Contact Victor Williamson with your questions about simulator based experiential education programs for your school.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

FaceBook. The Confederacy of Dunces.

Hello Troops,
My nephew flew to Argentina to serve a mission last Friday. For the most part he is a good kid, at least on Tuesdays from Noon to 2:00 P.M. when the sun is out and the temperature is between 60 and 75 degrees. The church is turning him loose on the Argentines the same way you release your German Shepard on the UPS man that failed to deliver your holiday packages. At the end of his two years I'll bet Argentina will redirect its hatred for the British with a new fear and loathing for America - all thanks to one seemingly sweet and innocent 19 year old lad (at least on Tuesdays from Noon to 2:00 P.M. when the sun is out and the temperature is between 60 and 75 degrees) who breached their solidly Catholic defenses.
I can be a calming influence on Brayden so I feel it my duty to keep in touch but this poses a bit of a problem. He is allowed to email his parents only. This means all news is distributed by my lovely (an adjective used purely to help bring her out of her holiday blues) sister Jilane. You see, she has an exotic personality quirk. When everyone around her is happy she is miserable and when everyone around her is miserable she is happy. Let me explain.
When she was a child her left eye had its own personality. It always pointed 40 degrees away from where her right eye was looking. Strangers were thrown off by it. They never knew what eye to look at when they spoke to her. Of course this also gave her the misperception that everything in the world came in twos because she saw everything double. My brothers and sisters took bets when she started to walk on whether she would pick the right doorway. One image was the proper doorway and the other was the double created by her lazy eye. Fifty percent of the time she would walk into the wall. The roof would raise with laughter.
Surgery was required. She was admitted to the hospital. In South Dakota we like to do things the hard way so the surgeons removed her brain to get to the eye. The eye's muscles were repaired and the brain reinstalled. Unfortunately we think the brain was put in upside down causing her to act in an opposite way. Hence, when we're happy she's not and when she's happy we're not.
To make a long story shorter, I asked her to forward Brayden's missionary emails to me. Because I asked politely - she rudely said 'no'.
"If you want to read Brayden's emails and see his pictures you'll need to create a Facebook account. It is the only way so get out of the 18th century and join us in the modern world," she answered.
"What's Facebook?" I replied, knowing it must be some Internet thing. I was directed to its web site. Now I'm not stupid, and after several hours I understood the reasoning behind this seemingly useless application. Facebook seems to be a place for people to write things about themselves nobody in the world cares to read. There is also a place for you to put pictures nobody will ever look at. You can even tell everyone what you are doing at that exact moment - as if anyone had the time to be bothered.
"I get it, Facebook has created a place to spy on your neighbors and friends with their permission. Instead of standing at the window peering through a crack in the blinds you can access everyone online and see what they are doing. It has created a new Internet land - The Confederacy of Dunces! " I said with the gleam of understanding.
"You're stupid, You've always been stupid , you will always be stupid and you will die stupid," was her response. "Get a Facebook account and you get all the news. Stay off the Matrix and continue to live your life offline. You'll die a painful solitary death. I mean how will we know when you kick the bucket if its not posted on Facebook?" She gave me that look of having mentally check mated me. I let it go.
So........... I'm announcing to the world that I have a Facebook Account. I'm in the Matrix. I'm connected. The chip has been implanted into my brain. The Government can read my thoughts.
Privacy is as old as last week's casserole.
Now, I'd better stop this post and get back to my Facebook account to update everyone on what I'm doing right now. But wait, once I write what I'm doing right now then it wouldn't be right now it would be right then? That means I'd have to write something else in the Right Now box but only to find it immediately becomes Right Then....... OH Crap.... I'm falling behind every second I'm not updating my Facebook.
(Mr. Williamson is writing in his facebook)
(Mr. Williamson is breathing)
(Mr. Williamson is getting out of his chair to get a drink)
(Mr. Williamson is wondering if the world will stop long enough for him to get off)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Space Center News in Brief

• The Voyager’s summer story of 2009 is finished.
• Alex Debirk returns as a Flight Director. He begins in January. He will work every other Saturday and one other evening per week. Alex will be taking the occasional overnight camp when Brady or Bradyn need a weekend off.
• Spenser Robinson has worked on several Voyager repair projects. We are doing our best to keep the Voyager in tip top shape.

• The Odyssey’s staff is working on a new summer story.
• The Odyssey dial and switch station has been removed. Matt is refurbishing the panels with heavy duty switches that can withstand the abuse of day to day use.
• There are other repairs in the works, especially a few pieces of black plastic in the Odyssey’s engineer section.
• The Odyssey is getting more and more requests for the Junior Program.
• BJ received a mission call to Japan. He leaves the Space Center in March.
• Rachel H. and Todd R. are training to become Odyssey Flight Directors.

I want to thank Emily Perry for the extra time she takes working as Odyssey Set Director. Emily has a real love for the Center and her simulator. She had an accident a few days before Christmas break. He car was totaled but she is OK. Emily really needs a car. I’m hoping someone out there reading this has a good, cheap used car Emily can buy.

• The Galileo is maintained by a dedicated staff led by Stacy Carroll.
• The Galileo staff spend most of their free time working on the controls for the new Galileo.
• The new Galileo is under construction at BYU. We were selected as one of BYU’s Capstone Projects. Our new ship should be delivered this Spring. We hope to have it ready for the summer camp season.
• Bridger and his staff of programmers are working with Stacy on the controls. The Galileo will be our first simulator programmed in Apple’s programming language - Cocoa.
• Kyle Herring is leading the Galileo redesign team. He is working closely with Alex Debirk, Stacy Carroll and the BYU team to ensure our new ship is perfect from day one.

I want to thank the entire Galileo team for their hours and hours of unpaid time. They are working hard to bring our students and patrons the finest simulator ever built at the Space Center. The spirit of volunteerism lies at the very heart of the Space Center. This Galileo team represents this spirit at its finest. Thanks Stacy, Kyle, Alex, Taylor, Rachel and all the others that make the Galileo one of the favorite ships at the Space Center.

• The Magellan has a new Engineering Section installed by Matt Long. This new feature lies in the hallway just off the Magellan’s Bridge.
• Spencer Robinson finished several repair projects in the Magellan. One problem solved is the hanging rope lighting.
• The black plastic covering the computer screens is a constant repair problem in the Magellan. We don’t have a solution yet but are working on a few options.
• Mark Daymont has a couple of new stories in development for summer of 2009.

• Way to Go Megan! Megan is another one of our Awesome Set Directors. She has pride in the Phoenix and puts in hour after hour of unpaid time working on repairs and improvements.
• The Phoenix is following the example set by the Galileo team and has regular scheduled staff meetings to discuss problems and fine solutions.
• The Phoenix has a new dial and switch station behind the Captain’s Chair.
• The Phoenix control room will get a complete make over next week.
• We worry about the Phoenix. The new Galileo will hold 6 students. The Phoenix holds 6 students. The new Galileo will move. This will put the Phoenix at a disadvantage for missions and missions mean income for the Space Center and the Phoenix staff. We are working as a Phoenix staff to find ways to make the Phoenix
unique. The Phoenix invites input from anyone on ways to improve their programs. Send your ideas to Mr. Williamson through the Space Center’s Contact Us web page.

General News
• Dave Daymont has finished the designs for new simulator pins.
• The Space Center’s gift shop carries new simulator pins for the Voyager and Phoenix. New pins are ordered for the Galileo and Magellan. The Odyssey pin will be ordered this week.
• You may purchase Space Center pins, hats and T-Shirts in the Center’s Discover Room.
• The Space Center has hired Brian Bennion as an evening custodian. Central’s custodial staff leave the school at 8:00 P.M. Our programs go to 9:00 P.M. Often our customers make messes in the school’s hallways and bathrooms after they were cleaned. Brian comes in at 9:00 P.M. and cleans up after us. The school is always
clean and ready for Central’s teachers and students the next day.

