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

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The USS Slime Flu Attacks. The Voyager and Odyssey Run.

Hello Troops,
I knew when I first heard of the Swine Flu a week ago the day would come when the Space Center would be affected. Today was that day. This morning I heard that Park City closed its schools because of a possible outbreak. This afternoon we were scheduled to run a mission for..... Go ahead and take a guess......... THAT'S RIGHT - Park City! I got a call from the teacher informing me of their cancellation.

The USS Slime Flu approached the Voyager and Odyssey cautiously from the dark side of the April Maelstrom with its phasers fully charged and torpedoes armed in the launchers. The order was given to fire. Streaks of white lightening ripped through space on a course toward the two unsuspecting ships. Impact! Both ships took direct hits to the outer hulls. Alarms screamed throughout the ships waking the crews.

Then, as quickly as it arrived the USS Slime Flu disappeared into the Maelstrom. Did we get caught unawares? Yes. Will it happen again? No. We will be waiting for this monster from the deep to rear its ugly head again and when it does........ when it does..........

We shall RUN!

Mr. Williamson

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Space Center Stories Only We Can Tell!

Hello Troops,
Its a rainy weekend in Pleasant Grove. I’m hoping the rain will lower the pollen count. I’m one of the millions in the country suffering from allergies.
It makes me wonder if evolution is an accurate science. My thinking goes like this: Why would a planet evolve a species with an allergy to itself? Does that make sense to you? Every spring and fall my nose morphs into Niagara Falls and my eyes become overflowing wells. Don’t forget the sneezing. Sneezing accompanies the action you take to keep your nose drippings from wetting your shirt and jacket. You take your hand, sometimes your sleeve or coat jacket (I suppose the more refined use a hanky but I’ve never owned a hanky in my life. I have used rags in the past. It does the job well enough - with the added bonus of rubbing your nose raw) and wipe the offending liquid off your face. That triggers something in the nose. A tingling is the first sign an explosion is imminent. I usually have just enough time to warn everyone to batten down the hatches and hold on to their young children before the burst of spittle and wind blast out of my nostrils and mouth and create a miniature low pressure system detectable by NASA’s weather satellites. The clean up begins after each sneeze. Chair are restore to their upright positions, tables are uprighted, papers are pulled off the walls and ceilings and towelettes are distributed to anyone unlucky enough to be caught in the gale. Oh, it can be a messy thing. I’m considering wearing one of those air horns around my neck. I could sound the horn before each sneeze giving people time to seek shelter. It’s a good idea - don’t you think?

OK, back to business. Hold on.......... Ahhhhh......... I just took a swig of my 32 ounce Diet Mountain Dew with two, yes I said two, squirts of cherry flavoring. This delicious drink can be created at your local Walker’s gas station. It is my signature drink. I realize many of you kind readers are suffering from slight shock after reading what I just wrote. You’re surprised I drink something other than Diet Coke. I am a man of mystery and that has been mentioned many times (even to my face if you can believe it). I try to keep my taste buds and stomach from growing complacent. You know, shock the system from time to time by doing something out of the ordinary like walking across the street without looking. Well, maybe not that extreme. Mind you, I have been doing that lately as I walk to school. I get so involved in my music that I forget to look both ways. On one occasion my earphones spared me from hearing the very descriptive words a passing driver used to describe my care in crossing the street outside of the crosswalk. I tried to look remorseful but found it difficult when listening to ABBA. I’m thinking of going to the junkyard and purchasing an old car’s extendable radio antenna. I’ll place a hunter’s orange flag at its top and wave that around as I walk. That should alert passing motorist to steer clear of the lunatic that escaped from that ‘special’ home on 730 East. You know that place - where they keep teachers suffering from selective memory loss and mild illusions of grandeur.
OK back to business.

I seriously overworked myself this week on your behalf. I know I’ve overdone it when I start talking to people at WalMart in my Gods of Perikoi Voice. Last Monday I stopped at WalMart to pick up a few things, you know how you do. I was walking down by the Wheat Chex cereal when I spotted a mother. Her shopping cart acting like a mobile cage for two small children - possibly twins but couldn’t be sure because of the partially digested cookie spread over each of their faces. There were three other children in tow. They kept reaching for the SugarSquares cereal only to be semi violently pulled back by a mother clearly out of her depth. I was still in my ‘mission mode’ from the last field trip. I walked up to her and asked to see the children.
“Today is the day of the choosing. I’m looking for the best, brightest and strongest of the children,” I said in my Perikoi godlike voice. She gave me a look a dictionary could use as its definition of ‘Shock’. I suddenly came to my senses, realized what I had done, and started to explain when she stopped me. She reached into the shopping cart, picked up the child with the dirty diaper, and handed him to me.
“Will he do?” she asked.

Yes, I overworked myself this week. There is no doubt about it.

