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

Sunday, November 29, 2009

An Enemy From the Dark. Ch. 10 Continues. Then Ch. 11. The Boarding.

And now Troops, the 10th installment of a new mission I'm working on. Thanks for reading and forgive the errors. As I've said before, I've little time to polish so you get it right as it pours out the brain and through the fingertips.

Mr. Williamson


Continued from Ch. 10 Posted in this Blog on November 23rd.

Carick sat in the quiet of the empty lift. The emergency lights were bright enough to ward off any fear of the dark. There was a perfect stillness. “The still before the storm,” Carick thought. He floated before the computer screen. His training taught him to stay at the lowest point in any room during an artificial gravity disruption should the gravity come on without warning. Every few minutes he’d tap his comm. badge in hopes of finding a connection to the world outside his small metal box. Each time resulted in more silence.

Carick’s frustration at his situation exploded in a loud outburst. He slammed both hands on the lift’s wall. The sudden eruption of temper accomplished three things: 1. It felt good to vent pent up anger. 2. It really hurt. and 3. It sent his weightless body propelling across the car (according to Sir Isaac Newton, for every action there is an equal but opposite reaction).

After twenty minutes Carick ignored his training and pushed himself up to the lift’s ceiling. He figured there had to be a way to get out, he’d seen it done multiple times in the movies. Of course those were all building elevators. He found several bolts which secured a hatchway but without the proper tools he couldn’t undo them. He was back where he started. He moved back to the computer screen, spending the next several minutes tapping away, hoping to find a method to communicate, even by texting, with the bridge or any other place in the ship.

His concentration was suddenly interrupted by an alarm. He listened to the tone. The starship had different tones for different emergencies and notifications. The alarm system ran independent of the comm system in case the comm system was inoperable. Carick thought It could be an artificial gravity warning. He positioned himself for weight by placing both feet firmly on the lift’s floor.

An explosion violently rocked the ship sending him hard against the wall. His ship was being attacked. The ship they found on long range scans had arrived. Carick bounced around inside the lift several times, unable to grab onto something to stop himself. Another explosion sent the ship pitching hard to port. Carick's head and a wall came into hard contact. Blood flowed down his face and into his eyes. The last thing he remembered was flickering lights and the terrible sound of tearing metal........ then everything went dark. His body floated motionlessly in its prison.

Ch. 11

Carick awoke to the sensation of motion. He remembered where he was. He sat up. His head throbbed with pain due to a concussion. He felt a dried liquid on his face. It was his own blood. He'd been unconscious long enough for the blood on his face to dry. He was relieved the bleeding stopped on its own. He picked the dried blood away from his eyes. His rear end was defiantly on the floor. The artificial gravity was back on.

The lift was moving slowly, very slowly. He struggled to his feet wondering how long he'd actually been out. The lift stopped. Then started. It moved for several feet than stopped again. Carick heard voices from outside the door. Two people were talking. They were male voices. Carick pushed his ear against the door to try to capture the exact words. He could tell the voices were above him. The voices were unrecognizable but he could tell they weren’t speaking English. The lift wasn’t in position for the doors to open.

“We’ve been boarded,” Carick whispered to himself. Carick understood by the starting and stopping of the lift that they were interested in getting the turbolifts operational. He also assumed they were the ones that got the artificial gravity back online. Carick knew Cadets Kevin and Nuila were gifted but most likely not experienced enough to repair a non functioning gravity generator.

The lift jerked forward again, only to stop immediately. The voices were closer. Carick knew he only had a few moments before coming face to face with whoever or whatever had attacked and taken his ship.

The lift jerked forward again. The doors slid open. Carick laid with his back to the lift's floor pretending to be unconscious. He wanted to open his eyes just a tick to see what they looked like but felt he couldn’t take the risk. He needed to make his false unconsciousness look real. He remembered his face was already a bloody mess. He counted on that to make his deception look even better.

“Toraksu Morlon,” Carick heard someone say. Their voices sounded human and younger - much like his own. He didn’t recognize the language. A moment passed. He felt fingers touch his neck. They were warm blooded and again, felt human.
“Dreepse. Morbidee,” said the voice of the one touching his neck. Carick understood that to mean, “He’s alive,” or something to that effect. Carick clenched his fist. It was time. He knew they would either take him as a prisoner or just kill him on the spot. He didn’t want to take any chances. He mentally prepared himself to open his eyes. He didn’t know what these aliens looked like and he didn’t have the luxury of loosing even a moment of surprise due to the shock of seeing something hideous for the first time.

He opened his eyes. Before his was the face of a young man - a human with blue eyes and dark hair. Carick struck out with all the force his 17 year old body could muster from the prone position, punching the intruder directly under his nose with the intent to break it. He was successful, considering the sound the alien's nose made upon contact. The alien shouted something and fell to the side of the car. Carick jumped to his feet. The second alien assumed a martial arts position. He looked younger than Carick, perhaps 14 years old - if he were human. He wore some kind of skirt, similar to a Scottish kilt. It was blue with white trim along the bottom hem just above his knees. Above the skirt he wore a well fitted white T-Shirt with some kind of emblem on the right sleeve.
“Spass tormka spelsee droom,” the boy shouted. With that said, he struck Carick with full force using a series of martial arts maneuvers. Carick warded off the blows and struck back when the boy hesitated. A full contact punch to the chest put the boy off balance and onto the hallway floor. Carick had a moment while the boy caught his breath and struggled to his feet. He tapped the computer screen giving the lift an order to move to the next level. He jumped out. The doors shut, trapping the other alien inside. The car moved several feet then stopped. It was jammed. One alien was out of the fight. One more to go.

“My name is Carick. I’m the captain of this ship,” Carick said calmly to the boy as they both took a stand and waited for someone to strike. The boy’s face was scarred. His looked like he’d been in several fights. In fact his whole appearance was that of someone that used his body a lot. He was muscular for someone his age. He'd had a lot of training. The boy lunched forward landing several blows to Carick's head and midsection. Carick fought back. After several blows, both ended up on the floor. The boy rolled over and put Carick in what appeared to be a sleeper wrestling hold. Carick had the advantage of height and weight. He broke free of the hold, scampered up and over the boy's body and put the boy into a sleeper hold of his own. The boy struggled but couldn’t break free. Carick tightened his forearm around the boy’s neck, cutting off his air supply. The boy kicked and squirmed violently and then stopped. Carick looked at the boy in his arms. He had a choice to make. Kill him or let him live.

Carick laid the unconscious boy's head on the floor. The boy would wake knowing his enemy spared his life. If the boy had honor, he’d realize he owed Carick a favor - a favor Carick figured he would need some day. Carick jumped to his feet and ran. He called for the computer. There was no response. The halls were dark, except for the emergency lights. Some of the walls showed definite blast marks, an indication his crew fought for control of the ship. Carick stopped at the second turbolift elevator. A sign near the doors indicated he was on Deck 12. Carick was three decks below the bridge. Carick decided to by pass the unreliable lifts and opened the door to the emergency access shaft located just the left of the lift's doors. Carick stood in the small room. It wasn’t any bigger than a closet. A second door was directly in front of him. A sign on the door read “Emergency Access Shaft.” He opened the door and looked into the vertical turbolift shaft. A ladder was attached to the shaft wall on Carick’s left. The shaft was large enough for one lift car and one person. Horizontal metal barriers were evenly spaced throughout the tunnel showing the barrier between ladder access and turbocar lane. You were safe if you stayed on your side of the barriers. Stick an arm, leg or head out and a turbocar would take it off in passing.

Carick jumped onto the ladder and pushed a button to close the access door. He thought for a moment to consider a direction. Should he go up to the bridge or down to engineering? A turbocar approached. Red LED lights illuminated his section of the tunnel warning anyone on the ladder to hold on. The car flew by accompanied by a great rush of wind. Someone was on their way to the bridge. That told Carick where to go. He started down. It would be twelve decks on a ladder to the engine room. He wasn’t in any hurry.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving 2009! My Thoughts on the Subject.

Thanksgiving Day, 2009

(Three Years Before the End of the World According to a Certain Old Gentleman known as my father that eats like a bird thinking consuming 50 calories a day will keep him alive forever).