What is Happening to the Land Next to the School?
• Alpine School District purchased the old church building and land next to Central School.
• The old church, originally built in 1893, has been demolished. It was the site of the first Central School. Back then it was called the ‘District School’.
• Mr. Williamson met with District officials before Christmas Break to discuss the future use of the land. The following items were discussed.
A. The land will be used for a new parking lot for the school.
B. The District may, in the future and if money is available, build a new Space Center on the land. Of course there is no money at the present and may not be if the economy
doesn’t improve. Unless the Center can raise two million dollars any new Space Center plans must be placed on hold until a decision is made to include the Center in the District’s next bond proposal.
C. The District asked Mr. Williamson to design a new Space Center Building for the open land next ot the school. The district will build a new parking lot with the Space
Center’s building in mind so in the future the land would be ready for construction if and when money is available.

• Mr. Williamson has ordered all improvements to the Space Center Be put on hold for the next few years. The Center will be maintained for quality but all remodeling plans will be stopped. All current and future money raised will be reserved for the possibility of a new Space Center building. We have the land, now we need the money
to design and build a Center the way we want.

The Space Center wishes to thank our friends, students and staff for their hard work and dedication.

My Memories of the Space Center

Hello Troops,
From time to time I'll post a guest article from one of the Space Center's 'old timers'. Old Timers are volunteers and staff that have moved on in life but still remain a part of the Center either through occasional visits (even to volunteer) or through emails and letters. This post was written by Austin E. (he is still a minor so I cannot include his full last name). I want to thank Austin for taking time to write and submit this.
Mr. Williamson

As requested by the esteemed and "HONOR"able bossman, I have been given the task of writing a segment about my experience, and memories of the place in this edition of "The Troubador". I accepted, knowing my absence at that place must be a blessing upon mankind, so if I can bring a temporary bad taste to your mouths, then I must do so, with extreme pleasure. (Just kidding... or am I?)
As we all know, the beloved space center has been around for many ages, ranging from the old, spooky, and very... uhm... shall we say, interesting Voyager, to the new and "improved" Phoenix, and of course everything in between. (The Galileo being the futhest excluded) And as such, I have many memories, some good, others bad. But even being my rebellious, and punk nature, I never outgrew the magic and laughter that came from it.
In my younger days as a little trouble maker, I was always in trouble, either from talking back to the teacher, to throwing something in class and getting my recess revoked, or my activities taken from me. But there came a day when I was told about this Space Center that we would be going on a school feild trip to. I was so excited, I could barely keep from shouting out loud! I had been an avid fan of Star Trek (in secret of course), and when asked about it, I shrugged, and said, "Eh. It will get me outta class for a while, right?" But my teacher noticed an extreme change in my behavior.
The first thing I remember about the center was when I took my first steps up the twisted staircase of the Voyager. I was in total awe. The giant viewscreen displayed a crystal clear image of the computer screens, and the music was blasting loudly, with Vics old loading music. I was dumbstruck.
In that instant, my popularity melted away, and my self awareness disappeared. I couldn't make a sound, and my jaw was dropped. As I was guided to my seat at damage control, and I took a seat heavily, I knew in that instant, this was something I needed to be a part of.
I was performing like a champion at my post, repairing systems as the began to appear like bills, and I never once got bored with my job. The time flew by like no other and before I knew it, the music stopped, the screens went blank, and I heard Mr. W's booming voice tell us it was time to return to reality, and I almost wanted to scream. I was at home sitting in that uncomfortable chair. I was alive clicking rapidly on instructions and running papers down to the communications station. And in an instant, I blinked and it was all over. I reluctantly pulled off my uniform, and folded it, taking my time to perfectly fold it into a square, as to prolong my experience. As everyone shuffled off the bridge, I was at last alone, save for the blue shirt collecting uniforms. Ignoring him, I turned around to my seat, and silently said my farewells, placing a forgiving hand on the rail as I turned away, sighing as I walked down the steps.
I guess for me, this was a stepping stone in my life. I have held this place as a temple, a holy ground in which only the truly, and worthy could ever hope to understand. I love how much it has turned out to be a place to bring not only campers closerer together but also its staff. Growing up has been a struggle for me, but I have made many lifelong friends and met so many special people there. I will never be able to replace these friend and memories.
I don't know what the CMSEC means to all of you who have taken the time to read this. But for me it has been a gleaming beacon in the distance and a lighthouse for the lost. It is a place to find unity, to build friendships, as well as a sense of security in knowing your not alone. I have found many friends and even love in this place. So, comrades, we are one together and the magic will always remain in its halls and decks so long as we stay united. And most importantly, never forget why it is there. We are the instruments in which it needs to survive and without your help, it won't stay on course.
That's it for me. I will return to my life working as a mechanic for Toyota and you will return to checking your email. But let's never forget the place where we always find acceptance and will never be turned away from. The Center has many years left in her and if we help her and its captain through the gauntlet, we will live to see her prosper, and live on, long after we are gone.
With my regards, respect and love,
L8tr guys,
Austin E.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Troubadours at Midnight Mass.

Once again I write about our staff in a different setting outside the Space Center of 2008. I enjoy taking bits of current staff news and placing it in a story set either in the future or the past. All I ask is that you humor me as I exercise my imagination.......

Mr. Williamson

The Priest’s voice echoed through the cathedral. The gray stone walls tossed his words back and forth until all that remained was a whisper lost in the rafters. My knees rested on a dark wood plank attached to the pew before me. My hands clutched each other in prayer. My eyes closed then opened.
His Latin was both a stranger and friend to my ears. A stranger, for the meaning was lost to all but those who spoke the Roman tongue. A friend, for I knew the Priest’s words were spoken in supplication to God on my behalf. It gave me comfort on that bitter cold Christmas morning in the Shire.
I watched my prayers escape my lungs forming white clouds disappearing as moisture on my hands. Each prayer asked God for health, the warmth of summer, good harvests and good stories with song. I pulled my woolen coat closer to my chest. I was disappointed that my coat had surrendered the argument to winter's temper.
The priest wore fine silk and linen. I wondered if he felt the cold. His vestments were fine compared to the simple wool my fellow troubadours and I wore. He lifted a golden goblet filled with wine toward heaven. An alter boy rang a small bell. We are told this is the time the wine turns to Christ’s blood which was shed to take away our sins. The sacraments connect us to God, forming a bridge between Earth and Heaven. There is comfort in knowing this when the time comes to lay down our earthly cares.
I took my attention off his words and gazed down the pew to my fellows. This was the right place and time to thank God for such fine company. There assembled were the Christian souls I shared my days with. All on bent knee - some in reverence, others in respect and the youngest out of duty.
My thoughts were disturbed from behind by soft laughter. Two of our maidens were whispering. Their eyes found the Baron’s oldest son. They seemed more interested in discussing his fair nature than attending to their praise of Christ's birth. I cleared my throat and lowered my eyebrows to show displeasure. They understood and redirected their devotion. Our younger Troubadours are growing older, and with age comes thoughts of love. It is natural but not in chapel.
I returned to my prayers. The choir sang. The melody of their voices in chant brought a sense of warmth to the congregation. I saw Master BJ accompanied by his sister Maiden Megan. He seemed content. Word had come from the Bishop that his application to join the brotherhood was accepted. He will soon wear the robe of the traveling friar and join our former troubadours Masters Bracken and Casey as they carry the gospel to the heathen in far off lands.
Our travels take us to distant points as we practice our trade of story and song but Master BJ’s road will take him even farther still. He will embark in the month of March for a place beyond the Holy Land. A place known only to God.
Maiden Emily joined us for the service. We were pleased. She escaped a wagon accident without injury. She had a misunderstanding with another wagon concerning who should yield the right of way. She lost the argument. The wagon can be replaced but not the talent of a gifted performer. She has a spirit that never stops but we hope she remembers that wagons must from time to time.
My thoughts were brought back to the present by the ringing of another hand bell. The congregation began to repeat the Priest’s words. I heard something that didn't sound like Latin. To my left I saw Master Mark asleep with head in hand. His snoring was gaining volume in an attempt to challenge the cathedral organ for dominance. Staying awake past dusk was a challenge for him. Staying awake during Midnight Mass required a miracle. That miracle came in the form of Maiden Brittany. She nearly sent him to the stone floor with a gentle nudge. There was hushed laughter from the younger Troubadours. Maiden Metta brought reverence back to the pew with a glance and a finger to the mouth. Master Mark glanced up and down the bench. He would remain awake as long as our eyes were upon him. I'm reminded once again that Living a simple life teaches you to find humor in the simplest of things.
The Mass was nearing its end. I returned to my prayers. We live in troubled times. There is uncertainty in the Kingdom with a new king soon to be crowned. There are wars in foreign lands. There is news of a plague in nearby Shires. So tonight, and all nights of this holiday season we remember how fragile our time is and how grateful we are for another year with family and friends. We are blessed by the knowledge that as long as we have our kinsman and friends we can weather all obstacles.
Again, my thoughts returned to the Mass. My knees felt locked with the cold. I was glad the service was at an end. It was time to stand. The large wooden doors of the cathedral opened introducing us to the north wind. A warm fire and bed awaited.