A Strange Perception of Time

I started a unit on Ratios and Percents for my advanced math class this week.
“This unit will involve extensive use of your friend,” I said to them at the start of the lesson on proportions. A “friend” is my mathspeak for a calculator. “How many of you have a friend here today?” Half the hands went up. “How many have a friend at home you can bring to school?” A few more hands joined the others. I was deciding how many calculators I needed to bring. Payton raised his hand.
“Payton,” I said.
“I’ve got this humungous calculator that’s about this big,” he said forming a rather large square with his hands. “Its so honken big I can't bring it to class. I think its from the 1800’s or something.”
His honest assessment of the calculator’s age made me laugh. I knew when the first electronic hand held calculators were invented because I was alive at the time. Payton had no idea because he lives in a world that has always had them, in some size or another. His comment opened a window into his understand of history - or should I say lack of understanding. I blame our schools for that.
It is fun to live at a time when so much changed so quickly. My first hand held calculator was purchased in the mid 1970’s. I was a junior in high school. I was neck deep in an accounting class and seeking an easy way to add numbers for my spreadsheets. I worked at a self serve gas station and did my homework between payments. It was a day when everyone had to pay at a window. The gas pumps didn’t take credit cards.
One Saturday I drove into downtown Rapid City, South Dakota. I knew Sears carried calculators. I found the model I could afford. This rather large, black calculator had red illuminated numbers. It added, subtracted, multiplied and divided. I was amazed it did all that and still hand held. The clerk rang up $60.00. It was expensive but worth it. I was one of the coolest kids in the class with that beast sitting on my desk. Everyone wanted to see it, touch it, and play with the numbers. Yes, times have changed.

This is so Tight!

Another thing made me laugh this week. A sixth grade class from Something Something Elementary School (I see so many kids they all blend together) was boarding the Voyager. The kidspeak started with the first boy came up the stairs.
“Dude this is so tight,” he said. I sat him at Engineering. He repeated his assessment of the Voyager’s Bridge to nearly everyone as their heads appeared from the lower quarters. As the Bridge filled others joined in, creating a chorus of 11 and 12 year olds all proclaiming how “Tight” the Voyager was. I laughed as I counted the “Tights” There were sixteen before I quieted them for the Captain’s appearance. The Captain ascended the stairway. The crew was silent. He stopped in front of me and presented his Boarding Pass. I showed him his chair. He stood before it and instead of saying “Please be seated” he said, “Dudes this is so TIGHT!” and it all started again.
So from the Kidspeak I am left with one conclusion. The Voyager is very Tight! I’ll need to check into expanding the bridge so we don’t get that complaint again.

Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite) is a Fan!

Well, to close this never ending post I’ll talk about our visiting celebrity. Jon Heder of Napoleon Dynamite and several other comedies came to the Center on Thursday with his brothers and friends for a Phoenix mission. Dave Daymont was the flight director. They enjoyed it and left a $20 tip. On Friday evening he called and booked the Voyager for the following day. I told Kyle to call him back and tell him I couldn’t put a staff together with such short notice. Kyle wouldn’t hear of it and said he would take the mission. After a few phone calls he had a staff.

The mission started at 11:30 A.M. yesterday. Kyle ran Greenpeace. Everyone wanted to work the mission. Everyone wanted to see Napoleon Dynamite. You’d think it was President Obama himself.
Kyle extended the mission by nearly an hour and didn’t finish. That’s pretty typical for Kyle. I’m beginning to think he doesn’t know the ending to any Voyager mission because none of his missions EVER get to the ending. It is either he doesn’t know the ending or he has a sadistic need to kill his crews over and over again. None of us are sure. None of us want to push him that far by asking. If there is an instability there one must be careful. Kyle has access to several power tools. You get the picture........

Jordan Foutin ran the Phoenix at the same time the Voyager was running. He was disappointed no one told him Jon Heder was in the Voyager . I understand he is a big Jon Heder fan from the way he was salivating and banging his head against the FRP’d walls in the Briefing Room because he missed him. Poor Jordan.

You know, I wonder why I don’t get the same kind of hero worship this Heder person gets. Aren’t I just as good an actor? Can’t I be funny at times? Perhaps everyone enjoys his nerdy ways. Now, not having any myself, I can understand that may be the reason. Well, regardless I’m happy to report the Heder’s enjoyed themselves. My congratulations and thanks to Kyle and the Voyager crew for coming in on such short notice and doing their best to provide a quality experience.

Well troops, its upward and onward. We move into May this week. In a few short weeks we will be out of school and well into our summer season. The summer stories will be told every weekend this month as we prepare to host hundreds of campers. If you haven’t booked your summer camp please do it now. You’ll have fun, learn something, and what’s more important, your money helps us build new ships and upgrade the ones we have. You are our partners. Without you there is no Space Center. Thank you.

Let’s all have a good week. Let’s all work hard, set goals and achieve.
We are soldiers against ignorance and apathy. We fight the good battle every day when we try to learn, grow and improve. Take up the sword and join me in this crusade to change American education and make it the best in the world.

Mr. Williamson

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A New Week and the End of Spring Break.

Hello Troops,
Its over. There is a depression hanging over Happy Valley. Thousands of students and teachers realize Spring Vacation is over. This time tomorrow we will all be back in school. The sooner we grasp that fact the sooner we move on. I’m moving on. There is too much to do as we prepare for the summer season and you have too much to do to get through this school year with high grades which leads to happy parents which leads to a happier life for everyone concerned.

The Last Hurrah!
Saturday I had to make a stop at WalMart for a few things. On the way back, I didn’t handle two stop signs very well. I have a tendency not to come to complete stop (as in 0 miles per hours and your wheels aren’t turning at all) at stop signs unless there is traffic. In other words if I’m the only car within sight I come to almost a complete stop, look, and proceed forward. There are times I don’t stop right on the painted line at the stop sign as well.

