Monday, June 6, 2011
The Imaginarium was nearly overwhelmed this evening as the first of our summer space campers descended onto the Space Education Center for their Overnight Camp. The portals ejected small human after small human into our staging area. Our staff showed them where to put their gear then directed them to the rank table. My table is a camper's last stop into the camp.
"Papers!" I ask. I use the same tone of voice used by the East German border guards when I crossed into communist East Germany many years ago. The younglings produce their Rank Advancement Papers.
"Is your name spelled correctly?" I ask. Many look confused. Others answer quickly.
"Staying overnight night or going home?" I look up into their eyes as if trying to catch them in a lie.
"Read this paper then bring it back. Keep your rank paper. We will take it from you later." I point to the stage. "Join the rest of the kids on the steps."
The campers walk toward the steps leading up to the stage and find a seat with the others.
I play the good cop / bad cop routine with me playing both parts. I'm the stern East German at the sign in table and the friendly camp director when I welcome them and explain camp rules. Your average camper with standard intelligence is confused by my duel personality. That confusion is my ultimate goal. I can be warm and fuzzy if the occasion requires and unyielding and cold as petrified wood when pushed or challenged.
The campers in the Odyssey are settling down. There are no voices coming from the Voyager. Me thinks our visitors are drifting away to sleep. Their condition is contagious. I'm tired and may not be able to finish this post. If you see one key held down for a row or two then you know I fell asleep at the keyboard. Someone will eventually find me and direct me to my pad at the foot of my deskkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk
This is the first day of the 2011 Summer Camp Season (insert mental image of fireworks and large crowds of out of control teens storming the front doors of Central Elementary). The staff are getting ready to come to work (insert mental image of staff being mobbed in the parking lot for autographs). The simulators are up to par and our missions wait to be told.
Campers, refer back to your Confirmation Forms before coming to camp to find the nearest portal to the Imaginarium and the Space Education Center. I'm happy to announce a new portal has been added in Logan. You'll find this portal in the city park. Look for the large crow (our gatekeeper). Sit on the bench opposite the crow. Ignore the crow if he tries to engage you in conversation. He gets bored. Just sit, nod your head three times and let the crow to the rest.
Now, a few other things from our home here at the Imaginarium for your Monday morning.
I found these at the Optical Shop on Wonder Drive and Imagine Way. They come from
the Rachel Harken Line of Wonderspecs.
Lost, one Paperling. He escaped from the printed page yesterday and is wandering
unsupervised among us.
This is the last photo taken of Grandpa.
(I couldn't resist).
Sunday, June 5, 2011
"This can't be good," I whispered to my optimistic self.
"They might be done. They're calling to say they're leaving," it replied.
"No its bad. Trust me on this one," my pessimistic self unwelcomingly intruded.
"Shut up," I shot back. "I'm not in the mood."
It was bad news. Bracken called to ask me to leave the comforts of my home and return to the school to set the alarm for 3:00 A.M. People say you should never shoot the messenger, but what choice did I have? I unloaded my frustration. I didn't tell them to remove a part of the Odyssey's ceiling. I gave instructions to paint the front of the ship. How they got "remove a part of the Odyssey's ceiling" from my simple instructions I'll never know. Bracken told me that getting upset wouldn't solve the problem. The ceiling was damaged, the deed was done. Agreed, the deed was done but my commentary was just starting, and I had lots to comment on.
When Bracken called I was dosing in the comfortable plush arms of my rocking recliner, kept company by the flickering lights of my 65 inch TV. The lights had mesmerized me into a stupor. I hung up on Bracken, paused the TV show I really wasn't watching anyway, and three minutes later was in the Battlestar crossing over the canal and on my way to the school.
I saw the damaged ceiling. Bracken tried to explain over my streaming commentary. Rachel kept to the front of the ship painting. She knew it was best to keep a distance. When I'm in streaming commentary mode my arms like to flail about unpredictable and the spittle from my frothing mouth can be corrosive. Jon disappeared to the shop in the school's fallout shelter, the only safe place when I've gone nuclear.
Bracken attempted to calm things by taking full responsibility for everything, even though he was only there because he didn't want to go home and attend a Stake Conference meeting. I stopped him when his apology expanded to his birth.
"Bracken, why are you apologizing for something you weren't involved in?"
"If it helps, I'll apologize."
"Don't, unless you are the one responsible. Listen, sometimes you have to let people vent and that's what I'm doing - venting. Instead of apologizing, just tell me that you're sorry I'm upset and leave it at that."
Bracken left it at that. I changed the alarm to 3:00 A.M. I peppered the air with a bit more commentary before leaving, giving instructions on making sure the doors were shut when they finished. "We aren't stupid," their faces expressed without need for their mouths.
