Sunday, January 31, 2010
How I Spent Last Sunday Giving Parking Lessons to my Dear Old Mother.
Last Sunday morning I was home enjoying an exceptional view of the valley. The sky was crisp blue and the air was clean, a real treat considering the muck we’ve had to breath for the last several weeks.
“Victor!” mother called from the door leading to my home's basement apartment. She was using her “I’m going to ask you to do something so I’ll use my kind, less shrill” voice.
“Yes,” I hesitated in responding. She knew I was home so remaining silent wouldn’t be wise. It would only result in a personal visit up the stairs.
“Would you take me driving so I can practice parallel parking?”
I let her words hang in the air until the shock of their meaning dissipated to the point where I could respond. My mind went through thousands of calculations in an attempt to rearrange the universe in such a way that I could get out of doing it without disappointing her. I opened my mouth to lie....
“Yes, I’ll take you,” I said. I don’t knew where those words came from. I suspect guilt planted them into my head. She needed help and I was home. It was a son’s duty. I also realized that her chances of passing the parallel parking part of the driving test were as good as dad ever saying “I’m tired of working. I’m going tot take the rest of my life off.”
“Let’s go,” she shouted. Her excitement reminded me of a dog circling and yapping in delight after realizing he’s about to get to ride in the back of the pickup truck for a trip into town.
I fell to my knees realizing the mortal danger I’d put myself into. I prayed, using my own made up prayer; afterwards, thinking my own prayer for safety wouldn’t be enough, I went online and did a quick Google search for “Prayers for Driving Instructors”. I found a good one, fell again to my knees and recited it word for word. I heard her ascending the steps. I closed my computer, put on my coat went into the kitchen, opened my desk, and searched for my amulets. I found my Rabbit’s foot and plastic Buddha. I couldn’t find my Star of David but felt it would be OK considering we doing this on a Sunday, and Sunday wasn’t the Jewish Sabbath. I put the two items in my coat pockets and turned to select a cross necklace from the many hanging around the wooden banister separating my kitchen and living room. They were sent to me by dozens of Catholic charity searching for donations. Sheezzzz, I gave a couple bucks to a Catholic homeless shelter for teens in New York City and Presto... my name is spread to every Catholic charity world wide. I selected the cross sent by the Sister of Ever Increasing Hope, put it around my neck and walked out to the garage to meet her.
“Get in,” she said. She was sitting in the driver’s seat of her Titanic sized Lincoln Town Car. I got in. She backed out of the Garage without hitting anything. Fortuna was with us I thought. I thought too soon. She didn’t take the driveway at an angle causing the car to scrape against the rise where the driveway and sidewalk meet at a sharp incline. I cringed at the sound of metal on concrete. She didn’t hear or feel it. She was too busy finding the road. She managed to find Drive and we jerked forward.
“How’am I doing?” she said as she leaned forward to rest her chin on the steering wheel - her favored driving position. You see, she has a cataract in her right eye, so she really only sees out of her left. She thinks she has a better view of the road if she leans forward that extra foot and a half. The hood of the Lincoln stretching out several yards doesn’t help. I fastened my seat belt and rubbed the cross around my neck praying to Saint Christopher for deliverance.
I watched her as we rolled down the hill. Her eyes were wide open staring at the road ahead.
“What’s the speed limit,” she shouted nearly sending me out the door. I was clutching the door handle anyway, ready to jump and roll if necessary. You know the old adage, at sea - its every man for himself on a sinking ship.
“Twenty Five,” I shouted back. She slammed on the brake to slow from 18 miles per hour to 12.
“Read this,” she tossed a yellow paper at me containing the notes written by the driving evaluator from her last failed attempt to pass the driving test. He’d written that she wasn’t looking over her shoulder when changing lanes.
“You’re not looking over your shoulder when changing lanes,” I said.
“Where?” she shouted. Her foot found the brake again. A radar gun would have clocked us at 8 miles an hour at that point. She jerked her head left and right looking for something that wasn’t there.
“When you change lanes - you need to look over your shoulder,” I explained.
“Oh..... got it,” she answered. Our speed increased. I looked at the paper again. Down in the bottom corner I found a cross drawn in ink. Below it were these words, “Pray for us now and in the hour of our death Amen.” I recognized them from the Catholic “Hail Mary” prayer.
“Mom, was your last driving evaluator Hispanic?” I asked.
“How did you know?” she answered. I let it go.
We approached the traffic light at the bottom of the road on 1100 North. She was going to merge to the left to get into the turning lane. She braked, then spun her head violently to the left to check for cars creeping up beside her. Then, to my surprise, she spun her head to the right to check for cars. We stopped on the red. We waited. Her hands clutched the wheel. My hands clutched the dashboard. The light turned green. We didn’t move. Yes, she saw the green but was busy looking to the left and right for oncoming cars.
“Go?” she shouted out the question, unsure of herself.
“Yes, its green?”
“Yes.. GO!” And go she went, pedal to the medal. I believe the Lincoln rolled up on its right two tires on that corner.
“God help us,” I mumbled.
“WHERE?” she shouted. Her foot found the brake again.
“Keep going,” I said loud enough for her to hear.
A quarter mile down the road we came to the school crossing zone.
“School Zone,” she said. “They’ll get me if I don’t slow down.” We slowed.
“Mother, its Sunday. There is no school.”
“Does it matter?” she asked.
“Slow down only if there are children present or if the yellow lights are flashing.” I reminder her.
“That’s were Judy lives. She’s my friend,” she said as we passed the large house next to the cemetery.
“Who drives when you and Judy go out?” I asked.
“Judy drives,” she replied.
Yes, I was right. I knew Judy would be the designated driver. Would you let an old lady with one good eye and paranoid of everything else on the road drive you anywhere?
We got to the light on Center Street. She was going to turn right. Again, she cranked her head to the left and right before signalling the turn and moving into the right turning lane.
