Contact Victor Williamson with your questions about simulator based experiential education programs for your school.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Plague Upon Our House

The horse and cart moved slowly down a lane in the hamlet of Pleasant Grove. It was the early hours of the morning, the sky still dark and cold. A young man walked slowly beside the horse obviously in no hurry. The sick and dead could wait. He pulled his tattered coat tighter around his chest and cleared his throat. The cottages were coming into few. While most were dark, others were lit by a single candle.

Pleasant Grove was the home of the great lord’s servants, artisans, farmers and troubadours. The village surrounded the castle, holding tightly to the fortress’ outer wall. Acres of farmland skirted the village stretching as far as the eye could see. Dark woods peppered the farmland. It was a good place to live and work, until the plague arrived.

“Bring out the dead!” The man’s voice broke the still of the night. It was a mournful call to the living that the time had arrived to part with their loved ones. Doors opened up and down the lane, spilling flickering candlelight onto the cobblestones. A older man stepped out from one cottage carrying the lifeless body of a young girl. A woman stood in the doorway weeping. It was something he'd seen every day since the plague started.

“Put her in the cart on the left. There appears to be several,” the cartsman said matter of factly. His spirit had grown a protective shell to the grief and helplessness around him. He had seen too much and buried too many. Besides he knew it was only a matter of time before the pestilence struck him down, as it had the two previous owners of the cart.

It seemed every other cottage required his services that morning. The cart was nearly full by the time he reached the Manor House at the end of the lane. The sound of a dozen mother's sorrow was replaced by the silence of the night as each cottage door closed.

The Manor house was home to the Shire's Troubadours. The top window was bright with lantern light. The cartman was pleased. He received an extra pence for the proper burial of anyone from the Manor House. The light in the window at this time of night was a good omen. He stopped at the gate and waited.

“Bring out your dead,” he called out. His breath hung before him in the chill, then disappeared, like the spirits of the dead in his cart, hovering momentarily, not wanting to part with this world, then willingly or not, carried away to heaven or hell.

“Shall I tell him to return later,” Jon Inquired. Lady Rachel sat beside Lady Stacy wiping her forehead in hopes of extinguishing the fever’s fire.
“She may survive another day, and with God’s good grace, perhaps live to old age and grandchildren,” Rachel answered.

“She doesn’t look well,” Jon walked closer, but not too close. The plague was dangerous and no one knew how it spread. Some thought by contact, others by smell. “I give her six hours at best, perhaps seven if the your prayers are convincing and the Saints take pity. I'll tell cartsman to come back later.”

“Away with you and tell the reaper outside to move along. There are no dead in the Manor House this night.” Rachel was tired and was in no humor to joust with Jon. She returned to caring for her charge.

"I'm not cruel, I just state the facts. They are with us one moment, and then gone," Jon replied. “No one knows his fate.”

The Nursing of Lady Emily.

“Master Jon, your discourse pulls light from flame and your disposition is foul and makes for poor company on a night like this." Jon shrugged his shoulders and walked toward the window overlooking the lane. "Look at the Lady Emily.” Rachel pointed to the opposite side of the sick room to a woman laying peacefully on a bed of straw. “Two week's ago the did she not hold the key to eternity’s door. Now behold, she sleeps peacefully, standing firmly several paces from death's door. That fact speaks of quality nursing and care. If I wrestled her from death's grasp then I can do it again. Have faith Master Jon. Have faith.”

Master Jon took an apple from a bowl and unlatched the window to the night’s air.
“There are no dead in the Manor tonight. Take this for your trouble and be on your way,” he shouted as he tossed the apple from the window to the cartsman below.

"Perhaps tomorrow?" the cartman's called back with hope in his voice. The extra pence would provide much needed bread for his house.

"Perhaps, one of our number stands between our world and the next. Now be on your way. Tis bad luck to have you linger so. Death follows you."

The cart rattled its way out of sight leaving the lane dark and void of sound. The Lady Rachel knelt by the fire, stirring life into the dimming coals. “More coal,” she ordered. “And tell Master Spenser his time approaches. I grow weary.”

“If you insist,” Jon answered. "And you should know that I'm not the only in this house that doubts a recovery for the Lady Stacy. Earlier in the day I saw Master Ben examining her room. He seemed hopeful of a soon to be coming promotion."

"Morbid, all of you. Where is the love for one who has served the people so well for so long?"