This morning I drove back to the school to see the results of their long night's labors. The Odyssey looks much better. Rachel did an outstanding job with the front of the ship. Bracken and Jon did a great job at repairing the ceiling. The ship was clean and ready for the 10:00 A.M. Monday morning mission. I spent a few more minutes at the school trying to gather the words I used in my volcanic eruption the night before but sadly couldn't find them. They were spoken, heard and gone. So, I'm going to apologize for my foul mood with a reminder that I'm in no condition to think reasonably after spending 34 nonstop hours at the Center for an overnight camp.
A word to the wise with our upcoming camp. If you want me to make a decision or think rationally about a problem, don't bring it up on the second day of camp. Wait until the third day when you know my sanity disappeared with the setting sun the night before. On the third day I'm usually beyond exhaustion and have been known to exhibit signs of giddiness.
"Mr. Williamson, a camper fell and broke his leg."
"Oh that's interesting."
"Mr. Williamson, the entire Pleasant Grove Fire Department, along with half the police force are here because the Voyager staff let out too much smoke and triggered the fire alarm."
"Really, how nice. Ask them if they'd like to stay for lunch."
"Mr. Williamson, the news says there is a n asteroid heading straight for Earth. It will wipe out all life on the planet, leaving Earth a barren wasteland."
"Really, break out the telescopes and let's have a nice look."
"Mr. Williamson, the pop machine is out of Diet Coke."
"Take me to the roof. It's time to end it all." (there is a limit to sleepless good humor).
Are we ready for our first week of camp? Well, ready or not, here it comes. Let's have a great time with the campers and enjoy each other's company. Let's work hard, play hard and continue giving the campers the best camping experience their money can buy.
Now, I'm off to the Imaginarium to recharge my batteries. Care to join me?
Marla Rosemond and her cat Harvey are the Imaginarium's Undersecretaries of Mathematical Curiosities (good job on using your imagination and thinking you see a rabbit instead). I like to stop by her office whenever I'm looking for lesson inspirations for my math class. I found her in a lively discussion with Harvey on the magic of numbers and equations. She told me take a seat and showed me an inspiration she'd implanted years ago and how it was used in a film.
"Use this with your math class to really confuse them," she said. Harvey twitched his nose in agreement.
And a few other thoughts from the Imaginarium.....
Finally a video game I understand and play well. After a mile or so, the bus stops and the little stop sign extends to stop traffic from passing in both directions. After a few minutes the player gets bored and guns the engine to illegally pass the bus. An obnoxious junior high student steps out in front of you just as the nose of your car reaches the front of the bus. You get points if you swerve and miss the heavily pierced and tattooed delinquent. You get docked points if you hit the kid. Honestly, its much funner to hit him and watch him sail through the air and land in a pile of manure right off the side of the road. There is no blood or guts, just a very unhappy teen. The game is rated PG-13 for the hand gestures the bus driver gives you and the words shouted from the manure pile.
Finally, this is an example of imagination overload. This historical display, built by 5th grader Alfred Higgins from Cornhusk, Nebraska (population 231 humans 154 dogs, 76 cats and barnyards of animals), was the cause of many discussions at the Imaginarium. Should historical imagining be restricted to the technology of the day, or is there a bit of wiggle room as illustrated in Alfred's Gettysburg display? While many Imagineers say "No harm done", others (including those that deal with professional educators) say that there should be limits on what imaginations are dispensed.
Well, I'd better move along. Have a good day and I'll see you at camp!
Thursday, June 2, 2011
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Have they been selected to serve as officer cadets on board one of Starfleet's finest ships?
Will their dreams of serving Earth in the frontiers of space be realized?
We are only five days away from the start of our Summer Camp Season (wild cheering heard from homes throughout Utah from children and teens anxiously awaiting the date and time of their camp). Our Set and Flight Directors finished several practice missions in preparation for the arrival of hundreds of new Starfleet recruits. Repairs and improvements are underway in the starships. Starfleet's admirals are meeting daily to draw up each ship's mission orders.
"Dangerous and difficult are the only words I can think of to describe this season's missions," Admiral Grosland said in a recent interview for "The Troubadour". "We hope and plan for success but know there could be serious problems if the crews aren't up to the monumental tasks at hand."
Be sure pick up your daily copy of the "The Troubadour" at your neighborhood newsagent and follow the adventures of the Voyager, Odyssey, Magellan, Phoenix and Galileo throughout the summer.
And Now, the latest from Wonderland's Imaginarium......
Mother Goose and her sisters and in good form today as they waddle to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Toad for tea and light refreshments. They could fly but so much is missed soaring overhead.
"There are times a good stroll is just what the vet ordered," said Mother Goose.
"Honk Honk," her sisters agreed.
