Visit SpaceCampUtah.org to learn more about the Space Education Centers in Utah. Visit SpaceGuard.org and ProjectVoyager.org for information on joining a simulator based school space and science club.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wednesday at the Center

Hello Troops,
Christine just "beamed" up her Odyssey crew to start their five hour mission. I'm at the desk finishing up the April working schedule. It's posted, so if you're a volunteer or staff you can check it on the right side bar of the blog.

The other simulators have missions starting at 6:00 or 6:30 P.M. It is the busy time of year and busy means a steady flow of income. Income is good because of the serious amount of outgo it takes to run the Center. For example, I just approved a large invoice for replacing the smoked plastic that covers the Magellan computer screens. The money streams in and streams out. It is the flow of commerce.

This is Erin W. Erin is happy. This is Emily. Emily is happy. Erin is happy because she is getting her Odyssey pin. Emily is happy because she gets to give Erin her Odyssey pin. Both girls are happy because they get to work at the Space Center. I'm happy because they are happy. The staff are happy because I'm happy. Our campers are happy because the staff are happy. Parents are happy because their children are happy. Communities are happy because their voting citizens are happy. States are happy because their communities are happy. The nation is happy because the States are happy and the World is happy because America is happy. All because Erin got her Odyssey pin.

And the Space Center changes the world, one pin at a time.


And now, on a more serious note.

GAS PRICES
Have a Great Evening!
Mr. W

Monday, March 28, 2011

All in a Day's Work

Hello Troops,
We got a lot accomplished today. Northridge Elementary's sixth grade came on a field trip. We ran Midnight Rescue and got an excellent reception manifested by deafening applause. Our private missions went well. Richard from Plastics Done Right took measurements in the Magellan later in the afternoon. The Magellan's dark plastic used to cover the computer screens has been cracking for years now. It's gotten to the point where it compromises our crew's enjoyment of the Space Center experience. In a few weeks the cracked plastic should be replaced.

Brent Anderson returned from a mission to the Czech Republic yesterday. He stopped by the Space Center to say hello and catch up recent developments. Alex gave him the nickel tour, then we spoke about a few projects he has in mind for our web site.

I left the Center at 6:30 P.M. for the trek home. I had more than my usual share of dogs barking a warning to their uncaring owners that a stranger in a dirty green jacket was walking suspectfully on the town's sidewalks. One dog got loose and came sniffing after my shoes. Its owner followed directly behind calling it off. The dog paid no attention until it got swatted. I thought it funny but outwardly paid no attention and continued on my way.

How about a few items from the Imaginarium before turning in for the night?

Click on the following link and enjoy a model of the solar system in action.....
http://dd.dynamicdiagrams.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/orrery_2006.swf


And a few thoughts


And finally, poor Charlie Brown. What a blockhead!


Have a good evening. I'll see you soon in trenches....

Mr. Williamson

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Master Devin Brightens the Great Hall


The Great Hall grew quiet as Master Devin rose to perform. I stood near the fire, leaning against the cold stone mantel. Our company of troubadours sat before him, along with children invited from the farms surrounding the castle. The light of many lamps flickered across the stage, bathing Devin in a warm yellow glow.

The children's voices fell silent as he stepped from behind the heavy wool curtains on the left of the stage. His unsteady walk and uncertain gaze revealed a hesitant resolve. His small thin frame reached center stage. He stopped and turned toward his anxious audience. His bony hands clutched his instrument, his legs quivered noticeably. I feared a sudden loss of consciousness and prepared to intercede if necessary. Such thoughts were unnecassary, for once he remembered to breath, oxygen was restored and color returned to his cheeks. His quivering slowed, he made eye contact with his fellow troubadours, and the children scattered on the stone floor before him gave their attention.

I motioned for the two younger members of our troupe selected to accompany him to step forward. Master Devin calmed with their appearance. He was no longer alone. I stood pleased that he was prepared and willing to accept his first on call performance. With the hall full of children and a missing troubadour, I had no choice but to call him out of the audience and tell him that, ready or not, he would be performing.