I made a couple of those near stops coming home from WalMart. Wouldn’t you know one of Pleasant Grove’s finest happened to be sitting there watching. I turned on Center Street to check the school when I saw the lights flashing. I pulled over in front of the Baptist Church next to Central.
There isn’t much that embarrasses me but getting pulled over is one of them. Add to that is where it happened - right on Center Street, across from the school. Everyone knows the Battlestar and everyone in those neighborhoods that have, or every have had, students at Central know me. Are you getting the picture? Car after car passed. Everyone in the car straining to see Mr. Williamson being interrogated by the police. Of course they keep you there for what seems like eternity - giving everyone in the community time to call their neighbors and family, set up lawn chairs and watch. You’d think I was getting busted for drugs. People were at their windows.......... yea, you get the picture.

The policeman was very professional. I was given a mini lecture on the correct procedures for stopping at a stop sign. A warning was issued and he let me go. I was overwhelmed by the urge to speed away but knew that wouldn’t be wise. I wonder how many people are going to ask me what that was all about on Monday. So, I'm telling everyone now, it wasn’t a drug bust, I wasn’t speeding, I didn’t even run a stop sign. I failed to come to a complete stop. There, you have my confession. No ticket issued but a huge serving of embarrassment was plopped on my plate. You should see me drive now. My driving matches the kind of car I drive. I drive a Lincoln - an old fart’s car and starting today I drive just like an old fart. I come to a complete stop - on the white painted line. I’m not going to get pulled over again in Pleasant Grove. If its going to happen let it happen in American Fork.

OK, that's all I have to report. More news and updates as the week progresses.

Thank you to the staff and volunteers that came in every day during Spring Break to work on the simulators and missions. I appreciate your time and dedication.

Mr. Williamson

To See the End of the World

From birth to death
we live in a box.
Vision is limited to the space around us.
We see dark and nothing else.
Yet there is something we feel beyond.
We can’t see it. Our human senses are limited.
But we know it is there, waiting to be understood.

Boundaries and fences are part of natural life
Yet they cannot be used to define us.
By nature we seek to break down the boundaries.
Our humanity leads the charge to
breech the barriers and peer into the unknown
without surrendering to danger.

One day humans will proclaim, "All is known".
And when that day
comes in the far away of time,
another boundary will be found.
Another dark impenetrable wall,
and the eternal quest begins anew.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday. Spring Break is Coming to a Close!

Its Friday of Spring Break. We were at work before you pulled yourself out of bed. “What were we doing?” you should have asked, but since you didn’ t, I asked the question for you.

The Ghost
Nothing to report. We did a complete ectoplasmic search of the school. We got a reading in the school’s basement. It turned out to be a florescent painting of a monster. In the 1980’s the school’s basement was used as a Halloween spook ally. That false reading gave me a start. The professional Ghostbusters didn’t blink an eye. A bit of fluorescent paint is nothing compared to seeing a swarm of ghosts take a cow out of a field and disembowel it before your eyes. They tell me that ghost’s retain their personalities after death. I was told to be happy our mischief maker was either new at the game or a librarian before death.

They left the school after setting a few traps resembling baby food jars with electrodes protruding from what appeared to be a lime jello base. We have been EUC free for a few days now so our problem may be solved. Time will tell.

The Galileo
The Galileo team is working on simulator repair. The Galileo is tenderly cared for by Set Director Stacy Carroll and her team of Flight Directors: Rachel H., Taylor T., and Ben M.

The Galileo was spit polished on Thursday. The team suffered from mild dehydration afterwards. A few gallons of sparkling and refreshing elementary school water did the trick. They are good as new. Painting followed the spit polish. Stacy cleaned the air conditioning ducts. The Galileo is ready for school’s start on Monday.

The Phoenix
Megan Warner is the Phoenix’s Set Director. She is painting today. The Phoenix’s trim is getting a new coat of silver. I’m smelling the fumes from my desk. I wondering if my reasoning is affected. Paint fumes are known to kill brain cells so elephant to the tramp for silk tub and drain. There was were and I said apple and for lunch!

The Odyssey
Emily is working feverishly on the Odyssey’s new summer story. We talked for thirty minutes and came to the conclusion that the Voyager mission “Lewis and Clark” would work well for her ship. We may make a mid course change. We will discuss this further once they return from Home Depot.

Spencer R. and Kyle Herring are wrapping up the Odyssey refit. Today is clean up and light installation. The Odyssey will be ready for the Monday crowd.

A Friday Off?
I have meetings later today and should be free in time to spend a Friday night away from the Space Center. Imagine that, Mr. Williamson getting a Friday night off! I won’t know what to do with myself. I’m thinking of a movie but understand movie theaters are more crowded than they were the last time I went to a Friday night movie in 1990.
Maybe I’ll rent a video or go out to eat or ......... I’m lost. What should I do on a Friday night? I’m like a fish out of water. I’ll do more research on the topic and should have a decision by Saturday afternoon.

All the Best,
Mr. Williamson

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The End of All We Know and Ghostbusters! Our Thursday at the Space Center.

Was Earth hit by asteroid during the night? Is this massive ash fallout the result? The evidence seems to say yes. The skies are dark. Temperatures have plummeted. Could there be chaos in the streets of Pleasant Grove? Is our local WalMart under siege? Are throngs of people stealing arm loads of food and supplies while helpless senior citizen door greeters try to stop the theft with scolding words and excessive finger pointing? Are citizens huddled in their homes praying for deliverance. Am I a witness to the end of the world? Is the wick fueling the flame of humanity at its end? Is there enough time to consume even a small portion of my food storage? I’m far to young to die. I’ve so much to live for. Fortuna, take the young and old. Spare the middle aged. It sounds cruel but its every age group for themselves now. Where’s my gun? What’s this!!? A Phaser? What can I do to protect myself with a bloody phaser?