Dear Family and Friends,
Today finds us stuffing our faces with solid happiness. As the day progresses all of you will end up fat and happy (or I should say for some of us - fatter and happier). I'm hoping everyone is enjoying a good meal and pleasant company, or as pleasant as any of us can be considering the company we have to keep on this special day. Enjoy your day off. I know for many of you tomorrow means going back to work. For some, it will be the worse working day of the year. Yes, I'm talking about Black Friday. If you work in a store, or must go out shopping tomorrow, then you have my sympathies. May God bless and keep you safe from the savages that must have that special trinket for little Johnny and Mary and are willing to do anything (bribery, shoving, biting, kicking, eye gouging, pepper spraying) to get it. I suggest you wear a cross and keep a small flask of holy water handy in case you go down in battle and need Last Rites. I want you all to know that I'm available to come to the rescue if needed. My Battlestar can get into places your car can't if I need to do an emergency extraction (I drive a Lincoln Town Car - you know, the kind only old farts drive. I can get away with parking in the handicap stalls even without a Handicapp Sticker. Everyone just assumes that only those born during Hoover and Roosevelt's Administrations would drive one). I also have a pretty extensive first aid kit at the Space Center. I can do most things with it except perform heart and brain surgery. Oh, I'm a bit rusty with Gall Bladders and amputations so best to leave those types of injuries to professionals. Anyway, give me a call and I'll be right out.

Black Friday is the first official shopping day of the Christmas Season. Oops, according to my politically correct friends and some family that believe religion is yesterday's polyester bell bottoms, I shouldn't be saying or writing 'Christmas'. Instead I should refer to this time of year by its neutral name, the "Holiday Season". I was told that several national chains instructed their employees to drop the "Merry Christmas" salutation and replace it with the religiously neutral "Happy Holidays". Soon the words "Merry Christmas" will only be heard in churches and living rooms. Said anywhere else could cause the raising of eyebrows among those of other faiths and the non and anti religious. Let's not forget the effect of those words on atheists. They will will run from you weeping and wailing, clutching the Constitution as a shield against your verbal assault.

To many the Constitution is like the Bible. Both documents are considered sacred, never to be tampered with or interpreted outside of the age and time they were written. Others see them as fluid documents presenting guidelines that are flexible and should be interrupted for the our time. Both documents can be read and amazingly interpreted in multiple ways! It seems all sides to an argument, either political or religious, can find support through 'carefully guided' reading and the art of seeing only what they want to see.

I'm independent in such matters. On any given day my opinion may change based on who I'm listening to. I like to think its because I'm open minded, when in reality, I just can't remember what I should know from day to day. I call it selective memory syndrome. I remember just those things that will keep me employed and driving. Anything above and beyond that are luxuries. Costly luxuries mind you. For example, I don't know how many times I've purchased a DVD only to get it home and find I already own two copies! Frustrating! So, if I ever give you a DVD as a gift, don't consider it a miracle that I remembered your birthday or Christmas. It's just that, well......... you know.

So....... not to labor a point to death, may I wish my easily offended family members and friends a "Happy Holiday" and those that are religious and conveniently religious a "Merry Christmas". No one should be offended........ Oops. May I also wish you a Happy Hanuka. Oh, and I can't forget a Happy Festivus (for you Senfield fans). Wait, I suppose there may be a few that are offended and ready to sue because I used the word 'Happy'. I apologise if my using that word offends your right to be miserable. I'll do better next time.

Your Ever Kind and Gracious,
Mr. Williamson to some, Victor to others, Bossman to certain staff and Sir to all the rest.

P.S. The Williamson Thanksgiving in Cloverdale. http://ourcloverdale.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

And My Favorite for the Week


Hello Troops,
It is rare indeed to find me laughing out loud when I'm alone. Today was one of those rare occasions. This poster......... (and keep this quiet - you know - just between the two of us) made me laugh out loud.

Mr. W.

On the Bright Side........


Monday, November 23, 2009

An Enemy From the Dark. Ch. 10

Continued from Ch. 9 Posted in this Blog on November 1

Carick stepped into the Turbolift, called up the ships schematics and tapped on the Engine Room. The screen flashed red. The turboshaft on the map remained red after the screen returned to normal color. Carick understood that to mean a blockage of some kind within the turbo system.
“Computer,” Carick hesitated to ask the computer to calculate the best route to the Engine Room but time was of the essence.
“Working,” came the standard programmed female voice of the main computer.
“Engine Room,” Carick requested.
The car started moving. Carick wondered about the route the car would take with the standard shaft blocked. He noticed the lift was moving vertically. He thought it strange with the Engine Room below him.

“Roberts to Carick,” It was the voice of Cadet Kevin Robers coming from a speaker within the turbolift.
“Carick here.”
“Captain, we’ve got a serious problem.”
“Explain.”
“There seems to be a build up of plasma running from the main engine core to the impulse drives on the saucer section,” In the background Carick could hear alarms ringing. Then a strong electronic male voice sounded a warning. “Vent Now. Vent Now. Vent Now.”
“Warren, I don’t know how to vent plasma get over here and help m......”

An explosion rocked the ship. Carick was thrown against the wall of the turbolift. The car stopped moving. Carick found himself in complete darkness for a few seconds until the emergency lights flickered on. He was floating. The ship’s artificial gravity was off line.

He tapped his com badge. No computer response. He pushed himself away from the ceiling toward the floor. He stabilized his movement with the hand rails. The computer screen was working. His attempts to access ship communications failed. A few more taps brought up the ship schematics.

“Oh God no,” he whispered to himself. The screen showed an entire section of the port bulkhead between decks 4 and 6 gone. The ship was exposed to open space.

“If they didn’t know we were here, they do now,” Carick said to himself, referring to the alien ship spotted earlier nearby. Its funny the strange things that pass through someone’s mind in a disaster. Carick thought about the Titanic. Ever since he was a boy the story of the greatest ship of its time sinking on its maiden voyager through a series of unfortunate events fascinated him. He thought about Captain Smith, standing on the bridge of the White Star Line’s Flagship, watching the water boil over the bow and onto the deck. Carick always wondered what the old captain was thinking about as his ship sank from beneath him taking him and 1500 of his passengers to their deaths. Now, for the first time, he thought he knew the answer.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Astronomical Event Shocks the World!

Citizens of London taking to the streets in mass panic upon hearing the news. The Pope will speak to the World this Evening.


Something happened yesterday morning at or around 7:00 A.M. While parts of the world slept and others were in the full rhythm of life, the sun stopped briefly in the sky. Astronomers the world over are checking the accuracy of this report with their atomic clocks and other instruments. As of today, the data is irrefutable.
Yesterday was 15 seconds longer than it should have been.

Today scientists are searching for the cause. What would cause the sun to stand still? What would cause the Earth to briefly pause in its never ending cycle of day and night? Some speculate that something with a very large gravitational pull must have come close enough to the Earth to slow the planet’s rotation. The Institute of Science says it may have been a passing, rogue miniature black hole. We know they are out there. What happened yesterday might be the proof scientists have sought for decades.

Of course, there are others who see phenomena this as a message sent by a vengeful God warning humans that the end is near and repentance is the key to unlock salvation and safety from the coming apocalypse. In many parts of the world churches are the fullest they’ve been in years.

Today we have another mystery. If the Earth’s rotation slowed by 15 seconds yesterday then logic dictates today would also be extended by 15 seconds. As of the writing of this post, Sunday is on time. The delay seems to have been a one day occurrence - making it all the more mysterious.

I’m sure there will be conferences on this subject. I’m sure heads of state the world over are consulting their greatest scientific minds on the subject and I’m sure theories will spread like a pandemic.

Such a reaction for something I understand.

Yes, I understand why yesterday was 15 seconds longer than it should have been. I’m tempted to notify the authorities but fear I wouldn’t be believed. The reason, my friends, may have to stay within our Space Center family and friends.

Yesterday, for the first time in 19 years, the Space Center served our overnight campers a breakfast with chocolate covered donuts alongside our normal glazed donuts. I ordered the change in our WalMart weekly donut order on Friday morning after realizing the price of a dozen chocolate covered donuts was the same as glazed. It always had been. I just never asked.

Opening those chocolate covered donuts for the staff’s early morning gathering created such a shock the Earth itself paused momentarily to regain its senses. So many our staff inhaled in shock (as humans tend to do) when I opened that first box and offered them chocolate covered donuts that a temporary vacuum was created in the Discovery Room. A wind, strong enough to blow the napkins off the front desk, rushed in from the hallway to fill the sudden low pressure system. Two of our older veteran staffed fainted. One hurt her head when it came down forcefully onto the tabletop. There were reports of lights flickering throughout the school and the surrounding neighborhood.

I blame myself for everything that’s happened and apologize for any inconvenience it may have caused. I didn’t expect such a reaction. I knew this was a dramatic shift in our normal operating procedures but didn't think it would be the cause for all this unpleasantness.

I’ll finish this post now. I've decided to come clean. I have several phone calls to make. I’ll start with the Astronomical Union. They will help notify others once I send them the proof. I sat one of the WalMart chocolate covered donuts aside in case something like this happened. I’ll take it down to the UPS store, have it wrapped in a box, then wrapped again in bubble wrap before sending it to Washington for analyses.

I’m hoping this won’t frighten people away from sending their children to us for camps, classes and field trips. It was all a mistake and I’m sorry for it.

