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

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Ode to the Magellan

Hello Troops,
Connor L. wrote this for a school assignment and sent a copy to me. He did a good job and I'd like to share it with you. Thanks Connor!

Mr. W.



The Magellan, her pylons so curved and the Ranger perfectly docked

3 Runabouts on their pads awaiting a call

6 shuttles ready to go to destroy anything leaving the planet

Bridge Take-overs galore

The RNS Invictus, IKS Kel’Tak, USS Mariner, The Tigress and the USS Noble don’t ya know!

Them Toiminals is malfunctionin’ and no one notices hackers everywhere, the Quatermaster asleep in Upper Cargo Bay 1, Deck 7. so please leave him a message

Marie, Abu, Chief Okinowa and Rose soon to be

Guardians on deck 33

Messenger of Truth Runnin’ around

Orion Ambassador and minions all over

Jamalo scribbling, confused

Then there is the Admiral....Assasinated. The Commodore had to take over.

Death Trap is great, Escape is slower, Invasion is fast paced, Operation Revenge interesting always gets good scores, Guardian, there is no rest, for the staff or the crew.

Chuba, Defender Creature and don’t forget the Yuri!

THX, CRM, phasers and torpedoes

Sneakin’ into the Romulan border

Good bye outpost

Into Transwarp

Romulus, Tunneling Device, Orion Fleet many others too devastated by those weapons

Ranger being chased by a Guardian ship, escape shuttle destroyed

Red lights rotating and regular

Safety rules, Uniforms, Away Missions, Bombs in Discovery, hackers a must

Outgoing relay messages, brig control, power regulation for the whole station, just a couple things that make the Maggie Special.

Casm Generators generating them Casms, Auto-Destruct Detonators always ready

Probe cheering, keepin’ pirates as pets, hitting creatures with paper what else?

Kids in recycling bins, stuck under desks what else must I add?

Transwarp ready to go, play and show playing Molossus adds dramatic effect don’t forget to start the sound effect.

Go to stars, Transwarp Overload what else is there do?

Spacequakes, Collision Alert, Incoming Asteroids all the problems we must face

The Noble is activating self destruct! Navigate the Ranger to save the Arizona

The Magellan computer is rapping I’m a Little Teapot. The Magellan is my favorite Place!

----END OF ODE----

Monday, May 30, 2011

Today's Test Missions and Philroy Goes to Space Camp.

Hello Troops,
Today the Magellan and Galileo ran test missions of their upcoming summer camp missions. BJ Warner ran a test mission for himself as he attempts to climb back into the Flight Director's saddle after a two year LDS mission to Japan. Christine said he did very well. Once he certifies our Odyssey Staff will consist of Christine, Set Director and Emily, Adam, Rachel, Brittney, Wyatt and Devin (with Alex, Casey and Bracken also capable of flying Odyssey in a pinch) as Flight Directors.

Matt Long and members of the Programmer's Guild are at the Space Center right now (6:18 P.M.) putting the finishing touches on the Galileo's Cocoa controls. They have been two years in the making (an enormous learning curve included as the programmers learned Apple's programming language) and will be online for the Galileo's summer visitors.

With the ground work and structure of the cocoa system in place the programming of the other ships should come quickly (barring other unforeseen circumstances).

Philroy Goes to Space Camp

"Philroy, it's almost time to go. Your Space Camp starts at 7:00. You don't want to be late." Philroy's mother stopped at the table near the front door looking for her car keys. She found them in the large overly flowered porcelain washbowl. It once belonged to her great grandmother, then her mother and then passed down to her.

"I'm coming. Got one more stop to make," Philroy answered. He was excited to be going back to his favorite place on Earth - the Space Education Center. He went on his first Space Camp when he was ten and instantly fell in love with the place. He loves the ships, he loves the stories and he thinks the world of the staff.

Philroy rushed down the stairs to the main floor, did a 180 degree turn at the bottom, ran down the hall and into the kitchen. He turned 90 degrees after passing the fridge, ran to the basement door, opened it and sped down the stairs to the storage room. Philroy stopped at the door and bent over to enter the room's secret combination into a calculator he'd taped to the wall.

The storage room door was like all the other doors in Philroy's home, so why the secret combination? The storage room required this extra level of security to protect its valuable contents. Philroy knew from his many missions into the deep space aboard the Space Center's fleet of starships that space could be a dangerous place. He knew Earth's number one arch enemy was out there, waiting and watching for his chance to strike back.

Philroy was well known to the Orion Pirates and their leader Mad Dog. In fact Philroy was at the top of their list of people to capture and torture for the wrongs he'd inflicted on their criminal empire. It was Philroy and his brave and true Voyager crew that defeated Mad Dog in his attempt to capture Earth in the Shadows mission he'd commanded on the Voyager last year. Mad Dog cursed Philroy at the end and promised it wasn't over and that he'd return. Philroy knew that Mad Dog would be waiting for him somewhere out there. He knew he had to be prepared if he was going back into space.

Philroy entered the code into the calculator. He counted to five and made an mechanical unlocking sound with his tongue against the roof of his mouth. He turned the handle and made the sound of rushing air.

"Lights," he commanded, pretending the room was controlled by a sophisticated computer. He reached for the switch and turned the lights on.