Devin cleared his throat, positioned his instrument, glanced at his chorus, nodded and then - with one foot braced forward and one back, broke into story and song. The tale was told with precision. One could tell he was classically trained by our best. I watched the faces of the village children - each mesmerized by his tale of heroism in the face of unimaginable evil. At times they screamed and at times the excitement of his words caused them to squirm in anticipation of what was to come.

The sand in the hour glass on the Noble's oak table was near its end all too soon. At one and one half hours Devin and his chorus finished to thunderous applause. Afterwords, I congratulated our new Troubadour with hand outstretched. Devin's firm grasp confirmed a confidence I was sure wasn't there before.
"You did well Master Devin," I spoke so those closest could hear.
"Well enough to collect coin?" he responded. I smiled - realizing he'd waited long for his opportunity to stand alone on our stage.
"Not quite," I answered. "There is the matter of finalizing your training on the largest stage. Spend time there, show us your talents with larger groups - and coin will be your reward."

He seemed pleased and turned to accept the continued warm acceptance from his new brothers and sisters in the troupe.

Welcome Devin.

Mr. Williamson

Friday, March 25, 2011

Boys and American Education


Hello Troops,
Janice Shaw Crouse, Ph.D. is director and senior fellow at The Beverly LaHaye Institute. In a recent article she discusses a growing problem with boys and schools. I've seen this trend myself and am concerned that we, as educators, should find ways to reengage boys in learning.

Your Thoughts?

Mr. Williamson

What's Happening to Boys in our Schools?

More and more men are lagging behind women in educational attainment and thus lack the credentials to compete in the marketplace. Take college graduation: 34 percent of women (ages 25 to 34) have earned degrees compared to 27 percent of men. This fact alone leads to fewer men in graduate schools and in the high prestige and high salaried jobs. Even in areas typically dominated by men -- like law, medicine, and business -- women are excelling and their numbers and proportion are growing in comparison to men. Clearly, in our eagerness to level the playing field for women we have seriously destabilized the balance between the sexes to the detriment of males. Kathleen Parker was right when she challenged our culture to "save the males." As Christina Hoff Sommers said in her book, The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism is Harming our Young Men, the fact that "women are significantly more literate, significantly more educated than their male counterparts" is likely to create a "lot of social problems;" the lack of enough well-educated men does not "bode well" for anyone, particularly the growing numbers of sophisticated women.

Increasingly, men are finding their identity in their hobbies (fishing, hunting, racing, sports, etc.) instead of their careers (where they are falling behind women in achievement and status) or their roles as family providers and protectors -- both categories scorned by feminists. Previous generations of men had clearly identifiable roles and opportunities to show their physical prowess and courage -- through providing for and protecting their wives and families both at home and against the nation's enemies at war. Men knew that they were needed; today, young women are told that they "don't need a man" for anything. Males used to become "men" when they "took a wife" and assumed adult responsibilities. Now, instead of serious, dignified, and decisive male role models in the movies -- like Cary Grant, Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, and Gary Cooper -- males today are more likely, as Kay Hymowitz observes, to identify with and to emulate "overgrown boy actors like Steve Carell, Luke and Owen Wilson, Jim Carrey, Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell and Seth Rogen."

As a society, we must revive those values and ideals that provided strong incentives for young men to pass the tests of adulthood. The first steps of a solution are quite simple: we must begin by (1) scorning and ostracizing those men, no matter how rich and famous, who fail to take up the responsibilities of being a husband when they father a child and (2) demanding that our public school teachers unlearn those pernicious myths absorbed in college and graduate school and start re-creating an environment, starting in kindergarten, that respects masculine traits and behaviors: that is to say, stop demanding that little boys act like little girls and punishing or medicating them for acting like little boys. Less than this is, on the one hand, to continue to accept what is unacceptable, and on the other to continue to discriminate against our sons and brothers.

