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

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Voyager Club News. Next Meeting Times.

Note: The Voyager Club meets monthly at the Space Center. It is open and free of charge to all Space Education Center fans between the ages of 10 and 14 years old. If you attend our camps and private missions and would like to get more involved (and earn extra class hour for your rank) you are welcome to attend. Contact the Space Center for more information or just show up at one of the meetings. Club news and meeting times are announced on this blog.

Mr. Williamson

Voyager Alpha and Beta Club News:

Next Club Meeting

Thursday April 9th will be the next meeting of the Alpha and Beta Voyager Clubs. Alpha Club: 4:30 - 6:00 and the Beta Club 7:00 - 8:30 PM. Please remember to wear your Space Center Tee Shirt to the meetings. The topics of discussion will be: Writing Science Fiction Stories and Missions for the Space Center. Mrs. Clegg, published author and teacher at the Space Center will be our guest teacher!

I will see everyone in May, until then I am in the Star Ship Dry Doc working on the Galileo, Mark VI!

Mr. Herring

Last Week's Space Center News and Water Cooler Stories.

Hello Troops,
Well I just finished a post for my Cloverdale Blog on Otis Fleeber and his alien abduction. Give it a read if you have some spare time.

Now, I’ll turn my attention to the Space Center’s news of the week. I’m hoping to stay away as I write. I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night. Match that with the little sleep I got on Friday night and you've got a walking zombie. Overnight camps are not good for sleeping. I’m on duty all night long so I sleep lightly. I'm always listening for the sound of campers needing help, screaming in their sleep, or attempting an escape ;)
Its all OK. Isn’t sleep entirely over rated anyway? Look at how many hours, days, weeks, even years are lost to sleep. Why aren’t we looking at the genetic code that forces us to sleep and find a way to sequence it out of our DNA? Is there anyone out there with me on this one? Anyone? Oh, I see how it is. You’ll all leave me hanging on this one. What........? You enjoy your sleep? So let me get this straight. You wouldn’t trade your sleep for an additional six to ten hours of productive work time every day? Well, I’m getting nowhere with this point so I’ll drop it.

The Odyssey Bites Megan Warner.

The Odyssey’s computers all shut themselves down on Monday toward the end of the field trip. Megan was the Flight Director. Being the professional she is, Megan went into crisis story telling mode and brought the downed computers into the mission - claiming they went down because of battle damage. Once the kids were convinced it was their fault the computers were down, Megan had to figure a way for the crew to operate the ship without computers. The benefit of experience gave her a solution. Instead of clicking their commands into a computer, the crew spoke their commands to the Odyssey’s main computer. Megan insisted they say their commands just as if they were working their station. If they phrased their instructions correctly she responded with the proper action. It worked and they finished the mission with a cheer. Great Job Megan!

The Voyager Can Read Your Mind.

I had a similar problem on Monday with the Voyager’s computers. At 10:30 A.M. I sat in my Flight Director’s chair to start the mission. I felt good about the day so far. Then, I made a mistake. I thought how good it was that the Voyager was running so perfectly on a day when I’d be telling three missions back to back. As soon as the thought crossed my mind I knew I was in trouble for thinking it. The Voyager can read my mind and if it thinks I’m pleased with it’s performance it will bite. It bit. My FD computer froze. That rarely happens. I restarted it and when right into my Tex welcome speech. I hoped that would be then end of it. It wasn’t.

The climatic ending of Perikoi involves a chase sequence involving the Voyager and an alien ship. We were moving into that scene. Suddenly my computer decided to ‘Slow Down’. It froze for several seconds and then unfroze for a moment before refreezing. The cycle of freezing and unfreezing wasn't stopping. That cycle forced me to sit completely glued to the computer to catch it when it unfroze so I could advance the screens and break or repair things. It was nerve racking trying to get through an action packed sequence with a computer on a partial strike.

We got through the mission without the crew knowing the problem. In the five minutes I had to reset the ship for the 11:40 A.M. mission I found the source of the slow down. The First Officer from the 9:30 A.M. mission tried to print her computer log. The First Officer’s computer wasn't set to print to the Bridge printer and that put the computer into some kind of looping network clogging mess. One restart and the issue was resolved.

You know, there is a lot of stress that comes from running these mini theaters with live presentations. If a ride goes down in an amusement park people can simply move to the other rides. At the Space Center, if one simulator goes down we have no choice but to send the school home without the option of returning. For that reason, we have duplicate pieces of equipment for almost everything. That requires a large financial obligation and a large amount of storage - both of which the Space Center has very little of.

Over Booked Woes

I think I may have overbooked the Center for 2:00 - 6:00 P.M. field trips this year. We are running after school field trips nearly every day in April and May. That involves telling three to four missions per day. My staff think I’m crazy for booking that many missions but the alternative was to turn even more schools away and I can’t do that. As the founder and creator of the Space Center I honestly feel a great deal of accomplishment whenever a school comes for a Field Trip. Their attendance is a compliment for the program, the concept, and the wonderful hard working staff . My gratitude to them makes it nearly impossible to turn a teacher and school away. It is like turning down praise. We all like to be praised. If someone was giving you an honest compliment for a job well down would you tell them to shut up and go away? I know there are some holes in that comparison but I believe you get the picture. We will find a way to survived the avalanche of missions about to befall us. The key is a good positive attitude and lots of support from great volunteers. And we all know the best volunteers in the state work at the Space Center.

Will the Galileo Fall Apart in Mid Flight?

I’ve got to hand it to Stacy Carroll and her staff of Flight Directors (Rachel H. and Taylor T) for keeping our present Galileo operational. It isn’t easy. The current Galileo should have been replaced a long time ago. The new Galileo is nearly complete and should be at the Space Center sometime at the end of this school year or the beginning of summer. Until delivery, we must keep the current simulator operational. That's the problem Stacy and her staff face.

Stacy Carroll is the Galileo Set Director. It is her responsibility to keep the ship operational until the new Galileo arrives and she takes that responsibility seriously. Stacy and her staff work many unpaid hours repairing, taping, replacing and debugging a ship that just wants to be put out to pasture. This week alone they were solving multiple problems with the simulator’s sound system. On Friday they had a flight waiting in the lobby while they worked to repair a main viewer in the ship that wouldn’t display correctly. The television was affected by a build up of static electricity. They solved the problem just before the crew boarded the ship. Another bullet missed. Thanks Stacy, Rachel and Taylor. We all owe you one!

New Supervisors!

I want to welcome three new Supervisors into the Supervisor’s Guild. Maren H. finished her required passes on the Voyager. Zach H. got his Magellan 2nd Chair pass during the overnighter and Kevin R. got his Voyager pass on Saturday. All of them have now finished their Voyager and Magellan passes and will receive their blue Supervisor shirts after the next overnight camp.

Bridger Maxwell Wins Science Fair

Bridger Maxwell, our very own Programming Guild Master, won first place in the Computer Science Division of the regional science fair at BYU on Thursday. His project was based on the new programming he is doing on the Galileo simulator.

