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

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Discovery Launches

Beautiful Night Launch

Discovery in Orbit
By Mark Daymont
From his Blog (

Mission STS-128 finally got off the ground with the great nighttime launch of shuttle Discovery Friday night. I was unable to watch NASA TV as I usually do for a launch, as I was busy directing a flight of students in the Magellan Simulator at the Space Center. However, the NASA TV replays got me caught up on events and the flight has proceeded as normal so far.

Yesterday the astronauts performed the first of many inspections of the spacecraft looking for possible problems from the launch related to the eventual atmospheric re-entry at the end of the mission. Today, just before the Discovery docks with ISS, they will perform the RPM (roll Pitch Maneuver) to use the cameras on board ISS to inspect the bottom heat shield tiles. The RPM is absolutely my favorite maneuver of the entire shuttle mission as the shuttle performs a delicate and graceful ballet before closing to the station docking hatch.

With there being so few remaining shuttle missions, I urge you to not miss these great moments of spacecraft flight.

The crew is about to be awakened. They will have some personal time before preparing for the ISS docking procedures.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Now This is the Face of a Happy Zac! Good Job Zac!

I would like to congratulate Zac H. for becoming our newest Magellan Flight Director! Zac started training at the beginning of the summer and has worked tirelessly to master all of the ins and outs of the Space Center's largest simulator. After a period of observation and teaching, I was able to turn over the reins to Zac and he just took off! He has developed an engineer unlike any I have ever seen before and has mastered the complex computer and sound systems. Between flights he has devoted time and energy to learning music tracks and creating his own mission and music ideas. Zac has definitely gone the extra mile to learn to fly and it shows in his work.
This past weekend Zac proved that his hard work has paid off when he successfully flew several private missions that incorporated all the things he has learned, thus earning his private mission flight pass. I am proud to work with him and can't wait to see what he brings to the Magellan! His energy and enthusiasm for what he does is fantastic. From now on Zac will be a regular flight director during our weekday missions. Congratulations Zac!

Brittney VandenBos
Magellan Set Director

A Note from Mr. Williamson.
Good job Zac. May I add one thing to this remarkable tribute payed to you by your Set Director. Don't forget your belt! I'm getting tired of reminding you. Appearance Zac... Appearance ;)

More Doom and Gloom? What a Way to End My Week!

Hello Troops,
From my balcony on the top turret of the Fortress of Solitude I see a haze blanketing Utah Valley. That means fire or desert dust carried in by a strong west wind. If its fire then Utah is on the receiving end of another California import. Isn’t it enough that Utah has become the sanctuary for thousands of Californians escaping across Nevada’s desert for this oasis of civility? Why must they bring the smoke from their fires with them? May I remind everyone that we don’t need lessons from out of state visitors on the correct way to pollute our air. We do well enough on our own thank you very much.

I’m actually pleased so many move to Utah every year. If they keep coming our home values will increase. Maybe we can recoup some of the losses we’ve taken because of this little bump in the road called The Great Recession. It’s gotten so bad I hesitate to open my investment's quarterly reports fearing the depressing news will dampen even more my strained optimistic mood about the world we live in. By the way, is it just me or have you noticed a general sense of pessimism in the food, water and air? Everyone I know seems to be afflicted to one degree or another by pure unrefined negativity.

Now, I consider myself an optimist and sit at one end of future’s teeter totter. I know several that sit opposite on the pessimistic side of this handy playground example. Most times our numbers are fairly equal. There are enough like me that balance the “glass is half empty” crowd opposite. Lately I feel myself and those with me, starting to pick up altitude as more and more scoot down the plank toward the other side.

I’ll give you an example. Yesterday before leaving the Space Center I was stopped by a member of Central’s staff.
“Come here, I’ve got something to share with you,” he said while curling his index finger as one does when you want someone to follow. “I don’t know if I should be sharing this or not but I think you’d like to know.” He said as we turned down an empty hallway.

I leaned up against the brick preparing myself for Earth shattering news. My mind sped through the possibilities. I started with the Swine Flu, wondering if it mutated and killing half everyone it infects. While my secret bearer glanced up and down the hallway to see if anyone else was within earshot, my mind walked carefully across a mental tightrope to the other extreme - the possible news that an asteroid large enough to snuff out mankind was discovered and the government decided not to inform the general public to prevent mass panic. Of course, I then understood why I was being told. I would be one of those considered too important to die and would therefore be given special instructions on when and where to gather at Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado for a briefing and then journey with all the others sharing my uniqueness, through the Star Gate to Earth 2 in some far distant corner of the Galaxy with instruction to continue the Human story on another shore.

“A friend of mine was at a wedding reception yesterday and was talking to another friend of someone who’s husband is a policeman. Well, he told his friend who then told mine that he was called to Washington for special training on what is about to happen. He told this person that after hearing about this unspoken event that he didn’t want to remain a policeman and decided to begin looking for other work. Well, what do you think?” he asked, searching my face to see if I understood the gravity of what he had just shared.

At that moment I felt myself rise higher out of balance on emotion’s teeter totter. What does one say when confronted with news like that? If its true then why look for other work? Surely everything we know and love is about to be pulled from us. Surely he implied mass rioting and looting and, according to this person, possible cannibalism......... .

“Well, I’m glad I live in Utah Valley,” I answered.
“Why is that?” he questioned. "Even people in Utah Valley will do unspeakable things if they are hungry... well you know what I mean."

“The reason I’m glad is because at least here in the center of Mormonism there is another governing structure in place if civil authority breaks down. That’s what I'm saying.”

It was the most positive thing I thought I could say at that moment and still remain respectful of his feelings. In reality I wanted to say that I didn’t belief a word of it and thought that it, along with all the other things I’ve heard whispered around the water cooler and spread over the internet was just the wailing of the doom sayers, who I might add, have always been here, living among us. During good times they generally remain silent and if pushed to the wall will tell you the world is doomed to destruction but they never know when this will happen. When times are bad, like now, they emerge from their basements into the sunlight, rubbing their eyes in an attempt to adjust to the beautiful world around them and a to the light of a kind warm sun shining on all equally and justly.

In the end I turned the conversation’s direction into something benign. Moments later I was in the Battlestar warping for home grateful another week at the Space Center was over and even more grateful for a day off to recharge and rewit myself for more of the same.

Friends, as I’ve said before and will say often. This world has been scheduled for destruction ever since man first looked into the stars to try to read their messages for the future. Yet are we not all still here?

Do I believe the world will end some day? Yes. My religion gives me an answer to that, and if I wasn’t religious then the answer is still yes. Nature will see to the Earth’s demise. One day the sun will bake the planet as it expands its diameter into old age.

So, we are doomed no matter what. I suppose its all a matter of time, isn’t it?

Until then, I need more of you to slide down the teeter totter to my side and lets balance out those that see darkness , doom and despair around every corner.