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Post From the Past. Orginally Posted on June 11, 2007

Hello Troops,
The Space Center has a YahooGroup that is open to our volunteers and staff only. There are several good historical posts on the YahooGroup that I'll be posted here on the Blog over the next several months. I hope you enjoy reading them. They should bring back memories of your time here.

Mr. Williamson

June 11, 2007
The Space Center's First EdVenture Camp for Summer 2007.

Hello Troops,
It is 21:58 ship time. We are well into the first evening of our second EdVenture Camp. All the ships are working. At my 12 oclock - the Voyager is running Greenpeace. They had a few network glitches at the beginning but we stalled sooo well that the problem was corrected and the kids didn't know they lost a good 10 minutes off their mission. We are so good - aren't we?

To my 9 oclock - the Odyssey. Chris is running Stakeout. I'm hearing the voices of multiple kids debating their situation. Right now a Phoenix staff officer is standing by the Odyssey's replicator hatch testing phasers. They are preparing for an attack. Lots of noise now from the Odyssey's transporter. They are debating with someone.

To my 6 oclock is the Phoenix running Curahee. "Everyone hold still!" was just heard from the bridge. There is a motion scan in progress. One of the volunteers just passed my desk all decked out as a Paklid. I wonder who is going to be really annoyed in just a minute. Stacy just passed with a bag of cookies from Subway. She just stopped and offered me a portion which I gladly accepted. The Paklid just walked by again. I got a good look at Abram's face. He has blacked out his eyes. He looks like a Paklid just finished with ascrape over his lunch money!

Red Alert sounds from the Phoenix echo around the Briefing Room.
"Captain, we got to get out of here right now!" Cally (Megan) shouted in character. BJ just tumbled out of the Phoenix in character. Hewas shouting that they had to escape right now! I'm hearing "Shoot, Shoot, Fire Fire..." Another voice is saying "I'm trying - stop shouting at me!".

One of the ship's doctors just passed. It is the Voyager's. It is Jennifer Halverson. She was a volunteer a few years back and is now attending BYU. Her little brother is volunteering on this mission so she decided to come back for the evening for old time's sake. Stacy has plopped down at the staff computer at my 10:00 oclock.

"Get up there and tell them to go, go , go.... freaking go!" Megan just said to BJ. He is going in as his character. "What are you doing here!" BJ is shouting at the captain. He is good - really good. I'd be jumping if I were the captain.

It is now 22:09. Explosions. I'm assuming large space battles are in progress. Some of the staff are in the Discovery Room admiring the new spot lights we installed in the ceiling this morning. It really makes the room!
"Whitney, fire the thrusters!"
"Impact in Five, Four, Three, Torepdos have missed!"
"Warning, imcoming weapon's fire."
The missions continue all around me. The Voyager is strangely silent right now. Our two staff photographers just walked by. They play Federation Reporters in the ships talking pictures. We sell the CD's after the camps. Two campers ran into the Odyssey's transporter laughing. They were rushing to get back into the story after a quick
trip to the toilet.

I'm looking at a stack of letters waiting to be opened. I'm looking at a new script for the Canada mission submitted by Kyle this morning. It is long and detailed. I need to reserve some time to digest that. The answer machine is blinking 5 messages. My spiral binder on my right indicates 12 calls to return for private mission bookings.

"Engines are overheating! 30 Seconds!" Phaser fire from the Phoenix. It is 22:16. This first rotation ends at 22:30. I'll meet the kids in the cafeteria for ice cream. I'll enjoy their stories of heroism. I'll enjoy their tales of bravery in the face of overwhelming odds.

Megan killed the Phoenix crew. They are getting a friendly lecture right now. Emily stopped at the wire basket to pick up the post flight survey's.

At 00:30 (12:30 A.M.)I'll settle down for a bit of sleep. I'll sign off now. I've got to get all the ship's their surveys. Enjoy your evening all.

Mr. Williamson

The Magic Genie in the Bottle

By Aleta Clegg, Dame de la Presse-Papiers
and Space Center Flight Director.

‘Twas late in the evening. Frost hung in the air. Leaves crackled underfoot as I paced through the camp, too restless to sleep. The magic of the clipboard wore on me, but our esteemed leader, Sir Williamson, looked so much more rested and refreshed. I paused near his tent.

“Ah, Mistress Aleta, come in. I have a new wonder to show you.” He beckoned me to his tent.

I approached warily. Only a few months past he had purchased the magic clipboard from a traveling peddler. I dreaded seeing what he had purchased this time.

Sir Williamson reverently unwrapped a bundle of green velvet to reveal a gleaming bottle of clouded blue glass. Its shape was odd–long neck and wide bulb at the base. Swirls of glass that looked like candle wax dribbled down the sides.

“What is that, pray tell?” I asked, doing my best to hide my fears.

“A magic bottle. The peddler spoke of a genie trapped within, a genie that will do my bidding. I but have to whisper the task into the bottle.” He held the bottle close, his lips moving silently. I strained my ears but could not tell what secret he whispered to the genie of the bottle. Sir Williamson smiled. “It shall be done by morning.”

We bid each other good evening. I stepped back out into the stillness of the night camp. I waited for magic to stir me to action. The clipboard was empty, no parchments rattled my pockets. I waited, knowing it was only a matter of time.

A figure stumbled from the troupe’s tent. He clutched a hammer in his hand. His eyes were wide. Moonlight illuminated his features. I grasped his tunic sleeve as he passed. “Master Parker? What evil has been wrought this night?”

He turned to me, his eyes terror-stricken. “Forsooth, I know not what evil spell hath possessed me, but I must repair the wagons or die!” He tugged his sleeve from my hold, lurching to the wagons.

I shook my head, pity filling my heart. Poor soul, to be so bound by magic. Parchment crackled in my pocket. We two shared a burden. Green light flashed from Sir Williamson’s tent.

For those who want to know: Jon Parker has taken over much of the maintenance at the space center. Mr. Williamson tells him what needs to be done, and Jon does his bidding. It is sort of like being a genie slave some days.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Saturday Training Mission Needing Crew.

Hello Blog Readers!
Practice missions with volunteer crews are necessary in the training of new Flight Directors. Are you interested in being on a test / training mission?
Advantages:

1. No Cost. They're free!
2. You get to come to the Center again.

Disadvantage:

1. The mission may have problems. Remember, your flight director is learning how to be a flight director. The mission may not run smoothly. You must be forgiving and willing to give good feedback at the end of the mission.

I'm looking for 6 volunteers to go on a test mission in the Phoenix this Saturday evening. The mission is called Currahee.
This isn't a new mission. You might have done it. You may not repeat it if you have.

When: Saturday, November 21
Time: 4:30 - 7:00 P.M.
Where: At the Space Center
Ages: You must be between 10 and 14 years old and A READER OF THE SPACE CENTER'S BLOG. We like to take care of our regular Blog Readers.

Rule: One spot per family.

If you're interested, please respond by email with the following information:

Name:
Phone Number:
Age:
Your favorite Blog Post from the last Month:

Thanks Troops,
Mr. Williamson

Monday, November 16, 2009

Space Center News Jewels.


“Extra, Extra, Read All About It,” shouted the freckle face red haired urchin standing on the street corner in pants that showed his sockless ankles and hat that let more rain in than out.

Space Center fans were streaming out of the dark subway stations rushing home through the rain, appearing and disappearing as they moved in and out of light circles drawn on the cracked pavement by the street lamps. They were rushing home in search of a nice hot meal, a bit of piece and quiet for their homework and, to top off a perfect night, a relaxing read of the latest Space Center news before their bath and bed.

They stopped to drop a penny into the dripping hand of the newspaper boy. His hand was blackened because of the newsprint mixed with the moisture. They tucked the folded newspapers under their arms and rushed away to their apartments and row houses.

What will they read in tonight’s edition?

BEN MURDOCK HIRED FOR THE GALILEO.

Ben Michael Murdock was hired today by Space Center Director Victor Williamson to flight direct missions in the Galileo Simulator. The paperwork was filled out and signed at 3:30 P.M. All cheered while Ben was rushed away into the Space Center’s ‘Room for Special Occasions’. He was led to the darkened room’s center. When the light’s came on Mr. Murdock found himself surrounded by the Center’s Collective. Each member of the Collective was dressed in their hooded robes. Their heads bowed to conceal their identity. No one spoke. A desk rose from the center of the room. On the desk was a parchment. Next to the document stood an ink well and quill pen.

“Read,” spoke a deep voice that rumbled through the room. Each member of the collective pointed to the parchment with boney index finger. Ben, noticeably distraught by the experience, stammered a moment and then began reading.

“By signing this document you swear to the Collective hear gathered your full devotion and allegiance to the exploration of Space and the mission of the Space Center. You are bound by this oath for life. You are duty bound to return to Space Center employment when called upon, even after you leave to pursue life's other life’s......”

The document was long and detailed. By its end Ben understood what employment at the Space Center entailed. Total devotion of time, talent and a willingness to work for dirt cheap wages.