“Why are you looking over your left shoulder when you’re making a right hand turn?” I asked. “You said the instructor wrote that I needed to look over my shoulder when changing lanes. Did he write that or not?” she asked a bit perturbed.
“Ma, look over your shoulder at the lane you’re moving into to check for traffic, not at the lane you’re moving out of,” I explained.
“Well make up your mind,” she shot back.
The rest of the way to the driving range was filled with the same. She cranked her head to the left and to the right all the way down the road, at every intersection, at every stop sign and every time she changed lanes no matter what direction she was turning.
We managed to get to the driving range alive. She pulled up to the tall cone markers marking the place where parallel parking was tested.
“This is where I keep failing,” she hissed as we pulled up to the front two cones marking where the back bumper of a parked car would be. Behind us stood two taller cones marking where the front bumper of another parked car would be.
“I’ve got to get this car in there,” she said point to the small open space between the two sets of several orange cones stacked on on top of the other.
“OK, let’s do this,” I said. Hoping for the best. For the next ten minutes she maneuvered the car. First forward, then she would check the position of the front cones. Then backward and rechecking the positions of the cones. She was looking for some magical sweet spot that would guarantee a perfect park. I urged her to just “Do it already”. She bit her bottom lip, cranked the wheel and hit the gas.
We stopped after the back right tire went up and over the curb.
“Damn,” she mumbled as she shifted from reverse into drive and peeled forward out into the driving lane and into the parking lot. She turned hard left, circling around, passing the parking test point into the opposite parking lot. She made another hard left and pulled back into position to try it all over again. I’ll call that her classic Circle 8 maneuver.
She tried again. Success! We didn’t climb the curb. We also didn’t parallel park. We ended up half in the parking place and half into the road.
“Damn,” she mumbled and stepped onto the gas. Another classic Circle 8 maneuver.
The next time I talked and talked and talked her through the parking. We moved slowly an inch at a time. It was nearly a success. We did another circle 8 to reposition the car for another attempt.
By this time I was getting car sick with all the circle 8’s. We were into it 20 minutes and I had to get out or I’d loose my lunch, breakfast and supper from the night before. I got out of the car and stood beside the cones. I talked her through a half dozen attempts. She got the last one right! There were cheers. She was so proud of herself. She insisted she do it again. She got the next half dozen wrong. Her problem was she couldn’t see the cones very well. She also freaked out because the Lincoln had a backing up alarm. Every time she’d get close to the back cones the alarm rang sending her into shock. Thirty minutes into the practice she became desensitized to the alarm.
On the 19th attempt she successfully knocked over the back two cone pillars.
“Damn it,” she mumbled and sped off into another circle 8. On her next attempt she knocked over the front left set of cones. By then I’d had enough. I got in the drivers seat. She stood outside and I parallel parked the car several times so she could see how it was done. Half the time she seemed more interested in the cones than my demonstration. She thought they were lower than the last time she attempted to pass the driving test.
She got in again even more determined to succeed. I remained in the car and tried to teach her to focus more on the mirrors than cranking her head around so much.
“Mirrors! I can’t see the cones in the mirrors!” she shouted.
“Are you telling me that you can’t see the cones in this mirror?” I said pointing to the mirror on the outside of my door.
“Am I suppose to?” she asked. I heard a chuckle from the back seat. I turned, and for a brief thousandth of a second I thought I saw what appeared to be an angel. Her guardian angel. The one she says is there to help with her driving. It was all just too much. I moved the mirror until she saw the cones in their right position.
“Look at that, I can see the cones!” she said happily. After that, she parked nearly perfectly.
She had parallel parking mastered and it only took 90 minutes to do it!
On the way home she got a phone call from my father. I answered it fearing to let her talk on the phone and drive at the same time.
“How many cones did she know over?” he asked from work. My dad works at Walmart. He retired many years ago, has plenty of money but likes to work to keep busy.
“Ask her if she’s going to Walmart today,” he asked.
“If he needs me to go I will,” she replied. I passed the message back to dad.
“Tell her I need my three D’s” he responded. “Do you know what the three D’s are?” he asked.
“No,” I said, and in reality I didn’t care to know.
“Drink, dinner and dessert,” he said. I passed the information to mom and the call ended. I thought for a moment. That entire conversation seemed strange.
“Mom, Dad’s at work. He’s at WalMart. He’s asking you to drive to Walmart to pick up a drink, dinner and dessert. Why? He’s already there. Why doesn’t he do it himself?”
“He thinks it tastes better If I do it?” she answered as she cranked her head back and forth so much I didn’t need the window down for a breeze. Her head was fanning the air enough.
I was never so happy to get home in my life than I did last Sunday. The next day she went in and took her driving test. She passed!
“I passed,” she said when she got home.
“Any problems?” I asked.
“Nope. I got up and had a revelation. I realized the Lincoln was too big so your father and I rented a small compact car for the day and that's what I used for my driving test. I parked that small thing on the first try. Thanks for you help honey!”
"You're welcome. I'm glad you passed. I told you you could do it. I never lost faith," I lied while feeling peeved I spent all that time on Sunday trying to teach her to park that Titanic Lincoln. Now hopefully her license will be valid enough years so I can recover before it all has to be done over again.
Saturday, January 30, 2010
The Rapture and the Week's End.
A few days ago we flew several fifth grade classes from Highland Elementary. They were a delight. They were attentive in the simulators and did their best to win the mission.
I told Intolerance, the story of the escaped slave. The story starts with the ship setting course for the Romulan border and jumping to warp. The first few minutes of warp travel is used for a bridge wide explanation of everyone's jobs. I do this over the microphone in my Tex character. The opening speech ends with:
"Captain, we've had a power fluctuation. Engineer, Left Wing and Right wing, please check your power numbers, get them balanced and don't forget to hit the red update or lock in buttons."
I reached out and pressed a button to send a sensor prompt to the Sensor Station. I heard the computer make the happy sound. The happy sound is the sound the old Sensor computer makes when it received my order to move to the next screen. Our Sensor Computer has issues sometimes and refuses to follow orders from the Flight Director. It's stubbornness sometimes requires patient coaxing. If that doesn't bring it around then a restart would be next.