"Come to papa," he said as he approached his arsenal. There before him was the largest collection of weapons in the state, all painstakingly gathered after the Shadows mission. The next question was, how many could he get away with taking to camp.

He filled his back pack. A roll of duct tape came in handy as he taped a few more phasers to his legs. Finally he shoved one last phaser into the elastic waist band of his gym pants. He was now ready for camp. He was ready to defend his family and his planet from the worst scum in the Galaxy.

"Come and get me Mad Dog!" Philroy shouted as rushed out of the room and back up the stairs to the car waiting in the driveway.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

My Embarrassment and the Imaginarium.

"Mr. Williamson. Mr. Williamson," Christine spoke gently, not wanting to startle her employer from his mental stupor.

"Huh, what is it? Time to go home?" Mr. Williamson shifted in his chair from his resting 45 degree angle to a more presentable 90 degree working angle.

"No, its not time to go home yet. Remember, someone from the Home usually calls for you around 7:00 o'clock and its only 6:00 o'clock now."

"What is it then?" Mr. Williamson looked confused. His hair was tuffed up on one side from sleeping in his chair and there were pronounced wet marks on his shirt directly under his chin.

"Hold on." Christine reached over and pulled a couple tissues from the box kept next to the phone. "You've got a bit of dribble on your chin." She gave him the tissues. He wiped his chin and fumbled around for the trash can under his desk. Christine continued, "There is a group here for a 6:15 P.M. Odyssey mission that you didn't have on the online working schedule. "

"What, If they're here then I put the mission on the online schedule. Do you think I make those kind of mistakes? Did you looked hard enough?"

Christine took the schedule book and pointed to where it was written in his handwriting. Then she pointed to the computer and showed him it wasn't entered into the online schedule. He had booked the mission over the phone but forgot to transfer the booking from the schedule book into the online working schedule.

"Someone deleted this mission from the online schedule. Who was it. Step forward. If you confess I'll show mercy but if you don't, heads will roll. If I go down I'm talking all of you with me," Mr. Williamson shouted loud enough to be heard in the halls. The older staff, accustom to dealing with a boss with momentary elder lapses, quickly ushered the younger volunteers and staff out of the room. Seeing the great and mighty Mr. Williamson brought down into a state of complete confusion and delirium wasn't something they wanted them to experience.

"Forget you saw that," Brittney told the younglings as they stood around the 4th grade drinking fountain. "He was really something in his day." They nodded with her but hadn't worked long enough to know whether she was telling the truth or not.

Christine, the ever patient and kind, understood what she had to do. "Mr. Williamson, oh look, I must have made a mistake. This mission is on the schedule and I just didn't see it. Stupid me. Now you go back to whatever you were doing and I'll take care of this group. Don't you worry about a thing."

"I wasn't sleeping in my chair you know," Mr. Williamson reassured her as he repositioned himself in his chair. "You may have thought I was asleep but I was really listening for termites. Termites come out in droves in the Spring. Pesky critters get into everything if you're not careful."

"Yea, like your office chair?" Jace chuckled under his breath thinking Mr. Williamson wouldn't hear. Those that heard quickly covered their mouths and rushed out of the room.

"Do I need to get up and deal with you?" Mr. Williamson started to get out of his chair, then stopped, sat back down and bent over looking for the "The Enforcer". The "Enforcer" is a metal pipe kept on the floor behind his desk. He threatens to use it on anyone that defies his authority. "Cheeky blagart," he said as Christine rushed around his desk, opened the top drawer and took out his calming pills prescribed by the Whole Foods Organic Pharmacy.

"Here take a couple of your pills and you'll feel much better," she said as she dropped two of the brown pills into his hand. "Jace didn't mean anything by what he said. It's only Jace. We all know what he's like." She motioned Jace out of the room with her other hand.

Mr. Williamson returned to his upright position, never once taking his 'death glare' off Jace. Jace left the room to tell the others at the drinking fountain what he'd said. Their laughter could be heard from one end of the school to the other.

"I'm still in charge here and don't any of you forget that," Mr. Williamson swallowed the pills and returned to his computer. Everyone knew he'd be out like a light after a few keystrokes and they were right. Halfway into a return email he was asleep. The Center could continue running smoothly in his present absence.

Side Note. Thanks Christine and Mason for staying and taking that unscheduled mission. You guys saved my bacon and you both get a "Get out of Jail Free" card. And thanks to all the rest of you who find and point out those other "occasional" mistakes I make on the working schedule. No one is perfect, although there are those of that that are, how shall I say.... "Practically Perfect in Every Way".

Mr. W.

And now, how about a few pictures from the Imaginarium to brighten your Sunday.

Joel Plish and Marjory Twimple are meeting each other for the first time outside the Imaginarium's Wonderland Bakery and Coffee Shop located just off Dreamland Blvd. Joel is an accountant in the Ministry of Accounting and Finance. Marjory is an analyst for the Ministry of Titles and Names (that part of the imagination where parent's derive unusual names and spellings for their new borns).

Both of them are single and neither of them get out much. This first encounter lasted an awkward 32 seconds before one of them spoke. Joel, being religiously absent minded, forgot to make a list of discussion topics. Without the list, weather was the only ice breaker he could think of.

"Odd weather," he said, hoping Marjory would pick up where he left off. Marjory looked around and saw his lack of imagination had painted their surroundings in blacks and whites. She stepped back, one step then two. She noticed color was returning to the walls, ground and sky the further she moved away from his mental sphere. At four steps she turned toward the street.

