Monday, October 11, 2010
Wonderland Daily News reported today that the Director of the Imaginarium’s Space Education Center was poisoned!
“Oh the Humanity!” one commuter exclaimed after reading the headline at the Wonderland Subway Station’s News Stand. Many in the crowd agreed the news was devastating. “What’s next?” he spoke loudly so all could hear. “On Friday we learned of new lay offs at the Imaginarium due to a sharp decrease in the use of Imagination by the children of the world - and now this, the poisoning of the Space Center’s Director?”
“What’s Next is Right!?” a woman wearing a pink dress with yellow sash shouted from the back of the crowd.
“Read the article so we can all hear,” a clerk from the Office of Underbed Apparitions said while munching on a peppermint Twix bar, a new addition to the newsstand’s confectionery choices, supplied by the imagination of an eleven year old girl from Hermosa, South Dakota.
The commuter hopped up on an apple crate that happened to be nearby, cleared his throat and waited for the 8:02 A.M. train to pull out of the station.
“The Director of the Space Education Center was poisoned several days ago while attending a family picnic at the home of his sister. It is believed the poisoning was the cause of eating a potato salad which sat outside too long on a picnic table, and then in a warm car.”
“My husband got food poisoning eating a potato salad that sat out too long. I told him not to eat it but does he listen to me?” a woman with her hair pulled tightly into a bun said. Her husband nodded in agreement.
“She told me not to eat it, but do I listen to her?” he said.
“No,” the gathering exclaimed in unison.
“Anyway,” the commuter cleared his throat again and continued. “By bed time the Director was experiencing sever pains which kept him up most of the night....”
“That poor man.” an older woman with a wrinkled kindly face spoke up. She was wearing a odd hat resembling a cloud with lightening. Her ID badge identified her as an employee of the Office of Elderly Out of Body Experiences.
“The pain was barely tolerable by the time he reported to work the following morning. He is expected to make a full recovery. An investigation of the incident is underway.
“We have questions and expect his elderly mother to cooperate fully. She made the salad and was overheard by other family members urging the Director to enjoy another helping. Of course, she may have been referring to a second salad still in the refrigerator - but we can’t be sure there may not be an underlying motive in her suggestion.” said the chief investigator for the Wonderland Constabulary.
Wonderland News will keep its readers informed of developments.”
The commuter folded the newspaper, tucked it under his arm and stepped down off the apple crate. The crowd moved quickly and silently toward the exits and into the gloom of a cloudy, rainy day in Wonderland.
I'm recovering. Still have an upset stomach but hope to be bright eyed in the A.M. You'd think at 52 years old I'd know better!
Sunday, October 10, 2010
It is 10:10 A.M. on October 10,2010. That is 10:10 10/10/10. This is my lucky, magical post to appease Fortuna the Goddess of Fortune. She's been a naughty girl this past week, overstaying a visit to the Space Center and the staff causing mischief on a scale almost, previously unknown. Let this post and the power of TEN's send her packing to find new hunting grounds.
So, let's raise a glass to the sunrise of good fortune as we celebrate the start of a short work week and the blessed Fall Vacation.
Friday, October 8, 2010
If you're not working the Overnight Camp at the Space Center or spending a few hours sitting in your local high school's football field watching teens fight over a pigskin ball for a few yards of plastic grass, then may I offer a suggestion?
It promises to be the fight of the century. ObiWan vs. the darling boy of the Dark Side, Anakin Skywalker aka Darth Vader.
Take the subway to the Wonderland Station and exit to Seeming Impossible Avenue, turn left and follow anyone you see wearing Jedi robes and carrying a plastic light saber.
Warning, the force will be used extensively during this match. Those sitting in he first ten rows must be prepared to be flung into walls or those behind them.
Caution, the ticket takers are trained to avoid Jedi mind entrapment, don't even attempt to enter without a ticket.
Have a Great Night and think of us slaving away at the Camp with 45 fifth graders :)
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Thanks for sending this in. Ahhh great memories of that Fallout Shelter under the school. A great Sci Fi whatever.