We will not succeed in making a new start until we stamp out the myth that young women can do just as well without a man. Unless we change that thinking, our society will be the poorer. As long as the male half of the population is disparaged, denigrated, and infantilized, they will lack the motivation to "man up" and become responsible and accomplished men.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Something for Thursday

Your nickel's worth of wisdom for today.







Life is more about the journey than the destination.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Mid Week

Hello Troops,
We had a few no shows yesterday (no shows - an assigned volunteer or staff that doesn't show up to work and didn't call in earlier to ask for a replacement). An absent flight director or supervisor is serious trouble. Telling a group that has already arrived and waiting in the lobby that we don't have the staffing to run the mission they booked months in advance is something I fear more than anything else. Luckily I didn't have to, thanks to a few awesome members of our staff.

Devin S. rushed in to take a 4:30 P.M. Odyssey mission for us. His parents weren't home so he called a neighbor for a ride. Now that's dedication. Thanks Devin!

Aleta stayed after her scheduled time to fill in as a Supervisor for the Voyager's 11:30 A.M. field trip mission. Thanks Aleta!

Staffing issues eat up a lot of my time so I appreciate staff and volunteers that are flexible enough to come in at a moment's notice to fill in for a "no show" (no shows are very rare indeed but when they happen they are remembered). I'm also grateful for those that answer their phone when they see its me calling (darn Caller ID).

The Space Center's staff and volunteers are just great people, a bit flaky at times and a pain at their worst (many are teenagers so you know what I mean), but awesome all around.

And now, a few items from the Imaginarium:


"Take a Smile" is a good idea to have up on the wall at the Center. When I see you're having a bad day or need a pick me up I'll direct you to the "Take a Smile" dispenser (who knows, it might save me a few minutes of staff consoling).


Can you name all the cartoon character in the picture above? Some of them are real 'old school'.


And from the "Isn't that True" Department, although some would argue that many of the adults they know haven't mastered the "how to act in public" part.


The following is another example of thinking outside the box. An inspirational story, worthy of five minutes of your day.

See you in the Trenches,
Mr. W.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Thank you for the Recent Emails.

Hello Troops,
Two recent emails to the Space Center staff, demonstrating once again how awesome they really are (in case you doubted).
Mr. Williamson

First a poem written by Nathan R. to the Space Center staff.
Thanks Nathan!

Mr. W
This is Dedicated to You and the Space Center Staff.

I imagine the stars, going by so fast.
I look back through the mission, remember the past.
Through space, and the planets, the fun, and the strife.
I remember the coolest, best thing, in my life!

I imagine the people behind the wall,
Who worked so hard to do it all.
I wish, and I hope, and I dream, and I pray,
That I could be one of them someday.

--
Nathan R

Lieutenant Junior Grade

Christa Mcaullife Space Education Center

(Coolest Place On And Off Planet Earth!)


And another email from Deven:
It's Deven again, if you remember me. I recently went on the Voyager with friends and it has been the best experience by far. The flight director Emily did an excellent job and the rest of the crew did not cause trouble. (Other than what they were suppossed to do, but I quickly took care of them. I was security.) Anyway, the only thing I found lacking was how long it took to train the Security position. It didn't cause a problem but we were still on our tour while the missioin had started. My suggestion is you re-record the tapes so they play a little faster. However I do realize that children do this and that is why they are so slow. Perhaps you could make a second set of tracks. However, you guys did excellent as always. I am planning on doing another mission in April, we don't have a time set yet but we plan on a five hour mission this time to compare how the longer time goes to the shorter time. It will also be my last chance to do it before I leave on my Mission in South Carolina for two years. Keep up the good work. I'll be sure to let you know how it went. Please tell Emily and her crew they did an excellent job. Many times praise is seen by the higher ups and doesn't get passed down to the people we are thanking.
Sincerely,
Deven



Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Phoenix has a New View Screen (And Other Things)

Hello Troops,
We had a good weekend punctuated with a couple hiccups. Alex stopped me as I walked into the office Friday evening. It was almost 6:00 P.M. and I had several things I needed to do for the Overnight Camp at 7:00 P.M.

