, the physician has arrived.I stopped reading. The sun’s disk was being consumed by the far away hills. Lady Lorraine lit a candle and held it close so I could continue.
“Oh do proceed,” Lady Emily commanded. It is true she and Bracken were good friends and masters of our trade.
“Yes, please do,” Lady Stacy added from behind the younger members of our troupe who sat on the stone floor before me.
“I shall presently continue once my failing eyes grow accustom to the light,” I said.
“Tis a wonder he has eyesight at all considering his advanced age,” spoke Master Merryweather just out of arms reach to my left.
“Yes, tis true Master Spencer but pray you not forget your desire for payment from the Nobleman’s purse. Your apprenticeship is nearing completion. Statements such as the one just spoken might give me pause in offering a recommendation on your behalf.”
“I beg forgiveness,” the young master quickly added.
“Shall we continue?” I inquired, to which all spoke to the affirmative.
The physician bid adieu after bleeding me from my right foot. The pain, he testifies, is the result of bad blood, come from my long journey’s from the Castle to this village. I am under orders to remain until well enough to travel. I send this news by noble herald in hopes of receiving a parchment in return to cheer my dark mood. Yours in Service. Bracken.I folded the parchment as all stood to depart to their rooms and continued rehearsals for our travelling summer season soon to start before the summer solstice.
“Wait,” I said. My words startled Master Zac, causing him to stumble over the outstretched legs of young Master Luis who had fallen asleep during the reading. “I beg your pardon but I've forgotten other news. Presently return and pray I don't forget my head on the morrow.”
Our troupe reassembled. Once settled, I turned their attention to Master Bradyn.
“Master Bradyn received a letter from the Lord Bishop Commanding him to leave our troupe in April. He will be taking Holy Orders and joining a band of travelling Friars for the northern city of Boston. I’m sure all will join me in applause for our fellow Troubadour as he prepares to embark on this service to the Lord’s children.”
On my command all stood, young and old alike, to applaud Master Bradyn’s righteous desires. Master Braydn jumped to the top of a nearby oak table and bowed deeply as if stood before the Lord of the Manor himself.
“Now return to your rehearsals," I said in dismissing the gathering. "Light your fires for the night grows cold. A runner will summon you for dinner in the cookhouse. Tonight we feast on rabbit and bread. I shall see you all presently.”
The room emptied. I remained to stand by the large window overlooking the castle’s courtyard. Twilight blew the shadows away leaving an increasing darkness in their wake. It would be night soon, then supper and bed. The sabbath dawns on the morrow.
Saturday, February 13, 2010
I'd like to share something I found on a web site I frequent called "Simple Truths". (http://www.simpletruths.com). Please read on. You'll find what you read enlightening. I urge you to think about that one degree of difference that will always separate the good from the great.
One Degree of Separation
At 211 degrees, water is hot.
At 212 degrees, water boils and with boiling comes steam. Steam can power a locomotive. One extra degree makes all the difference.
And, the one extra degree of difference in business and life separates the good from the great!
The average margin of victory for the least 25 years in all major golf tournaments combined was less than three strokes. The margin for victory between an Olympic Gold Medal and no medal at all is extremely small. In the 2004 Mens 800m race the margin of victory was .71 seconds.
At the Indy 500, the average margin for victory for the past 10 years has been 1.54 seconds. On average the winner took home $1,278, 813. The second place prize was $621,321. A difference of $657,492!
It’s your life. You are responsible for your results. It’s time to turn up the Heat!
To get what we’ve never had we must do what we’ve never done.
You are now aware. You now have a target for everything you do. 212 degrees! Turn up the heat.
Friday, February 12, 2010
Send in your answers with proof this happened before and could happen again. You'll get your information listed below.
- (Mr. Williamson). An Asteroid Hit. Large collisions—with five kilometer objects—happen approximately once every ten million years. The last known impact of an object of 10 km or more in diameter was at the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event 65 million years ago.
- (Alex A). The Black Plague. Decimated Europe in only two years. Anywhere from 30 - 60 percent of the population was infected. It caused religious, social, and economic upheavals. Historians estimate it took 150 years for Europe to recover fully.
- (Jaden F) Noah's Ark! You know, that huge flood waaaaaaaay back in the day, when Noah had to build an ark. =D Pretty good, eh? ;)
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
I'll be signing books this Saturday at 1 pm at the BYU Bookstore along with Brandon Mull, Brandon Sanderson, Howard Tayler, Eric James Stone, Berin Stephens, Jake Black, Roger White, Lisa Mangum, Mette Ivie Harrison, and John Brown. This is part of Life, the Universe, & Everything, a Symposium on Science Fiction and Fantasy. The event runs Thursday - Saturday from 9 am until 9 pm. It's FREE to attend. Come listen to panels and presentations on everything sci-fi and fantasy!
Aleta Clegg, writing as Jaleta Clegg
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
The Magic of the Space Center
Space Center Flight Director
I remember the first time I walked through the doors of the center. It was for an overnight camp. I wasn't entirely sure what I was getting into, but I knew what it was supposed to be. It was an experience unlike any other, I knew that. All of the 6th graders had been talking about it for quite some time. I waited in anticipation outside of the front doors. It was early October, not too bad as far as weather goes; a soft breeze grazed our already excitement induced neck hairs as we waited, something similar to how Charlie felt outside of the chocolate factory I'm sure, for the front doors to be opened, and for us to be allowed in.
Monday, February 8, 2010
It's nearly 6:00 P.M. on Monday. The Voyager mission is in full bloom. The Odyssey crew is still alive (barely) and the Phoenix just ended. Alex is leaving, backpack on shoulder. We are getting ready to close the Space Center for another day.
I think back a few days to last Saturday. I leave here every Saturday evening at 6:00 P.M. with all the Space Center work done. All emails are answered, all phone calls are returned and all financials are documented. The staff are managed and everything is in its place. I walk out the door into the night knowing the Center is all wrapped up for the week and tied with a pretty red bow. I drive home satisfied that a long week's work is done. There is contentment in that thought (as anyone knows when a job is done right).
