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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Laser Tag vs The Space Center

By James Porter
Reposted from his Blog

I celebrated the birthday of my wife's cousin yesterday by participating in laser tag. It has been a long time since I have gone and it was definitely enjoyable. When they opened the door to the arena my lungs filled with the all too familiar scent of smoke machine juice as I entered that hot maze of glowing paint and mirrors. We played three 20 minute games for $18 a person since there was a holiday special going on. I did well to follow the list of rules for how we were to safely play by not running, kneeling, covering my sensors, and all the other protective measures. Overall it was a fun experience as the birthday boy got first place in one of the games and all of our group had a fun time.

Afterward I began comparing that birthday experience to the many I used to help host at the space center. For a space center birthday there is about one item that is the same, the smoke machine. First of all a flight runs for 2.5 hours at an average cost of $10 per person. That flight time is yours and yours alone unlike the laser tag time we shared with 20 other people. Many compare the story experience to that of a movie and so for that you are paying a bit more than the average Utah movie ticket price. Though unlike the movie you get to be a part of the experience and the decision you make could completely change how everything turns out. You also don't need to worry about screening the mission before you go for inappropriate content. In that process of ma
king decisions your group will experience and learn much more than just laser tag tactics.
It was interesting to think about this after the activity because I frequently would compare our private programs to laser tag when parents would sit and talk with us in the control room. This is probably why we have many fans who look forward to their birthday year after year as it has become a tradition to visit the space center. Don't misunderstand, I think laser tag and going to the movies are great birthday option , but they fall short in comparison to a private birthday flight into space.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Tuesday of our Holiday Vacation. My Trip to the Dentist

Hello Troops,
Well, there is very little Space Center news to report considering the Center is closed for the holiday so I'll just write about odds and ends.

Winter is taxing my patience. I used to be a big fan of the season but the older I get the less tolerance I have for snow packed roads and stupid drivers. I’m sitting at my front window looking at the fresh powder falling on my driveway and sidewalk. What may look “pretty” from the front window is actually something that requires my labor. I need to go outside, take the shovel and move the stuff, and as soon as I move it more will fall and as soon as I move that even more will fall. I’m done with it.

I visited the dentist this morning. It’s been a year since my last check up. I find my cavity count is usually zero with so many of my original molars replaced by crowns; therefore eliminating the need for six month visits.

My dentist is aging with me. I’ve been a patient of his since 1982. I thought how proud he must be when he looks into my mouth every year and sees his handiwork. There’s got to be some real job satisfaction in that. I enjoy my check ups. He may be on the young side of ancient but his dental assistants aren’t. I had a very pretty blond working on my teeth this morning. I tried to say something ‘hip‘ to strike up a conversation but came up with nothing.
“Do you want fresh mint or cinnamon for your polish?” she asked.
“Fresh mint,” I answered.
I sometimes wonder what to do with my eyes while my teeth are worked on. Younger dentists have distractions - like TV’s mounted in the ceiling. You can catch up on the news while you’re getting your cavities drilled. My dentist is very old school. He has boring ceiling tile with 25 tiny holes in each to look at. I sometimes stare into the overhead light. I find it interesting that the light my dentist uses today is the same make and model my dentist used when I was a kid in the 1960’s in Rapid City, South Dakota. Why change a good thing, right?

I thought about looking into her eyes while she worked on my teeth but thought better of it considering she had a mechanical spinning object in my mouth. Making her uncomfortable was the last thing I wanted to do.

I was hoping she’d say something complementary about my teeth, considering I never needed braces and all my molars were beautiful, unblemished crowns.
“You’re not brushing vigorously enough up near your top molars. I see a build up of plaque that is starting to calcify,” she said.
“Thank you,” I replied. “I’ll keep that in mind.”

A Poster in my Dentist's Office Announcing their use of the Latest in Dental Practices.

Out came the floss when the polishing was complete. She wound it around her fingers and started.
Tsk, tsk, tsk,” was the sound she made while trying to break through the calcified barriers bridging my teeth in an attempt to clean between my molars. I knew that she knew my flossing needed addressing. I'm not motivated to floss. My dental hygiene attention span handles brushing and nothing else. Besides, why not be her job security and let her do my flossing for me every six months?

She finished the flossing and directed me to the sink to “Rinse and Spit”. A moment later I was back in the recliner and waiting for the dentist to make an appearance. I knew I was next in line. I could hear him in the next room working on a lady that broke one of her front teeth on a pistachio.
The drilling in the next room stopped. A moment later he walked into my room. I was taken back by his glasses. I knew he wore glasses but what he was wearing wasn't your ordinary pair of glasses. His glasses had small microscopes embedded in each lens. I’m surprised he found where I was sitting.
“How are you Victor?” he asked while looking toward the wall. His assistant politely coughed, directing him to my general direction.
“Doing fine,” I answered as he lowered the chair’s back to his level. “Pretty impressive specs you’ve got there.”
“Well, an old dentist’s got to do what an old dentist’s gotta do,” he answered while feeling around my face for my mouth.

His exam was complete. He scraped and poked and scraped and poked as he went from tooth to tooth.
“Your front teeth are wearing down. You’ve got a small chip in one and the other is showing transparency. What are you doing, chewing on bark?” he commented. I never know how to respond to a dentist’s questioning with three tools inserted in my mouth. I did the best I could and grunted. He nodded as if he understood, then continued his scraping and poking.

At one point he stopped to clean his ice pick. My mouth was clear for a brief moment.
“I like my beef jerky,” I said, trying to justify the wearing down of my front teeth. There was an awkward pause, followed by the reinsertion of the tools.
“That explains part of it. All that biting and chewing, tsk tsk tsk....,” he said. “We may have to do some polishing. Maybe not today. We’ll give it a bit more time.”
I wondered what he meant by “part of it”? Could the other part be the fact that I, along with all other humans on this planet, must use my teeth to eat? Could that be the reason my teeth are showing signs of wear? Well, I apologize for that but will not stop eating just to save the wear on my two front teeth!

He finished the exam and looked at the x-rays.
“You’re good to go. No cavities this time,” he said. I was invited to stand and leave the room. I stood. He was already gone into the next room. The pretty blond 20 something hygienist stood in the doorway with the exam results and a small baggy holding a toothbrush, small tube of toothpaste and a small container of floss.
“See you in six months,” she radiated with perfectly white, straight teeth.
“Thanks,” I replied with my perfectly yellow, diet coke stained but straight teeth.

I walked to my car. It was starting to snow. I opened my car door, tossed in the dental Care Package, shut the door and hopped the curb to the Walkers Gas Station next door. I felt the need to celebrate another clean dental bill of health. I bought a diet soda and a package of those tasty orange circus peanuts in the ‘2 packages for $1.00‘ packaging. I skipped the jerky. I decided I’d follow my dentist’s advice for one day.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Our Christmas Lunch.

Hello Troops,
Did you all enjoy your Christmas? Were their presents under your tree? Are you happy someone felt kindly enough toward you to part with their hard earned cash to give you something you may or may not have deserved? Now that Christmas is over, have you taken out the check book, wallet and credit card receipts to see what's left in the bank? You may be living on oatmeal and saltines for the next month, but at least its all over.

I was up early on Christmas morning. Don’t know why. I still remember the days when I used to be able to log a good 8 hours of sleep a night. I’m down to 6 now. I have the time to sleep 8 but my brain won’t let me.