"The love is there. Lady Stacy has been good to us all, but the reality of the situation must be addressed."

"I say life is precious and must be held tight with both hands for it can be taken from us with one absent beat of the heart," Rachel held a tight fist over her heart as she spoke.

"That is a fact. Did you not hear about Master Alex?" Jon took a stool and sat to tell the tale.

"Pray tell," Rachel urged him on.

"He went out this afternoon before evening vespers to ride and take the air. His horse tripped in a hole sending the Master to the ground."

"Where is he then. Why isn't he here keeping us company in the sick room?"

Master Alex Being Bled by Spenser for an Aching Head from his Accident.

"He is well after having been bled by Master Spenser for an aching head. The horse took the worst of the fall and was put down. He is now without mount."

"First the plague, then this. What do the Fates hold in store for us?" Rachel heard the Lady Stacy stir. "Go and fetch the coal and Master Spenser. Hurry now."

“Rachel,” Lady Stacy‘s voice was weak and rasp. She struggled to raise her head off her pillow of down.

“Lay yourself down. Rest is what you need and do not speak,”

“Will I live?” Stacy's eyes swam in dark circles stretching from her nose to her temples. The plague held her tightly. The Reaper, with scythe in hand, sat outside waiting impatiently. He was forbidden the soul of Lady Emily and felt this sickly soul was payment for a debt owed. Stacy struggled to speak, "Perhaps you should call for the priest for I grow weak and feel my spirit yearning to shed this ravaged body."

“Nonsense,” Rachel sat down on a stool to wipe her feverish forehead. “The Lady Emily was far worse than you and see her now. She breathes without labor. That will be you. No one leaves this world while in my care. Now rest.” The Lady Stacy’s head and pillow reunited.

There was a stumbling at the door. In half fell half walked Master Spenser. “Sleep and I didn’t have a chance to become acquainted,” he said. "Pray thee to continue through the night so I may rest."

“You shouldn’t have made merry into the wee hours of the morning. It is your shift and my bones are as weary as yours.” Rachel stood, walked to the doorway and placed the damp cloth into his hand. “Emily grows stronger and no longer needs constant care. The Lady Stacy is at the threshold. I warn you Spenser, if you lose her while I sleep I pray her spirit to haunt you to your dying day. Now be about your business.” Rachel walked out the door and struggled up the stairs to her chamber.

Master Spenser looked from one side of the room to the other, found a chair, moved it to the fire and sat. A moment later he was asleep.

I'm sure many of you kind readers are confused by stories like these. These fictional stories are for the staff and volunteers of the Center. They are my way of telling staff and volunteer news in an interesting and creative way. So, from this story you should understand that Emily was very sick but is now better and returns to work on Monday. You should also know that Stacy is not well and will be taking some time off. Finally you should have learned that Alex had a car accident and is fine. A straight telling of the news is boring. I like a writing challenge. So please know that I do understand your confusion if you don't get it.

Mr. Williamson

Friday, October 29, 2010

Meanwhile, in a Galaxy Far Away......

While the recession is causing declining employment in the Republic, bounty hunter's, repossessor's and bill collector's businesses are booming.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Perfect Christmas Gift for the Space Center Fan

One sweet toy.
The matching scenery isn't too bad either :)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Computer Programming Class. Sign Up Now!

Beginning Cocoa Programming

For Students in Grade 7 and Up.

Class Description:
This class will teach the fundamentals of object oriented programming using Cocoa, Apple's premier programming language. The first half of the class will be focused on
understanding object oriented programming and how a computer program uses objects to store information and display it to the user.

Students will learn about various Cocoa classes, their methods and Cocoa syntax. The second half of the class will be centered around creating programs for the Space Center.

This class is for serious students that have an interest in programming and are committed to the entire 12 class session course. Your Saturday mornings must be open.

Class Goal:
To develop computer programmers capable of programming futuristic starship controls for use at the Space Center.

When: Saturdays, 10-11:30 A.M. Starting November 20, 2010. Ending Feb. 2011.

Where: Space Center. North Computer Lab.

Sessions: 12 class course. Attendance at every class is critical but not required.

Cost: Free

Enrollment: By telephone only. Please call the Space Center after 2:00 P.M. and ask for Mr. Williamson (801.785.8713).

