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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Protesters in Space? Another Odd Tale from the Space Center

Hello Troops,
It has been another week at the Space Education Center. What a stupid thing to write. Of course another week has passed. There are some things you write because ..... well just because.
Things move along nicely this time of year. We are well into the groove. It is nice to come to work and jump into a routine. My body functions without conscious thought. I’m like a puppet at the end of several strings. Routine pulls the strings and I move. Soon this day to day routine will be indigestible. I'll be living on Pepto Bismal. By summer we will be ready for something different. We pass our time in Space Center seasons.
We had a network hick up on Thursday. This happens every time I think how lucky I am the Voyager has been glitch free. It is like the simulator can sense my feelings. Freaky isn’t it?
Back to the point..... It was Thursday. I was in a hurry because I had enough on my plate to choke a crocodile. I walked to school and nearly slipped on a skiff of ice. I was saved because of the wild flapping of my arms. I’m sure it looked comical to the innocent bystander but I saw my life flash before my eyes and swore I heard the sound of long deceased grandmother laughing. She enjoyed seeing people succumb to comical injuries. A second later my frame stabilized and I was firm on two feet. I didn't go down. The adrenaline not used in my hyper arm flapping surged through my veins causing my heart to continue the stomping in my chest. I adjusted my side bag, straightened my coat and replaced my near death facial expression with one that told anyone watching that I meant to look that foolish.
I got to school and went straight to the Voyager to crank her into life. I started the computers. Everything seemed normal. I remembered wondering how long it had been since the Voyager had a temper tantrum. That brief thought was all it took. Suddenly the network slowed to an intolerable ably speed. Everything electronic was in slow motion. I tried flapping my arms wildly about. It worked earlier in the morning to save me from disaster but didn't work in this situation. The Voyager wasn't bothered. We had a school coming in 90 minutes so I had to do something. Its called having the buck stop at your desk when you would prefer it found a nesting place somewhere else.
I put on my moth eaten thinking cap and went into problem solving mode. The computers all started correctly. Suddenly everything was wrong. What would cause that?
I remember my computer geek high school programmers taught me to look up at the switcher to see if the lights were blinking. They were, in various shades of amber but I couldn’t make out the code. Did the flashing mean something? Perhaps a close, more sophisticated 21st century cousin of Morse Code? Soon I found myself lost in the symphony of light and rhythm. Minutes passed yet I couldn’t take my eyes off the intricate patterns. I was being pulled into the Matrix. “Get Hold of yourself man!” I remember hearing myself shout. Suddenly I was back in the land of the living. My lightheadedness compelled me to take a chair for support. I was never going to do that again. The switcher, like the sun, is something not to be stared at.
I moved to the Voyager’s Bridge and paused. “Talk to me girl,” I whispered. I put my hands on the Damage Control desk and waited. I’m convinced inanimate objects can pass messages to the living if you are properly tuned and in a submissive state. I wiped my mind of all thoughts (which is very easy to do the older I get). I stood motionless..... waiting for something....... anything....... please....... wait, movement. I felt something shift - false alarm. I’d eaten a couple bowls of chili the night before. That movement could be ignored. It was too nebulous.
I heard something else, very faint. It WAS my trans dimensional grandmother laughing from some other plane of existence. Of course enjoying my misery without the slightest helpful prompting. She wouldn't be any good at a computer problem anyway. She had trouble with letter openers, and we won't even talk about manual transmissions!
The Voyager wasn’t in the mood to participate in this poor attempt at a Vulcan Mind Meld. I was left with one option. You know the “In Case of Emergency Break Glass” option. I positioned myself next to Sensors and rose my foot. A swift kick in the chops should get results. Then it came to me. Bad Network....Slow Network.....could mean excessive traffic. The sun rose on my problem. The dark night was fading into memory. A light from beyond descended on the Right Wing Power Station. "Thanks Grandma," I said to the ceiling. I knew the old gal would find someone over 'there' to help me in the end. I walked toward the light. There was the problem! The wire from the keyboard into the computer was frayed just at the point of entry into the keyboard. This had happened before. I jumped into action, rushed into the Briefing Room, fetched another keyboard, swapped them and restarted the ship. Beautiful was the only word to describe the moment when all computers flashed in unison. I leaned back in my control chair smoking a pen and sipping my Diet Coke. The planets were in alignment. The glitch in the Matrix was resolved.

Protesters in Space

I’m sorry. I did it again didn’t I? I was going to tell you a quick story about protesters in space and got side tracked on a something else. What I meant to say in the epistle above was this, “I had a computer network problem in the Voyager, discovered it was a faulty wire from a keyboard, replaced it and all was well.” There told. Now I’ll move on.
A few weeks ago I was telling Intolerance in the Voyager. You know the plot; they encounter an escaped slave running for freedom. They bring him into the ship. His owner arrives through a wormhole in space. He demands the Voyager return the slave. The Voyager refuses. They fight. The Voyager is seriously damaged and runs (why do my stories all have the Voyager losing their first battles but winning in the end?). They run into a nebula cloud to hide.
This particular mission had one of the best Sensors / Scanner officers in recent memory. He was sharp and did his job with precision. His reading was clear and enunciated. He kept up with the Scanning papers - which is very unusual. He was a joy to work with.
We reached the point in the story where the Pennou moves into the cloud to finish them off. I pushed the ‘forward’ button on my computer to advanced the Sensors screen to the next scene. The text on the screen read: “There are protostars in this area........”. Protostars are newly forming stars which are fusing hydrogen atoms into helium to produce light and heat (now you can say you learned something from this article). If the Captain was worth his pay he’d realize a protostar could be an excellent place to hide, as long as you had full shields.
This young fifth grade sensors officer started reading. I held my microphone ready to say my next part as Tex, the overly obnoxious engineer know it all.
“Captain, there are protesters in this area......!” He stopped in mid sentence. I stopped and turned toward the camera. “Protesters?” I thought. He didn't read the word right. I expected him to reread the sentence so we could move on. He didn’t.
“What the heck!” he said loudly. He turned to find the captain. “Captain,” he shouted. The Captain walked over. “There are protesters here. What the heck are they doing here?” he said looking truly perplexed.
In my mind’s eye I could see what he was seeing. A large group of people carrying signs reading “Down with Slavery” or “Pennou Go Home” or “Citizens for the Prevention of Cruelty to Pennae” and “Pennou Stink” floating in a large colorful nebula cloud shouting rude and abusive obscenities at the Pennou. I started to laugh. The Bridge Staff Officer bent over and corrected the boy’s error. It didn’t make a difference. He didn’t know what a protostar was anyway. I thought protesters were more interesting than a protostar any day.
Well Troops, a couple stories for you. We have more news coming on the new Galileo soon.

Mr. Williamson
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