“Sign, or leave,” the deep voice rang out once more. Ben gulped. He looked at the figures surrounding him and thought about the life he had, and wondered if he had what it took to give it all up for the Center.

The room remained deathly quiet while all waited on his decision. Then, a cell phone rang. Someone in the Collective had left their phone on. The hooded figure at 2:00 o’clock fumbled with her robe searching for the phone that had fallen into the woolen cloak’s hem through a poorly stitched seam in the cloak’s pocket. Ben recognized the ring tone. It was Stacy Carroll’s. She trained him in the Galileo. She taught him everything he knew. He couldn’t let her down and not sign. He grabbed the quill and scratched his name on the parchment.

It was done. He was now a member of the Collective. The Fellowship raised their arms in unison to welcome their newest member, then quickly exited the dark room for refreshments and home.

Welcome Ben to your new life. You’ll never be the same again.

MRS. HOUSTON DISAPPEARS. RUMORS SPREAD.

Mrs. Lorraine Houston didn’t go to work today at the Center. There was word she was preparing to be admitted to the hospital tomorrow for a few procedures to help with severe pain she’s suffered with for several months.
Everyone at the Space Center, along with our numerous readers, all wish Mrs. Houston a speedy recovery. She may be gone four to six weeks. What shall we do without her?

“I’ll starve to death,” Mr. Williamson was overheard saying while standing near the pen box in the Briefing Room. He looked hungrily at the empty counter where Mrs. Houston normally placed fresh baked treats for the daytime field trip staff when she arrived at work in the mornings. Luckily Mrs. Clegg was there to offer condolences along with the other daytime staff, Sheila, Jon, Bracken, and Stacy. Suddenly, Mr Williamson dropped to the carpet suffering from delicious carbo withdrawal.

Mrs. Clegg knew someone had to act quickly or the Center’s operations would grind to a halt. There was a class waiting in the loading hallway for their 9:45 A.M. mission. She rushed into the Discovery Room, opened the gift shop, grabbed a package of peanut butter crackers, returned ot the Briefing Room. Mr. Williamson was in a full withdrawal seizure. He was sprawled out on the floor shaking uncontrollably. The rest of the staff were too afraid to constrain him.

Aleta barked out orders, “Hold his arms and legs down!” The staff hesitated for a moment then carried out her orders. “Jon, hold down his head,” she said while unwrapping the crackers. Once the head was fairly immobile she pried open his mouth and shoved the crackers in. The effect was immediate. The carbos rushed through his body bringing equilibrium to his mind and body. Mr. Williamson, embarrassed by his complete lack of self control, thanked everyone and ordered the ships loaded. The rest of the day went fairly normal.

Mr. Williamson.

Saint Sheila of Lehi is a Guest Blogger.

Hello Troops,
Sheila Powell is a teacher at the Space Center. She is also the State Chairwoman for the National Geography Bee. She also founded the new Lehi's Farmer's Market. What a gal!

From Mrs. Powell,
Hello All,
THIS IS COOL NEWS!!! I WAS SELECTED TO BE A GUEST BLOGGER ON THE
MYWONDERFULWORLD.ORG WEBSITE DURING GEOGRAPHY AWARENESS WEEK sponsored by National Geographic!!!

Look for my blog about "farmers' market geography" Monday Nov 16th!!!


http://blog.mywonderfulworld.org/


Sheila Keller-Powell

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Week's End with the Troubadours



Snow fell yesterday in the Shire. I awoke missing the sun. My window framed a picture of the approaching winter. The canvas held the dark gray and white oils of a sad sky. The black branches of a leafless oak divided the scene into smaller parts. I watched the small branches shiver in the wind as the clouds blew by, driven by a gale from the Great Salt Sea. The scene brought memories of last year's cold. I remembered my aching bones. I remembered the dark mornings. I remembered the sun leaving us to the dark of night earlier each passing day. It was hard to conjure the spark of merry thought. I turned away to search the castle’s stone hallways for my fellow Troubadours. It was the week’s end. We entertained the noble’s guests until Friday’s late hours. They would soon be gathering for breakfast and then calling upon to conclude the tales and song begun the night before.

I found my fellows in their sleeping quarters. They sat cold in their seats waiting for a fire’s warmth.
“This room is too frigid for sleep,” Master Merryweather complained. “My spit hath frozen in my mouth. I can barely speak,” The others agreed. Merry rose to speak for all gathered. “We must have better accommodations if we are to be asked to entertained so early. How can I sing when I can hardly mouth a sentence?”

Pastries were delivered from the cook house. I thought the treat would lift the dark spirit in the room. Most partook. Others sat motionless, except for the pronounced chattering of their teeth.
“I shall look into providing a sustainable fire,” I promised. Thanks were given and accepted. We could now move ahead.

I spoke when all were gathered. “Soon our guests will be rising. They will have their breakfast in the great hall. We will then entertain. Let us make haste with preparation.”

Our troupe sprang to action. Our stages and equipment were uncovered. Our instruments tuned and fires lit. Our oil backdrops of lands far away were unrolled. In the half of an hour our band of Troubadours were on their marks, ready to perform. The noble expected our performances to replace the missing sun. He wanted the hall filled with music, story and laughter. He needn't worry. We knew what was expected and performed in full voice.

We entertained throughout Saturday’s afternoon. All five stages performing for noble and peasant alike. The sunless court was warm in spirit as those gathered drew hands together to applaud our tales of danger and woe. I was pleased with my fellows. Our reputation was well earned. We are the best band of Troubadours in the Shire, nay, I will be bold and further my statement to include the entire Kingdom. Some in the village may argue and I welcome the debate. Let them show me other Troubadours that do what we do. Let them bring them hither and show my troupe their talents. If their talent exceeds ours, then I will be the first to surrender the argument. If not, then I beg their voices silent so we may continue.

Before the first curtains parted we gathered to bid adieu to Madam Lorraine. The first lady of our Band had horse and cart waiting. Her health has been a demon to suffer. The Nobleman’s best surgeon’s examined her. After countless attempts to find a cure using tonics, trinkets and leeches they informed our noble lord that a treatment was beyond their understanding. A special doctor skilled with knifes and stitches lived in a village near. Lady Lorraine was leaving to seek his treatment. Her journey back to health will take four to six weeks. We watched as her cart rocked back and forth over the cobblestones and out the castle’s gate. A moment later it disappeared into the gently falling snow of a gray fog.

Masters Kyle and Spencer spent much of the day working on our new stage. It was commissioned some time ago and is nearing completion. It will make a good addition to our other sets. It has been costly, draining a great deal of the troupe’s reserves but all who see it marvel at its beauty. Instead of wood the stage is supported by polished metal. Its designed incorporates movement, allowing this stage to turn and move. Our Noble Lord wishes it ready in a fortnight for Thanksgiving’s feast. Masters Kyle and Spencer offer their word that it shall.

Lady Stacy and Master Bracken spent the day engaged in the creation of new art for our canvases. Master Long and his small band of artists spent the day on the mathematics of movable set. A feature no other band of Troubadours offer. Their imaginations, along with the melody of voice and the spoken word, combine to transport our audiences to distant lands.

Our day ended at the stroke of 5. The peasants thanked us with applause then bowed to the noble lord in gratitude for his hospitality. The Great Hall’s doors opened giving them escape to the village and their suppers and bed. Our band worked diligently to pack our props and instruments away. Some went to their rooms. Others stayed in the Hall to talk near the fire. While others disappeared into the dark of night with invitations to enjoy meals elsewhere in the village.

I along with others sat near the flame of three candles to hear a new story told by a visiting Troubadour, not of our Troupe. This story captivated my imagination, holding me spellbound for the better part of an hour. It was the story of a magical round gate of stone on a great ship lost on the black sea around the stars of the night sky. The sailors passed through the gate and carried away by magic to a distant land in search of food. Their journey turned deadly when a small snakelike creatures was discovered roaming the land. These creatures attacked in the dark of night, moving with such speed our hero's arrows could not find their marks.

I wont’ go further in this retelling. Perhaps it is a story we may tell on our own stages.

I bid my fellows adieu and retired to bed. Tomorrow was the sabbath and our day of rest. I put out the candle and drifted away through the magical gate in search of new tales to tell, heroes to praise, songs to sing and demons to thwart. Such is the life of a Troubadour.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Power of Myth and Magic.


Hello Troops,

There are many similarities between Harry Potter and Luke Skywalker. In fact, I sometimes wonder if JK Rowling’s world of fantasy wasn’t somehow based on Star Wars.

In both Harry Potter and Star Wars we find children of light facing dark enemies of frightening power. Both are orphans. Both had parents killed by ‘the Dark Side’. In Harry, The Dark Side is made up of an army of witches and wizards commanded by a Dark Lord. They are intent on extinguishing good and replacing it with evil. In Star Wars we see the same plot. The Dark Side in Star Wars is made up of an evil empire commanded by a different, yet remarkably similar Dark Lord. Instead of magic, Star Wars uses the ‘magic’ of technology and the Force.