And Now Jared's Comment:
If you're an "old-timer" I don't know what to call myself. Before the Space Education Center even had a name Vic was taking us on voyages across the universe in the empty school lunch room. The overhead projector with the squiggly drawings of the alien encounters were enough to get our imaginations going. Fire the torpedos! Oh, no... the tractor beam got us. This was one of the coolest parts I remember - boarding the alien ship with flashlights (we were taken down to the school boiler room and its dirty passages - anyone else remember that freaky place?) Luckily our bravery in confronting the Romulans earned us a pizza break back in the school library. Good times Vic! Thanks again, Jarad
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
And Now Gary's Post:
As I sit at think over lunch break, my mind wanders back in time... before grad school, before my first "real job," before getting married and having kids, before BYU, before my LDS mission... all the way back to when I was a kid and the Space Center captured my imagination (and it's been holding onto it ever since). But why reminisce silently when I can invite you all along my trip down memory lane with me? Buckle up for some more old timer recollections.
The first time I held a "command position" was at an overnight mission where my friend and I were by far the most senior campers. We both had 14 hours under our belt (this was probably our third or fourth visit to the Space Center) and everyone else only had 2 from a single field trip. Normally, you'd think that we'd use our seniority to become Captain and First Officer, but we had other plans. We wanted to fire the guns! So my friend and I sat quietly while an inexperienced kidlet was chosen to be captain, then we signed up for the Left Wing (or was it Right?... anyway, it had the torpedoes!).
This inexperienced captain floundered quite a bit, and it became obvious that he'd always turn to us for advice, so eventually Vic paused the mission and graciously gave the poor kid a chance to step down as captain if he wanted. He jumped at the chance, and then Vic turned to us and asked if we wanted the job instead.
"14 hours?!?" he said when we told him how many missions we'd run before. "Why didn't you volunteer to be captain earlier?" he asked with a dumbfounded look on his face. I wanted to explain "C'mon, the TORPEDOES!" but I figured it wasn't worth the effort of explaining how my 12-year old mind worked. Thus, my friend became captain and I became first officer.
Having been to the Space Center several times before that, I'd always eyed the Captains Lounge jealously. Now I'd get to sleep up there! It had big bean bag chairs, which were nice, but the crown jewel was a Super Nintendo! I always wanted to sleep up there so I'd have a chance to play around with it.
How naive I was. As the readers of this blog all can attest, when you're in the middle of an overnight camp, the LAST thing you think about when you're sent off to bed is video games. We stayed up as long as we could talking and planning strategy for tomorrow's gripping continuation of the mission. I wouldn't be surprised if that old Nintendo crumbled to dust with disuse... video games just can't compare with the Space Center experience.
The next morning was wonderful! It felt so great to be woken by the soft music of the Star Trek Voyager theme song.
Fast forward to my next overnight mission... in a bunk by sick bay, woken to the shrill whistle blowing of Admiral Schuler announcing bunk inspections in 2 minutes and breakfast in 3.
Those were different times... the "Outland Corp" era for those who remember... an alternate reality in which the Federation was Defeated by the Borg in the "Best of Both Worlds" episode.
Gotta love the Borg... gotta love Admiral Schuler. My ears are still ringing.
Old Timer Space Center Cadet :)
Life is a journey. It has a start and an end. All that bit in between is the essence of who and what we are. Make good decisions. Do the right thing and trust all will be well.
Let me share something that helps me through those tough days we all have. I know its a bit religious, but for me, faith makes an excellent shock absorber and an awesome bumper :)
Have a Great Day Everyone and thanks for your continued support. I'll see you on the road.
Monday, October 4, 2010
The wagons creaked on the uneven road as our band of troubadours journeyed home to the Shire. Lazy clouds of white and gray took their turn hiding the sun from view. The coming night cooled the warm autumn afternoon. I pulled my cloak closer for warmth. Our company would soon be settling into the castle for the short days and long nights of winter.
It was a good summer’s season. Our last performance was on Friday in a hamlet who’s name is already forgotten. Lady Emily and her company of well rehearsed troubadours performed, giving our troupes of travelling story merchants and musicians an evening of rest before the journey home. The night air overflowed with joy, laughter, music and screams. I watched from a distance, hidden by the canvas of my tent, taking joy in the knowledge that this company of troubadours had the skill and training to carry a performance without my direction.
