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

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Thoughts on Transformers and North Korea.

Hello Troops,
I saw Transformers this weekend. Now I think I need to be careful not to hurt feelings as I describe my thoughts on this film, realizing many of you enjoyed it. So, without putting too fine a point on it - I thought the movie was pure unadulterated trash. It was a pure waste of my time and money.
I urge all that say they enjoyed the movie to reconsider your opinion. Tell me what, if anything, made sense in that poor excuse of spending several millions of dollars?

  • Dialog? Inane. Trite. Elementary.
  • Characters? cardboard. two dimensional. boring.
  • Special effects? Brilliant. You see, I give credit where credit is due.
  • Story? Beyond belief even for fiction. It is beyond fiction. It is a fiction not even fiction can understand.

I could fill volumes by writing on every point this movie failed. I slept through some parts, squirmed through others, laughed not with the characters but at the characters, and was amazed at the 300 pounder sitting behind me that seemed to enjoy the movie immensely. I knew he was an adult based on the growth of his beard and the fact he had a few small humans in tow. I wanted to turn around and ask him why he was enjoying the movie. Of course wanting to and doing it are two different things and, being a coward at heart, always take the safe road.

There were several times I found myself rubbing my forehead. Now, to those that would like to understand Mr. Williamson’s quirks, the rubbing of the forehead is my uncontrollably way of silently shouting “I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS. WHAT IS HAPPENING TO INTELLIGENT LIFE ON THIS PLANET. IS THERE ANYONE THAT CAN PUT ME OUT OF MY MISERY?”

You’re asking why I didn’t get up and walk out of the movie? Good question. I've done it before to far less deserving movies like Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. To be truthful, the special effects kept me tethered me to my seat. They were good. But had it not been for them I would have gotten up and walked out the first time the handicapped mother (born brainless) opened her mouth or when the dogs enjoyed each other's company on the couch.

Once again I ponder the use of the word professional when it comes to some Hollywood script writers. Professional, yes - when it comes down to the fact that they are paid for their work. Professional? No, when it comes to the quality of some of their work. My own Flight Directors, (and even some of the older volunteers) can write better fiction than Transformers.

I conclude this opinion post by urging you not to see Transformers. Don’t reward Dreamworks and Paramount for releasing this cinematic plague upon our houses right before the July 4th holiday. I promise that seeing it could potentially ruin your day, maybe your week (sorry Transformer fans). Listen, take my advice and read or watch some really good fiction and update yourself with North Korea's latest threats against the United States. They are threatening to launch a missile over Hawaii. Let's hope someone over there remembers to bring the matches so they get an ignition. Clearing the launch pad is a real plus for the North Korean Evening Propoganda Broadcasts. Making it over the Sea of Japan? That's priceless.

Speaking of North Korea. Can you believe a nation of millions under the delusion their leader is the modern world’s Messiah? They call him “The Dear Leader”. A more fitting title would be "Blood Sucking Vampire". He is a tin pot dictator and the head of the only political party in North Korea, The Korean Worker’s Party or something to that effect. He, and the others that are guilty of destroying the lives of millions, run that country like abusive parents. It is communism at its worst.

I visited Russia three times during the days it was ruled by the communists. I visited East Germany and Poland when they were also ruled by communists. I know what a communist state looks and feels like. I have a pretty good idea what’s happening in North Korea and I feel for its citizens. Many know better but are too terrified to speak out and the others are mindless drones, refusing to believe that their leaders don’t have their best interests at heart.

I say let North Korea launch a missile at Hawaii. Let them prove to the world that not only is their Dear Leader half dead with Stoke but also functionally insane, dimwitted, delusional, and (pray to God) on death’s door. I firmly believe that inborn urge to be free can be found in many of North Korea’s citizens. I hope something will happen, as it did in Europe, and the people will find their voice and hunt down the criminals that destroyed the lives of millions and let them experience true freedom by swinging in the Korean breeze from the end of a rope.

And now Its time for Sunday dinner.

Have a great week troops,

Mr. Williamson

Friday, June 26, 2009

Personal Log: Adrian Stevens, Quartermaster - Entry 3

This is just for fun. Any resemblance to people who work at the space center is intentional, although these characters aren't really them. Any resemblance to an actual mission is your imagination.
Aleta Clegg,
Space Center Educator
Space Center Quartermaster

Personal Log: Adrian Stevens, Quartermaster - Entry 3

“Quartermaster Stevens! Captain wants you in his office. Now!”

I sighed, rolling off the bunk.

The security guard, chosen more for his fighting skills than his thinking skills, frowned at the open door to the cell. “Why are you in the brig?”

“Lieutenant Bradley put me under arrest. So I reported to the brig. No one was manning the desk, though, so I checked myself in.”

“And them?”

“Turner and Quan’Li? Guilty by association. Let them sleep.” I brushed past him. “How bad was the damage?”

“Hit and run, but they took out the warp drive and a bunch of other systems.” He shrugged. “The ship is secure for now. When is dinner?”

“Ask Bradley.” I stepped around him and headed for the nearest lift.

Captain Herring sat at his desk, officers hurrying through his office in a steady stream. All signs of a crisis in progress, but one under the iron control of the captain’s steely gaze. He glanced up in time to notice me. He did not look happy. He waved the officers out.

I entered his office, dreading the lecture I knew he would deliver.

“Quartermaster.” Captain Herring waited for me to approach.

I glanced at an empty chair, then decided against sitting. I’d pushed too far already. “Sir?”

“Where is my dinner?”

“Blown up with the replicators, I expect.” So much for respect and talking my way out of trouble. Sometimes my mouth says things before my brain gets involved.

Captain Herring’s glare turned to pure ice.

“Sir, we’ve been working twenty hours a day trying to cook in a galley designed to serve no more than fifty. We’re running out of food we can cook that way. We need the replicators back online. We can’t keep feeding two hundred.”