Bridger spoke highly of the Center and me during the judging. His ‘plug’ led to my selection as Mentor of the Year. Neither Bridger nor I knew there was such an award but I’m happy I won. I got a nice certificate for my 'Love Me Wall' and a terabyte external drive from Symantic (sp?). I don’t know a lot about a terabyte drive but they tell me I can download my entire mind into it and it would still have plenty of room for a few hundred thousand MP3’s. Imagine bringing a spare brain with me where ever I go. Imagine the possibilities!

Bridger will receive a $10,000 scholarship to a Utah school and an all expense paid trip to the International Science Fair in Reno, Nevada at the end of April.

We’ve had very good programmers at the Center over the years and Bridger proudly keeps up that tradition.

Well Troops, That’s about it. There are other things I could write but you’re getting bored so I’ll stop. Take care and thanks for your support in labor. And thank you for spreading the good word about the Space Center to people in your social circles. Positive praise maintains our reputation as a place that cares about our product and the students we serve.

Mr. Williamson

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Stories From the Space Center. Your Bedtime Read.

Hello Troops,
From my favorite chair I see a storm blowing in across the valley. My view of Lehi disappeared first. As I watched, American Fork vanished from view, swallowed in a wall of white resembling a curtain starting on the ground and ascending into the sky and out of view. This white opaque curtain is rolling closer and closer to my home up on Pleasant Grove’s hillside. It’s an eerie sight. I feel like I’m in a some kind of an’ end of the world’ movie. I have a powerful but controllable urge to grab a flashlight, a first aide kit, and my emergency backpack and hunker down in the cement walled pantry. Instead I’ll sit here and type. If my home starts disintegrating around me this post will come to abrupt end. At least I went down in mid sentence. Taken to my reward in mid thought. Isn’t that nice to know? The last thing on my mind will be a hopeful question concerning what I’ll write after this sentence.

Well, I’m still here. I'm still thinking......... my mind’s drawn a blank - just as blank as this wall of white that has now passed. It had gale force winds for awhile but calm has returned.
It was fun sitting here watching members of the Grovecreek 8th Ward run by my home. One dad has his daughter in one arm, his scriptures in the other and looked like a real dunce running down the sidewalk. I wondered why he was running . It wasn’t that cold. It wasn’t raining. It was just a good wind. Perhaps he was concerned about his hair. I doubt it. There wasn’t much left on top of his head. Again, just another thing to add to my every growing list of things that confuse me.

Humans........ I’ll never figure you out.

I may have said too much.

Moving along, let’s discuss a few things concerning the Space Center since that ‘s why your reading this on the Space Center’s Blog.

What A Dunce !

Earlier I used that word to describe the grown man running in fear of a little wind. Now I use it to describe myself. I’m a Fool! At least when it comes to some things. Take the microphone in the Voyager Control Room.

For two weeks my mic’s cable has been shorting out. During a mission I’d be in mid sentence as Tex or the computer and suddenly I’d find myself talking to me and my fellow Troubadours in the Control Room. My characters weren’t being heard on the Bridge because of a short in the mic cable. With a twist of the cord the connection would be reestablished and I’d continue where I left off. Irritating was the word to describe the situation.

Emily Perry was about to start a mission in the Voyager Friday afternoon. I decided to do her a favor and replace the cable. I found one in storage, went to the sound mixer and started unplugging what I thought was the old cable. Once it was out of the way I plugged in the new one. I sat back in my Flight Director’s chair beaming with pride at my technological accomplishment.

What a Dunce! The mic didn’t work. I’d messed up somewhere. I pulled the mixer out and took a look in the back. What I found sent a humbling shiver down my spine. Mine eyes beheld a spaghetti bowl full of black cables and wires. going every direction, including a few in extra dimensions of time and space. I tried to unplug a few more. Nothing. Panic set in. Not only was I making a fool out of myself in front of the two Supervisors but also the volunteers. Here he is, the Master of the Space Center, unable to change a simple microphone cable.

I had no other choice but to call Kyle Herring - our resident genius. The mission was 30 minutes from starting. He didn’t answer. I called again and again. Finally an answer. He was just out of the shower dripping wet. Kyle had returned from Chicago an hour or so earlier. I explained the problem. I told him he could have anything up to half my kingdom if he would just put on a hat and get over to the Center right away.
“OK, well I’m standing here dripping from the shower. Shall I just put on a hat and rush over?” he questioned.
“Yes,” I insisted.
“Just a hat?” he continued in a very calm voice. He could of dropped the whole matter, dressed, and came over but he just had to see this one through. “Just A Hat?” he questioned again. “You really want me coming to the Space Center wearing nothing but a hat?”

Well, I got it. After another sentence to clarify I hung up. Kyle made it just in time. He corrected my mistake with out belittling me in front of the staff. He gets a ‘Get Out of Jail Card’ for saving my bacon on Friday.
Thanks Kyle.

An Opening in the Space Time Continuum

We hosted seventh and eighth grade students from Lakeridge Junior High’s STY (Smarter than You.... the Gifted) class this weekend. They were a great group. Dallin was one of the boys on the mission and a rabid fan of the Space Center, not to mention, a regular reader of this Blog (hello Dallin, here is what you wanted - something about your mission).

Dallin is one of the two happiest, most cheerful, bubbly, friendly, outgoing, optimistic people I know in this world. The other person is Christine Grosland, one of our Odyssey Flight Directors. She is the Poster Child of the Worldwide Optimists Club. Now let me get the picture straight for you - we had, under the same roof , the two happiest people on the planet and therefore possibly in the universe. I wondered what the result would be if they got too close together. The consequences were beyond my ability to calculate. It was best to keep them separated.

Well, my best laid plan of segregation failed on Saturday morning. It was breakfast time. Everyone was in the Cafeteria except for Christine. Dallin was full of energy and natural joy and was moving around the room sharing it with everyone. I myself was the beneficiary of two blessings. My day was made better because of it.

Out of the corner of my eye I spotted Christine. She was walking toward the window to pick up something to eat. I searched the room for Dallin. He was on the move. I quickly did the math. They were on a collision course. Destiny had brought them together. Like two trains racing toward each other on the same track, their paths were about to collide. I turned to Brittany, Magellan’s Flight Director, who was sitting on my left. “Oh No, they are going to touch,” I said. Brittany looked over to where I was pointing. I started to jump up from the desk I was sitting on but realized there was nothing I could do to prevent what destiny had appointed. I sat back down wondering if the world would be the same once their hands met. I pictured a bubble of brilliant white joy starting from their joined hands and expanding outward at supersonic speed encasing everyone on the planet in pure happiness. Could I live with myself if I was happy all the time? What about my sarcasm? What about my dry wit? What about my evil sense of humor that drives me to laugh at other people’s misfortune? Would the very essence of who I was get stripped away? I sat back down to await my fate.

Their hands both went up at the same time to give each other a High 5. Six inches of separation changed to 5, then 4, 3, 2, 1............ I held my arms out in supplication, asking my creator to spare at least something of the old Mr. Williamson. They touched. They laughed. They separated. I looked around. Everything seemed to be normal. I turned to Brittany and asked if I was wearing a smile. She assured me I looked like I always did - slightly ill.
“Yes!” I shouted. The space time continuum was not broken. Brittany started to laugh. Bradyn Lystrup didn’t understand the commotion and waved off an explanation. It was going to be a good day after all.