"Our main viewer is down. I couldn't get it to turn on." Alex was neck deep in a Phoenix private mission so he had to speak quickly. "I'm using the two side TV's only."

I asked if he'd clicked the input button on the remote. He said he had but I wasn't convinced. I'm usually pretty good at making what some classify as impossible, possible. I found the remote, walked into the ship, told the kids to carry on and pretend I wasn't there and fiddled with the viewer. It was obvious the TV had power - the red light on the front control panel flickered whenever I pushed a remote button, but no matter what I did, no matter which button combination I pushed, that TV wouldn't cooperate. I pronounced it DOA when I came out of the ship.

I was left with one choice - I had to purchase another TV for the Phoenix. The old set would be removed and taken to the repair shop for diagnosis. If it could be repaired at a reasonable cost then it would be. If it couldn't, then it would be carted off to recycling - or whatever else you do with dead large screen TVs.

The Phoenix private mission ended at 7:00 P.M. That gave Dave and Alex just 20 minutes or so to come up with an alternative plan for the Overnight camp. They found an old 24 inch TV in the Animation Studio and installed it. Mind you, it looked odd having this large wall of black plastic with a 24 inch screen shining through but would the campers know? Most likely they wouldn't - thinking what they saw was how the ship was designed.

The second hiccup was discovered around 8:00 P.M. Several volunteers failed to show up to work the camp. That immediately put us into 'problem solving' mode. Within fifteen minutes we had the problem worked out. I want to thank Erick B. for answering the email call for additional staff and coming when he did. It made a big difference.

Saturday morning I called Brady Young, a Voyager Flight Director and a member of Best Buy's Geek Squad, and explained the problem. Brady said he would talk to the store's manager and see if they would sell us a TV at cost. He called back saying he'd worked out a deal.

Later that afternoon, Bill Schuler picked me up in his truck and we drove to Lehi's Best Buy. We met Brady near the Geek Squad's area. He introduced me to the asst. manager and we worked out a deal. One thousand dollars later and we were out the door with a nice 47 inch LCD television for the Phoenix's main viewer. We got back to the Space Center just as the afternoon mission was wrapping up.

The Center closed at 5:00 P.M. Alex and Jon stayed until 7:30 P.M. installing the new TV. It wasn't easy, considering the number of cables that had to be stretched across the Phoenix's ceiling.

The new TV is in and, according to Alex, looks awesome!

"There is one problem," Alex said when he called me to deliver the news. "Whenever we switch between inputs, the TV displays the word 'Component' in the corner for a few seconds. It's something we can't make go away so it will be something we have to live with."
Alex and Jon will come up with some "sci fi" explanation for the word's appearance in the context of the Phoenix being a starship etc. We are good and dishing out the bull when necessary.

I'm anxious to see the TV in action on Monday. I hope its worth the $1000 paid. I want to thank Bill, Alex and Jon for helping with this small crisis.

And how about a few things from the Imaginarum to wrap up this post?

This is exactly what we had to do this weekend. It is what we do well. We have no choice. Try running this program on a tight budget. You'll see what I mean.

Now this is what I call a real man's 'Captain Crunch'.

Have you ever succeeded from walking away from a sheet of bubblewrap without popping a single bubble? I haven't. Self control was never one of my strong points.

I couldn't resist. The perfect St. Patrick's day picture for The Troubadour's Irish readers.


And finally, this is what I heard all the time as a teenager. I'm sure you teen readers out there hear the same from your parents. Well, guess what - read and memorize because you'll be saying the exact same things to your kids. It is just one of those eternal things passed down generation to generation. Yes your own kids will think your stupid because you "Don't Get It". Well here's news to all you teens - Yes we Get It, just like our parent's Got It when we were teens. It's just that the role you play in life changes as you get older. So, be good to your parent's. They aren't stupid. There is merit to what they say.


