Sunday, December 4, 2011
A Space Center Tale
And by her touch all joys disperse
and sorrow, by its nature leaps
to flood the vacant hollow left bare
in her passing.
The wretched's heart beats again
with a darkness akin to the depth of night.
Beware. She prowls hall and ship
for victims new and unaware.
The Dementress slithers nearer, nearer
her hand doth reach; One touch, not two.
Alias, The deed is done.
Her joy increaseth,
leaving in its wake
a melancholy enchantment,
to inhale another's final vapors of content.
We have The Red Blemish. We have "M, The Destroyer of Worlds". Now who is this, who prowls the halls of our Space Center? Who is this Dementress? She was there for the last Overnight Camp. She walked beside you.
She knows I know. She knows I watch. She knows to be careful. She will be exposed :)
P.S. Yes I've discovered another one of our staff or volunteers with supernatural powers. Can you guess who?
And finally, an example of the pure magic of imagination from 1951. Enjoy the brilliance of early live TV.
Saturday, December 3, 2011
"Come here and sit down." The boys followed my directions and sat in two of the four gray desks kept in front of my ridiculously long wooden desk.
"Remember what I said at the start of the camp?" I questioned. "I said that if you started getting scared you should tell us so we can let you out of the ship."
"I told him," one boy said pointing to the volunteer playing the ship's doctor.
"And I told you." The volunteer looked at the Flight Director.
"You didn't say he wanted out of the ship, you just said he was getting scared."
"Go back to the flight," I ordered. The two walked back to the Odyssey leaving me at my desk with two crying 5th grade boys.
I explained the alien intruder was gone and that part of the mission was over. It calmed one boy. "I'm ready to go back," he said as he wiped the last tears from his red eyes with a shirt sleeve. He found his way back into the Odyssey through the revolving door. The other wasn't so easily consoled.
"I want to go home." He repeated the demand to counter every reason I gave him to stay and 'tough it out'. At the end, I surrendered the battle and handed him the phone.
I couldn't hear the boy's five minute conversation with his mother. He stopped crying half way through the call.
"My moms going to come see me before I go to bed," he said when he handed me back the phone. It was very cold outside and nearly 11:00 P.M. I felt sorry for this devoted mom, willing to drive twenty minutes each way just so her boy could see her for reassurance before going to bed.
I felt I needed to say something.
"I feel sorry for your mom." I used my pitiful voice. He looked confused at my statement. "Think about what you asked her to do just for you. You want her to leave your warm house and drive all the way here and back just so you can see her for a few minutes before you go to bed."
He stared at the desktop, not wanting to look me face to face. "You're ten years old and a big boy now. I think you should think about your mom for a moment and what you could do to make her night better. Think about how proud your mom would be of you if you called her and told not to come all the way over here in the cold. Don't you think that would be a nice thing to do for your mom?" I paused for dramatic effect, then continued. "I know I wouldn't want my mom to drive out to see me in the middle of the night if it wasn't an emergency. Is this an emergency? What do you think?"
The boy sat still. "I just want to see her before I go to bed," he mumbled.
"I understand, but the phone is right here. Isn't talking to her on the phone almost as good? I sure feel sorry for your mom." I put the phone in its cradle. "The phone is here if you want to use it. You decide. I've got to go back to my work."
I started typing. He sat motionless. I waited for his next move hoping inside he would 'man up' and not have his mom drive out here just to console him. I did my best to help him grow up a little and learn to be more self reliant. I wondered if the lesson had taken root.
"Can I used the phone," he whispered. I felt hope stir inside me. He dialed his mom's cell phone. She answered.
"Mom, you don't have to come out. I'm OK. I just wanted to talk to you."
I stopped typing and looked with a sense of pride at this ten year old boy. He was thinking of someone else instead of himself. There were a few more tears before the call ended. He handed me the phone.
"You're a brave boy. Your mom's got to be very proud of you," I said as I ruffled his hair. He smiled.
He made one more call before going to bed. There were more tears but he held firm. He was going to stay and she didn't need to come see him. He made it through the night without another problem and survived the camp to the end.
Three other boys woke me up at different times throughout the night. Each had homesick stomachs. Each wanted to go home. I talked each boy through his fear. At the end, not one of our 45 ten and eleven year old's went home. It was a good night and another small victory for this old camp director.