Listen, we got ourselves into this mess so we need to get ourselves out of it. Let’s become the force for good by setting the proper example to the next generation. Let’s borrow money only when absolutely needed for major purchases. Let’s stay out of debt even if it means giving up our rabid desire to keep up with the Jones. Let’s live within our means even it means wearing those pants and shoes a bit longer before spending money to replace them. Let’s spend more time together as families building righteous walls. Righteous walls protect us from the real and observed darkness that exists and has always existed in this world, yet open to let in the good and beautiful. Let’s use the power of our voices and speak out for what we believe, be it republican , democrat or independent. Let’s put muscle behind our voice by becoming involved in community affairs. Volunteer for a local charity. Volunteer at your school. Volunteer to work for a candidate that shares your core values.

Here is one voice that says the world is good but can be better. I see possibilities and to me, the future looks bright if we get involved with others of like mind and make the world the place we want it to be. We’ve one life and one planet to live it on in the vastness of space. Get educated, get involved, and believe the best is still to come.

Now make it so.

I'm finished and stepping off my soap box. Sorry for the length of this rant. If you know me you know I can be long winded.........................but I hope interesting......... (don't answer that).

Mr. Williamson

Thursday, August 27, 2009

South Korea.... Where the heck is South Korea?

Hello Troops,
I drift in and out of unconsciousness most evenings while watching TV. Last night I blanked out during an awesome episode of 'A Touch of Frost' (a BBC import from England found on Netflix). I know it was good because I drifted off once during the show. If its 'so so' I'll mentally disappear four or five times during the 90 minutes. Each time I wake up I rewind the DVD to the last memory point and rewatch. Last night the phone woke me during my first bout of unconsciousness.
"Bracken wanted me to call," I recognized the voice. I wondered why Megan Warner was calling. A moment later, once sufficient blood reached my brain to force me into situational awareness, I put two and two together. Megan works for me at the Space Center. She was calling at night. She was running a mission in the Phoenix. The clues led me to the conclusion that something was wrong at the Space Center.

A couple extra drops of oxygenated blood brought another memory to mind. Megan was going to open her mission call after her mission. I told her to call and tell me the news. It became clear.
"OK, where are you going?" I asked while sitting upright in my Lazy Boy recliner.
"Something, South Korea," she answered. I wrote 'something' because I can't remember the exact name of the mission. It sounded like she said Dijon, which is a fancy french mustard.
"South Korea! You're a stone's throw from your brother in Japan."

We spoke for a few more minutes and I let her go.

Today, I have the pleasure of announcing to our Space Education Center family that Megan Warner, the Set Director of the Phoenix Simulator and long long time employee and friend to all received her LDS mission call to Something, South Korea. I dont' know exactly when she's entering the MTC because I forgot to ask, which might be something I should know as her employer.

Some of you are scratching your head wondering where in the heck is South Korea. That wouldn't surprise me considering the sorry state of geographical education in this nation. Let me help.

OK, We are in the United States.
If you go west toward California you will eventually walk into the Pacific Ocean. If you get into a sail boat and sail sort of north west you'll eventually pump into either
Russia, China or Japan. South Korea is west of Japan and borders China. There, you got it?

Congratulations Megan on your mission call from all your friends at the Space Education Center.

Mr. Williamson

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Facing A Difficult Challenge

Hello Troops,
Another milestone reached today. As of noon I officially finished booking all the elementary schools in the Alpine District. Once again the Space Education Center will meet its obligations.

Now I face one of the most difficult tasks required of me each year. What do I do with all the non-Alpine District schools? There are too many of them and not enough open dates. It is a problem I’ve dealt with for the last seven or so years but its getting worse. Every year the Alpine District opens more schools. The District is exploding in the Lehi / Eagle Mountain areas. The thousands of new students enrolling every year must be accommodated. Every new school I book takes one non Alpine school off the calendar.

Here is a typical phone call from a non Alpine teacher....

“Space Center”
“Hello. Is this Mr. Williamson?”
“Yes it is.”
“This is ........ from ........... school. I’m wondering if we can book our yearly field trip.”
“Well, I’m currently booking the Alpine District schools. I should be done with them this week. Next week I’ll start working on schools out of the district.”
“So I’m calling too early?”
“Just by a few days. I’ve taken your name and number and will get in touch with you next week.”
“Will there be anything left over for us?”
“Well, its getting tight. Our district is growing larger and larger every year. Every new school means a loss to an out of district school. I can’t make any promises. I wish I could.”
“So do we Mr. Williamson. So do we.”
“Well, I’ll call you next week.”
“Please do what ever you can for us. Mr. Williamson. We’ve been coming to the Space Center for nearly 15 years. Our students are so excited to finally reach the 6th grade because they know they’ll get to go to the Space Center like their older brothers and sisters. Its all they ask about the first day of school. You’ve become an institution in this school. It is a tradition that must continue. It means so much to the kids. I just wanted you to know that. Please do what you can for us.”

I hang up and sit back in my chair. I know what the calendar looks like. I know I only have a few days open and several schools on the wait list. A wait list that grows daily. Last year I took the cowards way out. I wrote a letter explaining my situation to the schools I couldn’t accommodate. This year I’ll do the same.

Some schools will not let their Space Center field trip disappear. They are willing to book after school field trips. These fantastic teachers will bring their students on their own time, after school to ensure they get the experience. My hat is off to them. They truly go the extra mile for their students.

Last year we accommodated every school that wanted an after school trip. Yes, it meant we worked four missions a day instead of our normal two but if that teacher was willing to give up their time I felt obliged to do the same. We will offer the after school experience again this year. I hope more teachers will take advantage of it.

Well Troops, here we are again. We prepare for another year. We clean the ship and prep the computers. We prepare our uniforms and costumes. We brush off our scripts and ready new ones. We update the web site and then, on or around September 14th we open our doors wide and welcome Utah to the Second Happiest Place on Earth!

Mr. Williamson

More on The World is Too Much With Us.

Hello Troops,
A few months ago I was nearly rear ended by a teen driver. I saw him coming up quickly behind me at a stop.
He was texting on his phone. Luckily his buddy saw my car, yelled and they skidded to a stop.

In a post a few days ago called "The World is Too Much With Us" I talked about a need many have to remain connected to the matrix 24/7. I know at least one of you out in the matrix disagreed according to your comment.
I'm all for an open discussion but don't just write 'Bogus'. Give me reasons why my comments were 'Bogus'.

So...... I claim once again that there are many times a cell phone should be turned OFF. Disengage from the matrix. Reengage with the immediate world around you. If you're in a move, watch the movie. If you're in school, listen to the lesson and do your work. If you're at work, work. If you're at church, worship. And if you're driving, DRIVE.

I offer this video on the dangers of texting while driving. You may have seen it. It is making its rounds on the net. It is graphic. That is a warning. I present it as a warning not to be distracted when you drive. Not only do you endanger yourself and your passengers but you endanger the lives of others on the road - and I'm one of those others.

Common sense. You've got it. So use it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tiny Black Holes? Read On......

When you think of a Black Hole you thing something so massive it can swallow entire planets and stars. But, have you ever heard of tiny black holes?