“One hundred eighty three. We had seventeen casualties in the attack.”

His answer was milder than I expected.

“I need a full inventory of supplies,” he continued.

“Sir, we’re already stretched too thin trying to keep everyone fed. There are only three of us in the galley. I don’t have time to do a full inventory.”

“As quartermaster, it is your duty to keep me apprised of supply levels.”

I told him what I thought of that duty on top of everything else. I’d expected serving on the Voyager to be a breeze–top of the line equipment, plenty of staff, a relaxing break. I’d never been so wrong in my life.

Captain Herring merely lifted one eyebrow at my language. “I’m assigning Alpha and Bravo squads to you. I want the entire crew fed in the next four hours. And, I want a full inventory on my desk in the next two. We are meeting with the Lusitania in six hours. I need to know what supplies to requisition.”

The Lusitania was a huge support ship currently assigned with the Third Fleet. I knew too much about her. I’d spent two months cleaning all three hundred toilets as penance a few years back.

“If I may ask, sir, who attacked us?” I wanted at least a little information. Maybe I should have taken the posting to the prison kitchen.

“Marauders, we don’t know who.” Herring tapped his com button. “Get me a shipwide channel.”

I opened my mouth.

He lifted his finger, silencing me. “This is the captain speaking.” His voice echoed through the halls of the ship. “We have been attacked by marauders of an unknown origin. The ship has sustained damage to the warp systems and the shields. Repairs are underway. All stations will remain on high alert until further notice. That is all.” He touched the comm button. “You will open the auxiliary galley on deck two to feed the officers on duty. The inventory report will be on my desk in no less than two hours, the entire crew will be fed in the next four. Do I make myself clear?”

“Yes, sir.” Unless I wanted shot and shoved out an airlock as a real mutineer, I had no choice but to agree.

“I’ll alert Alpha and Bravo squads to report to the galley for your orders.” He swiveled his chair, dismissing me.

“Great,” I muttered as I stalked back through the ship to the galley. “Fourteen marines in my kitchen. Lot of help they’ll be.”

Quan’Li and Turner both waited in the galley. It was a disaster. The pots had spilled during the fight. Food splattered every surface.

“We’ve got four hours to feed the entire crew,” I said. “And two hours to make a complete inventory of the ship. But,” I held my hand up to stop the complaints I knew were coming, “we do have two squads of marines to help. Turner, take four of them and open deck two galley. Take whatever supplies you need. Quan’Li, you’ve got the main galley. I’ll take two marines and get the inventory done. I’ll leave the rest with you.”

They both nodded. They weren’t happy, but orders were orders. And direct orders had to be obeyed.

Boots thumped in the hall, loud and in step. Our marines had arrived. We divided them up. Turner and his four loaded up supplies and left for the command galley. I took two with me. Quan’Li set the others to scrubbing up spills.

I sent one to the weapons controls to get a list from the officer in charge. I sent the other to sickbay while I went to the engineering sections.

They met me back by the main supply room half an hour later, lists in hand.

“That takes care of the easy part,” I said. “Now we get to count bins.”

“Yes, ma’am,” one of them, LeGrange, said as he saluted me.

I opened the door to the first storage locker. “You take the left, you take the far right, I’ll do the middle.” I tabbed through the clipboard to the proper page.

“What are we counting, ma’am?”

“Anything that looks more than half empty, make a note,” I said. Captain Herring could decide what was vital to requisition. As long as it included parts for the replicators, I’d be happy.

I started down the aisle, checking labels and boxes.

The lights flickered to red, alarms blared.

The marines thundered towards the door, which slid closed and locked just before they reached it.

“Standard precaution under red alert,” I said. “We’re locked in here until the alert is canceled.”

“Probably just a drill,” LeGrange said. “We’ll keep counting, ma’am.”

The ship rocked. The lights shut off, plunging us into darkness briefly. The emergency light glowed sickly green above us.

“Or not,” Fells, the other marine answered.

The alarms changed.

“Intruders.” LeGrange drew his phaser.

“They’re at the bridge!” Fells fingered his comm badge.

The overhead speakers crackled to life.

“Crew of the ship Voyager, this is Del’Brugado of the Fellucian Marauders. I have captured your ship. Further resistance will be met with deadly force. Surrender peacefully and we will let you live. As our slaves!”

Fells pounded on the door.

“Stop it, you idiot!” I grabbed his arm. “Come this way. I’ve got an idea.”

I led them to the back of the supply room. I popped the cover off an access panel.

“Repair access conduit. We can use it to get to deck seven, and from there, we can get into the main engineering crawl spaces.”

“And the three of us are going to take back our ship!” Fells clapped his hand on his phaser.

“Set phasers to maximum,” LeGrange said, thumbing the dial on his. “This isn’t going to be easy.”

“No, but it is going to be fun.” Fells grinned like a maniac.

I rolled my eyes and crawled into the conduit.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

EdVenture Camp 3. Continues.

Hello Troops,
Day three of our EdVenture Camp for this week. Our campers slept soundly last night. We wore them out with a five hour mission and seven hours of workshops. We swam from 8:15 - 9:15 P.M. and topped off the day with a video. Several the campers were asleep on the floor when I turned on the lights at the end of the video at 11:15 P.M. It was funny to see them struggle to their sleeping quarters, dragging their sleeping bags behind them. Oh, there were several pillows dropped along the way.

I thought I include a few pictures of the campers in their class session.

I slept very well last night. I can squeeze a good 4 - 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep during camp nights. It’s not enough, I know that. By camp’s end I’m showing several bruises from stumbling into walls on the third day of camp. I’m pretty much a walking zombie by then. My staff knowingly take advantage of my sleepless stupor by asking me to approve large spending items. I do my best to ask the difficult questions but most of the time just hold my hand out. They hand me a pen and direct my hand to the appropriate line and, if necessary, help me sign my name :) A day or two later FedEx delivers a package and one of our simulators has a new piece of equipment.