Advanced Cocoa Programming Class

Class Description:
This class is for students who already have a fundamental knowledge of Cocoa. This class will be focused on problem solving skills and program development skills.

Class Goal:
Students will construct Space Center themed projects and learn how to develop an idea and turn it into a finished product.

When: Saturdays, 10-11:30 A.M. Starting March 2011. Enrollment for the advanced class will take place in April. Watch the Blog for more information.

Where: Space Center North Computer Lab

A Couple of Tuesday Chuckles

Do ya get it? Didn't think so....... Sheeeeeze, American education these days! You realize this will haunt you all day and night so do yourself a favor and ask a science teacher. Who knows, you might learn something.

Mr. W.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Moderation in All Things.......

You've got one chance this. Never forget the things that make us human.
Here is one voice in the wilderness that still speaks for the arts, humanities, history and play.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Staples of a Space Center Breakfast

Here's a memory magnifier for all you old time campers from years gone by. Do you remember your delicious, nutritious, and delightfully decadent Space Center breakfasts?

Here are a few pictures to remind you:

We start with these deceptively delicious Vitamin Rings packaged exclusively for the Space Center by our friends at the local WalMart. Do you remember how the pastry melted in your mouth? Remember the perfect sweetness of the powdered sugar glaze? Remember how generous we were by offering them "All you can Eat?"
Remember the upset stomach? Remember needing the Happy Bucket?

Fresh from the orchards behind most local Walmarts comes the varied fruit offered with every Space Center breakfast. Juicy oranges, ripe bananas and sweet Red Delicious apples graced the serving counter in the school's cafeteria. Nutrition and fruit go hand in hand. We like to think that a piece of fruit will cancel any and all negatives from the doughnuts. At least, that's what we like to think.

How could you forget the multiple flavored GoGurts freely distributed at every Space Center breakfast. Cotton Candy, Banana Split, and Watermelon flavors just to name a few. Remember struggling to tear the top away to get at the sweet yogurt inside? Remember how many times the GoGurt exploded in the attempt, shooting all over your shirt, pants and shoes? Remember the look I gave you? Ah, you don't want to remember that do you?

And to wash it all down, your selection of breakfast liquids. Every Space Center breakfast offered WalMart chocolate milk, 1% milk and Sunny Delight. You look surprised? Did you think that orange tasting liquid was real orange juice? Well it wasn't . In our concern not to upset potential ulcers in our young campers, we made the decision not to offer real orange juice. Instead, we offered the chemically based Sunny Delight - barely distinguishable from freshly squeezed OJ. Not to mention much cheaper - which I guarantee had nothing to do in the decision between OJ and SD.

Feeling nostalgic for the Space Center? I knew you would after this post.

May I offer a suggestion? Go to your local WalMart and purchase the donuts, Sunny Delight, GoGurts and fruit. Bring it all home and feed your family a traditional Space Center breakfast - for old times sake.

Best Wishes,
Mr. Williamson

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Dave Daymont sent this to me. Yes, it's real. You can by the 2001 Monolith for $13.00. They say there's a sucker born every minute and this is the proof.

Are we missing something here? Should we stock this kind of thing in the Space Center's gift counter? We could make these dirt cheap with all the broken black plastic laying about we use to cover our computer screens in the simulators.
Let's see, we need clever packaging a great series of missions involving the Monolith told in the simulators.

Yes, its all coming clear to me now.

THE MONOLITH and THE SHADOW (that added bit means nothing in the story but it will increase the sales for sure).

Once upon a future time, in a Galaxy closer than you think there was a Starship called Voyager on route to a planet that looked remarkably like Jupiter.

"Captain, on final approach," Ensign Parker sighed, obviously bored from spending several hours on duty with very little sleep from an all night party in the Lounge.

"Wake up!" The captain flicked him on the back of the head. "Sit up straight."
Parker sat up quickly, not wanting to spend another break period in the ship's canteen scrubbing the food processors. "Scans?"

"Captain, detecting something in orbit of the gas giant," Commander Anderson said. He peered deep into his desk top visor, flipped a few switches and continued. "Its very dark and quite large. A monolith to be precise made of solid neutronium - impossible to scan the interior."

"Strange." The Captain stood over the Commander looking at the data as it streamed in from the sensor sweeps. "What's that red line mean?"

"Oh crap. A hugh energy discharge heading straight for us!"