Harry and Luke have extraordinary powers for their age. One uses Magic and the other the Force and technology. I believe they are essentially the same thing for story telling purposes. One power requires a wand. The other uses a pronounced mental discipline, the right DNA and a collection of cool Blasters!

The popularity and profitability of these two franchises proves the power of myth in today's society. Today we search for escapism in our entertainment. We look for a release from the common day to day grind of life. We seek parole from the Science and Discovery Channels. Millions of us spend our entertainment dollars on expeditions to the simpler days of multiple gods, demons, sorcerers, vampires and others - all spiced with magic and mystery.

The mysteries of the world and universe are plucked, dressed, and neatly served to us by science on a silver platter. Many mysteries of the past, once explained with magic and faith, are no longer mysteries. We have a good understanding of our place in the universe. We have a good understand of outer and inner space. We understand there is no Zeus on high Olympus hurling lighting bolts at the disobedient or a Poseidon deep in the depths of the sea. Science has stripped the world of these things. And strangely, we miss them.

Many come to the Space Center seeking a disconnect from the ever present world. They want the magic, mystery and fantasy of myth and story. And that is something we can deliver. We can take a youngling, put him in a uniform, and give him an imaginary starship as fantastic as any magic carpet. We give them a ship that travels to the stars at speeds once only available to the gods. Our younglings have the power of Zeus’s lightening bolts. They have the ability to transport themselves from the heavens and down to any planet. They face the overwhelming powers of darkness and, with the imaginary technology we give them, protect the good and defend the weak.

Story is the magic and myth and we are story tellers. We are the Troubadours of modern society. We nourish imagination. We take our younglings out of a world where their lives are governed by adults to a world where they have the power to make decisions and experience the consequences.

Staff and volunteers, we have five small theaters. You are on stage every time you come to work. Tell good stories. Make them magical. Think about the power of myth as you create future stories. Consider why myth is so powerful in today’s world. Recreate that magic in our ships. Our stories can be as powerful as any movie or book. It only takes you and your vivid imaginations.

Consider the following. I don't know the author but find it interesting in this discussion:

"Carl Jung also studied the timeless myths and extracted from them the essential archetypal patterns that recur over and over again in man’s individual and collective journeys. He taught that there is a collective unconscious that is empowering all humankind with essential ideals. Reading myths quickens the imagination and allows it to soar beyond the mundane into these essential ideals. A daily exposure to ideals above and beyond the secular allows creative genius to be readily accessible.

Good myths exert a powerful mental and emotional magnetism on the psyche. They pull you into the story. Be conscious of which myths attract you and which characters attract you. This will tell you something about yourself. The more you understand your own personal myth, the more creative you can be in actualizing your desired potential. Who are you, what are your greatest desires, and what do you want out of life? Know these feelings and live them creatively.

Troops, Consider the power of myth and story telling and how it applies to our work at the Space Center.

Let's get to work.

Mr. Williamson





Thursday, November 12, 2009

Galileo Is Mentioned Again, And Your Questions Answered.

Hello Troops,
Kyle Herring sent this link. Read it. It's good.

http://technabob.com/blog/2009/11/11/spaceship-simulator-for-sale/

As for your questions about the Galileo.

  • Yes, it comes with all its equipment (at least as of right now. I may have to keep the sound mixer if I can't get another one).
  • Yes, you must take it apart. It won't exit the school in its current state. Too Big.
  • This Galileo cost far more than its current bid. My guess..... to rebuild and equip the simulator just as it is now would run you around $15,000.
  • Yes, the Galileo is in need of some TLC. We are building a new one just because of that. You should be fairly handy if you want to buy it, or at least know someone who is and would be willing to help you in the take apart and the reconstruction.
If you have other questions please send them along to me.

Director@spacecamputah.org

Mr. Williamson

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Space Center Celebrates 19 Years!

Some of our Real Old Timers from Days Long Ago.
Left to Right. Landon Hemsley, Soren Seibach, Charlie Heaton, Bryson Lystrup, Randy Jepperson, Brady Young, Matt Long and Bryce Redd.
And of course, the old entrance to the Odyssey.

Hello Troops,
Nineteen Years have come and gone. The Space Center celebrated the event yesterday. I remember November 8, 1990 very well. I was nervous. I had doubts. I questioned whether I knew what I was doing. Others I felt had thoughts concerning my sanity.

It all started with a Young Astronaut Club and a trip to Japan. I saw a school with a small shuttle simulator and wanted one for my club at Central. Suddenly the dream took on its own life. The little ship Pegasus, destined to be built where the Odyssey is now, had exploded into the Voyager – a new addition build onto the school. So many
people were drawn into the project. Great amounts of money and manpower were spent. It had to succeed but I didn't know what `it' was. Failure wasn't an option. I didn't sleep well those first years. My health suffered. My poor heart never completely recovered. The anxiety attacks, I'm happy to say, lasted three years and ended.
I had a building but no real understanding what to do with it. I envisioned a science lab on board a futuristic spaceship but that idea never took root. I experimented with a scientific mission to Mars. There are people that remember that first school mission. We flew at warp speed using HyperCard controls I programmed. Once there we used a Mars laserdisc for special effects. We flew around the planet learning about its climate and features. I stood on the bridge next to the Tactical screen. My 6th grade staff (2 kids) sat in the control room listening and waiting for clues on when to play and pause. How primitive it was compared to what we do now. After a few Mars missions I felt something was missing. The students showed little excitement. They were just bodies sitting at the computers listening to me. I was in command giving the captain orders on where to go and what to do. It wasn't working.

I thought back to my days in the classroom with the overhead projector, boom box, and paper controls. Then the idea came – do what you've proven successful. Introduce some drama. I quickly pulled a few of my "Star Trek" videos and, using two of the school's VCR's, I edited an ending with of a Romulan warbird showing up orbiting Mars. It was a crazy idea but crazy ideas built the Center. I guess being
willing to act on crazy impulses is a character trait I should be proud of.

The idea of adding the Romulan scene at the end of the mission worked well. The kids got excited to see the Romulan ship. The little battle thrown into the end of the Mars mission was successful. It convinced me that my original idea of taking a class on an EdVenture into space would work with the general public like it did with my captive class. I quickly sat down and wrote another mission. I believe it was called "Epsilon". It was a story of a planet in the Klingon Neutral Zone. Half the planet was under Federation control and the other was under Klingon control. The treaty, allowing joint
control of the planet, was soon to be reviewed. The planet would be awarded to the government that demonstrated it could best care for the planet's population.

The story had the Voyager entering the Neutral Zone bringing a new kind of wheat to the planet. This new wheat was genetically engineered to grow well in the planet's harsh climate. The Voyager had a few close calls on the way to the planet and a few others while in orbit. At the end of the mission our classes left the Voyager so excited. I knew I had found the formula and the rest, as they say, is history.

Now here we are 19 years later. The one ship is five. Our stories are much more complicated. Our simulators are ten times more sophisticated. Our work force has exploded but here I am – still sitting at the helm of the Voyager with microphone in hand. The years have taken their toll. I'm getting older and gray but the magic is
still there. Someone once asked me If I would ever move on. I've thought about that many times over the years. Sometimes, when everyone is gone, I go onto the Voyager's Bridge and sit under the dim lights in the Captain's chair. I look at the walls. I imagine the voices of 225,000 children swirling around the room - in the very fabric of the ship. I look over at the left wing and see the original staff, training crews before the days of training tapes. I see Jacob over in the corner asleep when he should be doing his job as a bridge staff. I hear Russell downstairs playing the blind doctor. I watch a much younger Mr. Schuler coming up the stairs in full Star Trek uniform. I
hear a child's voice shout, "Admiral on the Bridge!" I still see that silly mask popping up over the loft and staring at Security. I hear the screams, the laughing, and the quiet that came from sadness when Blossom died in a fiery crash into a planet so many years ago. The memories are happy and so I think I'll stay awhile longer.

Perhaps some day video game technology will become so evolved that children will do one of our missions at home connected to some kind of virtual reality machine. The computer will play my part, telling the story and reacting to the kid's decisions. The class will sit with goggles covering their eyes showing them the bridge of some futuristic ship. Gloves will give them the feel of working the controls. Perhaps the Voyager will still be around. A museum they will visit with their grandparents. As they tour the simulator the sounds of our voices and the blaring music with red alerts will mix with their grandparents stories of when they flew the Voyager to places far distant.

Thank you everyone for Nineteen years. Thank you volunteers for volunteering hours of your time each month. Thank you staff. The pay isn't great but you're creating lasting memories that will stay with our students forever. Finally, thank you students, campers and parents for your constant support! We are here because of you.