Have a Great Weekend,
Friday, December 2, 2011
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Monday, November 28, 2011
The Phoenix will run a 2.5 hour Private Mission on Wednesday, November 30th. You can sign up to attend individually or with a friend or two. Call the Space Center for a reservation. 801.785.8713. The cost is $13.00 per person. Money is collected at the door Wednesday night. This is open to anyone between the ages of 10 and 16.
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Foreign Affairs: Russian Curse vs. Chinese Success
Posted by Mark Daymont
MSL On its Way to Mars!
Saturday, November 26, 2011
Strange not to be at the Space Center on a Saturday. I feel like I should be doing something or talking to someone. The room is too quiet. There are no explosions or sirens or children laughing, screaming or applauding. I'm not surrounded by scores of young people moving to and from the simulators, some taking a moment or two to talk while others ask for the M and M drawer as they fill their prescription bottles. It's 4:23 P.M. according to the clock I should be wandering through the school dispensing Meadow Gold Ice Cream Sandwiches. The halls should echo with Rogers automatic floor cleaner, the one that resembles an ice rink's Zamboni. Twenty one years of conditioning brings an uneasiness when routine is disrupted.
Don't worry about me. I'll weather this disturbance in the Force. My chores are never done. It's all part of being an adult, even in a land of Imagination where kids reign supreme.
Childhood goes by so quickly. Wasn't it just a couple long years ago I was a fifth grader at Canyon Lake Elementary School? We moved mid year from South Canyon to Canyon Lake. It was tough changing schools, but I had a talent for making friends quickly. It was that year I went on my favorite elementary school field trip to KOTA, Rapid City's local television station. Instead of Alice's looking glass, I had stepped through the television screen and met the people whose black and white pixels lit my small living room every evening. I saw the large cameras and the wooden sets used for the news and the children's Saturday morning shows. That simple rural TV studio was magic for a ten year old.
A kindly woman with heavily lacquered hair called us over to a large table next to a room filled with panels of dials, switches and knobs. A couple dozen 8 by 10 black and white photographs of KOTA's Saturday morning cartoon characters covered the table top. She told us we could take one photograph of our favorite cartoon character.
"How nice, let's all say thank you to the nice lady." My teacher spoke perfect Teacher Talk .
Teacher Talk notwithstanding, we didn't hear a word she said. It was our Walmart Black Friday moment, circa 1968. We rushed forward, ignoring the teacher's shouting for order. Everyone pushed and shoved to get to the table first, none more so than me. There at the center of the table lay a picture of my cartoon hero, Johnny Quest. I pushed Derek Leonard down. Tom Patnoe shoved and I shoved back with all the shove a ten year old could muster. Five empty hands strained toward the prize. Only one came back fulfilled. Johnny Quest was mine.
I have many fond school memories from my childhood. For most children today, the Space Education Center is their best remembered field trip. We bring magic into their lives. It is a responsibility we take seriously. It is a duty that motivates me, and I hope everyone on our staff, to go above and beyond. We will continue to honor a commitment to quality and do our part to ensure more children will survive into adulthood.
Many have asked about the title pictures seen on this blog. Many of them come from my collection of old black and white pictures of kids, adults and seniors living in times gone by. I organized a few of my favorites showing kids from times passed. Today they are either in the winter of life or gone. It is a reminder of how quickly life passes. Enjoy your childhood. Cherish the memories and let your childhood survive into adulthood.
Friday, November 25, 2011
The day after Thanksgiving and all was quiet in the house, except for the sound of rumbling stomachs and the gurgling sound of Mr. Williamson guzzling a bottle of Pepto Bismol. It was quite the feast at my niece's home, attended by family far and near. A full detailed description of my Thanksgiving Day can read on my Genealogy blog by clicking these words.
(Before reading, know that exaggeration is my one true weakness :)
I stopped by the Space Center to put out the working list for next week. I was amazed at what Jon Parker and Megan Warner accomplished on Wednesday. They repainted the Voyager's Captain's Quarters. Before they could paint, they had to do extensive sheet rock repairs. The loft looks brand new. This is going above and beyond the call of duty and so typical of what our Space Center staff do for the students and teachers that attend every day.
