Thursday, March 3, 2011
Just about to get ready for an appointment I've dreaded for two weeks. At 8:00 A.M. my path will cross paths with "The Dentist!" (lights darken in your room accompanied by the sound of a distant drill and screaming).
A piece of one of my top molars broke off during an overnight camp a month ago. I was eating an ice cream sandwich of all things. The thought crossed my mind to charge my two dentist visits, along with the soon to be fitted crown, to workmen's comp - considering my misfortune occurred while I was at work. While a nice thought, reason tells me the ploy won't work. Soon I'll feel lighter when walking because several hundred dollars will be missing from my wallet.
I've have my fair share of crowns and one more is just par for the course. What I don't like is that first shot of Novocaine my dentist takes great delight in giving me to start every procedure. In fact I've had to stop him on several occasions from giving me one just to take xrays of my teeth! Then there was the time he was having a bad day and chose to use his drill instead of floss to clean my teeth. I stopped him. We talked for awhile. He calmed down. It seemed a three year old had his way with him in a previous appointment.
Our awesome daytime staff will get the field trip started without me. I should be at work before the mission actually begins. I'm wondering how I'll sound over the Voyager's sound system with half a paralyzed mouth?! Who knows, it could be the best Paklid I've every played.
Well, to get the day started right, let's have a few items from the Imaginarium.
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
February is in the rear view mirror and that's where I'm happy to leave it. I'm looking forward to warmer weather and better behaved snow. This is the time of year when snow generally favors the mountains and not the valleys, which makes me happy. This is the time of the year when snow starts to fill our streams and lakes. That makes me happy. This is the time of year when snow falls nicely through the air giving everyone that "It's snowing" rush but disappears upon contact with my driveway. That makes me happy. Yes, this month will give us a better behaved snow.
We had a great time hosting 70 plus students from Goshen yesterday. They did well in the ships and were outstanding in the classroom.
How about a few smiles to start the month?
Coat hangers for Imagineers. The perfect gift.
One of Norman Rockwell's famous paintings from Life Magazine.
And another version from the Imaginarium's Museum of Modified Art.
And now a Scene from the next James Bond 007 Film.
And from "The Stuff No One Told You Department"
A Thought from our "Stuff you Won't Hear in Church This Sunday" Department.
And our Everyday Blues
I'd love a poster like this to recruit new volunteers. Imagine seeing something like this in your school's hallway.
Have a Great March and I'll see you in the Trenches.
Sunday, February 27, 2011
The Battlestar took a direct hit to the engine this afternoon just off the I15 main trading route just off the Provo Transpace Cluster. One moment all was well and the next an unsettling sound, followed by a thumping the likes of which have never been heard on this ship before. The engine was hit and failing fast. The ship cascaded out of hyperspace and cartwheeled in zero gravity. I luckily managed to coax the ship to a nearby Chevron Starbase. And there sat stranded far from the stars of home and surrounded by aliens calling themselves Provans. It was unsettling but I've faced worse. My years of training came to mind as I pondered by options.
I tried to look like I belonged. Being identified in Provo space as an alien has been known to be deadly. They are ones who do not take to 'outsiders' and my appearance all but screamed 'alien'. I began drawing attention. No matter how relaxed I looked I knew it wasn't often they saw a crippled Battlestar smelling ripe for the pickings.
In a matter of minutes I noticed one, then two then four were looking. I ordered a restart of the impulse drive, crossed myself, rubbed my lucky rabbit's foot and ordered 1/4 speed. The thumping grew louder then stabilized. The Battlestar maneuvered out of dock and entered the slower Geneva Trading Route.
It was ever so slow going but the old gal made it as far as the Central Port where she sits, a shadow of her former glory in a large empty lot. I left her there for the night, unable to get her up to home port. The climb would be too much for what once was an engine that could handle Warp 9 without breaking a sweat.
Tomorrow will be another day. The fleet mechanics will have their way with her and hopefully will have good news to report. If not, I'm afraid another ship will be joining the list of others that bravely went before to that great dry dock in the sky. Sigh......
Saturday, February 26, 2011
The Space Center is safely tucked away for the weekend and all our campers have returned home to tell their tales of heroism and courage. We've had a good and busy week. How about a few things to ponder over to end your week?
We start our Saturday evening read with two things from the "True That" Department.
Did you know that the world's dictators are terrified of white mice?
And from our political desk....