Friday, December 26, 2008

BJ Warner Receives His Mission Call

BJ Warner is one of the Space Education Center's top flight directors. He works in the Odyssey.
BJ sent me this email a moment ago and I want to share it with our Space Center staff, volunteers, and patrons. Congratulations BJ from all of us!

And now BJ's Email:

So, something awesome happened to me Christmas Eve. I GOT MY MISSION CALL!!! I woke up in the morning expecting a call from the post office explaining that my mission call was waiting for me if I was willing to come get it, otherwise they'd send it to me with the afternoon delivery. When I checked the voicemail and caller id, I didn't see anything but a phone call from my grandma and an unwanted solicitor. I'm not going to lie, I was somewhat devastated! So many things had gone wrong with my paperwork and timing issues that I thought this was the one thing that couldn't be messed up! After checking the phone however, I decided someone was trying to teach me a bit about patience. I continued my day, solemn as it became, like any other Christmas Eve, until.... Right before we left for a ward Christmas party, my Dad walked in with an envelope addressed to an "Elder Brett J. Warner"! I was so excited that I didn't pay much attention to the Christmas program. Long story short, my friends and family gathered at Eight O'clock for the long awaited unveiling. Everyone waited anxiously as I pealed open the letter. With each tear of the delicate church style envelope my heart beat faster. My hands were shaking as I shed the envelope and help the papers signed by the big man himself!! I read the paper:

"Dear Elder Warner:

"You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the Japan Nagoya Mission."

With tears in some eyes and complete joy and pride in others, I circled the room, giving and receiving congratulatory hugs to all my closest friends and family.

I leave to the MTC on Wednesday March 25th, 2009! There I will learn to serve the Lord to the fullest of my capacity. I'm excited to be doing the will of my God! I'll miss you all. Thank you for everything you've done for me. Hopefully I'll get to interact with you all one more time before my alleged "two year vacation".

Thanks again everyone, and Merry Christmas!!

BJ Warner
Current Odyssey Fight Director,
Future Missionary

An Enemy From the Dark. Chapter 2

Ch. 1 Posted on December 24, 2008.

Hello Troops,
This is Chapter two of a story started on December 24th. If you haven't done so, please read Ch. 1 before reading Ch. 2.
Thank you.

Mr. Williamson

December 22, 2321
01:10 Hours
McAuliffe Station, Earth Orbit.

Commander Williamson entrusted the briefing of the cadets to his instructors. They parted company on Deck 12 of the McAuliffe Station.
“Brief the Cadets and put them to bed. I’m going to the Command Level to get more information. Meet me in my room when you are finished here. By the way, it’s OK for the cadets to place calls home if they can get through.” Williamson said to his staff as they exited the lift. They turned right and walked briskly away nodding to say they heard and understood. The turbolift doors quietly closed leaving Williamson alone with his thoughts and the humming of the lift as it sped along through the shafts of the Station. Williamson wondered how chaotic it was going to be on the Command Deck.
The turbo lift doors opened revealing a busy room. The atmosphere was tense as Officers scurried about. It was obvious that everyone was caught off guard by the attack on Farpoint Station. You could tell from the comments heard in passing that more attacks were expected, it was only a question of when and where. Out of the corner of his eye Williamson saw the new Command Officers of the Starship Voyager, a ship assigned to the McAuliffe Station to assist with the training of new midshipmen from the Command Academy. The tallest of the three was Commander Alex DeBirk, recently transferred to the Voyager from the USS Francis Scott Key. Next to him was Captain Brady Young and furthest away was Lt. Commander Bradyn Lystrup.
Against another wall he found a group of very familiar faces. They were the command officers of the Station's other training ships: Megan Warner of the Phoenix, Stacy Carroll of the Galileo, and Emily Perry of the Odyssey. It looked like everyone had the same idea. If you want news go to the source.
Wiliamson suddenly realized he was blocking the entrance to the turbolift. An officer nearly knocked him off his feet as she rushed to catch the lift before the doors closed.
"Excuse me," the yeoman said as she entered the compartment and turned around. She glanced up giving an embarrassed look for nearly knocking him over - then she looked down to her feet. She mumbled something to the computer. The doors slid shut and the sound of the moving car rapidly faded into the hum of a busy Command Deck. A moment later Williamson recognized who she was - Admiral Schuler’s Assistant. If she was here then so was the Admiral.
Williamson stepped back from the lift entrance and attached himself to the wall. Best to stay out of the way for a moment and listen. He would ask questions once he found someone he knew would take a minute to answer them.
"Where can we find the Station Commander?" Williamson overheard DeBirk ask the science officer.
"We have orders from the Commander to report to a briefing,” Captain Brady Young said giving a purpose for their presence.
"He is in his ready room with the Admiral. You can wait here. By the way, Admiral Schuler is in a real state. Many of the Inland Defense Ships are on maneuvers with the Centaurus. They are several hours away at max warp. We are orbiting with our pants down. The Training Ships are pretty much it at the moment. I expect that's why you are all up here. Watch out, here they come."
The door to the Commander’s Ready Room parted and out came Admiral William Schuler followed by Admiral Meredith - Commander of the McAuliffe Station. Williamson wondered what the legendary Admiral Schuler was doing on the station at this time of night. The only explanation was the Station Christmas Party.
The appearance of Admiral William Schuler was enough to make the hair on a captain's neck stand at full attention. The Admirals walked toward Williamson. Suddenly Schuler stopped and planted himself toe to toe with Captain Brady Young of the Voyager. Brady stood at attention staring through the Admiral. Debirk and Lystrup were also at attention thinking how glad they were that Brady was standing in front of them.
“Are those Captain’s Pips?” the Admiral asked with a sound of complete disbelief. “Who are You?" he continued in his loud booming voice hardly giving Brady time to answer either question. Brady was wondering what was louder, the beating of his heart or the Admiral’s agitated voice.
"Captain Brady Young just appointed captain of the USS Voyager Sir!"
was Brady's shaky reply.
"The Voyager, You?............You?! How old are you? I'm expected to provide some kind of Earth defense with training ships under the command of children? What is going on?" The Admiral raged. Brady wanted to defend his record but was smart enough to realize the Admiral wasn't asking a question but making a statement.
"Sir," came a reply from behind Brady. It was the voice of Alex Debirk. Brady thought he was either very stupid or very, just plain stupid.
"You have something to say to me?!" Admiral Schuler said as he moved toward Debirk like a cat about to bounce on its prey.
"Captain Young is a decorated war hero from the Borg war. Why he alone was responsible for saving the USS......."
Admiral Schuler didn't let him finish his sentence. Instead he let loose a stream of profanity that slowly turned the color of the bridge's atmosphere from clear to a faint green, not to mention a slightly acidic smell. Williamson noticed the turbo lift open during the "attitude readjustment". Two junior officers stepped out, saw what was happening, and immediately did what everyone else wished they could do - disappear. They turned and shuffled back into the lift praying the doors would slide together quickly.
Brady didn't know someone could swear as artfully as the Admiral.
The words seemed so well chosen and fitted together like an expensive crossword puzzle. The Admiral was a master of communication. His reputation was well earned. Brady waited for the right moment to tell Alex to shut up and leave it alone. He couldn’t do it while the Admiral was spewing at full gale. He waiting for an opportunity. Suddenly the Admiral’s attention was diverted to a new piece of news coming in from Command. The Admiral turned his back to them. Brady’s saw his chance. He didn't want to get caught breaking attention so he had to act quickly. He turned his head and gave Alex the look.
Alex’s eyes returned Brady’s gaze and confessed his mistake. He should have kept his mouth shut. He was learning a hard lesson. Brady noticed moisture droplets covering Alex’s face. It was spittle spewed from the Admiral's mouth. Not only did he get to hear the Admiral's dressing down but he got to bathe in it as well.
The Admiral turned back to his wounded prey. He drew in enough air to arm both lungs and prepared to continue his description of Alex’s genealogy when the ship's intercom sounded. The Admiral was being ordered to report immediately to Starfleet Command. He stopped in mid sentence.
“Good luck,” he said to Admiral Meredith. He snorted at Brady and half marched half walked to the turbolift. Shuler nodded toward Williamson as he passed. Williamson prayed he blended artfully into the wall. No one on the Command Deck moved until the lift doors closed.
Alex leaned back on the wall for support while wiping his face with the sleeve of his uniform. Admiral Meredith motioned for everyone to follow him into his Ready Room.
"We have problems," Williamson throught as he crossed the room. His cadets and the training ships may need to step up to the plate. The Command Training Academy's simulations would be put to the test.