You never know what you'll see outside the main entrance to the Imaginarium.
Pleasant Grove's famous Discovery Park has just been owned by the opening of Wonder Park on the grounds of the Imaginarium.
Just in case you thought nothing could be done to spice up a stairway's banister. It's time you had a little faith in what our Imagineers can do . We take your 'everyday' and make it extraordinary.
The Doctor meets the Little Prince. A children's story waiting for your pen, paper and Imagination.
It's out and in your neighborhood.
Stop right there. Don't move a muscle. There is something right behind your left shoe. It's small and plush with a yellowish orange down coat. It looks hungry and I don't like the way it's moving its beak........
Yes, I've written you into a corner. Let me know if you get out of that one alive. By the way, this could be the hatching of an interesting new life form waiting to be written into one of our missions. I can see the title now,
"That Ain't No McNuggett".
See you in the trenches,
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
ODE TO THE MAGELLAN
TO: DSS MAGELLAN
The Magellan, her pylons so curved and the Ranger perfectly docked
3 Runabouts on their pads awaiting a call
6 shuttles ready to go to destroy anything leaving the planet
Bridge Take-overs galore
The RNS Invictus, IKS Kel’Tak, USS Mariner, The Tigress and the USS Noble don’t ya know!
Them Toiminals is malfunctionin’ and no one notices hackers everywhere, the Quatermaster asleep in Upper Cargo Bay 1, Deck 7. so please leave him a message
Marie, Abu, Chief Okinowa and Rose soon to be
Guardians on deck 33
Messenger of Truth Runnin’ around
Orion Ambassador and minions all over
Jamalo scribbling, confused
Then there is the Admiral....Assasinated. The Commodore had to take over.
Death Trap is great, Escape is slower, Invasion is fast paced, Operation Revenge interesting always gets good scores, Guardian, there is no rest, for the staff or the crew.
Chuba, Defender Creature and don’t forget the Yuri!
THX, CRM, phasers and torpedoes
Sneakin’ into the Romulan border
Good bye outpost
Romulus, Tunneling Device, Orion Fleet many others too devastated by those weapons
Ranger being chased by a Guardian ship, escape shuttle destroyed
Red lights rotating and regular
Safety rules, Uniforms, Away Missions, Bombs in Discovery, hackers a must
Outgoing relay messages, brig control, power regulation for the whole station, just a couple things that make the Maggie Special.
Casm Generators generating them Casms, Auto-Destruct Detonators always ready
Probe cheering, keepin’ pirates as pets, hitting creatures with paper what else?
Kids in recycling bins, stuck under desks what else must I add?
Transwarp ready to go, play and show playing Molossus adds dramatic effect don’t forget to start the sound effect.
Go to stars, Transwarp Overload what else is there do?
Spacequakes, Collision Alert, Incoming Asteroids all the problems we must face
The Noble is activating self destruct! Navigate the Ranger to save the Arizona
The Magellan computer is rapping I’m a Little Teapot. The Magellan is my favorite Place!
----END OF ODE----
Monday, May 30, 2011
Today the Magellan and Galileo ran test missions of their upcoming summer camp missions. BJ Warner ran a test mission for himself as he attempts to climb back into the Flight Director's saddle after a two year LDS mission to Japan. Christine said he did very well. Once he certifies our Odyssey Staff will consist of Christine, Set Director and Emily, Adam, Rachel, Brittney, Wyatt and Devin (with Alex, Casey and Bracken also capable of flying Odyssey in a pinch) as Flight Directors.
Matt Long and members of the Programmer's Guild are at the Space Center right now (6:18 P.M.) putting the finishing touches on the Galileo's Cocoa controls. They have been two years in the making (an enormous learning curve included as the programmers learned Apple's programming language) and will be online for the Galileo's summer visitors.
With the ground work and structure of the cocoa system in place the programming of the other ships should come quickly (barring other unforeseen circumstances).
Philroy Goes to Space Camp
"Philroy, it's almost time to go. Your Space Camp starts at 7:00. You don't want to be late." Philroy's mother stopped at the table near the front door looking for her car keys. She found them in the large overly flowered porcelain washbowl. It once belonged to her great grandmother, then her mother and then passed down to her.
"I'm coming. Got one more stop to make," Philroy answered. He was excited to be going back to his favorite place on Earth - the Space Education Center. He went on his first Space Camp when he was ten and instantly fell in love with the place. He loves the ships, he loves the stories and he thinks the world of the staff.
Philroy rushed down the stairs to the main floor, did a 180 degree turn at the bottom, ran down the hall and into the kitchen. He turned 90 degrees after passing the fridge, ran to the basement door, opened it and sped down the stairs to the storage room. Philroy stopped at the door and bent over to enter the room's secret combination into a calculator he'd taped to the wall.