"Red Alert!" Klaxons rang throughout the ship. Parker was wide awake and clutched the sides of his desk. It wasn't going to be a good day........

Mr. W.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Early Morning Call. October 5, 2005

Hello Troops,
Before I created this blog I posted my stories and observations in a YahooGroup. That group is no longer used for posting and I'm afraid all those stories may be lost over time.

To preserve the history located in those older posts, I've decided to transfer them from the YahooGroup to The Troubadour where they can be read and enjoyed by our readers.

Therefore, the following story is a repost from the YahooGroup originally posted on October 5, 2005.

Mr. Williamson

The Early Morning Call

Early morning disturbances are the flavor of an overnight camp and its the flavor that stays on memory's tongue for years to come.

I was settled for my Friday evening `nap'. The overnight campers were in bed and quiet. The staff were asleep (including the high schoolers who feel going to sleep before 2:00 in the morning is a waste of social time). I was on my pad near the Voyager's doorway into the Briefing Room. For fifteen years I've spent nearly every Friday evening sleeping near this door on the floor. With me, my two pillows, my flashlight, my alarm clock, the Enforcer, and Taz - my Tasmanian Devil sofa pillow. Taz is our unofficial mascot for the Overnight Camps.

Sleep had caught up with me. So far it had been a good night. No crying kids. No sick campers. No staff shouting to each other as if they were separate by yards and not inches. Yes a good night.

Shortly before 3:00 A.M. I was pulled into consciousness by the ringing of the Center's telephone. Who wants to answer a telephone ringing at that time of
night? My experience tells me that a 3:00 A.M. call is usually bad news. At the Space Center these early morning calls are usually faxes coming in at a time the mass faxers think no one is around to turn off their fax machines to stop the unwanted advertisement for real estate or educational books some publisher has warehouses full of wanting to dump them onto the market at unbelievable prices?

Just in case it was an emergency I struggled to my feet and over to the phone.

"Hello," I said quietly. I looked around the room. There were a few that stirred but so
far so good. I used my hand to cup my mouth over the receiver hoping to quiet my voice.

"Hello," came a voice on the other end. It was a boy's voice. My next thought was a family emergency of some kind for me, a staff member or a camper.

"Can I help you?" I asked.

There was along pause. "I'm wondering when you have an opening for the Odyssey simulator?" he said. I looked up at the clock and rubbed my eyes. Yes it was a bit after 3:00 A.M. It was a first in my fifteen years at the Center. Either this kid couldn't sleep and wanted to call and leave a message - or this kid likes to call in the middle of the night to hear my voice on the answering machine (I've been told I have a very calming voice). Perhaps this kid though the Space Center was some international corporation which had its telephones manned day and night for our overseas customers.

"I'm sorry but its the middle of the night and we are running an overnight camp at the
moment. Could you call back in the morning?" I asked.

"Oh, all right....... bye," he said. There was a click on the other end. I put the phone
down and went back to bed. This place always amazes me. Just when you think you've seen or heard it all, some kid will surprise you.

Mr. Williamson

Its Not to Much to Ask. Is It?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Two Things To Consider

A Facebook Merryweatherism. (Its OK of you don't get it)

They've been predicting the end of the world for a long time so 2012 is a no starter for me, although Its great for selling books.

Instead of fretting over the end of the world, I prefer:
  • Something lighter to read.
  • An Outback steak with loaded baked potato.
  • Something funny on TV.
  • A room with a view.
  • And a little time off work with an unlimited travel budget. But let's not greedy.
Mr. W.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Interesting Astronomy News

"Immaculate" Black Holes Found at Universe's Conception

Start the Week with a Smile

Hello Troops,
Let's start this week with a few smiles.

A Pencil, The Ultimate Tool

Exactly the kind of math I teach my sixth graders.....

I need one of these on my front door. Instead of "Trespass here" I want it to read "Solicit here". We get so many door to door salesmen these days that don't like to take "No" for an answer.

Have a Great Week.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Emily and Skyler's Reception (or Preception).

Hello Troops,
I’m enjoying a few days off from the Space Center. You know, there are days when I dream about the time when the only thing I’ll need to decide on any given day is if I’d like fries or apple chips to go with my Happy Meal.