OK, OK enough of the rambling.

That first paragraph may be the foundation for a mediocre fiction story but happily it is only that - Fiction. In reality, Pleasant Grove was buried in snow last night while we all slumbered. I took the following pictures when I arrived at the Space Center at 8:30 A.M. I thought those of you that don’t live here, including our Space Center friends in other states might want to see this for yourselves. Granted, there are places in this country where this snowfall seems hardly worth mentioning but for an April 16th I’m impressed. How about you?

My Office and Desk at the Crossroads of the Space Center. Yes, the Dumping Ground.

Rachel Stacy and Kyle in a High Level Meeting on the Galileo

We are at work again here at the Space Center on day four of our vacation. My office is a disaster and the Galileo team are having a meeting. I’ve contacted our local branch of GhostBusters to do a complete ectoplasmic scan of the school and Center for strange readings (refer to my post yesterday). I will attempt to recreate the phantom door closing in a controlled environment with proper protection in case the spirits decided to take their mischief one step further. I remember from the movie a great deal of green slime is usually that next step. I’ve fashioned a tolerable rain coat from the large industrial sized trash can liners kept in the school’s cafeteria. I’ll be ready, plastic wrapped, goggled, and paper toweled for anything they conjurer up.

Me, taking a moment before an attempt at parley (look it up and learn something) with a poltergeist.

I’ll keep you posted. And now Pleasant Grove’s Ghostbuster and Pest Control Service is here. I’ll update you once again after we scan the building and attempt to make contact.

Mr. Williamson

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

An Update and a Ghostly Visitor

Hello Troops,
Another winter day on April 15th. Spring is doing just what Spring is suppose to do - transition our part of the planet from frigid winter to baking summer. Some Spring days give you temperatures in the 90’s and others, like today, give you cold and snow. Spring is a smorgasbord of weather - a delightful feast for those of us that appreciate unpredictable weather.

Today was another busy day at the Space Center. Many staff and volunteers were in working on Summer projects. The Odyssey is slowly being put together and Megan Warner, the Phoenix Set Director, came in to give her simulator a few stokes of the paint brush to cover a splattering of unsightly blemishes.

I took a few hours off to go see Aliens Vs. Monsters, or was it Monsters vs. Aliens? I don’t recall. I paid the premium and saw the 3D version. To be honest I didn’t care for the film The writing and plot was too childish. I’m sure the younger ones enjoyed it but not me. Animated films are a tough sell for an older crowd. Pixar does it well. I’m never disappointed with a Pixar film.

After the movie I stopped at the Space Center to check on the staff. After a few questions were answered and a crisis or two resolved I decided to go home for the night. I made my rounds checking to see who was in the building and locked all the open doors. Stacy Carroll was working in Discovery’s animation studio. I told her I was leaving and to check the doors once again before she left. She gave me an OK. I walked out the door, turned, locked the door and then pushed it back onto the wall mounted doorstop. The door clicked and locked into open position. I turned and started down the hall. That’s when something strange happened.

Just before entering the Briefing Room I heard Discovery’s door unlatch itself from the wall lock. A moment later it close. I wondered why Stacy closed the door. I walked back to Discovery, opened and propped open the door and asked her why she closed the door. She came out of the studio saying she hadn’t shut the door. She thought I had.

That was the second EUC (Event with Unidentified Cause) of the day. On the way back from the movie I discovered my car’s fan wasn’t working.
I didn’t put the two events together until I got home from the school. The third EUC happened when I got out of the car and put the garbage cans back. My neighbor’s dog, started barking at me. My neighbor’s dog has never barked at me. Never. Now this dog was running back and forth barking at me. It seemed agitated. What was going on?

I walked into the house and found the big screen TV on. It was on ESPN. My nephew watches ESPN so I thought he forgot to shut off the television before he left for work. No one else was home. I went into the bedroom for a few moments. When I came out the satellite dish had been turned off. The TV was showing Dish Network’s test screen. OK........ I started putting two and two together.

I’m talking to those who’ve been to a Disney theme park now. Do you remember the end of the Haunted Mansion ride when your car turns toward the mirrors and you discover you have an unwelcome hitchhiker in your car with you of the ghostly persuasion? Well, I was sure that a mischievous little Space Center ghost hitched a ride in my Battlestar and came home with me. That was the forth EUC of the day. I turned off the TV, picked up my computer and began typing up a quick post on a Genie and little boy for my Cloverdale Blog.

Half way through the post the fifth EUC occurred. The power went out. Luckily I was working on my laptop and had plenty of juice for the post. Thirty minutes later the power came on. A few minutes after that my nephew Chaz came home. I asked him why he left the TV on.
“I didn’t watch TV today,” he said. “I got up early and went to work.”
I was surprised. Everyone else in the house was gone all day as well. So, we have our sixth EUC.
Well, to top the night off the power went off again at 8:00 P.M. A seventh EUC all in one day! I think I may be lucky. Spencer Robinson stopped by a moment ago to return the Space Center credit card. He needed it to pick up building supplies for the Odyssey. The power came on right after he left. I’m thinking my unearthly visitor saw a chance to move on. I should call Spencer and warn him my hitchhiker may have caught a ride with him. It would be interesting if several EUC’s hit him tonight! We shall see. We shall see.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

We're Working for You!