A few sun ups and downs later and I'm returning to work to start a new week. I sincerely believe I'll just waltz into the Space Center and find it just like I left it; I'll come through the school's doors, untie the red bow, remove the wrapping and have nothing to do but start up the Voyager and get things ready for the soon to arrive field trip.
And that's when reality and fantasy seperate!
Monday's make my head spin. I walk in hearing the phone ringing - sometimes non stop. I turn on my computer and see a screen full of emails, all needing attention. The answering machine is blinking messages and students are in and out with volunteer questions and math problems.
Today, the phone rang. It was one of my staff telling me she was in the process of vomiting up everything she'd eaten in the last three months and could she have the day off.
That's when I hunker down, roll up the sleeves, grit my teeth and multitask. I'm on the phone in mid email response writing in the reservation book while pointing a student to a chair and miming for them to take their math book out and be ready to show me the problem. I know that if I keep this up, every day, another Saturday evening will roll around and everything will be neatly packaged and put on the shelve leaving me to enjoy my one day off a week - My blessed Sunday.
It's 6:07 P.M. I've just finished dealing with all the Monday issues (and that's after Aleta, our office assistant spent several hours dealing with other things!) I'm getting ready to go home feeling somewhat content things are well wrapped - for the moment.
So, this is where we have a bit fun. Its time to think about something completely different. Ready to join me? OK, here are your deep thoughts for the night. Enjoy, have a laugh and let's ride this planet as its rotates into Tuesday with a smile on our faces.
1. Save the whales. Collect the whole set.
2. A day without sunshine is like. Night.
3. On the other hand, you have different fingers.
4. 42.7 percent of all statistics are made up on the spot.
5. 99 percent of lawyers give the rest a bad name.
6. Remember, half the people you know are below average.
7. He who laughs last thinks slowest.
8. Depression is merely anger without enthusiasm.
9. The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese in the trap.
10. Support bacteria. They're the only culture some people have.
11. A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
12. Change is inevitable, except from vending machines.
13. If you think nobody cares, try missing a couple of payments.
14. How many of you believe in psycho-kinesis? Raise my hand.
15. OK, so what's the speed of dark?
16. When everything is coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.
17. Hard work pays off in the future. Laziness pays off now.
18. Every one has a photographic memory. Some just don't have film.
19. How much deeper would the ocean be without sponges?
20. Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.
21. What happens if you get scared half to death twice?
22. I couldn't repair your brakes, so I made your horn louder.
23. Why do psychics have to ask you for your name?
24. Inside every older person is a younger person wondering what happened.
25. Just remember -- if the world didn't suck, we would all fall off.
26. Light travels faster than sound. That's why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
27. Life isn't like a box of chocolates . . . it's more like a jar of jalapenos. What you do today, might burn you tomorrow.
28. The above is probably enough for now.
Sunday, February 7, 2010
Saturday, February 6, 2010
Campers are surveyed at the end of every Overnight Camp. The staff and volunteers gather after the campers return to reality to review their comments and award points to the simulators and people that score the highest on the satisfaction indexes.
One section of the flyer gives campers the opportunity to provide feedback in written form. Here are a few of the many comments we received on this last camp. Please be advised that the interesting spelling is the author's and not mine:
“My Favorite part of the mission was the very beginning, running through and halls.”
This is a typical comment- the kind that has us scratching our heads. Kids come to the Space Center because of the simulators and when they get here all they want to do is get out of the ships for Away Teams and Landing Parties. First they want in the ships and then they want out! Go figure that one out.“I think you can make the Space Center better by building an addition and make more awesome simulators. And make the computers touch screens.
Sure, an awesome idea. That will be the first thing on my agenda, building another addition to the school. I’ll need some of Obama’s Stimulus money for that because it ain’t gonna come from anywhere else.“I think you can make the Space Center better by building a Romulan”
OK, someone help me on this one. How do we go about building a Romulan?“I think the best part of my mission was saving my crew!”
Aaahhhhhh. Sweet. Get’s you right in the gut doesn’t it?“I like that everything at the Space Center felt real like Star Trek”
Felt real, like Star Trek? This kids needs to get out more often.“I think that when the aliens shoot you with the phasers it should feel like you really got shot. Also, make some planets to land on.”
Just Kidding :)
Yes, I finally find someone as warped as me. Wouldn’t you love to go to a place where you can be shot by a fake phaser that does no real damage yet feels like you were skewered with a stream of volcanic plasma? As for building a planet to land on, I've got to first remember my Calculus for planetary orbit before even considering the trillions of possible DNA competitions for life forms!“I like beating the mission flawlessly.”
Flawlessly? Excellent vocabulary for a 6th grader. Defiantly not what you’d hear from some of the students I’ve worked with in the past. “Teacher, I gone and done that there thing without a hiccup.”"I hated the crazy wake up music.”
Tough because I picked it out last weekend. :)“I liked blowing up a lot of bad guys.”
That’s what they are there for - blowing up.And today’s best answer to the question, “What was the funnest thing about your overnight camp?”
Response from an 11 year old girl. “My Farting in the gym.”Classic, just classic. We go to all this trouble putting together the best program we can using our million dollar facility and what does this student say about our efforts?
“Farting in the gym?!” I’ll tell my staff of 25 that their efforts were well appreciated
Sheeeeezzzze. Some Respect Please :)
Thanks Troops for Reading and Thanks for Coming to the Space Center.
Friday, February 5, 2010
Magellan Flight Director
Space Center Educator
This is a necessary form to survive your teenage years. It is good for adulthood too. Preteens, I don't think you need this. You younglings can get away with bad behavior by looking guilty and springing a tear or two. Supplement the guilt and tears with a quivering lower lip and forgiveness is a given. Those tactics loose their effectiveness the older you get.