"Consider an hour was spent and we parted company realizing this wouldn't work," she said.
Joel agreed and both returned to their offices and the ever pressing demands of imagination.

And finally, Something Completely Different.

Volunteers and Staff, remember to send in your June working and volunteering requests. Everyone else out there, take a minute and go to the Center's web site. Click on Camps and Classes. Scroll down to see the new one day Galaxy Camps we're offering this summer. Sign up before they are all gone.

It's going to be an awesome summer at the Space Education Center!

Mr. Williamson

Friday, May 27, 2011

Our Weekend

Hello Troops,
And here we are, Troubadours all, telling our heroic tales and singing our epic ballads for a few silver coins hopefully tossed into our cups by the generous in our villages. I'm at my desk once again. Friday's evening is surrending to Saturday's morning. I hear a few voices in the ships. The boys are settling down to sleep.

McKay just sat the Happy Bucket on the desk to my left. An Odyssey camper had that volcanic feeling earlier in the evening and requested the bucket's collection service. Luckily the bucket wasn't used and waits for me to store away until called for again. I'm starting to wonder if this gray bucket may be an omen. I hope not. I hope Fortuna is mischievously engaged elsewhere. I'm hoping our little corner of the world in Pleasant Grove is overlooked as she scours the land looking for lives to disrupt. Move along Fortuna, move along. There is nothing to see here.

Today's news was full with politics from the G8 in Europe to hopefuls tossing their hats into the 2012 election. The think tanked, focus grouped clap trap that comes out of their mouths is mind numbing. I feel like I'm being managed and manipulated every time one of them speaks. They remind me of television evangelists who offer salvation in the promised land governed by their policies and dictates only if you prove your worth by becoming financial supporters, strictly adhering to their cause and voting as you're told.

Remember, a pig is still a pig, even with lipstick. Don't be fooled by the smoke and mirrors from both parties. Be intelligent, look at the issues, read the arguments from both sides and decide based on your values and vision for the future of this nation.

And Now a Few morsels from the Imaginarium.....

The future represented by this photograph from my childhood didn't come to pass. It was an older generation's imaginations of our life tomorrow. Funny isn't it. I suppose it is true to some degree. Our food today is is removed from the mechanical freezer and nuked in the appliance microwave. I guess machines are feeding us.

This is Rick Rolfs. He consumes a great deal of the Imaginarium's time as our Dream Agents work round the clock to prevent him from carrying out terrible schemes against his sister and neighbors. There is a sub section of the Imaginarium's Ministry of Dreams devoted to children just like Rick who were born with over active imaginations. This Sup Section spends most of its time trying to modify their renegade imaginations by having them imagine the consequences of their actions. So far, no success with Rick Rolfs. More later.

And this tossed in for good measure.

And finally, something for those of you with cell phones surgically attached to your body.

I'm nearly asleep. It is time to call it a night. I'll be making the WalMart Donut run at first light.

Mr. W.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Another Storm Front Crosses into Utah. Nothing the Imaginarium Can't Handle

Hello Troops,
I woke to the sound of another storm front moving into Utah. The deck chairs were moving making that scraping sound of plastic against wood which morphed into a melody of sorts with wind chime accompaniment.

It could be another blah day, but not to worry, there is always the Imaginarium to spice things up, not to mention several missions on the schedule at the Space Center. So, let's get started....

A perfect school year parting gift for that certain teacher whose contorted facial expressions and sharp tongue will never be forgotten.

Again, I'll admit I fast forwarded through the royal wedding. I'm into anything British (serving an LDS mission in the English Midlands kind of does that to you). Of course the British sarcastic sense of humor is my "cup of tea". So this for for all of you that saw that hat and knew it looked vaguely familiar. Mystery Solved. Mr. Bean, you are my hero.....

The Imaginarium hosted a special conference on Teaching with Imagination. The teacher turnout from your school was overwhelming. Something disturbing though and I can't quite put my finger on it.

Now where is this place? I guarantee it isn't Pleasant Grove. This is what I call proper city planning. Come on, see what a little imagination can do.

True, so True

Finally, a thought from your ever present conscious. No you can't stay in bed. No you shouldn't eat that second donut. No you shouldn't ram that curb crawler driving 10 miles an hour below the speed limit. No you shouldn't say what you really think. No you shouldn't be texting while your running a mission. No you shouldn't delay coming into Discovery on the morning of an overnight mission to avoid cot duty. No you shouldn't eat your Chinese dinner in the Briefing Room right under my nose.
No you shouldn't walk away from your simulator leaving it a mess with costumes, uniforms and props scattered here and there. No you shouldn't drink all the chocolate milk on camp breakfasts leaving none for the campers. No you shouldn't lay on the lobby floor claiming you're too tired to move, nobody wants to walk in the school's front door and see you acting as a mop. No you shouldn't wear overly faded jeans with fashion holes to work or volunteer claiming they are the latest fad from the Romulan Empire. No you shouldn't stand within my personal bubble breathing my air - you know how I feel about that!

No, No and double No.

Need I go on?

Now I'm off. There are missions to run, phone calls to return, scores of emails to answer and staff and volunteers to enlighten with sharp wit festooned with effervescent humor.