The storage room door was like all the other doors in Philroy's home, so why the secret combination? The storage room required this extra level of security to protect its valuable contents. Philroy knew from his many missions into the deep space aboard the Space Center's fleet of starships that space could be a dangerous place. He knew Earth's number one arch enemy was out there, waiting and watching for his chance to strike back.
Philroy was well known to the Orion Pirates and their leader Mad Dog. In fact Philroy was at the top of their list of people to capture and torture for the wrongs he'd inflicted on their criminal empire. It was Philroy and his brave and true Voyager crew that defeated Mad Dog in his attempt to capture Earth in the Shadows mission he'd commanded on the Voyager last year. Mad Dog cursed Philroy at the end and promised it wasn't over and that he'd return. Philroy knew that Mad Dog would be waiting for him somewhere out there. He knew he had to be prepared if he was going back into space.
Philroy entered the code into the calculator. He counted to five and made an mechanical unlocking sound with his tongue against the roof of his mouth. He turned the handle and made the sound of rushing air.
"Lights," he commanded, pretending the room was controlled by a sophisticated computer. He reached for the switch and turned the lights on.
"Come to papa," he said as he approached his arsenal. There before him was the largest collection of weapons in the state, all painstakingly gathered after the Shadows mission. The next question was, how many could he get away with taking to camp.
He filled his back pack. A roll of duct tape came in handy as he taped a few more phasers to his legs. Finally he shoved one last phaser into the elastic waist band of his gym pants. He was now ready for camp. He was ready to defend his family and his planet from the worst scum in the Galaxy.
"Come and get me Mad Dog!" Philroy shouted as rushed out of the room and back up the stairs to the car waiting in the driveway.
Sunday, May 29, 2011
"Mr. Williamson. Mr. Williamson," Christine spoke gently, not wanting to startle her employer from his mental stupor.
"Huh, what is it? Time to go home?" Mr. Williamson shifted in his chair from his resting 45 degree angle to a more presentable 90 degree working angle.
"No, its not time to go home yet. Remember, someone from the Home usually calls for you around 7:00 o'clock and its only 6:00 o'clock now."
"What is it then?" Mr. Williamson looked confused. His hair was tuffed up on one side from sleeping in his chair and there were pronounced wet marks on his shirt directly under his chin.
"Hold on." Christine reached over and pulled a couple tissues from the box kept next to the phone. "You've got a bit of dribble on your chin." She gave him the tissues. He wiped his chin and fumbled around for the trash can under his desk. Christine continued, "There is a group here for a 6:15 P.M. Odyssey mission that you didn't have on the online working schedule. "
"What, If they're here then I put the mission on the online schedule. Do you think I make those kind of mistakes? Did you looked hard enough?"
Christine took the schedule book and pointed to where it was written in his handwriting. Then she pointed to the computer and showed him it wasn't entered into the online schedule. He had booked the mission over the phone but forgot to transfer the booking from the schedule book into the online working schedule.
"Someone deleted this mission from the online schedule. Who was it. Step forward. If you confess I'll show mercy but if you don't, heads will roll. If I go down I'm talking all of you with me," Mr. Williamson shouted loud enough to be heard in the halls. The older staff, accustom to dealing with a boss with momentary elder lapses, quickly ushered the younger volunteers and staff out of the room. Seeing the great and mighty Mr. Williamson brought down into a state of complete confusion and delirium wasn't something they wanted them to experience.
"Forget you saw that," Brittney told the younglings as they stood around the 4th grade drinking fountain. "He was really something in his day." They nodded with her but hadn't worked long enough to know whether she was telling the truth or not.
Christine, the ever patient and kind, understood what she had to do. "Mr. Williamson, oh look, I must have made a mistake. This mission is on the schedule and I just didn't see it. Stupid me. Now you go back to whatever you were doing and I'll take care of this group. Don't you worry about a thing."
"I wasn't sleeping in my chair you know," Mr. Williamson reassured her as he repositioned himself in his chair. "You may have thought I was asleep but I was really listening for termites. Termites come out in droves in the Spring. Pesky critters get into everything if you're not careful."
"Yea, like your office chair?" Jace chuckled under his breath thinking Mr. Williamson wouldn't hear. Those that heard quickly covered their mouths and rushed out of the room.
"Do I need to get up and deal with you?" Mr. Williamson started to get out of his chair, then stopped, sat back down and bent over looking for the "The Enforcer". The "Enforcer" is a metal pipe kept on the floor behind his desk. He threatens to use it on anyone that defies his authority. "Cheeky blagart," he said as Christine rushed around his desk, opened the top drawer and took out his calming pills prescribed by the Whole Foods Organic Pharmacy.