See you in the Trenches!
Mr. Williamson

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wednesday's Thoughts

Hello Troops,
All is well on the front lines at the Space Education Center. Our forces engaged the Ignoraemii in heavy combat today. We reclaimed the innocent from enslavement using heavy doses of imagination and electrical jolts to restart cognitive thought processes. Yes, It's what we do.

The battle is still being fought as I type. Jon leads the Voyager's forces. Alex is sounding the trumpet in the Phoenix while Ben urges his Galileo troops over the top to engage the enemy with bayonets drawn. It is a wonder to behold.

I had the District Metal Shop build a new addition to the Captain's Loft. It was installed on Tuesday. In the following two pictures Jace demonstrates the correct exit from the Captain's Lounge using the new ladder.

You'll see the new carpeted platform at the exit (or entrance). This gives Jace room to turn around and descend the ladder if he's coming out of the Loft. Once again, done with the safety of our staff and crew in mind.



Alex started the work of installing a couple new cameras in the Galileo this afternoon. The one camera currently in the simulator doesn't cut it.


We had fun hosting students from Foothill Elementary in Orem and the John Hancock Charter School in Pleasant Grove on Tuesday. Both teams worked well through their respective missions. John Hancock's Captain was very good and Foothill's Ambassador was outstanding.

Foothill had a few students with unusual names never heard before at the Space Center.
Gomer (Yes, like Gomer Pyle from the 1960's TV show)
Egbert and
Pahoran
It was refreshing to see those unique names. I think its time to bring back other odd and unusual names that went out of style long ago (or perhaps never were in style). I'd like to see more Georges (we had one last week. First in a long while). I'm also thinking of Fred, Wilma, Betty, Elmer, Hank, Mildred, Luella, Minerva, Abigail, etc.

Before ending this post I'd like to add a few items for your consideration from the Imgainarium.

Great back to a new Space Center T-Shirt?

An intelligent mind never stops questioning. Push boundaries with good questions and be wise enough to know that the answers may not be what you were expecting.

A perfect illustration of what its like being the Captain of one of our simulators. I'm constantly having to remind Captains and Ambassadors to FOCUS. It's not easy at that age to learn how to direct your thoughts to the task at hand and not be distracted by things happening around you.



As some of my teens say, "Like a Boss!"


Respect is earned. Don't demand it. Muck in with everyone else and soldier on. Be a great example and maintain your principles. Respect will be the natural outcome.

Anyone out there have a killer cat? Mr. Schuller has one that lies in wait and attacks the unknowing as they come down the stairs to his family room. There's a chair near a desk where "The Cat" scratches a record of his victories. One scratch per broken or twisted ankle.


The moral of this illustration is to encourage you to abandon your scents and let people smell the real you. I'm considering tossing the cologne I use at the Space Center. It's the blue bottle next to the printer that smells like mosquito repellent. Remember that strange smell which lingers like an invisible fog in the air around my desk?

Thank you for being kind enough not to comment when you pass.

See you all in the Trenches!

Mr. W.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Our Monday

Hello Troops,
Yes, it is our Monday in the Alpine School District. School is closed for the day giving the Space Education Center one of its few two day weekends. These are cherished Mondays, valued by most and worshiped by few.

I confess I stopped at the Center this morning to finish writing the Voyager simulator's new summer camp story. I'm waiting for an inspired title to drop into my head from some sublime outside source - but nothing so far. I'll let you know should a revelation makes itself apparent.
Until then we shall call it "2011".

Would you like to know the plot? Well, the story begins with a prison escape from a maximum security prison on Telosian Prime. And that's all you're going to get from me. My lips and fingers are sealed. If you want to know more, sign up for a camp. There are no freebies on The Troubadour. The other simulator's camp stories are coming along fine. All five will give our summer campers several hours of fun and excitement.

