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Saturday, April 6, 2013

Mr. Williamson, A Certified Chaperone. Science News. The Imaginarium

Hello Troops,
I'll bet you didn't know that I am a card carrying member of the American Society of Professional Chaperons or ASPC for short.   I keep my membership card in my wallet and, on special occasions, will wear my ASPC badge when on duty or trying to get out of a speeding ticket. Its something I rarely talk about because I'm not one to brag about my own accomplishments.   Yes, "Humble to a fault" is a phrase many who know me use when asked to describe me to friends and associates.

The ASPC teaches its members to always be prepared.  I can hear what you're thinking and you're right. We borrowed our motto from the Boy Scouts.  A Boy Scout says, "Be Prepared".  An ASPC chaperon also says "Be Prepared," but then adds a bit on the end; "Out Think. Out Smart. Out Wit" all referring to those we chaperon.

"Cattle" is our profession's slang word for the youngsters we chaperon.  A 'Cattle Drive' is our word for a chaperoned event.  I know our professional language can be confusing, but stay with me and you'll get it.  I did a Cattle Drive at the Discovery Space Center this week.  The Drive started Monday evening and ended Friday morning.  It felt good to be back in the saddle and out on the open range.  I thought I might be rusty, considering my last Drive was clear back in July of last summer. The Space Center closed for renovations right after that.

My saddle bags were packed with care.  I had my flashlight, first aid kit, toiletries, bed roll, pillows, phone and my well worn copy of The Chaperone's Field Guide by Winifred Dobbin.  Winifred Dobbin was a highly requested chaperon in her day who set the gold standard on professional chaperoning.  The following was taken from a 1913 high school newspaper referencing Miss Dobbin's unique gift at herding cattle.

After last year's Harvest Ball disaster, the school board decided to hire Miss Winifred Dobbin to chaperon this year's Ball.  Miss Dobbins is a professional chaperon known for never having an escape or an incident.  She welcomed the students at the door.  The girls were seated along the north wall and the boys along the south.  Boys were allowed to walk across the gym and ask the girls to put them on their dance cards.  During the Ball, Miss Dobbin insisted that everyone dance at 'candles length'.  She walked around the gym with a lit candle in one hand and glass of water in the other.  She placed the candle between the dancers to see if they were politely distanced.  The water was insurance in case the candle ignited someone's dress or suit.    
After each song, the boys and girls returned to their respective walls and waited for Miss Dobbin to replenish herself at the refreshment table before shouting, "Candle's length!"  That was their signal to find the next person on their dance card.  The couples moved to the center of the floor, positioned themselves at candle's length and patiently waited for her to signal the band to play."  

Early Friday morning I woke to an unnatural sound echoing through the Discovery Space Center's Galileo Room.  I sat up, put on my glasses and listened.  After a moment my head cleared and I recognized the sound.  One of the herd was snoring.  It wasn't a gentle snore, nor one a light sleeper could sleep through.  It was amazingly loud for a youngster barely out of single digits.

I reached into my backpack for my flashlight and Miss Dobbin's Field Guild.  I consulted the chapter titled, "Snoring and the Chaperon".  I skipped the section on the causes of snoring and went right to the 'Remedies and Solutions" page.  The snoring got louder as I searched for an acceptable solution.   It was beginning to disturb the cattle.  Soon they would all be awake - a chaperone's nightmare for 2:00 A.M.  I had to act quickly and rely on my own experience.  I sat the guide book down, jumped up, put on my badge, walked into the room, found the youngster (who happened to be right by the door) and kicked his air bed repeatedly until he mumbled, snorted and turned to his side.  The snoring stopped, the room was quiet.  Peace and order was restored.  Miss Dobbin would have been proud.  I returned to my pad feeling pleased with how the drive was going and anxious to return home to sleep under familiar stars.

Yes, all in a day's work on the open range.

Mr. W.
(always seeking to make the ordinary, extraordinary.  
I practice what I preach)

P.S.  Jon, Lorraine, Bracken, Nicole, Casey and Mrs. Voeks are also certified and will receive their badges shortly.

Science News of Interest 

Can We See Someone's Dreams

Scientists have come a step closer to being able to identify the content of dreams after using a brain scanner to map neural activity.  Read More


"Do You Like My Shirt?  It's Hagfish," Says You in the Future.

The jawless, spineless hagfish is a primitive creature that lives at the bottom of the ocean and dates back as far as 500 million years - but it exudes a very special slime, which could provide the clothing of the future.  Read More


We Are Surrounded by Black Holes

It's been discussed before that nearly all galaxies have black holes at the center. The larger ones, such as our own Milky Way, have supermassive black holes.  But how exactly do these supermassive black holes form?
Scientists now have an idea that requires a frightening result. As small galaxies collide, they merge as the combined gravitational force binds them together. As this occurs, the two black holes combine together as well into a larger one. Over billions of years, this process continues until gigantic galaxies are formed with black holes in the center that have grown by "feeding" on others.

This was well known before, but a few days ago, researchers at UCSC ran computer simulations of galaxy formation and realized something previously unknown: When two galaxies combine, the larger black hole may sometimes boot out the smaller one. The computer simulations show that there may be between 70 and 2000 of these remnant black holes, each millions of years old, forming a "ring" around our Milky Way.

These black holes are colliding with each other and forming dangerously large black holes. The UCSC team states that these black holes are impossible to detect because they aren't surrounded by matter they can interact with.

 From Quarks to Quasars

NASA To Capture an Asteroid 

NASA is planning for a robotic spaceship to lasso a small asteroid and park it near the moon for astronauts to explore, a top senator said Friday.  Read More

The Imaginarium

Making the ordinary, Extraordinary

Imagination in Advertising


Now that's what I call a real outdoor theater!

Was I the only one who thought it strange that a school teaching witchcraft and magic 
also celebrated Christmas?


One of the oldest tricks in the book, yet again and again, parents fall for it.
Student Creativity: A

Creativity: A

Creativity: A-


 Guilty as charged

Poor Kim Jong Piggy
Can't get the attention he wants.

This kid takes his marshmallow toasting seriously

And even better when you play the theme from Star Wars as you drive.

A trendy bookstore in an old bank vault.
Imagination A

What our campers say when they leave the simulators every day.

A serious upgrade

Imagination in Advertising:  F


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