Not wanting the Phoenix to feel left out, Megan turned her attention to repainting the Phoenix's doors and desks. She put the finishing touches to the door just as Miranda's test mission arrived this morning at 10:00 A.M.
Just when I thought I couldn't be more amazed, I found Stacy, Rachel, Ben and Matt in Discovery enjoying a delicious breakfast while working on the Galileo's new summer mission!
These people surely make me look good. They are all awesome.
Now, how about an update from Mark Daymont's Space Rubble Blog?
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
The landing site. Auto headlights illuminate the landing area. Dark splash on right is where the Soyuz touched down, and the capsule is a bit to the left of that spot.
The giant Crawler takes the ML out to Pad 39B.
In a scene reminiscent of the glory days of the Saturn V launches to the Moon, a giant launch tower is again seen moving to the pads. NASA engineers have moved the huge 355 foot tall tower to Launch Complex 39B to test how the new structure responds to the stresses of moving on the large Transport Crawler.
Monday, November 21, 2011
The older staff got together at my home Saturday night for ham, rolls, Lorraine's best potato casserole, cupcakes and cookies. The ham came with the compliments of the Space Center's T Shirt supplier. Adam hustled Metta and Megan at pool, walking away with a substantial amount of money and IOU's, Lorraine, Mark, Dave, Melissa and I sat in the living room talking old people's talk. The conversation included such riveting topics as aches, pains, taxes, medicare, weather, laxatives, politics and the Space Center of course. Wyatt (The Red Blemish) made the ultimate sacrifice and walked away from the kitchen table where the cool older teen staff were and joined us in the living room to save us from the mire of self pity. Wyatt is unashamedly a KnowItAll when it comes to Classic Star Trek. Moments after his arrival we were in a rousing discussion of which episode was the best. There were obnoxiously loud interruptions of laughter from the kitchen. One vocal blast from Rachel (whose tone filled the higher notes on the scale) and Ben (who's vocal tones filled the lower notes on the scale) rattled the windows. Years of ceiling dust came fluttering down into our hair, food and clothing. I'm told Aleta was the cause of our partial hearing loss. She was tossing innuendo's like hotcakes.
My ringing ears, paired with serious fatigue caused by little sleep during the Overnight Camp, brought the event celebrating the Center's 21st birthday and the awarding of ten year service pins to Megan and Stacy to a close at 9:00 P.M. Ben volunteered to take the leftovers. I agreed. Moments later I caught him rifling through the refrigerator and pantry looking for anything else he thought could use a good home in a good stomach.
I'm sure a few of my curiously disturbed neighbors - you know the kind who only leave their front windows to use the restroom - were wondering if those odd South Dakota Williamsons were sponsoring an Occupy Pleasant Grove gathering based on the laughter and shouting coming from my driveway. It's good the outside
After Party only lingered another 20 minutes or so. I was just about to go outside in full riot gear (rain coat and bicycle helmet) to disperse the gathering with my garden hose and small canister of pepper spray kept in my car for emergencies. I think everyone got too cold, jumped in their cars, and drove to Wendy's for the unlimited child's sized Frosties.
Yes, it is a short week. Thanksgiving is a few days away and that means football, turkey and copious amounts of pie served with a house full of insane family (South Dakota certified insane. They don't come any insaner). The Space Center will be running at full steam - closing at 9:00 P.M. Tuesday night.
I'm thinking about offer special half price Black Friday missions starting at midnight Friday. Any staff willing to come in? (joking).
How about a few interesting items to start the week off right?
Remember me always saying, "Real American Money, None of that Phony Canadian Stuff."?
Well, our northern friends have been busy imagining and produced something worthy of our imagineering respect. Here we are folks with Canada's plastic money.....
What's Christmas without a few awesome feats of Imagination on film? A British
Christmas ad worthy of applause. Imaginarium TV at its best.
Make way for Belgium's Goose Army. Again I say, What Imagination!
Sunday, November 20, 2011
"We don't know how the Earth (or humanity) might meet its end or when that will happen. Pondering and predicting the event has usually been a job for the world's great religions: all of them have some idea about how humans will meet their maker.."