One Great Worker

I want to take a moment of your time to publicly thank one of our staff for always going the extra mile. His name is Spencer Robinson. He comes in when needed to do our repairs.
He is working on new set pieces of the Odyssey. He also recently painted the blue trim on the Voyager’s desks and will soon start on repairs to the Voyager’s Captain’s Loft. Spencer has a fantastic attitude about work. He enjoys to be busy and we are the beneficiaries of that work ethic. Thanks Spencer for a job well done.

Saint Sheila on BYU Television

Yes, our very own Saint Sheila of Lehi appeared on BYU television last week. They ran a piece on the Space Center as part of their nightly news. The reporter spent nearly an hour at the Center. Most of the time was with Aleta Clegg. A few minutes of the reporter’s time was with Sheila. Well, what did the reported choose to do? She decided to use the Saint Sheila footage and nothing from Aleta.

Aleta admitted defeat the following day. Up until then Aleta privately doubted the sainthood of Shiela. She ignored the growing evidence claiming it was all random occurrences brought on by statistical chance. Not any more. Aleta is now suggesting we have an official portrait painted of Sheila to hang in the Discovery Room. Small prints of the portrait could be sold in the Center’s Gift Shop along with candles. Surely a portrait of Saint Sheila with a candle or two on any home’s mantle would bring blessings.

Aleta, we welcome you to the growing congregation of Sheila admirers. She is one great gal.
And yes, you may keep all the proceeds from the sale of the pictures and candles. That will be your blessing.

Well, have a great week everyone. Thanks for reading, and to our staff and volunteers -thank you for your dedication. We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the fantastic people that work here. I’m am your greatest fan.

Mr. Williamson

Saturday, March 21, 2009

BJ Warner's Open House

Hello Troops,
One last reminder about BJ Warner's Missionary Open House tonight at my home. BJ leaves for the MTC on Wednesday. All Space Center staff and volunteers 18 years old and older may attend (and those that may be 17 and are seniors in High School). Sorry for the restrictions but there are 180 staff and volunteers and there just isn't enough room. Former staff and volunteers are invited as well. Come say your last goodbyes before he leaves for Provo and then on to Japan.

The door opens at 5:30 P.M. You can drop by until 9:00 P.M. Unfortunately, we stop at 9:00 P.M. My bodily functions grow unpredictable after that due to extreme exhaustion from the Overnight Camp.

There will be food so come hungry. I can't promise intelligent conversation. If it was like Brent's farewell we were all so exhausted from the camp we just sat and stared at each other for two hours. There was an occasional attempt at communication, but what promised to be a sentence came out a few grunts and a groan. Everyone seems more rested this morning so it should be better for BJ. So, come by and bid BJ farewell.

Mr. Williamson

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Galaxies Collide!

This photo shows two large galaxies colliding 400 million light years away.

The Spitzer Telescope's image of Galaxy NGC 6240, which is 400 million light-years away in the constellation Ophiuchus, highlights the bursts of infrared radiation as the dust and gas from the two galaxies slam together. All that pressure creates new generations of hot stars, blazing away in infrared wavelengths even though the radiation in visible wavelengths is obscured by dust clouds. Because of this phenomenon, these starry swirls are known as luminous infrared galaxies.

In the news release, the Spitzer science team point to the streams of stars being ripped off the galaxies - "tidal tails" that extend into space in all directions. And this is just the warmup act: Bush and her colleagues expect the galactic black holes to hit head-on. That would upgrade NGC 6240's status to that of an ultra-luminous infrared galaxy, thousands of times as bright in infrared as our own Milky Way.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

What Happened Last Week at the Space Center! News and Comment. Thanks for Reading.

Hello Troops,
Well, here goes my second post of the day. I just finished a fun post for my Cloverdale Blog about a young Mormon boy’s baptism. Give it a read if you have a moment.

And remember, I’m always looking for interesting pictures. I like the challenge of looking at a picture and then creating a story about it in Cloverdale. Send me what you find in your browsing. If it tickles my fancy you could see it in a post.

And, not to neglect The Troubadour, here is a post updating you on The Space Center.

The Standing Ovation!

On Monday a thunderous sound was heard coming from Discovery. It was so loud the third grade teacher in Discovery’s adjoining room thought it was an earthquake and ordered her students to take cover under their desks. I believe I heard it while I was neck deep in telling “The Children Of Perikoi”. At the time I thought Aleta had turned up the Odyssey’s speaker volume just to upset our school librarian. Our librarian, Mrs. Schiller, unhappily shares a common wall with the Odyssey and complains about the slightest sounds penetrating the cinder block wall and piercing the deadly quiet of her library.

Only in an email sent to me that night did I discover the sound we all heard was wild and enthusiastic applause for our very own Saint Sheila Powell of Lehi. Apparently her A.M. field trip class (Bonneville six graders) stood and applauded her lesson when she finished. The teacher told Sheila it was the best lesson she had ever heard at the Space Center. Sheila’s email was humble in the story’s telling and didn’t want to hurt my feelings. She knew I taught the field trip lesson for a couple years some time ago. So let me take a moment to remind Sheila that I don’t have an ego to bruise so no offense was taken. Although a standing ovation at the end of a lesson is the dream of every teacher. I’ve never gotten one. I’ve been teaching for twenty six years and never once received a standing ovation. Do I mind? No, why should I? I’ve been slaving over kids all this time and not once did I get that kind of appreciation for my efforts....... well, I’m taking the higher ground on this one. I don’t do it for applause. I do it because I want to make the world a better place. I’ll martyr myself for the common good asking nothing in return except warm food, a place to sleep and a room with a view. Hand me my rosary, its time for meditation and prayer.

A new sign I'm going to have installed in the Discovery to be used only when I teach.
If I can't get it one way I'll get it another.

OK, all kidding aside...... GREAT JOB SHEILA. That kind of ‘shoot from the hip’ teaching makes us all look good. Let’s give it up for Saint Sheila of Lehi.

Oh, by the way, Sheila is available for weddings, funerals, and Bar Mitzvah's. For an extra fee (which she promises to donate to the charity of her choice - the Space Center) she will attempt healings. There are reports spreading through Alpine District’s sixth grades, of possible healings at the Space Center.
“My toothache disappeared right after her lesson,” one boy from Rocky Mountain Elementary testified.
“My headache was gone thirty minutes into her lesson,” a girl wrote in an email.
“I was starving during her lesson,” another boy from Orem Elementary reported to his teacher. “We had lunch and then I realized my hunger was gone. Thanks Saint Sheila.”

Yes, thank you Sheila and thank you to all those who work hard to make the Space Center a special place. I’m forever in your debt (just don’t ask for a raise until I get some of Obama’s stimulus money. I’ve asked but it doesn’t come. What’s up with that?)

The Cake Pan. A Mystery Wrapped in an Enigma Shrouded in a Riddle.