January's Voyager Club Meeting for Students

The next Voyager Club meetings will be held on January 15, 2009. Alpha Group will meet 4:30 - 6:00 and Beta Group will meet 7:00 - 8:30. The topic of our next meetings will be: NASA past present and future featuring a guest speaker; Mrs. Aleta Clegg, who is one of our Space Center Teachers. We will also have a group discussion/debate on the subjects.
What is the Voyager Club and how can you be apart of this new group? The Voyager Club is open to students who love attending Space Center camps – classes and want to earn higher Space Center Rank. Club meetings, activities and educational programs will focus on space science, aviation, communication, team building, leadership and science fiction. Other details about the Voyager Club listed below:

1. There is no charge for attending
2. Class hours are awarded at the end of each meeting for attendance. Extra class hours are awarded at the end of each term to members that have no grades lower than a C.
3. The Club meets once each month. Meeting dates and times are announced two weeks in advance on this blog and through the Frequent Flyer email list.
4. You are allowed to attend ONCE a month. Lesson topics and objectives will change each month.
5. Lesson topics and objectives may or may not be announced ahead of time.
6. You must wear your Space Center T-Shirt to attend. If you don't have a shirt you may purchase one at the Center for $10.00 (Shirts available on Dec. 9)
7. You must register for each meeting ahead of time. This is done only by email. If your name is not on the register you may be asked to leave. The lesson is taught in the Space Center's Discovery Room, which can only handle occupancy of 30 max. That is why you must pre-register to attend.
8. The instructors are Center employees. There may be occasional special speakers.
9. These meetings are not merit badge classes.
10. Simulators may be used in class sessions, but not promised and not on a regular basis.

Your best behavior is expected. Students will be asked to leave and not return if their behavior becomes a distraction to the instructor and / or other students around them.
Once again, we are looking for students with an interest in learning and increasing your rank at the Space Center.

We look forward to having you in attendance!

Kyle Herring
Voyager Club

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

An Enemy from the Dark. Chapter 1

Hello Troops,
This is the start of a story that could end up being much larger if I have an interest to continue it. I enjoyed writing our school mission 'The Children of
Perikoi'. I enjoy telling it even more. I've wanted to continue the story and did once several summers ago. The mission was told in the Galileo. It was OK but not what it should have been. I blame myself for that. Not everything you write is good. This is another attempt at a continuation of Perikoi using our own staff and volunteers as characters. Let me know if you find it interesting enough to continue.
Mr. Williamson

December 21, 2321
23:00 Hours
McAuliffe Station, Earth Orbit.