"Here take a couple of your pills and you'll feel much better," she said as she dropped two of the brown pills into his hand. "Jace didn't mean anything by what he said. It's only Jace. We all know what he's like." She motioned Jace out of the room with her other hand.
Mr. Williamson returned to his upright position, never once taking his 'death glare' off Jace. Jace left the room to tell the others at the drinking fountain what he'd said. Their laughter could be heard from one end of the school to the other.
"I'm still in charge here and don't any of you forget that," Mr. Williamson swallowed the pills and returned to his computer. Everyone knew he'd be out like a light after a few keystrokes and they were right. Halfway into a return email he was asleep. The Center could continue running smoothly in his present absence.
Side Note. Thanks Christine and Mason for staying and taking that unscheduled mission. You guys saved my bacon and you both get a "Get out of Jail Free" card. And thanks to all the rest of you who find and point out those other "occasional" mistakes I make on the working schedule. No one is perfect, although there are those of that that are, how shall I say.... "Practically Perfect in Every Way".
And now, how about a few pictures from the Imaginarium to brighten your Sunday.
Joel Plish and Marjory Twimple are meeting each other for the first time outside the Imaginarium's Wonderland Bakery and Coffee Shop located just off Dreamland Blvd. Joel is an accountant in the Ministry of Accounting and Finance. Marjory is an analyst for the Ministry of Titles and Names (that part of the imagination where parent's derive unusual names and spellings for their new borns).
Both of them are single and neither of them get out much. This first encounter lasted an awkward 32 seconds before one of them spoke. Joel, being religiously absent minded, forgot to make a list of discussion topics. Without the list, weather was the only ice breaker he could think of.
"Odd weather," he said, hoping Marjory would pick up where he left off. Marjory looked around and saw his lack of imagination had painted their surroundings in blacks and whites. She stepped back, one step then two. She noticed color was returning to the walls, ground and sky the further she moved away from his mental sphere. At four steps she turned toward the street.
"Consider an hour was spent and we parted company realizing this wouldn't work," she said.
Joel agreed and both returned to their offices and the ever pressing demands of imagination.
It's going to be an awesome summer at the Space Education Center!
Friday, May 27, 2011
And here we are, Troubadours all, telling our heroic tales and singing our epic ballads for a few silver coins hopefully tossed into our cups by the generous in our villages. I'm at my desk once again. Friday's evening is surrending to Saturday's morning. I hear a few voices in the ships. The boys are settling down to sleep.
McKay just sat the Happy Bucket on the desk to my left. An Odyssey camper had that volcanic feeling earlier in the evening and requested the bucket's collection service. Luckily the bucket wasn't used and waits for me to store away until called for again. I'm starting to wonder if this gray bucket may be an omen. I hope not. I hope Fortuna is mischievously engaged elsewhere. I'm hoping our little corner of the world in Pleasant Grove is overlooked as she scours the land looking for lives to disrupt. Move along Fortuna, move along. There is nothing to see here.
Today's news was full with politics from the G8 in Europe to hopefuls tossing their hats into the 2012 election. The think tanked, focus grouped clap trap that comes out of their mouths is mind numbing. I feel like I'm being managed and manipulated every time one of them speaks. They remind me of television evangelists who offer salvation in the promised land governed by their policies and dictates only if you prove your worth by becoming financial supporters, strictly adhering to their cause and voting as you're told.
Remember, a pig is still a pig, even with lipstick. Don't be fooled by the smoke and mirrors from both parties. Be intelligent, look at the issues, read the arguments from both sides and decide based on your values and vision for the future of this nation.
And Now a Few morsels from the Imaginarium.....
The future represented by this photograph from my childhood didn't come to pass. It was an older generation's imaginations of our life tomorrow. Funny isn't it. I suppose it is true to some degree. Our food today is is removed from the mechanical freezer and nuked in the appliance microwave. I guess machines are feeding us.
This is Rick Rolfs. He consumes a great deal of the Imaginarium's time as our Dream Agents work round the clock to prevent him from carrying out terrible schemes against his sister and neighbors. There is a sub section of the Imaginarium's Ministry of Dreams devoted to children just like Rick who were born with over active imaginations. This Sup Section spends most of its time trying to modify their renegade imaginations by having them imagine the consequences of their actions. So far, no success with Rick Rolfs. More later.
And finally, something for those of you with cell phones surgically attached to your body.
I'm nearly asleep. It is time to call it a night. I'll be making the WalMart Donut run at first light.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
I woke to the sound of another storm front moving into Utah. The deck chairs were moving making that scraping sound of plastic against wood which morphed into a melody of sorts with wind chime accompaniment.