When I sit at my desk on a Monday morning and look over the mountain of emails and bookings and schedule changes and repairs and needs and wants..... I close my eyes and think that in two short years I’ll have my 30 years of service finished and could then seriously consider retirement. If I want to do something to keep myself busy and mentally active during retirement, I’ll follow my father’s footsteps. Instead of sitting around all day living off his South Dakota pension and Social Security he decided to get out and find something to do that didn’t entail the same responsibilities he had when he worked for the SD Department of Highways. My dad allowed himself to become assimilated into the Walmart Collective. Today he spends his days in the garden center putting grills and benches together and frustrating every manager stupid enough to engage him in conversation.

Last night I attended Emily and Skyler’s pre Wedding Reception. I added the prefix ‘pre’ because their reception was held before the wedding. Ingenious isn’t it? With the reception finished the night before, the happy couple can skip town right after they say their “I Do’s”.

I’ve never been to a pre Reception before and was hesitant on giving a gift. What if either of them woke the following morning, panicked and did a run? I would be out the price of my card (and wedding cards are pricey these days). For that reason I decided to give them a check instead of a real present or cash. If they call it off, I cancel my check. You should all know me well enough to know that I’ve got my bases covered :)

The “P”ception was held on the grounds of a what appeared to be a British style Manor House on a hillside in Cedar Hills. I had to park a couple blocks from the event. No big deal I thought. What I didn’t know was the length of the mansion’s driveway. Let’s just say this, they had a golf cart running people back and forth between the street and the event. Of course, my pride wouldn't permit me to accept a ride.

The “P”ception’s theme was Carnival. It was done very well. I worried about Emily though. Emily has been very ill for the past two weeks and still under a doctor’s care. I think it was miracle she was able to carry on with the wedding at all.

When I arrived at the mansion’s ‘Event House’ I could see precautions were in place in case she had a turn for the worse. Off to the right on the lawn was what appeared to be a ring toss game (remember, carnival was the “P”ception’s theme). Upon closer inspection I discovered the bottles were Emily’s old IV bottles from her last two week’s of care. Her old syringes were the darts thrown in the balloon popping game. It was ingenious.

There was a costumed photo booth at the entrance of the Event House. Guests selected costume pieces from a couple of bins, entered the booth and had their pictures taken. What most people didn’t notice was something only my trained eye saw. The photo booth was actually the disguised back of an ambulance, parked near the Event House in case Emily had a turn.

Everyone was greeted at the door by a woman dispensing generous shots of hand sanitizer. Surgical masks were distributed half way through the reception line. The whole thing made me think we were at a Make a Wish Party. I ran into Casey, Dave Daymont and his wife. We tried to converse but the masks made it difficult.

The line moved slowly ahead. Before long I stood in the presence of Emily and Skyler, her soon to be husband. Emily looked beautiful (if you overlooked the carefully hidden IV. The plastic tubing was carefully concealed in the lace running up her arm). Various other life support machines stood nearby making excellent places to hold your drinks when you hugged.

Emily assured me she was doing well and on the mend (until she momentarily flatlined and nearly collapsed. The scaffolding set up around her held her in place - brilliantly disguised to blend into the decorations. The electrodes in her dress sparked, bringing her back to us). I told her we were anxious to have her return to work after the wedding and when she was feeling more like her normal self. I presented my card and check and explained how expensive cards were these days - even at the new WinCo in Orem.

I wanted to impress on them the concern I had for this "P"ception concept. Both Emily and Skyler assured me they were committed to marrying each other the following day. I held the card out, Skyler took hold and pulled. I kept hold of it just for a moment longer to emphasis the fact that I expected them to carry out their part of the agreement. I give a gift and they marry. I let go once I saw that he understood.

I bid them farewell and manoeuvred through the surgical ward toward the refreshments. Delicious pies were on the menu along with popcorn, carmel apples, cupcakes and candy (remember the Carnival theme?). I took a bag of popcorn and a carmel apple. I knew I needed extra carbohydrates for the long walk back down the drive. Casey accompanied me. We talked about the apparent wealth around us and wondered what the people did to make that kind of money.

I pulled away from the manor in my Lincoln Battlestar and drove down the mountain to rejoin my caste living and toiling in the fields below. It was nice getting to celebrate the evening with Emily and Skyler. They make a wonderful couple and we all wish them the very best of luck as they start a new life together.

Mr. Williamson

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Quick Hello, Then Gone.....