I'm wrapping up my writing for the day. Supper is almost ready and StarGate will be on soon. Time to relax and let someone else entertain me for a change. Until me meet again, how about a few thoughts from the Imaginarium?

I remember as a kid how disappointed I was never to have had my tonsils removed - I wanted to live on ice cream for days on end. Even today I feel slightly robbed of one of life's transitional moments.

The greatest wizards in literature commemorated in stamps. The British Post Office should be commended. Well done.



Sad, isn't it?

The World needs more people like this. This is true community spirit. This is the difference between just praying for those in need and doing something about it. If it needs doing, then do it. Put your faith into action.

Amen!

I once had a very homely history professor. He looked like he'd just stepped off a farm of Dakota inbreds. My attitude changed halfway through the first class. His other qualities of humor, attitude, warmth and humanism overshadowed his appearance. He became my favorite college professor. I learned history from him in a way I'd not experience before, and on the side picked up an important lesson about life, never judge a book by its cover (by the way, he had the hottest wife of any professor on campus - not kidding).

I'm thinking of using these leaves around my name on my business cards. Everyone will think I'm smart.

I'll see you all in the Trenches,

Mr. W.

Feedback from a Phoenix Mission

Hello Troops,
This came in today's email. Congratulations to Saturday's Phoenix staff. Awesome job. This is what we do and we see that the staff of the Phoenix do it very well indeed.

Mr. W.

Hey Mr. Williamson!
I just wanted to email you to send our thanks to the Space Center staff. Me and 5 buddies did a 5-hour Phoenix mission today, and it rocked!!! It was Dark Origins. It was Mr. Daymont and a dude named Nate, I think, that directed the mission. Anyhow, it was awesome!! The mission was a rollicking success, and we all greatly enjoyed it. So again, thanks so much for an awesome time. We'll definitely be back in the next few months for some more quality Space Center awesomeness.
-Andrew

Poetic Imagination. Images Painted in Word.


Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening

BY ROBERT FROST

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Openings for Tonight's Overnight Camp!

Hello Troops,
We have a couple openings on tonight's Overnight Camp. Because you're reading it on the blog, you'll get the discount. Instead of $43.00 you pay $35.00. You must be between 10 and 14 years old (you'll be joining 5th and 6th graders from Cedar Ridge Elementary).

If you're interested, please call the Center 801.785.8713

Enjoy your 3 Day Weekend!

Mr. W.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A New Column

Hello Troops,
The Troubadour covers topics related to the Space Education Center and society as a whole. It is a place where we reward innovative thinking. It is a place where imagination is celebrated.

Tackling today's tough social issues requires the same kind of imaginative thinking as writing a piece of unforgettable music or producing a movie that brings audiences to their feet. With that in mind, The Troubadour will start showcasing these Societal Imagineers who's thinking, ideas and proposals are unique, innovative and worthy of consideration. I should warn you that these posts may cause an increase in blood pressure because tinkering with society is political and politics can be divisive. But if we are to solve our nation's problems we need innovative thinking and new ideas. Rocking the ship of Status Quo is bound to be controversial.

This new series is called.

The Doctor is In


Imagineering from The American Interest.
Moving from “time-served” processes of certification (four year BA degrees, three years in law or divinity school) to certification based on achievement can make education dramatically cheaper. It is sheer madness that most students spend 12 years in school, and another four in college. Why exactly should all kids the same age be in the same grade? One size does not fit all; why shouldn’t high school kids go free when they can pass the equivalent of a GED? And for that matter, shouldn’t school districts encourage and reward teachers and schools that are able to graduate students faster? Among other things, this would allow some of the resources not spent on babysitting high-achieving kids to go to kids who really need the help. How “right wing” is that?