I watched on the CCTV system as the Sensors Office straighted up when seeing something new coming in on his screen.
"Captain!" he shouted.
"Ralph," the Captain answered. (Ralph is a made up name. I don't want to use the real name of the boy).
"There is a rup...... rap......rep......" the boy struggled to sound out the word spelled out on his screen. He paused, searched his mind for a word that looked like the one on his screen and blurted it out.
"Captain, there is a Rapture near the Nebula......!"
I laughed. In my mind I visualized the literal meaning of the young boys very serious statement. This is the definition that came to mind that caused me to chuckle.
Read definition 2. In most of the Christian world, the Rapture means that point in time when all true believers will disappear from the real world and be caught up into the sky and heaven at the time of the second coming, leaving behind the sinners and the non believers.
Having been raised outside of Utah and having many Pentecostal friends I knew this word and its meaning all to well. My friends used it on me all the time. I would be the one left behind at the Rapture because of my LDS beliefs.
So, here I was, once again faced with the Rapture and just as my friends predicted so long ago, I really was left behind at my Flight Director's Chair. The whole thing just struck me as funny.
The Week's End
Well troops. We are at the end of the week. It is 4:39 P.M. on Saturday and the Center closes in twenty minutes. Our custodian is taking tonight off so I'm going to finish this post, go to the custodian's closet, fill a mop with water, put on a pair of rubber gloves and clean the school's bathrooms. I really mean it when I say even at Disneyland, someone's got to clean the toilets. It's true hear also except here, the boss takes his turn like everyone else.
Have a good weekend,
Friday, January 29, 2010
Thursday, January 28, 2010
The New Galileo. And Other Space Center News.
This is the most recent picture of the new Galileo taken by Kyle Herring this evening. A lot of work has been done on our new addition to the fleet since it opened two weeks ago. The cool red lights coming from the front of the warp nacelles were installed today.
"Vic, you've got to come see the Galileo," Kyle said while I was working on the February Volunteering Schedule. I've learned that if Kyle is excited about something then I'd better be as well. He had the lights in the cafeteria off so I could experience the ship illuminated by its own lights. WOW is the only way to describe this new ship. The Galileo is amazing! You'll be very happy when you get a chance to fly her.
Troops, you may want to put a group of friend together and book a private mission in the New Galileo. It really is that cool.
What's Next? Well, the Galileo has several nifty torpedoes you actually load yourself through a hatch in the ship's floor. I'll post more on that when the loading mechanism is finished so I cant include a picture.
Casey Voeks is Back
Many of you old timers remember Casey Voeks. He worked as a flight director in the Magellan, Phoenix and Voyager. He returned on Tuesday from an LDS mission in Texas and plans on returning to work at the Space Center. I'm happy to have Casey back. He was a talented flight director and very popular with the campers.
Casey came in today to watch me fly Intolerance for a 5th grade class from Highland Elementary. He's got to relearn the Voyager before he directs his first mission Friday afternoon.
Summer Camp Registration Starts Monday!
You can book your summer Space Camp for 2010 beginning Monday. This year we add a 4 day camp to the roster. This Super Camp will combine a 3 day Edventure Camp with an Overnight Camp giving you the opportunity to spend four days with us. The Extended Camp will fill quickly so sign up quickly.
In addition to the Extended Camp, the Center will offer our usual EdVenture Camps, Day Camps, Super Overnighters, and regular Overnight Camps. It will be a busy and fun summer at the Space Center.
I Had to Laugh!
I stood on the bridge getting the 5th grade crew from Highland Elementary ready for their mission this afternoon. I called the Ambassador over to where I was standing and gave him a radio. The captain was next.
"Captain, did you see the last Star Trek movie," I asked while waving him over to have his radio fitted. The class heard the question. Several hands went up along with many comments on how much they liked it.
"It was cool," the Captain answered.
"Well, you're our Captain Kirk," I said. "Let's hope you bring us the same luck he brought the Enterprise." The Captain said that was cool and took his seat. I called the first officer over.
"And you are our Mr. Spock," I said while handing him the radio and headset.
"Mr. Smog?" he asked looking very confused. He was one of the few that didn't see the Star Trek movie. From his response I could tell he'd never seen Star Trek at all. "Why Mr. Smog?" he asked.
"Mr. Spock. I said Mr. Spock," I explained. His face expressed his confusion. "Never mind, have a seat." I directed him back to his chair.
Have a Nice Evening Troops,
A Thursday Morning Chuckle Before School
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
The iPad is Here! Star Trek in Our Hands Today.
I know some of you are Mac fans like myself. Others are PC droids. Regardless of your orientation you'll be amazed at Apple's new iPad announced today. I'm drooling over my keyboard and counting the change in my pocket. I want one........
Watch this video. This product is Star Trek here Today!
Openings for this Friday's Overnight Camp!
We have a few openings for our Overnight Camp this Friday starting at 7:00 P.M. and ending 10:00 A.M. Saturday Morning for anyone age 10 - 14 years old. You will be joining students from Lindon Elementary School. Once again, if you're a Blog Reader or Frequent Flyer you can register at the discounted price of $37.00. If you're interested, please contact me by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, January 25, 2010
The Space Center Makes a Difference!
Below this paragraph is a testimonial and thank you letter I received from a teacher. We don't get a lot of feedback from our teachers, students and campers. They cheer and clap after a field trip, private mission or camp and they leave. It is nice when someone takes the time to send an email telling us they appreciated the experience and how it affected them. Letters like this energized us and make us want to work harder to created the best field trip and camp possible with our limited resources. After all, what are we after? World domination of course........Is that too much to ask?
And Now the Teacher's Letter:
Dear Space Center,
It is has been 7-8 years since I took a classroom to Space Camp. Of course, I haven't been teaching all that time. As a matter of fact, I have just gotten back into the field. I teach seventh grade homeroom at a conservative private school in American Fork. I am looking into the possibility of taking both seventh grades next year and was excited to hear that the curriculum would be the same as it was the last time I went.