Hello Troops,
It’s Spring Break! I’m writing to you from the very heart of the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center - my desk. I’m not the only one working during the vacation. With me out here in space are.

Alex A.
He is working on video. He has a new program for star effects. All of us give him a double thumbs up for his discovery and the go ahead to begin the process of recording and using in the ships.
Jon P. and Spencer R.
Jon and Spencer are working on the Odyssey refit. The Odyssey was brought into Space Dock on Monday. The old girl was desperate for a little TLC. She’s been stripped down to her supports and new desks are being installed. New bunk coverings are going in as well. Its not a major re- architecture but enough work is being done to give the ship a breath of new life.

Dave Daymont
Arriving at the crack of noon is Mr. Dave Daymont. He is working in Discovery on the Phoenix’s new summer story. It has the Borg! Yes, I’m feeling all of you shudder with excitement. Another Space Center story with the Borg.

Stacy Carroll
Stacy is in the Animation Studio working on computer graphics for the Galileo. She will transition from the old Galileo to the new one sometime this summer. The new Galileo will need new material and she is working hard to create it.

Emily Perry
Emily is on her computer working on the tactical screens for her new summer story “Plague” and “The Lost Throne” Imagine that, 2 stories from the Odyssey.

There you have it. While all of you enjoy days of carefree fun and frolic know that your Space Center friends are hard at work creating new and exciting EdVentures for your summer. I’ll keep you posted on developments.

And now, I need to beam up to the mother ship to have my human mask refitted. It was wrinkling in the warm weather we experienced over the last couple days.
(Emily taught me how to use the camera on my Mac. I'm having too much fun)

Mr. Williamson

Sunday, April 12, 2009

What Will I Do with One Week Off? And Other things.

Hello Troops,
All of us in the Alpine School District will enjoy our Easter Break this week. Some of you already had your break and some may have theirs after us. I’ve looked forward to this vacation since returning back to work from the Christmas vacation. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy working. Some say I live to work but honestly, if I don’t get the occasional break from mission after mission, flight after flight I think the repetition would drive me either to drink or to a more prolonged stay at a certain institution in Provo that specializes in treating people who’ve misplaced their sanity and can’t find it for the life of them.

I knew I was ready for this vacation last Friday. I finished teaching my 9:00 A.M. pre-algebra class. The students left the room leaving a quiet behind that I decided to stay and enjoy for a few minutes. My bag of peppermint mints, used to bribe students to focus on their work and not on their daydreams, sat on the desk needing to be put away. I opened the top drawer where I keep my bribes side by side with the teacher’s manual to put the bag of mints away. I reached into the bag to take one out, closed the bag and put it away. I sat on my cushioned chair and spun around a few times while sucking on the mint. I’m not one to leave things in my mouth too long so I went right to chewing. The swallowing when wrong. The mint bits didn’t all go down. I needed a drink.

The Discovery Room has a sink, faucet / drinking fountain combination. I stood over the drinking fountain, bent down and positioned my mouth over the nozzle and pressed the button.

Its a wonder how your memory works. I’m fascinated with what it chooses to remember and what it chooses to forget. My memory failed me at that moment. If it was working properly , like it was designed to do, I would have remember that drinking fountain’s twisted sense of humor. Instead of releasing a nice arc of water it shoots the water at you with the force of a fire hose. The water isn’t aimed at your open mouth. The fountain shoots it at your eyes.

I pressed on the button and was on the receiving end of 9000 pounds of pressurized water right into my face nearly washing my contacts out of my eyes. I stood dazed for a moment while the water ran down my face and onto my shirt. I thought I heard the pipes under the sink rattle in a form of perverted pipe humor. It was right then and there I knew I needed a vacation. My last remaining finger holding me to the cliff overlooking the chasm of chaos and delirium released its hold. I felt myself falling.

A few rolls of paper towels later I was ready to shut off the lights and return to my office. I still had my wits about me - which surprised me. I’m glad because I’d need them for the overnighter and a full day of flights on Saturday that awaited.

What Will I Do?

That is a good question. I considered a trip to Vegas to visit my brother. Decided against it. There is something about Vegas that bothers me. It could be the heat. Or maybe the sound and look 0f all that money flushed down the gambling toilet every day. I think of what I could do with some of that money at the Space Center.

Several in the family wanted to go and spend the week at my house in South Dakota. It sits on the hillside overlooking the town of Deadwood in a beautiful nestled pine covered valley in the Black Hills. I was raised in South Dakota and it is nice to go back for R and R. My mind was changed on the matter when I found out South Dakota was buried in snow from recent storms. Why would I want to go stay someplace where the snow drifts are ten feet high?

Instead I think I’ll stay right in in Pleasant Grove. After all, it is pleasant in Pleasant Grove. Besides, there is enough work to do at the Space Center to keep me busy all week. And there I go again - I have a week off and I still go in to keep up. At least there are no students in the building and there are no missions. I can actually work at my desk in peace and quiet.

Have you ever looked at where my desk is located? I work right in the middle of commotion. I have the Voyager in front, the Odyssey to my left and the Phoenix to my right. All day and all night I hear clashing music and explosions from the three ships. Add a never ending stream of staff and visitors that swarm around my desk all day and all night long out of necessity to move from ship to ship etc. and its a wonder I get anything done at all.