The same goes for college. Oxford and Cambridge graduate their students in three years — yet few people think British college grads are less accomplished than their American peers. What is sacred about the four year BA? Wouldn’t a shift to an exam based system (students who make qualifying scores on the appropriate exams would be certified as graduates) allow more people to advance farther at less cost? And there’s an element of social justice here: the kid from a no-name school who scores high on the exam will have an edge on the Ivy League kid who partied through college and just scraped by.


And From the Imaginarium



You old timers remember this from your childhood? Was there anything more awesome?

Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope....

Monday, March 7, 2011

Space Center Honors.

Hello Troops,
We've had a few recognitions recently that I'd like to post so everyone can celebrate the good things that happen here at the Space Center.

This is Mr. Daymont. He likes soda. He likes soda so much that one is never enough. In this picture you see him reaching for my soda.
"Want!" he said with hand outstretched.
"No. One is enough," I answered as I snapped the picture. What followed wasn't pretty. He doesn't take kindly to "No". Especially if it involves a sugary snack.

Mark is one of our special Flight Directors. The Home brings him by so he can watch and clap for us in the corner of the Magellan Control Room. He is our number one fan and a real lover of "Space Trek" (we tried to teach him to say "Star Trek" but he'll have none of it).

Occasionally Mr. Daymont has a bad day. It happens when his oatmeal at the Home isn't prepared properly. Instead of putting two teaspoons of sugar on his Quaker Oats, the cafeteria ladies give him one. Such a slight causes him to go mad. That's when the Home calls and asks if we would like to tend him for a few hours while they clean oatmeal from the walls and sheets of his room.

If you see Mark on your next visit to the Center, be sure to stop and thank him for his support and enthusiastic clapping. Be sure to hid all sweets before approaching. He has a keen sense of smell and can sniff out a carbohydrate from ten feet.

This is a picture of Natalie, Christine and Mark. Christine is giving us the thumbs up. She and Natalie just finished cleaning Mark's face. Someone stupidly gave him a handful of M and M's for an especially enthusiastic clap when the staff took the Magellan Bridge as Orion Pirates. Luckily he didn't mess up his Space Center shirt.

We're celebrating the February birthdays in this picture. We celebrate staff birthdays at the end of every month. The reasoning is sound. Mrs. Houston only has to bake one cake. We save money on candles. Then there's the singing of "Happy Birthday to You". If you've ever head the staff sing then you'd be grateful we only sing once a month. Anything more might cause a visit from the United Nation's Human Rights Commission. Then there is the problem of birds dropping dead from the sky around the school. Our singing is a real nasty business.

This is Mrs. Houston, a Space Center educator. She looks a bit disheveled because of the singing moments earlier. I'm still gritting my teeth. Not to worry, my jaw relaxes before I'm needed to run the next mission.

And now the recognitions. Miranda was awarded her Year of Service Pin. She's still shivering form the singing fifteen minutes earlier (and I'm still gritting my teeth).

Miranda is receiving her Odyssey Pin from Emily. Great job Miranda. Emily on the other hand, received a warning for wearing long johns under her Space Center shirt. She complains about the cold, but is that any excuse for punishing us with protruding long johns?

This is Bro. Alex congratulating Jorden on receiving his Phoenix Pin. Jorden is actually taller than Bro. Alex, but because of Bro. Alex's temperament, Jorden must stoop down to keep his head lower than Bro. Alex's.

You're asking about Bro. Alex's smile? Alex is preparing for missionary service. We've been working with him on his people skills. That smile is the result of three months work. Do you like it?


This is Jace. Jace was awarded his Voyager Pin on this particular camp. Jace has been working on his Voyager pass since the 5th grade. It was a joy to finally get to give him is pin, especially considering he's an 8th grader now at PG Junior (my jaw is beginning to relax).

Thanks to our Awesome Staff and Volunteers. Now I get to take Mark back to the Home. He's still in the Magellan Control Room clapping for a mission that ended 45 minutes ago.

Mr. W.