It could be another blah day, but not to worry, there is always the Imaginarium to spice things up, not to mention several missions on the schedule at the Space Center. So, let's get started....
A perfect school year parting gift for that certain teacher whose contorted facial expressions and sharp tongue will never be forgotten.
Again, I'll admit I fast forwarded through the royal wedding. I'm into anything British (serving an LDS mission in the English Midlands kind of does that to you). Of course the British sarcastic sense of humor is my "cup of tea". So this for for all of you that saw that hat and knew it looked vaguely familiar. Mystery Solved. Mr. Bean, you are my hero.....
The Imaginarium hosted a special conference on Teaching with Imagination. The teacher turnout from your school was overwhelming. Something disturbing though and I can't quite put my finger on it.
Now where is this place? I guarantee it isn't Pleasant Grove. This is what I call proper city planning. Come on, see what a little imagination can do.
Finally, a thought from your ever present conscious. No you can't stay in bed. No you shouldn't eat that second donut. No you shouldn't ram that curb crawler driving 10 miles an hour below the speed limit. No you shouldn't say what you really think. No you shouldn't be texting while your running a mission. No you shouldn't delay coming into Discovery on the morning of an overnight mission to avoid cot duty. No you shouldn't eat your Chinese dinner in the Briefing Room right under my nose.
No you shouldn't walk away from your simulator leaving it a mess with costumes, uniforms and props scattered here and there. No you shouldn't drink all the chocolate milk on camp breakfasts leaving none for the campers. No you shouldn't lay on the lobby floor claiming you're too tired to move, nobody wants to walk in the school's front door and see you acting as a mop. No you shouldn't wear overly faded jeans with fashion holes to work or volunteer claiming they are the latest fad from the Romulan Empire. No you shouldn't stand within my personal bubble breathing my air - you know how I feel about that!
No, No and double No.
Need I go on?
Now I'm off. There are missions to run, phone calls to return, scores of emails to answer and staff and volunteers to enlighten with sharp wit festooned with effervescent humor.
See you in the Trenches!
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Space Center Educator
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
- Five New Missions
- Private 2.5 hour Missions
- Private 3 hour Mission
- Private 5 hour Mission
- Birthday Parties
- Super Saturdays
- 5 Merit Badge Classes
- Space Camps
- EdVenture Camps
- Ultimate Camps
- Super Overnight Camps
- Leadership Camp
- Digitarium Planetarium
- Starlab Planetarims
Your Choice is Clear. Enlist in Starfleet Today. Call the Center or visit our web site before the ships sail without you.
Sunday, May 22, 2011
Below you will find this week's required viewing for all Troubadour readers. In this video, the noted astronomer Carl Sagan discusses the search for intelligent life in the cosmos. Where are they? Why haven't we found them. Perhaps they are here with us. Please take the seven minutes or so and watch with brain engaged.
I'd like your thoughts on the facts and theories presented if you have any. Please take a minute to post a comment.
Take a moment now and feed your brain, then continue below to read the next post giving the Space Center's latest news complete with a Sunday stroll through the Imaginarium.
Fortuna, our little mischievous nymph, was up to her usual shenanigans yesterday at the Space Center.
All five simulators were in full performance a little past noon on Saturday. I sat at my desk dispensing advice, giving directions, listening to grievances and running the Space Center in general when the fire alarm suddenly sounded.
"Fortuna, what are you playing at," I thought as I jumped up and raced to the school's office. I typed the passcode into the school's alarm panel then shuffled down the wall to the fire box. The screen showed the alarm was triggered in the Voyager's Crew Quarters. I knew we had a flight going in the Voyager and had there been a real fire I would have known about it. I knew it was a false alarm, most likely triggered by a burned burrito in the microwave or an accidental puff of smoke from the smoke machine on the bridge reaching the uncovered detector. I pushed a series of buttons to silence the alarm then called Pleasant Grove's Fire Department and told them not to dispatch the trucks until I checked the listed area. The dispatcher waited.
Roger (the school's custodian) and I checked the affected areas. We found nothing, which is just what I expected. The dispatcher sent a few firemen over for safety's sake to look through the building. Nothing was found after a thorough search. The firemen gave me the OK to bring everyone back into the building.
I'm pleased with the Space Center's staff and volunteers. The ships were empty and everyone was outside moments after the alarm sounded. They knew just what to do. I'm sure it was strange for the Center's neighbors to see 60 people or so all in some kind of uniform standing on the school's front lawn.
The nymph Fortuna loves to mess with me whenever she thinks I've grown too accustom to normal. She must take great enjoyment taking me by the scruff of the neck and dangling me over some precipice just to see me squirm. She must enjoy the panic it causes as I do everything I can to ensure the Center runs smoothly for our customers and for Central's teachers and students.