In the midst of what someone who happened to stumble unawares behind stage would perceive as chaos, stood our Lady Emily, giving direction to both actor and musician. Each direction was accepted and implemented with skill, making what appeared to the assembled villagers a seamless tale of heroism and daring.
And then, surprise. Our troubadours did something not seen on our stages for over fifteen years. They directed the performance out of the tent and into the village itself. I was reminded of the times when, as a young troubadour, I did the same for one, perhaps two seasons then stopped. I don’t remember the reasons.
At the end, the villagers awarded our troubadours with applause. True thanks were given for an evening never to be forgotten. After the hamlet settled into their beds for a long night, our company took down the tent, put away the instruments and costumes and gathered around the fire for dinner and talk.
“Didest Thou see the cat that crossed our path so boldly?” Master Wyatt spoke. The golden orange of the fire colored his face and the faces of his fellows. “The owner was not to be found.”
“And what dids’t thou do? Thou tookest the animal as thine own.” Several laughed at Master Adam’s words.
“Wyatt, is this true, the words I hear?” I asked from the shadows. I moved into the firelight and found a log to rest my weary self upon.
“Tis true Master,” he announced with a pride so true as to paint a blush across a maiden’s face. “And I care not who hears!”
“I care, so guard thy tongue in the telling of your tales,” I cautioned while pointing to the younger members of our troupe. There was shock in their faces that I would take offense in the telling of such an innocent tale. I let my countenance darken the mood for a moment, then broke into laughter, bringing relief and cheers from our circle of comrades.
“And that is a Master at work,” Lady Emily said. “He draws you one direction, only to turn the tale unexpectedly towards another.”
The ladies Aleta, Lorriane and Shiela prepared meat for our last night as wanderers. It was an unexpected respit from our daily diet of bread with butter with porridge. A meal filling yet makes for poor company.
“Our last night under the stars needed to be marked with a feast,” Lady Aleta exclaimed . “It was to be fish, but a farmer bought his tickets with chickens.” The youngest in our troupe sat around the cook fire and watched the chickens roast. The smell was rich for the nostrils and brought moistness to the mouth.
“Back ye rats of the Forest deep. Back into the shadows from whenst thou came,” Lady Shiela appeared from the darkness with broom in hand sending the youngsters scattering in all directions.
It was a night of good food, good company and little sleep.
And now we have been several hours on the dusty road. I looked behind my wagon into the faces of our troupe as they walked steadily onward in the direction of the setting sun. Twenty paces behind the slowest of the troupe walked Lady Emily hand in hand with Master Skyler. In a fortnight’s time the two will wed. The Lord of the Manor has ever so graciously given permission for the use of the Great Hall for the feast afterwords.
The celebration of a wedding marked the passage of time as our youngest performers grew each day in the cycles of the sun and moon. And then, as if stirred from a short sleep, I awake to find a child who just a moment ago was learning to pull a curtain and sing a simple song, now grown and tasting love’s sweet wine.
The sun rises and sets taking us ever onward through the seasons of life. It is a good life we live, troubadours in the service of our shire bringing joy and happiness into the lives of the people we serve.
“The castle!” a young voice shouted. I looked up and into the distance. A tower with flag was in sight. Soon we would be reintroduced to our long neglected beds.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
Credit: Lynette Cook
By Jeanna Bryner
LiveScience Managing Editor. Space.Com
An Earth-size planet has been spotted orbiting a nearby star at a distance that would makes it not too hot and not too cold — comfortable enough for life to exist, researchers announced.
And the planet's discoverers are optimistic about the prospects for finding life there.
"Personally, given the ubiquity and propensity of life to flourish wherever it can, I would say, my own personal feeling is that the chances of life on this planet are 100 percent," said Steven Vogt, a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at the University of California, Santa Cruz, during a press briefing today. "I have almost no doubt about it."
His colleague, Paul Butler of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, in Washington, D.C., wasn't willing to put a number on the odds of life, though he admitted he's optimistic.
"It's both an incremental and monumental discovery," Sara Seager, an astrophysicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told SPACE.com. Incremental because the method used to find Gliese 581g already has found several planets most of the known planets, both super-Earths, more massive than our own world outside their stars' habitable zone, along with non-Earth-like planets within the habitable zone.