See you in the Trenches!
Mr. W.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

50 Years Ago Today - Kennedy Promises the Moon The President before Congress

The President before Congress.

Has it really been fifty years?

On May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy arrived at the Capitol to address Congress about the most momentous decision he would make so far in his presidency. Broadcast on television, radio and printed in the newspapers, the president declared in bold terms that we were going to the Moon.

"First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth."

America was behind in the Space Race with the Soviet Union. The Russians were boldly proclaiming the superiority of their technology and their communist agenda alongside their successes in launching the first satellite, the first dog, and then the first man into space. The Cold War was in full swing and many worried about the advance of communism across the globe. Kennedy felt that America could compete against the Soviets and win the propaganda fight, but he needed a project he felt America could beat them with. The space program became his chosen sword.

Kennedy and Von Braun.

With the recent success of launching Alan Shepard into a 15-minute suborbital flight, Kennedy selected this moment to do something dramatic. His advisors counseled him that because the Russians had a rocket more capable of heavy lift, they would remain in the lead for a time. Kennedy wanted to know how we could beat them. He was advised that nothing would be more dramatic than a man planting the American Flag on the Moon, and we could probably get there before the Soviets. The President made his decision.

"No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more
important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or
expensive to accomplish."

At NASA the administrators, engineers, technicians and astronauts listened to the radio with rapt attention. This was it. The operation was GO. Apollo would be the program to get us there.
We were going to the Moon.

Mark Daymont
Space Center Educator
Magellan Simulator

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

How Will You Spend Your Summer?

Five Starships
  • Voyager
  • Odyssey
  • Galileo
  • Magellan
  • Phoenix

  • Five New Missions
  • Private 2.5 hour Missions
  • Private 3 hour Mission
  • Private 5 hour Mission
  • Birthday Parties
  • Super Saturdays
  • 5 Merit Badge Classes

  • Space Camps
  • EdVenture Camps
  • Ultimate Camps
  • Super Overnight Camps
  • Leadership Camp
  • Digitarium Planetarium
  • Starlab Planetarims

Your Choice is Clear. Enlist in Starfleet Today. Call the Center or visit our web site before the ships sail without you.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

This Week's Homework for All Readers.

Hello Troops,
Below you will find this week's required viewing for all Troubadour readers. In this video, the noted astronomer Carl Sagan discusses the search for intelligent life in the cosmos. Where are they? Why haven't we found them. Perhaps they are here with us. Please take the seven minutes or so and watch with brain engaged.

I'd like your thoughts on the facts and theories presented if you have any. Please take a minute to post a comment.

Take a moment now and feed your brain, then continue below to read the next post giving the Space Center's latest news complete with a Sunday stroll through the Imaginarium.

Mr. Williamson

Ah Fortuna, You Nimble Nymph

Hello Troops,
Fortuna, our little mischievous nymph, was up to her usual shenanigans yesterday at the Space Center.

All five simulators were in full performance a little past noon on Saturday. I sat at my desk dispensing advice, giving directions, listening to grievances and running the Space Center in general when the fire alarm suddenly sounded.

"Fortuna, what are you playing at," I thought as I jumped up and raced to the school's office. I typed the passcode into the school's alarm panel then shuffled down the wall to the fire box. The screen showed the alarm was triggered in the Voyager's Crew Quarters. I knew we had a flight going in the Voyager and had there been a real fire I would have known about it. I knew it was a false alarm, most likely triggered by a burned burrito in the microwave or an accidental puff of smoke from the smoke machine on the bridge reaching the uncovered detector. I pushed a series of buttons to silence the alarm then called Pleasant Grove's Fire Department and told them not to dispatch the trucks until I checked the listed area. The dispatcher waited.

Roger (the school's custodian) and I checked the affected areas. We found nothing, which is just what I expected. The dispatcher sent a few firemen over for safety's sake to look through the building. Nothing was found after a thorough search. The firemen gave me the OK to bring everyone back into the building.

I'm pleased with the Space Center's staff and volunteers. The ships were empty and everyone was outside moments after the alarm sounded. They knew just what to do. I'm sure it was strange for the Center's neighbors to see 60 people or so all in some kind of uniform standing on the school's front lawn.

The nymph Fortuna loves to mess with me whenever she thinks I've grown too accustom to normal. She must take great enjoyment taking me by the scruff of the neck and dangling me over some precipice just to see me squirm. She must enjoy the panic it causes as I do everything I can to ensure the Center runs smoothly for our customers and for Central's teachers and students.

I'm wondering if the Voyager's Scanning Station computer and the Magellan's Station 15 computer foreshadowed the fire alarm? The Scanning Station froze at the end of the Overnight Camp and wouldn't load the operating system after repeated restarts. The Magellan's Station 15 has been a mess for quite some time.

Fortuna wasn't happy with my response to these two problems.
"Alex, problem with the Magellan and Voyager," I said to Alex Anderson, our go to programmer for disasters in the Voyager and Magellan.
"I'll get right on it," he responded.

Within minutes he'd swapped Station 15's computer with a newer spare from the Animation Studio. It worked perfectly. The Scanning Station was brought out, a disc first aid was run and the computer healed itself. Both potential royal headaches were dispatched into the 'solved' category without even the slightest concern on my part. I'm sure these speedy resolutions to the problems sent Fortuna into a rage powerful enough to force her to play a higher card in her decks of tricks.