Because I had recently heard about Space Camp, I decided to see if it would fit the curriculum of the private school I worked for back in 1999. The principal was excited about it, so I sent off for information. We were thrilled that the book I had chosen for my sixth grade that year was The Diary of Anne Frank and that the Camp curriculum was going to cover that same book. I set up a date for us to go in November of that same year. Our principal decided that the small seventh and eighth grade would accompany us.
I worked with that teacher to set up the curriculum to include Science, Math, Language Arts, Music, Art, Literature, Spelling, Orthography/Penmanship, Speech/Oratory, Social Studies, Leadership and "Followership" Skills and PE. We started the day school started preparing our students for this experience. Although we used different student books and manuals, we were able to adjust the curriculum.
The students were not easy to handle, as many of them had been with each other for several years, some for seven years! We and they kept notebooks of our work. When the day came, we did our culminating activity and went to "after-school Space Camp."
It was fascinating to watch the class become a team during the two and one-half hour mission. However, what was phenomenal were the next days, the next weeks, the next months. These students had been somewhat surly in their approach to each other and me during the first several months of school. The next day, students who had had hard feelings, negative reactions to each other and to me, had been "re-born" because of this two and one-half hour experience. They were much more positive towards others in class and out. The looked for ways to help each other have positive experiences with learning.
They had a strong desire to learn, to be a part of a team, to look for ways to help me and they wanted to do their best. They were not little angels all the time, but they recognized that they could change and that it was a better change for them. I had
"new" students the rest of the year in more ways than one. Whenever a student came in who was new to seventh grade, my other students looked for ways to help them acclimate. They all gathered round those who had difficult or hard times during the rest of the year. It was a joy to behold!
Since this experience, I have had both parents and students of that seventh grade write to me expressing that this experience was a turning point in lives. Many of these
same students are now full-ride scholarship students at great universities, working on Doctorates. Others greet me on the street, telling me that that is one of the greatest experiences they have had in their lives, that they remind those with whom they come in contact with about this experience and are now "missionaries" for Space Camp, just like me!!!
What more can I say except what I have already said? I have said this in such a hurry that I hope that I have not been too incoherent!!!
ENGAGE!!!!! (as Commander Pickard used to say)
Mrs. Sharon S.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
It Can Always Get Worse
Whenever you think school is just too much.
Whenever you think you'll never understand.
Whenever you think your brain can't hold one more pixel of information
Just remember, there are those that have it worse. Just buckle down and get the job done. No excuses, no blaming, JUST DO IT. Your Education is just that - Your Education. Succeed at it. That's all we ask.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
The Old Galileo, Soon to be a Party Bus!
Last week I answered a long distance call from a gentleman in Seattle. He introduced himself as the proud new owner of the old Galileo. I was surprised, not knowing the Galileo was back on State auction. It appears all the bidders on the original auction backed out after discovering the simulator needed to be dismantled for shipping. Oh, the astronomical shipping costs acting as a deterrent as well.
“So, how does this Space Shuttle work,” he asked. His voice was pleasant, the kind that usually belongs to a likable, fun loving person. He was driving while on the phone. I could tell he wanted the condensed explanation. I didn’t know where to begin. How do you explain what we do in 30 seconds or less?
“First, let me explain that it is not a shuttle. It is more like a Star Trek shuttlecraft,” I started what ended up being a monologue that dragged on for several minutes. He urged me to speed it up; I ignored the hints and continued to quote from my memorized and well rehearsed one man show called Flight Directing for Dummies. He seemed to be getting it.
“Are you a Star Trek fan?” I questioned. He answered enthusiastically in the positive. Finding that common ground led to several more minutes of explanation.
“May I ask what you’re going to do with the Galileo?” I asked at the end.
If I heard this gentleman right, the Galileo will be placed inside a bus and used for parties and events. His company provides safe transport home from bars and nightclubs for those that ‘had one too many’. Their buses offer entertainment to the sauced passenger as they travel home. It could be a baseball game, or football, or whatever. The interior of the bus in a set, or lounge or whatever.
He says its a fun and profitable business.
'The Galileo will be put in a bus and offered as a fun party or transportation alternative. Parents can rent the bus for a birthday party. The kids board the Galileo (inside the bus) for a ride around town while they run their mission. Adults could rend the bus for a fun simulation while going home from a night on the town or as a fun thing to do as they travel to some event (for instance, renting the bus to take you and your friends to another town to attend a football game etc).
This is the link for the company if you'd like to know more about the Galileo's final resting place.
There you have it Troops. The old Galileo has a new owner and will be leaving Pleasant Grove for Seattle shortly to entertain in a whole different way.
Will you miss the old girl? As a proper send off, you are welcome to write your favorite memory of your time in the Galileo. I'd like to read what you say. Use the comment link at the bottom of this post so others can read what you have to say.
What do you think?
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Openings for Tomorrow's Overnight Camp!
We have openings for this week's Overnight Camp. Our Overnight Camp is competing with a Scouting Klondike.
If you're interested in coming on an overnight camp this weekend please let me know.
Normal price is $43.00. We can let our Blog Readers and Frequent Flyers attend for $37.00.
You must be between 10 and 14 years old to attend. Caution, be sure we are running a mission you haven't done. The Voyager will be telling Greenpeace. The Magellan will be telling Invasion, the Odyssey will be telling Heir to the Empire, the Phoenix will be telling Supernova and the Galileo will be telling Scorpion Relay. If you're interested in attending please send the following information by email:
We will collect payment at the door Friday night. Payment must be a check or cash.
An Overnight Confirmation Form will be sent by email for your parents to complete. The form comes with you to camp.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
In Case Your Wondering What A True Hero Is, Please Read On....
The word Hero is overused in today's society. I'm convinced that most people really don't understand what a real hero is. May I take a moment of your time and introduce you to one? Please read on....