Sincerely,
Mr. Williamson

Sunday, November 8, 2009

My Ear Hurt. Our Horrible Terrible Very Bad Day.

Hello Troops,
Whew...... Last week we had one of those days.

Renaissance and Freedom Charter Schools were on the schedule for the 9:30 A.M. field trip last Wednesday. Renaissance called the day before to request the 9:30 A.M. mission. There was an issue with one boy leaving early. I agreed. We also had a reporter from the Salt Lake Tribune coming at 10:30 A.M. to take pictures of the Renaissance kids for an article they are writing on our sale of the old Galileo.

I informed the staff that Renaissance would fly first, Freedom second. Everything seemed fine. What followed next had be my fault. For some reason I forgot Space Center Rule One:
  • Space Center Rule 1: If everything seems to be fine - BEWARE. A catastrophe will be forth coming.
Fortuna is a cruel mistress, always cutting our string of good and favorable fortune once we, the recipients, realize that good fortune. That realization dawned on me as I walked to school Wednesday morning. Thoughts of how easily this new school year was unfolding played through my thoughts as I walked down 1100 North. That's when I knew that Fortuna knew I had just realized our good fortune. A dullness of color and sound enveloped me. The air thickened, giving me the feeling I was walking through molasses. I saw Harry Potter's Death Eaters swirling overhead in my mind's eye. I attempted to create a Patronus but failed. I couldn't do it properly. It was like trying to start a fire with damp matches. Every spark of happiness was immediately snuffed out.

Two hours later Aleta came into my math class to relieved me so I could load the first class on the Bridge. I stood on the Bridge waiting. I heard the children's voices. The first ones rounded the spiral staircase. I saw a problem. This crew was wearing red school shirts. Renaissance wore white shirts. Why were Freedom students coming up my stairs? Where was Renaissance? I stopped the loading and removed everyone from the ship. I 'fast walked' to the Starlab to fetch Renaissance while Lorraine followed behind with the now confused and bewildered Freedom students. Precious minutes disappeared from the day's mission times as I tried to sort the mess out. I knocked on the Starlab dome and told Shiela she had the wrong class. The Renaissance teacher chimed in and told me it was OK. They would take the afternoon mission.

Now, thoroughly embarrassed, I took the Freedom kids back to the simulators. Loading started once again. This time the students ascended the winding staircase without their Voyager and Odyssey uniforms. There was no one in the crew quarters dressing and organizing the campers.
"Oh Fortuna, you vixen," I thought with a growing sense of respect for this Goddess of Fate.

We got the mess sorted out and the mission commenced very late. I did everything I could to speed the crew through the story, only to find resistance from the command officers. They were indecisive. They seemed like deer in the headlights. We worked the story and reworked the story doing everything we could to push them.

The 11:30 A.M. flight started late because of the extra time I gave Freedom. The Renaissance command officers also seemed shell shocked by the experience. It was slow going all through Midnight Rescue. By 1:40 P.M. it was all done. We sent both groups home.

That's when I noticed one of my tension ear aches coming on. Some people get headaches, others get sour stomachs - I get an earache in my right ear when I'm stressed - and that ear ache was a doozey! At 2:00 P.M. another bus arrived, bringing two classes of sixth graders from J.A. Taylor Elementary. I had the 2:00 P.M. mission. Bracken was scheduled to take the 4:00 P.M. Midnight Rescue was their choice of mission. That meant four tellings of that story that day. We were all sick of it.

Training went slowly. I was once again pressed for time. I did my best to push them through the mission. It was 4:00 P.M. I was suppose to stop. I wouldn't. I was determined to finish this mission come heck or high water. The Voyager was at the Federation border. The mission was at its climax. Tension was everywhere. I clicked my mouse to advance to the next card and that's when she struck again! My computer shut off. Luckily the tactical showed an 'Intruder Alert'. I stalled for time as I restarted the computer. A few minutes later I was running again. I logged on and once again clicked the mouse to move the Tactical forward. My computer shut off a second time! SHE STRUCK AGAIN. NOW IT WAS GETTING OLD. It was 4:10 P.M. I had no choice but to stop the mission. The other class was lined up in the hallway waiting to board and I had an flight computer that wouldn't stay on.

We removed the disappointed crew the Voyager. I sat perplexed, wondering why my computer kept shutting down every time I clicked the mouse. That's when I remembered Space Center Rule 5:
  • Space Center Rule 5: When facing a problem, always start with the easiest solution first.
The easiest solution was to check the power cord. I did. I found it lose. I removed it, then reinserted it and the computer ran fine. Once I got the program loaded I clicked what I thought was the 'reset' button. Instead I accidental pushed the 'restart' button. All the simulator's computers restarted instead of refreshed! Aaaaaaaargh............
That's when I remembered Space Center Rule 21:
  • Space Center Rule 21: Old flight directors are required to wear their reading glasses when running a mission.
"Nice one Fortuna, Nice one," I thought as the staff conducted one of the fastest start ups on record. The 4:00 P.M. mission started really late. Luckily Bracken had that one. I went back to my desk and rubbed my aching ear.

At a bit passed 6:00 P.M. J.A. Taylor Elementary pulled away. We had less than 30 minutes before 50 teenagers were scheduled to arrived from some LDS ward in Orem. All the simulators were either started or reset for the new arrivals.
"Come on Fortuna, you can't be finished with me yet," I mumbled from my desk. "There has to be more. I know you all too well."

At 6:15 P.M. Brittney, Magellan's Set Director, approached my desk and stood there. Of course, that meant a problem.
"The Admiral's computer is dead. It won't stay on," she reported. There was the faint sound of a woman's laughter. It was a voice from Mt. Olympus, carried on the winds of Fate. Fortuna made her presence known once again.
From memory, I reminded Brittney of Space Center Rule 32:
  • Space Center Rule 32: Deal With It.
"Deal with it," I replied. And deal with it they did. The Magellan staff did a bit of shuffling and a switchero or two. By 6:30 P.M. the Magellan was ready for the new storm swirling into the school's lobby - LDS teenagers on Mutual Night, out for a bit of fun.

Bracken stepped up to the plate and attempted to organize the mass confusion. He took everyone into the Discover Room for sorting. I stayed out of it. My ear hurt. A few minutes passed. One of my flight directors came by my desk.
"How many are here?" I asked.
"57," came the reply.
"57!" I shouted. Now, we all know 45 is the maximum number we take for private missions. I got up and went into Discovery to help with the mob. I informed the chaperons that there wasn't enough room in the simulators for them to take positions. Most of them would have to wait in the lobby or the Discovery. I left all other problems to be sorted by my capable staff.

I grabbed my coat and walked out. It was time to unwind during my long walk home in the dark. I knew they had a tough crowd. Now don't get me wrong. The teens were really great people, but...... put that many teenagers together, on a school night, after having been shut up in school all day, and ask them to role play a space opera...... see what I mean? You have the potential for disaster.

As I walked home I wondered if a message would be waiting on my answering machine. There was. Why didn't it surprise me?
"Mr. Williamson, this is Jon. One of the girls on the Magellan threw up. Emily is trying to clean it up. We can't find Rosa. Thought you might want to come down. Well, bye..."
Later I discovered the truth behind the vomit. One of our own staff hurled. That was followed by one of the campers vomiting twice.

My apologies to Emily, but I didn't go back. I went to bed and hid under the covers - except for one outstretched arm waving a white shirt. I surrendered to Fortuna on behalf of the entire Space Center staff. I proclaimed her absolute Victor and vowed my staff and I would never again take a string of good luck for granted.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Thought to Brighten the Day of my Fellow Geeks!


And let's not forget "....have access to five starships loaded to the rafters with photon torpedoes, phasers and an interesting variety of gadgets and trinkets designed to enslave all but the most technologically advances species in the universe."

Friday, November 6, 2009

I Should have Showered

Hello Troops,
The sale of the old Galileo continues to attract attention. The Salt Lake Tribune printed an article in today's paper. The link is below:
http://www.sltrib.com/utah/ci_13725171

We've just had a call from Channel 2 News. They are sending a reporter to do a piece for tonight's news. I wish I would have known earlier. I would have showered, shaved and deodorized. Now the camera will get me in all my glory ;)

I guess you don't see many Starships up on the auction block. Kind of a unique situation. The Center is know for creating unique situations.

Mr. Williamson


The Magic Clipboard

Hello Troops,
Thanks to Aleta for contributing to The Troubadour. I enjoy posting articles and stories written by members of our staff (if I can get them to write!!!)
Mr. W.

And Now Aleta's Story

The Magic Clipboard
By Aleta Clegg

I peered across the camp. Flashes of dull greenish light emanated from our esteemed leader’s tent. I paused in my nightly rounds. The members of our troupe lay in their bedrolls, wrapped in well-deserved slumber. Autumn was well upon us, frost touched the air. The crisp scent of fallen leaves hung over the camp, mixing with woodsmoke. In but a few short days, the troupe was due to encamp in our winter quarters, settling for the long season of snow and ice. What sorcery could Master Williamson be concocting this late in the season?