I calculated the number of nights I’ve slept at the Space Center on camps since our opening nearly 19 years ago. It comes to slightly over 3 years!
Wow, when you look at it like that even I feel sorry for myself. Someone suggested I should write a check to the school district for rent. But you know, I wouldn’t have it any other way. It's been well worth it for what we’ve accomplished, staff and volunteers.

And now troops I’ll sign off until the next update. We’ve got another extended flight rotation starting at 11:15 A.M. At 1:00 we enjoy our disco pizza lunch. The Cafeteria is illuminated in psychedelic colors. Campers enjoy an all you can eat pizza lunch to the disco music of the past.

Mr. Williamson

Monday, June 22, 2009

EdVenture Camp 3. It Starts.

It's 10:13 P.M. The Center's five simulators are in deep space. I'm at my desk listening to music from the original Star Trek series. In fact, its the music to The Trouble with Tribbles. That was a fine episode.

I had a few emails from two of our Blog readers asking for more information on the new Galileo. I had a word with Kyle Herring, foreman of the Galileo project. He says the interior is nearing completion. Today he ordered the aluminum to cover the exterior. Covering the outside frame with aluminum is one of the final steps to completing the ship. His goal is to have the ship delivered within one month.

I'm hoping that bit of news satisfied the Galileo hunger out there. We are waiting with growing impatience for our new simulator.

We lost two more campers to the Swine Flu before the camp even started. One mother called this afternoon to cancel her son. Another mother came to the Center with her sick daughter in the car. We arranged a refund and sent them on their way.
(I just remembered she handed me her daughters camp paperwork for the refund. This paperwork sat out in the car with them on the trip here. That means a possibility of virus on the paper? There is no way I can afford to get the flu during summer camp season. I left my desk for a moment to scrub my hands. Let's hope for the best.)

We have a great group of campers for this EdVenture. Many of them are our good veterans. I enjoyed delivering my Start of Camp Monologue to this group. They laughed at my jokes and looked like they really wanted to do well in the simulators and in the class. I know, I know.... time will tell.

We are heavy on staff and volunteers on this camp. The simulator's Set Directors all asked for extra help to run their summer missions and I brought them in for this camp. My fear is the extra help will become more of a bother if they are busy for most of the camp. The Flight Directors assure me they will keep them busy and so I'll take them on their word.

It's 10:28 P.M. Several volunteers just rushed by my desk getting in costume. Apparently the Voyager is getting ready for an acting scene. I'm wearing my noise canceling headphones so I don't know what's happening with the story. Thank goodness for these headphones. They allow me to keep my sanity while I attempt to work around this controlled chaos.

This bright yellow ball of light appeared in the daytime sky over Pleasant Grove today. We had to remind each other that it was the sun. We haven't seen much of it over the last three weeks. They say it will be our ever present companion for the foreseeable future, sending temperatures into the 90's for the weekend. Summer is here.

I'll end this update with some good news. We will take the campers and staff swimming tomorrow night! This will be the first camp this season that will get to go swimming. All are happy.

Now I'll say good night. I've got to put the tables down in the cafeteria for the late night snack.

Mr. Williamson

Sunday, June 21, 2009

On Last Week

This may be the last day of rain for awhile. Most are happy. I enjoyed living in Little Seattle for the last three weeks. They say a change is as good as a rest so I’m feeling pretty rested and ready for warmer temperatures. I think all of us will agree that this cool June will be fondly remember when the temperatures inch over 100 in the next few weeks.

We had a really good Overnight Camp on Thursday. I’m sure all of the staff and volunteers will agree with me when I say that our one night overnight camps are soooo easy when compared to the three day camps. During the school year the Overnighters are THE camp of the week which makes them seem longer. In the summer the three day EdVenture Camps become the long camp making the Overnight Camp seem like an extended private mission.

We want to congratulated Megan Warner and the Phoenix staff for winning the Director’s Trophy for the Overnight Camp. Megan told “Dark Origins” for the first time. “Dark Origins” was written by Dave Daymont. It is one of two new Phoenix missions for the summer season. The other mission is Currahee, written by Megan Warner.

The Center is busy every day this summer with camps and private missions. We also have a few university students using the Center as the setting for independent movies they’re shooting as school assignments. The film crews arrive after private missions end and stay through the night shooting. They are gone in the morning before I arrive to open the Center.

This coming week will be much the same as last. We start with our third EdVenture Camp. Swimming is back on the agenda for day two of camp! That was the longest stretch of no swimming in any camp since we opened eighteen years ago.

Well, not much else to write about today. One small item I’ll mention and then close. I got a letter from the mayor of Salt Lake County yesterday appointing me to the Board of Director’s of Clark Planetarium. I know, it’s one more thing to add to my plate. Its not too bad though, there is a Board Meeting once a month and that’s about it.

Let’s have a great week at camp and I wish all of our kind readers a great first week of summer.

Mr. Williamson

Friday, June 19, 2009

Personal Log: Adrian Stevens, Quartermaster - Entry 2

This is just for fun. Any resemblance to people who work at the space center is intentional, although these characters aren't really them. Any resemblance to an actual mission is your imagination.
Aleta Clegg.

Personal Log: Adrian Stevens, Quartermaster - Entry 2

I swiped a rag across the metal counter, leaving a greasy trail. Why had I agreed to this? Two days into the flight the food replicators had failed. Completely and utterly. We needed parts to fix them, parts that were two days travel behind us at Starbase 74. My two assistants and I were stuck cooking with real pots and pans in a galley much too small. Exhaustion didn’t even come close to describing what we felt.