We all gathered around Jilane and Kevin’s tree for the opening of gifts. All very traditional. I took Grandma to the house after the opening of gifts so she could put the turkey in the oven. She worked away in the downstairs kitchen while I cleaned the kitchen upstairs. She called for help. She had Lisa’s bathroom scales out on the kitchen floor waiting for me.
“What do you need?” I asked.
“I can’t cook this turkey properly if I don’t know how much it weighs,” she explained.
I read the packaging and found no indication of weight. That meant we had to weigh it somehow. Mother’s solution was the bathroom scales. There was one small problem, were they accurate? Mother wanted me to get up on the scales and find out. How was I suppose to know if the scales were accurate by weighing myself? I didn’t know what I weighed. I know what I wish I weighed but that absolutely would fall into the realm of fiction.

The scales were digital, which placed them beyond my mother’s ability to understand and use. That alone put the fear into her leaving me behind to deal with the situation. I stood on the scales to see what they said. I planned on comparing the scale’s readout to my last known weight from my doctor’s scales in August. The digital numbers rolled a few times to the left and right, as if the machine couldn’t decide on a correct number. A few seconds later came the reading. The small window between my feet displayed this
“Err” The scales gave me an error reading. What was that all about? What did it mean? Was the error against me for attempting to use them to calculate my weight or was it something else? Maybe “Err” was the scales commentary on my life, kind of like the mechanical fortune tellers you find at a local carnival. Drop in a coin, the Gypsie opens its marble eyes, says something in gibberish - the official language of all carnivals, raises it wooden arm draped in someone’s curtains from the 1930’s and dispenses a card detailing your fortune. In my case, the scales didn’t attempt politeness. What I should have gotten was a ridiculously low weight to boost my self esteem and confidence. What I got was an “Err”. Story of my life, yes?

We were still left with the problem of weighing the turkey. Instead of putting my whole weight on the scale I tried my foot. The numbers rolled and landed on a number that seemed reasonable. I stood on the scale again, never wanting to admit defeat. Grandma handed me a warped aluminum baking pan holding our Christmas turkey. Another “Err” appeared. OK, time for plan 2. We took the turkey out of the pan and placed it directly on the white digital bathroom scales. So there we were, Grandma and me standing over Tom Turkey, barely balanced on the scale with its two legs hanging out and down. It was comical. The scale thought for a moment then displayed “Err”. Finally, the scale and I found something we could both agree on. It was a complete error to do what we were doing. To make a long story short, after several attempts we finally got the scale to give us a reading of 18 pounds. The scale was dripping with turkey juices but we got the job done. There would be turkey for lunch.

The rest of the morning and early afternoon was spent in controlled chaos as Lisa and Grandma prepared the meal. I enjoyed the shouting up and down the stairs between kitchens. Then a catastrophe. We were out of brown sugar for the candied yams. Lisa sent Grandpa and I on a brown sugar Christmas quest. Walgreens was our first stop. They had the butter we needed but no brown sugar. As we left the kindly clerk at the cash register wished us both a very merry Christmas.
“Bah Humbug,” Grandpa shot back. I stopped long enough to make excuses for his poor behavior. I explained the fact that he was born during the Great Depression, had a hard childhood, had eight kids, many of whom were intelligent enough to hold down real paying jobs, and was in his 70’s. I also added the fact that he’d recently fallen over a curb, hit his head and for the past two months has no sense of taste. I must have done a good job because they were all in tears.
“That poor man,” one older lady said to the clerk opposite me. Having been a showman my whole life I understood when to make an exit. I left the store knowing someone’s life may have been changed because of our brown sugar quest.

Albertson’s in American Fork was our next stop. It was closed. The third stop was the Chevron station on the Pleasant Grove border. Again, no brown sugar. I purchased a diet Mt. Dew. Grandpa bought a bag of orange circus peanuts candies.
“What are those for?” I asked, knowing he wouldn’t be buying them for himself, having lost his sense of taste.
“Lisa,” he responded. “Kind of like a peace offering for not finding Brown Sugar.”

Our last stop was the Maverick Station on State Street. Grandpa gassed up his red truck while I examined the store’s shelves. Nothing - just as I expected. When we got home we discovered the yams were in the oven. Thank goodness for neighbors that thought ahead for any possible Christmas necessity.

We decided to eat around the table! I know how shocking that is to everyone that knows my family. We are the kind of people who use the living room as our dining room and the TV as our excuse not to speak to each other. Having a neutral party in the room as we eat (like any TV show that happens to be airing at the time) keeps us focused on the small screen and not each other’s personality and character flaws.

The food was spread out on the table. It all came together perfectly. I even mashed the potatoes. It is my belief the potatoes were the highlight of Christmas dinner - something I had to point out during the consumption of the food thus forcing everyone sitting around me to dispense compliments, sincere or not.
We gathered around the table for formal blessing of the food. Grandma had the honors, considering she was the least haggard of the group. We bowed our heads and folded our arms. She started.
Half way through the prayer a cell phone rang, right in the section where she was thanking the good Lord for her children, grand children and all her other many blessings. We looked up and saw something so disturbing it put many of us off our food. There stood Grandma with her hand down her blouse. Her hand was fumbling around in her bra looking for her cell phone. I’m proud of her though. She kept saying the prayer, paying no attention to the fact that everyone else in the house was staring at her in shock. The teenagers started laughing, then did their best to stifle the laughs when they saw she wasn’t going to abort the prayer.

We started eating. There were uncomfortable pauses as we stared at each other. We quickly exhausted polite conversation and quickly descended into commentary on each other and others not present who couldn’t defend themselves. Those with weak nerves ate quickly and asked to be excused. The rest of us continued for some time, stopping only when the food was cold and orders were going out for the cleaning.

It was an interesting Christmas day. Its all over now. Christmas 2009 is a thing of the past.

I’m hoping this Boxing Day finds everyone in good spirits and health. Unfortunately I’ve fallen victim to a bad cold. I felt fine this morning, even went on an invigorating 45 minute walk. Right after the walk I felt the start of a sore throat. So, I have the pleasure of keeping a sore throat company, along with its companion, the runny nose.

We stopped at WalMart earlier today to purchase a new TV stand for my mother. While there, my mother found a homeopathic treatment for the relief of symptoms associated with the flu and cold. The name is long, taking up the entire front label of the box. I wondered why the French makers of this stuff couldn’t come up a name easily remembered. Wouldn’t be in their best commercial interests to give a product a name simple enough for their costumers to use when they recommend it to their friends and family? If you called me right now and asked me I could only tell you the name is long, it starts with an O, and the package is orange and white. I’m hoping this medicine, along with my Coldeze and the occasional swig of DayQuill will keep me functioning.

So, good night troops. I’ll see many of you soon.

Mr. Williamson

Thursday, December 24, 2009

My Christmas Eve Story. I Was Lost then Found. A Modern Day Miracle.

Merry Christmas Troops!
It's Christmas Eve. Are you wondering what happened to the year like me? It was just Halloween, then Thanksgiving and now Christmas! It will be 2010 in a snap. Time flies when you're having fun, doesn't it?

Just wait until January, February, March and April...... Yes the long dry spell of routine - highlighted with cold temperatures, snow, rain, school and more school. Our week long Spring Vacation will break the drought. The rest of the year will sail by after we return from Spring Vacation.