This form shows originality and is cleverly written. I give it a 3 out of 5 on the Imaginatization Index.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Think of the staff at the Space Center. Now look at this picture. Who's car is this? Send your guess and reasons by email. All winning entries will be placed in a Little Caesar's pizza box where one winning entry will be drawn after the OV camp on Saturday. The winner will receive a $10 WalMart Gift card from Me. By the way, I'm the judge.
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Saturn's icy moon Iapetus has long baffled scientists with its unusual walnut shape.
Now a team of researchers says they have an explanation: The satellite's surface froze during its infancy, locking the moon's shape at a time when it was spinning much faster than it is now. Today, Iapetus is 20 miles (33 kilometers) wider at the equator than the poles. Normally, that kind of distortion happens only if a moon is spinning rapidly, like a figure skater in a tight spin. But an Iapetus day is nearly 80 Earth days long, though it was once much shorter.
"You would expect a very fast-spinning moon to have this bulge, but not a slow-spinning moon," Dennis Matson, a scientist with NASA's Saturn-orbiting Cassini mission, said in a statement.
In a paper published in the online version of the journal Icarus, a team led by Julie Castillo of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has finally found an explanation for the moon's odd shape. Short-lived radioactive elements, such as aluminum-26 and iron-60, could have provided enough heat to keep the moon's interior warm and squishy during its infancy. This would have allowed the exterior to freeze solid, forcing the moon to keep its early shape even as its spin reduced and gravity tried to pull it into a sphere.
"Iapetus spun fast, froze young, and left behind a body with lasting curves," Castillo said in a statement.
Keep Current on Space!
Space Center Educator
Sunday, January 31, 2010
Last Sunday morning I was home enjoying an exceptional view of the valley. The sky was crisp blue and the air was clean, a real treat considering the muck we’ve had to breath for the last several weeks.
“Victor!” mother called from the door leading to my home's basement apartment. She was using her “I’m going to ask you to do something so I’ll use my kind, less shrill” voice.
“Yes,” I hesitated in responding. She knew I was home so remaining silent wouldn’t be wise. It would only result in a personal visit up the stairs.
“Would you take me driving so I can practice parallel parking?”
I let her words hang in the air until the shock of their meaning dissipated to the point where I could respond. My mind went through thousands of calculations in an attempt to rearrange the universe in such a way that I could get out of doing it without disappointing her. I opened my mouth to lie....
“Yes, I’ll take you,” I said. I don’t knew where those words came from. I suspect guilt planted them into my head. She needed help and I was home. It was a son’s duty. I also realized that her chances of passing the parallel parking part of the driving test were as good as dad ever saying “I’m tired of working. I’m going tot take the rest of my life off.”
“Let’s go,” she shouted. Her excitement reminded me of a dog circling and yapping in delight after realizing he’s about to get to ride in the back of the pickup truck for a trip into town.
I fell to my knees realizing the mortal danger I’d put myself into. I prayed, using my own made up prayer; afterwards, thinking my own prayer for safety wouldn’t be enough, I went online and did a quick Google search for “Prayers for Driving Instructors”. I found a good one, fell again to my knees and recited it word for word. I heard her ascending the steps. I closed my computer, put on my coat went into the kitchen, opened my desk, and searched for my amulets. I found my Rabbit’s foot and plastic Buddha. I couldn’t find my Star of David but felt it would be OK considering we doing this on a Sunday, and Sunday wasn’t the Jewish Sabbath. I put the two items in my coat pockets and turned to select a cross necklace from the many hanging around the wooden banister separating my kitchen and living room. They were sent to me by dozens of Catholic charity searching for donations. Sheezzzz, I gave a couple bucks to a Catholic homeless shelter for teens in New York City and Presto... my name is spread to every Catholic charity world wide. I selected the cross sent by the Sister of Ever Increasing Hope, put it around my neck and walked out to the garage to meet her.
“Get in,” she said. She was sitting in the driver’s seat of her Titanic sized Lincoln Town Car. I got in. She backed out of the Garage without hitting anything. Fortuna was with us I thought. I thought too soon. She didn’t take the driveway at an angle causing the car to scrape against the rise where the driveway and sidewalk meet at a sharp incline. I cringed at the sound of metal on concrete. She didn’t hear or feel it. She was too busy finding the road. She managed to find Drive and we jerked forward.
“How’am I doing?” she said as she leaned forward to rest her chin on the steering wheel - her favored driving position. You see, she has a cataract in her right eye, so she really only sees out of her left. She thinks she has a better view of the road if she leans forward that extra foot and a half. The hood of the Lincoln stretching out several yards doesn’t help. I fastened my seat belt and rubbed the cross around my neck praying to Saint Christopher for deliverance.
I watched her as we rolled down the hill. Her eyes were wide open staring at the road ahead.
“What’s the speed limit,” she shouted nearly sending me out the door. I was clutching the door handle anyway, ready to jump and roll if necessary. You know the old adage, at sea - its every man for himself on a sinking ship.
“Twenty Five,” I shouted back. She slammed on the brake to slow from 18 miles per hour to 12.
“Read this,” she tossed a yellow paper at me containing the notes written by the driving evaluator from her last failed attempt to pass the driving test. He’d written that she wasn’t looking over her shoulder when changing lanes.
“You’re not looking over your shoulder when changing lanes,” I said.
“Where?” she shouted. Her foot found the brake again. A radar gun would have clocked us at 8 miles an hour at that point. She jerked her head left and right looking for something that wasn’t there.
“When you change lanes - you need to look over your shoulder,” I explained.
“Oh..... got it,” she answered. Our speed increased. I looked at the paper again. Down in the bottom corner I found a cross drawn in ink. Below it were these words, “Pray for us now and in the hour of our death Amen.” I recognized them from the Catholic “Hail Mary” prayer.
“Mom, was your last driving evaluator Hispanic?” I asked.
“How did you know?” she answered. I let it go.
We approached the traffic light at the bottom of the road on 1100 North. She was going to merge to the left to get into the turning lane. She braked, then spun her head violently to the left to check for cars creeping up beside her. Then, to my surprise, she spun her head to the right to check for cars. We stopped on the red. We waited. Her hands clutched the wheel. My hands clutched the dashboard. The light turned green. We didn’t move. Yes, she saw the green but was busy looking to the left and right for oncoming cars.