Think of it this way, imagine you are the manager of a factory that uses noisy machines and employees lots of people. Now take your office and put it right smack dab in the middle of all the machines and people. Now, I dare you to get anything done. Go ahead, just try. Now you understand how hard it is for me to focus sometimes and why there are times you see me crouched in the corner with my eyes shut and hands over my ears ;)

Yet...... I still love my job and the people I work with. You are all fantastic and I appreciate the hard work and dedication you give to your job. I know many of you have things you’d like to do at the Center this week so I’ll send out an email with the times I’ll be in every day.

So, lets enjoy this week. Work if we must and play whenever possible. Let’s let our brains recharge and imaginations run amuck.

Bryson's Married!

I attended Bryson Lystrup's wedding reception yesterday. Bryson worked at the Space Center for years and years. It was very nice. Kyle Herring took the pictures below. Bryson looked happy and his new wife was beautiful. Bryson is a lucky young man.

The Happy Couple

Braydn Lystrup, the Young Brother and Voyager FD. I asked him to bring me a fork.
He had someone else do it. That's gratitude for you.

I enjoy a reception with good food and I must hand it to the Lystrups for the spread at this reception. They had a cheese cake bar complete with two chocolate fountains! While most people stood in the reception line I kept myself in the refreshment line. Brock, Spenser Dauwalder and I couldn't leave until we had taste tested the offerings multiple times.

Good Luck Bryson!

And now troops, I’ll see you all in the trenches.

Mr. Williamson

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A message from the editors desk,

Just an update on the state of mission development. First let me apologize for delays in getting back to those who have submitted stories. The last 2 months have required large commitments of my time with Tax season, Alpine District and Space Center responsibilities. Throw in a few unexpected illnesses and it makes for a fun time. I believe, at this time I have responded to all parties who have submitted missions.

At this time we have several missions in in various stages of development. I just want to give everyone and update. Two Student missions are now in phase 2 development. That is the submissions have been reviewed and deemed suitable for further story development. This means rewriting the mission incorporating changes suggested by the editor. Those missions are The Chase (Galileo) by Josh Anderson and Eureka 124 (Phoenix) by Kevin Roberts. Congratulations!

I am also happy to say that one staff submission has just been moved up to stage 3 status, that is, the mission has been rewritten with the required editorial changes made and accepted. At stage 3 the author will now develop a mission stack, Messages, etc. When they feel everything is ready the mission will be test flown. That mission is Alpha (Magellan) by Warren Nuila. Congradulation Warren! I am really looking forward to seeing this mission flown.

We have a second story in stage 3 development as well. That mission would be Pakled Princess (Phoenix) by Aleta Clegg. Yes even the adult staff need their missions approved by the editor. However since she has twenty plus years of writing experience her mission was accepted without a second rewrite. Her mission is a little out of the ordinary. It is designed for crews that have "done" everything. It is a comedy, which is a very difficult medium to pull off well. Congratulations Aleda!

Additionally I have completed the suggested Science Fiction reading and viewing list for would be mission writers. They will be posted on the Space Center Blog. I strongly suggest all interested in writing missions make use of these reference materials to get a feel for the Star Trek universe. I am not asking you to read and view all the material posted but pick and choose. All suggested video can be found on netflix and most can be found at Hollywood or Blockbuster video. Additionally a huge resource available to you is Star Trek Wikipedia. The site is huge with many, many threads. Better yet it is free.

Also, if you (staff and volunteers only) possibly can, please attend the writers workshop on Wednesday April 8th, 5:00pm-8:00pm we will dissect 2 Star Trek, Original Series episodes to see what make them tick. Please RSVP as ther will be Pizza.

Thank you for your time
Bill Schuler
Supervising Story editor
Christa McAulliffe Space Education Center.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

What? More Space Center News? Don't Those People Ever Rest?

Out of the Fat and Into the Fire

Its an old saying. One of those phrases passed from generation to generation. You use it when you want to describe a condition where you leave the comfort and safety of routine and enter a situation that forces you to exceed your grasp from the sitting position.

This weekend we threw two unsuspecting innocents into the fire. They were clueless to the danger waiting for them when they left their mother’s loving embraces and journeyed forth to the Space Center. I waited for them at 6:15 P.M. in the gym where we were gathering for our pre camp staff meeting. They were both on time and planted themselves on the top riser. I sat at the Sign In Table thinking of of the terror I was about to unleash. I was moments away from creating a memory for these two young teenagers that would stay with them throughout their life, and there they sat - completely clueless. They current stress free condition, thinking this camp would be like the countless others they’ve worked, was about to end. It was 6:15 P.M.

“Adam,” I said. He looked at me thinking I was asking him where he wanted to work.
“Odyssey,” came his reply to the question I didn’t ask.
“Yes, you’re in the Odyssey. In fact, you’re running the Odyssey on this camp. You’ll be the Flight Director.”

An interesting thing happens to humans when backed into a corner with no escape. The face muscles force the tissue around the eyes to expand, thus making one's eyes ‘pop out’. The mouth forms the the first sound of the word “What?”. The neck muscles turn the head slightly back and forth in the negative. I saw all of those reactions in Adam. He mumbled something about not being ready. I’d heard all the excuses from other current flight directors when they were drafted and thrust in the FD’s chair. The excuses wash off me like water off a duck’s back. Adam didn’t have a choice. I’d made the decision for him and that was that.

“Adam, You’ll have Emily there beside you in the Second Chair. She’s an EMT. I’ll have her monitor your blood pressure and take your temperature throughout the camp. If you go septic she will step in but ......You'll need to be so ill that Emily must hear death rapping on the Control Room door before she intervenes and takes the mission from you.” Adam nodded. He understood it was time to step up to the plate and bat. You can stay in the bullpen only so long before its time to show the team what you’ve got.