A newly discovered car-sized asteroid flew past Earth early Tuesday. The asteroid, 2010 TD54, made its closest approach to Earth at 6:51 a.m. EDT (4:51 a.m. MDT).

It was well within the Moon's orbit. Yes they're out there. Luckily this one would have burned up in the atmosphere. We may not be so lucky the next time.

Mr. Williamson

What it All Boils Down To

Yes, that's you, minus all that stuff rolling around in your head. When you stop and think about it, we are all exactly alike in composition. The real essence of who we are lies in our thoughts and actions.

So, be yourself.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Space Center Director Poisoned. Imaginarium in Chaos.

Wonderland Employees hearing of the Poisoning.

Wonderland Daily News reported today that the Director of the Imaginarium’s Space Education Center was poisoned!

“Oh the Humanity!” one commuter exclaimed after reading the headline at the Wonderland Subway Station’s News Stand. Many in the crowd agreed the news was devastating. “What’s next?” he spoke loudly so all could hear. “On Friday we learned of new lay offs at the Imaginarium due to a sharp decrease in the use of Imagination by the children of the world - and now this, the poisoning of the Space Center’s Director?”

“What’s Next is Right!?” a woman wearing a pink dress with yellow sash shouted from the back of the crowd.

“Read the article so we can all hear,” a clerk from the Office of Underbed Apparitions said while munching on a peppermint Twix bar, a new addition to the newsstand’s confectionery choices, supplied by the imagination of an eleven year old girl from Hermosa, South Dakota.

The commuter hopped up on an apple crate that happened to be nearby, cleared his throat and waited for the 8:02 A.M. train to pull out of the station.

“The Director of the Space Education Center was poisoned several days ago while attending a family picnic at the home of his sister. It is believed the poisoning was the cause of eating a potato salad which sat outside too long on a picnic table, and then in a warm car.”

“My husband got food poisoning eating a potato salad that sat out too long. I told him not to eat it but does he listen to me?” a woman with her hair pulled tightly into a bun said. Her husband nodded in agreement.

“She told me not to eat it, but do I listen to her?” he said.

“No,” the gathering exclaimed in unison.

“Anyway,” the commuter cleared his throat again and continued. “By bed time the Director was experiencing sever pains which kept him up most of the night....”

“That poor man.” an older woman with a wrinkled kindly face spoke up. She was wearing a odd hat resembling a cloud with lightening. Her ID badge identified her as an employee of the Office of Elderly Out of Body Experiences.

“The pain was barely tolerable by the time he reported to work the following morning. He is expected to make a full recovery. An investigation of the incident is underway.

“We have questions and expect his elderly mother to cooperate fully. She made the salad and was overheard by other family members urging the Director to enjoy another helping. Of course, she may have been referring to a second salad still in the refrigerator - but we can’t be sure there may not be an underlying motive in her suggestion.” said the chief investigator for the Wonderland Constabulary.

Wonderland News will keep its readers informed of developments.”

The commuter folded the newspaper, tucked it under his arm and stepped down off the apple crate. The crowd moved quickly and silently toward the exits and into the gloom of a cloudy, rainy day in Wonderland.

Side Note:
I'm recovering. Still have an upset stomach but hope to be bright eyed in the A.M. You'd think at 52 years old I'd know better!

Mr. W.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

My Post

Hello Troops,
It is 10:10 A.M. on October 10,2010. That is 10:10 10/10/10. This is my lucky, magical post to appease Fortuna the Goddess of Fortune. She's been a naughty girl this past week, overstaying a visit to the Space Center and the staff causing mischief on a scale almost, previously unknown. Let this post and the power of TEN's send her packing to find new hunting grounds.

So, let's raise a glass to the sunrise of good fortune as we celebrate the start of a short work week and the blessed Fall Vacation.

Mr. Williamson

Friday, October 8, 2010

Friday Evening at the Imaginarium

What are you doing tonight?
If you're not working the Overnight Camp at the Space Center or spending a few hours sitting in your local high school's football field watching teens fight over a pigskin ball for a few yards of plastic grass, then may I offer a suggestion?

It promises to be the fight of the century. ObiWan vs. the darling boy of the Dark Side, Anakin Skywalker aka Darth Vader.

Take the subway to the Wonderland Station and exit to Seeming Impossible Avenue, turn left and follow anyone you see wearing Jedi robes and carrying a plastic light saber.