“Go?” she shouted out the question, unsure of herself.
“Yes, its green?”
“Yes.. GO!” And go she went, pedal to the medal. I believe the Lincoln rolled up on its right two tires on that corner.
“God help us,” I mumbled.
“WHERE?” she shouted. Her foot found the brake again.
“Keep going,” I said loud enough for her to hear.
A quarter mile down the road we came to the school crossing zone.
“School Zone,” she said. “They’ll get me if I don’t slow down.” We slowed.
“Mother, its Sunday. There is no school.”
“Does it matter?” she asked.
“Slow down only if there are children present or if the yellow lights are flashing.” I reminder her.
“That’s were Judy lives. She’s my friend,” she said as we passed the large house next to the cemetery.
“Who drives when you and Judy go out?” I asked.
“Judy drives,” she replied.
Yes, I was right. I knew Judy would be the designated driver. Would you let an old lady with one good eye and paranoid of everything else on the road drive you anywhere?
We got to the light on Center Street. She was going to turn right. Again, she cranked her head to the left and right before signalling the turn and moving into the right turning lane.
“Why are you looking over your left shoulder when you’re making a right hand turn?” I asked. “You said the instructor wrote that I needed to look over my shoulder when changing lanes. Did he write that or not?” she asked a bit perturbed.
“Ma, look over your shoulder at the lane you’re moving into to check for traffic, not at the lane you’re moving out of,” I explained.
“Well make up your mind,” she shot back.
The rest of the way to the driving range was filled with the same. She cranked her head to the left and to the right all the way down the road, at every intersection, at every stop sign and every time she changed lanes no matter what direction she was turning.
We managed to get to the driving range alive. She pulled up to the tall cone markers marking the place where parallel parking was tested.
“This is where I keep failing,” she hissed as we pulled up to the front two cones marking where the back bumper of a parked car would be. Behind us stood two taller cones marking where the front bumper of another parked car would be.
“I’ve got to get this car in there,” she said point to the small open space between the two sets of several orange cones stacked on on top of the other.
“OK, let’s do this,” I said. Hoping for the best. For the next ten minutes she maneuvered the car. First forward, then she would check the position of the front cones. Then backward and rechecking the positions of the cones. She was looking for some magical sweet spot that would guarantee a perfect park. I urged her to just “Do it already”. She bit her bottom lip, cranked the wheel and hit the gas.
We stopped after the back right tire went up and over the curb.
“Damn,” she mumbled as she shifted from reverse into drive and peeled forward out into the driving lane and into the parking lot. She turned hard left, circling around, passing the parking test point into the opposite parking lot. She made another hard left and pulled back into position to try it all over again. I’ll call that her classic Circle 8 maneuver.
She tried again. Success! We didn’t climb the curb. We also didn’t parallel park. We ended up half in the parking place and half into the road.
“Damn,” she mumbled and stepped onto the gas. Another classic Circle 8 maneuver.
The next time I talked and talked and talked her through the parking. We moved slowly an inch at a time. It was nearly a success. We did another circle 8 to reposition the car for another attempt.
By this time I was getting car sick with all the circle 8’s. We were into it 20 minutes and I had to get out or I’d loose my lunch, breakfast and supper from the night before. I got out of the car and stood beside the cones. I talked her through a half dozen attempts. She got the last one right! There were cheers. She was so proud of herself. She insisted she do it again. She got the next half dozen wrong. Her problem was she couldn’t see the cones very well. She also freaked out because the Lincoln had a backing up alarm. Every time she’d get close to the back cones the alarm rang sending her into shock. Thirty minutes into the practice she became desensitized to the alarm.
On the 19th attempt she successfully knocked over the back two cone pillars.
“Damn it,” she mumbled and sped off into another circle 8. On her next attempt she knocked over the front left set of cones. By then I’d had enough. I got in the drivers seat. She stood outside and I parallel parked the car several times so she could see how it was done. Half the time she seemed more interested in the cones than my demonstration. She thought they were lower than the last time she attempted to pass the driving test.
She got in again even more determined to succeed. I remained in the car and tried to teach her to focus more on the mirrors than cranking her head around so much.
“Mirrors! I can’t see the cones in the mirrors!” she shouted.
“Are you telling me that you can’t see the cones in this mirror?” I said pointing to the mirror on the outside of my door.
“Am I suppose to?” she asked. I heard a chuckle from the back seat. I turned, and for a brief thousandth of a second I thought I saw what appeared to be an angel. Her guardian angel. The one she says is there to help with her driving. It was all just too much. I moved the mirror until she saw the cones in their right position.
“Look at that, I can see the cones!” she said happily. After that, she parked nearly perfectly.
She had parallel parking mastered and it only took 90 minutes to do it!
On the way home she got a phone call from my father. I answered it fearing to let her talk on the phone and drive at the same time.
“How many cones did she know over?” he asked from work. My dad works at Walmart. He retired many years ago, has plenty of money but likes to work to keep busy.
“Ask her if she’s going to Walmart today,” he asked.
“If he needs me to go I will,” she replied. I passed the message back to dad.
“Tell her I need my three D’s” he responded. “Do you know what the three D’s are?” he asked.
“No,” I said, and in reality I didn’t care to know.
“Drink, dinner and dessert,” he said. I passed the information to mom and the call ended. I thought for a moment. That entire conversation seemed strange.
“Mom, Dad’s at work. He’s at WalMart. He’s asking you to drive to Walmart to pick up a drink, dinner and dessert. Why? He’s already there. Why doesn’t he do it himself?”
“He thinks it tastes better If I do it?” she answered as she cranked her head back and forth so much I didn’t need the window down for a breeze. Her head was fanning the air enough.
I was never so happy to get home in my life than I did last Sunday. The next day she went in and took her driving test. She passed!
“I passed,” she said when she got home.