The McAuliffe Station’s Lounge was located on deck 12 near the Officer's Quarters. Large polished wooden doors separated it from the hallway. Each door had a normal sized port hole with the station’s logo etched in the glass. The hallway ended at the Lounge. Walking straight out from the lounge the hallway passed several officer’s quarters, two turbolift elevators and a small convenience shop run by the Station’s Commissary. The hallway ended on the opposite side at the entrance to the Station’s Command Training Office. This is where the Command Staff and instructors of the training facility had their offices and conference rooms. The hallway was carpeted in a speckled blue carpet. LED lights were embedded in the carpet showing the numbers of the rooms. The hallway was futuristic in design with soft lighting directed at the wall every six feet.
It was 23:00 hours and the Station’s Christmas party was in full force. The party’s noise bled out into the hallway each time the doors slid open. The noise didn’t matter . There was no one to disturb. The station’s staff and employees were all at the party. A large Christmas Tree stood on the opposite side of the room from the door. It was decorated in holographic ornaments that changed design to match the beat of the music playing in the room. False Flame took the place of lights. The tree was topped with a two hundred year old star brought to the station by the station commander’s wife. Everyone commented on what a fine tree it was.
The people in the room were divided not by design but by choice. The Starfleet Officers occupied one end of the room. They ran the day to day military operations of the Station. The educational staff were found on the other end of the room. They ran the Command Training Academy (CTA). The CTA was a special military boarding school for gifted teenagers wishing a career as command officers in Starfleet. After graduation most CTA students attend Starfleet Academy in San Francisco. Their time in the CTA always placed them well ahead of their classmates. This made entrance into the CTA very competitive. Most of the academy’s students were on home leave for the holiday. The few that remained were looked after by the house Prefects of each Form.
The Lounge doors slid open. Commander Williamson, the director of the CTA entered the room. He was fashionably late. He looked around and noticed the demarcation line between the two camps. He moved toward the largest grouping of his staff.
“Hello Sir and Merry Christmas,” Lt. Stacy said. She was the first to see the Commander. The others in her group stopped talking in mid sentence and extended their holiday greetings .
“I see you’re all having a good time,” Williamson said. He glanced around and noticed the absence of his senior officers. “Where are the old timers?” he asked.
“There were sitting at that far table. They’re gone now,” replied Lt. BJ Warner.
“I see that BJ. Anyone have an idea where they disappeared to?” Williamson questioned.
“Not a clue,” Lt. Emily Perry chimed in as she danced rhythmically in a circle to some upbeat carol. She had a drink in her hand. Some of it spilled onto the carpet. Williamson reached out, took the cup and smelled its contents. “I don’t drink Commander,” She replied curtly while taking back the drink. “Besides alcohol is banned on this base so we make due with what ‘s available - we are drunk with joy!” she exclaimed as she picked up her prancing.
“You younglings have fun. I’ll just back away before I get hurt.” Williamson moved from the table and did another glance around the room looking for people closer to his age. His senior staff were nowhere to be found. As he turned toward the door he caught the eye of the station’s commander. The commander gave Williamson a polite nod. Williamson returned the nod and the pleasantries were finished. The Admiral was a fantastic and well organized officer. His station was one of the best run in the Fleet. He was proud of what he accomplished but he did disagree with the Fleet’s decision to place the Command Training Academy in his station. It was just something else on his plate even though the school was, for the most part, self sustaining.
Williamson picked up a cranberry juice from the bar in one hand. His other hand dove into a bowl of yogurt covered pretzels . He walked out of the lounge. The hallway grew quiet as the doors closed behind him. He walked slowly toward the turolift elevators. He had a good idea where his friends were hiding.
The lift opened as he approached. He stepped in. The doors closed.
“Destination?” the female computer voice asked. He thought for a moment. Where would they be. He knew they were going to the party so they are together somewhere. He wanted to try a guess before taking the easy approach and asking the computer to locate them.
“Observation Deck,” he replied. The lift began moving upward and then sideways. Seconds later it resumed an upward journey. The lift stopped and opened on deck 3. In the doorway stood two of the Academy’s students, Midshipman Aland and Midshipman Merryweather. They stopped dead in their tracks upon seeing their Commander occupying the same lift they were waiting to enter. They were caught. They were suppose to be in their form’s common room enjoying their own party. Instead they were loose.
“Well, well, well..... what do we have here?” Williamson asked. Both boys jumped to attention. “Two cadets roaming the station without clearance. I do believe that is a violation of curfew. Please correct me if I’m wrong,” he asked. Neither of the boys spoke. Their gaze was unbroken on a spot on the wall.
“Sir, we were on our way....” Aland began speaking only to be cut off by the Commander.
“Not interested. Sorry. If I want to hear a fine piece of fiction I’ll go to the theater. Let’s see, what is playing tonight on the holoscreen? Yes, I believe it is ‘Caught in a Web of Lies’. No gentlemen - words would be a waste of breath at this point and we don’t want to overwork the oxygen generators.” Both boys squirmed every so slightly. Merryweather’s eyes rolled upward and then toward Aland. He knew it was pointless to explain a breech of curfew. He was surprised Aland had tried. “Gentlemen, you will take the next lift and go straight back to your dorm. You will report to your Prefect, explain what you were doing and then go straight to bed. You will bypass the party in your Common Room. Tomorrow we will sit down with your Prefect and decide on a suitable punishment. I don’t want to make such an important decision now. This is something that needs thought. You know what I say - the punishment must fit the crime. Now step back and you have my permission to breath.” The boys took one step back. The lift’s doors closed.
“Resume,” Williamson said and the lift began moving. Seconds later the doors opened again. Williamson stepped out onto a solid floor. The rest of the room appeared to be open space. He was right - there at one of three tables sat his senior officers. “I thought I’d find you in the Observation Deck,” he said moving toward the table.
“Too noisy in the Lounge,” Comm. Mark Daymont said. Sitting with him were five other senior officers. When they were alone they called each other by first names. On Mark’s left sat Aleta, Lorriane, and Sheila on his right sat Dave and Bill. The table was full of snacks all hand carried up from the party below.
“You’ve got the right idea,” Williamson said as he moved a chair out and sat down. “This view never gets old.”
“That’s why we came up here. Quiet talk and a great view,” Dave explained. The blue and white Earth nearly filled the sphere over their heads. Beyond was the star studded black of space. Their conversation wound it way through many topics. Time was spent on the students. They discussed the new simulations being prepared for the Fourth Form Cadets. Lt. Megan Warner, assisted by several of the younger instructors, was writing a complete military campaign involving several simulations to be told in three of the station's training ships.
Before long two hours had passed. It was late. They all agreed to call it a night. Suddenly an alarm sounded. The klaxon's pitch caused some in the party to cover their ears as it reverberated around the transparent ceiling of the Observation deck . The alarm stopped just as suddenly and was replaced by the voice of the Station’s Commander. “Alert Condition One. This is no drill. Alert Condition One. This is no drill,” his voice sounded firm and without panic.
“We are under attack?” Lorraine asked with a puzzled expression. Everyone in the room starting looking through the sphere into space. There were no ships. All seemed peaceful.
“Control,” Williamson said as he tapped the communicator pinned to his uniform. There was a slight pause before the call was answered.
“What can I do for you Commander?” the voice responded.
“Where is the attack?” Williamson asked.
“We’ve received word from Command that Farpoint Station has been destroyed,” the duty officer answered.
Farpoint Station?” Williamson was surprised by the answer. Farpoint Station was one one of the Federation’s furthest starbases. It would take two months to reach it at maximum warp. He wondered why the station was placed on battle alert if this attack occured so far from Earth.
“Farpoint was attacked by an alien race we only recently encountered,” the officer began answering his unasked question. “They use wormholes.” That statement made it clear.
Anyone able to use wormholes could strike anywhere.
“Who are they?” Williamson asked almost fearing the answer.
“I’m not sure what they call themselves but we encountered them at PCX2214. It is also referred to as Perikoi. Two of our ships engaged them there. We lost the Copernicus and they lost one of their ships. It appears they are back and in force.” The conversation ended. The room was still.
Everyone knew the implications of wormhole travel. The Federation was in danger from an enemy that could strike anywhere at any time.
“Well ladies and gentlemen, life is about to become very interesting.” Williamson said to the small gathering. “Let’s go to the Common Rooms and explain this to our cadets. I’m sure they are as concerned as we are.”
The group moved for the turbolift. The doors opened and closed leaving the quiet of space behind.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Commander Alex DeBirk Returns to the Voyager.

The stars seemed far away as the USS Francis Scott Key slowed to impulse on its final approach to the McAuliffe Station. The trip had been a long one for Commander Alex Debirk. After an extended absence, he was returning to his first love - the Starship Voyager. Alex walked into the Key's Ten Forward Lounge to watch the docking through the large windows. He leaned up against the transparent aluminum glass and watched as the ship moved gracefully toward the docking pylon. It was 0500 hours. The lounge was empty except for himself and one waiter.

Command Training Department
McAuliffe Station

"Its good to be back," he muttered to himself. Two months ago he received word that his transfer to the Voyager was approved. He moved from the window and sat at the table with the best view. A waiter moved through the tables toward him.
"May I get you something to eat or drink?" the waiter asked, noticing the pips on his collar.
"No thank you," Alex responded. "I'm here to enjoy the view." The waiter bowed slightly and started to turn toward the bar. "Have you heard of the Starship Voyager?" Alex asked before the waiter could complete the turn. The waiter stopped and turned back to the commander.
"Yes sir, who hasn't heard of the Voyager?"
"What have you heard?" Alex asked curiously. Of course Alex was very familiar of the Voyager's history. Ever since news of his transfer had reached him on the USS Marshall he had studied every mission the Voyager had completed since he departure. He spent countless evenings in the holodeck walking the recreated halls of the Voyager getting to relearn her layout so the ship wouldn't seem a stranger to him when he arrived. The reason for Alex's question to the waiter was to see what the general public knew of his new ship.
"Well Sir, where do I begin? The waiter responded. "The Voyager has been in so many difficult situations, saving a ship, a planet, even the Federation itself. It is a ship of legends. You're lucky to get her back. Hundreds apply for that ship every year. You know, I believe the Voyager is here at the McAuliffe Station right now. I'll bet you can see her as we dock."

McAuliffe Station

The waiter moved toward the windows. Alex followed closely behind. The Key turned slowly as she neared Pylon Two. Just as the bow turned there was a glimmer of reflected light off a white surface.
"That's it - the Voyager" the waiter said almost reverently. Alex glanced downward
and saw his new home glimmering in the station's floodlights . The word "VOYAGER" in black letters outlined in red contrasted the white background of the ship.
"Beautiful," Alex thought. "That's my ship," he said to the window. His breath clouded the glass.
"Are you one of the new executive officers?" the waiter asked.
"Yes," came Alex's proud reply.
"I heard the Voyager was getting new brass. I'm happy to meet you sir." the waiter said extending his hand. Alex was taken a bit back by the offer but realized the waiter was a civilian employee of Starfleet. He shook the waiter's hand. The waiter turned and walked back to the bar to ready the lounge for maintenance and space dock.
Alex pulled up a chair and sat looking at the Voyager as the Key slowed to a stop at the docking Pylon. He reached into his pocket and took out his hand held computer. With a couple of clicks he pulled up his transfer orders.