There was a faint rosey color returning to his deathly white cheeks. I could tell he was calming down. I had complete faith in Adam. I’d heard him multiple times acting in the Odyssey while sitting at my desk and felt he had the talent to be Flight Direct - even if he was only fifteen years old.

My next victim would take the news I was about to give him differently. “Spencer,” I said to Spencer M. “I’m making you a supervisor in the Voyager for this camp.”
He looked at me and smiled. The smile disappeared as quickly as it formed when he realized he had displayed emotion. Spencer is a half breed - half human / half vulcan. He has emotions but chooses not to show them. He thinks that displaying feelings gives your opponents an advantage over you, so he lives his life like he's playing million dollar poker at a Vegas casino. His hands are played without a twitch - win or lose - Spencer always looks the same to the casual bystander.

Spencer shrugged his shoulders to signify his indifference to the promotion. He had to show a true English attitude to those sitting around him. I knew better. I’ve known Spencer for three years. I’ve learned to read him by looking for the right combination of expressions . Happiness is shown with a momentary flicker of a smile accompanied by a supersonic glance of his eyes in one direction. If you blink you’ll miss it. Sadness and boredom are harder to differentiate.

I wanted to force a smile out of Spencer after giving him the news. Getting an emotional response out of him is the ultimate challenge for anyone that likes to think of themselves as an amateur comedian. I turned to the rest of the staff and said, “I tried all the Supervisors and none of them could take the camp. So.... when you’re desperate you have to do things you would never do. I’m having to scrape the bottom of the barrel on this assignment. Hence, Spencer is the Supervisor tonight.”
Spencer favored me with a normal smile that lasted 2.3 seconds. He appreciates a more refined humor, sugared heavily in satire and topped with whipped cynicism. It is his drink of choice. He respects anyone that can prepare and deliver it to his exacting taste.

Adam and Spencer started the evening as boys and ended the camp as .... well, I want to say men but that would be a lie. Let’s say they ended the camp as bigger boys. Boys that can now feed themselves and can use the potty. They are boys that can tie their own shoes and look both directions before crossing the street. Yes, they matured during this camp. I’m proud of their performance and want to thank them for their hard work.

The Chocolate Doughnut Test

I did something unusual on Saturday morning. In addition to the six dozen vitamin rings (glazed doughnuts) I buy at WalMart at 6:00 A.M. every other Saturday morning (Mr. Daymont collects them on the Saturday’s he works the overnight camps) I decided to treat the staff to something different. I looked for the day olds bakery display but found it hadn’t been restocked, so I looked at the bakery's fresh offerings. The blueberry doughnuts looked reasonably digestible so I purchased a dozen.

I woke the staff up at 6:40 A.M. The boys (staff and campers) were sleeping in the gym. There were more girls on this camp so they were sleeping in the Voyager and Odyssey. The staff boys had instructions to quietly gather their belongings from the stage where they were sleeping. Quietly was the stated goal. Quietly wasn’t what I got. A moment later I heard the crashing sound of several hula hoops hitting the stage floor. One of our young volunteers wasn’t quiet awake as he navigated his way off the dark stage. That misstep woke him up for sure, not to mention several of the slumbering campers sleeping on the gym floor. Drats!

Every Saturday morning the staff and volunteers get together in Discovery at 6:50 A.M. for doughnuts and stories of the night before. Everyone was perplexed by the change in routine when I opened the blueberry doughnuts. Standard procedure dictated the staff receive glazed doughnuts. Today they had something different. I assured them the sky wasn’t falling and hell hadn’t frozen over during the night. They looked at me oddly, wondering why I would spend a little extra for the fancy blueberries, given how I pinch pennies whenever I can. I’m a believer you can get water from a rock and a profit from a camp.

I sat in the back of the room and listened to them talk. The conversations bored me. I thought I’d interject a little humor into the gathering, of course at someone’s expense. I waited for my victim to walk through the classroom door. It didn’t take long. Twelve year old Houston stumbled into the room, saw the doughnuts, walked to the box and stared at the selection. He was confused.
“Houston, they’re all chocolate doughnuts. Take one,” I said. The rest of the staff stopped chewing the blueberry doughnuts and stared at me wondering what I was talking about. “They’re chocolate doughnuts,” I said again while giving them that look you give when you don’t want someone to let the cat out of the bag and spoil the joke. They understood.

Houston sat down. Looked again at the doughnut and took a bite. No reaction. He took another bite. Again, no reaction. What was up with that? Couldn’t he tell the difference between a chocolate blueberry doughnut or were the WalMart doughnuts really that tasteless?
“Houston, those are blueberry doughnuts,” I said. The staff broke into laughter. Houston blamed a serious lack of sleep for his inability to taste. The joke worked - somewhat. I wanted another victim.

Josh A. walked into Discovery. Selected a blueberry doughnut from the box and sat down. This time everyone was in on the joke. “Josh,” I said. “I bought chocolate doughnuts for the staff this morning.” Josh noticed everyone was staring at him.
“What?” he asked the thirteen pairs of eyes. No one spoke. He took a bite of the ‘chocolate’ doughnut. No reaction. He took another bite.
“What?” he asked again. The unwanted attention was unnerving him.
“Josh, that’s a blueberry doughnut,” I said. Everyone laughed. Josh used the same excuse as Houston for not knowing the difference between chocolate and blueberry. What started as an innocent joke on two unsuspecting staff turned into a study of early morning awareness. Were sleep deprived teenagers unable to taste food? Further testing is required. The results will be posted when the study is complete.