Tiny? Black Holes? How could a back hole--something so massive and powerful--also be so tiny? Imagine a black hole a billionth of a billionth smaller than the mass of our sun...the universe could be filled with these ancient remnants of the Big Bang!! Read the following article posted on the PBS TV program website Monster of the Milky Way to discover more about the hunt for tiny black holes.....Amazing!!!!!
Sheila Keller-Powell
Space Center Educator
State Coordinator,
National Geographic Bee

Sunday, August 23, 2009

News and My Latest Peeve..."The World is Too Much With Us"

Hello Troops,
Excellent job to our staff for the successful completion of our last Super Overnighter of the summer season. Canada was run unexpectedly. Four of the 18 campers had already done “A Matter of Honor” when they came earlier the summer on a three day camp. The staff enjoy running Canada. It has several excellent parts for acting - and great acting rolls is all they ask for.

Our summer season ends at the end of September. We have four more overnight camps and several private missions. We hope to open for school field trips by September 15th. I’ve got to get as many schools in this year as possible. The Alpine School District is growing larger every week, especially in the Lehi and Eagle Mountain communities. Each new student means the loss of another place I can give to schools outside the District. I may only have a few days to give to non Alpine schools by the time I get all our schools booked. Once again I come to my yearly problem - how do I select which schools will be given the few remaining slots? I hate to tell teachers we have no room in the inn but unfortunately we are about to fill and the truth is the truth - we will have no room at the inn.

I need to take four classes per day instead of two. The only way to pull that off is to build more ships. To build more ships I need more money and strangely enough, everyone wants to hang on to their money in this economy. Given that fact, we will muddle along as we have for 19 years. What more can we do?


Last night I attend the my sister’s production of Dancing Under the Stars” at the Scera Shell in Orem. Needless to say the evening was fantastic. The Center Stage dancers were amazing (proudly said because of the fine performances of my nieces - the DelGrosso sisters).

I took my seat on one of those white plastic chairs on the lawn and enjoyed the night air. That’s when I noticed the first problem. When I leaned back the back of the chair started to buckle. I know I carry a few extra pounds but not enough for the back of a chair to curve too the point where I could embarrassingly topple backwards out of my chair and into the lap of the older gentleman sitting behind me. One glance up and down the rows around me and I noticed others were exerperienceing the same problem. After a few minutes you get the hang of it. You learn not to lean back too far.

I noticed the first five rows of this outdoor theater had green plastic chairs. The green chair back support was noticeable more extensive than my white chair's. Of course, you get what you pay for don’t you? If you want to sit in luxury you pay for the green plastic chair. I’ll remember that next time.

A rather wealthy family sat in front of me. You can smell people with money, cant’ you? And if your nose doesn't give them away their appearances do. Perfect haircuts with highlights (as opposed to my Dollar Cut special. Highlights not needed thanks to my gray hair), perfect clothes (as opposed to my ....... I don’t remember where or when I bought my clothes. Yes its been that long), shoes in fashion (as opposed to my black trainers supplied yearly at Christmas by my sister) and brilliant white teeth (again as opposed to my off white chompers thanks to too much diet coke).

The show started. Dance after dance crossed the stage. Now, I’m no expert on dancing although I took dancing lessons at the church when I was in the 9th grade. The lessons stopped after two weeks. The Branch President’s wife couldn’t take the pain of us stomping on her toes while she patiently tried to teach us something latin. I didn’t want to take dancing lessons anyway. The way I looked at it - everyone was a winner. She got out of teaching and we got out of dancing. Now, back to the point - I thought the dancing was fantastic. Then, part way through the first half of the program the teen age son pulled out his phone and began texting. When finished he’d slip the phone back into his pocket only to pull it out again a few minutes later to read the incoming telegram.

A moment later the dad (who was sitting in front of me) pulled out his iPhone and started checking him email. As if that wasn’t enough, he answered several of them while glancing up from time to time to see what was happening on stage.

So, here you have a stage full of performers (one of which was probably theirs) and the dad sitting there conducting business on a Saturday evening with his iPhone. You want to say something but I’m afraid there would be no one left on this planet that would back me up. It seems every year more and more people are becoming addicted to information. They think they need to know what everyone is doing and when they are doing it. Look at the ridiculous things people post on their Facebooks.

“I’m watching TV”
“I’m on the toilet”
“I’m wondering if anyone out there likes me”
“I’m bored. Can someone play”
“I had pot roast tonight. A piece got stuck in my throat. I coughed it out. I’m a different person now because of it”

What people should be Tweeting is
“I’m addicted to information and can’t help myself. I need to know what everyone around me doing because if they are doing something interesting I want to be part of it because I lost the ability to entertain myself and if I really told the truth I hate my own company so I’ll sit here and type everything I’m doing hoping someone will recognize it as my pathetic call for social recognition and..... and....... that’s about it. Maybe I said too much? Is anybody out there? Please respond and say that you like me.”

Nobody really cares what you are doing 24/7. There is such a thing as too much information out there on the web. Sometimes personal feelings are best left personal. It is best not to appear too needy. It has a way of turning people off.

And, it is OK to turn off your phone. I know you can do it. Detach yourself from the matrix and feel what its like to be free again. Do it. I dare you.

And now I’m done. I’m climbing off my soapbox. to let someone else climb up and rant about something else in this world that ticks them off. You may disagree with me and go ahead but please do it in a phone call or in person, NOT in a text! ;)

Mr. Williamson

Friday, August 21, 2009

We are in the Thick of It.

My computer clock shows 10:17 P.M. on Friday, August 21, 2009

The Voyager's door is directly in front of me. I'm sitting at my desk typing (a statement that goes without saying since words are appearing on the screen before me). I'm hearing multiple voices, mostly children. I hear Kyle Herring's voice as Flight Director.
"Quiet on the Bridge," the Captain just shouted. I'm thinking we've got a crew of chiefs and no Indians. Typical for a Space Center mission. Everyone wants to be in charge. Everyone wants to be where the action is. Once in awhile one camper amazes us by staying at his station, doing his job, no matter what is happening around him.

The staff are busy around me. They are getting into costume and discussing the next scene. I know what's coming. The younglings don't. I wrote the story. The mission is evolving toward a climax. There will be shouting. There will be panic. The ship's command structure may disintegrate as the captain cowers under his desk leaving his junior officers to face the overwhelming natural and unnatural forces seeking to destroy the Voyager and what it represents.

Landon stopped by to say hello before setting sail for Logan where he attends USU (I know. We forgive him. It is the only Christian thing to do when someone turns from the light to the darkness). And what happens when the staff of yesteryear return for a quick hello?

We draft them back into the service!

Yes, Landon was ambushed by the rest of the staff before he could escape through the front doors and into the dark. He was carried kicking and screaming into the Voyager's control room, tied to a chair and 'told' his reactivation clause was being invoked. He WOULD be acting during the main scenes at midnight. Landon is smart and knows when to fight and when to surrender. He surrendered to our overwhelming force and succumbed to our will.

There is no escape from the Space Education Center. NO ESCAPE. Some have tried only to be caught near the electric fence disguised as an innocent hedge surrounding what appears to be a neighborhood elementary school called Central.

And now it is 10:34 P.M. The mission is progressing well.
We are running USS Canada, a mission I wrote years ago as an overnight mission. It is told as a Super Overnighter today. It is a favorite of the staff.