“Any problems?” I asked.
“Nope. I got up and had a revelation. I realized the Lincoln was too big so your father and I rented a small compact car for the day and that's what I used for my driving test. I parked that small thing on the first try. Thanks for you help honey!”
"You're welcome. I'm glad you passed. I told you you could do it. I never lost faith," I lied while feeling peeved I spent all that time on Sunday trying to teach her to park that Titanic Lincoln. Now hopefully her license will be valid enough years so I can recover before it all has to be done over again.
Saturday, January 30, 2010
A few days ago we flew several fifth grade classes from Highland Elementary. They were a delight. They were attentive in the simulators and did their best to win the mission.
I told Intolerance, the story of the escaped slave. The story starts with the ship setting course for the Romulan border and jumping to warp. The first few minutes of warp travel is used for a bridge wide explanation of everyone's jobs. I do this over the microphone in my Tex character. The opening speech ends with:
"Captain, we've had a power fluctuation. Engineer, Left Wing and Right wing, please check your power numbers, get them balanced and don't forget to hit the red update or lock in buttons."
I reached out and pressed a button to send a sensor prompt to the Sensor Station. I heard the computer make the happy sound. The happy sound is the sound the old Sensor computer makes when it received my order to move to the next screen. Our Sensor Computer has issues sometimes and refuses to follow orders from the Flight Director. It's stubbornness sometimes requires patient coaxing. If that doesn't bring it around then a restart would be next.
I watched on the CCTV system as the Sensors Office straighted up when seeing something new coming in on his screen.
"Captain!" he shouted.
"Ralph," the Captain answered. (Ralph is a made up name. I don't want to use the real name of the boy).
"There is a rup...... rap......rep......" the boy struggled to sound out the word spelled out on his screen. He paused, searched his mind for a word that looked like the one on his screen and blurted it out.
"Captain, there is a Rapture near the Nebula......!"
I laughed. In my mind I visualized the literal meaning of the young boys very serious statement. This is the definition that came to mind that caused me to chuckle.
Read definition 2. In most of the Christian world, the Rapture means that point in time when all true believers will disappear from the real world and be caught up into the sky and heaven at the time of the second coming, leaving behind the sinners and the non believers.
Having been raised outside of Utah and having many Pentecostal friends I knew this word and its meaning all to well. My friends used it on me all the time. I would be the one left behind at the Rapture because of my LDS beliefs.
So, here I was, once again faced with the Rapture and just as my friends predicted so long ago, I really was left behind at my Flight Director's Chair. The whole thing just struck me as funny.
The Week's End
Well troops. We are at the end of the week. It is 4:39 P.M. on Saturday and the Center closes in twenty minutes. Our custodian is taking tonight off so I'm going to finish this post, go to the custodian's closet, fill a mop with water, put on a pair of rubber gloves and clean the school's bathrooms. I really mean it when I say even at Disneyland, someone's got to clean the toilets. It's true hear also except here, the boss takes his turn like everyone else.
Have a good weekend,
Thursday, January 28, 2010
This is the most recent picture of the new Galileo taken by Kyle Herring this evening. A lot of work has been done on our new addition to the fleet since it opened two weeks ago. The cool red lights coming from the front of the warp nacelles were installed today.
"Vic, you've got to come see the Galileo," Kyle said while I was working on the February Volunteering Schedule. I've learned that if Kyle is excited about something then I'd better be as well. He had the lights in the cafeteria off so I could experience the ship illuminated by its own lights. WOW is the only way to describe this new ship. The Galileo is amazing! You'll be very happy when you get a chance to fly her.
Troops, you may want to put a group of friend together and book a private mission in the New Galileo. It really is that cool.
What's Next? Well, the Galileo has several nifty torpedoes you actually load yourself through a hatch in the ship's floor. I'll post more on that when the loading mechanism is finished so I cant include a picture.
Casey Voeks is Back
Many of you old timers remember Casey Voeks. He worked as a flight director in the Magellan, Phoenix and Voyager. He returned on Tuesday from an LDS mission in Texas and plans on returning to work at the Space Center. I'm happy to have Casey back. He was a talented flight director and very popular with the campers.
Casey came in today to watch me fly Intolerance for a 5th grade class from Highland Elementary. He's got to relearn the Voyager before he directs his first mission Friday afternoon.
Summer Camp Registration Starts Monday!
You can book your summer Space Camp for 2010 beginning Monday. This year we add a 4 day camp to the roster. This Super Camp will combine a 3 day Edventure Camp with an Overnight Camp giving you the opportunity to spend four days with us. The Extended Camp will fill quickly so sign up quickly.
In addition to the Extended Camp, the Center will offer our usual EdVenture Camps, Day Camps, Super Overnighters, and regular Overnight Camps. It will be a busy and fun summer at the Space Center.
I Had to Laugh!
I stood on the bridge getting the 5th grade crew from Highland Elementary ready for their mission this afternoon. I called the Ambassador over to where I was standing and gave him a radio. The captain was next.
"Captain, did you see the last Star Trek movie," I asked while waving him over to have his radio fitted. The class heard the question. Several hands went up along with many comments on how much they liked it.
"It was cool," the Captain answered.
"Well, you're our Captain Kirk," I said. "Let's hope you bring us the same luck he brought the Enterprise." The Captain said that was cool and took his seat. I called the first officer over.
"And you are our Mr. Spock," I said while handing him the radio and headset.
"Mr. Smog?" he asked looking very confused. He was one of the few that didn't see the Star Trek movie. From his response I could tell he'd never seen Star Trek at all. "Why Mr. Smog?" he asked.
"Mr. Spock. I said Mr. Spock," I explained. His face expressed his confusion. "Never mind, have a seat." I directed him back to his chair.
Have a Nice Evening Troops,
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
I know some of you are Mac fans like myself. Others are PC droids. Regardless of your orientation you'll be amazed at Apple's new iPad announced today. I'm drooling over my keyboard and counting the change in my pocket. I want one........
