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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Fun Highlights Taken from the Space Center's First Blog. April to December 2000

Setting the Way Back Machine to
the year 2000.  Location, The Space Center

Hello Troops,
I find myself growing a bit nostalgic for the good old days now that the Space Center is closed for renovation.  Along my trip down memory lane this Saturday morning, I pulled up the Space Center's first blog (a Yahoogroup called Spaceedventures).  I wrote Spaceedventures first post on March 14, 2000.

For the next several months I'll introduce you to best posts and comments from Spaceedventures.  These posts will introduced you to the old staff of the day, many of whom have disappeared to the four corners of the Earth.  I believe others can be found in nearby clinical psychiatric centers .  Some names you'll recognize, most you will not.  

Feel free to post questions and comments at the end of each post. I'll answer your questions in the follow up posts.  

Now, let's enter the Way Back Machine and set the dial to the year 2000.  Take care if you frighten easily for here come the ghastly ghosts of Space Center Past, dragging the chains they forged while in service at the Center.    

Mr. Williamson

P.S.  The comments in blue are mine, used to introduce you to the back story of each post.

 And off we go.....

April 14, 2000
This post was written by Aaron Yeager, Odyssey Flight Director.  In this post Aaron is referring to the staff working on the Falcon.  The Falcon was housed in the school's cafeteria along with the Galileo.

I would like to congratulate all of those who are working to create the new simulators. I am happy to know that the Space Center is growing. Some people may call us nerds, but I say that we are the
music makers, and we are the dreamers of the dream. We are poets and philosophers. We create a new universe out of plywood, metal, and keyboards, and yet a familiar universe. We use this universe to explore the endless possibilities of existence.

As we grow let us always remember that the simulators we build are only tools for storytelling. Without interesting characters, without good story ideas, without the struggle between good and evil, we are
nothing. All the iMacs and ethernet in the world cannot make up for poor storytelling. Let us never loose focus of this. I wish the best of luck to all the new simulators. May your simulators work well, and may your stories be worth telling.

Your Friend,
Aaron Yeager

April 18, 2000
In this post Aaron discusses the process he uses when writing a Space Center mission.  It is an excellent read and well worth your time.  He hit the process spot on.  What are your thoughts?  Post your comments and questions at the end of this post and I'll answer them in the next post.

Okay, a few thoughts about creating stories for our simulators.  We normally start creating a story by saying, "Ohh, what would be cool to do?" We then create a few really neat ideas and things that the
ships could do. Throuought the years, the space center has been place to more acts of heroism than any other place on earth, except for, perhaps, Gotham city, which we all know is the most heroic place on

Anyway, the "cool" things are fine, but they are not the story, the "cool things" are what happens to move the story along towards it's conclusion. Without a definite direction towards an understood goal,
confusion and chaos reign supreme. The best way to start writing a story is to begin with a moral
question and a real-life problem. For instance, the Greenpeace mission that we all know so well probably began with the question: "Is cooperation possible between enemies" and a problem that could not be solved except through cooperation. No one would argue that Greenpeace lacks action, it is very exciting, but it would be MUCH LESS exciting if it's action did not have a purpose. Action without
reason is phony, and the kids cannot get into it. 

When I wrote the Stakeout mission I began with the question, "What happens to people who become addicted to drugs," and the problem of drugs being smuggled across the Federation Border. My current story that I'm writing asks the question, "Should we show mercy and kindness to an enemy who has no pity? and the problem of scientists using enemy prisoners of war for experimentation.

This moral question is what you will explore in the mission. All good science fiction deals with moral questions, and explores them. Take Star Trek Insurrection, which pitted the good of the many over the
rights of the few. Take Star Trek First Contact, which showed how hatred and revenge can destroy victims if they are not careful. Now, you can find examples of Star Trek that did not do this, and it can
be done, but remember that I'm saying the BEST stories deal with these human issues FIRST, and the cool stuff SECOND.

The moral question and problem will create a "spinal chord" for your story, to which you will add the "rib bones." By "rib bones" I mean smaller problems, complications, and, of course, cool stuff.
This pattern works for me, and I hope that the rest of my space center brothers and sisters find it useful as well.

Your friend,

December 27, 2000
Bill Neville was an excellent volunteer.  We've lost touch with him over the years.  This was an posting he sent after leaving Space Center service and venturing out into reality to go to school.

Vic -

Well, after a delinquent absence, I figured that it's probably about time to give you an update on my life.