So, with sincere repentance and with thoughts of sack clothe and ashes I grovel at your bony feet Dear and Oh Most Wise Fortuna. I beg your forgiveness for enjoying a moment of fleeting happiness over a few days of perfection. I swear that from this day forward my staff and volunteers will have my permission to slap me hard across the face whenever they see a smile surface across my lips. This will remind me that such frivolity upsets you.

And Now, With Fortuna's Blessing and Patience I Bring you a Few Items from the Imaginarium.
(I'm not smiling at any of these tidbits. I swear).

The perfect tent for today's modern hippies and flower children. My only complaint - it should be yellow.

The perfect scarf for Spenser and now Brock. Oh there is Emily as well. Spenser and Emily for issues relating to cars, roads and other things. For Brock - a case of mistaken identity involving a cement barrier and the disappearance of sand bags.

A Crosswalk in the Imaginarium. Who needs a Walk and Do Not Walk sign when you can generate a hyperspace portal instead?

Anyone for a stroll across this street in the Imaginarium? Count me in. I need a bit of off Earth time. It's been a long school year. I'm thinking of a week or two on Rigel or a cruise around the Orion Nebula.

Things are not always peachy keen in the Imaginarium. Horace Mumps is not a happy camper. There was one scoop of Mint Chocolate Chip left in the bottom of the bucket at the Wonderland Ice Cream Emporium. Of course, being the gentleman he is, Horace offered it to his wife fully expecting her to refuse. She didn't.

Wilma is enjoying the Mint Chocolate Chip while Horace toys with his Vanilla Bean Delight and thoughts of Wilma's upcoming birthday.

Two thoughts to help you get through life's tough moments.
Remember, we are all in this together.

Have your wand at the ready and be prepared for a knock at your window.

Have a Great Week Troops.

I'll see many of you here in the trenches. Remember, don't do anything or say anything that could cause a smile to surface on my face. She is watching and waiting and is ever so patient.

Mr. Williamson

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Rapture Should Have Started by Now.

And here I am once more in the quiet of an Overnight Camp. Strange to be using the word quiet. One would think having 45 sixth graders and a staff of 23 all here for the night would be a recipe for pandemonium. Perhaps for some, but we've been fortunate over the years to have great kids at the camp and a great staff.

All is as it should be. I'm wondering if I should be concerned. According to the news, a preacher from the South with a radio show calculated today would be the start of the World's End and the Rapture. It was all to have started 18 minutes ago (Mountain Time) and I'm still here at my desk typing. I haven't heard screaming. No one has come into tell me that so and so just rose from their sleeping bag and ascended through the roof and up into the night sky. There is no rumbling in the distance announcing the end of time. There is nothing but the sound of my fingers on the keyboard and the air rushing out of the air ducts above my desk.

All is as it should be.

Perhaps all of us that work at the Space Center are destined for 'that other place', which would explain why my rear end is still heavily planted in this uncomfortable office chair, purchased on looks alone and not comfort - a mistake. If that is so, then I'm in great company. Shovelling the fuel to feed the fires of Hades may not be anyone's first choice for eternity, but if it means working alongside this great staff and herd of volunteers, then I'm OK.

Good Night, and I hope my donuts will be ready for me in the morning. Can't imagine everyone in the WalMart bakery would be caught up into the sky.

Target perhaps, but not WalMart.

Mr. W.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Paradise Isn't Lost.... It's a Small Town 25 Miles South of Where I Am, Duh.

Hello Troops,
Landon Hemsley is a student at USU in Logan and a former Odyssey Flight Director at the Space Center. I asked him to write a post about his new job with the campus radio station and how it relates to the work he did at the Space Education Center. Landon graciously obliged and sent the following.

Thank you Landon for writing the following post and thank you for the many years you spent with us defending Earth's liberty and championing Justice for All!

Mr. Williamson
As I type this letter to the Space Center faithful, I look around the small radio control room in which I am sitting, and realize that it's an awful lot like a really sophisticated control room at the Space Center. But there are some differences.... I shall elaborate.
There's no video cameras. It doesn't matter if anyone sees me like it does at the Space Center. Rather than cameras, windows grace all four walls, allowing me a view to both the small parking lot outside the studio and the staff meeting room next door - that same staff meeting room that just a few short years ago was a fully loaded studio with about 8 microphones. Oh, the memories.

The board that I run has eight different audio inputs. Three are satellite feeds from the NPR national networks. One is a wild card. Sometimes its a phone line, other times, we can rout microphones from different areas of the building through a single input. Another three are for computer audio card feeds. The machines here have several cards. In fact, all the computers and sound equipment are stored in a single massive mainframe in the "transmitter room." From there the computers and audio boards throughout the station draw their computing power, with remote access computers in three different studios. It's basically the ultimate sound machine on steroids - quite the step-up from the small audio mixer boards well-used and abused at the CMSEC.

To my left is the AP newswire computer. The Associated Press sends its stories through the wire and they show up here, ready for us to either investigate further or to read on the air, I guess that would be our communications computer. Now we just need an officer to man his station, stare at the screen endlessly, and raise his hand and notify the news director when anything changes. Any takers? Oh, yeah. In not so many words, that's my job. ha!