Warning, the force will be used extensively during this match. Those sitting in he first ten rows must be prepared to be flung into walls or those behind them.

Caution, the ticket takers are trained to avoid Jedi mind entrapment, don't even attempt to enter without a ticket.

Have a Great Night and think of us slaving away at the Camp with 45 fifth graders :)

Mr. Williamson

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Post from an Ancient Astronaut :)

Hello Jared,
Thanks for sending this in. Ahhh great memories of that Fallout Shelter under the school. A great Sci Fi whatever.
Mr. W.

And Now Jared's Comment:

If you're an "old-timer" I don't know what to call myself. Before the Space Education Center even had a name Vic was taking us on voyages across the universe in the empty school lunch room. The overhead projector with the squiggly drawings of the alien encounters were enough to get our imaginations going. Fire the torpedos! Oh, no... the tractor beam got us. This was one of the coolest parts I remember - boarding the alien ship with flashlights (we were taken down to the school boiler room and its dirty passages - anyone else remember that freaky place?) Luckily our bravery in confronting the Romulans earned us a pizza break back in the school library. Good times Vic! Thanks again, Jarad

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Gary Continues on the History of the Space Center.

Thanks Gary for another awesome post on Space Center history. You're remember things I'd long forgotten. Anyone else out there want to chime in with your Space Center story? Send them in so every can enjoy.
Mr. Williamson

And Now Gary's Post:

As I sit at think over lunch break, my mind wanders back in time... before grad school, before my first "real job," before getting married and having kids, before BYU, before my LDS mission... all the way back to when I was a kid and the Space Center captured my imagination (and it's been holding onto it ever since). But why reminisce silently when I can invite you all along my trip down memory lane with me? Buckle up for some more old timer recollections.

The first time I held a "command position" was at an overnight mission where my friend and I were by far the most senior campers. We both had 14 hours under our belt (this was probably our third or fourth visit to the Space Center) and everyone else only had 2 from a single field trip. Normally, you'd think that we'd use our seniority to become Captain and First Officer, but we had other plans. We wanted to fire the guns! So my friend and I sat quietly while an inexperienced kidlet was chosen to be captain, then we signed up for the Left Wing (or was it Right?... anyway, it had the torpedoes!).

This inexperienced captain floundered quite a bit, and it became obvious that he'd always turn to us for advice, so eventually Vic paused the mission and graciously gave the poor kid a chance to step down as captain if he wanted. He jumped at the chance, and then Vic turned to us and asked if we wanted the job instead.

"14 hours?!?" he said when we told him how many missions we'd run before. "Why didn't you volunteer to be captain earlier?" he asked with a dumbfounded look on his face. I wanted to explain "C'mon, the TORPEDOES!" but I figured it wasn't worth the effort of explaining how my 12-year old mind worked. Thus, my friend became captain and I became first officer.

Having been to the Space Center several times before that, I'd always eyed the Captains Lounge jealously. Now I'd get to sleep up there! It had big bean bag chairs, which were nice, but the crown jewel was a Super Nintendo! I always wanted to sleep up there so I'd have a chance to play around with it.

How naive I was. As the readers of this blog all can attest, when you're in the middle of an overnight camp, the LAST thing you think about when you're sent off to bed is video games. We stayed up as long as we could talking and planning strategy for tomorrow's gripping continuation of the mission. I wouldn't be surprised if that old Nintendo crumbled to dust with disuse... video games just can't compare with the Space Center experience.

The next morning was wonderful! It felt so great to be woken by the soft music of the Star Trek Voyager theme song.

Fast forward to my next overnight mission... in a bunk by sick bay, woken to the shrill whistle blowing of Admiral Schuler announcing bunk inspections in 2 minutes and breakfast in 3.

Those were different times... the "Outland Corp" era for those who remember... an alternate reality in which the Federation was Defeated by the Borg in the "Best of Both Worlds" episode.

Gotta love the Borg... gotta love Admiral Schuler. My ears are still ringing.

Gary Gardiner
Old Timer Space Center Cadet :)

And Now Something for our Teacher Friends

The Ups and the Downs. It's all Part of the Journey

Ever feel like the picture above? Our Monday at the Space Center was much like it on a smaller scale. I got up - chaos - then went to bed. Thank goodness for great people. Thanks to everyone that helped us all get through one of those 'bump' in the road days.