Watch this video. This product is Star Trek here Today!
We have a few openings for our Overnight Camp this Friday starting at 7:00 P.M. and ending 10:00 A.M. Saturday Morning for anyone age 10 - 14 years old. You will be joining students from Lindon Elementary School. Once again, if you're a Blog Reader or Frequent Flyer you can register at the discounted price of $37.00. If you're interested, please contact me by email: email@example.com
Monday, January 25, 2010
Below this paragraph is a testimonial and thank you letter I received from a teacher. We don't get a lot of feedback from our teachers, students and campers. They cheer and clap after a field trip, private mission or camp and they leave. It is nice when someone takes the time to send an email telling us they appreciated the experience and how it affected them. Letters like this energized us and make us want to work harder to created the best field trip and camp possible with our limited resources. After all, what are we after? World domination of course........Is that too much to ask?
And Now the Teacher's Letter:
Dear Space Center,
It is has been 7-8 years since I took a classroom to Space Camp. Of course, I haven't been teaching all that time. As a matter of fact, I have just gotten back into the field. I teach seventh grade homeroom at a conservative private school in American Fork. I am looking into the possibility of taking both seventh grades next year and was excited to hear that the curriculum would be the same as it was the last time I went.
Because I had recently heard about Space Camp, I decided to see if it would fit the curriculum of the private school I worked for back in 1999. The principal was excited about it, so I sent off for information. We were thrilled that the book I had chosen for my sixth grade that year was The Diary of Anne Frank and that the Camp curriculum was going to cover that same book. I set up a date for us to go in November of that same year. Our principal decided that the small seventh and eighth grade would accompany us.
I worked with that teacher to set up the curriculum to include Science, Math, Language Arts, Music, Art, Literature, Spelling, Orthography/Penmanship, Speech/Oratory, Social Studies, Leadership and "Followership" Skills and PE. We started the day school started preparing our students for this experience. Although we used different student books and manuals, we were able to adjust the curriculum.
The students were not easy to handle, as many of them had been with each other for several years, some for seven years! We and they kept notebooks of our work. When the day came, we did our culminating activity and went to "after-school Space Camp."
It was fascinating to watch the class become a team during the two and one-half hour mission. However, what was phenomenal were the next days, the next weeks, the next months. These students had been somewhat surly in their approach to each other and me during the first several months of school. The next day, students who had had hard feelings, negative reactions to each other and to me, had been "re-born" because of this two and one-half hour experience. They were much more positive towards others in class and out. The looked for ways to help each other have positive experiences with learning.
They had a strong desire to learn, to be a part of a team, to look for ways to help me and they wanted to do their best. They were not little angels all the time, but they recognized that they could change and that it was a better change for them. I had
"new" students the rest of the year in more ways than one. Whenever a student came in who was new to seventh grade, my other students looked for ways to help them acclimate. They all gathered round those who had difficult or hard times during the rest of the year. It was a joy to behold!
Since this experience, I have had both parents and students of that seventh grade write to me expressing that this experience was a turning point in lives. Many of these
same students are now full-ride scholarship students at great universities, working on Doctorates. Others greet me on the street, telling me that that is one of the greatest experiences they have had in their lives, that they remind those with whom they come in contact with about this experience and are now "missionaries" for Space Camp, just like me!!!
What more can I say except what I have already said? I have said this in such a hurry that I hope that I have not been too incoherent!!!
ENGAGE!!!!! (as Commander Pickard used to say)
Mrs. Sharon S.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Whenever you think school is just too much.
Whenever you think you'll never understand.
Whenever you think your brain can't hold one more pixel of information
Just remember, there are those that have it worse. Just buckle down and get the job done. No excuses, no blaming, JUST DO IT. Your Education is just that - Your Education. Succeed at it. That's all we ask.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Last week I answered a long distance call from a gentleman in Seattle. He introduced himself as the proud new owner of the old Galileo. I was surprised, not knowing the Galileo was back on State auction. It appears all the bidders on the original auction backed out after discovering the simulator needed to be dismantled for shipping. Oh, the astronomical shipping costs acting as a deterrent as well.
“So, how does this Space Shuttle work,” he asked. His voice was pleasant, the kind that usually belongs to a likable, fun loving person. He was driving while on the phone. I could tell he wanted the condensed explanation. I didn’t know where to begin. How do you explain what we do in 30 seconds or less?
“First, let me explain that it is not a shuttle. It is more like a Star Trek shuttlecraft,” I started what ended up being a monologue that dragged on for several minutes. He urged me to speed it up; I ignored the hints and continued to quote from my memorized and well rehearsed one man show called Flight Directing for Dummies. He seemed to be getting it.
“Are you a Star Trek fan?” I questioned. He answered enthusiastically in the positive. Finding that common ground led to several more minutes of explanation.
“May I ask what you’re going to do with the Galileo?” I asked at the end.
If I heard this gentleman right, the Galileo will be placed inside a bus and used for parties and events. His company provides safe transport home from bars and nightclubs for those that ‘had one too many’. Their buses offer entertainment to the sauced passenger as they travel home. It could be a baseball game, or football, or whatever. The interior of the bus in a set, or lounge or whatever.
He says its a fun and profitable business.
'The Galileo will be put in a bus and offered as a fun party or transportation alternative. Parents can rent the bus for a birthday party. The kids board the Galileo (inside the bus) for a ride around town while they run their mission. Adults could rend the bus for a fun simulation while going home from a night on the town or as a fun thing to do as they travel to some event (for instance, renting the bus to take you and your friends to another town to attend a football game etc).
This is the link for the company if you'd like to know more about the Galileo's final resting place.
There you have it Troops. The old Galileo has a new owner and will be leaving Pleasant Grove for Seattle shortly to entertain in a whole different way.
Will you miss the old girl? As a proper send off, you are welcome to write your favorite memory of your time in the Galileo. I'd like to read what you say. Use the comment link at the bottom of this post so others can read what you have to say.
What do you think?