I'm wondering if the Voyager's Scanning Station computer and the Magellan's Station 15 computer foreshadowed the fire alarm? The Scanning Station froze at the end of the Overnight Camp and wouldn't load the operating system after repeated restarts. The Magellan's Station 15 has been a mess for quite some time.
Fortuna wasn't happy with my response to these two problems.
"Alex, problem with the Magellan and Voyager," I said to Alex Anderson, our go to programmer for disasters in the Voyager and Magellan.
"I'll get right on it," he responded.
Within minutes he'd swapped Station 15's computer with a newer spare from the Animation Studio. It worked perfectly. The Scanning Station was brought out, a disc first aid was run and the computer healed itself. Both potential royal headaches were dispatched into the 'solved' category without even the slightest concern on my part. I'm sure these speedy resolutions to the problems sent Fortuna into a rage powerful enough to force her to play a higher card in her decks of tricks.
So, with sincere repentance and with thoughts of sack clothe and ashes I grovel at your bony feet Dear and Oh Most Wise Fortuna. I beg your forgiveness for enjoying a moment of fleeting happiness over a few days of perfection. I swear that from this day forward my staff and volunteers will have my permission to slap me hard across the face whenever they see a smile surface across my lips. This will remind me that such frivolity upsets you.
And Now, With Fortuna's Blessing and Patience I Bring you a Few Items from the Imaginarium.
(I'm not smiling at any of these tidbits. I swear).
The perfect tent for today's modern hippies and flower children. My only complaint - it should be yellow.
The perfect scarf for Spenser and now Brock. Oh there is Emily as well. Spenser and Emily for issues relating to cars, roads and other things. For Brock - a case of mistaken identity involving a cement barrier and the disappearance of sand bags.
A Crosswalk in the Imaginarium. Who needs a Walk and Do Not Walk sign when you can generate a hyperspace portal instead?
Anyone for a stroll across this street in the Imaginarium? Count me in. I need a bit of off Earth time. It's been a long school year. I'm thinking of a week or two on Rigel or a cruise around the Orion Nebula.
Things are not always peachy keen in the Imaginarium. Horace Mumps is not a happy camper. There was one scoop of Mint Chocolate Chip left in the bottom of the bucket at the Wonderland Ice Cream Emporium. Of course, being the gentleman he is, Horace offered it to his wife fully expecting her to refuse. She didn't.
Wilma is enjoying the Mint Chocolate Chip while Horace toys with his Vanilla Bean Delight and thoughts of Wilma's upcoming birthday.
I'll see many of you here in the trenches. Remember, don't do anything or say anything that could cause a smile to surface on my face. She is watching and waiting and is ever so patient.
Saturday, May 21, 2011
All is as it should be. I'm wondering if I should be concerned. According to the news, a preacher from the South with a radio show calculated today would be the start of the World's End and the Rapture. It was all to have started 18 minutes ago (Mountain Time) and I'm still here at my desk typing. I haven't heard screaming. No one has come into tell me that so and so just rose from their sleeping bag and ascended through the roof and up into the night sky. There is no rumbling in the distance announcing the end of time. There is nothing but the sound of my fingers on the keyboard and the air rushing out of the air ducts above my desk.
All is as it should be.
Perhaps all of us that work at the Space Center are destined for 'that other place', which would explain why my rear end is still heavily planted in this uncomfortable office chair, purchased on looks alone and not comfort - a mistake. If that is so, then I'm in great company. Shovelling the fuel to feed the fires of Hades may not be anyone's first choice for eternity, but if it means working alongside this great staff and herd of volunteers, then I'm OK.
Good Night, and I hope my donuts will be ready for me in the morning. Can't imagine everyone in the WalMart bakery would be caught up into the sky.
Target perhaps, but not WalMart.
Friday, May 20, 2011
Landon Hemsley is a student at USU in Logan and a former Odyssey Flight Director at the Space Center. I asked him to write a post about his new job with the campus radio station and how it relates to the work he did at the Space Education Center. Landon graciously obliged and sent the following.
Thank you Landon for writing the following post and thank you for the many years you spent with us defending Earth's liberty and championing Justice for All!
As I type this letter to the Space Center faithful, I look around the small radio control room in which I am sitting, and realize that it's an awful lot like a really sophisticated control room at the Space Center. But there are some differences.... I shall elaborate.