This last week I noticed this strange cake pan sitting on my desk. The bottom was coated in what appeared to be year old hardened frosting. It was an ordinary cake pan, the kind you could buy from any local WalMart. I picked it up in an attempt to jog the memory of who brought the last batch of cupcakes. My memory was blank. That worried me because my memory is pretty good with it comes to food - especially sweets. Well, I couldn’t remember the last time someone brought homemade cupcakes. I put the pan in the back of the room hoping the owner would pick it up so I wouldn’t have to stare at it all week.

Every day this week that pan stared at me from a different place in the room. First my desk, then the back of the room, then on Bill’s desk. No one puts things on Bill’s desk if you value your self esteem. Bill can destroy the self esteem parents, friends, and family have carefully nurtured in you with one glance. Of course, Bill uses this ultimate weapon rarely. Usually when someone encroaches in his work place by putting unwanted items on his desk - like power screwdrivers, uneaten food, wrappers, school assignments, etc..

That pan bothered me during the overnight camp. No one claimed it. It seemed orphaned. Now how could that be? The pan had signs it was once loved and used in some woman’s kitchen - its bottom was coated in dried frosting dripped from a dozen or so cupcakes from long ago. Surely some mom somewhere in Utah County was desperate to find it.

Yesterday I found the cake pan had been moved (don’t ask me how) to the Discovery Room. It sat motionless next to the sink. I picked it up and went on a quest to find its owner. I asked everyone within sight. No one knew anything about it. Then Emily came along.
“Oh, that’s Caity’s,” Emily said. Her voice sounded sure. The mystery was solved.
“She says it isn’t hers,” someone else added. The mystery deepened.
“Crap,” I said so no one would hear. I’m good at saying things no one hears. It is a trait teachers pick up quickly. If you don’t, you’ll spend hours in principal’s offices explaining why you said what you said about lazy Johnny and the disability that causes him to forget, or not even do, his homework. You know what I’m talking about - I believe the medical term is Videoitis. A terrible thing that can ruin what could have been a wonderful student with a bright future. Tragic.

“Who owns this pan!” I asked again while standing in the school’s lobby at 5:20 P.M. yesterday.
“OK, here is the story,” Emily said hoping to shed light on the mystery. “Caity brought cupcakes in that pan last summer during one of the camps. The pan sat in the Odyssey Control Room for a few months. I wanted it gone so Stacy said she would take it home and give it to Caity because they both live in Lehi. Stacy put the pan in the trunk of her car.”

I was following the story closely as Emily told it. In fact, a small crowd of volunteers and staff waiting for their rides started gathering to hear the sad tale. Emily continued, “Last weekend Stacy found the pan in her trunk. She brought it back into the school so Caity could pick it up the next time she came in to work.”
“So, you’re telling me that cake pan has been floating around northern Utah in Stacy’s trunk for the last eight months?” I asked.
“Yes,” Emily answered.
“And now its back where it started?” I answered my own question.

I was left with one alternative. “Who wants a cake pan,” I asked everyone in the gathering.
No one took me up on the offer. Emily's was on her way to a wedding reception. “Perfect,” I thought. “Emily take the pan and give it to the bride and groom as your wedding gift.” The suggestion got a laugh from the group but went no further.

This is what it would look like if clean. Look at the cute right angles.
It needs a home. Yours?

I walked toward the trash can near the fish tank in the lobby. I held the pan over the can to throw it away but couldn’t. I felt guilty. This pan had a history now. It had a story to tell and I was determined to tell its story. We weren’t going to loose this quest. In this time of recession and depression, in this time of massive job losses and trillion dollar debt I wanted to reunite this cake pan with its rightful owner. And if Caity refused to take it I'd find a good home for it. Someone out there reading this post has room in their cupboard for a standard, slightly used, cake pan with a story. It doesn’t take up much room and is willing to work (you’ll have to scrape out the crusted frosting but that’s what gives it character).

Please............ Let me know.

The Old Girl is Showing Her Age.

The Voyager showed her age again this week. On Wednesday Metta and I heard an unusual sound coming from her speakers as we were resetting the ship for the 11:30 A.M. mission. I called Kyle. He diagnosed the problem immediately. “The Amp is going out. I’m surprised that amp has lasted as long as it has,” he added. The sound resembles ...... well, its like a higher pitch hum.
“Crap,” I said. Of course under my breath. That night I purchase two new amps online. One for the Voyager and one for the Magellan. More money out the door.

On Thursday I left my math class in Lorraine’s capable hands to start the 9:45 A.M. field trip. I entered the Control Room and was told the Voyager’s video projector wouldn’t turn on. We were running late so we loaded the kids into the simulators and started to train. I left the Bridge with Lorraine and fetched the school’s ladder. I knew what had worked in the past to get the projector to wake up and do its job. I unplugged it. I plugged it back in after a few moments. That always did the trick. Not that time. No matter what I did I couldn’t get the thing to turn on.
“Crap,” I said. Of course, under my breath.
I made a quick phone call to Kyle Herring who luckily was available to make a house call to replace the projector.

To make a long story short (since when have I ever done that?) Kyle arrived just as I was staring the mission. He swapped projectors. The Voyager is running on our spare. The other projector had its lamp replaced (I think that was the problem) and is now our new spare. The projector problem is solved.

On Friday morning I noticed one other problem. The Long Range Communications computer’s screen was partially condensed after start up. Not a good sign. The video card was going out.
“Crap, “ I said out loud. It was 8:00 A.M. and there were no students, staff, or volunteers present.

Yes, the 18 year old Voyager is showing her age.

Now For Something Completely Random

Just as I finished writing that last sentence above, someone knocked on my front door. My nephew was too preoccupied to get up to answer it, he would miss a moment of the basketball game, so I stopped typing and answered the door.

A young boy stood on my doorstep holding a puppy with a bright silver dog bone ID tag.
I’d never seen the boy before. “Oh great, he’s trying to find a home for this puppy,” I thought. I was ready to say no but he spoke first.
“Look at my new puppy,” he said as he pushed the puppy forward for me to hold and admire.
I picked up the dog. It looked at me with the same questioning eyes I was looking at it with. The tags had a name and phone number. That was a relief. He wasn’t trying to give it away.
“What a nice dog,” I said. His smile grew larger as I searched for every adjective in my vocabulary useful in that situation. I stopped when my mind drew a blank and handed the puppy back to the proud owner. He took it back with a new found pride. I’m guessing he didn’t know how special his dog was until he heard the praises I showered on it.
“Thanks for bringing it by,” I said as the boy cradled his pet and walked away, disappearing down the street.

Well, I’ve nothing to add to that except to wish all of you a great week. Another special thanks for the support and dedication all our volunteers and staff give the Space Center every week.
“You’re Sick,” I say to all of you. (I’m hoping that’s the right word of praise in today’s youthspeak. I’m sure you’ll let me know if I got that wrong.)

Mr. Williamson

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Mission Behind Every Closed Door

There is something mysterious about a closed door. What lies beyond is the wooden barrier's secret?

Perhaps a new discovery.
Perhaps a hidden danger.
Perhaps an adventure never taken.
Or a story sad in its telling.