Life is a journey. It has a start and an end. All that bit in between is the essence of who and what we are. Make good decisions. Do the right thing and trust all will be well.

Let me share something that helps me through those tough days we all have. I know its a bit religious, but for me, faith makes an excellent shock absorber and an awesome bumper :)

Have a Great Day Everyone and thanks for your continued support. I'll see you on the road.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Troubadours and Summer's Last Performance

The wagons creaked on the uneven road as our band of troubadours journeyed home to the Shire. Lazy clouds of white and gray took their turn hiding the sun from view. The coming night cooled the warm autumn afternoon. I pulled my cloak closer for warmth. Our company would soon be settling into the castle for the short days and long nights of winter.

It was a good summer’s season. Our last performance was on Friday in a hamlet who’s name is already forgotten. Lady Emily and her company of well rehearsed troubadours performed, giving our troupes of travelling story merchants and musicians an evening of rest before the journey home. The night air overflowed with joy, laughter, music and screams. I watched from a distance, hidden by the canvas of my tent, taking joy in the knowledge that this company of troubadours had the skill and training to carry a performance without my direction.

In the midst of what someone who happened to stumble unawares behind stage would perceive as chaos, stood our Lady Emily, giving direction to both actor and musician. Each direction was accepted and implemented with skill, making what appeared to the assembled villagers a seamless tale of heroism and daring.

And then, surprise. Our troubadours did something not seen on our stages for over fifteen years. They directed the performance out of the tent and into the village itself. I was reminded of the times when, as a young troubadour, I did the same for one, perhaps two seasons then stopped. I don’t remember the reasons.

At the end, the villagers awarded our troubadours with applause. True thanks were given for an evening never to be forgotten. After the hamlet settled into their beds for a long night, our company took down the tent, put away the instruments and costumes and gathered around the fire for dinner and talk.
“Didest Thou see the cat that crossed our path so boldly?” Master Wyatt spoke. The golden orange of the fire colored his face and the faces of his fellows. “The owner was not to be found.”

“And what dids’t thou do? Thou tookest the animal as thine own.” Several laughed at Master Adam’s words.
“Wyatt, is this true, the words I hear?” I asked from the shadows. I moved into the firelight and found a log to rest my weary self upon.
“Tis true Master,” he announced with a pride so true as to paint a blush across a maiden’s face. “And I care not who hears!”

“I care, so guard thy tongue in the telling of your tales,” I cautioned while pointing to the younger members of our troupe. There was shock in their faces that I would take offense in the telling of such an innocent tale. I let my countenance darken the mood for a moment, then broke into laughter, bringing relief and cheers from our circle of comrades.

“And that is a Master at work,” Lady Emily said. “He draws you one direction, only to turn the tale unexpectedly towards another.”

The ladies Aleta, Lorriane and Shiela prepared meat for our last night as wanderers. It was an unexpected respit from our daily diet of bread with butter with porridge. A meal filling yet makes for poor company.

“Our last night under the stars needed to be marked with a feast,” Lady Aleta exclaimed . “It was to be fish, but a farmer bought his tickets with chickens.” The youngest in our troupe sat around the cook fire and watched the chickens roast. The smell was rich for the nostrils and brought moistness to the mouth.

“Back ye rats of the Forest deep. Back into the shadows from whenst thou came,” Lady Shiela appeared from the darkness with broom in hand sending the youngsters scattering in all directions.

It was a night of good food, good company and little sleep.

And now we have been several hours on the dusty road. I looked behind my wagon into the faces of our troupe as they walked steadily onward in the direction of the setting sun. Twenty paces behind the slowest of the troupe walked Lady Emily hand in hand with Master Skyler. In a fortnight’s time the two will wed. The Lord of the Manor has ever so graciously given permission for the use of the Great Hall for the feast afterwords.

The celebration of a wedding marked the passage of time as our youngest performers grew each day in the cycles of the sun and moon. And then, as if stirred from a short sleep, I awake to find a child who just a moment ago was learning to pull a curtain and sing a simple song, now grown and tasting love’s sweet wine.

The sun rises and sets taking us ever onward through the seasons of life. It is a good life we live, troubadours in the service of our shire bringing joy and happiness into the lives of the people we serve.

“The castle!” a young voice shouted. I looked up and into the distance. A tower with flag was in sight. Soon we would be reintroduced to our long neglected beds.