Massive speakers and a clock are mounted near the ceiling of the studio, as well as the famous "on air" light-up sign. The walls are caked with styrofoam matting - it mutes the sounds that may come through the walls from outside, making the studio a much more "sound-neutral" environment. Obviously these things lack at the Space Center, as evidenced by the styrofoam barrier that occupies the door frame to the school library in the Odyssey's control room.

One thing that's the same, yet different, is the fact that classical music is always playing around here - at least 12 hours a day. What kind of classical music? Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven. No Pirates of the Caribbean Soundtrack around here... unless of course NPR does a review on the latest sequel in that series... which it just did. And man, that felt good to hear that coming through the speakers.

But I would say that the most stark difference between this environment of eternal audio transmission is what I call "The Reality Pivot."

Students and patrons come to Pleasant Grove to lose themselves in a make-believe world - to fly throughout the galaxy, fighting swash-buckling space pirates and protecting the mighty United Federation of Planets. Where I am, that make-believe Paradise is completely lost in the sharpness of the mirror of reality that screams that Paradise is a small town at the south end of Cache Valley and that's all it will ever be.

I cover the news across the state of Utah. Some days its slow, but most of the days I need to gear up for work like I'd gear up for an athletic event. Gotta put my game face on and get ready to dominate the competition. Perhaps that's why I enjoy my job so much. I like to compete.

My day consists of several phone calls to government and professional leaders who all deserve to have their story heard, but not all of whom WANT their story heard. And often, the more tragic the story, the more I'm thrust to put it on the air. For example - the flooding this year has occupied and will continue to occupy much of my work time.

There's been an outbreak of equine herpes in Utah and several western states that is threatening the lives of many, many horses, even if it is not dangerous to people. Since our service area is largely rural, it's an important story.

I got off the phone not too long ago with an officer in Brigham City discussing a semi-truck that lost its brakes on the highway from Logan to Brigham and took out three cars at an intersection because it couldn't stop. Three cars were totaled and the driver of the semi had to be extricated from the cab with heavy equipment.

Compare that sharp clash with reality to the Voyager standing down his majesty, the Grand "Poo-Pah." Fantasy versus tragedy. It's a terrific contrast.

I do not mean to say that I am unhappy in my work. Quite the opposite in fact. When there was a significant chance that dams would break in Southern Utah last December, when rivers were jumping their banks after days of heavy, heavy rain, I got ahold of several people on scene and kept people up to date, minute by minute as we watched to see if an aquatic apocalypse was about to bear down on St. George. Thankfully, nothing happened, but I was left with a profound sense of satisfaction that I helped keep a large segment of Utah's population up to date on a precarious situation IN REAL TIME. As Mr. Williamson is, I am certain, waiting for me to say, it was Awesome!

Some of the greatest skills I possess in my job were acquired at the Space Center. Ambition. A vocal presence. Professionalism. Courtesy. Persistence. Knowing how to say what you need to say in a creative way that will make people think. These were all skills that were hatched at the CMSEC in PG.

I don't plan to work in news forever - sports entertainment is much more my cup of tea and I plan on working in the sports media for a very long time in one capacity or another. When I do, I am certain I will get to utilize much more of the skills I acquired both at school and at the Space Center, but for now, I report the news, make my phone calls, and wonder when Paradise will once again quit being that stupid town at the south end of the valley and resume its rightful place on the bridge of the USS Voyager, flying amid the stars.

Troops, treasure the years you spend at the Center. I am happy where I am now, but as I look back on my years at the Space Center, I have realized again and again that they are fleeting, and you'll miss it when you leave.

Much Love
Landon Hemsley
Utah Public Radio
A former CMSEC staff member.

Feedback from a Visitor. Thank you Rylie for the Email

Hello There!
My name is Rylie, and I attended a Private mission recently for my thirteenth birthday. I was on the Voyager, with a full crew on the mission, The Children of Perikoi. I had been twice before, once on a fifth-grade mission, and once last year to celebrate my birthday. This year was amazing!

The space center is every kid's (Well, everyone I know!) dream. You are in charge of saving everyone, no matter what job you have. No matter what part you play.
It was an amazing trip into the future where me and my crew of 10-14 year-olds were in charge of our future. We were able to get a chance to stand up for ourselves and keep everyone alive.

The space center is for everyone, the brave, and the shy, the quiet, and the loud. It's where we can truly show others what we can do. It was an amazing experience, and it could not be described in words. It is truly beyond anything I've ever done. It's better than lazer tag, pizza, bowling, and just about anything else you can name. I really appreciate everything, and I wanted to thank-you.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Our Wet Week So Far.

Hello Troops,
This is what the night sky should look like if you lived at the top of a high dry desert far from the artificial lighting of our towns and cities. It's a wondrous thing to behold, wouldn't you agree?

We had a great time with the 5th grade classes of Rowland Hall Saint Mark School the last few days. They were sharp, enthusiastic kids. I think the staff are ready for something other than Cry from the Dark now. I like the story but playing the part of the Ferengi with the high whiny voice and lisp for two days in a row is enough for me.

And, striking it out of the park for a third day in a row, we had a great time with Mrs. Gurr's ALL class. They were remarkable. They were polite, attentive, and appreciative of our work and vocalized that appreciation. You wouldn't have to pay me if all our classes were that awesome (that's a figure of speech not to be taken literally. I still need to eat and pay bills).