Starting a new mission at the Space Center is like approaching a mysteriously closed door. I stand in the portal and hear children's voices on the other side. My adventure is about to begin. I pause for a moment and wonder. How might this telling be different than the others? What challenges will this mission offer? It is unknown and hence - the mystery.

My pause at the door is too long. The voices sound impatient. I gather my wits, take a deep breath and reach for the handle. With fingers crossed for a smooth journey I turn the handle until I feel the door give way. The voices grow louder. I clear my throat and step through.........

"Hello Troops, Welcome to the Space Center. My name is Mr. Williamson. I'll be your Flight Director. Let's Go!"

Monday, March 9, 2009

February Loosing its Month Status?

Emboldened by their success in declaring Pluto not a planet, the International Astronomical Union determined this week by a close vote that February is too short to be considered a true month. It has, however, been granted the newly created status of “dwarf month.” It shares this dubious distinction with several other calendar time spans, including Labor Day Weekend, Christmas Vacation, and the Time Between When You Were Supposed to Get Your Oil Changed and When You Actually Did.

“It only seems fair,” said IAU President Ron Eckers. “February reaches a peak size of 29 days, averaging only 28 days for 75 percent of the time. Recent research has shown that other periods, such as the Time Between When You Were Supposed to Get Your Oil Changed and When You Actually Did, often exceed this meager time frame. In fact, this erratic behavior only strengthens our case that February does not belong in the same classification as the eleven ‘true’ months.”

Eckers also warned that the crop of 30-day “so-called” months should be careful to maintain their number of days. “They’re already cutting it pretty close in my book.”

by Michael Haber

Early April Fool's!

From Aleta Clegg

Space Center Educator

New Staff Equipment to Ensure a Happy Appearance.

Notice to All Staff and Volunteers.
Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center.

All personnel will now be required to
look happy while working. Space Center approved supplies will be provided to each employee at little or no cost.
  • Workloads getting to you?
  • Feeling stressed?
  • Too many priorities and assignments?
Here is the new low-cost, Space Center-approved solution to cope with multiple priorities and assignments!
Each staff member will be supplied 2 paper clips and rubber bands.
(See Fig 1.)

Fig 1.

Assemble items as shown in Fig 2.
Fig 2.

Apply as shown in Fig 3.
Fig 3.

Enjoy your day. This happiness device will help you to reach the end of a mission with a smile on your face!

Mr. Williamson

(I already have mine and it works very well. The 3:30 P.M. staff and volunteers gave me an odd look but other than that I carried the smile all mission long and all without any effort on the part of my face muscles).

Thanks to Debbie Wallis for this Post.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Last Week at the Space Center. The Stories you Asked for.

Hello Troops,
Thank you for the feedback received from previous posts. I understand from the emails that many of you enjoy the stories of day to day operations at the Center. Well, you asked for it and here they are again - last week's interesting stories from my perspective.

Mr. Williamson

A Day off of School (For Most)

There are many happy children out there in the Alpine School District today. They get Monday off from school. While they sleep, the foot soldiers in the Teacher’s Army will be in the classroom brushing up on our teaching skills and supposedly learning new techniques to take the world’s knowledge and force it into the locked brains of the children in our care.

Teaching is a lot like trying to feed a baby his mushed carrots. You begin by putting junior into the high chair. Straps are attached to his waist, legs and arms to ‘prevent him from falling’. Yea right, prevent him from falling......... Don’t we all know what the straps are really for? Think about it, ever since man learned to lie we’ve created tools of pain to discover the truth. Every truth gathering device involved a series of restraints to keep your victim from escaping while you carried out your nervous system 'stimulations'.

The high chair is very similar to ancient torture devices. We strap the baby in and begin the programmed course of torture for that day - the ingestion of matter into the child’s mouth for the sole purpose of getting him to swallow it. The child may sit calmly watching mother looking for something in the cupboard. He knows the cupboard is where the good food is kept for the family. He also knows something else comes from the cupboard.
Think about the difference between Chinese water torture and disemboweling. If mother appears with the apple sauce then the chair is tolerable. A death sentence is spared. If the mushed carrots are produced then in goes the knife and junior's bowels spill out.

I compare teaching with pulling out the mushed carrots. First the child’s eyes grow large, not understanding what he did to deserve this fate. He'd plead for his life if he could speak, but because he can’t, his only course of action is a soul shattering scream. Of course mother and teacher know that 'knowledge / mushed carrots' is good for the child and no amount of screaming, kicking and spitting will deter us from our responsiblity to deliver.

Each day we fight the good battle. Mother pries the spoon between baby’s clenched teeth and attempts to force a swallow before baby spews the orange substance back onto his face, her face and the waiting spoon. Mother learns to be gifted with the spoon. In the mouth it goes and then it is pulled out and placed strategically in front of the mouth to capture the excreted mush. Then with a swirl of the wrist combined with two wipes, she has captured it all back onto the spoon and pushes it right back into baby’s mouth.

I stand in front of my math class and do everything I can to get the learning into their clenched brains. Arm swirls, voice inflection and copious amounts of colored equations on the white board combined with doses of sugar are sometimes useful to make the students forget they're learning. It works for the most part and when it doesn’t, I position myself to capture the spray of pre digested confusion hurled in my direction. I take the confusion and questions, perform a few wrist swirls with a marker on the white board, chant a few magical incantations and transform the confusion into order. Then I shoot it back to the students in an attempt to get it into their heads.

It is a never ending battle. Some days I win and some days I loose. Lately I feel like I’m loosing. I’ve gone from mushed carrots to partially digested, stewed liver (equations with variables on both sides). Every day last week I’d have to leave math early to change my shirt before starting my field trip space mission. My shirt would be covered with the most disgusting brown, nose curdling, fibrous meaty substance an upset child’s mind could produce and spew out half way across a classroom. I’ll make another attempt to scale the fortress’s walls this Tuesday when the children return from the three day weekend. I’ll wear an apron to save on washing. I'm determined they're going to understand variables on both sides. I will not surrender. Nuts.......
(for those that understand their World War II history).

His Unforgettable Face

Yesterday was another Super Saturday. Twenty two children attended the five hour program. Now remember, I see around 500 children a week, so by week’s end I find it difficult to distinguish one child from another. The children all start looking alike to me. There are noses, eyes, ears, and mouths. The mouths are permanently in the open position producing sound. Only when a child’s face strays radically away from the norm do I notice. That happened on Saturday.

One boy walked up to my table with rank paper in hand. He held it out for my inspection. I looked up and saw eyes, ears, a nose and then something out of the ordinary. I saw a closed mouth. This mouth was widely deformed when compared to the other children’s. This closed mouth’s ends were drooping downward in what struck me as a very noticeable frown! I said something funny to see if my humor would act like a hydraulic lift and move the two ends upward into something normal for a Space Center attendee. I don’t remember what I said but whatever it was fell flat right in front of me on the table. My best material couldn’t even raise a smile. I knew this boy was going to be a real kill joy no matter what ship I put him in.