Leuitenant Bradley stuck his head in the door. “Quartermaster Stevens? Captain Herring wants his dinner delivered to the officer’s mess in exactly twenty three minutes.”

I told him exactly what Captain Herring could do with his dinner.

Bradley’s lips pinched, like a fish sucking lemons. “He expects you to be in dress whites for serving.”

“Then tell the captain I need functional food replicators. He’ll get his food when it gets cooked. We’ve been slaving over those pots for the last eighteen hours straight. He will just have to wait his turn.”

Bradley stepped into the kitchen, looming over me. His attempt to threaten me wasn’t going to work.

“I don’t own any dress whites. I will deliver his food when it is ready. It would help if he gave me more staff, but there isn’t room for more than three people in this galley. This ship is not designed for old style cooking, not for the full crew. You tell Captain Herring the crew will have to go on shifts for meals. And I want at least two extra staff for the other rotations.”

“You are in no position to make demands!”

“Go hungry.” I turned my back and swabbed my rag across the counter.

“You have been given a direct order by a superior officer.”

“And I’m telling you, Officer Bradley, I can’t do it. It’s physically impossible.”

Bradley tapped his comm badge. “Security, report to the galley immediately. Take Quartermaster Stevens into custody on charges of mutiny.”

Turner and Quan’Li, my assistants, both thumped their spoons down.

“You arrest her and you have to arrest both of us,” Turner said. “The two of us quit. Cook your own food.”

“You’ll regret this,” Bradley warned.

“Not before you do,” I answered.

Security arrived, uniforms a bit rumpled. Security detail was usually pretty boring, except for the few minutes when it was extremely exciting. I suspected they’d been playing cards.

I held out my wrists. “Arrest me. Throw me in the brig. At least I’ll get some sleep.”

Turner and Quan’Li were right behind me.

“What about our food?” the bigger security guard questioned Bradley.

“Mutiny is a serious charge. These three disobeyed a direct order. Take them into custody.”

The guards hesitated. “We put them in the brig, we won’t get food.”

“Another team will be assigned.” Bradley frowned. “Do you want to join them on charges of mutiny? I gave you an order!”

“Not a good way to make friends, Bradley.” I couldn’t help the sarcasm. It was my nature.

Bradley’s face burned red. I wondered if I could actually make steam come from his ears.

“Throw them in the brig!”

“Yes, sir.” Security didn’t look too happy, but they marched the three of us away.

“Have fun cooking,” I called over my shoulder. “And watch that pot of sauce. It will burn if you don’t stir it.”

“You shouldn’t make him mad,” the security guard whispered as he marched me through the halls. “He’s got the captain’s ear.”

“And I’ve got his food. Who do you think Captain Herring is going to listen to?”

“You’re going to be put on report.”

I shrugged. “And I might get a nap.”

The lights flickered, changing to red. Alarms blared through the halls.

“All hands, battle stations!”

Security ran away.

Quan’Li sighed heavily. “I suppose we need to lock down the galley.”

“Let Bradley do it. We’re still under arrest.”

“Adrian, you can’t just desert your post.”

“I was officially relieved of duty. You heard Leutinant Bradley. I’m going to report to the brig, like a good mutineer. My feet are killing me.”

“What about the Captain’s dinner?”

“Under red alert? He isn’t getting it now.”

“Incoming!” the speakers blared.

The ship rocked crazily. Lights flickered madly. Smoke poured from the air vents.

Turner grabbed for support. “We’re under attack!”

“They said it would be dangerous. I’m hiding in the brig. Are you coming with me? The walls are thicker in there.”

Turner and Quan’Li were on my heels all the way to the brig. We checked ourselves in and made ourselves comfortable while the explosions continued.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Day 3 in Camp. The EdVenture Continues.

EdVenture Camp 2

We are on day 3 of our second EdVenture Camp. The natives were quiet during the night except for two small disturbances. I was woken by a young man walking through the Briefing Room. He walked by my camp (a pad, my two pillows, my blanket, flashlight, alarm clock and whistle) and straight into the hallway.
RULE VIOLATION: No one is allowed to leave their sleeping areas without permission. He didn’t stop to ask me to use the school’s restrooms. I waited to review the rules when he returned. He came back several minutes later.
“Stop,” I said. “Come here.” He stumbled to my camp like a drunk after one too many.
“Remember to tell me if you need to use the restroom during the night. You’re not allowed to wander through the halls of the school.” With that said I dismissed him to return to bed.
“My mission, I’m worried about my mission,” he replied in an odd tone. The statement alone was harmless. I hear it all the time. He can’t sleep because he is in the middle of a tough mission and its weighing on his mind. The odd thing about what he said was in its delivery. Most boys will look at me when they talk. They also appear alert. This boy’s head was darting back and forth like a caged animal. He was agitated and couldn’t stay still.
“Go back to bed,” I said. He moved toward the Voyager's door. A moment later I heard a yelp. I jumped up and found him at hopping on one foot near the Voyager’s Control Room door.
“Did you fall?” I asked.
“I stepped on something but I don’t know....... but I stepped on something and I......... I don’t know what it was.” He was stammering. His odd behavior could be diagnosed as a stroke or sleep walking. I ruled out a stroke. The kid was 11. He had to be sleeping walking. I helped him to a bench and looked at his foot. He stepped on something but I couldn’t find what it was with a flashlight search.
“Are you awake or asleep?” I asked him. I know it was a stupid question but I was tired. I was also curious what a sleepwalker would say when asked.
“I’m not sure because my mission is Ghost Ship and I don’t know what to do because we are in trouble and .....” The stammering continued.
“Can you walk?” I asked.
He hobbled. That was good enough. “Go to bed.” I said again. This time I followed him with the flashlight. He walked onto the Bridge, found his area collapsed onto the pad, covered himself and was out.
I returned to my camp.