The Voyager Simulator was in one of its moods yesterday. Rachel struggled at the IIFX station. I don't know what the problem was but she just couldn't get that computer to respect her. Brittney suggested she talk nicely to it. She swears by it, saying it works for her all the time in the Magellan when her computers act up. Instead, Rachel used a heavy handed approach and after using language not fit for print (under her breath of course - we are located in an elementary school - and she is training to be a nurse) quickly adopted a Zero Tolerance policy and restarted the machine every time it went on strike.

"Take that," I heard her say multiple times from my flight control station. The fiendish smile on her face was worth the occasional pause in the mission. The Central fifth graders were a bit spooked by her reactions to the computer. I noticed that on the fifth restart they slide down the bench in my direction and away from her.

"Rachel, you're scaring the younglings," I said as my hands played the keyboards and sound mixer. "You know what to do."

Rachel nodded, opened the drawer next to her and pulled out a Tootsie Pop for each. Within minutes the younglings were calm.

"What is it about those suckers?" Rachel asked.

"My mother's special recipe," I answered. "You soak the Tootsie Pops in Benadryl overnight then rewrap them. Better than a tranquilizer. I never leave home without one or two in my top pocket."

We made it through the missions. I'm hoping the Voyager is more cooperative today.

And Now, A few items from the Imaginarium....

The perfect entrance to any book store or library. Do you think book lovers would be offended?

And something for all you students out there facing you year end Nemesis - Madame Testing.

Again, a simple and imaginative way to liven up a school or office hallway.

Bookmark Perfection

And finally, this photograph was taken over Utah on Tuesday. This three day rain promises to last until Friday. It's a monster storm bringing snow to the mountains and heavy rain to the valleys. Remember, all that snow must find its way to the valleys - and when it does it will not be pretty. Get your sandbags packed and your swim suit, snorkel and goggles ready. It's going to be a rough, wet ride as we warm into summer.

Mr. W.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Its a Tipping with Rain Tuesday!

Hello Troops,
If you haven't had the chance to read Julie's post on our missionary flights yesterday please do so. You'll find it posted below. Thank you Julie for writing down your experience. It gets lonely at times being the only one that writes for The Troubadour. A few posts from our other flight directors and volunteers wouldn't go unwelcomed.

The rain is back, falling from dark skies. To brighten everyone's mood I started this post with a picture guaranteed to turn that frown into a smile. Wouldn't it be awesome to see this young lady arrive for a mission in one of our simulators. She seems to be someone that takes FUN with her wherever she goes. This is what I'm talking about when I urge everyone to never let your imagination and sense of joy and wonder dry up with age. Keep it exercised by regular visits to the Space Center and The Imaginarium. Speaking of the Imaginarium. What wonders and quandaries do we have for today?

Anyone for a ride in my Space Capsule? Get it, Space Capsule. Get it???

We all know that one Diet Coke with any meal cuts the calories by half, right? I think its the same science behind the fact that a rusty nail will complete dissolve in a can of Coke overnight (or something to that effect. I'm not really sure but hey, why not?)

True that. Rarely are people compared to dogs or cats. How often though have you been compared to a pig, or called one? Let's change this around and keep pigs as pets and eat our cats and dogs.

And finally, do you see something wrong with this picture? Post a comment.

Now, despite the three days of rain before us, be like grandma and carry the sun with you.

See you soon in the trenches!

Mr. W.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Missionaries at the Space Center

Today at the Space Center we had Missionaries come do a space mission as their P day activity. I mean real LDS full-time 19 year old boys and 21 year old girls missionaries serving here in Utah County. It was one of the funniest things I have experienced in a long time.

Their mission was to find a group of criminal aliens who were selling illegal drugs and arrest them. During the mission they found the aliens and contacted them by radio. The topic of conversation turned to one of the aliens who had died because of drug use. The missionaries told them they would see him again some day. They taught the aliens about life after death and the plan of salvation. It was super fabulous.

One part of the mission involves a release of harmful radiation. As ship's doctor I started calling some of them down for radiation poisoning. The missionaries wanted to give the "sick" elder a blessing. Needless to say, I cured the ailing Elder using my magic M and M's before the other could get to him. I didn't think it would be appropriate to be giving blessings for pretend illnesses on an imaginary spaceship :)

Most of them had really cool accents as well, so it was super fun to hear them talk. It was a really fun day at the Space Center.

Julie Anna Sanchez
Space Center Volunteer

On Today's Social Calendar

Today, on the Imaginarium's Social Calendar. Applegate's Party in the Tree by the Winding Brook.
There is a party tonight in the Forest of Green. Be smart and take care for the pathway is long. Be prompt, for at the hour of eight the portal will vanish. One knock, then two and patiently wait. From up in the branches a Robin will speak. Solve the riddle correctly and you will be rewarded. Remember, a hat of green brings a warm welcome.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

One Boy's Visit to the Space Center.

Hello Troops,
It only takes a moment to close your eyes, breath in deeply and drift away into the Imaginarium where creativity is our currency and wonder drives the machinery. And Oh, the sights one sees.....

Several students found our freeway onramp into the Imaginarium this week at the Space Education Center. We filled their empty tanks with the power of dreams and the adventure of make believe.

I'd like to share one story with you about a young man that visited the Center on Tuesday.