The long dry spell is hard on our Space Center daytime staff. We will be doing the same thing, saying the same thing, telling the same missions and teaching the same classes pretty much non-stop. It can be a bit mind numbing. Its kind of like working at at an amusement park.
"Please step into the vehicle. Hands up while the bar drops. Please keep your hands and legs into the car at all times. Hold on and enjoy the ride." Yes, we cycle people in and out of our ships day in and day out. It will be a true challenge to stay focused and fresh. I'm trusting the staff will be up to the job. We've been doing it for 19 years and will continue to do it for as long as the District tolerates us.

My Day of Shopping

I went out shopping today. What a shock to my system. Since when did so many people move to Utah County? Where did all the cars come from? Remember, my world is primarily five miles or so in diameter and very insulated. I get up, walk to school down very empty neighborhood streets. Work my ten hours or so, put my coat back on and walk home on pretty empty streets. My day is spent in an elementary school that has held steady at around 500 students for the 27 years I've been here. Central is one of the smallest schools in the Alpine District. Staff arrive from the Other World to work our missions and then disappear back to the Other World when the missions are finished.

Occasionally it is necessary to venture outside my sanctuary. Even then I don't go that far. I gas up at Walkers and shop at the Lindon Walmart, all within a mile or two from my home. My bubble expands when I visit family and go to a movie but even then it is occasionally. I live in a very sheltered, seemingly rural, innocent place.

Today my eyes were open to the horrors of modern life outside my tranquil shell. The traffic reminded me of New York City. Cars everywhere. So many in fact there were times I just held my breath, said a quick "Hail Mary" and pressed on the gas hoping someone in the never ending line of oncoming traffic would take pity on an old duffer in a big Lincoln and let me in unmolested. It worked, for the most part. I was only honked at twice. I felt pretty good about that.

The lines at the traffic lights stretched forever. So far in fact that sometimes I'd get in the turning lane for a light you couldn't see in the distance. I inched my way up over several light cycles until it was my turn to turn. Even then I rarely got the green arrow. It was usually me pulling out into the intersection where I'd wait for a break in the oncoming traffic to make my turn. That was dangerous in its own right. Today the break rarely came so I'd sit there until my light changed from green to yellow and finally to red. Of course, I didn't dare go on the yellow, or the red. I had to wait until I was sure the oncoming traffic was stopped. That usually meant holding up traffic from the other two directions. Pleasant isn't a word I'd use to describe the mood of the cars waiting for my hugh Battlestar to maneuver the turn, catch the wind and sail free of the intersection.

Finding a parking place was laughable. Luckily I planed ahead for that and brought hiking boots, a canteen and energy bars for the long trek from the last parking place in the 30 acre lot to the store's entrance. I'm happy to report that WalMart was prepared and had drink and first aid stations set up at regular intervals throughout the lot to rescue and rehydrate exhausted hikers. It was so bad at the Orem WalMart that the Salvation Army swapped the Red Kettle and bell ringer for a 50 cot MASH aid station caring for the holiday's shopping casualties. I stopped for a moment to take a whiff or two of pure oxygen. A nurse took my blood pressure. I think I was OK. They let me go.

The interior of the stores were a nightmare. Shopping carts were everywhere, leading dazed shoppers aimlessly around the store in a macabre version of bumper cars, only with carts. Children swung from the overhead light fixtures, giving one the feeling of jungle life. Every check out was open, even the ones not used since the middle of the Cold War. They were the ones with the big, non computerized cash registers where the cashier had to manually enter each price into the machine. Forget any sense of accuracy. Every employee of the store was manning a register so forget getting help with an item. It was a mad house. Some shoppers paid a bit extra for the shopping carts with GPS units attached so they could be found if they didn't return within a certain amount of time. The local Search and Rescue Teams were on hand to "go in" if necessary.

In one store the managers stood on tall ladders in every department directing traffic up and down the aisles with large megaphones and exaggerated arm waving. I found the fire brigade and paramedics at another store. They were called in to treat the wounded from a multi cart pile up near frozen foods. It was ugly, bodies everywhere, not to mention the horror of seeing civilization nearly break down completely as other shoppers were arrested for picking through the purses and wallets of the fallen. It was horrible. A sad commentary of modern life.

By the time I reached Target I was nearly done for. It seemed all was lost. It seemed the world was at an end. I began wondering if life was still worth living. I got out of my car a good 3 miles from the store's doors and started to walk. What I saw caused my heart to numb. Bodies of shoppers everywhere. Some half in their cars and half out, others overcome while loading their purchases in their trunks. The smell of exhaustion's fumes tainted the air. I felt all holiday joy ebbing from my body. I sank to the tarmac ground, I could hear the sound of wild, rabid dogs nearby. I thought all was lost.... and then, a miracle. I heard singing. It was coming from my left. It was the sound of Christmas carols.

I struggled to my feet. Pulling every ounce of strength out of my being I walked. Ten minutes later I came into a clearing. In front of me was a congregation of shoppers, all gathered around what appeared to be a Priest standing high on the top of a large Hummer. He led the crowd in holiday songs and urged us onward. He reminded us of the true meaning of Christmas. He told us that with God on our side nothing was impossible.
"Remember your families waiting for you back home," he shouted. "Don't forsake them. Find the strength to continue. Do it for them. DO IT FOR THEM!"

The crowd cheered. I felt new breath filling my lungs. Yes, I could get through this day. I could make it back to Pleasant Grove. Yes, this could still be a Happy Christmas.

With my new found strength I persevered and finished what I had to do. I made it home. All is well now. All is well.

Happy Christmas Troops. May your Holidays be full of fun, good food and good company.

Mr. Williamson

Monday, December 21, 2009

News on Training, Promotions and Randomn Thoughts of Little to No Importance.

Wyatt L. Running the Odyssey this Saturday. He was shaking and quivering so badly due to nerves the picture actually came out blurry.

Hello Troops,
Christmas vacation is so close you can taste and smell it. You know, I was thinking the other day about alien invasions. I decided, after careful consideration of all facts, that the best time for an alien invasion of Earth would be right after Christmas. Here is my reasoning: Humans eat and eat and then eat some more during the holidays. This non stop feasting results in heavier humans. If the aliens ultimate goal is to.....well.... you know, then right after Christmas would be the best time to invade and herd the cattle into the stockyards, so to speak.
Just something to consider as you make your post holiday plans. Keep your eyes on the skies and if you see bright lights, head for hills.

Now for the News.

Wyatt L is training for Flight Directing in the Odyssey. He ran the first chair position for most of the Overnight Camp this past weekend.
"He's doing survivably well," Emily said when questioned about Wyatt's performance. I watched him for a spell. I thought he did pretty good, except for the few occasions he resembled a deer caught in the headlights. Its that look we get from trainees when they're trying to drink from a fire hose and everything is happening at the same time and everything is bearing down on top of them at once and several things are waiting for their attention and they become so sensory overloaded that the only thing their body can do to compensate is freeze, go blank, and wait in the center of the road for the inevitable.

Keep going Wyatt. According to all indications you're on schedule and doing well in your training.

Josh being congratulated by Brittney, the Magellan Set Director, and her Side Kick and fellow Magellan Flight Director Zac H. Tecnically Zac shouldn't be in the picture but when he saw me taking this picture he couldn't resist and jumped right in. Luckily, Josh had two hands.