The first two days of school went well. The children are well behaved as they test their new teachers to see where their breaking point is. Once they know their buttons and how to push them, I expect the honeymoon will end between teacher and student and the long war over their minds will begin. I'm hoping it will be a good year.

And now I'll end this post. Thank you readers for visiting the blog on a regular basis and showing your support for the Center whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Best Wishes,
Mr. Williamson

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Update on the Galileo

Hello Troops,
Several of you sent emails requesting information on the Galileo. I'll take a moment and being everyone up to date.

  • The Galileo is back at Scenic Services in Lindon where it is being reassembled by Kyle Herring and his team.
  • Chairs and desks are being installed. Touch screens, computer and network cables are being installed. Additional work on the power system is being done.
  • The Galileo will be brought to the Space Center September 14th and parked next to 'old' Galileo. Equipment from the current Galileo will be installed in the new Galileo.
  • The current Galileo will be taken apart. We are trying to find a buyer. We'd to find it a good home.
  • The new Galileo will open for missions once the computer programs are written.
  • I'm guessing the Galileo will open for missions around the middle of September.
  • The Galileo officially opens on November 8, 2009 as part of the Space Center's 19th Birthday Celebrations!
I'm hoping that answers all the questions about the Galileo. If not, send them along and I'll do a better job getting your questions answered here on the Blog.

Mr. Williamson

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

On the Start of the New School Year...

Hello Troops,
It doesn’t take a seer to imagine what’s happening throughout the towns, villages, and hamlets across this vast Alpine School District. Children are filling their backpacks with pencils, pens, erasers, notebooks, calculators and rulers in preparation for tomorrow’s first day of school. Clothes are spread out over beds while boys and girls make the most important decision of the day - what to wear. Does this match that and does that go with this? Some mothers stand by as consultants, others wouldn’t attempt to get involved in a clothes discussion with their teenager - It’s too risky. Dads are blissfully and permanently excluded from ‘What to Wear’ discussions. Most men are not blessed with the correct rods and cones in their eyes to see the subtleties of fabric and color required for clothes matching. Best to stick with what we know best; sports, electronics and television.

I dreaded the first day of school as a child. I dreaded what my new teacher would be like. I dreaded the thought of learning new math. I mourned the loss of my freedom. No more carefree days spent on my bicycle exploring the streets and avenues of Rapid City, South Dakota. No more lazy afternoons at the public pool. No more long walks home from a day of swimming with my friends. No more treasure hunting under the bleachers at the ball parks. No more sugar stops at the Dairy Queen on Cottonwood Lane filling up on 1 penny Red Vines with our 'under the bleacher' findings.

The end of summer meant an end to our summer backyard sleep overs, and with them went our double dog dare midnight romps through our Canyon Lake neighborhood. Those early 1970's midnight adventures bring fond memories of my gang and I. We prowled our turf - finding imaginative and unholy matchings of toilet paper with trees, cars, fences, bikes and other things best left unmentioned as per instructions issued by the Rapid City Police Department.

We made our own fun in those days. You had to. There were no DVD’s or video machines. There were no iPods or computers. You got up, put on your swimming suit and Tshirt, did your chores, scrounged for money in your mom’s purse or between the couch cushions and hit the road with your friends on your bikes. If we had enough money we cycled several miles to the Kresge's at Bacon Park. Kresge's had a diner with 50 cent hot fudge sundaes. If you got bored waiting for the pool to open you cycled to the spillway on Canyon Lake Dam. Who needed a Lagoon when you had a mossy, slimy dam spillway to slide down? What a blast it was tumbling down the spillway into the creek below, then crawling back up, sometimes making it and others slipping and toppling back down - taking your friends with you.

It was important to our mothers to come home for dinner. As soon as supper was inhaled we were back on our bikes, setting a course for the dirt hills. The dirt hills were magical. We split into teams, staked out our forts and proceeded with vicious and sometimes bloody dirt clod fights.

Those were the good old day of my summers........

Now, its time for school. Summer is over so we put summer things away and get down to business. I urge all of you to work hard in school. Set good goals and do everything you can to reach them. Remember, you’re in school to learn and teachers are there to teach. It is a partnership. The vast majority of teachers really do care about you and your grades. They want you to succeed but can’t force you. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. That saying applies to you and your education. Drink deeply. Satisfy your cravings for knowledge. Learn to think and reason so you can become a productive member of society. That’s is all we ask. Is it too much?

Remember, us old timers are not going to be around forever. You will grow up and take over for us. That can be frightening. Do a better job than we are doing in the way you care for this country and planet when its your turn to make decisions. America’s best years are before us, not behind us as many might say. Find a way to make the world a better place because you’re

Enjoy this year. Make new friends. Grow and develop into the kind of person you want everyone to think you are.

And to our young volunteers and staff - I’ll see you here in the trenches.

Mr. Williamson

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Modern Odyssey. The Saga of Heroes.

From high atop Mr. Olympus they came in a shimmering chariot called Galileo. These immortals landed in a small obscure hamlet in a place called Utah. Their quest was to live among us and learn the mortal ways. At Zeus’s bidding they were commanded to give the children of men a moment of time in a silver chariot forged in Hephaestus' fire.

Hundreds of mortals experienced the Galileo, this Olympian Chariot of Fire. Its true immortal identity hidden and its glory diffused so as not to overwhelm their senses - thus causing them to immediately transfigure and reappear on the golden, windswept Elysian Fields.

The Olympians took mortal names and form. Referring to themselves as Kyle, Stacy, Taylor, Emily, Jon, Megan and perhaps others whom I never saw. And so they lived for days with us.

Now they are gone. The place where the Galileo stood is empty with no marker or stone to commemorate the supernatural event which transpired there. The immortals have returned to Olympus to make their report to Zeus.

Are we not all blessed for their visit? For in the end, the memory of what we saw, heard and touched will remain with us until the last breath leaves our lungs and the boatman appears at our bedside to ferry us across the dark waters of the river Styx to join our brethren in the land of eternal twilight.


Friends, I want to thank Kyle Herring and those that responded to his call (Stacy Carroll, Taylor Thomas, Jon Parker, Megan Warner, Emily Perry, Spencer Robinson and others whom I may not know about) for assistance. They performed the impossible. They worked tirelessly, nearly around the clock to prepare the Galileo for the Utah County Fair this past weekend. The ship was dismantled and trucked to Spanish Fork, then reassembled under a canopy. This was the first time the Galileo was dismantled, then reassembled. Much was learned and changes will be made. We learned a large truck with a hydraulic lift is a necessity (their broken backs, ribs, fingers, heads, and spirits all agree). We learned setting the Galileo up on asphalt is a no no. The ball bearing wheels created divots in the pavement as the daily temperatures climbed. We relearned the lesson about never trusting Mother Nature. This was an event requiring dry weather. Instead we got rain three of the four days we were down there.

I was there Thursday afternoon when the Galileo officially opened for tours. There were many excited children waiting in line. The tours continued over the weekend, one after the other, in an endless stream of the curious. Questions were answered and pamphlets distributed.

