The Space Center is dark today (using the Broadway definition of 'dark' as in, no programs). The staff have that rare Saturday off to enjoy time with family, friends, homework and the Sandman.
Speaking of the Sandman, its come to my attention that some of my staff and volunteers have been seeing less and less of him recently. Let me emphasis the importance of nurturing your relationship with the Sandman. Keeping his company leads to rested nights and energetic days. Shunning him leads to lapses in consciousness when you need consciousness the most, like driving, taking notes in class, and most importantly - your job! If you and the Sandman haven't been in touch then text him and arrange a reunion.
Get More Sleep before we return to the Imaginarium on Monday for the dispensing of more chills and thrills.
Staff News and Photographs
I'm going to take a few minutes of your time to update you on recently honored Staff and Volunteers.
This is Jordan. Jordan is happy. Jordan received his Year of Service Pin. I'm not really with it and must apologize to Jordan for my stammering and imbalance. This award was given on a Saturday morning after an Overnight Camp. Sleep and I are odd fellows on an overnight camp. Instead of sleep, I would say I drift in and out of mild unconsciousness during the four or five hours I'm laying on my pad.
Jordan is just happy I managed to stab his lanyard and not him.
This is Alex awarding Bronson his Phoenix Pin for Outstanding Performance in the Art of Secondary Flight Directing and Bridge Supervision. This highly sought after award - available only by that name in the Phoenix - was earned after several attempts and several failures, something everyone who has earned a Phoenix Pin will testify to.
Alex is not easily pleased and dispenses smiles of gratitude and praise rarely. You'll see in the photograph above, Alex is still debating whether or not to pair the award with a smile of appreciation. I couldn't wait for the outcome and snapped the photograph anyway. Sorry Bronson - its the best I could do. Anyway, Congratulations on wrestling the pin from Alex's cold, clammy grip.
Well Well Well, here we see someone that not only received her Phoenix Pin but an Appreciative Smile from Alex as well. Her name is Erin. From this point on she will be known as Blessed Erin, the first step to Sainthood.
To become a Saint one must perform several confirmed miracles. This is Erin's first. Erin healed the paralysis that has afflicted Alex's facial muscles the moment her hand touched his. This caused an immediate contraction of both cheek muscles, resulting in a recognisable smile.
A few hours after this photograph was taken, I emailed a copy to Rome for the Vatican's stamp of approval. I'm pleased to report to Erin, and the rest of the Space Center family, that this miracle has been confirmed by the Holy See and a file on Erin has been created.
Don't start calling her Saint Erin yet - Blessed will do fine. Good Luck Erin, we're pulling for you.
Ben was impressed with Nathan's strong grip after awarding his Galileo Pin during our after camp meetings a few Saturday's back. Ben pays attention to a person's grip, believing a firm grip is an indication of strength in personality and a commitment to work. Nathan, wanting to get ahead at the Center by impressing the Flight Directors, spent the last few months building up his hand strength at Orem's Nickel Emporium.
On any given afternoon, you'll find Nathan dropping quarter after quarter into the Grip O Meter The Grip O Meter is a game housed in a wooden cabinet that tests a players strength of grasp by having the player grip the metal pincher's and squeeze them with everything he's got. A moment later, little red lights light up telling you what kind of a man you are based on your strength. In a matter of a few short weeks, and having spent much of his life savings, Nathan went from "Wimp on the Beach" to "Olympian". He knew he was in Ben's league when he offered his hand to his gym teacher and sent him to his knees in pain.
Colton McKay is seen in this photograph receiving his Voyager Pin. I was pleased to present the award. Colton is a high school intern and has been doing a great job in the Voyager running Second Chair and Bridge. Of course, Colton has a long way to go before his lanyard is as impressive as mine. You'll notice my sparkles in pins. Notice Colton has one, perhaps two by now. You'll see how please I look after reminding Colton of that fact.