And now for Josh A. Josh worked hard, flight after flight, to get his Magellan and Voyager passes. His hours of work paid off on Saturday when Mr. Daymont shocked the Space Center World by announcing that Josh A. received his last Magellan pass. Josh made it into the prestigious club of Blue Shirted Supervisors. He gets his special pass that allows him access the 4th grade restrooms. He gets to stand and stare at the black shirt volunteers. He gets to give orders and actually expect them to be carried out! He gets to talk to me and have me really listen instead of pretending (which I do very well). He gets to have first pick of our sorry collection of sleeping pads, dredged out from under the stage every weekend. He gets to sit at the same table as others who wear the collar during our gathering times at 11:00 P.M. Friday and 10:30 A.M. Saturday.

Ah yes, the pleasure I get from presenting someone with their Supervising Shirt. I enjoy their enthusiasm. I enjoy their drive. I enjoy seeing the hope it gives those caught in the black T-Shirt collective to see one of their own fight and claw his way out of the pit and into the light. But most of all, I enjoy seeing them walk up and down the school's halls rubbing their blue collar between their index finger and thumb. Its their polite way of drawing attention to themselves without actually shouting "Everybody Look At ME." It is a polite way to say, "Look at me everyone. Look at what I've done. If you're not impressed you should be. Notice me. Notice the collar. Yes, it really is me. I'm still Josh - just not 'like' you any more. I have Ascended."

Congratulations Josh on your Supervising Shirt. You're a fantastic volunteer and we are honored you share you time with us.

Mr. Williamson

Sunday, December 20, 2009

An Enemy From the Dark. Ch. 12. A Discovery.

Carick descended through the center of the ship along the turbolift access shaft. He tried to think of something, other than the fact that his ship was captured by aliens and he didn’t have a clue what was happening. Half way down the ladder, he started to think about the ship’s artificial gravity. He was climbing down to Main Engineering but in space there was no up or down. His down was down, simply because that’s where the ship’s Mass Gravity Generator was located, and the MGG created and regulated the gravity of the starship. Turn off the MG and everyone and everything not bolted down starts floating.

He stopped several times to rest his arms and legs. He wasn’t in a hurry.  You can make mistakes when you're in a hurry and Carick couldn’t afford mistakes. There was too much at stake. Halfway to the Engineering Deck he passed a computer access terminal. With fingers crossed, he tapped the screen. The screen came to life one half second later, flashing a series of rebooting numbers. He tapped for silence mode. He knew the sound of the computer’s voice would attract unwanted attention.

Carick tapped for the main computer. An error message appeared. That was good. If he couldn’t access the main computer, then neither could their captors. He tried to load the sub routines. Inner ship scans were kind of working, at least in the undamaged sections of the ship. That was good and bad. If he could scan for life forms, then so could they - whoever ‘They’ were. He scanned for human life. Green dots appeared on the screen. Several of them in the shuttle bay. The scan was glitchy so he couldn’t be sure of numbers. Other life forms appeared as red dots. There were twenty two of them by his count, four of whom were in the Shuttle Bay. Carick assumed they were guarding his crew. Main Engineering had one green and four red dots. Carick tapped out of Life Sans and accessed Security Functions. His luck was holding. He found the ship's security codes.

Before they made their daring escape from Starbase, Tex had promised Carick to code Carick's voice into the main computer. He hoped Tex had taken the time to do it. He tapped the ‘Identify’ key and entered his personal ID code. The computer screen requested he speak his name. He tapped to continue and waited for the green bar, his cue to start talking.

“Cadet Captain Carick,” he said. The screen changed from green to white. 'Cadet Captain Carick Recognized' flashed on the screen. He was in. “Yes!” Carick shouted. He clamped his free hand over his mouth the instant the words came out.  What was he thinking?  That last thing he needed was to alert the intruders to his presence.

Using his new command access, he tried to enter the main frame, only to be turned back by error messages. Carick attempted to lock down the shuttle bay to prevent his crew from being taken. Locking down the shuttle bay didn’t work. He grew frustrated. He located the Security Systems and the Intruder Alert alarm. "What'll happen if I push this," he whispered to himself, but considering the circumstances, he felt he had no other choice. He tapped the screen. Red text appeared asking for his voice authorization.  "Cadet Captain Carick," he whispered and tapped ‘OK’.  "Authorization Denied" the screen responded. "What's wrong," Carick muttered.  He tried again and got the same results.  He thought for a moment before realizing it was his whisper. A person's whisper sounds different than normal speech.  He tapped for a retry. "Cadet Captain Carick," he spoke in a hushed but normal voice. A moment passed before the ship's alarms sounded. “Intruder Alert, Intruder Alert,” the computer's voice echoed up and down the empty turbolift shaft and hallways of the ship.  Carick didn’t know how an 'Intruder Alert' would affect the ship's systems, but thought it best to start moving again if he wanted to avoid capture.

He continued his descent down the shaft and closer to Main Engineering.  The turbolifts had stopped running. The alert must have taken them off Automatic. Anyone wanted to use a lift would be required to manually enter their security code and fingerprint. That alone was guaranteed to buy him time.

Carick froze when he heard the swoosh of a deck access door open right below his feet. Adrenaline surged through his body. That's when he realized the aliens would be forced to use the same access shaft he was occupying to move through the ship. Carick was about to have company. Strategically, Carick was in a better position than whoever was about to enter the shaft below him. He had the high ground. Anyone entering the shaft would likely first look down, not up, when stepping in. He pushed his body up against the ladder hoping to make the smallest possible profile.  Carick watched closely, wondering how the intruders would look.  First he saw a hand then arm reach in to find the ladder.  It looked human.  The rest of the alien's body followed.  It was a human male just about Carick's age with bronze skin and dark hair.  He wore some kind of blue, form fitting nylon clothing with padding over his chest, abdomen and back. He had a weapon slung over his shoulder. He looked down, then reached for the ladder. He swung one foot in, found a rung and pulled his whole body out of the entryway and into the shaft. The door swooshed closed behind him. He began climbing down.

Carick thought for a moment before moving. He remembered watching a training video as a first year cadet which covered the do’s and don’ts of living on a Starbase. One of the ‘don’ts‘ was sliding down a ladder with both hands and feet on the side bars. It was a fast way to descend, but you could easily lose control of the situation. Carick thought his current predicament called for the discouraged ladder slide. He braced himself for the maneuver, counted to three,  then loosened his grip. The distance between himself and the alien closed rapidly. He had to slow down. Using his hands and feet, he tightened his grip on the ladder.  The sound of his boots against the metal ladder drew the aliens started attention. The alien looked up, saw the Carick bearing down over him, and fumbled to reach for his weapon. Carick landed on top of him and began kicking his head trying to take him off balance. The young alien lost his hold and fell as Carick’s boot connected with his face. He shouted something as he fell, trying his best to reestablish a hand hold. Several decks down he succeeded. He lost his weapon but stopped his fall. Carick continued his downward slide. The alien’s face bled red from Carick’s kicks to the head. He was having a hard time focusing because of blood in his eyes. He seemed to be calling for help. Carick had to shut up him before his back up arrived.  Carick landed on him a second time, kicking with all his strength. The alien teen struggled to ward off the blows. He caught hold of Carick’s left leg and pulled straight down. Carick lost his hold and fell. His fall was broken by clinging to the alien’s body. He swung his arm around the young man’s neck and pulled him tight to cut off his air. The alien struggled to breath. With one arm he held the ladder and with the other he pulled on Carick’s restricting arm. Ten seconds later he stopped struggling. He tried to speak. Carick pulled his neck into his chest as hard as he could to cut off his air supply.

The young man was able to say a few words as he struggled to breath. Carick couldn't understand the language and squeezed tighter. The young humanoid whispered something that stopped Carick from tightening his strangle hold.  Carick eased up slightly so the alien could say it again. The alien formed the words and whispered them. Carick understood him that time.