A group on tour during the Fair in the Galileo

Every evening the staff went home to sleep except for Kyle. Kyle couldn’t leave the safety and security of this new simulator in the hands of Fairground security. Kyle decided to sleep in the Galileo Wednesday through Friday nights. That is dedication. That is the definition of going the extra mile. There is nothing more I can do than to say “Thank you Kyle,” and leave it at that.

Kyle made a video journal of his Fairground sleeping experience he posted to his Facebook account. I’m included them in this post. (Reminded me a bit of the Blair Witch Project.....)

Once again, a sincere thank you and congratulations to our Space Center team for pulling something off I thought couldn’t be done in the short amount of time we had to do it.

Mr. Williamson

Troops. The Daily Herald did an article on the Galileo at the County Fair (included below in this post). The article appeared in Sunday's Paper.

The Daily Herald

New mobile flight simulator debuts at Utah County Fair

Kira Johnson - Daily Herald | Posted: Sunday, August 16, 2009 12:10 am

With the neon blue glow of overhead lights purpling her lips, the low ceiling making her look abnormally tall, flight director Emily Perry grins at 11-year-old Colin Collyer who's currently perched in tactical.

"What we do is we take people just like you and we give you guys a mission objective and we send you off into space and each one of you has a position," she says. "We give you these jobs so that you and your team can fly around and blow stuff up and you save the universe."

Perry, 20, a Provo resident studying history education at BYU, is giving a tour of the Galileo Mark VI, The Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center's newly commissioned mobile flight simulator, which is two weeks shy of final completion. The Galileo Mark VI, built with the help of a team of BYU students, is meant to replace the Galileo Mark V at the Christa McAuliffe space center, located at Central Elementary School in Pleasant Grove.

The space center staff spent this past week on its debut flight, a trip to the Utah County Fair in Spanish Fork.

"We needed to test the moveability of the center," said concept creator and manager David Kyle Herring. "We thought it would be a great opportunity to test it and show it off and maybe even raise some money to help finish the project." The space center is still about $5,000 short of their final goal.

Collyer, his Dad, Brian, and his two sisters, Regin and Bryn, are seated in leather chairs bolted to the floor facing a large flat-screen monitor mounted in the front bulkhead. At each of the stations where the Collyers sit, brackets mark where future touch screen monitors will convey information pertinent to each simulation. Behind the bridge of the ship is a short compartment flanked by a pair of padded bunks.

It's a tight space, made to stimulate the imagination and approximate what it feels like to serve onboard a space shuttle.

Originally the Galileo Mark V was built in 1999 with a life expectancy of three years, said set director Stacy Carrell. Ten years and nearly $40,000 later, the center is finally ready to replace the original with a lighter, more tech savvy version. With the help of a team of manufacturing engineering technology and mechanical engineering majors at BYU, the space center team has designed a module that can be taken off campus.

"The simulator is the most sophisticated one that we have so far," Carrell said. "We're using a lot of new technology that we've never used before, upgrading things and advancing things, taking what we've learned building other simulators and bringing them to this one."

The BYU team of seven students who built the frame began the process last September as a capstone course.

"When we were finished we had a structural skeleton that could be taken apart and put back together so it could be loaded on a trailer and hauled around," said Terri Bateman, a part-time faculty member in the mechanical engineering department.

Bateman was the faculty mentor for the capstone team that constructed the frame.

"When we first started working on the space ship program, Kyle told our team that we should experience the missions ourselves," Bateman said. "I recognized right off the bat how complex this program that they've put together is," she continued. "There are TV screens that are telling you what to do, there's lights and sound. Each child has their own computer. It's really complex all the things they've put together to make it a multi-sensory experience."

The Galileo is the only one of five simulators at the center that has the exterior representation of a space module.

The other four are built into the school campus, one of which doubles as a computer lab during the day.

When finished, the Galileo Mark VI will take the previous module's place in the school's cafeteria.

Together the five simulators can handle up to 60 students a day.

This trip to the fair was the first time the ship had been disassembled, moved and reassembled, and already the team is learning that the new model poses its own set of challenges.

Victor Williamson, the center's director, said the Galileo is merely an extension of a student-driven program that has been working for years to enhance the learning experience by simulating real-world situations.

"Instead of a unit taught out of a book, now there are simulations where students are thrown into experiences that are as close to real life as possible," Williamson said. "It takes longer to teach in a simulation, but the learning stays much longer than when it's taught in traditional methods."

The space center has hosted nearly 220,000 students, teachers and parents over the past 19 years.

"We put these kids in these adult roles, and they have adult situations," Herring said. "We do a really good job at throwing problems at them and doing it in such a way where we don't overstress them out. We have made kids cry before. There's a lot of stress on one of these missions because they have to work as a team."

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Personal Log: Adrian Stevens, Quartermaster - Entry 8

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, desk slave for the space center Supreme High Commander of the Universe, and guest blogger

Personal Log: Adrian Stevens, Quartermaster - Entry 8

Del’Brugado spat curses as he retreated. “Take them!” He shoved his men our way.

They hesitated. Anyone with a touch of sense facing five angry Klingons would turn and run. Del’Brugado’s men had no sense. They muttered threats as they slowly advanced.

I raised the rifle and squeezed the trigger. Nothing happened. The marauder grinned, showing a prominent gold tooth. I charged forward, slamming the rifle butt against his teeth. He staggered, holding his now bleeding mouth. One of the Klingons picked him up, tossing him into the bulkhead. He crumpled to the floor.

I switched my hold on the rifle, grabbing the barrel. Another marauder ducked Rakrr, picking me as the easier target. I swung the rifle, crunching the butt into his skull. He dropped.

Another one grabbed me from behind. I kicked, scraping my boot along his shin. He howled and jumped but he didn’t let go. I tossed my head back, cracking it into his chin. He swore. I kicked again. He grabbed my elbows, pinning them back. He lifted me off my feet. I wriggled like an angry cat, kicking and screaming insults, too angry to feel the pain.

Another pirate attacked me, thinking me helpless. I landed my boot in his belly. He reeled into a Klingon fist and went down.

The man holding me shifted his grip just enough I could slip free. I turned on him, clawing his face and kicking his shins. He retreated with his hands held protectively in front. Hruk’Tal clobbered him from behind. I kicked him as he fell.

“Small, but fierce.” Hruk’Tal nodded his approval.

“Duck!” I launched myself to the side as a marauder opened fire.

Hruk’Tal roared as the beam bit into his arm. The thick sleeve of his coat smoldered. He spun, fists and feet flying. The marauder disappeared under a heap of angry Klingons.

“Clear for the moment.” Herring’s crisp voice cut through the sudden silence.

Hruk’Tal lifted the limp marauder. “What shall we do with these?”

“Lock them in a storage closet.” I slapped the closest door control panel.

“Kill them,” Rakrr growled. He spat Klingon insults and kicked the nearest unconscious body.

“They may have information we can use.” Herring stroked his chin. “We lock them up for now.”

Hruk’Tal motioned the Klingons to gather the marauders. “We kill only in the heat of battle.”

They shoved the pile of limp bodies into the storage closet after stripping off any useful weapons.

“How do we keep them from escaping?” Rakrr asked. “I see no lock.”

“Like this.” I wedged a knife stolen from a marauder under the door controls, popping it clear. I twisted the wires inside until they tore free. “No one’s going through that door until they put those back.”