"It really is monumental if you accept this as the first Earth-like planet ever found in the star's habitable zone," said Seager, who was not directly involved in the discovery.
Vogt, Butler and their colleagues will detail the planet finding in the Astrophysical Journal.
The newfound planet joins more than 400 other alien worlds known to date. Most are huge gas giants, though several are just a few times the mass of Earth.
Gliese 581g is one of two new worlds the team discovered orbiting the red dwarf star Gliese 581, bumping that nearby star's family of planets to six. The other newfound planet, Gliese 581f, is outside the habitable zone, researchers said.
The star is located 20 light-years from Earth in the constellation Libra. One light-year is about 6 trillion miles (10 trillion km).
Red dwarf stars are about 50 times dimmer than our sun. Since these stars are so much cooler, their planets can orbit much closer to them and still remain in the habitable zone.
Estimates suggest Gliese 581g is 0.15 astronomical units from its star, close enough to its star to be able to complete an orbit in just under 37 days. One astronomical unit is the average distance between the Earth and sun, which is approximately 93 million miles (150 million km).
The Gliese 581 planet system now vaguely resembles our own, with six worlds orbiting their star in nearly circular paths.
With support from the National Science Foundation and NASA, the scientists — members of the Lick-Carnegie Exoplanet Survey — collected 11 years of radial velocity data on the star. This method looks at a star's tiny movements due to the gravitational tug from orbiting bodies.
The subtle tugs let researchers estimate the planet's mass and orbital period, how long it takes to circle its star.
Gliese 581g has a mass three to four times Earth's, the researchers estimated. From the mass and estimated size, they said the world is probably a rocky planet with enough gravity to hold onto an atmosphere.
The planet is tidally locked to its star, so that one side basks in perpetual daylight, while the other side remains in darkness. This locked configuration helps to stabilize the planet's surface climate, Vogt said.
"Any emerging life forms would have a wide range of stable climates to choose from and to evolve around, depending on their longitude," Vogt said, suggesting that life forms that like it hot would just scoot toward the light side of that line while forms with polar-bear-like preferences would move toward the dark side.
Between blazing heat on the star-facing side and freezing cold on the dark side, the average surface temperature may range from 24 degrees below zero to 10 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 31 to minus 12 degrees Celsius), the researchers said.
Are you sure?
Supposedly habitable worlds have been found and later discredited, so what makes this one such a breakthrough?
There's still a chance that further observations will dismiss this planet, also. But over the years, the radial velocity method has become more precise, the researchers point out in their journal article.
In addition, the researchers didn't make some of the unrealistic assumptions made in the past, Seager said.
For instance, another planet orbiting Gliese 581 (the planet Gliese 581c) also had been considered to have temperatures suitable for life, but in making those calculations, the researchers had come up with an "unrealistic" estimate for the amount of energy the planet reflected, Seager pointed out. That type of estimate wasn't made for this discovery.
"We're looking at this one as basically the tip of the iceberg, and we're expecting more to be found," Seager said.
One way to make this a reality, according to study researchers, would be "to build dedicated 6- to 8-meter-class Automated Planet Finder telescopes, one in each hemisphere," they wrote.
The telescopes — or "light buckets" as Seager referred to them — would be dedicated to spying on the nearby stars thought to potentially host Earth-like planets in their habitable zones. The result would be inexpensive and probably would reveal many other nearby potentially habitable planets, the researchers wrote.
Beyond the roughly 100 nearest stars to Earth, there are billions upon billions of stars in the Milky Way, and with that in mind, the researchers suggest tens of billions of potentially habitable planets may exist, waiting to be found.
Planets like Gliese 581g that are tidally locked and orbit the habitable zone of red dwarfs have a high probability of harboring life, the researchers suggest.
Earth once supported harsh conditions, the researchers point out. And since red dwarfs are relatively "immortal" living hundreds of billions of years (many times the current age of the universe), combined with the fact that conditions stay so stable on a tidally locked planet, there's a good chance that if life were to get a toe-hold it would be able to adapt to those conditions and possibly take off, Butler said.
This post was written by David Andrus, a former Space Cadet and Volunteer at the Space Center (not to mention an all around good guy). Thank you David for taking the time to write another chapter in the Center's history.