I glanced over at Christine and Brittney, the two flight directors assigned to the Super Saturday, and wondered who had upset me recently and needed a bit of pay back. Neither saw me looking in their direction. Neither saw the gleam in my eye. Dispensing real challenges to unsuspecting Flight Directors makes running the Space Center a real joy. I thought for another moment and decided to let fate make the decision. I handed the boy back his rank paper and asked him to sit on the gym steps. He obeyed and found a corner to darken near the Utah flag. I wondered if the citizens of Utah understood why the sun over Utah suddenly dimmed at that moment. I read that many took it to be an unannounced partial eclipse. Others passed if off as a very large cloud. Still others removed their glasses and reached for a wipe.

The Super Saturday started. All children were present and accounted for. I got up and positioned myself in front of the crowd. I took in a breath and blew my whistle to get their attention. Once it was quiet I started my monologue. I started with the joke on the school’s restrooms. My audience laughed, except for that boy. His stoic nature unnerved me. My voice began to quiver. I growing unsure of my material. OK, time for the heavy guns........ I rearranged my welcoming speech and moved the vomit segment right up into second place. With another deep breath I started, moving from being sick to describing the act of exploding all over everyone and then took the discussion right into the Happy Bucket. Yes, yes, the normal laughter was there from everyone except HIM. He looked bored. He looked at me like I was some poor pathetic middle aged, slightly off my prime weight, partly balding, white socked looser.

I was done. I rushed through the rest of the speech and divided them into their ships and dismissed them to their fate. I stood near the table as they filed out the gym door. I watched my nemesis as he shuffled out. I waited for him to look in my direction so I could turn away and show him what a real cold shoulder looked like. HE DIDN’T EVEN GIVE ME THAT PLEASURE. He stared ahead and walked like a man on the path to his executioner.

The rest of the day passed. It was time to send them home. I had their new Rank Papers ready on the table. The missions ended and the children came to get their papers and return to reality. I saw the boy. I was surprised he made it to the end of the camp. He picked up his paper, looked up and saw me. Ah Ha! I had my chance. I turned away and dipped my left shoulder in his direction. “Take That,” I thought. Well, he took it just fine and moved right in front of my face. I looked down and straighten my back. His lips were parting. He was going to speak.
“That was the best thing I’ve ever done. Thank you,” he said. The words were spoken without a smile but with feeling.
“Did you have fun?” I questioned as I reached for the table to steady myself from the shock. He nodded his head and then, for a brief moment, I saw what I was after the whole camp. The left corner of his mouth rose by a fraction of a millimeter. “YES, YES, YES, YES,” my brain screamed. What was once an emotionless Vulcan child turned out to be a less emotionless Vulcan child. Chalk up another victory for the Space Center and its awesome staff.

BJ Warner and Electrons. Alike yet Different

We were seriously short handed on Thursday’s Daytime Field Trip. Metta and Megan were out of state doing something with the Air Force and Saint Sheila of Lehi was in Salt Lake City rubbing shoulders with the rich and powerful - and that included the Ambassador of South Africa. Saint Sheila was wined and dined. Afterwards there were serious, under the table, political deals agreed upon completely without the approval our current Secretary of State.

I was left behind in Pleasant Grove scrambling to fill positions at Star Fleet Headquarters. BJ was called in to help. He was gracious and accepted the call.

We were running Perikoi for a class of sixth graders from Westfield Elementary. It was the afternoon mission. They were doing OK but we were running out of time. Their bus was waiting and I was determined to get to the end of the story. The climax was approaching. The USS Copernicus was about to explode. The shock wave would ring outward vaporizing the alien ship and then the Voyager. If things weren't done at just the ring time between the Engineer and the two Left Wing Officers, the entire scene would fall apart.

The Copernicus was about to explode. That’s when I noticed the Engineer had put the Dilithium Crystals into the cool down positions. The Left Wing Power Officer no longer had enough power to give the warp engines the ability to go warp 9. They couldn't escape the incoming blast. I was bouncing in my seat shouting at the television monitors thinking the Engineer would hear me through the glass. Of course he didn’t. All was lost......... And then something happened........

Suddenly I saw BJ at the engineering station getting the problem corrected. I looked up and saw the shock wave approaching the ship. I looked back at the monitor and saw BJ at the Left Wing Power Station. I blinked and he had shifted his position and was hovering over the Left Wing Tactical Officer. I looked down. The power was restored. They were moving to Warp 9. I hit the special effect sound. The wave approached. The ship jumped forward at just the right time complete with matching sound. The class went bananas. BJ fell back onto the Records Station. It was over.

Still to this day I don’t know how BJ was in three places at nearly the same time!? It was physically impossible yet he did it. They say electrons have the same ability. They can pop in and out of our reality and therefore be in two places at the same time. Between you and I, I believe BJ has learned to master the power of the electrons in his own body thus making it possible for him to be in two places at the same time. If this is true, then think of the possibilities! BJ can go on his mission and work at the Space Center all at the same time. Aren’t physics wonderful?

Tough Times for Economy

I heard on the radio today that 8 out of 10 Americans are stressed because of the current economic situation. We are not immune from these tough times at the Space Center. Many of our staff and volunteer’s families are experiencing them first hand. The Center itself has seen a reduction in the number of private missions and camps booked. It is hard to send a child to camp when you may not have enough money to pay all the bills.

The point I'm making about sacrifice sprang from something I saw on a recent overnight camp. Most of the campers checking in at my table were dressed in their fine, fashionable clothes complete with trendy footwear. However, in the room of 43 sixth graders I noticed two boys wearing clothes that didn't compare to the others. It was obvious their clothes had been handed down multiple times.
The pants and T-shirts were in bad shape. You may be thinking they dressed that way for style's sake (the grudge look). Listen troops, I know that look. I've seen the jeans that have the holes for coolness sake and those clothes were not the ones on these two boys. Besides, kids that dress grudge for fashion sake still have nice shoes. These boys didn’t. They were two boys from different families that didn’t have a lot of money and yet they were at our Space Camp. I wondered what kind of sacrifice their parents made to get them there. I wondered if the boys earned the money themselves doing house hold chores. The Space Center means that much to many of our campers.

Staff and Volunteers, please remember the sacrifice many are making to come to the Space Center. Make their sacrifice meaningful by the experiences you provide. Always do your best. That is all I can expect. If you do your best then I feel confident we will always give our campers a few hours of real joy, fun, and imagination - just what the doctor ordered for tough times.

A physiologist said that in difficult economic times stress levels drop if people pull together as family and friends; therefore surviving this economic situation is a team, not an individual sport.

We all have our days when we're one trick ponies - we do our thing and that's about all we can do. We all have our days when just getting through it is like a three legged dog struggling down the street. They call it a recession and times are tough but there is always something left at the bottom of our emotional barrel to draw upon, the vapors that remind us that others depend on us. So we buck up, put the straps around each shoulder, wipe the blood from our noses and start pulling again because that is what we do. A set back or two can't stop us.

Banks may fail and jobs will be lost. Homes will be foreclosed and soup lines may form, but in our little corner of the universe we have our families, our friends and our work mates. Hold on to what matters and remember, we are all in this together.

Be there for each other.