“I trust you know how?” Herring raised his eyebrow.

I shrugged. “We leave that to Carroll and her crack troops. Where are they?”

The ship rocked.

“The ship is under attack. Now is the time to strike!” Hruk’Tal slammed his fist against his chest. “Today is a good day to die.”

“Not if I can help it,” I muttered.

The lights turned red. Sirens wailed through the hall. We staggered as the ship lurched. Smoke billowed from vents overhead.

“Shields are down,” Herring observed.

“We shall take the bridge.” Hruk’Tal raised his head and howled his battle cry.

“What about Taylor and the control unit?” I asked Herring.

“The shuttle bay is just down the hall. With this,” he shouldered a very large phase rifle, “I should be fine. Keep them distracted, Stevens.”

“Come, small warrior.” Rakrr clapped his hand on my back almost knocking me over. “We shall avenge our fallen comrades.”

All five Klingons howled, a hair-raising chorus. They raised their weapons over their heads. I lifted the belt knife into the air and howled along with them. I wanted my own share of payback.

Someone shot a pulse of phaser fire into the hall. The six of us charged towards it, howling all the way.

Del’Brugado had at least fifty troops on the ship. It took the Klingons less than an hour to beat them all senseless. We left them locked in rooms all over the ship. Del’Brugado barricaded himself on the bridge. That stopped the Klingons.

“We cannot breach the doors,” Rakrr complained after a fourth failed attempt to beat his way through.

Hruk’Tal raised his hand for silence, cocking his head to one side. “They are starting the engines.” His forehead ridges deepened as he frowned. “Small warrior, can you open a door or just lock one?”

“I can try.” I edged forward, peering around the corner. Del’Brugado wasn’t above taking potshots at us if we showed our faces.

The twenty feet of hall stretched empty to the closed door to the bridge. I wiped a nervous hand on my leg and clutched the knife tighter in my other hand. The Klingons crowded behind me, pushing me into the open. I ran for the door, the Klingons on my heels.

I popped the cover from the controls, twisting the knife under one edge. The tangle of wires inside mocked me. I yanked a handful free. Sparks spat from the panel.

“That did not open the door,” Hruk’Tal said.

“I’m guessing,” I snapped. “I’m not an engineer.” I tapped the bare ends of two wires together. Nothing happened. I tried another pair.

“This is taking much too long.” Rakrr tried to wedge his massive hands in the door to force it. The surface was too smooth, too tightly closed.

I shoved a handful of wires into another tangle. Lightning danced across the panel. I jerked my hands back, not fast enough to avoid a shock. Smoke billowed from the wall. The door slid open just far enough for Rakrr to jam his fingers inside. His muscles bulged as he shoved it open.

Phaser beams caught him, tossing him backwards. His hair smoked as he crashed to the floor of the ship. The other Klingons charged inside.

I dropped to my knees next to his limp body. I wasn’t sure where to check a Klingon for a pulse. He twitched, muttering guttural curses. I patted his shoulder. If he was still growling, he should recover. Klingons were tough.

I dove through the door into the chaotic bridge. The Klingons were beating the bridge crew. Del’Brugado edged away from the battle. I slipped behind him.

“I really don’t like you.” I slammed the pommel of the knife into his head. Del’Brugado, leader of the Fellucian Marauders, dropped like a rag doll.

I yanked his boots off, throwing them through the door into the hall. I used his tunic and trousers to tie him securely to the railing. He glared as I finished, waking up enough to yank at the bonds. I waggled the knife under his nose.

“Nice underwear. I hope you don’t mind everyone seeing it.” I grinned at his angry scowl.

“You’ll never...”

I shoved his socks into his mouth and tied them in place with his sash. “I think we won and you lost.”

“We have control of the ship,” Hruk’Tal announced. “Victory is ours!”

I joined in the chorus of Klingon howls.


Admiral Williamson steepled his fingers under his chin. I shuffled my feet, unnerved by his measuring stare.

“A most interesting report,” he said after a very lengthy silence. “Am I to understand that you have been granted the singular honor of receiving a Klingon warrior name?”

I blushed. The victory party on the bridge of the captured cargo ship had gotten slightly out of hand. Del’Brugado would never forgive us for the picture we’d sent long range to every contact listed in the ship records. The Klingons appreciated the joke.

“Klingons have a strange sense of humor, sir.”

“They claim it was your idea. They wanted you to have the credit.”

“That was generous of them.”

“They also requested you be sent as the Federation Ambassador to the Klingon Empire.” Admiral Williamson leaned back in his chair, rocking slightly. “I am almost tempted to send you.”

“I don’t know the first thing about diplomacy. I know supplies and a ship galley.” Me? Ambassador to the Klingons? I’d start a war within five minutes of arriving.

“We found a polite way to refuse. Tensions are high enough without adding you to the negotiation table.” He tilted his head, watching me like a bird eying a juicy worm. “Captain Herring requested you as his quartermaster. You are assigned to the Voyager. The refitting is almost complete.”

The Voyager, flown by Vasha and the handful of crew left aboard, had shown up just after Commander Carroll finished installing the remote driver for the cargo ship. We’d transferred prisoners to the Voyager and set course for Starbase 14 with the Galileo and the cargo ship.

“I’m afraid the Delphi project will have to be scrapped, though,” Williamson continued.

“What was Delphi?” I asked. He seemed in a mellow mood, maybe he’d answer.

“An experiment in AI controlled ships. We haven’t got the bugs worked out yet. So, your job is safe. We still need humans to fly our ships and humans require food. You have six hours before the Voyager leaves drydock. And, Stevens, prepare for a long flight. Captain Herring is investigating the marauders. They are too well organized for pirates.”

His chair thumped back into place as he bent over his paperwork.

I saluted the top of his balding head. Quartermaster on the Voyager under Captain Herring. What would he ask of me on the next mission? I shook my head, unable to even guess.


The story will continue in a new private mission, War Games, for the Odyssey and Galileo. It should be ready to fly by summer 2010.

If you enjoyed reading this, check out some of my other stories on

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

An Updated Video on the New Simulator Gaileo

This video was shot yesterday by Kyle Herring. The Galileo is at Senic Services in Lindon. Today it will be taken apart and transported to the Utah County Fair in Spanish Fork. It will be at the Fair from Thursday through the weekend. Watch for more information.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

A Bit of Fun on the New Galileo

Hello Troops,
I've just returned from visiting the new Galileo under construction at Scenic Services in Lindon. Kyle Herring, Spencer Robinson and Kyle's dad are working late every night preparing the Galileo for its showing at the Utah County Fair in Spanish Fork this Wednesday to Saturday. Of course, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. The boys took a bit of time for fun. In this short video you see Spencer using the front (nosecone) of the Galileo as a slide.

The simulator is coming along nicely. Today they are working on the electrical systems and the bunks. Spencer demonstrated the computer stations. I was impressed with the lighting systems and the overall design. The interior will be finished for the Fair. The exterior is aluminium and should be painted. Anyone out there know someone who paints cars? Someone willing to donate their time to paint this simulator (or at least give us a great price)? If so, let me know. We'd like to give it a good coat of paint and then bring in an artist to paint a few Earth Federation logos and strips.