"Perikoi......Perikoi," The young man struggled to say.

Winter's First Snow

There is something magical about winter's first snow. This short film captures the feeling. Just images and music. Visual poetry

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Aleta Clegg's Book is Published!

Dear Space Center Volunteers, Staff and Campers:

As some of you know, I've been writing novels for many many years. The first one in print is now available on Amazon, Barnes&Noble, my publisher, and if you are patient, you can get an autographed copy from me sometime in January.

If you are at all interested, please search for Nexus Point by Jaleta Clegg on Amazon (boost my listing place, please!) and Barnes and Noble. If you want to read the first three chapters, they are free on

This is the Amazon Link

Aleta Clegg, writing as Jaleta Clegg

A Note from Mr. Williamson:
Aleta is a Flight Director, Curriculum Specialist and Teacher at the Space Center. Congratulations Aleta!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Answers to our Reader's Questions

Hello Troops,
Yes I agree, that last post was random (according to a comment from one of our readers). I had that picture floating around and decided to use it. Of course, that's what you get when you read this blog. Reading this blog gives you the Space Center news, the semi news, the interesting, the uninteresting, the boring and the downright useless. And then, just when you thought you've read it all, I throw something at you that is totally Random.

Now, to the reader's question. The new Galileo is still buggy. It will take the rest of Christmas Vacation to get it flight worthy. Book a Galileo mission in the middle of January if you want to be sure you'll get the new Galileo. When you book indicate you are booking for the new Galileo. If for some reason the new ship isn't running we will contact you and let you cancel or switch to the old ship.

Hope that answered your immediate questions. Contact me for other questions I don't get to in the Blog. Use the "Contact Us" section of the web site.

Mr. Williamson

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Pippen is Watching You.

Pippen the Poo
We're on to you.......

Hello Troops,
Pippen the Poo was abandoned here years ago either by a young camper or a volunteer. Rumor has it that Pippen is responsible for several strange and weird occurrences at the Center, all of which happen after everyone leaves for the night.

For example, there are times I shut the Voyager down, lock all the doors and leave for the night only to come back the next morning and find one of the doors to the ship wide open - and there is no one around! How do you explain that? For awhile we comically blamed all ISO’s (Identified Strange Occurrences) on visits from ‘The Gods of Perikoi’. In light of this new evidence I believe a new explanation is in order.

I now believe Pippen is responsible. I don’t know how he reaches the door knobs. I don’t know how he gets food everywhere. I don’t know how he messes up the ships after everyone leaves or messes up uniforms and costumes that were suppose to be folded and/or hung up. I believe he is responsible for everything no one else will take responsibility for around here. Pippen is the answer to "I don't know who did it," another common phrase heard at the Center.

This picture was captured by an automatic camera in the Briefing Room a couple nights ago. How did Pippen get out of my desk drawer and onto my chair? I checked my computer’s history and discovered someone was looking into honey futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange around the same time the picture was taken. I guarantee you it wasn’t me.

Yes friends, we have a living breathing PooBear in our midst, a Star Trek lovin‘ PooBear. Keep your eye on this one. Approach with caution if you find him out of my desk. Don’t try to engage him in conversation. Pippen is a master of deception, capable of sitting and staring at one point for hours and hours without moving - giving the appearance of lifelessness.

Friends, we need to catch Pippen in the act. Only then will we be able to force him into talking. Only then can we force him into telling us about his clandestine underground organization of Poos and their accomplices - stuffed animals found in nearly every home worldwide. You may have one watching you right now as you read this post. If so, I suggest you turn its head toward the wall. We don’t what them to know we are on to their game. And, in the dark of night, if you hear the sound of shuffling fabric against your bedroom floor, then you know they are out and about, acting on the directions of some power greater than you.

More updates on Pippen to follow.

Mr. Williamson

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Phoenix Leadership Transfers With the Passing of the Mic.

The Very Moment Set Directorship Passed. The Phoenix Enters a New Era.

Hello Troops,
A leadership change happened at the Space Center tonight at 6:40 P.M. Megan Warner, Alex Anderson, Bracken Funk and I stepped into the Phoenix Simulator for the traditional passing of the Set Director’s Microphone. It is the Space Center’s way of saying goodbye to one Set Director and welcoming another.

I appointed Alex Anderson to become the new Phoenix Set Director. Bracken Funk will be his 2nd. The two will work as a team administrating the Phoenix until Bracken leaves for university in August.

Alex is a long time volunteer and the programmer of the Phoenix. He is a Phoenix Flight Director and knows the ship inside and out. I couldn’t think of anyone better to assume Megan’s responsibilities and continue the fine work she did for several years.

Bracken on the other hand, well.... what can one say about Bracken? I learned a long time ago that it is best to let Bracken speak for Bracken. He does a better job than any of us could :)
What.... I tell a lie. There is one thing Bracken would appreciate me sharing with the Space Center extended family. Bracken would like everyone to know that he is the "God of Flight Directing". I'll leave that said without further comment.

“If it breaks, fix it,” were Megan’s final words to Alex as she passed the mic. Having completed her last official duty as a Set Director she rushed out of the ship, grabbed her jacket and left the Briefing Room saying those words many of you will eventually say when your time comes.
“Mr. Williamson, I officially quit,” and that was that. The Space Center’s loss is the Church’s gain.

Megan leaves behind a well cared for ship and a Space Center full of friends. Tonight she will be set apart as an LDS missionary for deployment to South Korea (after religious boot camp of course).

Good luck to you Megan and Welcome Alex and Bracken into our administrative collective. I know the Phoenix will continue to develop under steady hand and leadership.

Staff and volunteers, Alex and Bracken would like to encourage everyone to continue to offer your services as Phoenix staff. Their goal, with your help, is the make the Phoenix the Space Center's most sought after simulator for our discerning young clientele.

Mr. Williamson

PS. Your comments are welcome on this post. Please feel free to offer your congratulations or sympathies to Alex and Bracken. Please limit your comments to no more than 1000 words (volunteers) or 2000 words (Flight Directors).

Monday, December 14, 2009

Kevin Roberts, The Space Center's Newest Flight Director

Hello Troops,
Congratulations are in order for a certain Kevin Roberts, a long time Space Center volunteer. Kevin was presented his Flight Director shirt during our post camp meeting on Saturday by Megan Warner - Set Director for the Phoenix. Kevin trained in the Phoenix for quite some time before formally putting his name forward for test missions.

Becoming a Flight Director is real challenge. It can be a lengthy, involved process that starts by becoming a volunteer. You must be a good volunteer, someone that demonstrates a commitment to the Center. We look for students that can multitask, are good actors, and can ad lib a part quickly when called upon. Kevin had these qualities and the experience necessary to attempt his climb up the mountain to the dizzying heights of Flight Directing. He presented himself to Megan and asked if she would be willing to accept him into training. She agreed. The last step of the process is getting my permission to train as a Flight Director.

Training involves multiple volunteer missions in the ship where you’re seeking your pass. Your trainer will begin by making sure you understand the equipment. As time passes you’ll be given the microphone to flight direct small portions of the mission. Over time those few minutes stretch into half hours, then hours and finally we see how you handle yourself with a full private mission.

Once you’ve proven you can handle a private mission I set up test missions for you using our frequent flyers or Central volunteers. You do test mission after test mission until your performance is perfected to the point the simulator’s Set Director proclaims you passed.