The Starship Voyager

"...........You are hereby ordered to the Starship Voyager on January 1st. You will arrange transportation to McAuliffe Station. You will be working with fellow officers Brady Young, Bradyn Lystrup, Kyle Herring, and a new junior officer named Victor Williamson." He stopped reading. Alex knew these people well, except for Victor Williamson - the new rookie. He had worked with the others in different assignments. Some of them he had trained himself. He continued to read his orders. He was searching for the earliest time he could board. He was anxious to get his gear stowed and meet his staff. His orders read 0800 hours. He had three hours to wait.
Alex closed the computer and placed in back in his blue uniform's pocket. The Key's loudspeaker announced that docking was complete and the crew and passengers could disembark. Alex stood up, glanced once more at the Voyager, and walked toward the large doors of the lounge.
"Good Luck Commander!" the waiter shouted across the room.
"Thanks," Alex called back and disappeared in the hallway. The doors closed.

(We are happy to have Alex Debirk back at the Space Center after a short absence. He will work with Brady Young and Bryson Lystrup on the Voyager. He will take occasional overnight camps along with the Voyager's Saturday private missions and one private weekday mission. He brings his great talent for acting and desire to see our programs continue to improve. Welcome Back Alex!)

Dividing Souls

On the outskirts of town, there was huge nut tree by the cemetery fence. One day two boys filled up a bucketful of nuts and sat down by the tree, out of sight, and began dividing the nuts. "One for you, one for me. One for you, one for me," said one boy. The bucket was so full, several rolled out toward the fence. Cycling down the road by the cemetery was a third boy. As he passed, he thought he heard voices from
inside the cemetery. He slowed down to investigate. Sure enough, he heard, "One for you, one for me. One for you, one for me." He knew what it was. "Oh my," he shuddered, "It's Satan and St. Peter dividing the souls at the cemetery." He cycled down the road fast as he could and found an old man with a cane, hobbling along. "Come here quick," said the boy, "You won't believe what I heard. Satan and St. Peter are down at the cemetery dividing the souls." The man said, "Shooo, you brat, can't you see I'm finding it hard to walk as it is." But after several pleas, the man hobbled to the cemetery. Standing by the fence they heard, "One for you, one for me. One for you, one for me..." The old man whispered, "Boy, you've been telling the truth.
Let's see if we can see the devil himself."
Shivering with fear, they peered through the fence, yet they were still unable to see anything. The old man and the boy gripped the wrought iron bars of the fence tighter and tighter as they tried to get a glimpse of Satan. At last they heard, "One for you, one for me. And one last one for you. That's all. Now let's go get those nuts by the fence, and we'll be done." They say the old guy made it back to town five minutes before the boy.


Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Christmas Greeting from the Director

Merry Christmas Staff and Volunteers,

This Christmas finds our staff, retired staff, and volunteers spread out from one end of the nation to the other. Rest assured that the Admiral of the Space Center is here in Pleasant Grove minding the base. Our simulators are enjoying a well-needed rest. Each one parked, snoozing, and waiting to be woken by a flight director at the beginning of the `Long Stretch' to Spring Vacation.

This 'Long, Dreaded, Stretch', is the time of the school year only understood by the educational community and students. This desert of time runs from January to April. Its landscape is marked by a few, one-day holidays and nothing else. Teachers survive the 'Long Stretch' by rationing their sanity and patience into weekly packages.

Each Monday one parcel of sanity is opened and inserted into the appropriate mental slot. By Wednesday, students begin sensing the supply is waning. This is usually demonstrated by the teacher's quivering lip and a seemingly innocent twitch over the left eye - a warning sign that something dark and sinister is bubbling in a dark place.

Thursday is the bleakest day. It marks the end of the teacher's working supply of patience. This is the day teachers earn their notorious reputation by verbally striking out at children with swords of satiric comment and bullets of snide and degrading remarks describing their student's mental abilities. Thursday finds teachers sticking pins into the pictures of their 'deserving' students on 'The Bulletin Board' kept hidden from public view in most faculty rooms. At the beginning of each school year the Board is cursed by a practitioner of the Voodoo arts. The ritual begins with hours of chanting accompanied by shaking rattles. This is followed by the sacrificing of a chicken (recently modified by replacing a real chicken with a 9 piece McNuggets from McDonalds to satisfy the animal rights advocates in the educational community. Although not as effective, it is less messy). The Board is ready for use once it is properly prepared.

On Thursdays one is reminded of the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem as you watch teachers gaze at the hundreds of pictures on the Board. The chanting, the rocking, the occasional weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth are all there. Many of you have wondered why you suddenly
take sick at school. Now you understand. I could tell you more but I'm taking a calculated risk writing what I've written.

Friday's wisps of sanity are fueled by fumes only. The Fumes of Patience have a calming effect on teachers when combined with warm thoughts of a weekend. I know the long stretch from January to May is hard on students also. Best thing to do is keep a positive attitude and work hard. When you are working hard the time goes faster.

Seriously, I want to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas. It has been a pleasure working with the finest young adults in Utah Valley this past year. I'm honored that you consider the Space Center worthy of your valuable time. I wish I could give each of you a gift but we have simulators to build and things to repair. Instead you have my thanks and, upon request, a good missionary handshake. Enjoy this holiday season with family and friends and be all the more ready to come back. There are thousands of children waiting anxiously for their upcoming missions and you make it happen!

Merry Christmas Friends,
Mr. Williamson

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Charlie Brown's Christmas Sorrow

Charlie Brown : “Will it ever stop snowing?”
Linus: “You seem a little depressed today Charlie Brown. Although it isn’t unusual to find you depressed on any given morning, you would think a no school day paired with Christmas would be enough kindling to ignite some kind of holiday spirit.”
Charlie Brown: “What are you talking about. Why don't you speak English? I swear I don’t understand half of what you say. Why can’t I have a friend that speaks my language?!”
Linus: “Bad Day. Not Good. You Sad. You make me sad. You be happy soon?”
Charlie Brown: “Good Grief”

(a pause in the conversation allows both boys to draw figures in the snow. Linus picks up the conversation trying to brighten Charlie's mood)

Linus: “Peppermint Patty is having her annual Peppermint Christmas party tonight. Will you be going? If so, will you be accompanied by your pleasant mood?”
Charlie Brown: “I didn’t get an invitation. Did everybody get an invitation?”
Linus: “I’m guessing they did. It looks like Snoopy has his."

(Snoopy is seen in the distance removing his leather jacket, aviator's cap and goggles. He enters his dog house and exits with an invitation in one hand and his Christmas dog collar in the other. He does a little dance and then, in a flash, is off down the street)

Charlie Brown: “Sigh”
Linus: “Cheer up Charlie Brown. You can come with me. The invitation says you can come in Christmas costume. I wasn't going to dress up but I have an idea. I can wrap my blanket around my head and go as a shepherd. You can put your mom’s wool coat on and come as a sheep.”
Charlie Brown: “Good Grief”

(There is another pause. Linus tries to catch snowflakes on his tongue. Charlie stares blankly ahead watching Lucy drag her 'Psychiatric Booth' out from the garage and out to the driveway).

Linus: “You know what you need. You need to see my sister Lucy. For a nickel she can get you felling right as rain. See, she is setting up her booth in the driveway. She’s expanding her practice. She offers online holiday help if you have the internet and a dime. I see she has mom’s cell phone. I gave her the idea to start a holiday crisis help line. Its Perfect for you Charlie Brown. Let’s go inside and give her a call.”
Charlie: “She’s right there on the driveway. Why don’t I just go over and talk to her?”
Linus: “You’ve never been one to keep abreast of modern technology have you?”
Charlie Brown: “Sigh”

(Again, another pause. Linus pulls out Peppermint Patty's invitation to double check the party's starting time. He smells something - a smell everyone recognizes. He looks up to confirm his nose's conclusion).

