Visit SpaceCampUtah.org to learn more about the Space Education Centers in Utah. Visit SpaceGuard.org and ProjectVoyager.org for information on joining a simulator based school space and science club.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

My First Day of Fall Vacation, and Other Things.

Hello Troops,
I’m trusting everyone within the Alpine School District is enjoying their Fall Vacation. Everyone else in Utah had their vacation the first weekend in October. Leave it to us to be different.

I see one major advantage to having a Fall Vacation fall on a different weekend than the rest of the state. Our students visiting Disneyland will find shorter lines. A few years ago I stupidly went to Disneyland during UEA. What a disaster. It seemed the entire population of Utah migrated to the Magic Kingdom. The crowds were as thick as the ones you'd find at your neighborhood Walmart for the day after Thanksgiving sale. The park was so packed Disney employees stood on stools shouting at everyone to stay calm and walk to the right. It was so crowded at the Indiana Jones ride the employee on the stool started coordinating our breathing to prevent mass suffocations!

I don’t know how families were able to stay together in the hustle and bustle. I was sure half the families in the Park would get to their hotel rooms at the end of the day and find they had someone else’s children in tow. What a mess.

Moving on........

Today I went to the Center to answer a few emails and work on a few other projects relating to staffing. I was joined by a few other die hard supervisors and flight directors.

  • Megan ran a special mission for family and friends in the Phoenix.
  • Stacy, Rachel, Ben and Jon worked on the the Galileo’s storage cabinets. We need to make room for the equipment previously stored in the old Falcon cabinets. The new Galileo Control Room will be stored where two or three of the Falcon cabinets new stand.
  • Emily dropped by to cheer everyone on and lighten our day with her wit and endless knowledge of trivial and useless information. Oh, she also made the mandatory Little Caesar’s pizza run. Yes, our staff and volunteers thrive on a steady diet of Little Caesars Carbo Pizza seasoned with artificial cheese and a sneeze of something that resembles pepperoni.
Today was the day I set aside to do something about my antique cell phone. My cell phone broke months ago. I kept it stored in the Battlestar’s armrest planning on doing something about it when I had the time. Of course I’ve had plenty of time over the last several weeks but decided to wait until I could build up the courage to visit a Verizon store to buy a replacement. I had a vision of getting swarmed by over zealous salespeople claiming to have only my best interests at heart as they pushed a certain phone or plan. Their real agenda would be to get me to drop my $9.95 a month plan I’ve had since the dawn of the information age
(30 minutes peak and 30 minutes off peak minutes) for something with unlimited minutes, unlimited texting and unlimited costs. I mean, why would I need texting? There is a reason its called a phone. Phone means to hear. You don’t hear texts, you read them. So, by all rights, the phones used by teenagers should be called cell graphs.

To make a long story short, I called Verizon and told them I needed a new phone. The salesman on the other end of the line reacted like they always do when they see my stone age plan.
“Wow, I’ve never seen a plan like this?” the gentleman politely said in a New York accent.
“Yes, Its the grandfather plan offered to teachers and the elderly many years ago.” I replied. “Its real purpose was to get you to buy a phone and then, once you realized how fun it was to talk while driving down the road causing accident after accident you’d switch your plan to one with more minutes at a greater cost. Well, I didn’t fall for your ruse. I KEPT the plan. What do you think of that clever chops?”

Once I put him in his place and off the scent of hoping to get me to upgrade and part with my hard earned money from working in the trenches of the Space Center, he pulled a fast one.
“I’m sorry sir but I don’t think we have phones anymore able to adapt to this old plan.”
“But I don’t want to give up my plan.” I insisted.
“You could get a phone and upgraded plan that will do things you never thought possible.” he countered.
“This is what I need.” I replied. “I need a phone that calls out and lets people call in. That’s all. I don’t need one that has everything, including the tools you’d find on the most expensive Swiss Army Knife.”

“Well, may I suggest you go to a real Verizon store and see what they can do for you.” He ended the call by giving me an address in American Fork. He was confused by the North and West address numbers. I explained the Utah street numbering system. He commented a street numbering system like ours would be beneficial for those trying to navigate the streets of New York.
“Your streets are a bit confusing are they?” I asked.
“Yes,” he replied.
“Kind of like all your phone and plans?” I shot back.
The call ended.

I drove to American Fork and found the Verizon Store. I walked to the entrance, took a deep breath and opened the door expecting to be attacked by hungry salespeople. Well, I’m happy to report that I wasn’t. I was directed to a touch screen terminal where I was asked a series of questions so the employees could assist me with my precise needs. The minute I hit 'enter' a nice looking sales girl approached and directed me to her computer. I handed her my last bill. She brought me up on her computer. I waited for the gasp I knew would come when she saw my General George Washington plan.

There was no gasp, only two raised eyebrows and a “Wow.” She let it go at that.
“I’m not sure we have a phone that will let you keep this plan.” she said.
“I want to keep my plan.” I answered.
“Lets see what I can do.” she replied. She exited the counter through a back door marked Employees Only. I expected to hear muffled laughter from the employees on break in the back. There wasn’t any. She came right back.
“Sir, we have two phone that will work with your plan.” she said.

I envisioned two brick sized cell phones that used rotary dials instead of touch buttons to dial your numbers. I was surprised when she came back with two normal looking phones. They even took pictures!

I picked the cheapest, swiped my credit card and left the store a very happy customer. I still have my plan and a new sporty phone that I’ll be proud to pit against any of yours in a side by side comparison.

Yes, it has been a good day.

Enjoy your break troops.

Mr. Williamson
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