This is the story of an incredible woman and her amazing gift to mankind. Irena Sendler. An unfamiliar name to most people, but this remarkable woman defied the Nazis and saved 2,500 Jewish children by smuggling them out of the Warsaw Ghetto. As a health worker, she sneaked the children out between 1942 and 1943 to safe hiding places and found non-Jewish families to adopt them.
For many years Irena Sendler - white-haired, gentle and courageous - was living a modest existence in her Warsaw apartment. This unsung heroine passed away on Monday May 12th, 2008.
Her achievement went largely unnoticed for many years. Then the story was uncovered by four young students at Uniontown High School, in Kansas, who were the winners of the 2000 Kansas state National History Day competition by writing a play Life in a Jar about the heroic actions of Irena Sendler. The girls - Elizabeth Cambers, Megan Stewart, Sabrina Coons and Janice Underwood - have since gained international recognition, along with their teacher, Norman Conard. The presentation, seen in many venues in the United States and popularized by National Public Radio, C-SPAN and CBS, has brought Irena Sendlers story to a wider public. The students continue their prize-winning dramatic presentation Life in a Jar.
In 1939, Germany invaded Poland, and the brutality of the Nazis accelerated with murder, violence and terror. At the time, Irena was a Senior Administrator in the Warsaw Social Welfare Department, which operated the canteens in every district of the city. Previously, the canteens provided meals, financial aid, and other services for orphans, the elderly, the poor and the destitute. Now, through Irena, the canteens also provided clothing, medicine and money for the Jews. They were registered under fictitious Christian names, and to prevent inspections, the Jewish families were reported as being afflicted with such highly infectious diseases as typhus and tuberculosis.
In 1942 the Nazis herded hundreds of thousands of Jews into a 16-block area that came to be known as the Warsaw Ghetto. The Ghetto was sealed and the Jewish families ended up behind its walls, only to await certain death. Irena Sendler was so appalled by the conditions that she joined Zegota, the Council for Aid to Jews, organized by the Polish underground resistance movement, as one of its first recruits and directed the efforts to rescue Jewish children. To be able to enter the Ghetto legally, Irena managed to be issued a pass from Warsaws Epidemic Control Department and she visited the Ghetto daily, reestablished contacts and brought food, medicines and clothing. But 5,000 people were dying a month from starvation and disease in the Ghetto, and she decided to help the Jewish children to get out. For Irena Sendler, a young mother herself, persuading parents to part with their children was in itself a horrendous task. Finding families willing to shelter the children, and thereby willing to risk their life if the Nazis ever found out, was also not easy.
Irena Sendler wore a Star of David armband as a sign of her unity to Jews. She began smuggling children out in an ambulance. She recruited at least one person from each of the ten centers of the Social Welfare Department. With their help, she issued hundreds of false documents with forged signatures. Irena Sendler successfully smuggled almost 2,500 Jewish children to safety and gave them temporary new identities.
Some children were taken out in gunnysacks or body bags. Some were buried inside loads of goods. A mechanic took a baby out in his toolbox. Some kids were carried out in potato sacks, others were placed in coffins, some entered a church in the Ghetto which had two entrances. One entrance opened into the Ghetto, the other opened into the Aryan side of Warsaw. They entered the church as Jews and exited as Christians. "`Can you guarantee they will live?'" Irena later recalled the distraught parents asking. But she could only guarantee they would die if they stayed. "In my dreams," she said, "I still hear the cries when they left their parents."
Irena had a remarkable record of cooperation when placing the youngsters: "No one ever refused to take a child from me," she said. The children were given false identities and placed in homes, orphanages and convents. Irena Sendler carefully noted, in coded form, the children's original names and their new identities. She kept the only record of their true identities in jars buried beneath an apple tree in a neighbor's back yard, across the street from German barracks, hoping she could someday dig up the jars, locate the children and inform them of their past. In all, the jars contained the names of 2,500 children
The Nazis became aware of Irena's activities, and on October 20, 1943 she was arrested, imprisoned and tortured by the Gestapo, who broke her feet and legs. She ended up in the Pawiak Prison, but no one could break her spirit. Though she was the only one who knew the names and addresses of the families sheltering the Jewish children, she withstood the torture, that crippled her for life, refusing to betray either her associates or any of the Jewish children in hiding. Sentenced to death, Irena was saved at the last minute when Zegota members bribed one of the Gestapo agents to halt the execution. She escaped from prison but for the rest of the war she was pursued by the Nazis.
After the war she dug up the jars and used the notes to track down the 2,500 children she placed with adoptive families and to reunite them with relatives scattered across Europe. But most lost their families during the Holocaust in Nazi death camps. The children had known her only by her code name Jolanta. But years later, after she was honored for her wartime work, her picture appeared in a newspaper. "A man, a painter, telephoned me," said Sendler, "`I remember your face,' he said. `It was you who took me out of the ghetto.' I had many calls like that!"
Irena Sendler did not think of herself as a hero. She claimed no credit for her actions. "I could have done more," she said. "This regret will follow me to my death." She has been honored by international Jewish organizations. In 1991 she was made an honorary citizen of Israel. Irena Sendler was awarded Poland's highest distinction, the Order of White Eagle, in Warsaw Monday Nov. 10, 2003. She has officially been designated a national hero in Poland and schools are named in her honor. Annual Irena Sendler days are celebrated throughout Europe and the United States.
“Every child saved with my help is the justification of my existence on this Earth, and not a title to glory,” Irena Sendler said in a letter.
This lovely, courageous woman was one of the most dedicated and active workers in aiding Jews during the Nazi occupation of Poland. Her courage enabled not only the survival of 2,500 Jewish children but also of the generations of their descendants.
Troops, there are some born to this world different than the rest of us. They walk a different path - a path most fear to tread. These people are my heros.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Notes from Monday's Summer Preparation Meeting
I met with our simulator Set Directors, Flight Directors and Education Staff yesterday to discuss the Space Center’s summer season for 2010. You’re wrong if you’re thinking January is too early to be thinking about summer. Stop for a second and think about everything it takes to prepare for the summer.