All was quiet again. Everyone, including the chaperons, were asleep except for me. “The calm before the storm,” I thought to myself. The silence was broken by coughing from the Odyssey's bunks. There was also the constant sound of the forced air conditioning over head.

A moment later I heard feet shuffling across the carpet. Someone was approaching. I sat up. At the foot of my pad I saw one of the 14 year old campers. He look foreboding in the faint light from the green EXIT sign over my head . For a moment I thought it was Ye Old Grim Reaper come to carry my soul away. The thought passed when I recognized the unruly hair. It was one of the campers.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“I filled the Happy Bucket,” he replied. The Happy Bucket is a gray cleaning bucket given to children when they shows signs of imminent explosion (vomiting). They carry the bucket with them until the eruption subsides or the feeling passes.
“Bring me the bucket,” I said. He went to fetch it. “I got back up and waited. He returned a moment later. I took the bucket. It sloshed. He had indeed made a good deposit. I wanted to say “Good Boy." He deserved recognition for getting it all in the bucket and not on the carpet, floor, shoes, sleeping bags etc. (all of which has happened in the past). I let the moment pass and told him to wait while I cleaned it out.

I’m good with body fluids. They don’t bother me. I can even deal with blood - but not my own. Cleaning and sanitizing the bucket took a few minutes. In no time he was back to bed and all was well. I returned to my camp. It was nearing 2:00 A.M. I dozed off, waking up several times during the night to the various sounds of an old school. Mixed in were the melodies of children dreaming of starship adventures in places far away.

Wednesday Morning.

The kids are up and fed. Mrs. Houston and Mrs. Powell have them in the last two hours of their class session. It’s 9:05 A.M. One of our younger sixth grade volunteers just emerged from the Phoenix. He slept there last night. The staff go on duty at 11:00 A.M. Wednesday then is a happy day for them. They get to sleep in.

It’s spitting with rain. I’m not sure the campers will be able to launch their rockets. I could worry about that but won’t. It is the responsibility of Sheila and Lorraine and I really like that. I’ve enough on my plate. Its good to share the load with a great staff that are more than capable of dealing with hiccups in the schedule.

OK, now I’ve got to get back to work. There is a growing list of things to do and they won’t disappear without my attention. I’m good with that. I call it job security. I’ll update the Blog throughout the week to give you readers the taste and feel of summer life at the Space Center.

Mr. Williamson

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Personal Log: Adrian Stevens, Quartermaster

Hello Troops,
Aleta is a teacher and curriculum specialist at the Space Center. During the summer she is kind enough to manage the kitchen. She refers to herself as the Starship's Quartermaster. She created a fictional character called Adrian (her Avatar so to speak). This is first of several updates about this character and her interactions with others aboard our fictional ship far into the future.

And now, Aleta's first chapter...............

This is just for fun. Any resemblance to people who work at the space center is intentional, although these characters aren't really them. Any resemblance to an actual mission is your imagination.

Personal Log: Adrian Stevens, Quartermaster

"Admiral?" I cautiously stuck my head in the door. I hated having to deal with command officers, but my orders were specific.

The chair slowly swiveled, revealing a slightly balding head of dark hair.

I swallowed a nervous lump as I held out my orders. Fleet Admiral Williamson, the sign on his desk read.

He took my paper, barely glancing at it before letting it drift into his disposal unit. He leaned back in his chair, bouncing slightly as he looked me over. "Quartermaster Stevens, your reputation for trouble precedes you. You do know that you're on the short list for dishonorable discharge? One more incident and you may even be doing prison time."

I nodded, keeping my mouth firmly shut. This was my last chance. Another few years and I'd be able to leave Starfleet honorably. I'd spoken too freely in the past. I'd taken a few too many liberties. Admiral Williamson was the last officer willing to even consider me for a posting.

He tapped his chin as he thought, his chair bobbing back and forth. He swung one foot, the polish on his boots catching the light.

I shuffled my scuffed boots on his dark blue carpet. The window behind him showed space dock. A gleaming white ship rested gently in the cradle, shuttles swarming around her. The USS Voyager was a beautiful ship, graceful and elegant with enough firepower to intimidate just about anyone. I could only dream of a posting on such a legendary ship.

Admiral Williamson's chair thumped forward, his boots thudding dully on the carpet. "I need volunteers for a dangerous mission. Classified, of course. I'm looking for those willing to risk everything if necessary. You have a choice, Stevens. Prison cook or Quartermaster on the Voyager."

I stared at him, my jaw dropping. "Quartermaster on the Voyager, sir?" Had I heard wrong?

"Not glamorous. You'll be on skeleton staff. You and two others will be responsible for all supplies, food, and the equipment to prepare it. I'm afraid the food replicators have been a bit off so you may be actually cooking for two hundred."

"I thought the Voyager had three hundred crew, sir."

"The support crew won't be the only ones on short staff." He smiled, benevolence with an edge. "You may not return, Stevens."

"But it's a chance to serve on the Voyager, sir. I accept. I've got no family, nothing to lose."

"Except your reputation." He stamped a paper and slid it across the desk. "Report immediately to the shuttle bay. You have less than four hours until the ship undocks."

"Sir." I snapped a salute then collected my new orders.

"Dismissed." He turned his chair away. "I suggest you hurry, Quartermaster."

I practically ran from his office, headed for the shuttle bays at a run. I couldn't help grinning. So the mission was dangerous, that didn't matter. I had a posting on the legendary Voyager!

The shuttle was crowded with officers headed for the ship. I hugged my duffle at the back, doing my best to avoid eye contact. I eyed their uniforms jealously. I wanted to be an officer but I couldn't stay out of trouble at the Academy. Quartermaster was the best I could hope for. I shifted my feed, impatient to board.

