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.

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.

http://ourcloverdale.blogspot.com/

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
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