I ended up graduating from Rowland Hall a year early and enrolled at Davidson College in North Carolina. It's a fantastic liberal arts college, though I seem more and more to be operating under the
assumption that it is a conservatory theatre program. While this isn't true (our department has three profs and only four majors a year), the faculty is outstanding and the level of passion that everyone brings to
classes, productions, and extracurriculars is truly mind blowing.

It's hard to imagine that I'm already halfway through my sophomore year - 2.5 years until the real world, right? Or at least Grad school... But it has been a blast and a blur. Living 24 hours a day
with some of the most intellectually challenging, intelligent, dedicated people I've ever met has proven to be more fun than I could have imagined. I've found myself drowning (and loving it) in
Shakespearean lit theory and in all aspects of theatre, and it looks like I'm heading for a career directing professionally. I'm also loving set and lighting design more and more, but I've found a passion
for directing that I could not previously have imagined.

It's been a great, wild few years, and I credit my time working with you at the Space Center with helping me find my own drive and vision, and especially with overcoming my fear of leadership. I ran into a friend from high school who mentioned that a RHSM crowd was coming down sometime over break. The craziness never really seems to end, does it?

I hope that all is well with you, and that you're taking some occasional time off from your overwhelming dedication to the kids you encounter each day.

If you get the chance to drop me a note, I'd love to get caught up on everything happening your way. Merry Christmas, and I hope I can make it down sometime soon to see how everything is going in grand ol' Pleasant Grove...

All That Jazz,
Bill Neville

January 15, 2001
This was a news update from me to the staff and volunteers.  This was the first week we ran our Submarine EdVentures for our school district's 4th graders.  
Deck 10 was a new method for running landing parties in the school's hallways.  I used red dots and papers describing actions and decisions the crew had to make when out in the school's darkened hallways on the overnight camps.  

Hello Troops,

1. The Overnight mission went well. The Falcon was closed so Mark could continue to prepare the submarine mission for Saturday.

2. A new landing party system was created called Deck 10. This system will be tested this Friday. It will also be a scoring system for overnight missions.

3. No Birthdays celebrated.

4. The First Submarine EdVentures went well. The students enjoyed the class. Debbie Wallis and Melissa Torvineo did an excellent job. We made contact with an oceanography instructor from Utah Valley State College and explored joint programs with her and her students. The Odyssey and Galileo Submarine Edventures went well for a first attempt. We discovered that several of the stations need to be improved and more work created. That was the number 1 comment from the participants was
they needed more work.

5. Very tired staff stayed until after 10 P.M. Saturday evening working out bugs and creating new story elements.

6. Our Monday evening Open House went very well. The school was crowded with visitors. We were kept busy from opening to closing. A special thanks to all that helped with the program.

1. New cool Star Trek like door for the Magellan coming this week.
2. The Voyager's bathroom tile has been replaced!!!!

........That is all.....
Mr. Williamson

 January 18, 2001
This is an posting by none other than James Porter.  Read it.  You'll learn a very important lesson on keeping your employers happy.  Yes, James learned by listening.  Volunteers and staff, us old timers have a lot of wisdom to share if you will just listen - like James  :)

I would like to tell you of the helpful experience I have received from volunteering at the center. As I have recently been employed by the Wynsong 12 movie theater near Orem but sadly in Provo, I have noticed some ... stuff. From the all mighty Mr. Williamson I have learned much.

First, is that, "It is better to look good, than to feel good."  This definitely applies with my new vest and bow tie I HAVE to wear.

Second, and this one has been the greatest help, "We are -getting gratuity- until 10:30." Sorry for the alteration, that is what Mr. Williamson meant to say anyway. In my job I cannot stand still waiting for customers. With the art of spray and wipe mastered at the space center I have no trouble always looking busy.

Third, always try to wear a smile. Pretty self explanatory.

Fourth and final, work hard while the employer is watching. I won't try to quote exactly, but it was something to the effect of, "I wasn't bumped up the employee scale because I worked the hardest. I
just worked the hardest when the boss was around." 

This helped out on the first night. We were cleaning up to go and were just waiting to get passed off. I noticed the manager coming and began to wipe down some of the cupboards. The manager gave us a pass so all that was left to do was mop. The manager asked who was going to and the other guys pointed out that the new guy always does it. The manager looked at me then looked back at the guy and smoothly stated, "How come he is the only one still cleaning? You will mop up tonight."
As she pointed to the guy who spoke up.

So in conclusion I must give thanks. To the space center for all it's help and future help in the development of people. And of course, to Mr. Williamson and his words of advice. Thanks!

-James Porter

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