Kevin finished his formal training last Thursday by passing off his test mission.

Welcome to our Flight Director’s Guild Kevin!

Mr. Williamson

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Megan's Last Overnight Mission and the Dance that Ended it All.

Hello Troops,
OK, I'm posting my very own video on YouTube and the Blog. Let me set the stage. This was Megan Warner's last overnight camp. Taylor came to me on Friday asking if I had any objection to some of the staff dancing the summer camp's Disco Pizza Dance for the campers.
"Why Not?" I said. "You can do it just before we do votes on Saturday morning."

So, our overnight camp is drawing to an end. The campers are in the gym filling out their post camp surveys. It's time to cast their votes for Lord of the Votes. I call the staff in from the hallway.
"Troops," I say to the assembled group of sixth graders from Mountainville Academy and Wasatch Elementary, "This is Megan Warner's last Overnight Camp before leaving on a mission to South Korea on Wednesday. They are going to perform the famous Summer Pizza Disco Lunch Dance for you right now." With that, Bracken started the music. I had my Fuji picture camera on hand and shot this video.

Welcome to the end of the overnight camp at 9:55 A.M. on December 12 and Megan's Last Dance! Please watch to the end. The camper's get involved. It was a great way to send Megan on.

Thanks Megan for all the years of service to the Space Center and our campers. Thank you for your hours of unpaid work, given unselfishly to our students. Thank you for your devotion to the Phoenix. I really wonder if the Center will be the same with you gone. You've been a good friend to all and yes, from time to time a thorn in the side to a few but that is just the way you are and the way we want you to stay! We wish you all the best in this next challenge you face. Remember us and don't forget our love and support when times get tough.

We got your back! :)

Mr. Williamson

A Few Thoughts on the Week and Growing Up.

Hello Troops,
A few interesting tid bits for the week. I’ll begin by crying foul to one of the campers that told me to stop calling everyone “Troops”. Don’t know why she didn’t like it. She also complained that some of ‘us’ (namely me) were to strict. Guess she thought the whole camp was a bit boot campish. All I can say is “Sorry Troops”.

The word “Troops” has always been my thing. I could use other words like Folks or People or Kids or Annoyances or Pests etc. The list could go on and on. But I choose not to. Troops is it for me. It carries no emotion. It tells you where you are (our pretend world of space travel) and it carries a feeling of teamwork.

We are at war today. We have troops in foreign nations fighting wars against extremists. At home we fight a different kind of war. This homefront war is against ignorance and poverty. We fight daily battles as we create a great society of well educated, thinking, dreaming, and caring people. A nation of ambitious people inspired by the past and driven to achieve impossible goals. This is the war I fight daily when I open the Space Center's doors. Its a war you fight every time you open a text book or write a paper. It is a war for your future. It is a war to make a better world for you and your children for I believe it is a generation’s duty to leave American better for the following generations. I plan on doing just that in my own small and simple way. So, are you with me on this? If so, then I proudly call you troops.

Now, moving on......

We had a good week overall. Mrs. Houston was out all week as she recovers from surgery. Mrs. Clegg was gone most of the week with the flu. The rest of us had to muck in and get the job done and we did, thanks to a great gaggle of outstanding staff. We are well into finals for our university students. So I have to hand it to them for being so helpful as we reclaim our staff from their sickbeds.

Wasn’t it cold this last week? Every morning I debated whether I should walk or drive to school. Being one willing to accept a personal challenge I decided not to let the cold stop me. I walked every morning this week in that 5 degree temperature. I’m happy to report that I wasn’t the only one either. I know for a fact that Josh A. also walked to school in the cold along with a few of our other stalwart staff that don’t need to wimp out every day and get a ride to school.

Every morning I’m passed by a steady stream of minivans full of perfectly healthy junior high students being carted down my hill to the junior high school below. ITS A FIFTEEN TO TWENTY MINUTE WALK FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE. Every morning I wonder why aren’t those kids walking? Why do they need a ride? What’s wrong with their own two legs? Honestly, what kind of generation are we raising? Its time to toughen up people. Leave the minivan in the garage, put on your coat and walk to school. You can do it. All you have to do is put one foot in front of the other and, as if by a miracle, you move forward. Many of us old timers walked to school and home every day until we were old enough to drive. Ask your parents and grandparents. Walking in the cold and wet creates attitude and spirit. You get to see the seasons change. You get to know your community because you are out in it - not being carted around in a metal cage on wheels with heated and conditioned air and an endless supply of mind numbing music and video games. Naw..... get out there and feel the frost bite. Get out there and get chased by the dog. Get out there and actually see the homes in your neighborhood and meet the people that live around you. Breathe a few car fumes. Find a quarter on the road. Get your heart beating and burn a pound or two while having laugh with your friends for twenty minutes or so.

Listen, growing up means losing that bubble wrap you're sheltered in as a child. If you don't you are in for a tough awakening when you get older and mom and dad are no longer willing or able to shield you from the lessons of life any longer. You’ll be expected to stand on your own two feet and deal with the problems life throws your way. You'll need to rely on your instinct, education and morals. You'll learn quickly there is very little tolerance in this world for people that can’t deal with the ups and downs, so you might as well start learning to cope now rather than wait until your 18 and suffering from extreme shell shock while crying yourself to sleep in some university dorm. It may be ‘cute‘ when you’re a kid to have help putting on your shoes and zipping your coat but by the time you’re in 7th grade you should be able to do it yourselves. I think you get the point I'm trying to make.

I challenge you teens to step up to the plate and start toughening up if you haven’t already started. Consider the following:

  1. Walk to school if you live close enough.
  2. Learn to wash your own clothes. Learn to cook something besides toast.
  3. Take responsibility for your grades and actions. If you make a mistake admit it. You don’t need to hide behind mom and have her fight your battles for you. Please believe me when I tell you that it really makes you look immature when you do. Teachers see this all the time - bratty kids that have a permanent mommy shield in front of them to absorb the consequences of their actions so they don’t have to. Listen, as a teacher, I respect a student that stands and faces the consequences for their behaviour and decisions. I respect a parent even more that steps out of the picture and lets junior or missy take the consequences.
  4. Learn when to display the ‘cool‘ you and when to be the ‘real‘ you. Popularity is important at your age. You want to fit in more than anything else. I understand that. I understand the pressure you’re under to conform to the group. For much of the time at school you display the ‘cool‘ you so you fit in. You guard what you say and do to fit in. Taking that as a given, I urge you to not to let the ‘real‘ you get too far hidden during these tough teen years. Let it out from time to time. Who knows, people may even like the natural you better than the 'cool' you (unless of course you are naturally 'cool'. If so, come and give me a few lessons).
  5. Watch the ‘attitude’. You know what I mean.

OK troops. That’s my two cents.

Now Take on the Week!
Mr. Williamson

Friday, December 11, 2009

The New Galileo's Maiden Overnight Camp

Hello Troops,
Well, after a year in design, development and construction, the new Galileo is running its first Overnight Camp at this very minute in the cafeteria.  We attempted to run its first private mission on Tuesday but it turned out to be a disaster.  There were so many bugs in every system the mission didn't get off the ground.  It was all good though because we made a detailed list of everything that went wrong.  We've been working through that list all week. Tonight the new Galileo attempts another launch into space.

It's 9:37 P.M. on Friday.  The Overnight is full swing in all our ships.  I'm going to away from my desk for a moment and go to the cafeteria to check on the new Galileo's mission.  I'll be right back with a full report.......

