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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Saturday at the Space Center and the Stages of Flight Directing.

Hello Troops,
It's Saturday at the Inn. While many who read this are enjoying a few days off work, please remember those of us in the trenches - scratching out our meager livings on the fringes of society. We toil in our control rooms, under seemingly unbearable working conditions for our scant wages, working to bring small bits of joy and happiness to those who find their way into our establishment along the carriage road out of our hamlet called Pleasant Grove.

Last evening we hosted a carriage of youngsters from Teaton Valley Wyoming. I believe they were lost and found our wayside inn as the evening settled. We were happy to offer entertainment and accommodations. They were a merry lot and thanked us repeatedly for giving them shelter. The nights in this county can be dangerous. Strange things have been sighted in the dark woods and fields after dark. It was providence they spotted our lamp swinging in the cool breeze from the moonlit lake.

Shortly after their arrival others arrived seeking warmth and amiable shelter until sunrise. They came from Northridge in the south country. Our inn was full and the welcoming lamp extinguished.

There was much laughter served with a trimming of fear in the tales told by our Troubadours last night. We were in good form with voices clear and instruments bright.

The night passed calmly, revealing a new Spring day. Our overnight guests are gone, the dust from the trail has settled and our Troubadours rest. The sun nears mid day.
We are stirred from our naps by the sound of approaching carriages. New guests are arriving. It is time to take up the lute and lyre and play again. It is what we do and we do it well.

Today we take a moment to honor our weekend staff. So while you lounge in your back gardens with drink and sun, think of us........
This is Bracken. He's a bit giddy. He just finished a full Overnight Camp and is currently in mid flight of a private 5 hour mission. He's telling his new Phoenix story, Murphy's Law. Bracken is demonstrating Stage 6, one of the many stages of weekend flight directing.
Stage 1
Refreshed and ready to go! The start of a Overnight Camp.

Stage 2
11:00 P.M. Mild exhausting sets in.

Stage 3
7:15 A.M. Full exhaustion due to a late night of flight directing and a restless sleep haunted by thoughts of a non responsive crew that is "on" to all our tricks.

Stage 4
10:00A.M. Mild hallucinations are quite common at the end of an overnight camp. Flight Directors are running on mental fumes and caffeine.

Stage 5
11:30 A.M. The first of two private missions arrive. Nerves are frayed due to lack of proper sleep and overworked imagination. Flight Directors are known to snap so extreme caution is advised when approaching an FD at this stage.

Stage 6
Second private mission. Flight Directors are beyond exhaustion and are entering that twilight existence of extreme giddiness. False feelings of euphoria are prevalent during this stage. A good second chair is required during Stage Six to keep the flight director on mission and facing the right direction. Handkerchiefs are a must to wipe away spittle that forms in the corners of a Stage 6 FD's mouth.

Stage 7
Collapse and coma like sleep. It is the end of the second private Saturday
mission. Visiting the Space Center during Stage 7 can be alarming. The scene reminds one of Jonestown. Flight Directors can be found passed out in the school's halls, chairs and tables. It is best to not disturb them while in this stage. Let nature take its course. Many of them will wake and go home before the school's alarms activated at 10:00 P.M.

This is Wyatt. He is happy. He is running solo this weekend. He finished his first overnight camp as primary flight director and is on his first Saturday private. Wyatt is paid in candy bars. He hopes someday to join the paid staff and receive real American money, none of that phony Canadian stuff. Until then, he keeps his cardboard sign, stool and dark glasses in the trunk of his parent's mini van. He's got a sweet spot on the corner near Geneva Road and Gandolfos. It brings in a good $5 - $6 per day. Its enough to keep him in soda.

This is Mr. Daymont. You'll notice he is demonstrating good coordination by successfully working a microphone and voice distorter at the same time. This ability characterizes a Flight Director in Stage 1. Mr. Daymont did not work the overnight camp and is therefore on his first Saturday mission. He is alert and mindful of his crew. His speech is clear, free of Stage 4, 5 and 6 slurring. His reasoning skills are excellent. Yes, an good example of a Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center Flight Director in true form!

This is Ben running the Galileo. He is assisted by Jordan. Both join Bracken in Stage 6 of Flight Directing, having successfully finished an Overnight Camp. They are in mid mission on their second Saturday afternoon program.

Ben seems giddishly happy. To someone not familiar with Stage Six Flight Directing one would think he is alert to the needs of his crew. What you don't know is that Ben's crew left the ship several minutes ago for a bathroom break and Ben continues the mission completely oblivious to the silence from the simulator. Jordon isn't helping the situation. He is so well trained that he continues to respond to Ben's commands, even though he is the one that took the crew to the restrooms a few minutes earlier.

This is Emily. She sits in the Odyssey Control Room helping Wyatt through his first experiences with the multiple stages of Flight Directing. Her computer is open to the Flight Director's Manual, ready to perform an intervention if Wyatt snaps. You'll notice the Disney CD to her right. Disney tunes are a must to bring a fading FD out of the panic attacks associated with Stage 5 flight directing and lure him gently into Stage 6 bliss.

Emily's hair is like a dangling string to a kitten. I encourage her to wear it back and away from her face so she isn't distracted. She defies my suggestions and insists it doesn't interfere with her work at all. You be the judge.

Our Programmers work tirelessly through the day on the Galileo's new Cocoa controls. They are showered, shaved, and deodorized, having arrived at the Center just before noon. They are the most alert and therefore act as anchors of reason whenever needed.

Jon and Stacy are in the copy room. It's Stacy's birthday today. She's been sung to multiple times yet seems to enjoy hearing the tune over and over. "I'm Stacy and you may sing to me," she was heard saying to her crew during their overnight camp in the Galileo. Instead of playing them indigestible death time music she had them sing "Happy Birthday". Let it never be said Stacy doesn't enjoy a catchy tune.

I caught them just as Jon was finishing his hip hop rendition of "Happy Birthday". He is a bit peeved that I interrupted his song but knows to hold his tongue. Chewing the boss out is not a recommended path to promotion.

Nathan is not a Flight Director. He is one of our new volunteers. Here he is working on learning the difference between clockwise and counterclockwise in the dimming and brightening of Odyssey's interior lights. In another week or so he will try for a pass. Good Luck Nathan!

This is the sign posted on the Odyssey's Control Room door. I find it well written with a good sense of artistic construction and effective use of color. Signs like these are prevalent throughout the Space Center but this one is by far the best. I thought you'd enjoy a moment of fine art before continuing.

And finally, the volunteers on Magellan's Saturday afternoon mission. What great volunteers we have at the Space Center. They are awesome. If it wasn't for their hard work covering the mistakes of our Flight Directors the Center would have closed years ago :)
Thanks Volunteers for everything you do!

And now, It is time for me to go console a FD entering Stage 5. I'm told he's on the floor chewing his microphone cable.

All in a day's work

Mr. Williamson
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