I'll keep the lights on for you here at the Space Center ;)
Mr. Williamson

Voyager Club News. Next Meeting Times.

Voyager Club News

Note: The Voyager Club meets monthly at the Space Center. It is open to all Space Education Center fans between the ages of 10 and 14 years old. If you attend our camps and private missions and would like to get more involved (and earn extra class hour for your rank) you are welcome to attend. Contact the Space Center for more information or just show up at one of the meetings. Club news and meeting times are announced on this blog.

Mr. Williamson

Voyager Alpha and Beta Club News:

Next Club Meeting

Thursday March 12th will be the next meeting of the Alpha and Beta Voyager Clubs. Alpha Club: 4:30 - 6:00 and the Beta Club 7:00 - 8:30 PM. Please remember to wear your Space Center Tee Shirt to the meetings. The topics of discussion will be: Creating 3D Animations, Summer Camps, the New Galileo, Mark VI shuttle, Model Rockets and the solution for our Voyager Rank Card problem. (Be sure to bring your card if you have one!)

See you all soon!

Mr. Herring

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Celebrate Space History. Fifty Year Ago

This entry covers two satellite launches from Fifty Years Ago. On February 28, 1959, the Air Force launched Discoverer I into a polar orbit on a Thor-Agena A booster from the Pacific Missile Range. Evidently there was trouble tracking the 1,450 pound satellite. Well, it was the early days, after all.

Then on March 1, 1959, Pioneer IV was launched on a Juno II rocket into a solar orbit. A NASA directed project, this satellite had an interesting path to orbit- they launched it on a trajectory so that it actually passed within 37,000 miles of the moon before reaching orbit around the sun. They managed to keep in radio contact out to some 406,000 miles away. It was the first US Satellite to orbit the sun. This satellite was the fourth in the series of projects for the International Geophysical Year series. The picture above is shows how Pioneer 3 and 4 looked.

Posted by Mark Daymont.
Asst. Director

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Sugar, The Secret Fuel of the Space Center more Powerful than Dilithium Crystals

There is one fact of life that is as constant as the rising and setting sun. A little sugar a day keeps the blues away.

Did you know that sugar plays a vital role at the Space Education Center? It is the grease that keeps the Center's wheels turning. It keeps our volunteers and staff happy even when I'm in a disagreeable mood usually brought on by a worker's inability to follow procedures or a camper bent on pushing me over the edge by constantly operating the Transporter Controls on the Right Wing Station ( I get an annoying signal on my FD computer).
Our sugar is dispensed over a counter in the Discovery Room. The counter is filled with a variety of confectionery delights. The sugar is a reward given at the end of every mission to our volunteers and staff for a job well done ( If they work hard and eat their vegtables). There will always be sugar because we know that children love sugar. Teens love sugar. Adults love sugar. Heck, lets face it - I love sugar.

At the end of a mission you'll hear the cattle call, "Sugar!". Spain's running of the bulls doesn't compare to the scene of multitudes of staff and volunteers racing to the pharmacy to collect their favorite form of sugar, be it M and Ms, Snickers, Yorks, Hershey's etc. The youngest volunteers know to get out of the way and hug the school's walls to avoid getting knocked down by the older staff during the sugar stampede. Teachers still in the building cower in their rooms until the all clear is sounded and the dust in the hallways settle.

Its amusing to watch the staff crowd the counter taking time to select just the right taste for their mood. Watch me do my best to speed them along so we can finish the cleaning and go home. Later that night watch our custodian curse us when he finds the wrappers scattered from one end of the building to the other. Yes, its a daily ritual.

So, lets take a moment to celebrate one aspect of the Space Center that is never mentioned, yet is so important to our day to day operations - the dispensing of sugar from the Candy Rx in Discovery. Sugar we never sell, not even if tempted with real American money or that phony Canadian stuff. Our prescriptions are available because of hard work and positive attitudes, thus making our sweets more desirable than those found in any store or gas station.

A special thanks to our staff and volunteers for their hard work on behalf of the students of Utah........ and sugar, of course!

Mr. Williamson

Monday, March 2, 2009

An Email from a Camper

Hello Troops,
I received this email from Andrew, a camper that did a five hour Odyssey mission on Saturday. Aleta Clegg was the Flight Director. It is always good to get feedback on your performance (both good and bad). I thought I'd share this email with everyone as a public thanks to the Odyssey team for their hard work.

Mr. Williamson

And Now Andrew's Email:

Ok, I just went on a 5 hour Odyssey mission today with my friends, and it was AWESOME! Tell your Odyssey staff that it was a job well done! I think Mrs. Clegg or someone was our flight director... anyway, it was a way awesome mission. We did Ghost Ship, and to tell you the truth, I never did find out what the Ghost Ship was exactly... I think our first officer somehow changed the outcome of the mission by shooting a doctor that came onboard... and those Paklids trading us that spoon that we never really used! It was way awesome. Sorry if this is sounding weird; you can probably ask Mrs. Clegg (I think that's her name) about the mission; it was way cool.

Anyway, I am just rambling now. I definitely plan to come back soon, probably in the summer! The Space Simulator is awesome!!!!


Sunday, March 1, 2009

Last Week at the Space Center! Wow, What Stories to Tell!

Let's Get to Work. Our Next Field Trip is Here!

Hello Troops,
Am I dreaming or is it really warm outside today? If I didn’t know better I’d think we were experiencing another bout of Global Warming. I’m tempted to write this post from the comfort of my deck overlooking Utah County - our little corner of the universe full of an assortment of interesting people.

Vomit and Other Tales

The week got off to a semi fluid start on Monday. I was in my Flight Director’s Chair. My Bridge speech was finished. My mission started and my Tex character was in full voice. I believe I was introducing the Left Wing Power Officer to the rest of the Bridge Crew. In mid explanation of the Left Wing Power Officer’s strange habit of screaming whenever the engine temperatures reached 90 I saw the classroom teacher spring to her feet from her chair next to the Ambassador. Something was said that got Lorraine’s attention. Lorraine’s quick sprint across the Bridge toward the Record’s Office meant someone was in trouble. Not knowing the facts I continued my introductions. I was explaining the reasons for the Engineers smile (because he was sitting so high above everyone else - you all have heard my speech a thousand times) when it dawned on me what may have happened. VOMIT. Yes, what I was witnessing had all the signs that a gastric explosion had occurred on my Bridge. My first instinct was to dive under my counter and pretend nothing had happened but after 18 years of training I’ve learned that it is impossible to wish VOMIT away. It is ever present, both eye and nose testify of it. I realized I had to either stop the mission and fetch the hazard control cart or let Lorraine and Metta deal with it while I forged ahead a full warp. Lorraine burst through the Control Room Door confirming what my senses had already told me.
“The Happy Bucket - The Happy Bucket. In the name of all that’s Holy GET THE HAPPY BUCKET!” I said in a very calm tone. Well, those present might argue the opposite but at least I said it from my chair and not on my knees while pounding the carpetted floor with both fists.
“She has a trash can,” Lorraine said. Lorraine is a wonderful mom that has an intimate knowledge of VOMIT. I’m told all mothers do. It comes with their training. After all, aren’t mothers the ones with the primary responsibility of putting food into the mouths of their children and then cleaning up what comes out? I think so, and so I was more than happy to let Lorraine deal with the situation.
“Metta, go get the custodian and let him bring his cleaning equipment,” I said while still in character as Tex.
“There isn’t much,” Lorraine said. “She caught most of it in her hands.”
Well, I thought that was a better place for ‘most if it’. Much better indeed if the alternative option would have been my carpet or my uniform.