And Now David's Post:
A call for old timers' posts? You sure you want to do that Vic? I'm one of the oldest of the old and I was hoping to save some of this for free private mission blackmail or something.
How about a recollection from my first ever trip to the space center? I think the trip was in 5th grade. That would have been either late 1990 or early 1991. The trip was organized by Fred Olson who was teaching at Sunset View Elementary in Provo at the time. I didn't know exactly what it was before I arrived at Central Elementary, just that it was some sort of space camp.
I remember first coming into the briefing room and sitting down at a desk. There was some sort of mission briefing by a guy who looked suspiciously like the current space center director...but there was just a little bit less of him and his hair was a different color (sorry Vic, I couldn't resist).
I sat there in the briefing room and looked around. The thing that really caught my attention was this rather strange door. It was lower than normal and there were some letters above it. I can't remember what they said now, but they were an abbreviation for something. I was completely clueless about what those letters meant and what was beyond that door, but boy did I ever want to know (and boy was I disappointed to learn the reason for the door being so short - there's a beam or something there that couldn't be moved to accommodate the Voyager).
I recall being taken on board the ship via the transporter on the stage, and then taking the scenic route through the control room on my way to the bridge. I took my station, which was in the same position as the current sensors station, at right wing. We handled propulsion, transporters, and a few other things I can't remember now. I also remember that all of our computers were identical and we had to click on our actions all at the same time.
Ah those old Mac classics were things of beauty. Slow, plodding, tiny black and white screens. But the technical limitations weren't important. The important part was how I was drawn into the story by feeling like I was a part of the action. We'd make a change to the ship's speed and the viewscreen and sound effects would change to reflect that we'd gone from sub-light to warp. We followed our captain's orders and actually managed to make it through without dying once.
I could go on and on about my various experiences at the space center. Maybe some day I'll collect all of my thoughts and send them on. But my continued ramblings will have to wait for another day as I'm sure I've exceeded even the attention span of our illustrious leader. Maybe I'll next regale you all with the story of how the illustrious Fish and I met and started a friendship that is now over 18 years strong.
Congress Takes Action on Space Funding
By Mark Daymont
Space Center Educator / Flight Director
Funding also would go for starting to develop a new heavy launcher, which would be crucial for sending Astronauts to an asteroid of Mars, but also the International Space Station.
Seven billion dollars have been earmarked for work aimed at making the new heavy launcher operational by 2016.
No way, not for a million dollars or all the tea in China would you get me to do this. This gives "Reaching New Heights" an all new meaning. Watch and hold on tightly. I hope these guys are paid well for what they do.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Ahhh those were the Good Ole Days.
We've Come a Long Way Since Those Early Days :)
I want to thank Gary Gardiner, an old Space Center Veteran from the Voyagers earliest days, for this comment on yesterday's Space Center History Post. If any of you other old timers have a moment please considering a short post on your recollections of the Space Center's early days.
And Now Gary's Post:
An invitation to old timers to post a comment? Y'know, before these reminiscent posts (including this one and the superb Space Center History posts a few months back), I didn't consider myself an old timer. But then I thought about it... did some math... and holy cow! I was shocked to discover how much of an old timer I actually am.
I attended the Space Center for the first time when I was in 5th grade. Looking back, I now realize that that was in 1992!! I couldn't believe that I attended the Space Center only two years after it opened its doors. From the star-struck vantage point of a 5th grader, there was absolutely no indication that the Space Center was that young at the time. Everything worked seamlessly... at least to my eyes, which is a tribute to the volunteers behind the scenes at the time.
That field trip in 5th grade captured my imagination and I haven't been the same since. I came back as often as my parents could afford (far too little), but I filled all the interim time with my own dreams and imaginings inspired by the Space Center experience.
I remember one camp (probably an overnighter) where we got to fly the brand-spankin'-new ISIS (the Odyssey, for all the younguns reading this). I was in the second crew to ever fly the ISIS... the other half of our group were the lucky ones to be the first.
It really wasn't until I read these blog posts that I remembered how crews used to alternate between the simulators and the classrooms. I'd completely forgotten about that, mainly because all my memories revolved around the simulators.
