Check out my fiction -
Check out my science fiction series - The Fall of the Altairan Empire

Thursday, January 21, 2010

My Day Job

I have the coolest day job ever. I work at the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center in Pleasant Grove Utah. (The blog title should link to their website, if I figured it out right.) We're talking high tech starship simulators and an inflatable planetarium.

I have many titles, 'cause they're free. My boss even gave me the official title "Ultimate Queen of the Universe". I'm debating how to center that on a business card.

It's hard to quantify what we do at the center. The best description I ever heard was "Star Trek Larping" but we can't use that because A) Star Trek is copyrighted, and B) we work for a school district and can't possibly be teaching children science fiction. That would not be acceptable to the powers-that-be. Not in conservative Utah.

Truth is, we are teaching them leadership skills, teamwork, decision making under pressure, moral values, and a host of other psychological lessons, all in a short two-hour mission simulation. What we do captures their imaginations to the point that we have had crews in tears over fictional situations and characters. Simulations are powerful tools.

We also have a classroom and planetarium where we tackle the real science of physics, stars, black holes, gravity, and space flight. Well, sort of. We have only forty-five minutes to impress as many 5th and 6th grade students as we can. We do our best to boggle their minds and imaginations with reality.

If the pictures post correctly, here's a brief glimpse into my working environment. Notice the lack of cubicles.

I'll have to post pictures of some of my costumes, except that would spoil a bit of the magic we strive to build. If you're ever in Utah Valley, stop by Central Elementary for a glimpse into futuristic education.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Butter Rum Popcorn

Here's another recipe to brighten your day. I'd write about writing or marketing or something else, but life is so crazy right now, recipes are about my speed.

1 c. real butter
1/2 c. corn syrup
2 c. sugar
1 t. rum flavoring
8 qts air-popped popcorn

Melt butter in medium saucepan. Add corn syrup and sugar. Cook over medium high heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils and reaches firm ball stage. (Drop a tiny bit in very cold water. It should form a firm ball that is just a bit crunchy around the edges. This takes about 7 minutes.) Remove from heat. Stir in flavoring. Pour over popcorn. (Yes, it's 2 gallons of popcorn, use a really BIG bowl.) Stir carefully until popcorn is coated. Dump onto large piece of waxed paper. Spread and let cool for 30 minutes. Break into chunks. Store in loosely covered container.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Dinner? Navy Bean Soup

I was inspired by a friend to start posting recipes on my blog. So tonight's dinner is Navy Bean Soup, an old-fashioned recipe that is so satisfying, especially in winter. Easy and inexpensive, too.

1 lb dried navy beans
1 small onion, chopped
5 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1 t. garlic powder
2 bay leaves
1/2 t. paprika
2 t. celery salt
2 c. cubed cooked ham
ground black pepper, to taste
salt, to taste

Soak beans in cold water overnight. Drain. Place in 4 qt crockpot. Add about 6 c. hot water. Cook on high for 2 - 3 hours. Add onion, carrots, and spices. Cook on low 4 hours, until vegetables are done and beans are soft. Add ham. Cook another hour. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with sourdough bread or crackers.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A Movie Worth Watching (Again)

Christmas brought fun and excitement to our house. The present pile wasn't quite as large as usual, but with ten people living in my house, it was still impressive. My share was mostly DVD's. One I still haven't opened. I'm saving it for a quiet afternoon. I haven't seen the movie in years and I want to spend time savoring and enjoying it without a lot of child interruptions. Saturday afternoon is the quietest at my home.

So what movie am I saving? Not a campy sci-fi classic, not this time. I already watched the Ray Harryhausen Sinbad collection, Disney's Snow White, and Camelot. I'm anticipating a wonderful time with Finian's Rainbow. It's a musical, can be classified as fantasy, very silly at times, but overall, it's hopeful and happy, even when things are horribly wrong.

Finian's Rainbow is about a small town, Irish immigrants, and the leprechaun they inadvertently bring with them. Some of my all-time favorite songs are from that movie. If you haven't ever seen it, it's worth tracking down and watching. After all, who wouldn't want a song for your heart, and a smile for your lips? Follow the rainbow, and follow the fellow who follows a dream.