And something from the closet of whimsical mysteries.....
Have a restful weekend Troops,
A question of economy and energy savings compared to safety. I've see these cars buzzing around town. They not only look peculiar and out of place on our roads but completely unsafe. The picture below proves my point.
I was rear ended once in brand new 1996 Saturn. The Saturn handled the impact well. Everyone in the car was OK but our Hart's Big Chills didn't fare so well. Everyone in the car got a free sugar shower. The car's trunk took the brunt force of a lady more concerned with her cell phone conversation than the red light above her.
I think of the Smart Car and shudder at the thought of exposing my health and life, and the safety of my passengers to something that looks like it belongs in a Play School Wombles Set. Don't get me wrong, I trust my driving but can I trust the drivers around me?
In summary, I'll keep my Lincoln Battlestar that gets a mile or two per gallon of gas. You can have your Smart Car delivered in an egg carton. Think of the gas you're saving every day as you venture out onto Utah's highways where the big cars play, risking life and limb.
An interesting article on Dark Matter, not to be confused with the magical Red Matter from the last Star Trek movie. You know the stuff, able to produce a black hole when exposed to the vacuum of space. Sometimes I think the writers working the Star Trek franchise should give up any pretense of science and just say the ship and all its equipment works on magic. The buttons and screens are only there for show. We all know it isn't cool to be seen waving a wand in the 23rd century. Instead, the magic is embedded into buttons and touch screens.
Anyway, click here
Dark Matter Theory Challenge by Gassy Galaxies Findings
for an interesting read submitted by Nathan R, a loyal Troubadour reader.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
The needle-in-a-haystack search for extraterrestrial signals has narrowed a bit, thanks to NASA's Kepler spacecraft.
Scientists announced that, of the 1,235 candidate planets discovered by Kepler, 54 of them were in what's known as the Goldilocks zone, a region close enough to its home sun where a planet may harbor life.
When NASA informed the SETI Institute (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) of these possibilities, the California-based institute turned the Allen Telescope Array in the location of those planets and began listening for any signs or signals of intelligent life.
SETI senior astronomer Seth Shostak says he and his colleagues were thrilled about the prospect of 54 possible habitable planets.
"Well, that is obviously great! Although we've known about planets, the big question is always how many of those planets are, in fact, possibly cousins of Earth, that could support life?
"It's nice to know that they're not extraordinarily rare. If you'd asked this question 50 years ago -- and it was asked -- they had to sort of guess at whether planets like Earth were common or otherwise," Shostak told AOL News.
All of the data gathered from the Kepler mission suggests that Earth-like planets are not as rare as once thought. Shostak explains that the candidate numbers are pretty huge.
"It's the percentage of star systems that might have a world something like Earth. It's not one in a million, it's not one in 100,000, it's not even one in 1,000. Every 100 star systems are going to have a couple of these guys, and maybe more."
"All it means is that maybe a lot of them have life, but how much of that life is at the stage of being technically able to get in touch with you?" he pointed out.
"Of course, we will look at every planet that they find that has any chance of having some sort of complex life on it. But to me, the big picture is something else: Since these sorts of worlds occur on the percent level, that means there are literally billions of candidates for being Earth's cousins in the Milky Way. And billions is a big number!"
So far, after their initial telescopic survey of the planets found by Kepler, SETI scientists haven't yet detected that smoking-gun alien signal.
"It could've turned out that planets were rare -- well, that's not true. It could've turned out that Earth-like planets are rare -- there's no indication that's true, either," said Shostak.
"For 50 years, we've been saying intelligent life might be reasonably common. It might not be a miracle, and we might not be the only kids on the block."
My glance at the weather put me in a foul mood, and that's not a good way to start a day. Snow, yes it's more snow headed our way just in time for the weekend.
The only way to rescue the good mood I had is to see what's happening in the Imaginarium.
The first step in feeling much better about the coming snow is to treat yourself to a cupcake or two. Take these for instance from Dr. Who.
Let's not forget germs. With the winter comes the flu, bronchitis and the common cold. It is recommended you wash your hands regularly, or use hand sanitizer. If neither is available there is always a third option.
(and in the interest if safety, do not try this at home. Boiling water will burn you and then your hand will fall off. Just a note for those of you that suffer from a serious lack of common sense).
And finally, the best way to walk through mountains of newly fallen snow. Take this lesson from the Imperial Forces and the planet Hoth.