Linus: “It’s working. She has her first holiday customer. You can tell its PigPen - she’s shrouded in dust. This is fantastic. She promised to share her holiday profits if I keep giving her ideas for business expansion. I want an iPhone for Christmas but I don't think Santa will spring for one this year. I’ve been a good boy but to get an iPhone requires the ability to walk on water. I don't think I've been that good. So.... my share of the psychiatric business's profit will be my standby plan to get one. ”

(Charlie Brown looks at Linus with a look of unbelief. He decides to redirect the conversation)

Charlie Brown: “I’m not going as a sheep. I'll just go. I'm sure she sent an invitation. It must have gotten lost in the mail.”
Linus: “Yes, that must be it. Just like your invitation to the Halloween party. Your invitations are in good company with the millions of socks lost in dryers every year.”
Charlie Brown: “Do you get paid a bonus by your sister to annoy me to the point where I need her help!?”

(Now Linus decides it is time to redirect the conversation to something else)

Linus: “Oh look, I think the snow is increasing in volume.”
Charlie Brown: “I don’t think I’m going to make it through this vacation, even with your quack sister's help.”

(Linus grows perplexed. He has seen Charlie Brown depressed before but this depression seems to be different)

Linus: “What is it Charlie Brown! I’ve never seen you this bad. What’s this anchor on your holiday spirit?”
Charlie Brown: “Do you really want to know. I mean honestly want to know?”
Linus: “I’m your friend, and considering the way things are progressing, soon I’ll be your only friend. Listen Charlie Brown, I guarantee there is nothing so dreadful, awful, depressing or dark that the spirit of Christmas can’t brighten! Come on, throw it at me. I’ll use my Christmas Cheer and bat it out of the park!”
Linus: “Gulp”
Charlie Brown: “Let’s see you bat that one ‘out of the park’. Oh whose talking Mr. Christmas Cheer. Go on, take that to your sister and see it turn her to the bottle for holiday cheer.”
Linus: “Sigh”
Charlie Brown: “Double Sigh”
Linus: “I take your Double Sigh and raise you two more sighs”
Charlie Brown: “Good Grief.”
Linus: “You got that right.”

Our Ship of Self Esteem Ventures into Weather.

Hello Troops,
Shelley Keyser, a former flight director and all around awesome Space Center supporter, is about to embark on what could be a painful journey into the engine of the Space Center ship of state. Her work on a master's degree will shed light on the Center and its experience. Every aspect of the Center will be evaluated. We will be laid bare for all to see (hence I'm increasing my time at Gold's Gym).

Last week she gave me the first of many papers on the subject. The paper gives an overview of what she wants to accomplish during the next several months. I enjoyed reading it and offer it to all those that are interested in following her research. Shelley's papers concerning the Center will be distributed to anyone making an email request. It will be sent as a PDF document.

Baton down the hatches and make the ship ready for weather. Our ship of self esteem may take a pounding. We may discover we have a well built frigate or may find the wood full of worm. This I promise, if the ship is found unseaworthy and flouders, we will save the women and children first. I will stay at the helm to the end - a captain at the wheel of his ship saluting the powerful force that brought us to judgement's door.......

Mr. Williamson

P.S. I'm excited about this study. It will point out our weaknesses and reinforce our strengths. We are never short on compliments but always hearing the good causes us to sit back on our backsides. Our thanks to Shelley for doing something that needed to be done for the last 18 years.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Week in Review: December 15-19, 2008

Field Trips Schools and Numbers:
Noah Webster Charter School
Shelley Elementary
Bluffdale Elementary
William Penn Elementary
Total Field Trip Attendance: 259 students

Overnight Camp
No Overnight Camp this Weekend.
Total Overnight Camp Attendance: 0 students

Private Mission Attendance: 75 students

Total Number of Mission Run this Week: 31

Total Weekly Attendance: 334 students.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

We Weather the Winter Fellow Troubadours

I enjoy writing - regardless of talent. Some of my writing in this Blog may seem confusing to our non Space Center volunteers and staff. Reading though this Blog you'll read stories about our staff and volunteers set in different times. For example, last week our story was set far into the future on a Starbase. This week the story below is set in the middle ages. I write these simply because I enjoy it. That is why you write my friends - enjoyment. I want to thank you for reading and thank you for the kind comments I receive from time to time on the stories.
Mr. Williamson

We Weather the Winter Fellow Troubadours

The sky and ground blend into perfect white as another snow blankets the shire. The winter stays with us like a lingering cough. Only the brave or foolish venture into the gray woods in search of firewood. All others, forced into close kinship by the cold, huddle near fires to battle the chill with outstretched arms .

Our band of troubadours brighten the mood of the hamlet's peasants and nobleman with story and song, but as the dark cold months pass the task increases in difficulty. With the sun in short company and the dark an ever unwelcome companion, merriment - like fresh meat - is in short supply.

Melancholy hangs in the castle like the tapestries of majestic battles fought long ago. The castle's great rooms and corridors are nearly empty of human company. The gray stones provide a fortress from the wind but share the cold of the air. Our band of Troubadours share a fire and meal. The moon darkens the night by hiding its face but our spirits are bright as we share story and recount memories of our brothers and sisters in far away lands. We pause and reflect on two of our best, Master Casey and Master Bracken. Both exchanged their troubadour vestments for the woolen robes of the traveling friar. Both, having been touched by conviction, travel shire to shire in a distant land called Texashire bringing the good news of the gospel to the unbelieving. The road has challenged their faith but their parchments speak of strength and an inner conviction to give an eternal light to a land famine for the truth. The life of a friar is one of hardship but the rewards are many. We travel with them in thought and prayer as they join our other troubadours who have accepted the path of faith.

Christmas is soon coming. The Great Hall is draped in festive garments. The Baron has decreed a week of light. Extra fires brighten the castle's walls and ceilings with a deep dancing orange color. The crackling and popping of burning wood is heard and the smell of evergreen hangs in the air. Our troop sits in a reflective circle searching for inspiration in each other's eyes. What can we do to contribute to the holiday? The brothers Daymont share a story that draws laughter into the room. It is good and all agree it will be told during a gathering and meal. Lady Emily reaches for her instrument and begs our patience as she tunes. Minutes later she fills the air with a merry melody that seems written to bring smiles to the somber. Yes...... our inspiration is each other. Is there anything our band of storytellers can't do when faced with a challenge. Our reputation of quality is known in every village and shire we have visited. This will be a holiday to be remembered.

We weather the winter, comforted by memories of spring's scents. We wait for the warmth of the coming season and the dust of the road. We long to pack our horses and exchange the company of the castle for the highway as we travel village to village, shire to shire telling our stories.
Courage fellow Troubadours. The love of summer springs from the ice of winter. Today we tell our tales by the fire and lighten the dark's gloom with the sorcery of story. Soon this will end.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Week in Review: December 8-13, 2008

Field Trips Schools and Numbers:
  • Elk Meadows Elementary
  • Geneva Elementary
  • Rocky Mountain Elementary
  • John Hancock Charter School
Total Field Trip Attendance: 324 students

Overnight Camp
  • Lakeridge Junior High School 7th and 8th Grade
Total Overnight Camp Attendance: 40 students

Private Missions
  • 19 missions.
Total Mission Attendance: 259

Total Weekly Attendance: 623 students

Friday, December 12, 2008

A White Shirt’s Story.

A shocking tale exposing corruption at the highest level - the human brain! This is a tale that could prove evolution is reversing.