... Although... I do have one traumatic memory from the classrooms. Mr. Daymont was leading our group in an interactive board game that used one of those huge laser discs. Anyway, the video featured a Klingon who captured the Enterprise, and it was our duty as Federation officers to try to reclaim the ship. I was a little slow at jumping to attention when "Captain K'vok" hollered from his TV screen at us, and Mr. Daymont singled me out for jeopardizing the fate of the whole Enterprise by being self-conscious.
It's funny how everything that happens at the Space Center gets etched into your mind... whether it be traumatic embarrassment for a split-second delay, or unparalleled celebration for whooping the aliens and saving the galaxy.
Yikes, now that I'm thinking about it a whole slew of memories are coming back to me... but I'll save them for another day, since I know there are those among our readers who have attention spans the size of Twitter tweets, so I'll save my old timer yarns for another day.
-- Gary Gardiner
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
You're stepping in the Space Center's Way Back Machine to see the Space Center shortly after its opening in November 1990. The photographs are courtesy of Connor Paulson. He found them somewhere online. I'm thinking www.prehistoricschools.org. I'll do my best to describe what you're seeing. I'm sure you'll marvel at how far we've come over the last twenty years.
In 1990 the Space Center consisted of the Voyager simulator and the Briefing Room (where the Odyssey and Phoenix are today). In the photograph above you see Mr. Bill Schuler teaching a lesson on Space History. Bill is wearing a Star Trek uniform. During our early camps, Bill played Admiral Schuler. Every Overnight Camp started with Adm. Schuler's inspection of the Voyager. He'd walk up the spiral stairway to inspect the crew and the cleanliness of the ship. The crew would be smartly at attention. The Admiral scrutinized the carpet, looking for the slightest molecule of dust or grime. If found, he'd go into a rant.
"Captain. Look at this!" he'd say while pointing to a spec of something or another on the carpet. Of course the captain had to strain to see what the Admiral was talking about - which made it even funnier for those of us in the Control Room watching on the camera. "Captain, I could have tripped over that. Did you want me to trip over that pile of trash?"
Bill's exaggeration of the size of the spec of dust always caused one of the campers to chuckle. Oh, foolish child, that is exactly what the Admiral wanted. Bill worked the crew until someone laughed of snorted or made any sound he could latch onto like a bird on a power line.
The Admiral's unique homing device drew him straight to the disrespectful camper. The Admiral stood toe to toe with the the camper - bent at the waist so his nose was inches from the campers.
"Did I say something amusing cadet?" he'd sneer. Bill exaggerated the movements of his mouth so droplet's of spittle would land on the camper's face.
"Captain, this ship is a disgrace to the fleet. You're not certified to take it out of Space Dock. Get it cleaned up and get your crew in order. I'll return shortly." The Admiral walked off the bridge and down the spiral stairs. The campers always broke into laughter when they were sure he was out of earshot. That was my cue to enter the bridge and help them with the detailed cleaning. We'd also discuss the importance of staying in character - even during a grueling interrogation from the Admiral.
The Admiral would once again make his appearance and do his best to get someone out of character. This continued until the crew made it through without cracking. It took several tries, which ate up a lot of time, but well worth it. Besides, in those days overnight camps started at 5:00 P.M. and ended at 11:00 A.M. They included a pizza supper believe it or not. We had extra time to kill. In those days the missions ended for bed at midnight instead of 11:00 P.M. as they do now. They also cost $25.oo per person. Times have changed.......
In those days we only had the Voyager so half the overnight crew would be in the ship doing the mission while the other half attending classes. They'd rotate every hour or so.
Notice the big screen TV. Notice the bunks behind the TV? The Phoenix sits there today. Those bunks were reserved for the staff.
Notice the Staff Bulletin Board. Notice there about 15 places for pictures? That was the size of our staff in those days. All of them were volunteers. The most senior volunteers received a $5.00 gift card for working an overnight camp. It's because of this early volunteer staff the Center was able to save enough money to build and outfit the Odyssey (along with a $25,000 donation from US West).
I'm inviting our old timers to comment on this post and add their perspectives.
I've got a few more pictures of the old Center I'll post over the next several days.