There's no video cameras. It doesn't matter if anyone sees me like it does at the Space Center. Rather than cameras, windows grace all four walls, allowing me a view to both the small parking lot outside the studio and the staff meeting room next door - that same staff meeting room that just a few short years ago was a fully loaded studio with about 8 microphones. Oh, the memories.The board that I run has eight different audio inputs. Three are satellite feeds from the NPR national networks. One is a wild card. Sometimes its a phone line, other times, we can rout microphones from different areas of the building through a single input. Another three are for computer audio card feeds. The machines here have several cards. In fact, all the computers and sound equipment are stored in a single massive mainframe in the "transmitter room." From there the computers and audio boards throughout the station draw their computing power, with remote access computers in three different studios. It's basically the ultimate sound machine on steroids - quite the step-up from the small audio mixer boards well-used and abused at the CMSEC.To my left is the AP newswire computer. The Associated Press sends its stories through the wire and they show up here, ready for us to either investigate further or to read on the air, I guess that would be our communications computer. Now we just need an officer to man his station, stare at the screen endlessly, and raise his hand and notify the news director when anything changes. Any takers? Oh, yeah. In not so many words, that's my job. ha!Massive speakers and a clock are mounted near the ceiling of the studio, as well as the famous "on air" light-up sign. The walls are caked with styrofoam matting - it mutes the sounds that may come through the walls from outside, making the studio a much more "sound-neutral" environment. Obviously these things lack at the Space Center, as evidenced by the styrofoam barrier that occupies the door frame to the school library in the Odyssey's control room.One thing that's the same, yet different, is the fact that classical music is always playing around here - at least 12 hours a day. What kind of classical music? Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven. No Pirates of the Caribbean Soundtrack around here... unless of course NPR does a review on the latest sequel in that series... which it just did. And man, that felt good to hear that coming through the speakers.But I would say that the most stark difference between this environment of eternal audio transmission is what I call "The Reality Pivot."Students and patrons come to Pleasant Grove to lose themselves in a make-believe world - to fly throughout the galaxy, fighting swash-buckling space pirates and protecting the mighty United Federation of Planets. Where I am, that make-believe Paradise is completely lost in the sharpness of the mirror of reality that screams that Paradise is a small town at the south end of Cache Valley and that's all it will ever be.I cover the news across the state of Utah. Some days its slow, but most of the days I need to gear up for work like I'd gear up for an athletic event. Gotta put my game face on and get ready to dominate the competition. Perhaps that's why I enjoy my job so much. I like to compete.My day consists of several phone calls to government and professional leaders who all deserve to have their story heard, but not all of whom WANT their story heard. And often, the more tragic the story, the more I'm thrust to put it on the air. For example - the flooding this year has occupied and will continue to occupy much of my work time.There's been an outbreak of equine herpes in Utah and several western states that is threatening the lives of many, many horses, even if it is not dangerous to people. Since our service area is largely rural, it's an important story.I got off the phone not too long ago with an officer in Brigham City discussing a semi-truck that lost its brakes on the highway from Logan to Brigham and took out three cars at an intersection because it couldn't stop. Three cars were totaled and the driver of the semi had to be extricated from the cab with heavy equipment.Compare that sharp clash with reality to the Voyager standing down his majesty, the Grand "Poo-Pah." Fantasy versus tragedy. It's a terrific contrast.I do not mean to say that I am unhappy in my work. Quite the opposite in fact. When there was a significant chance that dams would break in Southern Utah last December, when rivers were jumping their banks after days of heavy, heavy rain, I got ahold of several people on scene and kept people up to date, minute by minute as we watched to see if an aquatic apocalypse was about to bear down on St. George. Thankfully, nothing happened, but I was left with a profound sense of satisfaction that I helped keep a large segment of Utah's population up to date on a precarious situation IN REAL TIME. As Mr. Williamson is, I am certain, waiting for me to say, it was Awesome!Some of the greatest skills I possess in my job were acquired at the Space Center. Ambition. A vocal presence. Professionalism. Courtesy. Persistence. Knowing how to say what you need to say in a creative way that will make people think. These were all skills that were hatched at the CMSEC in PG.I don't plan to work in news forever - sports entertainment is much more my cup of tea and I plan on working in the sports media for a very long time in one capacity or another. When I do, I am certain I will get to utilize much more of the skills I acquired both at school and at the Space Center, but for now, I report the news, make my phone calls, and wonder when Paradise will once again quit being that stupid town at the south end of the valley and resume its rightful place on the bridge of the USS Voyager, flying amid the stars.Troops, treasure the years you spend at the Center. I am happy where I am now, but as I look back on my years at the Space Center, I have realized again and again that they are fleeting, and you'll miss it when you leave.Much LoveLandon HemsleyUtah Public RadioA former CMSEC staff member.
The space center is for everyone, the brave, and the shy, the quiet, and the loud. It's where we can truly show others what we can do. It was an amazing experience, and it could not be described in words. It is truly beyond anything I've ever done. It's better than lazer tag, pizza, bowling, and just about anything else you can name. I really appreciate everything, and I wanted to thank-you.