Read the Entire Article
Nigel Farage. You Gotta Admire His Style
Moving on. May I share with you a video of one of my favorite persons in the world? His name is Nigel Farage. He is a member of the European Parliament from Great Britain and no lover of the European Union. Listen to his remarks made in Parliament on November 16th.
I've always said, "Stand up, stand out and be counted." Well Nigel is a good example of that.
Flying Time Lapse, Flying Over the Earth From Space
Time lapse sequences of photographs taken by Ron Garan, Satoshi Furukawa and the crew of expeditions 28 & 29 onboard the International Space Station from August to October, 2011, who shot these pictures at an altitude of around 350 km.
Shooting locations in order of appearance:
1. Aurora Borealis Pass over the United States at Night
2. Aurora Borealis and eastern United States at Night
3. Aurora Australis from Madagascar to southwest of Australia
4. Aurora Australis south of Australia
5. Northwest coast of United States to Central South America at Night
6. Aurora Australis from the Southern to the Northern Pacific Ocean
7. Halfway around the World
8. Night Pass over Central Africa and the Middle East
9. Evening Pass over the Sahara Desert and the Middle East
10. Pass over Canada and Central United States at Night
11. Pass over Southern California to Hudson Bay
12. Islands in the Philippine Sea at Night
13. Pass over Eastern Asia to Philippine Sea and Guam
14. Views of the Mideast at Night
15. Night Pass over Mediterranean Sea
16. Aurora Borealis and the United States at Night
17. Aurora Australis over Indian Ocean
18. Eastern Europe to Southeastern Asia at Night
"We're Going to Be Friends" The White Strips. Kids Signing. Tremendous. A Good Way to end this post.
Saturday, November 19, 2011
Space Center Educator
Friday, November 18, 2011
The following is an email received recently from a parent of one of the Hopekids who attended the special missions we ran for them two weeks ago.
I want to thank the staff and volunteers who made the evening a success. Honestly, do you know of any place on Earth where so much human awesomeness exists in such a concentrated space? The astronauts in the International Space Station must see this place glowing on pure 100% creative fuel when all the ships are running as they orbit the Earth.
I'm proud to be associated with such fine people past and present.
Hi! I just wanted to send you a little note to thank you for letting my son and Hopekids come enjoy space camp. My 10 year old son, Austin, has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy which is 100% fatal with no treatment or cure. He wants to be an astronaut when he grows up. He absolutely loved coming to this activity and has talked about it for days. Hopekids is a really special organization to us, especially since Austin stopped walking 1 year ago. He can no longer go to friends homes to play and finds himself trying to keep up with friends. Hopekids gives us the gift of being together and participating in activities that Austin can participate in and gets him out of the house. We love Hopekids and thank you from the bottom of our hearts for supporting us. Our live are definitely enriched through everyday angels like you!
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
This is day two of two busy days at the Space Center. Double field trips yesterday and today mean four classes will keep us engaged until 6:00 P.M. Private missions start after the last school bus leaves. Some of us will emerge from the this grueling herculean task unscathed. Others, chained to their stations until the last bus disappears into the dark of night, will leave the Center bruised, unwashed, dishevelled and smelling heavily of human child and musty Voyager uniforms.
Our school's principal spent time and effort scrubbing the school's faculty room for today's principal's meeting with the Alpine School District's Superintendent. She left this note on the Space Center's white board: "NO ONE GOES INTO THE FACULTY ROOM FOR ANY REASON. I CLEANED IT FOR A MEETING". Knowing I suffer from selective memory syndrome, she told the night custodian to find me after my last mission and tell me not to let anyone use the faculty room.
Thirty minutes later....... The bus driver for the 2:00 P.M. field trip walked into the office.
"Do you have a microwave. I'm starving."
It was 5:30 P.M. She had another thirty minutes to wait before our field trip ended, then a 45 minute drive taking the students back to their school in Salt Lake City. The microwave was in the faculty room. I hesitated, remembering the principal's note on the white board behind me.
"Sure," I replied. I wasn't going to say no. How could using the microwave mess up the faculty room?
She didn't cook a Lean Cuisine or a Hot Pocket. She burned a bag of popcorn! The faculty room stunk to high heaven of burned popcorn. The school's hallways smelled of burned popcorn. We went into disaster clean up mode. I set up fans and left instructions for our night custodian to wash the tables and walls with the strongest disinfectant legally sold.