A Knife in. A Knife out and my Bleeding Ego

Last Tuesday was hard on my ego. I met my nemesis on the 11:30 A.M. mission. His name is forgotten but his attitude will never be. I noticed something different about the class when they ascended the spiral stairs to the Voyager Bridge. Instead of hearing overwhelming "Ohhhs and Ahhhhs" I heard nothing. Some had a look of total indifference. Several of the boys had that serious ‘skater’ look to them - long hair and the bone crushing tight girl’s jeans. I’ve worked long enough to realize a tough audience when I saw one.

My nemesis was on the Right Wing Power Station. He reeked of distaste. You could see from his body language that he didn’t want to be there. When he finished training I took his mp3 player. He asked me how long this ‘thing’ would last. I told him another hour or so. He gave me that painfully contoured teenage look you get when you tell them they have to do something they regard as totally uncool.
“I don’t what to be here,” he said.
“Would you like to go to another room during the mission?” I asked, wondering just how serious he was about not wanting to go on the mission. He surprise me by jumping out of his chair ready to go. “You can’t leave without your teacher’s permission,” I said walking away. He went to his teacher and begged to be taken off the ship. The teacher wouldn’t hear of it and promised him it would be fantastic. He didn’t look convinced and went back to his seat. He slumped down in the chair to the point where the top of his head was the only visible part of his body.

He wasn’t the first to display such an attitude. Many times in the past I’ve had to deal with teenagecoolitus, and in nearly every case I successfully brought them around by the end of the mission. This boy was going to be a tough nut to crack but I’m the great OZ. I can dazzle anyone. Can't I? The mission started. My back was against the wall the moment the Captain spoke. He was another one that didn’t want to be there. His voice displayed a lack of respect for the adventure. I will give him one star for at least doing his job. I was afraid my nemesis wouldn’t. The boy’s first order came from the captain. He carried it out. I was surprised by that. At least the boy wasn’t going to try to sabotage the mission for the others.

The mission went painfully slow. I was doing everything in my power to make the experience fun for the Sith Lord. I just couldn't wipe his attitude away no matter how many alerts and intruders I threw at him. I was loosing the battle.

Perikoi ends with a fantastic chase scene and escape from certain death. Almost all crews give me a rousing cheer at the end as they escape vaporization from the exploding USS Copernicus. This one didn’t. The red alert lights were switched to white when the mission ended.
“Captain and crew, our time is up,” I said. I watched my nemesis for his reaction. Would he display any sign of enjoyment?

He didn’t. He was the first to jump from his chair and remove his uniform. He was rushing to get off the ship. His teacher had to sit on him to keep him from running everyone else down. I had failed in my attempt to turn him from the dark side.

The school departed leaving me sitting alone in the Voyager's Control Room surprised one class could have so many imagination dead children. It was the worst case I’d ever seen in a sixth grade class. I wondered if we were living in a time when children were growing up faster then in previous generations. Was the magic of childhood being replaced with the desire to be cool and 'fit in' sooner than it should? I took my bruised ego, bandaged it and went about my business. “One defeat among how many success?” I told myself.

The next day Valley View Elementary arrived for their field trip. I waited for the sixth grades at the top of the spiral stairs. I was still nursing my injury from the day before. The first few came up from the Crew Quarters.
“Wow......” the first boy said as his eyes took in the sights and sounds of the Bridge. He was enthralled. A scab began to form on my open wound.
“This is soooooo cooool!” several others said as they handed me their boarding passes. My wound was now completely scabbed over.

Then, my healer ascended the stairway in the form of a twelve year old boy with brown hair. He stopped at the top of the stairs and stared in rapture at his surroundings. I asked him for his pass. He looked at me, mumbled something that made my heart jump, and walked forward to give me his Boarding Pass. “What did you say,” I asked him. I needed to hear what he said.
“Nothing,” he answered as he stood there waiting for me to take his pass. I wasn’t about to let his statement slip away. I had to hear what he said.
“No... you said something about being here. What was it?” I prodded not willing to drop the subject. He looked at me almost embarrassed to repeat the comment. I could see he was at the time in life when what he felt and what he said needed to be filtered. Its a teenage thing. We all lived through it and most of us luckily grew out of it.

He could see I wasn’t going to drop it. “I said I’ve waited my whole life to be here,” he said with a sense of wonderment in his voice. The scab on my ego dropped off that instant. I was healed. I’m sure my nemesis felt my satisfication all the way to South Jordan.
“Thank you,” I said as I took his Pass and showed him to his seat. “That made my day,” I added as he sat down.

The magic was back. The darkness lifted. My faith in childhood restored. Imagination was vindicated. With my healing came a sadness that there are hundreds of thousands of children in this world that are growing up far faster than they should. Blame it on the internet or television or poor parenting or whatever....... the fact remains true.

Hold on to the magic of childhood to the end of your days. You’ll live a richer, fuller life and that is the Williamson guarantee.

News on the New Galileo

I want to thank Kyle Herring and the Capstone students at BYU for their work on the new Galileo. It was presented to the public last Thursday. I’m told that our little ship was the Belle of the Ball and the favorite of the attendees.

We even made the newspapers! Check out the following stories and photographs.,5143,705294811,00.html

Matt Long and Alex DeBirk inside the Galileo's Frame