Friday, September 24, 2010
Another week gone. It's 11:37 P.M. and the campers are preparing for bed. I've got a few moments of peace and nearly quiet while Jon and Alex do battle in the Voyager. My shoes prop open the Briefing Room door leading to the school's hallway. AHHH, my toes are free to roam the wilderness of odds, ends and junk inhabiting the under areas of my desk.
We've had a great week at the Center. Secondary school's made up most of the field trips. I told a few Perikoi's, a couple of Cry from the Dark's and, my favorite for the week, three or four Midnight Rescues.
Bracken Funk finished the new tactical cards for the mission from his dorm room at Fresno State and sent them via the internet. I was so impressed with his work I went ahead and told the mission without knowing them properly. It was hit and miss but Jon was on hand to help. Lorraine was at video so I didn't need to focus on that.
Bracken's new cards do an excellent job bringing suspense and anticipation to the crew. These emotions springboard into the screams and shouts from which we flight directors feed. Great Job Bracken!
Strangely quiet in the Voyager right now. Jon may be telling stories in the Crew Quarters. His stories are always a favorite with our campers.
The junior high staff are in the Odyssey. The girls are tucked away in the gym under the ever watchful eye of Mrs. Houston and Metta. The high school boys are talking in the Discovery. They have their computers open and ipods playing. They can't live when unconnected from the matrix. What have we become.
And now its 11:51 P.M.
Best go to bed. I'll need to get up earlier than usual tomorrow to make the donut run to WalMart.
I just checked the school's front door. We're locked and secure. Pleasant Grove sleeps quietly at the foot of Mt. Timpanogoes, reminding me its time to pull out my pad, blanket and pillow and spend another night on the floor in front of my desk, ever vigilant - or at least until blessed unconsciousness steals me away :)
Thursday, September 23, 2010
It's time to pause from the drudgery of your day to day routine and pay some attention to a few awesome Space Center volunteers that recently received honors during the After Meeting on the last few Overnight Camps.
Ahem, we'll get started once we can have everyone's attention. Jackie, Rachel we're waiting on you two. Please find a seat.
Rachel doesn't do Facebook or My Space or any of the other Your Business is My Business social web sites. She believes the best way to find out what her friends are doing is talk to them, face to face.
Jackie, on the other hand, prefers to keep things at a distance and doesn't like being forced into a verbal conversation covering a week's worth of news from someone that doesn't post or tweet.
"So much talk talk. It's so medieval," she was overheard saying while rummaging through the fruit on the glass display case after the camp.
Rachel had Jackie trapped in conversation. Jackie may look at ease in the photo, but if you look closely at her right hand you'll see she isn't. She's digging her fingernail into her thumb, hoping to draw blood - thus giving her a reason to excuse herself to tend to the unexplained wound.
OK, it looks like Rachel is letting Jackie out of the conversation with a traditional Harken Back Woods Hand Shake. It's the way all the Arkansas Harkens end their visiting. With the hand shake comes an invitation to "come on over for vittles and sweet cider when the meetin is done."
(Actually, I may have this all wrong. It might be that Jackie is getting her Galileo Pin from Rachel. Yep that's what it is. My bad...)
Today we celebrate the fact that Connor is still a member of the Club of the Living after the near fatal puncture of a Phoenix Pin into his neck by Phoenix Set Director Alex Anderson.
Alex is a member of the "Children should be seen and not heard" group . Actually, Alex takes their motto one step further and believes that children should not be seen OR heard, but considering the business we're in, he's had to adapt - and it hasn't been easy. It's taken a few years but I've gotten Alex to the point where he tolerates our campers and actually does a good job convincing them that he cares. He says he's living a lie every time he smiles at anyone younger than 15 but, in the interest of a pay check, his smile has become believable, although his voice sounds strained when he has to comfort a frightened small human.
You've heard in your science classes that for every action there is an equal but opposite reaction. It is true. Every time Alex forces himself into being agreeable with our customers, someone or something must be the recipient of the 'Reaction'. Today that someone was Connor.
The picture above was taken just before the Phoenix's pin penetrated one of the arteries feeding blood into Connor's brain. Luckily we had several EMT's on our staff that sprang into action and saved his life.
(Actually, I may have this all wrong. It might be that Alex gave Connor his Phoenix pin, shook his hand, walked over to the hand sanitizer, applied two squirts, deloused his hands, and sat down. Yes, I think that's how it went. Sorry.).
