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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
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