- Every simulator needs a new story to tell. That includes a story script, video and tactical programming.
- The curriculum for the class session must be outlined, planned and practiced.
- The calendar must be decided upon (days of camps and classes).
- The summer flyer must be prepared, printed and distributed, giving everyone enough time to enroll for camp.
This is what we’ve decided so far.
- We will take 45 in a camp, not the normal 62. We had 45 last summer and we liked the smaller numbers. It was less stressful.
- Our EdVenture Camps will primarily run Monday to Wednesday, like last year.
- Our Overnight Camps will primarily run Thursday night into Friday morning.
- We will run one Extended Overnight Camp in June, July and August.
- The Voyager will tell “The Grand PooPah”
- The Odyssey will tell “The Plague”
- The Phoenix will tell “Razor’s Edge”
- The Galileo will tell “No More Secrets”
- The Magellan mission is in development and is unnamed.
- Swimming will be at PG Pool as in the past.
- We will offer one Leadership Camp for our older 15 - 17 year olds.
- The price for the three day camp will be $160.00
- We will offer two Super Space Camps! The cost will be $210.00 for the Super Camp. It will run Monday evening to Friday morning.
I just got back from trying to book Pleasant Grove's Pool for our summer camps. The ladies at the desk were taken back that I wanted to book so many evenings.
"We have to get this cleared," the older of the two said. She took my list of dates and disappeared through a doorway to talk to her supervisor. Several minutes later she reappeared.
"I'm sorry but this will have to go to the manager's desk for approval," she explained. I wanted to ask why, thinking it was ridiculous a manager had to approve a pool booking. The city rents the pool to private groups all summer long. We are a private group. We want to rent the pool. Is it written somewhere that the pool's private bookings are to be rationed due to a shortage of WHAT? Can you think of what the shortage could be?
Perhaps water. Wait, that doesn't make sense. How about staffing? No, the staff are paid to work the private parties and I'm paying for the party so that shouldn't be a problem. Hmmmmmmm, for the life of me I can't think why the lady at the desk would think I was asking for too many pool reservations. Yes, its one of those strange unexplained oddities we encounter every day as we do our very best to survive living in the Confederacy of Dunces. Sheezzzzze. Blahhhhhhh.
Well, that’s about it. I'm done venting my frustrations. Our Monday meeting went for nearly two hours. The talking is finished. Now it time for action. Time to get the summer 2010 season ready for a successful blast off!
More Creative Thinking for our Disciples of Wonder!
Here is one person's creative idea. An idea begun in imagination,thought out clearly and presented. Friends, I give you a new way to look at time.
You've got to hand it to imagination.
Monday, January 18, 2010
The Apple From the Tree. The Moment of Inspiration.
It always falls down. That's how the apple helped Isaac Newton.
An 18th-century account of how Newton developed the theory of gravity was posted to the Web Monday, making the fragile paper manuscript widely available to the public for the first time.
Newton's encounter with the apple ranks among science's most celebrated anecdotes, and it can now be read in the faded cursive script in which it was recorded by William Stukeley, Newton's contemporary.
Royal Society librarian Keith Moore said the apple story has resonated for centuries because it packs in so much _ an illustration of how modern science works, an implicit reference to the solar system and even an allusion to the Bible.
When Newton describes the process of observing a falling apple and guessing at the principle behind it "he's talking about the scientific method," Moore said.
"Also the shape of the apple recalls the planet _ it's round _ and of course the apple falling from the tree does indeed hark back to the story of Adam and Eve, and Newton as a religious man would have found that quite apt."
The incident occurred in the mid-1660s, when Newton retreated to his family home in northern England after an outbreak of the plague closed the University of Cambridge, where he had been studying.
Stukeley's manuscript recounts a spring afternoon in 1726 when the famous scientist shared the story over tea "under the shade of some apple trees."
Stukeley wrote that Newton told him the notion of gravity popped into the scientist's mind as he was sitting in the same situation.
"It was occasion'd by the fall of an apple, as he sat in contemplative mood. Why should that apple always descend perpendicularly to the ground, thought he to himself ... Why should it not go sideways, or upwards? But constantly to the earth's center?" Stukeley wrote. "Assuredly, the reason is, that the earth draws it. There must be a drawing power in matter."
Stukeley's account on the Royal Society's Web site joins notes from Newton's 17th-century scientific rival Robert Hooke _ documents that were lost for several hundred years before their recent discovery in a house in England.
Les Miserables at PG High.
Dear Space Center Friends,
In case you haven't noticed, I have been rather absent at the Space Center for the last month. This is because I am performing in Pleasant Grove High School's production of Les Miserables!
The performances on the 21 & 22 start at 7:30pm
All other performances 25 - 30 start at 7:00pm
Doors open at 6:00pm
Children (under 12) $5
I would love to see as many of you there as possible! But you're going to want to get tickets ASAP! It is HIGHLY recommended that you buy your tickets in advance. Tickets are purchased for a specific night and can only be used for that date. You can buy tickets from me, any cast/orchestra member (like Adam H!), the PGHS finance office, or at the door. Currently, the 21st and 26nd are SOLD OUT!
Keep up the good work and I will join you all once again in February. :)
- Rachel H, FD
Saturday, January 16, 2010
A Photographic Riddle. Are you up to the Challenge?
Take a minute and look at my Cloverdale Post for tonight.
You'll find a series of photographs. Each representing a common noun or phrase. Can you deduce what they are? Send your guesses to me by email. Anyone that gets them all right will win the never ending respect of this Space Center Director (you might even talk me out of a candy bar from the gift shop). Getting one or two right will earn a pat on the back or the shake of a hand (your choice) and the partial respect of someone that didn't get any of them right, although I attempted to solve them in a semi conscious stupor after an overnight camp while being lulled into a unfeeling state by a mindless TV show.
