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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
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