Jack stepped up and onto the Voyager's Bridge with wide eyes and open mouth - a typical reaction to the simulator when seen for the first time. I looked at him standing there with his red shirt and Mohawk hair cut thinking he might be a bit of a handful. I made a metal note to keep an eye on him.

"I like your hair cut," I commented. "Very alien."

"Thank you," he replied courteously. I was surprised. He spoke kindly and his thank you was sincere, not deserving of my not so sincere compliment. I led him to his station at the Long Range Station.

He needed extra help during training. I found out later he read at a 2nd grade level, three years behind his age. The difficulty of running his station didn't stop him from giving it his very best. I was impressed.

I told Intolerance that day. The mission was uneventful. This fifth grade class made all the decisions one would expect. They reacted predictably to every dilemma, until I reached the end of the story.

The Voyager was hiding in the nebula cloud. Her systems were down, very few things were working. The ship had taken a beating from the Pennou's plasma weapon. As the Pennou, I had just destroyed the Montgomery and called to make my final demand from the Voyager's Ambassador.

"Ambassador, the Montgomery attacked me first. I did not come here to fight. I only want my property back. Come out of the nebula and give me back my slave."

"No," the Ambassador replied.

"Ambassador the wormhole is about to close. If it closes I'll be trapped in your universe forever. Come out of the cloud or I will come in!"

Then, breaking the silence of the bridge, came the voice of the boy with the Mohawk hair cut.

"Ambassador, may I talk to the Pennou," he asked. She gave permission. "Pennou, my name is Jack. I want to talk to you."

"Who are you," I asked. I was curious where this was going and sat up in my chair in the Control Room.

"I'm Long Range Officer." He stood with his back perfectly straight and chest out. He was proud of his ship and his job.

"Speak," I said.

"I'll take the Pennae's place so you can be happy and he can be free."

His statement was completely sincere. In his imagination he really was on a ship in deep space. He was the Long Range Officer. He saw his ship was in danger. He saw his Ambassador in distress. He saw the anguish in the face of the escaped Pennae slave.

"Interesting," I responded in my deep and threatening Pennou's voice. "Can you read and write?" I inquired. In the background I saw the boy's teacher nodding her head in the negative. The bridge supervisor smiled.

"Yes, I can read and write," he answered. "Will you take me?"

"I wanted the Ambassador and the slave. That's two people. You are only one person."

"OK, Pennou. I'll go for both of them."

"Both of them. That's hardly fair for me. I want two!"

"Pennou, if you take me I promised to work twice as hard. I'm a hard worker and I can do it."

The control room was silent in surprise. Never before in the fifteen years we've told Intolerance had something like this happened. Here was a boy completely immersed in this universe, willing and ready to give himself up for his shipmate and a total stranger. We were running out of time and the other class was lined up waiting to come in for the 11:45 A.M. I had to move the story along.

"I accept your offer. You will come to my ship and do the work for two," I announced.

"Thank you Pennou," he replied and sat down. I took my walkie talkie and spoke secretly to the captain. "Captain, are you seriously going to let one of your crew members give himself up as a slave while you still have other options?" The captain thought for a moment.

"No one is going to your ship. I won't let them," the captian spoke with authority. Her statement pulled us back into the traditional ending of Intolerance.

At mission's end I complimented the young Long Range Officer for his bravery and self sacrifice. His class applauded. His teacher was impressed. She had learned something about this boy's character, something she hadn't realized before. This boy might struggle with reading and writing, but his character was far the norm for his age.

This is the power of story in our simulators. This is the reason I created the Space Center.
It was an emotional pay day for me.

Do you remember the magic when you were younger and your visits to the Imaginarium were frequent? Your days fill with the trappings of modern society as you age. There is homework and chores and never ending social maintenance that eats up hours of the day. Then, when you find a moment of peace and quiet, you realize something is missing......

Tap your heals three times and come back to Wonderland. Turn away from your audience and step off the Stage of the Here and Now. Come through the curtain and find your own yellow brick road. Your Onramp to the Imaginarium.

The Pillsbury's at 243 Wonderlake Road, Wonderland find enjoyment in taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary. These are the kind of people you find for neighbors in the Imaginarium.

A zipper of crayons

This year's seniors at Wonderland High went out in style.

A poster seen at the 4th Street Subway Station near the Imaginarium. The struggle continues in the never ending battle against the forces of darkness and ignorance.

The bakery shop on the first floor of the Imaginarium offers a unique assortment of tasty delights - all blessed with the staff's own blend of creativity.

And what was seen at Wonderland Park? A Wookie playing catch.

Remember, many of the world's greatest thinkers and imagineers suffered greatly in the past just because they looked at the world differently. We must learn to identify them today and cherish the gifts God has given them.

If fonts were dogs.......

In the Imaginarium food storage takes on a different meaning. Imagine attending a church full of people with this unique take on life? Ahhhhhh, refreshing indeed.....

Take a moment to enjoy the simplest things in life.
Tssssssst........ and life becomes more beautiful.
(Diet Dew for me please, with one squirt of cherry)

It's a perfectly good question.

Have a Great Day and I hope to see all of you soon at the Space Center - your onramp onto the Imaginarium's Expressway. It's time to return. Gather your friends and come to camp or book a private mission. Remember, all new 5 hour missions start on June 1st in all five simulators.

Mr. W.