The shuttle docked, landing gracefully in the shuttle bay. The hatch opened. The officers filed out. I followed, breathing deeply of the recycled air of the Voyager. Glory tainted every molecule. I stepped off the boarding ramp.

"Papers?" The security guard glared at my blue service jumpsuit.

I handed the papers Admiral Williamson had just stamped.

"Captain on deck!"

Everyone snapped to attention. I dropped my duffle, standing rigid.

Boots thumped on the metal decking. I risked a single glance, rolling my eyes to the side. My heart sank. Maybe Captain Herring wouldn't remember me.

He stopped in front of me, breath whistling through his nose as he glared. "Adrian Stevens? You're what they sent for my Quartermaster?" His lip curled. He leaned very close.

I swallowed hard, staring at a pulsing vein in his forehead.

"Don't think I've forgotten the spaghetti incident. I'm watching you." His eyes drilled into mine.

So much for wishful thinking. Which would be more dangerous? The mission or the captain? Only time would tell.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A Quick Review of the Past Week. A Few Stories (a bit exaggerated) and a Comment or Two for Good Measure.

The end of our staff meeting. Most already left.
Some still asleep along the back wall (not shown)

Hello Troops,
What weather we’re having. You’d think Utah suddenly shifted its position on the globe and ended up along the Pacific coast . I’m not complaining. I enjoy the rain and clouds but I know many of you are fair weather creatures and thrive on sunshine and heat. I’d like to say I feel sorry for you but I’d be lying and, because this is Sunday, I can’t bring myself to do it.

For our readers outside of Utah I thought I’d show you what our desert kingdom looks like from my deck. Utah Lake is in the distance in the first picture and the other picture is looking northwest toward Point of the Mountain. Beautiful isn’t it? Well almost. This weather did cause some grief during this last week’s EdVenture Camp.

This was the condition of my office before the Camp started. The Odyssey and Phoenix staff were using it as a dumping ground as they prepared their ships. I had a fit. The staff had to hold me down and administer Diet Coke to calm me down. Once calm they rolled me into a corner and did a quick clean up. I was groggy but alert by camp's start.

The camp started on Monday. Everything went well but I was concerned about the temperature. It was cold and didn’t show signs of warming. Taking the campers and staff swimming Tuesday night would be questionable. I became a temporary sun worshipper and took every occasion to step outside to see if my newly found faith was producing the desired outcome. It wasn’t.

Tuesday morning was clear, but cold. I hoped for the best and the day proceeded. The flight rotations ended at 2:00 P.M. The staff were free to go home. The campers went to class with Sheila Powell and Lorraine Houston. I was exhausted. Not a good thing considering I had half the camp still to go and another Overnight Camp on Thursday - not to mention a couple dozen private missions filling in the non camp time slots. I wanted to sneak into the library where we keep the pads and take a quick trip into unconsciousness. The phone rang. It was Pleasant Grove’s swimming pool.
“Hello,” the voice of a young teenage girl came from the answering machine. She sounded like she had just removed her chewing gum to make the call. Her voice was unusually apologetic. I expected bad news.
“I’m calling to tell you that the pool will be closed all day next Tuesday. We are changing the pump. Sorry. There are a few other days available if you’d like to reschedule your private swimming party. Sorry. Thanks.” I’m sure her regret lasted as long as it took to hang up the pool’s phone and pick up her own cell phone to continue texting her friends.

“You’ve got to be kidding,” I said out loud. What was I going to do with 60 kids next camp if I can’t take them swimming? I remembered I was exhausted and decided to leave the matter for a day or two. Again the phone rang before I could make my retreat to the relative quiet of the Library.
“Hello. This is Pleasant Grove Pool. There’s lightening. We can’t open the pool if there’s lightening. What would you like to do about your private party tonight?” It was the same girl. What I wanted to say and what I actually said were two different things.
“Can I make the decision in a few hours. It may clear up?”
“Yes. That will be fine.”
“Thank you,” I hung up. I walked passed the school’s library and went outside to examine the clouds. They were gray and ugly. Normally I’d be doing a Snoopy Dance with weather like that but not today. I didn’t need the hassle. My temporary conversion to sun worship wasn’t working. Perhaps my devotion was transparent and instead of a blessing a curse was assigned to my case. I returned to my desk and took out the phone book. I knew from my years living in South Dakota that Indians had rain dances. I wondered if they also had sun dances. It was a long shot but desperation can force a man into desperate actions.

To make a long story short I had to make the decision at 7:00 P.M. It was raining. It didn’t look like it would clear in one hour. It was cold. I called the pool and told them we wouldn’t be coming. I removed the Sun ornament I fashioned out of paper clips I was wearing around my neck and returned to the faith of my fathers. I went from simulator to simulator asking the staff to stay on passed 7:00 P.M. and run a special short mission for the campers to occupy the time normally spent at the swimming pool. The staff agreed. They are great! These are people you can trust in a pinch.

This is Rachel. She is Special. She flies the Galileo. Be nice to Rachel.
Those who aren't regret it. Honestly - they do.

To make a longer story shorter- the night went well. The campers had supper and then went into the ships for another mission. They were very happy to get the extra flight time. At 10:00 P.M. we gathered in the cafeteria for a video and then bed at 11:00 P.M. A crisis was averted.
I expected a restful night’s short sleep. I was almost right. I got a very short sleep but it was interrupted by a camper with a sore throat. He wanted to go home. It was 1:00 A.M. I sat up with him while we waited for his mother to arrive to take him home.

The camp ended Wednesday at 6:00 P.M. We survived!

Overnight Camp.

We had a one night Overnight Camp on Thursday. All went well. Braydn Lystrup ran the Voyager’s new mission “A Matter of Honor”. He did well.
I feel good about our summer stories. They are coming together nicely.

Private Missions.