I want to thank Lorraine and Metta for their help in taking care of our Monday morning explosion. What great help they are. I also want to thank that girl’s mother for feeding her a light breakfast ,the remains of which were very easy to clean up.

The rest of the day went well. How could it not. If you start your day with a gastric explosion of course the rest of the day must get better!

Emily Stabs my White Board

On Thursday I forwarded an email to Emily from a patron who flew on the private mission the night before. It was very complimentary - a real credit to Emily and her staff. The email ended with a few suggestions to improve the experience. Emily read the email and was ready to give me her thoughts after our field trip. Well, that discussion resulted in me making a verbal mistake. I asked Emily to list the Odyssey’s needs on the white board behind my desk so I could get them addressed by our maintenance folks. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Emily move so fast. She vaulted over my desk, snatched a red marker from the white board’s tray and started a list that fills the entire left side of the board. Now every time I turn on the Briefing Room’s lights and walk to my desk I’m met by a white board that appears to have been stabbed in a duel and is hemorrhaging from an sword thrust through a major artery.
Don’t offer sympathy. I know you kind readers feel my pain but I refuse your condolences. I asked for the list and sometimes forget that what you ask for you may get. Especially from Emily! Spencer Robinson is assigned to give the Odyssey all the TLC it deserves. That will make Emily happy and that will result in me reclaiming half of my white board. We all win.

Was It a Stoke or was I Going Deaf ?

Earlier on Thursday I thought I experienced another sign of advancing age. I started the Bridge like I do every morning when I noticed I wasn’t hearing sound from half the room.
“Danger Will Robinson, Danger,” flashed through my mind. I immediately began my Stroke Awareness Training. I raised both arms - OK. I rolled my tongue - OK. I pinched myself on both arms - OK. I said the Pledge of Allegiance without slurring - OK. I ruled out a stroke.
Then it was either deafness in one ear or half the Bridge’s speakers were on the blink. I thought for a moment allowing my common sense chip to engage. Of the two remaining options I felt it was EARLY DEAFNESS! I could just see myself with one hearing aid on my right ear weighing down that side of my head causing me to forever walk with my head tilted toward the right as if always trying to listen to my right shoulder (as if it ever said anything interesting. No, if you want a good conversation talk to my left shoulder. It knows what's what).

I clicked my fingers over my left ear. Perfect hearing. I clicked my fingers over my right ear. Perfect hearing. A sense of relief flooded over me. Of course it was the Bridge speakers! Why is it always the very last thing that comes to mind ends up being the cause of the problem? Strange that...... I called Kyle. He arrived quickly and corrected the problem before the morning mission. He claimed the amp was getting old and needed a bit of TLC. Don’t we all. Don’t we all.

Lower Overnight Numbers and My Obama Stimulus Money

Our overnight camp was short again this weekend. Cherry Hill filled 33 of the 44 camper spots. For the first time in 18 years the Space Center is experiencing partially filled camps.
Of course it is the economy. I understand the fact that when it comes down to a choice of feeding the family or sending junior to a Space Camp a family must choose food over EdVentures. Of course with Obama’s Economic Recovery Act money should start flowing from Washington directly into the pockets of every American man, woman and child. Be it known to all you kind readers that this American, who shall remain nameless (but is the author of this post), plans on being first in line for my stimulus money. My wallet has needed a bit of stimulating for quit some time. By the way, I’m offering to pay a very small portion of my stimulus money to anyone willing to stand in line for me so I can run my missions and use the restroom from time to time. I’m restricting my fluid intake but can’t hold it forever. I am only human, which may come as a surprise to many.

The Space Center's Upcoming Online Curriculum

Saturday morning I met with Shelley Kaiser. Shelley is graciously going to write an online Space Education Textbook for teachers and students. The curriculum will appear on our web site in the Field Trip Section. It will consist of two parts:

The Primer. This is a small booklet that teaches the very basics of space. We will start with Pleasant Grove and work outward to the universe itself. I decided we needed a space primer after Sheila Powell told me of a teacher that asked her a question in the Starlab that nearly sent her to the floor. This nameless teacher asked Sheila if there were other galaxies in space beside our own. Her students laugh at her lack of knowledge. Sheila reached for the back of her chair to keep her from fainting. To education the children of America we start with the teachers.
The State Core. This part of the curriculum with have lesson plans on Space that match the Utah State Educational Core. Teachers won’t have to search the internet for good lesson plans on space. We will provide them on our web site as a public service.
The Worksheets. This part of the curriculum will contain all the worksheets and activity pages that correspond to the lesson plans.
This is something I’ve wanted to do for Utah’s teachers for a long time. Shelley will make it happen.

Mr. Daymont’s and Todd R. Have A Birthday.

Happy Birthday Mr. Daymont. Happy Birthday Todd R. May you both live long and prosper. May the wind be at your back. May camel fleas never infest your nostrils. May the sun always brighten your paths. May you continue to work for the Space Center out of devotion (because we know it isn’t because of the phenomenally high pay).
Thank you both for your service.

Alex A. and His Effect on Women

We close with a side note. I’ve been impressed with Alex A’s talent both as a programmer but also as a Flight Director. This weekend I was witness to another undiscovered talent . Alex A’s effect on females.

I returned from running an errand in Orem and found a woman wearing a Phoenix uniform sitting in the Briefing Room. A man was standing beside her, also in uniform. Of course I guessed they were part of the Phoenix crew. Alex was their Flight Director. They were on a five hour mission. The woman didn’t look well. The man was beside her as if offering additional support.
“I’m feeling better,” I heard her say. I turned around to ask about the circumstances and found the Phoenix Control Room empty. The crew was on a break. A few moments later Alex appeared.
“We had a woman faint on the bridge,” he said innocently. “ I was in the middle of the mission and she just fainted. It was the craziest thing.”
I looked at him in amazement.
“Alex, are you telling me that this woman, not girl, a WOMAN fainted during one of your missions? What effect to you have on women anyway? Was it your voice? Was it your inflection? Perhaps it was a combination of the music and your voice. I’ve heard such a thing was possible but never in my 18 years as a Flight Director have I ever brought light headedness to a woman. I’ve caused multiple cases of vomiting but never fainting. What a Casanova. You stud!”
It was dark so I couldn’t see the multiple shades of red parading across Alex’s face but he did laugh. I told him this was something I had to write about in this week’s Troubadour Post.
“Why do you think I told you,” he responded. With that he disappeared into the Phoenix’s Control Room.
I noticed a moment later his Engineer character suddenly had a very suave voice. I mentioned to his second chair, Dave Daymont, to keep an eye on him and not let him get carried away.

Have a Great Week Troops!

Mr. Williamson