Galileo Update:  9:43 P.M. December 11, 2009
     Our new Galileo appears to be a power hog.  Kyle reports the a circuit breaker was tripped when they tried to use the air compressor (regulates the compressed air for the ship's upper and lower hatch) and the smoke machine.  I found them restarting the ship.  It was funny because our Programming Guild is the crew for this test mission.  Stacy told them she'd send in a programmer to get their computers up and running inside the ship.  Matt reminder her that the ship was full of programmers!

     Their core computer is too slow.  It's an older tower Mac.  Alex came in and picked up one of our spare Mac Mini's.  We'll swap the computers to see if we can't speed things up.  One of the ship's two air conditioners isn't putting out cold air.  It appears we will be making a trip to Home Depot to purchase another air conditioner - in December!

It's 9:51 P.M.  I'll take a moment to get a picture or two for you.  Stand by......

Sorry for the blurred images.  Don't know what's wrong with my camera and I'm too tired to figure it out.

We are hosting students from Mountainville Academy and Wasatch Elementary tonight.  OK, I'll post more as developments occur.

Mr. Williamson

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Space News. Wednesday, December 9, 2009

White Knight 2 carries the new spacecraft in the middle.

Monday saw the debut of the successor to Spaceship One, which was the first civilian spacecraft to reach suborbital space and return the astronaut safely to Earth, repeating the event within 2 days. SpaceShip 2 was presented to the public at SpacePort America, under construction in Las Cruces, New Mexico. This tourism space project is the brainchild of Burt Rutan, the genius aircraft designer who invented many advanced concepts for private and commercial aviation. The project is funded by Sir Richard Branson, owner of Virgin Atlantic airlines and Virgin music stores. The company created to run this project is called Virgin Galactic.

SS2 secured in the middle launch position.

SpaceShip 2 has been named VSS Enterprise (I wonder why that name?...). It will carry six paying passengers on a sub-orbital ride into space to experience weightlessness and a superior view of our planet Earth, before returning through the Earth's atmosphere. Passengers supposedly are paying up to $200,000 per ticket and there is already quite a list. Test flights could begin any day now, and paying public flights are scheduled to start no earlier than 2011.

This is the real deal. For the price of the ticket, anyone will be able to go into space. Once this project is running well and additional spacecraft are added to the fleet, it's expected that Virgin Galactic will work on developing Orbital flight operations.

The pictures I've included are by Jeff Foust, who runs the websites NewSpace Journal ( and Space Politics (

Mark Daymont
Magellan Flight Director

Monday, December 7, 2009

Well, That Put's It All In Perspective

Hello Troops,
Ever sit outside and look at the stars in the night sky and wonder where you belong in the grand scheme of things? You may feel you are a very small cog in the great gears of multiple bureaucracies. And you may be. You may feel you have very little control of your life. And you may not. You may feel no one has your back. And they may not. You lie in bed, staring at the ceiling, worrying about things that seem overwhelmingly important to you - but are they really?

Your perspective of the world and universe revolves around a few family members, a few close friends, school mates, work mates, and perhaps a few others here and there in a club, church, or some other social organization. This little circle of people you 'hang out' with play a large roll in your understanding of who and what you are.

Take a moment and think of the people in this "Who I Am" circle. They have power over you because you've given it to them. These people help you create your self concept - the feeling of who you are. They help you form your self image. When they talk you listen. If they are upset, you are upset. In other words, you really care about what they think when it comes to you.

Now, how many people are on that list? Compare that number with the number of people in your town, county, state and nation? There are 6 billion people on this planet and your self image is dictated by how many people?

A word of advice. If your "Who Am I" circle is really big (as it can be for teenagers that freak out of anyone at school mentions the pimple on the end of their nose) may I suggest you rethink your perspective. A well grounded person pulls his self image from inside rather than outside. His "Who Am I" circle of people that help him form his self perception is very small. Their self image isn't dictated by the large group. It comes from inside - from a small group of people.

Now, let's take YOU and put YOU in the grand scheme of things.

Here YOU are on Earth. Asleep in bed, dreaming of lands far away. Look how our world compares to our nearest neighboring planets.

And now you see YOU compared to all the other planets of the solar system.

Wow, add the sun and look how small the Earth is.

Our sun is a light weight compared to several other stars.

And how about comparing our sun to some of the largest stars in the universe. Our sun is only 1 pixel is size!

There are more stars in our galaxy than grains of sand on all the Earth's beaches. And how many galaxies are there?

This is the Hubble Deep Space Field. Take a penny outside at night. Hold it as far from your eye as possible toward an empty section of the night sky. Imagine how small Lincoln's eye is against that empty night sky. The picture you see above is a picture of what really exists in that tiny space occupied by Lincoln's eye on the penny. Each one of those lights is an entire galaxy!!

And in all the wonder and grandeur of the universe please remember there is only one YOU!

So, be kind to yourself and don't let yourself get beat up over small things. You are unique. You are a human. You have self awareness. You can comprehend the universe. And as far as we know, we are the only intelligent life in the universe. If there are others, then they are rare, very rare indeed. You are a miracle so don't forget that the next time you freak out because someone gave you a funny look.

Mr. Williamson

Sunday, December 6, 2009

My Saturday, By Mr. Williamson

Hello Troops,
Saturday was a bitter sweet day. I’ll get right to it. (by the way, Saturday was yesterday for those of you that sleep most of the day and get up only to eat and..... well.... you know).

45 fifth graders attended our overnight camp. Many of the them came from the school’s ALL class (the we’re smart and you’re not class). The flight directors, for the most part, reported great kids. I'm happy to hear things like that. If the kids are good then the staff has fun and if the staff have fun then they continue to volunteer.

I was woken up in the middle of the night by a vomit discharge. Luckily the boy made it to the trash can in time. Jon P. took care of it for me, leaving me to my slumber (or the sorry excuse you call the kind of sleep I get at the Space Center). I did a bit of math a few months ago to calculate how many nights I’ve actually spent at the Space Center chaperoning younglings over the last 19 + years. Are you ready for this? A LITTLE OVER 3 SOLID YEARS WORTH. That’s right friends, we are talking nearly 1,200 days of sleeping on the floor in front of my desk! You may wonder what drives me to do it? Well........ I’ll tell you what drives me........ or I will once I get it figured out.

OK, back to Saturday. During our short ten minute wake up meeting in Discovery several of the staff were shocked to see multiple boxes of chocolate covered donuts (nutrition rings as I like to call them) for the staff and camper's breakfast. Last week I wrote about my switch from purchasing glazed only donuts (as I did religiously for 19 years) to a mix of glazed and chocolate donuts. I asked the surprised staff if they read the post I wrote on the subject in The Troubadour (the Space Center’s Blog). To my surprise many of them said they didn't read the Blog. One of the junior high staff said, “I’ll go awhile and not read the blog and when I finally get to it there are so many posts I just go to something else.” He said it bluntly and then stuffed his face with another bite of chocolate donut. I wanted to slap him up alongside the head.

Another teen staff said, “I’d read it but you use big words.” BIG WORDS! I just about lost it. I apologized to the assembled staff, promising I’d be careful in my choice of words in the future. In my apology I said, ”I’m sorry for using more than one syllable words. I’m sorry for writing posts longer than two paragraphs. I’m sorry for wanting to keep you updated on news. I’m sorry for taking rather boring news and fictionalizing it up a bit for interest’s sake, I’m sorry for even attempting to take a portion of your internet game time, I’m sorry for our failing schools and lousy teachers. After all the years you’ve all been in school and you can’t sit still still long enough to get thorough a post? Well it has to be the teacher’s fault. It can’t be yours, can it? I’m sorry America is producing a new generation that must be entertained all the time.