"Notice how many pins I have and how few you have," I whispered as I leaned in to pin the pin on his lanyard. "Maybe one day Colton - but awesomeness, using me as your standard, is nearly impossible to reach, especially for mere mortals like yourself."
I must say the look on Colton's face is disturbing. He seems to be scheming. Perhaps I should remember the old adage "Uneasy is the head that wears the crown".
Connor scares me. He keeps earning pin after pin and is becoming a regular on these Space Center news updates. You see how my confidence seems to be wavering while his only strengthens. Good work Connor!
This is Natalie. Natalie earned her Year's Service Pin. Natalie is someone who is true, honest and easy going. She works well with everybody. With the exception of working with her brother, Natalie is happy and willing to jump right in where ever needed. Now don't get me wrong. Alex and Natalie can work well together, but I prefer to keep them separated if at all possible. It's just that when they work together Alex drops into his 'Big Brother' roll and is more liberal with his correcting. The Phoenix control room is right next to the Space Center's door so anyone walking by can hear what's being said. I can't afford a misunderstanding if this brother sister working combination deteriorates into anything resembling the 'disagreements' I use to get into with my sisters.
Experience tells me its best to keep siblings apart.
Here we are celebrating Jon and Zac's birthdays. Zac didn't wait for me to finish lighting the candles. You'll see he went right ahead and blew them out as soon as they were lit, leaving Jon standing there looking stupid. Zac later told me he was afraid Jon might get more birthday wishes than him. In reality, I think Zac was upset that someone had referred to him as a girl in one of the post camp surveys read in our after camp meeting. I read the comment out loud, giving everyone a good laugh. Zac's face was beet red. Afterwords I put salt in his wound by publicly reminding him to get a hair cut.
"No one laughs at me and gets away with it," he was overheard mumbling after the singing of "Happy Birthday to You".
We noticed an entire pan of cupcakes disappeared seconds after the lights in Discovery mysteriously went out after the singing. Later that afternoon, Zac was seen walking strangely to his car. It looked like he was hiding something under his jacket.
Zac doesn't like cupcakes, so the disappearance of the cupcakes was his way of reminding us of something he always says, "This Hershey ain't no sweet chocolate. I'm bitter baby, bitter."
Sorry Zac, we will remember that next time.
Jon Parker is demonstrating his new skill to the staff and volunteers during an after camp meeting. Jon was so inspired by the last Karate Kid movie that he now spends up to thirty minutes a day in his bedroom kicking. He's going for height. So far he has managed to tear the inside seam of three pairs of his work pants and made two trips to the InstaCare for pulled hamstrings. His ultimate goal is to kick the bell he has mounted above his bedroom doorway.
If you really want to get on Jon's good side, just refer to him as the "K-Kid". That's a good as it gets for Jon. He is such a special boy, that Jon of ours.
Scott is warning Christine to be gentle as she inserts the Odyssey pin into his Lanyard at the end of a recent Overnight Camp. Christine is dangerous without her glasses. She has stabbed so many volunteers over the last few months that we keep a supply of tetanus shots in the Voyager refrigerator to save our volunteers from unnecessary trips to the InstaCare in Orem.
This is Jake. Jon awarded Jake his Voyager pin in a recent after camp meeting. Jake thanked Jon just before the picture was taken.
"Thanks K-Kid," Jake said.
The room erupted with applause because Jon is one of our special staff and loved by everyone. Jon was moved to the point of tears for the kindness shown and gave Jake an extra warm and hearty handshake.
Thanks Jake for helping us continue to build and strengthen Jon's self esteem. What a nice kid our 'K-Kid' is.
Well, this pin took forever to award and I must thank Zach for his patience. We asked K-Kid to award another Phoenix pin. Jon took the pin, jumped up on a table and shouted, "This is the Starship Enterprise and there is a Klingon," he said pointed to Zach. The room went quiet.
"Did he get his meds," Emily mouthed to me from the back of the room. I shrugged my shoulders.
