Visit SpaceCampUtah.org to learn more about the Space Education Centers in Utah. Visit SpaceGuard.org and ProjectVoyager.org for information on joining a simulator based school space and science club.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A New Year's Greeting From the Director

Hello Troops,
Christmas is over. The New Year has taken its watch, properly toasted and saluted by all I'm sure. January 5th, the day dreaded by students worldwide, dawns in a few days. School bells will ring. Teachers will arrive first to ready their lessons, stoke the coal fires, and review their list of sarcastic remarks intended to put overly sugared students back into their proper places. One hour after teachers arrive, students will slither back into the classrooms calming themselves by repeating the date of the next holiday in a meditative style. It is all quite sobering – isn't it?

"Do I look like I'm happy to be back!?"

I'll be back in my role as crossing guard on the street at 8:30 A.M. I take a lot of abuse on the first day back from Christmas Vacation. I do my best to properly greet each child but I wouldn't place a wager on the number of optimistic responses I get back. Usually the children return dirty looks to my friendly greeting. Some spit. Others throw snowballs. The younger ones like to kick me in the shin. Its all OK. Teachers will always have the last laugh. Remember, once these darling students are in their seats they are under our control. They are caged animals.

Cherish Prudence, Student Class President photographed the morning
of the first day back from Christmas Vacation.

I like to start the day by dragging my fingernails across the blackboard. Once I have their attention I list five hours of homework assignments on the board with a note saying, “Due Tomorrow”. That always gets their attention. Big tears form in the corners of their eyes. They are beaten down and submissive. Then I start the positive reinforcement. If I hear a positive comment about my lesson or appearance I’ll erase one of the assignments. Soon, just like Pavlov’s dog, I’ve got them trained. They remember to use the toilet, they eat with knife and fork, they use a Kleenex to wipe their ever running noises, and stop using their index finger to probe their nasal cavities. After a few hours they start to resemble proper young ladies and gentlemen. By the end of the day they are speaking the Queen’s English and controlling their bodily functions. Its all good.

Students After a Day of Retraining

I'm hoping each of you had a good vacation and will be ready to return to school and the Space Center.
"Is Mr. Williamson ready?" you ask. My answer comes in three parts.
  1. Yes, I'm ready to return to school and get back to running the Space Center.
  2. Yes, I'm ready to enlighten the minds of my sixth graders with new Pre- Algebra concepts.
  3. No, I'm not ready to jump back into missions for one simple reason – I always forget whole sections of my flights.
You see, the older you get the less memory you have to work with. Years ago long breaks were no problem. Monday I'll sit in the Voyager ready to tell my mission and find I can't get the correct memories to surface. "What's the song I play here?" I'll ask Metta. "What do I say here?" I'll shout out to anyone listening. "What comes next on the video?" I'll ask a sixth grader whose glance of confusion will mirror my memory to a stitch. The remedy is to spend some time on Saturday reviewing my notes and watching the video for the billionth time. It won't take long for autopilot to kick in and away 'll go unhindered until Spring Break.

As Director of the Space Center and ‘Boss’ to many of you I feel it prudent to take a moment at the start of this new year and share bits of wisdom I’ve learned over the years .
Remember, I’m from South Dakota, a beautiful state many of you have never heard of. It lies below North Dakota (as if that helps any of you place it on the map). Contrary to what you’ve heard, South Dakota has indoor plumbing, highways, and airports. The Denver to Deadwood Stagecoach stopped running years ago. You can visit the State without fear of Indian attacks. And best of all, South Dakota doesn’t have a state income tax! The American Dream is alive and well in this capitalist oasis on the northern plains.
Luella Mae Stump, South Dakota Director of Tourism on the upcoming Superbowl commercial: "Come see the Beauty of the West in South Dakota!" (side note: South Dakota has a severe shortage of dentists
but you won't find a better buffalo burger anywhere)

I was raised in rural South Dakota. This is cowboy country. Cowboys have a unique, down to earth wisdom that seems to apply to anyone no matter what side of the tracks you come from. So, to get 2009 off to a good start, here is some excellent Cowboy Wisdom I've picked up over the years. Get you cowboy boots and 10 gallon hat on, play a good western CD and get ready to get yerself educated.

  • Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.
  • Don't squat with your spurs on.
  • Lettin' the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier'n puttin' it back in.
  • If you're ridin' ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it's still there.
  • If you get to thinkin' you're a person of some influence, try orderin' somebody else's dog around.
  • After eating an entire bull, a mountain lion felt so good he started roaring. He kept it up until a hunter came along and shot him... The moral: When you're full of bull, keep your mouth shut.
  • Never kick a cow chip on a hot day.
  • There's two theories to arguin' with a woman. Neither one works.
  • If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin'.
  • Never slap a man who's chewin' tobacco.
  • It don't take a genius to spot a goat in a flock of sheep.
  • Always drink upstream from the herd.
  • When you give a lesson in meanness to a critter or a person, don't be surprised if they learn their lesson.
  • When you're throwin' your weight around, be ready to have it thrown around by somebody else.
  • The quickest way to double your money is to fold it over and put it back in your pocket.
  • Never miss a good chance to shut up.
  • There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading, the few who learn by observation, and the rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.
"I got a fire goin' and the biscuits are hot. I'll be waiten for ya."

Now I‘ll be plannin’ on hitching up the horse and goin’ after the strays. Ya’ll enjoy the next few days of yer freedom. If ya’ll have some spare time get yer horse and come on out and help me check the fences. Bundle tight, It’ll be colder than a mother in law’s kiss out there.

Mr. Williamson

After serious & cautious consideration . . .
Your contract of friendship has been renewed for the New Year 2009!
It was a very hard decision to make. So try not to screw it up!!!
My Wish for You in 2009
May peace break into your house and may thieves come to steal your debts. May the pockets of your jeans become a magnet for $100 bills. May love stick to your face like Vaseline and may laughter assault your lips! May your clothes smell of success like smoking tires and may happiness slap you across the face and may your tears be that of joy. May the problems you had forget your home address! In simple words . . . May 2009 be the best year of your life!!!
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