Every few years I come to the point in my life where I stop and take an inventory of my bedroom closet. This is the time to give my clothes more attention and ignore the various trinkets occupying much of the shelve space and scattered here and there on the floor . The Clothes I considered out of date (my kind way of saying I can’t squeeze into them any more) are bagged and thrown into my car’s trunk (my car is loving called the Battlestar by staff and friends). I have every intention of promptly delivering them to Deseret Industries but find the old adage ‘out of sight- out of mind’ is true. They sit in my truck until I’ve driven by DI at least a dozen times.
On my last closet cleansing I discovered a few of my Space Center button down shirts were no longer wearable. One was destroyed by the careless application of bleach to a load of colored clothes. I don’t know how it happened and Mother denies any knowledge of the incident. It may have been me but I can’t admit I could be so stupid. It’s best to take the easy route and blame Mother. She can’t rely on her memory so she has no natural defense. I’m training her to just say “Im sorry”. That gives me the high ground where I can dispense forgiveness. Aren’t I the ever gracious and caring son? She may have the last laugh in the end. As she grows more forgetful I find her memory lapses may have dangerous and perhaps fatal consequences. She routinely forgets to turn the stove off. She always leaves lights on. Then there was the incident with her poor parrot. This story involved the wind, an unbalanced birdcage and an interesting and distracting episode of ‘Oprah’. We are lucky she doesn’t smoke or she would blow us all to Kingdom come with the oxygen she keeps by her bed for sleep apnea. Dad keeps track of her. Oh, for those that don’t know, my parents live in my home’s basement apartment.
OK, I got distracted........ There was the bleached shirt. Another shirt had a permanent food stain on the front. I’ll take the blame for that. I have an eating disorder. I sometimes have trouble finding my mouth when eating. When eating, I balance the food on the fork. When the food is stable, I bring the fork up to where I think my mouth is. That is where the disorder manifests itself. I find my mouth moved from the last time I ate. That leaves the food deposited equally on my face and the front of my shirt. I’m seeking treatment for this disorder but can’t find a doctor that takes me seriously. Without medical help I'm left to my own devises. I discovered the only way to treat this condition was to eat in front of a mirror. It took awhile but I’m getting use to eating all my meals in the bathroom.
Well, to make a long story short I discovered I was running short on Space Center shirts. I needed to place an order. I found the catalog from TTOD, the Space Center official supplier of shirts. I found a few I liked. I ordered two royal blue, two denim, and two white shirts. I asked that the Space Center’s logo and name be embroidered on the left side of each shirt. On the right side I requested my name. The order was placed and life went on.
A few weeks passed and the order was ready. I drove to TTOD and collected the shirts. I drove back to the school and opened the box. The Royal Blue shirts were beautiful. I’m told I look presentable in royal blue. It is my color. Years ago my mother did my colors. She refers to herself as a color consultant. If you give her half a day she will bring you into her studio, sit you down, strap you in and lock the door to prevent an escape. Once in her parlor she begins the process of using you as a curtain rod. Cloths of various colors are draped over your shoulder and around your face. Once properly tucked here and there to prevent slippage she begins pacing back and forth. She walks deep in thought while cupping her chin in her hand and making sounds through her clenched teeth. If the pacing didn’t bring some kind of mental resolution to her internal conflict she ratchets the experience to the next level. She reaches for the lamp. You face is illuminated in degrees of light from the ghostly florescent to the seductive reflective. Once all is said and done your ‘Season’ is pronounced. I was declared a Winter as a teenager and told to stick with the dark colors. The advantage to being a Winter is your always dressed appropriately for a funeral.
The denim shirts were next out of the box. I was please and proud of myself for the selection. I could wear denim with many other colors and nobody disputes the longevity of the material. That was then - but my opinion has been modified. Our ever fashion conscious, and consistently at the top of the Space Education Center’s Best Dress List, Flight Director Kyle Herring took one look at me in my denim shirt and curled his nose. The curling of Kyle’s nose is the kind of reaction that could send the designs of the great fashion houses of Europe to the department store’s Bargain Basement.
“You realize that denim went out years ago don’t you?” he asked. That statement paired with the curled nose was taking direct aim at my fragile self esteem. At the start of the day I felt well dressed and by mid day I felt like the Emperor with no clothes.
“No I didn’t realize but I don’t care,” I replied, ashamed with myself for using such a childish come back.
“Well, if you don’t care how you look then what can any of us do?” he responded with a underhanded wave of his hand, the kind used by the master to dismiss a servant. He walked away in his pressed pants with perfect cuffs and designer shirt complete with monogram on the front pocket.
“Herring,” I said with clenched teeth under my breath, thinking the same thoughts Seinfield thinks when finding Newman at his front door.
After much deliberation I decided to keep the denim shirts as a statement. Although you may find me inhabiting a place in current space time, there is a nurtured part of me still in the past. My denim shirt is the bridge between my two worlds.
The last shirts to come from the box were the two white ones. Now, I know I look good in white. Winters look good in white. It contrasts our olive complexions (or so I’m told by the resident expert). I held it out to check the embroidery. That is when I saw something unbelievable. The company that embroidered the shirts used white thread on my white shirts ! I couldn’t believe what I saw. Surely they were intelligent enough to see that white thread on a white shirt might be difficult to see! The proof that their Common Sense brain circuits were in a state of atrophy was in front of my eyes. I just couldn’t believe it.
I wanted to take the two white shirts back to my supplier and show him the proof that he should consider employing a new seamstress for the embroidered shirts but decided a cooling off period was in order. I hung them up in the closet and left it for a few days. I find if I fly off the handle I can say things I regret - so I have a standing policy - if I get really angry I leave it alone for at least 24 hours. If I’m still fuming after the reflection then I’ll take action. A couple days passed. My anger morphed into fits of disbelief. The emotional transformation evolved further from disbelief to fear. What was this country coming to? Why have so many people decided that their God given common sense wasn’t needed in today’s world? Any idiot sitting at the machine could easily see that white thread on a white shirt wouldn’t work. Why wouldn’t they change the thread to a noticeable color - or call me and ask for directions. So why didn’t they? I honestly think they didn’t want to be bothered. The order didn’t tell them to change thread colors for the white shirts. If the ordered didn’t spill out their directions in explicit detail then why take the time and bother to try to get the job done right. After all, what could I do? Whatever action I took wouldn’t make a squat of difference to them.
I’ve decided to keep the shirts and wear them as a lesson to my students and staff at the Space Center. I want all of you to take notice when you see these abominations. I want you to remember the lesson of the White Shirts. Always use your common sense wherever you are. Always go the extra mile for friends, family , and customers. Let the White Shirts ring out a warning for all to hear - the world if full of stupid people and they don’t even know they’re stupid. It is our job to help them find their common sense. It is our job to spur them into action and use their brains when they are awake. Staff and volunteers, I want to hear you say “Lesson Learned” when you see me in one of these White Shirts.
OK, it is time to put this problem to bed. Everyone enjoy their weekend and I’ll see many of you in the trenches this next week.

Mr. Williamson

Monday, December 8, 2008

English Drives Me Crazy!

You think English is easy???
1) The bandage was wound around the wound.
2) The farm was used to produce produce .
3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
4) We must polish the Polish furniture.
5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.
6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present .
8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
10) I did not object to the object.
11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row
13) They were too close to the door to close it.
14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.
15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
18) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
19) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
20) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

Let's face it - English is
a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren't invented in England or French fries in France . Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren't sweet, are meat. We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.
And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of booth, beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese? One index, 2 indices? Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?

If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell?

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which, an alarm goes off by going on.

English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at all. That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.

PS. - Why doesn't 'Buick' rhyme with 'quick' ?

You lovers of the English language might enjoy this .
There is a two-letter word that perhaps has more meanings than any other two-letter word, and that is 'UP.' It's easy to understand UP, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake UP ? At a meeting, why does a topic come UP ? Why do we speak UP and why are the officers UP for election and why is it UP to the secretary to write UP a report ?

We call UP our friends. And we use it to brighten UP a room, polish UP the
silver; we warm UP the leftovers and clean UP the kitchen. We lock UP the house and some guys fix UP the old car. At other times the little word has real special meaning. People stir UP trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite, and think UP excuses. To be dressed is one thing, but to be dressed UP is special. And this UP is confusing: A drain must be opened UP because it is stopped UP. We open UP a store in the morning but we close it UP at night.

We seem to be pretty mixed UP about UP ! To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of UP, look the word UP in the dictionary. In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes UP almost 1/4th of the page and can add UP to about thirty definitions. If you are UP to it, you might try building UP a list of the many ways UP is used. It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don't give UP, you may wind UP with a hundred or more. When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding UP . When the sun comes out we say it is clearing UP...

When it rains, it wets the earth and often messes things UP. When it doesn't rain for awhile, things dry UP. One could go on and on, but I'll wrap it UP, for now my time is UP, is time to shut UP!