We had a slew of private missions all week. I spent most of the day at the Center on Saturday.

There was a real storm burst Saturday afternoon. We have been trained to expect power outages in storms’ like that. I’m happy to report Rocky Mountain Power held it together and we got through the wind, lightening and pounding rain without an interruption.
I took advantage of an hour’s break and took my car (The Lincoln Battlestar) into Jiffy Lube for a safety inspection. It failed. Something about a belt that needed replacing and a dash light not working. I didn’t need to hear that. I offered the technician a $10 bribe with a wink in hopes of a quick resolution to the matter. I believe he misunderstood my intentions and backed away from me, nearly tripping over the shop vac. I explained the concept of bribery. I explained that this was the accepted practice in third world countries and if it worked there - well why not here? He wasn’t moved by my argument.

I then attempted to illicit pity and claimed poverty. It failed. We compared income. I lost. In the end I gave him the $10 out of pity and he gave me the rejection notice.

So ends the week.

The Troubadours Worship and Rest on the Sabbath

The road into York was dusty and well traveled. We walked slowly, enjoying the fresh morning air and the song of birds. Our troupe delighted in the joy of a day free from our tents, stages, and instruments. The past week was long and we were weary from the persistent needs of our audiences.

This Sabbath day gave us time to pause and reflect on the needs of our souls. And so, being good Christians all, we walked to the Cathedral for Mass.

The sky spoke of rain. It was preoccupied with the subject based on its temperament over the previous days. Our stories and song were interrupted incessantly by thunder’s booming. On several occasions startled horses broke free of their moorings. I was nearly trampled myself had it not been the watchful eye and a forceful push from a visiting blacksmith to whom I offered free admittance to an afternoon performance.

The farmers are pleased with the rain and their crops grow true. Because of the forecast of a good Fall harvest the people are generous with their gold and silver. This generosity fills our tents. Full tents means food on our table and clothes on our back. So we, by reason of necessity, join the farmers and show gratitude for the rain.

The younger in our troupe fell behind as we continued down the road to York. They seemed more interested in whimsy than matters spiritual. I saw several in Farmer Lloyd’s field. I beckoned them forward with haste. The Cathedral’s bells were calling all to Mass. We were joined on the highway by many others. They rushed to our side and occupied our time with praise. This gratitude was well received by our assembly and we, in return, thanked them for attending.

The city’s walls rose before us. We gather at the gate and waited for the last of our troupe to arrive.
“Remember who you are and act accordingly,” I reminded my fellows before we entered the city. I positioned our older Troubadours so the younger were well supervised.
“We are missing two,” Lorraine said while doing a second count. “ It is young Zach and young Merryweather.
“They returned to camp,” Megan reported. “Young Zach once again forgot his belt, even after your admonishment. Young Merryweather accompanied him. I believe neither have an interest in the Bishop’s words today.”
“They will attend presently,” Metta said while looking down the highway. “There, you see them in the distance.” Off in the distance two boys approached. One with fair hair and one with dark.
I sent the troupe forward into the Cathedral and waited at the gate. Both boys were quiet as they passed.
“Zach?” I questioned.
“Sorry. It won’t happen again,” he replied to my unstated question.
“Then all is well. Make haste. The service is about to begin.”

We walked with reverence passed the large, ornately carved oak doors and into the Cathedral to find our fellows. After Mass a fine meal waited and then a day of rest. Tomorrow we take to the stage and it begins anew.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Troubadours Prepare for Tomorrow's Performances

Tis the Sabbath and the rains are upon us. Church bells are heard in the far distance calling all to mass. Clouds hang low over the Shire’s fields. The mountain tops are obscure and the temperatures speak of fall even though it is summer’s eve. Our merry band of troubadours share a lunch of crispy bread, veal and a warm soup beside a crackling fire. Lady Aleta pours, filling our wooden bowls to the brim. Master Kyle wasn’t mindful of his steps. His lunch spilled from his bowl into the fire causing a great cloud of steam and a hissing reminding us of a snake with a sour temperament. “Perhaps one should be mindful of one’s steps when carrying a fully charged bowl of Aleta’s fine cooking,” I reminded him. His look in response to my kind reminder was not gentle.

All laughed. Lady Megan placed another log on the fire to restore it to its previous strength. “Move along...... move along,” I said to Kyle pointing him back to the boiling pot. “Lady Aleta will fill your bowl and your stomach as long as you swear an oath to be mindful of your step,”
“Take no notice of him,” Aleta said with a beckoning hand welcoming him to the front of the line. Our younger troubadours, in unison, took a step back to allow this much older and wiser member of our troupe to return.

I took pleasure in watching the faces of our youngest at the back of the meal line. Masters Adam and Benjamin seemed concerned the pot would empty before their bowls could be filled. A look of starvation was present in their expression. After all, it had been four hours since their morning meal. They are growing boys and worked diligently pitching the tents and stages set for the first of the season’s performances on the morrow.

Lady Sheila followed my gaze and saw the same concern on their faces.
“My, wasn’t that a delicious meal,” she called out over the fire and heads of our fellows. The volume of her voice, unnecessary due to the proximity of the gathered company, drew our attention to her and away from the fire and contents of our bowls. “Tis a pity it is nearly gone. Dear Aleta, Lady Lorraine and I did warn you of such a turn of events. We offered our services to help in this meal’s preparation after our tent was pitched and wooden benches and tables in place but you refused. Now we see the result of your stubbornness. So many mouths yet to be feed with so little with which to feed them.”

Ladies Aleta and Lorraine both queried Sheila’s remarks. Neither remembered the morning’s events the way she just described them. Before they could object to her obviously faulty memory Sheila stood and held a hand to quiet them. “Masters Adam and Benjamin. Come from the line and sit with me. There is perchance, a drop or two of nourishment in my bowl which I humbly offer to satisfy your hunger.”