Everyone that gets them correct will earn the privilege of being called a "Space Center Brown Topper", a citizen of the Intellectual Upper Crust. Someone mere mortals like myself dream of becoming. Someone who only physically exists in our realm while mentally transcending the barrier between the here and now and the Whisperland of What Will Be.
Coming this February, An Awesome Star Trek Online Game. Read all About It.
Wow, this could be good. A real, multi player online Star Trek game where you can go on long campaign missions, captain your own ship, explore the galaxy etc etc etc. It could be an acceptable online version of the Space Center experience. Check out their web site and tell me what you think.
Friday, January 15, 2010
Bracken Funk Transfers to the USS Logan.
It is my sad duty to report that Admiral Bracken Funk (Flight Director) was reassigned to the USS Logan. He flew his final regular mission at the Space Center last Saturday.
Bracken's family offered him a very good paying job in Logan, Utah. Bracken couldn't turn it down. He moved last weekend. Today I spoke with him on the phone. He was working in the office on a computer program. He was in good spirits but admitted a sneeze of homesickness for his family and friends. He promised to visit every weekend he could arrange transportation (he doesn't have a car). If anyone knows someone that lives or goes to school in Logan and visits Utah County (or even Salt Lake) on a regular weekend basis please let me know.
Bracken is a good friend to everyone at the Center. His energy and enthusiasm know no bounds. His excitement for the Center and its mission is legend. He promises to continue to improve our missions by programming new tactical screens for the Voyager's older missions. A new tactical program for Midnight Rescue is his latest improvement. He did a fantastic job.
We will miss Bracken and the example he set for the staff and volunteers. Of course, we wish him the best of luck in Logan and hope to see him every weekend at the Center is the fates allow and he finds someone with a good car needed a passenger willing to help pay for gas!
Thursday, January 14, 2010
The Fun Theory
Now, go make the ordinary extraordinary.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Heaven? Doubtful. The Other Place? At Times!
Wednesday a sixth grade girls came up the stairs. She walked past me. I put out my arm to stop her and asked for her Boarding Pass. She presented her papers. I looked to see where to sit her.
"This is so cool! She exclaimed. "This is Heaven!"
That was a first for the Space Center. We've been called many things, both good and
bad. Heaven is one word I've never heard used as a substitute for the Space Center.
My mind starting making connections. If this is Heaven, and I'm in charge of the
Center, then I must be....... I quickly cleared that thought out of my head hoping not to incur the wrath of the Almighty and a seven year curse on the Center - only lifted by sacrificing a few volunteers and a cat of any variety . I showed her to the Scanning
"She won't think its Heaven after an hour on that station," I thought to myself. Two children later came her friend Jordan. I pointed her to the Left Wing Tactical Station. Jordan sat. The music continued to play as children paraded past me to their stations. Above the music came a voice I'd heard before.
"Jordan," she shouted. "This is Heaven! I'm excited and scared!"
"Sounds like a perfect description of Judgment Day," I thought.
I've got to thank our visitors for filling my day with sunshine and laughter.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
A Funny Observation at the Space Center
There was a very short conversation on Saturday that made me laugh. I was sitting at my desk minding my own business as I unsuccessfully try to do every Saturday when I heard the voice of Dave Daymont, one of our Phoenix Flight Directors. The voice came from the general area of his control room. His comment was directed to Christine Grosland, an Odyssey flight director.
The background to the story is simple. Christine had an appointment and told everyone she was leaving. She actually said that several times. A moment later she’d reappear, having forgotten something or got sidetracked by a good morsel of hallway gossip (if you’re a regular at the Center you’ll notice the staff like to congregate in the halls and ‘talk’ about everything from the time of day to politics to movies to the place others fall on the coolness scale. Someone like Emily is at the top of the scale, holding the title of Extreme and Mighty Empress of Cool while I’m at the bottom holding the title Lord Muck of the Uniformly UnCool. Everyone else at the Space Center falls in between).
Dave spoke first which drew my attention. (on another side note, those of you that think I not in tune to what’s happening while at my desk looking totally involved in a project are wrong. I’m capable of multitasking. Beware).
Dave to Christine. “Are you still here?”
I thought about his statement and started laughing internally. Was Dave blind? Was he not looking at Christine face to face when he said that? Think about it and you’ll see how silly his statement was. His question should have been:
Dave to Christine. “Why are you still here?”
Wouldn’t you agree? So why didn’t he say that? I believe the answer was in the emotion of the statement. “Are you still here?” is emotionally neutral. The statement “Why are you still here?” could be fraught with peril if spoken. It could be interpreted as “Gee, we thought you were gone. Shhhhezzzz get out of here already. What are you some kind of looser that has no life except work?”
OK. Back to the conversation.
Christine Replied to Dave.......... Are you ready for this one? “Yea, I haven’t left yet.”
Now I was laughing out loud. OF COURSE SHE HADN’T LEFT YET. SHE WAS STANDING RIGHT IN FRONT OF DAVE. HE COULD SEE SHE HADN’T LEFT. Perhaps she wanted to clarify the fact that Dave was actually seeing her and not some doppelganger or apparition.
You know troops, if you really stop and think about the things you and your friends say you’ll end laughing yourself.
Monday, January 11, 2010
Nexus Point on Sale at the Space Center on Saturday!
I now have lots of copies of my novel. I'm going to be running the Gift Shop (in the Discovery next to the candy counter) on Saturday from 10 - 11 am and selling my book there. Anyone who would like to purchase a personalized, signed copy of my novel at a discount, please bring your cash or check. (I don't do credit or debit cards, either!)
Check out www.nexuspoint.info for more information on the book! (No, you don't have to order it there. Come see me on Saturday!)
Aleta Clegg, writing as Jaleta Clegg
Saturday, January 9, 2010
Our First Camper of the Decade
It's 4:11 P.M. Four of our five ships are running January's Super Saturday. I'm working on updated and entering information for the camper's new Rank Papers. As I was typing names into the database I came across a young boy named Benjamin G.
I typed in his first name.