Jon shouted "Red Alert" and jumped from table to table holding the Voyager Pin overhead pretending it was a starship. He dodged the imaginary photon torpedoes and phasers fired by the Klingon (Zach). A minute or two later, Jon rushed up to Zach and fired the Pin's main batteries directly into Zach's lanyard, thus ending the battle. I motioned to Zach to fall to the floor showing the pin's violent attaching was enough to kill him and thus neutralize the Klingon threat. Jon was pleased, did his kick, and returned to his seat.
If any of you wondered where our Orion Pirates come from then here is your answer. We keep several of them on hand in the school's lowest basement, locked up and on a moment's call to run up the stairs and into the Space Center to attack the younglings. Here you see three of them waiting for the call. They've been on duty for several months now. They pass the time with cards, sleeping and unreliable conversation.
I startled them from sleep for feeding time. Raw steaks and pealed potatoes were on the menu for the night. We feed them once a day to keep them healthy but are careful not to overfeed. An overfed Orion Pirate is useless in the taking of the Voyager's bridge. They loose their edge.
The best pirate is a partially starved pirate. If they take the bridge quickly they get an extra helpings of beef fat along with their steaks. Notice we also keep them unarmed until its time to send them into action. The last time we let them keep their weapons they used them for target practice on the rats that live in the deep dark corners of the basement. The blasts set off the school's fire alarm. Not good at all. Their rations were cut that evening as punishment.
Several teachers unfamiliar with the Space Center's staff reported seeing a mysterious person lurking near the school a few weeks ago. I recognized him the moment I saw the security camera footage.
"That's Jan," I said to the principal.
"Who's Jan?" she asked.
"Why that's Jon's twin brother," I replied. She laughed. Apparently the name touched her funny bone.
"Don't laugh," I said. "Jan is a proper boys name in the Netherlands."
"Oh," she replied. "Then that's OK."
Let me introduce Jan to everyone out there that doesn't already know him. And remember not to laugh at his name. As I said to Dr. Carter, Jan is a proper boy's name in the Netherlands.
This two pictures are test camera shots taken three weeks ago of a new proposed Space Center villian written to take the place of Mad Dog, leader of the Orion Pirates. While Mad Dog still has mileage, it has been mentioned that the character is a bit stale. Let's face it, Mad Dog doesn't illiscit the fear he once did in the hearts of our younger campers.
"Kids these days are desensitized to my Mad Dog character because of the really bad dudes they see in the movies. I mean, how can Mad Dog compete with the Joker from the last Batman movie?" Bill Schuler asked in a conversation we had a month ago over a lunch of sour cream and chive baked potatoes at the Pleasant Grove Wendys.
Our proposed new character is called 'The Sheik". His starship resembles a Persian Carpet. He smells of camel dung and is surrounded by a Harem of beautiful women trained in all forms of martial arts.
Are we worried this new character may be insulting to Islam? Yes, to a degree. Emily and Skyler both pointed out that Fatwahs have been issued for offenses far less insulting to Islam than "The Sheik". So, I've decided to put the character on hold for the time being. I'll let you know of developments.
This is Connor. Conner is receiving his Year Pin (I believe). Connor is an all around great kid and is as trustworthy as a winter day is long. If he walked up to me and said, "Mr. Williamson, I need my ten year pin," I'd believe him (which makes we wonder what exactly it is I'm pinning on his lanyard).
Come on Matt. Its only a Galileo Pin. Why so happy? Why the hugh smile? Oh, perhaps its not the pin............ Let's move on.
Look at Rachel's affect on the Space Center's young men. Ryker was awarded a pin AND overcame his fear of girl's germs (although he still keeps a respectable distance and was sure to use plenty of Purell after the handshake).
My thanks to everyone at the Space Center. And, although I take great liberties in my descriptions of photographs, I want everyone to know how much I appreciate their time and efforts at making the Space Center one of the world's happiest places.
See you all in the trenches on Monday,