Does this generation have the attention span of a goldfish? Is this a generation that can tell you the history of every Mario Brothers game produced but can’t identify the person on the five dollar bill? Very well. I'll surrender? I'll write future posts in a style more fitting several members of my staff? Here goes nothing..........................

My News, by Mr. Williamson

Characters in my Saturday News:
Kyle: Builder of the New Galileo, the Old Galileo and almost everything else at the Space Center)
Brittney: Set Director of the Magellan simulator.
Stacy: Set Director of the Galileo simulator.
Ben: New Galileo Flight Director.
Megan: Set Director of the Phoenix. Leaving on a mission in two weeks to South Korea.
Emily: Set Director of the Odyssey.
Bracken: Flight Director of all our ships.

Brady: Flight Director of the Voyager.
Bradyn: Flight Director of the Voyager.
Matt Long: Guild Master for the Programmers.
Spencer: Space Center Maintenance.

The camp ended at 10:00 A.M. We had a nice meeting. We talked about the campers scores. The Voyager won the prize for best scores. Brady cheered. Bradyn cheered. All were happy. I was happy.

I did paperwork. I did lots of paperwork. I don’t like paperwork. Do you like paperwork? If you like paperwork then you should come to the school and do my paperwork. I’d like that.

It was cold on Saturday. Were you cold? I was cold. I think everyone was cold. Emily told me she was cold. She shivered. You would have felt sorry for her if you were here. You could of given her a hug to warm her up. Emily would slap you if you gave her a hug. Maybe you shouldn't give her a hug.

We have people that like to program computers. They have their own club. They call it the Programmer’s Club. Matt Long runs the Programming Club. Can you say Programmer’s Club? They meet at the school every Saturday. They are writing new programs for the new Galileo ship. I think they are doing a good job. They showed me their new programs. I thought they were good. I told them they were good. I said,
"I think your programs are good," They smiled and said I was a good person to say that their programs were good. I felt good about being a good person. Are you a good person? I like good people.

Kyle and Spencer worked on the new Galileo all day today. The new Galileo will open next week. I'm excited. Are you excited? I know, let's all be excited together! Ready........... one........two...........three.......... HURRAY. WE ARE ALL EXCITED TOGETHER.

I was sitting at my desk doing paperwork. Kyle came in and said a bad word. I was sad when Kyle said the bad word. I said, "Kyle, why did you say a bad word?" He said, "I said a bad word because this 4 channel HDMI switcher doesn't work. It is the second one we bought from the store and I'm mad. That's the reason I said a bad word."
"Kyle, you can be mad and not say bad words. Would you like to know how?" I asked. Kyle nodded his head. "Would I ever, Can you really teach me how to be mad and not say bad words Mr. Williamson?" Kyle asked while clapping his hands.
"Yes you can," I said. "Now, when you get mad I want you to think happy thoughts. If you think happy thoughts you won't want to say bad words," I said.
"Can we try?" Kyle asked.
"I'd like to very much," I replied. "OK, you pretend you don't know this is broken. I'll bring it to you and tell you its broken. The minute I say its broken you start thinking happy thoughts. Are you ready?"
"Can I get someone to help me?" Kyle asked. I said yes. Kyle ran out of the room. I did more paperwork. He didn't come back for a long time. I was worried. I stood up to go find him.
Then he came in with Brittney Vanders (she has a foreign last name that you might not know how to say so I made her name American so you can say it easier and wouldn't be sad).
"Where were you Kyle?" I asked. "I was getting worried."
"I'm sorry but I had to go potty. I found Brittney on my way back. She said she wanted to play so we held hands and skipped back. Brittney will help me not say bad words."
"I'm happy to play," Brittney said as she curtsied.

"Oh no, I forgot to wash my hands after going poo poo," Kyle said. "I'll be right back."
Kyle ran out of the room. Brittney looked at her hand. Then she looked at me. Her face was turning green.
"Brittney, your face is all green. What's wrong?" I asked. Brittney put her hand over her mouth. I could tell she was sick. She ran out of the room. I heard a splashing sound in the hallway. Do you like splashing sounds? Splashing sounds remind me of swimming and swimming is fun. I heard someone shout my name. I think shouting is rude, don't you? I stood up. I was angry. Stacy walked into the room.
"Was that you shouting at me?" I asked. "Shouting is rude."
"Brittney threw up in the hall?" Stacy said.
"So that wasn't a happy splashing sound?" I asked. Stacy nodded no. I said a bad word.

Later in the day, after we had our graham crackers and milk, Kyle and Brittney came in so we could play the game.
"Kyle," I said. "the HDMI switch doesn't work."
"Happy Thoughts..... Happy Thoughts.....," Brittney said. She was bouncing up and down, hoping her playing made a difference. Kyle stopped and closed his eyes.
"Darn it," he said.
Brittney and I jumped up and down clapping our hands. The game worked. Kyle opened his eyes.
"I didn't swear did I?" he asked.
"No, you said darn it. You win!" I shouted.
"I won.... I won!" Kyle said while running around the room giving everyone a high five. I reached into my desk and gave him a handful of Magic Medicine. We really have a good time at the Space Center, don't we boys and girls?

Later in the day I took my camera and walked to the cafeteria to take pictures of everyone working on the new Galileo. Would you like to see the pictures? I'll put them right here for you to look at.

At 5:00 P.M. it was time to go home. I put on my coat. Everyone was putting on their coats. We were all putting on our coats because it was cold outside and when its cold outside you put on your coat. I said goodbye to everyone but Stacy and Ben.
"Where are Stacy and Ben?" I asked.
"We don't know where Stacy and Ben are," everyone answered.
"Let's all look for Stacy and Ben because its cold outside and if they went outside when its cold they could get into trouble."
Megan started crying. Everyone ran to her and made a happy circle to make her feel better.
"I don't want Stacy and Ben to be outside in the cold," Megan said. "They could freeze and Stacy is my friend."
"Don't worry, I found them," Bracken shouted from down the hall. I was angry because Bracken shouted but I didn't want to say anything because Megan was sad. We followed Bracken to the cafeteria. We found Stacy and Ben sitting behind the Galileo crying.
"We're sorry we scared everyone," Stacy said, while wiping a tear off her cheek.
"Yes, we are very sorry," Ben replied.
"Why are you sad?" Everyone asked at the same time.
"We are sad because this was the old Galileo's last overnight camp. We are sad because our old friend is going away," Stacy explained. Ben nodded his head up and down while Stacy talked.
"But you get a new Galileo," I said while pointing to the shining new Galileo parked on the other end of the room.
Stacy stared crying louder. Ben cried more too. Ben's nose started to run. Ben's face became all sticky.
"Please don't cry," Emily said. "It will make us all cry and I want to be happy because we have church tomorrow."
"Why did you have to say that?" Stacy and Ben both cried louder. Everyone started crying then. It was sad.

"Hey everyone!" Kyle shouted from the other side of the room. He was standing on top of the new Galileo. "Think Happy Thoughts?"
And you know what? It worked. We all started thinking happy thoughts and the sad went away.
That Kyle really knows how to make everyone feel good. We all like Kyle.

Well, that was my Saturday. I'm tired from all this writing. I think I'll lay down and take a nap.


Mr. Williamson