Now I get to return to school and smell the results. My fingers are crossed. If that smell isn't gone I'll be in deep trouble. Yes, even Mr. Williamson has a boss and I think I'm in for it today. I'll be cleaning toilets and raking leaves for the next two weeks.
Perhaps its time for a few things from the Imaginarium:
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Last week marked the 21st birthday of our Space Education Center. To commemorate the event I'm posting pictures taken a week before the Space Center opened on November 8, 1990.
We start with the Space Center's Office, also known to us old timers as its original name "The Briefing Room".
This is looking toward the front of the room. Principal Stan Harward is standing in the room's doorway. On the right are the original classroom coat hangers and cubbies for student's belongings (the Phoenix sits there today). The cubbies were removed a few years later and staff bunks were built in their place. The big screen TV is roughly where the Phoenix's main viewer sits today. You can see the white board, still on the wall in its exact same place after 21 years. The tables and chairs are used today in Discovery. The Briefing Room was first used for the classroom session of the field trip.
The Staff Board was at the front of the Briefing Room. We had nine volunteers when the Center opened in 1990. I was the only person on the payroll. The first picture is of Jeff Schoonover. Today Jeff is the principal of Provo High School. His children attend Central School. Kyle Sanderson's pictures comes next. He is a math teacher and Asst. Football Coach at Pleasant Grove High. Jake Mattson is next. He lives in Las Vegas with his wife and four children. Burke Craghead is next followed by Tony Grover. Tony is a lawyer in Salt Lake City with two children. I can't make out or remember who the person is at the end.
Recognize the sink? Its not there anymore. How about the drawers? Yep, this is the where the Odyssey's Control Room sits today. The Gift Shop used to sit right here.
The Briefing Room looking toward the Voyager's entrance.
The back of the Briefing Room before the Odyssey. My desk is next to the filing cabinets. The mural was done on butcher paper by our Young Astronaut Club. To the far left you'll see the doorway to the library, today's home of you know who! Notice my less than comfy desk chair.
This was the bulletin board behind my desk at the back of the room. That bulletin board covered the hole in the wall that today leads to the Odyssey's Engineering Section.
And now, we move on into the Voyager Mission Simulator (as it was called then).
The short doorway was still a hazard as it is today. Notice there is no Captain's Loft. That was added a few years later.
Now a turn into the unfinished Voyager Control Room.
Then down to the Crew Quarters. Same red counter top
And up the spiral staircase to the Voyager's Bridge. This is the original furniture. We opened without raised platforms for the Captain's, Security and Record's stations. They were added only after I discovered the students sitting at those positions couldn't see the Tactical Screen. The box in the picture sits where today's Engineering Station is located. The box was the home of the original Robotic Arm (an idea I tried to import from the Challenger Centers).
In this photograph you see the Captain's desk in the distance. In the foreground right is Security. Foreground left is Records. You'll also easily find the left and right wings.
This is the front of the Bridge before the main viewer and TV were installed. The original two emblems of the Space Center are still there today, hidden by the two large black and gold Federation Emblems.
We descend down from the Bridge looking back at the Security Station.
And finally a right turn will take us back to the Briefing Room.
Friday, November 11, 2011
Yesterday's warmth is making a speedy easterly exit up and over the mountains, leaving us venerable to the whims of an approaching cold front. I'm glad I wore my jacket as I made the outside rounds checking for unlocked doors.
Earlier Friday evening our conscientious neighbors fouled the air with backyard leaf burning Druid ritual fires. Their chanting doesn't bother us, nor their peculiar robes. What is bothersome is the smoke from their fires, drawn into the school through our air conditioner's air handlers. I'm seriously tempted to call in the Christian Brothers to squash the heretics.
The school's air conditioners stop compressing air to conserve electricity when the outside temperature drops below 54 degrees. Dampeners automatically open, drawing cold outside air into the school for cooling. We breath our neighborhood's sooty mixture all day. There is no escape. I'm consistently asked if I just returned from a camping trip when people smell my clothes. I understand the logic behind this cooling system, but cooling by bringing in outside air is a poor system for places like Pleasant Grove where half our homes are heated by buffalo chips and high sulfur coal.
We had a few reasons to shake hands and celebrate over the past few weeks.