His tent glowed sickly yellowish green. This was not the usual magical smoke and trickery we used on our summer audiences. This was deep, dark magic. I shivered even as I approached.

“Master Williamson?” I whispered outside the tent.

“Come in, Mistress Aleta.” His mellow voice was the same as ever. He had not been possessed by demons or his voice would have changed, much as it did when he channeled the spirit of Dr. Markus.

I pushed aside the door flap of his tent. “Is all well? It is late and I could not help but notice the eerie light in your tent. Is is perchance a new effect for the bedazzlement of our audiences?”

He smiled. His face, reflecting green light from the object hidden in his lap, was a devil’s mask. “It is something much more wondrous. Behold!” He reverently drew the object from the velvet coverings. “It arrived just this evening by special messenger.”

I wrinkled my brow in confusion. It looked like nothing I had ever beheld. It was rectangular, a clear greenish yellow object like a flat board with a metal clip on one end.

“The magic clipboard.” Master Williamson stroked the smooth surface. “I have merely to place my problems on parchment and clip them thusly. The problems disappear! A dissatisfied audience? I write it on parchment and place it on the magic clipboard, and poof! No more dissatisfied audience. A patron who neglects payment? Place the bill on the clipboard and payment magically appears in our bags of coinage. Wondrous, is it not?”

He demonstrated, placing an overdue notice on the clipboard. Greenish light flashed. We blinked, blinded momentarily. The parchment had vanished.

“Wondrous indeed,” I murmured. “Good night, sir. Thank you for showing me.”

I left his tent, a creeping feeling of dread riding my back. I pushed chilled fingers into my pocket. Parchment crackled. I pulled the overdue notice from my pocket. Magic compelled me to slip from the camp, bound for the abode of Count Wasatch, who owed us for our performance a month past.

“So that is how the magic clipboard works.” My feet stirred leaves as I walked through the autumn night, locked by the spell into solving the problems placed on the clipboard.

For those of you wondering if the clipboard really exists, yes, it does. It resides under Mr. Williamson’s desk and has the following message written on it in permanent marker, “Aleta’s clipboard. Touch it and die. Mr. Williamson.”

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Voyager Camper Openings for Tomorrow Night's Overnight Camp. New Mission!

Update: Friday November 6.
Sorry but all positions are filled for this special telling of The Grand PooPah in the Voyager. Keep reading this Blog. We will offer special missions to our Blog Readers regularly throughout the school year.
Mr. Williamson

Hello Troops,
The Voyager is open for tomorrow night's overnight mission. I'd like to put a group of Frequent Flyers and Blog Readers together to do the Voyager's new mission "The Grand PooPah". Now don't let the name fool you. This mission is full of action and suspense and a good number of battles.

If you are on our Frequent Flyer list and a reader of the Space Center's Blog (how do I know? Because you're reading this now aren't you?)
you can get in on this special telling of "The Grand PooPah". Normal overnight price is $43.00. You can do this mission for $36.00. If you're interested send an email right away (after checking with your parents of course). My email address is Director@spacecamputah.org. I'll put you on the list and send a Confirmation email. You pay when you arrive tomorrow night at 7:00 P.M.

This is open to everyone age 10 to 14 years old. The camp ends Saturday at 10:00 A.M. We provide a late night snack and breakfast. You should eat supper before you arrive. If you want to do the mission but don't want to stay overnight you can leave Friday at 11:10 P.M. and return Saturday morning at 7:15 A.M.

Thanks!
Mr. Williamson

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Interest in the Old Galileo is Increasing. Read On......

Hello Troops,
Well, talk about the little ship that could!
The old Galileo is stirring a bit of interest on a few major tech blogs. David Andrus sent me the following links in an email earlier today. Give them a look. Be sure to read the comments people are making. David said he would bird dog this for us and correct misunderstandings.

It's fun, isn't it?

Mr. Williamson

And Now, David's Email........

Hey Vic and Kyle,
Just thought you'd be interested to know that the sale of the old Galileo has been picked up by two fairly major tech blogs:


http://io9.com/5395746/own-your-very-own-starfleet-shuttle-simulator/gallery/
http://gizmodo.com/5396123/own-your-own-starfleet-shuttle-simulator/gallery/

Oh...and of course the actual state auction link:
http://www.publicsurplus.com/sms/all,ut/auction/view?auc=384131

Monday, November 2, 2009

A Mother's Prairie Love


There were many things to fear during my childhood on the hills and prairies of western South Dakota. There were man eating rattle snakes. I was always afraid of being caught in a stampede of buffaloes. Another was getting caught in a sudden blizzard and freezing to death on the open plains while trudging through waist deep snow on my way to our one room school house heated by a single coal stove.

Getting beat up by my older (and meaner) sister was a more domestic fear. She was one heavy drinkin, tobacco chewing, card playing, sharp shooten sixth grader picking on her younger and meeker brother. She was vicious but could be counted on to keep meat on the table. If it wasn't a deer picked off with her Winchester at 100 yards it could be the neighbor's dog. We didn't ask questions, just kept several bottles of ketchup on the table.

Having to deal with my younger brother’s violent temper was another. I could push him only so far before he snapped. And when you heard that POP, followed by a wild look in his eyes, the only safe and logical thing to do was to run for dear life. In his delirious state he would stop at nothing until you were bloody and unconscious. Yes, I could wrestle him down to the floor and hold him there, but that plan had its flaw. At some point in the day you’d have to let him go, and when you did, you’d better be quick. You needed to get into the bathroom and lock the door before a flying knife or Tonka Truck struck you in the back of the neck. He had a good arm and could nail a squirrel at 50 paces.

Rapid City was a town of 40,000 unique individuals. The infinite prairie boarded the city to the east. The majestic Black Hills boarded the city to the west. My home town was the bright spot of civilization for half the state. We had a hospital. We had three movie theaters (each with one screen). We had a Red Owl, Piggly Wiggly and Safeway grocery stores. We had the Chuck Wagon Restaurant with it famous Friday Night Fish Fry. We thought we’d hit the big league when Kmart opened a store at the Northgate Shopping Center. Imagine Rapid City with its very own Kmart. Now we could buy things at a discount. I loved the Kmart. The Blue Light Specials fascinated me. They just never had a special in the toy department. It was always linen or house wares of ladies underwear of something silly.

I was asked once if we feared an Indian uprising. After all, during my high school years the Indians became militant and took over the courthouse at Hill City, a little mining town thirty minutes or so out of Rapid. They burned the courthouse down, broke a few windows, and made a real nuisance of themselves. Taking all that into consideration, I can honestly say I never feared the Indians. Most of them stayed on the reservations. The ones in town kept to themselves and their bottle, if you know what I mean.

Some feared being a Mormon in a city full of Lutherans. We were teased because of our religion several times while growing up. It didn't’ bother me. I could give back whatever they dished out, especially to my Jehovah’s Witness friend.

No, the real thing that my brothers, sisters and I feared growing up was a lose tooth. You never wanted my mother to see you working on a lose baby tooth because if you did, the most unimaginable torture awaited. My mother was raised on a Montana ranch. She was the daughter of proud Swedes and stubborn English/Scots. She laughed at pain, especially having delivered 8 children. She had a motto that whatever was good enough for her was good enough for us. If her loose teeth were pulled by a string and a few good yanks then so should ours.

My mother specialized in capturing us unexpectedly. It was usually just as you left the bathroom. She'd catch hold of you, pin you to the ground, lasso your lose tooth with a bit of yarn or sting and then start the agonizing one, two or three mighty yanks required to capture that baby tooth. My teeth surrendered easily, flying out of my mouth on the first or second pull. Some of my siblings weren't as lucky. Many lost a section of jawbone when mother was forced into a fourth pull. I still remember the screaming to this day. Of course in those days parents could pretty much torture their children without fear of the law, especially in South Dakota.

That was the floor method. My memory also recalls another clever use of string and door knobs. She’d tie the string around your lose tooth on one end. The other end of the string was tied to a door knob. You sat in a chair near the door. She’d stand by the open door and count down to zero. At zero she'd slam the door. The motivated tooth flew across the room, just barely ahead of the blood curdling screams following.

Yes my friends, let this picture be a reminder to all that survived the tooth on the string application of mom’s love. We grew up tougher for it.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

An Enemy From the Dark. Ch. 9. Location.

And now Troops, the 9th installment of a new mission I'm working on. Thanks for reading and forgive the errors. As I've said before, I've little time to polish so you get it right as it pours out the brain and through the fingertips.