Thursday, January 21, 2010
We have openings for this week's Overnight Camp. Our Overnight Camp is competing with a Scouting Klondike.
If you're interested in coming on an overnight camp this weekend please let me know.
Normal price is $43.00. We can let our Blog Readers and Frequent Flyers attend for $37.00.
You must be between 10 and 14 years old to attend. Caution, be sure we are running a mission you haven't done. The Voyager will be telling Greenpeace. The Magellan will be telling Invasion, the Odyssey will be telling Heir to the Empire, the Phoenix will be telling Supernova and the Galileo will be telling Scorpion Relay. If you're interested in attending please send the following information by email:
We will collect payment at the door Friday night. Payment must be a check or cash.
An Overnight Confirmation Form will be sent by email for your parents to complete. The form comes with you to camp.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
The word Hero is overused in today's society. I'm convinced that most people really don't understand what a real hero is. May I take a moment of your time and introduce you to one? Please read on....
This is the story of an incredible woman and her amazing gift to mankind. Irena Sendler. An unfamiliar name to most people, but this remarkable woman defied the Nazis and saved 2,500 Jewish children by smuggling them out of the Warsaw Ghetto. As a health worker, she sneaked the children out between 1942 and 1943 to safe hiding places and found non-Jewish families to adopt them.
For many years Irena Sendler - white-haired, gentle and courageous - was living a modest existence in her Warsaw apartment. This unsung heroine passed away on Monday May 12th, 2008.
Her achievement went largely unnoticed for many years. Then the story was uncovered by four young students at Uniontown High School, in Kansas, who were the winners of the 2000 Kansas state National History Day competition by writing a play Life in a Jar about the heroic actions of Irena Sendler. The girls - Elizabeth Cambers, Megan Stewart, Sabrina Coons and Janice Underwood - have since gained international recognition, along with their teacher, Norman Conard. The presentation, seen in many venues in the United States and popularized by National Public Radio, C-SPAN and CBS, has brought Irena Sendlers story to a wider public. The students continue their prize-winning dramatic presentation Life in a Jar.
In 1939, Germany invaded Poland, and the brutality of the Nazis accelerated with murder, violence and terror. At the time, Irena was a Senior Administrator in the Warsaw Social Welfare Department, which operated the canteens in every district of the city. Previously, the canteens provided meals, financial aid, and other services for orphans, the elderly, the poor and the destitute. Now, through Irena, the canteens also provided clothing, medicine and money for the Jews. They were registered under fictitious Christian names, and to prevent inspections, the Jewish families were reported as being afflicted with such highly infectious diseases as typhus and tuberculosis.
In 1942 the Nazis herded hundreds of thousands of Jews into a 16-block area that came to be known as the Warsaw Ghetto. The Ghetto was sealed and the Jewish families ended up behind its walls, only to await certain death. Irena Sendler was so appalled by the conditions that she joined Zegota, the Council for Aid to Jews, organized by the Polish underground resistance movement, as one of its first recruits and directed the efforts to rescue Jewish children. To be able to enter the Ghetto legally, Irena managed to be issued a pass from Warsaws Epidemic Control Department and she visited the Ghetto daily, reestablished contacts and brought food, medicines and clothing. But 5,000 people were dying a month from starvation and disease in the Ghetto, and she decided to help the Jewish children to get out. For Irena Sendler, a young mother herself, persuading parents to part with their children was in itself a horrendous task. Finding families willing to shelter the children, and thereby willing to risk their life if the Nazis ever found out, was also not easy.
Irena Sendler wore a Star of David armband as a sign of her unity to Jews. She began smuggling children out in an ambulance. She recruited at least one person from each of the ten centers of the Social Welfare Department. With their help, she issued hundreds of false documents with forged signatures. Irena Sendler successfully smuggled almost 2,500 Jewish children to safety and gave them temporary new identities.
Some children were taken out in gunnysacks or body bags. Some were buried inside loads of goods. A mechanic took a baby out in his toolbox. Some kids were carried out in potato sacks, others were placed in coffins, some entered a church in the Ghetto which had two entrances. One entrance opened into the Ghetto, the other opened into the Aryan side of Warsaw. They entered the church as Jews and exited as Christians. "`Can you guarantee they will live?'" Irena later recalled the distraught parents asking. But she could only guarantee they would die if they stayed. "In my dreams," she said, "I still hear the cries when they left their parents."
Irena had a remarkable record of cooperation when placing the youngsters: "No one ever refused to take a child from me," she said. The children were given false identities and placed in homes, orphanages and convents. Irena Sendler carefully noted, in coded form, the children's original names and their new identities. She kept the only record of their true identities in jars buried beneath an apple tree in a neighbor's back yard, across the street from German barracks, hoping she could someday dig up the jars, locate the children and inform them of their past. In all, the jars contained the names of 2,500 children
The Nazis became aware of Irena's activities, and on October 20, 1943 she was arrested, imprisoned and tortured by the Gestapo, who broke her feet and legs. She ended up in the Pawiak Prison, but no one could break her spirit. Though she was the only one who knew the names and addresses of the families sheltering the Jewish children, she withstood the torture, that crippled her for life, refusing to betray either her associates or any of the Jewish children in hiding. Sentenced to death, Irena was saved at the last minute when Zegota members bribed one of the Gestapo agents to halt the execution. She escaped from prison but for the rest of the war she was pursued by the Nazis.
After the war she dug up the jars and used the notes to track down the 2,500 children she placed with adoptive families and to reunite them with relatives scattered across Europe. But most lost their families during the Holocaust in Nazi death camps. The children had known her only by her code name Jolanta. But years later, after she was honored for her wartime work, her picture appeared in a newspaper. "A man, a painter, telephoned me," said Sendler, "`I remember your face,' he said. `It was you who took me out of the ghetto.' I had many calls like that!"