I'll post more information on the Utah County Fair once I get the details from Kyle. Until then, enjoy the short video and get ready. This new simulator will be online and ready for missions no later than October 1.

Mr. Williamson

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Behold, the Book of Names.

We pause for a moment and consider the retiring of the Book of Names. This book was brought forth the first week of August 2008 when the Book of Names for 2007 was retired. For 360 days it sat under my desk lamp at the Space Center. On its pages are listed all the private missions and camps run through the last year (August 2008 - July 2009).

Did you book a private mission last year? If so, then your name and phone number is in the Book of Names. Did you attend an Overnight, Edventure or Super Saturday Camp during the last year? Then that camp was listed in the Book of Names. Did you bring your class on a field trip? Then you may be listed in the Book of Names (we have a special page for out of control classes and teachers that sit on their backsides during their field trips and do nothing to keep their students in line).

Flight Directors consult the Book of Names daily for their work schedule. I check it daily as I review the staff and volunteer schedule. It’s pages are written and spilled on. If its been one of those days, you may even see a few tear stains here and there.

We retire the Book of Names in solemn ceremony the last day of July. I dim the office lights. The Set Directors gather in robes bearing torches. I chant something in Latin. It’s amazing what you find on the internet. One year, after my rather lengthy chant all the lights when out and the room grew bone chilly. Voices were heard under or feet, emanating from the school’s cellar. Megan screamed. That started a chain reaction of screaming - ending only when I joined in and blasted them all out of the water. A few days later I doubled checked my Latin source and found my error. I took the ceremony's verses from the Catholic Book on Exorcism. This year I’m using verses from the Prayer Book of 1534, just to be safe.

After the verses, the Book of Names is passed from Flight Director to Flight Director. Each is given a moment alone with the one object that ruled their lives so completely for one year. I stand at the end of the circle and accept the book from the last FD. I walk to my desk, open the drawer nearest my chair and carefully slide the book into its place beside all the other Book of Names from years passed.

The ceremony ends when I pull the new Book of Names from the same desk drawer. I hold the new book up over my head and show the congregation its unblemished pages. Everyone bows three times as I place the book in its proper place under the lamp.

It is a solemn occasion that marks the end of one season and the start of another. It is a time to remember that life goes on at the Space Center. There are missions to fly and campers to tend. There are messes to clean and noses to wipe. There are fears to console and tempers to dampen. There are egos to tame and screams to subdue. It is our work cycle.

Welcome Book of Names for 2010. May your pages bring us happiness and joy.

Mr. Williamson

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Path to Flight Directing. A Road Less Travelled.

Kevin Robert on his First Solo Mission in the Phoenix.

Hello Troops,
A small percentage of the Space Center’s volunteer force step forward to train as Flight Directors. I worry about these individuals. I spend many a sleepless night wondering why anyone would volunteer to undergo Flight Director training. Do these gentle souls have their feet grounded in reality? Do they have a slightly perverted need for punishment? Do they thrive on pure unadulterated adrenaline? Or could it be a longing for attention? Perhaps they are all middle children, never getting noticed because the oldest and youngest in the family soak up whatever spare time their parents have to give. I’m inclined to commission a university study on the subject.

Now, putting aside all queries concerning the sanity of my Flight Directors, I’m happy to say that I’m please we have volunteers willing to put in the time and work to become flight directors. Flight Directing is the hardest job at the Space Center (besides mine. I’m a Flight Director with the additional responsibility to administer the place). Let me remind our kind readers that our Space Education Center is a one of a kind. There isn’t another Center like ours anywhere in the world. Being a one of a kind means we are automatically the best in the world at what we do. It also means you can’t go to school to learn to Flight Direct. You can’t read it in a book or take an online course. It all must be done here working side by side our experienced Flight Directors.

We’ve stepped into the Way Back Machine on this. We’ve adopted the work training scheme of the Middle Ages. We have our Master Craftsman (The Flight Directors). They in turn select their apprentices. The apprentice trains under the Master Craftsman until he or she is ready to venture out and practice the trade. The title Master Craftsman is earned after creating a masterpiece, as judged by other Masters.

Our Set Directors select who will be trained to Flight Direct. The new apprentices work side by side with their sponsoring Flight Directors, leaning the missions and the proper technique to starting, shutting down and operating a simulator. They learn to troubleshoot the ship. Our simulators each have their own personality and must be treated differently, sometimes with kid gloves, to ensure a mission free of glitches. Our apprentices are required to develop multiple personalities and accents. This helps create the illusion that the participants are in a multi deck ship with many other crew members besides themselves.

One important aspect of Flight Director training is learning to be political correct. We can’t risk the Center’s reputation on a Flight Director that doesn’t follow social norms and doesn’t know how to behave in public. Being PC means knowing what to say and when to say it so people aren’t offended by an offhand remark. Again, that takes training and time.

After months of training our apprentices are ready to take the microphone and fly solo. Such was the case a few weeks ago. Pictured above is Apprentice Kevin R. Kevin has been training to Flight Direct the Phoenix simulator for several months. During our last camp the Phoenix’s Set Director, Megan Warner, decide it was time to hand him the microphone and let him demonstrate his new found skills. Megan sat behind him taking notes for a lengthy debriefing and post flight review.

Because my desk sits at the crossroads of the Center I’m able to hear much of what happens in the Phoenix, Odyssey and Voyager. I heard Kevin and, to be honest, I thought he did a good job. I wasn’t privy to the post mission debriefing so I don't know what Megan thought, but I thought it was very good for his first solo attempt.

In closing, I want to thank all our Flight Apprentices for going through the torture of FD training. Thank you for the patience you show every mission and the willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty for your training. I appreciate you and your effort.

Congratulations Kevin on your first solo Phoenix mission. May the wind be at your back and may all the seats be filled with happy, enthusiastic campers ;)

Mr. Williamson

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Baby Blessing and Feeding of the Five Thousand. Another Day in Paradise.......

Hello Troops,
Day two of the Space Center’s two week vacation. Day two of no responsibility. Day two of not having this uneasy feeling hanging over my head that I need to be at the Space Center dealing with scraped elbows or vomit or the occasional foul child whom everyone in his /her life caters to morning, noon and night.

You know, I haven’t had one bout of acid reflex since this vacation started. It is fantastic. Take away a bit of stress and my body stops torturing me. Who knows, I may decide to spend a year in some Buddhist monastery in a far distant land on a religious year long retreat. I’ll chose a monastery built on a cliffside accessible only by rope and ladder. I’ll return once I’ve accumulated the knowledge of the ancients. Oh, I want to learn how to levitate as well. Anyone else interested? Perhaps we can put a group together.

Today I had the privilege of going to a double baby blessing. How lucky can a guy get? My two nieces had baby girls and decided to bless them at the same time in Nicole’s ward in south Provo. Jasmine lives in California and is here for a month or so and thought the idea was fantastic. So, there we are - let me guess - nearly two thousand family members here from all the families related to my nieces and their husbands. I have my sister (the grandmother) and her husband staying with me. The others are spread out all over northern Utah, southern Idaho, western Colorado and eastern Nevada.

