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, May 3, 2009

New Summer Stories, The Flu and Star Trek the Movie!

Hello Troops,
It’s May! How many of you are like me and wondering where the school year went? Summer starts on June 21st astronomically. The Space Center summer starts the first week of June. I want all of you in Blogland to know how excited I am for our new summer stories. Your Space Center Set and Flight Directors are working morning, noon and night with me to make this the best summer ever. The Space Center is staffed by some of the finest people in Utah. These people aren’t paid very much for what they do, and what they are paid doesn’t come close to compensating them for the extra time and effort they put into maintaining the simulators and creating the missions you enjoy when you do one of our missions. Now add in the time donated on your behalf by our scores of volunteers and you’ll see the effort this community of learners and doers is doing just for you. The Space Education Center is truly a community effort. Thank you for doing your part in helping us change the very definition of education. Your support both in positive word of mouth advertising and financially through attending camps and outright donations is appreciated. We are totally dependent on the people of this community and we hope we show that appreciation every time you come for our programs.

The Slime Flu!
Wow, what about this H1N1 flu spreading around the world? I don’t know what's worse, the actually flu or the panic it seems to be causing. I personally believe shutting down an entire school system because of three suspected cases is going too far. Is our society so afraid of a bump or bruise that we need to pad everything that stands upright? I see the panic and wonder if it isn't’ the Bubonic Plague roaming the world like death itself slashing down entire populations.

Word is that some European cities are researching how communities of eight hundred years ago dealt with plague. I’m guessing they are already digging enormous pits for the dead. Tons of lime will be on standby to pour over the dead to reduce the stench of decay. Special trucks are on standby to canvas the neighborhoods for the dead. Each is equipped with a loudspeaker so the driver can shout out the same admonition shouted by the town criers of the Middle Ages, “Bring Out your Dead!”

Soon the rabid Christians and Doomsdayists will be walking our streets with sandwich boards warning us to “Repent for the End is Near”. The old timers guarding WalMart’s exits for shoplifters will be armed with semiautomatic weapons to ensure order when society begins to break down and riotous crowds descend to ransack the store to take supplies in preparation to hunker down in their basements and await the end. I’m warning you be take great care in approaching someone’s front door. One knock may result in a shotgun blast through the wood and right through your abdomen. It won’t be pretty when law and order, the pillars of society, break down and the rule of jungle becomes normal.

So, I urge all to watch the news carefully and track the flu but remember, the current virus is no worse than all other flu viruses currently killing people every day in the world. Panic is ridiculous and only demonstrates a lack of common sense and intelligence but hey, we know those are in serious short supply in this modern world - don’t we? Listen, when you see me panic then you can panic. If you see me wearing a mask then it is time to wear one. If you see me walking the streets of Pleasant Grove armed to the teeth then you know the end has already arrived. Be prepared and with preparation comes a sense of calm.

Here are the preparations I’m taking. I wash my hands several times per day. I use hand sanitizes whenever I finish working. I avoid getting too close to students or campers. if I see a student coughing I hand them either tissue or several paper towels. I definitely don’t want to catch the flu. Who has time to be sick for a week? Raise your hands.

New Missions Tested
The Phoenix, Odyssey, Galileo and Magellan tested their new missions this last weekend. The Phoenix and Galileo used staff as their guinea pigs. The Odyssey and Magellan used read overnight camp students. I’m happy with the post mission surveys. Each mission ran reasonably well. Each mission has several places where improvements are necessary. Those have been identified and will be dealt with this week. We will run the missions again this week on the Overnight Camp for students from Alpine Elementary School.

The Odyssey, Magellan and Phoenix will have two new missions for the summer. The Voyager and Galileo will each have one. Have you signed up for summer camp yet? If not what are you waiting for? Let’s get on the ball. Don’t miss these new stories.

Why Doesn’t Anyone Answer the Phone?
I’ve been asked why the Space Center doesn’t have someone at the phones during business hours. We do on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays. Aleta Clegg is the Center’s office assistant You can reach her on those days between 9:00 A.M. and Noon. You’ll have to take your chance with me on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Also, I’m usually at my desk to answer the phone after 1:50 P.M. unless I have an after school field trip (which we’ve had many of lately).

Prom Season
We are in the thick of Prom Season! Every weekend brings new Prom dates to the Center for their Day Dates. Its fun watching these young couples navigate the treacherous waters of dating, especially if this is their first date. Dating veterans are very comfortable with their dates. You’ll see them joking and looking relaxed. New daters are visibly stressed. They are doing their best too look cool. You see it in their body language. The boys stand with legs slightly apart and arms either folded or hands are in the pockets. Gum in the mouth is part of that cool and false relaxed look. They chew with their mouths open and hope to heaven they didn’t make a mistake in asking the girl standing uncomfortably next to them to Prom.

The missions go reasonably well remembering we aren’t structured for people that age. The Center’s focus group are 10 to 14 year olds. Many teens still enjoy the missions. Others find them a bit beneath them - or so they think. It is all good. The Day Dates are bringing in a steady stream of cash and that’s what the Center needs right now as we work hard on the new Galileo.

Your Questions!
OK, I’d like to add questions and answers to this weekly news update. If you have questions about the Space Center or its staff please email them to me (director@spacecamputah.org) and I’ll select the best from the emails to answer publicly each week right hear on the Blog. This is your chance to ask the questions that have been bothering you for some time.
Questions regarding age (especially that of the ladies) will be ignored.
I will also be careful not to discuss in detail what happens behind the scenes as we create the experience you enjoy.

Star Trek the Movie!
May 8th is opening day for the new Star Trek movie. Needless to say, Star Trek is almost a religion for many of us who work at the Space Center so you can be sure we will see the movie.
I urge everyone to see the movie. I hear it is really good from those that have already seen it. It has cool special effects but the foundation of the movie is character driven. That gives the movie a sense of something other than an effects driven movie.

Challenge. I’d like all our Space Center fans to wear their Space Center T-shirts to the movie. I’ll be looking for you in the crowds. I won’t tell you which theaters I’ll be going to (I’ll see it twice at two different theaters) but if I see a Space Center T-shirt I’ll give you a pin from your favorite Space Center ship! The pins sell in our gift shop for $5.00 each so wear that shirt and hope your in the theater at the same time I am.

Thanks Troops,
Mr. Williamson
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