Have a Great Day Troops and don't let the snow get you down.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
It's Engineering Week nationwide. Engineering students from coast to coast are celebrating the only way engineering students can - creatively.
Julie Anna is a volunteer at the Space Center and an engineering student at USU in Logan. I asked Julie to send regular updates for The Troubadour, realizing many of you may choose engineering as your career choice, and might like a glimpse into the world of an engineering student. Please take a moment to read and appreciate the field of engineering. Engineering is an expanding field that needs bright students like you.
Thanks Julie for taking the time to keep our readers updated on USU's activities.
~Julie of the North
This is Julie of the North, special on site reporter for the Troubadour, reporting live from Utah State University. Today marks the opening day of Engineering Week, and it has been fabulous so far. Free breakfast consisting of muffins, bananas and milk was provided for all the brave souls willing to venture up to the third floor of the Engineering Building.
Throughout the day, massive amounts of ferrous fluid were found in the engineering atrium for all the engineers to experiment with, examine, and play with. Ferrous fluid is liquid that is magnetic. When it is introduced to a magnetic field the density of the liquid changes. The surface of the ferrous fluid provides an almost frictionless surface for magnets, so it is possible to sling magnets across a table incredibly fast. When I squirted ferrous fluid onto a magnet it formed spikes and interesting patterns. It is also possible to gather the ferrous fluid together and form a sort of gel with it due to the magnetic properties. When I touched these gel masses, they felt like gummy candies. The one bad thing about ferrous liquids is that they stain really badly, so there are many engineers wandering through the halls with brown spots on their hands and arms. I feel like I got turned into a Dalmatian.
The next stop for the day was going to my engineering class. I am taking Thermodynamics and we started learning about what happens when a gas or liquid is pushed through a chamber with inlets and outlets, like a nozzle or a turbine. Although classes aren’t always as much fun as some of the more social activities of an engineer, they teach us the building blocks in order to do what we do best, create and imagine. My classes remind me that engineering is a way of life, not just something fun every now and then. After class, I was treated to free Aggie ice cream, once again provided by the College of Engineering, and I got my favorite flavor, Aggie Blue Mint! For all of you down in Utah County who have never had Aggie Blue Mint, it is worth the trip to Logan just to eat it.
The day continued with club competitions. Today the competitions were Paper Tower sponsored by ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers) and the Edible Car sponsored by ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers). My roommate and I participated in both of them. The rules for the Paper Tower are that you get two Statesmans (the on-campus newspaper) and a yard of tape and you get to build for 10 minutes. There are prizes for the tallest tower and the most aesthetically pleasing. We made a pyramid shaped tower, but we ran out of paper before we could complete the pyramid, so our tower didn’t really support itself. Later, there were some engineers on the floor who were analyzing the structure of our tower, and they decided that if we had more paper, then it would have been an awesome structure.
We were going to make our car out of rice crispies, but we didn’t make it to the store, so we made it out of materials provided by ASME. We made the body of our car out of a carrot. We also carved axels out of carrots, but they were incredibly flimsy and started bending so we switched to pasta noodles instead. We used cookies for the wheels, life savers for supports, and gummy strawberries for the wheel caps. Our car completed the race in 3 seconds (which is somewhere between 3rd and 4th place), but we were most excited that our car actually survived the race to the finish line! Another cool feature about our carrot car, lovingly named Han Solo II (Han Solo I was made during last year’s engineering week, and didn’t survive out of the freezer), is that it is equally good upside down as it is right side up.
Tonight will be the first episode of nerds vs. zombies, an epic battle taking place inside the engineering buildings on campus. I will be sure to let you know all about it.
Happy Engineering Week! Make sure that you all do something nerdy to celebrate!
Well, we enjoyed our two day weekend and now its time to uniform up, grab our weapons and reengage ignorance from the trenches. Having too many days off can lead to psychosis with unrealistic visions of what life should be like. No, we have to work for a living like everyone else. So, back to the battle and don't even think for a minute our enemy is taking a holiday. While we were closed for two days, Ignorance reclaimed hundreds in Pleasant Grove alone - taken by the dark forces of mindless hours of television, video games and Facebooking.
Another good week lies ahead, and to start it off correctly, we need to ponder a few things.
First, let me remind many of you why you're in school. Without a good education you will find the following event cancelled.