Irena Sendler did not think of herself as a hero. She claimed no credit for her actions. "I could have done more," she said. "This regret will follow me to my death." She has been honored by international Jewish organizations. In 1991 she was made an honorary citizen of Israel. Irena Sendler was awarded Poland's highest distinction, the Order of White Eagle, in Warsaw Monday Nov. 10, 2003. She has officially been designated a national hero in Poland and schools are named in her honor. Annual Irena Sendler days are celebrated throughout Europe and the United States.
“Every child saved with my help is the justification of my existence on this Earth, and not a title to glory,” Irena Sendler said in a letter.
This lovely, courageous woman was one of the most dedicated and active workers in aiding Jews during the Nazi occupation of Poland. Her courage enabled not only the survival of 2,500 Jewish children but also of the generations of their descendants.
Troops, there are some born to this world different than the rest of us. They walk a different path - a path most fear to tread. These people are my heros.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
I met with our simulator Set Directors, Flight Directors and Education Staff yesterday to discuss the Space Center’s summer season for 2010. You’re wrong if you’re thinking January is too early to be thinking about summer. Stop for a second and think about everything it takes to prepare for the summer.
- Every simulator needs a new story to tell. That includes a story script, video and tactical programming.
- The curriculum for the class session must be outlined, planned and practiced.
- The calendar must be decided upon (days of camps and classes).
- The summer flyer must be prepared, printed and distributed, giving everyone enough time to enroll for camp.
This is what we’ve decided so far.
- We will take 45 in a camp, not the normal 62. We had 45 last summer and we liked the smaller numbers. It was less stressful.
- Our EdVenture Camps will primarily run Monday to Wednesday, like last year.
- Our Overnight Camps will primarily run Thursday night into Friday morning.
- We will run one Extended Overnight Camp in June, July and August.
- The Voyager will tell “The Grand PooPah”
- The Odyssey will tell “The Plague”
- The Phoenix will tell “Razor’s Edge”
- The Galileo will tell “No More Secrets”
- The Magellan mission is in development and is unnamed.
- Swimming will be at PG Pool as in the past.
- We will offer one Leadership Camp for our older 15 - 17 year olds.
- The price for the three day camp will be $160.00
- We will offer two Super Space Camps! The cost will be $210.00 for the Super Camp. It will run Monday evening to Friday morning.
I just got back from trying to book Pleasant Grove's Pool for our summer camps. The ladies at the desk were taken back that I wanted to book so many evenings.
"We have to get this cleared," the older of the two said. She took my list of dates and disappeared through a doorway to talk to her supervisor. Several minutes later she reappeared.
"I'm sorry but this will have to go to the manager's desk for approval," she explained. I wanted to ask why, thinking it was ridiculous a manager had to approve a pool booking. The city rents the pool to private groups all summer long. We are a private group. We want to rent the pool. Is it written somewhere that the pool's private bookings are to be rationed due to a shortage of WHAT? Can you think of what the shortage could be?
Perhaps water. Wait, that doesn't make sense. How about staffing? No, the staff are paid to work the private parties and I'm paying for the party so that shouldn't be a problem. Hmmmmmmm, for the life of me I can't think why the lady at the desk would think I was asking for too many pool reservations. Yes, its one of those strange unexplained oddities we encounter every day as we do our very best to survive living in the Confederacy of Dunces. Sheezzzzze. Blahhhhhhh.
Well, that’s about it. I'm done venting my frustrations. Our Monday meeting went for nearly two hours. The talking is finished. Now it time for action. Time to get the summer 2010 season ready for a successful blast off!
Here is one person's creative idea. An idea begun in imagination,thought out clearly and presented. Friends, I give you a new way to look at time.
You've got to hand it to imagination.
Monday, January 18, 2010
It always falls down. That's how the apple helped Isaac Newton.
An 18th-century account of how Newton developed the theory of gravity was posted to the Web Monday, making the fragile paper manuscript widely available to the public for the first time.
Newton's encounter with the apple ranks among science's most celebrated anecdotes, and it can now be read in the faded cursive script in which it was recorded by William Stukeley, Newton's contemporary.
Royal Society librarian Keith Moore said the apple story has resonated for centuries because it packs in so much _ an illustration of how modern science works, an implicit reference to the solar system and even an allusion to the Bible.
When Newton describes the process of observing a falling apple and guessing at the principle behind it "he's talking about the scientific method," Moore said.
"Also the shape of the apple recalls the planet _ it's round _ and of course the apple falling from the tree does indeed hark back to the story of Adam and Eve, and Newton as a religious man would have found that quite apt."
The incident occurred in the mid-1660s, when Newton retreated to his family home in northern England after an outbreak of the plague closed the University of Cambridge, where he had been studying.
Stukeley's manuscript recounts a spring afternoon in 1726 when the famous scientist shared the story over tea "under the shade of some apple trees."
Stukeley wrote that Newton told him the notion of gravity popped into the scientist's mind as he was sitting in the same situation.
"It was occasion'd by the fall of an apple, as he sat in contemplative mood. Why should that apple always descend perpendicularly to the ground, thought he to himself ... Why should it not go sideways, or upwards? But constantly to the earth's center?" Stukeley wrote. "Assuredly, the reason is, that the earth draws it. There must be a drawing power in matter."
Stukeley's account on the Royal Society's Web site joins notes from Newton's 17th-century scientific rival Robert Hooke _ documents that were lost for several hundred years before their recent discovery in a house in England.
Dear Space Center Friends,
In case you haven't noticed, I have been rather absent at the Space Center for the last month. This is because I am performing in Pleasant Grove High School's production of Les Miserables!
The performances on the 21 & 22 start at 7:30pm
All other performances 25 - 30 start at 7:00pm
Doors open at 6:00pm
Children (under 12) $5
I would love to see as many of you there as possible! But you're going to want to get tickets ASAP! It is HIGHLY recommended that you buy your tickets in advance. Tickets are purchased for a specific night and can only be used for that date. You can buy tickets from me, any cast/orchestra member (like Adam H!), the PGHS finance office, or at the door. Currently, the 21st and 26nd are SOLD OUT!
Keep up the good work and I will join you all once again in February. :)
- Rachel H, FD