I typed in his last name.
I typed in his new Flight Hours
I typed in his new Class Hours.
I typed in his grade
I started to type in his birthday and stopped cold. I saw a 00 as his birth year. For a moment I thought the volunteer at the sign in table messed things ups on Benjamin's handwritten Sign In Sheet and either didn't hear him correctly or had the worst handwriting in Utah.
I looked back at his grade. Benjamin was in 4th grade and turned 10 on January 3rd. Turning 10 made him eligible for Super Saturdays and Overnight Camps. It dawned on me right then that this boy really was born in 2000. That is why I saw 00 on his form.
Troops, it was one of those "ah ha" moments. I was typing the first Rank Advancement Paper ever for someone born in the year 2000. There will be many many more to come but little 10 year old Benjamin was the first.
The New Galileo Opens!
With very little fanfare, the new Galileo opened last night for the January 8-9 Overnight Camp. The first official crew of the Galileo are pictured above. Stacy Carroll, the Galileo's Set Director, stands with them.
The new Galileo will be running on all Overnight Camps and Super Saturdays. It will also run for field trip if a class has more than 32 students. The new Galileo will open for private missions on January 18th. To book a mission in the new Galileo please visit the Space Center's web site. Go to the 'Private Programs' section. The new Galileo holds 5 - 6 people.
There will be an official grand opening of the Galileo once we have it painted.
A special thank you to Kyle Herring, Stacy Carroll, Alex Anderson, Alex DeBirk, Spenser Robinson, and Jon Parker AND everyone else I've forgotten.
Friday, January 8, 2010
It's 11:49 P.M. on Friday, January 8. We are running our first Overnight Camp for 2010. We have 44 students from the 5th and 6th grades at Sego Lily Elementary School. They are good kids and fun in the ships. I'm at my desk typing. I hear the loft beds creaking. Anytime someone moves they creak. It can be annoying because I hear every creak from my desk where I sleep.
Whispering is coming in from multiple locations. I hear the boys in the loft and the Bridge Captain's Quarters. I hear the boys sleeping on the bridge. Its not too bad. They are good. Ah, now the noise in the Captain's Quarters in on the increase. Sometimes the boys don't believe we can hear them. It usually takes a second, rarely a third 'talking to' to quiet them down to the point of sleep.
We really do it to ourselves you know. We get them all hyped up with the missions and then expect them drop dead asleep the instant their heads hit the pillows. Not going to happen, yet we still hope.
What is that ripe smell coming through the door in front of me? I answer that with another question. What is an Overnight experience at the Space Center without the mandatory accompaniment of La Odeur des Chaussettes Puantes (The Odor of Stinking Socks). Tonight's smells are ripe indeed. If I'm not mistaken I'm smelling a fresh bouquet of Nike athletic shoes, intermixed with a dozen or so Reeboks and an assortment of other brands, all uniting with the smell of the simulator itself to create an aroma so unique it can only be experienced here at the Space Center.
Good news for everyone. We are running the new Galileo on this camp! It is going well. Very well indeed. We ran a test mission on Thursday without any major problem. We ran the new Galileo this morning for a school field trip. Bracken Funk reported a victory. I spoke to Stacy Carroll (Galileo's Set Director) and Kyle Herring (Galileo's designer) and told them that the new Galileo was on for tonight's camp. It is time to see what this new ship can do. More news on the new Galileo will be coming soon.
It's 12:07 A.M. Things are quieting down. The staff are silent in the Odyssey and I'm hearing the voice of one lone boy in the wilderness of the Voyager. Me think it be time to hit the sack myself. My pad waits in front of my desk.
This is Mr. Williamson signing off from the Space Center just 1/2 a mile from beautiful downtown Pleasant Grove. Until tomorrow.
Thursday, January 7, 2010
Your Handbook for 2010.
Debbie Wallis sent this to me. I think its great and decided to share it with you. Please read it.
Believe a soon to be senior citizen when I tell you that these gems really are the secret to happiness. I've added a few thoughts in red.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
What We Have.
Sometimes it is good to step back and see how nice we have it in this country. These photographs make an excellent example.
Here we have a very nice, modern bus in Japan. It may be a school bus. It may be for a special school or high school. What matters is what these students have compared to others.
And now, this picture from India. Really makes you appreciate what you have.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
New Galileo Test Mission. Also, A few bits of cool space news.
What a great Tuesday it is! We are hosting the Astronomy Class from Lone Peak High School at the moment. Bracken is flying the Voyager. Christine is flying the Odyssey. They are doing Intolerance. We are back into the swing of things. I'm happy to be running missions again. I like the routine.
We are getting close to opening the new Galileo. There are a few bugs that are still bothering us. They are being addressed one at a time. We have someone working on the ship every day until it is ready to fly.
I know some of you are frustrated. You've been waiting to book a mission on the new Galileo and I keep postponing the opening. Remember, we have a very limited budget and this new simulator cost a lot of money. I need to rely on volunteer labor and the work of our less experienced maintenance personnel to finish the ship. We can't afford professionals. It is just the way things work around here. I'll open the Galileo once I'm sure its crews will have a good experience. I'll let you know through this blog.
Here are a items of interest:
- Kyle would like to run a Galileo Test Mission on Thursday from 5:00 - 7:30 P.M. We need 6 people to sign up. We are still working out the bugs so their may be errors. If you're interested send an email. I'll take the first 6.
- This is a cool video showing our place in the universe. If you have 3 minutes please watch. It is cool. http://www.youtube.com/watch?
The Mar's Rover Spirit is Reaching its 6th Anniversary With an Uncertain Future 12.31.09.
On Jan. 3, NASA's Mars rover Spirit marks six years of unprecedented science exploration and inspiration for the American public. However, the upcoming Martian winter could end the roving career of the beloved, scrappy robot. Click the following to access the link:
Sunday, January 3, 2010
New Year 2010 starts off Right with WISE
Space Center Flight Director / Educator
From his blog: Spacerubble.blogspot.com