And that means spending the rest of your life in jobs that won't fulfill you. Remember, you only live once. Make the most of what God has given. Get an education, then find someone that will pay you to follow your dreams. No small task indeed.
And finally, something amazing from the Imaginarium. This is a one man show extrordinaire.
You know, I'd bet with a bit of computer help from a friend or two you could pull this off.
Enjoy, and I'll see many of you in the trenches. I'll be the one hunkered down in the mud, next to the fire enjoying a can of pork and beans. Oh, and remind me to clean my glasses before we get orders to go over the top.
Sunday, February 20, 2011
It's a snowy Sunday and I'm good with that because we have a two day weekend! You might be thinking my stating we had a "two day weekend" was odd considering most people have two day weekends (or at least two days off from work each week). Well, two day weekends are odd for those of us that work at the Space Center. We work six days a week, with Sundays our only dark day. So, those Monday holiday's that roll around once a month or so are blessings for us. They are reminders of how most people live. Please don't get me wrong, I enjoy what I do or I wouldn't be doing it, and I'm grateful I have work - especially work I love, but it is nice to experience life with two days off a week.
We had a fantastic overnight camp with awesome fifth graders from Cedar Ridge Elementary School. The kids were generous in their post camp survey praise, awarding perfect scores of 1 to the Odyssey and Galileo. Congratulations to the Odyssey for taking the much coveted "Director's Trophy" for the camp (the trophy given to each week to the simulator with the best scores from the campers). Adam was shocked to the point of shouting during our post camp meeting when the results were posted on the Discovery's white board. He thought he'd bombed.
And we also praise Christina and her staff of the Galileo. Although the two ships tied with perfect 1's, the Odyssey took the trophy because it takes 8 campers to the Galileo's 6. I'm compelled to apologise to Christine for the method used in posting the scores. I put the Galileo's scores on the board first, leaving all believing the Galileo took the trophy. I put the Odyssey's scores second to last. Adam shouted in disbelief as many cheered. Others booed because I'd led them to believe the Galileo had taken it. What can I say but "guilty".
I want to officially welcome Ashleigh to the Space Center. She is our newest volunteer. I also wanted to congratulate Jason F. on doing an awesome job as 'doctor' in the Odyssey on one of the Odyssey's Saturday missions. His character was played brilliantly.
The only bad news to report is the death of the Odyssey's new printer (new might not be an inappropriate term, I bought the printer on Ebay - hoping to save a buck or two). The printer gave up the ghost Saturday morning. It kept messaging that it was too busy to print the papers being fed to it from the Odyssey's Control Room. We checked the network cable - ok. We turned it off and on again, we reloaded the software, we did everything possible to bring it back to purpose but nothing worked. Its now been given a proper reward for its services. It sits in the dumpster at the back of the school. Another couple hundred dollars tossed down the gullet of that dumpster. I'll think twice about ordering printers from Ebay. Sometimes it isn't worth trying to go cheap. A lesson to be learned.
How about something cheerful? I'm not one for video games, even though many classify what we do at the Space Center is an elaborate video game. But I confess a weakness for Mario Kart. I tried other games and failed. Take Halo for example. I played it once in multiplayer mode. There were too many buttons on the controller to push and I got confused. My opponents took advantage of my handicap and took delight in slithering behind me and shooting me point blank in the back of the head as I struggled to back away from the rocky cliff. I just gave up.
Mario Kart is my one true video game weakness. I've played it on every system and became proficient enough to hold my own and occasionally come in third or fourth. So, imagine my delight when I found this new version of my beloved game.
I'd pay good hard earned American money to play this version of the game and have just the opponents in mind I'd like to play against.
And how about these selections from the Imaginarium?
This might be something to take to heart. Remember, the vast majority of people you interact with on a daily basis (except your mother) are not interested in your ponderings, so in a social situation remember the poster above. Think more and talk less.
This will help the next time you immerse yourself in that piece of fantasy. I'm wondering where we would find the Imaginarium. Suggestions?
The only other thing missing from this poster is Clovershire, home of my home away from home - Cloverdale.
Oh, I can't find South Dakota either. Yes, its my home state and deserves Fantasy status (I'd be careful if you're tempted to voice a contrary opinion, especially if you've never been to South Dakota - home of Mr. Rushmore, the Black Hills, the Badlands, Wall Drug, Devils Tower and the number one attraction - the guided tour of Mr. Williamson's childhood and teen haunts).