My Sunday started with my mother’s recognizable call. “Victor!,” she shouted. She wanted to know if I had crazy glue. I wondered why my 70 year old mother wanted crazy glue. Perhaps to mend something broken due to her failing eyesight or lack of concentration (or both).
“I broke the tooth off my denture and need to glue it back on.” she said matter of factly. I looked out the window wondering if I had mysteriously and unknowingly been transported to some alternate reality during the night. But all seemed normal here at Wits End.
“I don’t have super glue. I still have all my teeth,” I answered.
“Would Jilane have any,” she asked. I could tell she didn’t have her teeth in by the way she spoke. You know the sound someone makes as they gum out words.
“I don't’ know mom, here let me ask her. Jilane, do you have super glue? Jilane won’t answer me. Could it be that she doesn’t live here. You’ll have to call her to ask her.” I said.
Now I don’t want to sound like a smart A and a rude son so I changed my tone and took a more apologetic approach. “I’ll call her for you.”

I called my sister. She had crazy glue. I told her why mom needed it.
“Whatever,” was her answer.

Now a word of advice for all. Don’t ever follow a grandmother who thinks she’s going to be late for her grandchild’s blessing. We had a small caravan stretching for twelve miles following first my sister Annette and then my sister (the grandmother) Janice. None of us knew where the church was, and being like most blessings, it would be at church located at the very center of an elaborate labyrinth of streets and dead ends. You’d think we’d use Google Maps or something and get the directions ourselves but not the Williamsons. We need to do things the old fashion way - we play ‘follow the leader’.

Annette lead for the first part of the journey from Pleasant Grove to Provo. Her choice of streets to get to the freeway was interesting, perhaps creative would be a better way to describe it. She lost us a few times because of traffic lights but was considerate and pulled over each time to wait. Once we got on the freeway Janice pulled into the lead. She saw the time and decided my estimate of the time needed to get to the blessing was way off. She pulled ahead in a cloud of blue smoke. The race was on! She had us all weaving in and out of lanes traveling 85 mph in a 65 mph zone. The Battlestar had no problem keeping up but I thought we’d lost my dad several times. We exited the freeway near the Provo Mall and sped east on Slate Canyon Road. I noticed the posted speed limit was 35 mph. The Battlestar’s speedometer read 65 mph. I prayed the Provo police had better things to do than clock cars on that road at that time on a Sunday morning.

We found the church. That’s a stroke of luck. Finding a specific church in Utah County can be difficult. There are LDS churches on every corner and they all look the same. We’ve all had the experience of attending a blessing and thinking you’re at the right church only to find you’re not after sitting in the pew and working your way through the opening hymn and then straight into the Sacrament hymn. Isn’t that embarrassing having two entire pews stand and exit the chapel while the hymn is being sung whispering to row after row of total strangers that you’re in the wrong church. Its fun to tell the deacon usher at the door that you were looking for the Baptist Church and did he know where it was.

Most true blooded Williamsons sit in the back of every chapel they visit. We automatically seek out the last row of chairs and set up camp. Of course, we are always ready to move to the new back row of chairs if the curtain into the chapel overflow is opened. We do this as an act of Christian charity - always willing to give up the better seats (those closest to the front) in church to those more righteous and deserving. The back seats are good enough for our kind. Of course, that only applies to church. You should see us at a buffet - or better yet at Disneyland. We will fight and claw out way to the front of any line in all matters non religious. It’s every man for himself in those situations. Many a younger Williamson has found himself in a row of bushes after getting elbowed out of a better place in a line by an elder Williamson. Imagine the cheek of taking a better spot in a queue and leaving someone like me one or two places further down the stream. I won’t have it. Respect, that is all I ask for anyone that has peaked in life and is on the slippery slope into oblivion.

The Sacrament Service started. The first hymn was announced. The chorister stood before the congregation to lead us in the hymn. I loved her. This grandma, judging by her appearance, must have known Joseph Smith personally. She waved us into singing with one arm. Her other hand held her spit rag. Her method of leading music reminded me of someone trying to keep a wasp at bay. I’m positive the congregents in the front row enjoyed the breeze created by those exaggerated arm movements. I also loved the fact that she never looked up once. She probably couldn’t see us anyway so why bother. I guess we were fortunate she stood facing us.
I really got a chuckle because the music stand kept slowly dropping in front of her, thus forcing her to stop waving away the wasp and pull it up. It was great.

You know, I wonder what the record is for the number of priesthood holders used to bless a baby. If there is one then I’m sure we shattered it today. I felt it best to stay out of the fray and kept to my encampment at the back of the chapel. From my distant vantage point the crowd of white shirts surrounding that poor helpless child resembled the photograph of an Atlantic hurricane in full force just before slamming into Cuba with the baby at the calm surface. It was amusing watching family members jostle and squeeze and shuffle and grunt as they circled and then inched forward closer and closer to the baby in an attempt to get at least one finger into the scrum. My poor frail 73 year old father was sandwiched between two gentleman with rather large girths. I could see by his distressed look that half way through the prayer he was struggling to breath. I wondered if they kept spare oxygen in the pulpit for such an occasion. Luckily my great niece's blessing was just short enough for the circle to break just in time for him to get enough air to bring color back into his face. Two people were carried back to the front pew, the baby and my father.

I was concerned for my second great niece blessed that day. Her father (giving his first baby blessing and rightfully nervous) blessed her to have a good husband that would teach her. He didn’t elaborate but I thought I could hear my sisters, no matter where they were in the world, squirm at that instant. Most females with Williamson blood rule their homes. It is a fact that can be looked up in any reference and history book. It is just one of those things their husbands learn to live with.

After the blessing and sacrament my mother and I slipped out of the chapel and secretly met inside the Battlestar (my house sized Lincoln) which I had parked in the furthest parking place possible. I listened to the radio while mother performed surgery on her dentures. I couldn’t watch so I kept my eyes focused on the steeple and mind on the radio. She pulled out her mini surgery kit and set it on the arm rest. She held out her hand for the super glue my sister gave me to give to her when she arrived late for the blessing. She reached into her purse and pulled out a knife which could easily be used to skin a bear. With tools in hand the repair started. I remember her grunting a few times followed by this sickening scraping sound. Half way through the procedure my curiosity got the best of me and I looked. Her top plate was in her left hand. The missing tooth in her right. She was preparing to super glue it into place. That was enough for me and I refocused on the steeple. Fifteen minutes later I heard a clamp and a slober and the deed was done. Her smile was nearly normal. She was good for another 10,000 chews.

Pictures followed the blessing and then another multi family picnic at the park. There was a another feeding of the five thousand miracle with a few muffins, cantaloupe, and a squished croissant or two and then everyone retired to their homes.

It was a good day 2 of my two week summer vacation. I may stop by the Space Center tomorrow to get the deposit ready and answer a few emailsl or I may decide to sleep in until 3:00 P.M. (if that were ever possible). We shall see.

Volunteers and Staff. I’m hoping your summer holiday is as eventful as mine. All of you be good, mind your manners and eat your peas and carrots.

Mr. Williamson