I'm shaking Nathan's hand and congratulating him for receiving his One Year Pin. Nathan was unaware of significance of the Honor, hence the look of confusion.
"You've been with us one year!" I explained.
"Have I?" Nathan queried.
"You have," I answered.
"Yes, you have."
"Have I really?"
"Nathan, you've been here one year so stand still so I can pin this on."
"What is it?"
"Its your Year Pin."
"Yes it is."
"Oh is it?"
"Yes Nathan. IT is!"
I'm shaking Christine Grosland's hand after successfully pinning a 5 Year Pin on her collar.
"Any words of wisdom you'd like to share with everyone?" I asked. Christine looked confused. Then a calmness overcame her as she pulled something from the very essence of her consciousness.
"Do not touch the sides of the door because you might be electrocuted. And, ah.... we're out of left thumbs in our box of spare parts. I think we have plenty of right thumbs........"
"You're good Christine. Sit down."
This is me pinning Rachel's 5 Year Service Pin onto her collar. We were both so overcome with emotion that a bit of something unpleasant escaped. Such things are a common occurrence for me whenever I climb stairs or stand up quickly. I attribute it to my advanced age.
It is difficult to identify the culprit. Of course I was blamed, but now that I examine the picture I'm starting to wonder. Let's just say it was the shortest pinning in Space Center history.
(Sorry Rachel, the pictures was just too good. Rachel is an awesome sport. I hope..)
This is Stacy receiving her 10 Year Service Pin. People tell me I have an electric personality. I've never believed them, until now. I think it was the combination of a thunder storm, my hand in contact with a metal pin in close proximity to Stacy's collar bone and a sudden lightening strike that generated the voltage.
Stacy has nearly recovered. She still slurs a few words, but other than that, she's 80% of her former self.
I'm offering my hand to Megan after awarding her 10 Year Service Pin. My gesture was immediately refused.
"How long have you owned that hand?" she asked.
"53 years," I answered.
"Have you sanitized recently?"
"It's been an hour or so."
"OH THE HUMANITY!" Jorden shouted from the back of the room where he stood with his back firmly planted against the wall. Everyone at the Space Center gives Jorden a wide berth, knowing his fear of germs and viruses. Jorden unzipped his black fanny pack and pulled out his face mask and hand sanitizer. In seconds he successfully removed his can of Lysol spray from a custom made holster and sterilized the air around him.
Megan smiled, waved me off, took a bow and returned to her seat.
Megan and Stacy wanted a picture together celebrating 10 Years at the Space Center.
Megan and Stacy started at the Space Center when they were very young. They loved playing aliens and perfected the 'alien face' our volunteers still use to this day.
This is Dave Daymont shaking Nathan's hand. Nathan recently completed his Phoenix passes.
"Did I?" Nathan asked.
"Yes you did." Dave responded.
"Did I really?"
"Yes, Nathan. You really got your Phoenix pin?"
"Oh did I?"
"When did I do that?"
"Today, during the camp."
"Yes you did."
"Did I really."
This is Dave Daymont shaking Nicole's hand. Nicole was awarded a Phoenix Pin. Nicole has the strongest grip of anyone working at the Space Center, and only releases after the first bone breaks.
Dave knew her award day was coming. In anticipation of the event, Dave spent the last few evenings studying the proper technique for administering the Vulcan Death Grip. He planed on administering the shoulder pinch right before the pain from her grip became unbearable. This picture was taken just before Nicole bore down. Dave applied the grip. Nicole loosened the tourniquet. The stand off lasted more than five minutes before I called it a draw.
This is Devin congratulating Logan for earning his Odyssey Pin. That is not a look of joy in Logan's eyes.
Devin is standing right next to him.
Devin looks a bit off center, if you know what I mean.
Devin has his hand on Logan's lanyard. The lanyard hangs around Logan's neck.
Devin chases loose chickens around Alpine.
Finally, I'm giving Jack his year pin. Jack is afraid of pins and needles. I believe it stems from a horrible accident involving a pet cat and a pair of knitting needles.
I successfully attached his pin to his lanyard only after taking him through a series of breathing exercises. Just before I reached for his lanyard I ordered him to shut his eyes. This picture was snapped shortly before he passed out.