Christine comforted Eric as she awarded his Odyssey Pin. He was visibly moved by the event and covered Christine's hand with tears and other drippings. Christine was a champ and hid her stomach's retching from the watching staff. Eric pulled himself together by the end of the ceremony and asked to say a few words. Forty minutes later, we moved along to the other business of the day.
Actually I think I have this all wrong as well. My reporting of Space Center news is all messed up. I seem to be exaggerating a few facts (My inability to stay true to the facts is my one true weakness I'm told). Perhaps I should appoint reporters that will get the news right. What do you think?
Thanks Troops for all your Hard Work. Our volunteers are the best in the State and I'll challenge anyone that disagrees.
Enjoy your supper and the rest of the evening. I'm leaving the Space Center now and heading home. Dave Daymont is running a Phoenix mission. Stacy is doing the same in the Galileo, and Zac is in full swing in the Magellan. It's all go at the Space Center at 6:08 P.M. on Thursday, September 23.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Friday, September 17, 2010
Its becoming traditional for me to post something about the current Overnight Camp before turning in for the night.
It's 11:49 P.M. The camp is heavily loaded with boys (34 boys and 5 girls). That means I have four campers sleeping in the Odyssey. Sleeping boys in the Odyssey poses a problem. It's closest to where I sleep therefore any noise they make wakes me up. I told the boys that they could talk until I went to bed - and they are.
There was a knock on the school's east doors. A dad arrived to pick up his sick son. That leaves 33. He was caught in traffic coming down from Salt Lake. An accident on the freeway.
Ah, the current conversation in the Odyssey involves how many girl friends each of the boys have. It's interesting the way they try to talk over each other to make their points.
A lull in the conversation. I think they're getting cold. The air conditioner keeps the Odyssey about 5 degrees above Absolute Zero. Such arctic conditions motivate the boys to crawl up into their sleeping bags for warmth. Soon afterwards they fall asleep, and I follow.
Overall a good crew and of course we've got a killer staff to working with them.
I'm getting a sore throat. Could be allergies.
It's 12:01 A.M. time to go to bed. The air conditioners just switched off. They do this every Friday night at midnight and turn on again ten minutes later.
Having trouble keeping my eyes open. Best surrender and see if the Odyssey boys will let me have a few restful hours before I'm up again at 5:40 A.M. to clean up before making the WalMart donut run.
Matt Long sent this list of short films that were shot a the Space Center and posted on YouTube.
The Space Center is a favorite place for student filmmakers to shoot their school projects. They rent the Center for a specific number of hours, we provide one technician, and the place is theirs to shoot their own films.
Important! These films are the private work of others and not endorsed or sponsored by the Space Center. Their views and opinions are their own.
Kesha + Star Wars Tik Tok Music Video Spoof!
AAT IV - A New Home
The Infinipede Space Monster from Outer Space!
Teacher Feature - September 2010
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Space Center Educator
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Voyager Space Probe in 1991 as it passed Saturn.
From this image this has become.....This is our Blue Dot in Space.
I've been asked many times over the last twenty years why I created the Space Education Center. At the end of the day, when all is said and done, the answer lies in something I saw and heard that changed the direction of my thinking towards space and our place in it.
I'd like to share that experience with you. Perhaps, after watching this, you'll come to understand the power of emotion in education and how something lasting only a few minutes can change a life forever.
The three minutes I spent listening to this master teacher may seem insignificant in a life of 52 years - but they were. They inspired me to pass this reverence of what lies beyond in the darkness that surrounds us and the importance of what we have here on Earth with my students. And thus, from my sixth grade classroom in the 1980's, sprang the concepts the Space Center was built upon.
The power of Dr. Sagan's words, spoken so long ago, still impact the children that come to the Space Center to experience what is, what was, and what could be -
- if we cherish the pale blue dot in space we call home.
"We succeeded in taking that picture [from deep space], and, if you look at it, you see a dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.
Dr. Carl Sagan
The earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and in triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of the dot on scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner of the dot. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us. It's been said that astronomy is a humbling, and I might add, a character-building experience. To my mind, there is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known."