Anger replaced starvation in the boys' expressions. A storm was coming. I could see the humor in Sheila’s tale and thought it best to let it continue for a moment longer. The troupe needed merriment at this mealtime and Sheila was providing it . “Boys, why this look of anger? Did I not offer my bowl’s contents to you? Do you feel it not enough? I beg to differ. Why look." Sheila drew her spoon from the bowl. “Look boys, a slice of carrot still warm and whole. I swear my teeth have not disfigured it in any way. Come and let us split it. There is plenty here.”

Master Adam spoke first. “We have pitched the tents and set the tables. We have set the stages and hung curtains. We have cared for the horses and tended to the wagons all through this cold and wet morning. We have done your bidding without a wisp of complaint and what thanks are given? An empty stomach. That is payment for a half day’s labor?”
Benjamin nodded in agreement with and spoke, “We will retire to our tents and not be seen again unless and until a call comes forth beckoning us to this tent to satisfy our hunger and exorcise our foul mood.”

With that both boys turned to leave the meal tent. Lady Aleta spoke out. “Masters Adam and Benjamin. Lady Sheila speaks nonsense. There is plenty in this pot. She is having you on and I’m afraid you surrendered to her wit..” The tent erupted in laughter. I felt it my turn to speak. “Boys, your work is legend with us. All gathered are indebted to you for without your service we could not entertain the people from the surrounding villages and hamlets. Forgive Lady Sheila this moment of merriment. She is an old woman and her mind, once as sharp as the blade of an ax carried into battle, is now a suspect of dementia. Can you not see this levity was sorely needed? Come boys, move hither to the front of this line. None will object. Come and eat .”

All was forgiven. Masters Adam and Benjamin filled their stomachs with return trips to the pot. All present laughed and talked of old times and our hopes for this new summer of 1309. Our five stages were ready. Our plays written and practiced into memory. Our music scored to produced emotion fit the quality of our tales of heroism in the face of overwhelming odds. For a moment in time all was perfect.

I sat closer to the fire. My old bones needed the warmth. I listened as conversations danced around the troupe in circles of memory and prose. Our younger members were learning the trade from the older and wiser as this merry group of Troubadours bring light and magic to the people of the Kingdom. I was once again reminded of something told to me long ago. This band of fine souls I share the fire with are the finest troupe of Troubadours in the kingdom.

The sun reminded us that noon was passed. Master Alex rose from his stool and offered his thanks to Lady Aleta for preparing a meal fit for King and Pope. All stood in agreement. A cheer traveled from our hearts, over and around our tents and into the dark forest surrounding the clearing. Lady Aleta bowed in acceptance and, using her large ladle, pointed the way to the exit. There was still much to do before we slept.

Friday, June 5, 2009

An Update on the Summer's First Camp!

This is BBC Universal Service broadcasting from London. We interrupt this program to bring you a special report. And now, Sebastian Worthingham - Reporting from Starbase 74 near The Neutral Zone.

“From the large Transparent Aluminum windows of His Majesties Starship William IV we watch as the Federation Starship Voyager backs gracefully away from Docking Pylon 3 of Starbase 74. I see hundreds of small figures framed in the Starbase’s windows waving Bon Voyage to this legendary ship, now embarking on her final patrol of the border and then onto Starbase 45 for decommissioning and history.

The Voyager is turning now, adjusting her course for the Neutral Zone. The Saucer Section is now opposite our view. Her running lights blink a strong heartbeat as the mighty ship powers her warp nacelles. The lounge grows strangely quiet. Everyone is pushing against the windows, wanting to see this symbol of Federation power flash a pulse of blue light and disappear into hyperspace.

There, we see the blue glow and.......... she’s gone in a brilliant flash leaving the darkness of space in her wake. A few are wiping away tears, others bow their heads in reverence. I can hear a pleasant chime ringing through the William IV’s speakers. We were scheduled to return to Earth 30 minutes ago but our captain graciously bowed to our request to stay and witness the USS Voyager embark on her last voyage.

Our ship is powering her warp drive. Our journey home has begun. My signal will be lost in a moment when the Hyperspace portal opens and we.......”

This ends our Special Bulletin. We now return you to our regular schedule programme. This is the BBC from London.

Hello Troops,
I’m hoping you enjoyed that little flight of fantasy. It served a purpose. From my desk I hear the crew of the Voyager as they train in preparation for their Super Overnight mission - the Space Center’s first camp of the 2009 summer season!

Staff come and go between the hallway, the Odyssey and the Voyager as they work to complete all the tasks given to them by Kyle Herring, tonight’s Voyage Flight Director and author of our camp’s story “A Matter of Honor” .

Aleta Clegg, the Voyager’s Quarter Master readies the food on Deck 2. Soon they will enter our universe of imagination and leave Starbase 74 for the Neutral Zone. Their mission is to take one last patrol of the border and then on to Starbase 45 for decommissioning. The Voyager is an old ship. This is her last mission. Once they reach the Starbase the crew will help strip the ship of her computers and equipment and disembark. The tugs will move the empty Voyager to the maintenance bay for dismantling.

Have you booked your camp yet. If not, there is still time. All EdVenture and Super Overnighters are full. There are openings on the Overnight Camps from July 24th to the end of September.

Now, I’ll return to my work. If time permits I’ll give updates on the camp as it progresses. Don’t expect further story updates. Everything in the mission from this point on is classified. We don’t want to spoil the fun for the hundreds still coming to do this new Voyager mission.

Mr. Williamson

The Quartermaster (Aleta Clegg) prepares the meals

The Campers are cleared through security

Kyle Herring, The Flight Director

Wyatt, One of the Ship's Medics

Spencer mans the security checkpoint

Taylor and Emily, Delta Force. Fleet Special Forces