Saturday, February 19, 2011
I had some spare time and I really like writing so I wrote this for you and your staff
When I look at the stars I think big of starships and warp-drives, places far away. Of Alpha and Delta, Beta and Gamma. I think of Romulans, Klingons and honor, Orion Pirates and Borg, The Federation and Starfleet. I think of war and peace,danger and death, cheers and silence,lies and threats. Of bombs and mines, explosions and radiation, chaos and racing against time. I think of Shadows, the best time of my life. I think of Guardians, the hardest decision of all. I think of the future as well as the past. But most of all I think of a dream, a spark of imagination... A reality.Dedicated to the space center and it's wonderful staff.
Friday, February 18, 2011
A few of the male staff are finishing up a game of cards in Discovery. The rest are finding places in the Magellan to unroll their sleeping bags and bed down for the night. The female staff are in the gym. Mrs. Houston prefers chaperoning in the gym. I prefer it that way as well. If the boys are in the Voyager and Odyssey, I get to sleep in front of my desk. It's quieter, meaning I might be able to squeeze a few more minutes for zzzzzzzzz's before waking up at 5:45 A.M. to get ready for my Saturday morning doughnut run to WalMart.
It's been an interesting and busy week at the Space Center. Mrs. Powell's father passed away at the beginning of the week, Emily contracted some strange flu that put her straight down. The rest of us managed to keep the ship afloat. We were short staffed so we survivors rolled up our sleeves and mucked in to get the job done. Thanks to all those that went the extra mile!
OK, Pandora is playing something resembling music - a collection of sour notes played by two or three winded bagpipes, although I can't be sure.
I think it's time to go to bed.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Although we don't see students this young, this photo pretty much sums up the experience for the vast majority of students who visit the Space Center. You hear it as they descend the stairs from the Voyager's bridge at the end of the mission...
"Dude that was so sick."
"I saved us."
"At the last second I ....."
I hear it all the time. Students explaining how they saved the ship from certain death. Students talking about how they pulled off the impossible with seconds to go. Students, put into situations that required them to think quickly, make decisions based on presented information, and held accountable for those decisions all agreeing that it was the best field trip ever. Students given the chance to be Superheros for the first time in their lives.
Yep, that's what we do.
See you in the trenches. There be more coming today. Not to mention our overnight camp with 45 students from Cedar Ridge and then a full slate of missions on Saturday. The weekend is upon us.
P.S. Did you really think I'd let a post get by without something from the Imaginarium?
And Finally, Isn't this just about one of the coolest bridges you've seen? It demonstrates real imagination and creativity in design and function. I'd love to take the Battlestar over this at excessive speeds not recommended for causal driving. Going airborne over that last curve might get a bit dicey though....
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
We start today's news by offering our condolences to Sheila Powell on the death of her father yesterday.
Many of our staff and volunteers do not know Sheila. She is a field trip teacher working the A.M. session from 9:30 to 11:45 A.M. Sheila has been with us for three years now and does a fantastic job working with our visiting teachers and students.
Our thoughts are with you Sheila and we anxiously await your return to the classroom.
It's All Hands On Deck!
With Sheila absent the full duty of running the Space Center's classroom falls on Lorraine and Aleta. With Lorraine in the classroom full time we found ourselves short staffed in the simulators. I sent out the alarm yesterday for help and, true to the Space Center spirit, our staff rose to the occasion.
Aleta stayed for the full day, putting aside the work she had to do for scouts. Aleta will also be going the extra mile and helping with the extended field trip today.
Casey gave up much needed sleep (he works the graveyard shift at a local motel) to come in and help. Thanks Casey!
Ben came in to help even though it was a school day. Ben has the option of doing many of his high school lessons online. Thanks Ben!
Lorraine will be working exclusively in the classroom which is very difficult. The students aren't always well behaved and the repetition of doing everything (same lesson and star show)over and over again up to four times a day for 8 hours isn't good.
Today we have double field trips (9:30 - 1:30 and 2:00 - 6:00). Everyone will be rolling up their sleeves to get the job done.
Here's a few thoughts for today.
If you're wondering when is the best time to get things done. This is your answer.
This is so true. I remember as a young boy my depression era grandmother would take us to JB's Big Boy for lunch in Rapid City, South Dakota. She always put several of these things in her purse.
"You never know," I remember her saying.
Well, me for one sure enjoys my refrigerated air, but I see the point.
Have a great day Troops,