Mr. Williamson


Location

Carick stood up and wiped the moisture away from his eyes and cheeks. His sleeve took care of the nose, something he regretted the moment he did it. He laughed to himself thinking how it would look to the cadets seeing their Cadet Captain giving life and death orders with a trail of snot running down his right sleeve.
“As if that’s the least of my worries right now,” he mumbled to himself. He straighten his tunic and turned toward the door. It’s two panels slid open with a hiss giving him an exit into Deck 12’s hallway. Every step along the way to the turbolift brought Carick a renewed determination to deliver this ship whole, with its complete crew compliment, to Starfleet Command. There were two things he needed to know to accomplish his goal.

1. Where were they?
2. Are the engines capable of warp drive?

He entered the turbolift.
“Destination?” came the automatic voice of the computer. Again, Carick waved his hand across the schematic to silence the vocal prompts so he could manually select his destination. Carick needed to become familiar with every aspect of the ship’s layout. Studying the deck plans on the tubolift wall was one good way to do it. A quick index search for ‘Stellar Cartography’ would of resulted in an immediate location, but that wouldn’t accomplish his goal of learning the decks. He pulled up the plans for Deck 3 and started looking.
“Call Waiting,” the computer announced. Carick understood that to mean someone was waiting to use the lift.
“Continue,” Carick said, giving the turbolift permission to move on to collect the next passenger with him along for the ride. The car picked up speed as it moved gracefully through the Voyager’s lift shafts. First horizontally then vertically, then horizontally again before slowing to a stop. The door opened.


“Captain?” Third year Cadet Roberts stood in the doorway with quite a surprised look on her face. “I was just coming to find you.”
“What deck is this?” Carick asked while waving the screen into standby.
“Deck 4,” she answered. “Where were you going?”
Carick walked out of the lift and into the hallway. There were no signs of damage. The walls were half fabric half metal. The floors seemed to be some kind of textured rubber, soft underfoot. The flat ceilings were lit by indirect lighting. Holographic projector bands appeared across the ceilings every ten feet or so. Larger blue force field emitters appeared at every hallway crossing. They protruded five inches from the walls and ceilings forming a large square upside down U.


“I was on my way to see you,” Carick answered. He started walking forward, leaving Roberts behind at the lift door. “Let's go to cartography.”
“You’re going the wrong director,” Roberts said as she pointed to the hallway on Carick’s left.
“Well, I hope I at least look like I know where I’m going,” he responded with a turn. “You lead on.”

They started walking. Roberts was anxious to make her first report to her new captain. “It didn’t take me long to find Cartography. I just told the lift where I wanted to go and it dropped me off here.”

“Yes, that what the lift does I’m told?” Carick answered.

Roberts nervously laughed. She wanted to impress the Captain with her ability to carry out assigned tasks quickly and thoroughly. She knew this adventure, if they returned alive, would cement a place for her in Starfleet Academy - especially if Carick gave her high marks.

“Anyway, the hard part was actually finding the room,” Roberts continued. “This is one of the larger decks on the saucer section, by the way, you knew that’s where you were didn’t you, the saucer section?”

“Is that why the hallway keeps turning toward the left, in a circle?” Carick responded sarcastically.

“Oh, that was stupid. Of course you know where you are. You’re the captain - I mean duh......” Roberts started laughing at herself nervously. .
Carick was loosing his patience. He increased his stride hoping to find Cartography. “Roberts, where are we?” he asked again.

“Deck 4?” she responded, wondering whether or not Carick was listening to her or not.

“I know this is Deck 4,” Carick stopped in mid sentence. Roberts bumped into him from behind nearly putting them both down on the floor. She stood and started apologizing for not looking where she was going.

“Stop. Listen to me Roberts. I want to know where the ship is. Can you show me?” he asked slowly and deliberately.

“Well,” Roberts answered with a prominent case of red faced embarrassment. “I have a pretty good idea. Cartography is right here,” she said pointing further down the hall. Carick resumed his quick pace. Roberts bit her tongue, making a verbal promise with herself not to say anything else that wasn’t absolutely necessary to answer the captain’s questions.

Stellar Cartography was a large round room, very much resembling a planetarium capable of seating twenty people. The center of the room held a series of holographic projectors pointing upwards toward the gray domed ceiling. Carick sat in one of the comfortable padded chairs near the doorway. Roberts walked half way around the room to a raised platform housing a desk with built in touch screen. She waved her hand over the screen. The projectors illuminated the center of the room filling the entire dome with a sphere of laser light.

After three more taps with her index finger Roberts brought up a detailed star map. Each star shone with its own color and size indicating the type of star.

“As you know, we can’t rely on constellations to pinpoint our exact location because from out here the constellations we know in Earth’s night sky look different.” Roberts felt it necessary to explain to Carick how she was able find their location in space. “So, without the constellations, you triangulate your location from the Federation’s navigational grid. I did a grid scan,” she waved her hand across the screen. A large yellow wave of light swept through the large holosphere occupying the center and dome of the room. Nothing was added on the map.
“As you can see, nothing. That is a bad sign.”

“That really is a bad sign,” Carick repeated. “Go on.”

Roberts voice increased in pitch revealing her excitement in having an audience of one. “So, the next thing you do would be to look for standard pulsars. Each pulsar has its own signature, kind of like fingerprints. If you can find three of them you should be able to find your location.”

“Reasonable. I would of done the same. Again, go on,” Carick urged her to continue.

“I scanned for pulsars,” she waved her hand again. Once again yellow bands swept around the sphere. This time the bands identified four pulsing pulsars. “Ta Da! and there they are!” Roberts proudly exclaimed. “With that success I can now identify our location. So, without further delay - I give you our location.”

Roberts tapped the screen, inserting the Romulan, Klingon and Cardassion borders. The sphere added the Federation’s boundaries, leaving only their location missing. Then with one final tap lines extended from each pulsar toward each other until they intersected. A bright orange dot appeared at that one point in space.

“From my calculations we are 53,435 light years from the Federation Border in the Alpha Quadrant. Of course I could be slightly off the mark depending on where you consider Federation space starts. I suppose the furthest any ship has been in this direction is, well, this ship and the Copernicus during the Perikoi encounter.” Roberts tapped again on the touch pad. Perikoi’s location flashed in amber very close to Cardassian Space. “We are exactly half way between Federation Space and Dominion Space.”

“So, the fastest way home isn’t in the direction of Earth is it?” Carick questioned as he stood and walked around the projection to get a better look at the terrain. “The fastest way home is toward Dominion Space and the Bajor Wormhole exit.”

“Correct,” Roberts agreed. “By my calculations, at warp 6, it should take approximately 37 months to get there.”

“Only 37?” Carick asked sarcastically. “Traveling three years toward Dominion Space. No problemo. Piece of cake. In a ship crewed by cadets with little if any space experience.”

“There is the problem of where we are now,” Roberts interrupted. “We exited the wormhole as it was collapsing. I’m guessing we may be in space controlled by the Anouway. Remember, the Alpha Quadrant is largely unexplored.”

The sound of static filled the silence as both Carick and Roberts stared at the sphere. Murdock’s voice emerged crisp and clear.

“Murdock to Carick.”

“Ben, you got the comm. systems running. Good boy. I ...”

“Oh, not me sir,” Murdock interrupted. “It was that kid Colin you sent up. He knows his stuff. I’ve got him working on the rest of the systems now.”

“Listen, we have our location....”

“Captain, sorry to interrupted again but we have a problem. Colin was also able to get long ranger sensors online. We had to gut one of the deflector back up relays to do it but that’s beside the point. We’re looking at the sphere now. There is something on the very outer edge of range, moving slowly, well sort of moving slowly, in a round about way, towards us.”

“Roberts, can we tie into ship sensors from here?” Carick asked walking toward Robert’s touch pad controls.

“Yes, I found that link earlier. Its this import button. Watch.”

The cartography sphere flicker then a copy of the Bridge sphere appeared before them. They immediately saw the yellow flashing icon moving in somewhat their direction. It was moving in warp so it couldn’t be a natural object. Suddenly the yellow flashing turned to bright red. The object changed its course directly toward the Voyager.

“Murdock, put the ship on red alert. I’m heading to the Engine Room. Calculate how long before that ship gets into firing range and let me know.”
Carick moved toward the door. “Roberts, to the bridge,” he said as he left the room for the turbolift.

The ship’s intercom sounded the call to alert stations. It rang, as per regulation, for 30 seconds. Then it rang again for another 30 seconds. Then again, to the point of annoyance. Carick tapped his comm badge.

"Connect, Murdock," he said to the ship's computer as he stepped into the turbolift. A moment later Murdock's voice came through.

"Yes, Captain."

"Don't play with the alarms. Ring it as per regulation and leave it. The Voyager isn't a fire truck. Got it?"

There was a short pause. "Yes sir," Murdock answered. Carik heard him start to chew Colin out before the line closed.

“What's next?” Carick asked himself. A question he didn’t want answered.