Toni Schoenleber couldn’t do her job as a stroke clinical coordinator at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital if she didn’t have brains. In fact, it’s because she has brains that she knew just where to go when she needed more brains…[more]
I’m in the middle of a bit of a website revamp. Moving from an aging, custom-designed HTML base (for which I learned Dreamweaver from a book. Ah, memories…) to a WordPress base.
It’s not going particularly well, to be honest, because waybackwhen, I chose a Windows rather than Linux OS for my website’s foundation. Turns out that Windows servers and WordPress don’t play well together. At the moment, for example, any link you hit, anywhere on the WordPress site, will yield a 404. That despite posts existing happily in the mySQL database.
Four-zero-four is not a happy number in Webville.
I can’t change this up for up to 48 hours, the Godaddy people tell me. Until then, and quite likely longer, as I’ve got paying work to do, the old website pages are still on the server, and accessible here:
More soon. I hope.
(As an aside, the photo is a cell-phone shot I took of a mobile home destroyed by flooding in Lyons, Colo. I am thankful that my disasters are merely digital.)
The small team still running Deep Impact, in orbit for going on nine years, on Aug. 8 lost touch with the spacecraft. Deep Impact smacked the comet Tempel 1 on Independence Day 2005 and went on to swing by a second comet, Hartley 2, and then hunt for planets. It was probably working on its master’s degree on the side.
NASA sent out a press release on Friday. The spacecraft had, as far as they could tell, gotten itself turned around, probably such that the solar panels stopped drinking in sun, so the heaters that keep the electronics and hydrazine thrusters limiber stopped working, so Deep Impact became, in effect, a frozen spacecraft — a comet of a spacecraft.
Deep Impact orbits the sun, so it won’t be crashing back to Earth as most orbiters do. DI, as they called it, whose job was to help us figure out how our solar system formed, has become a tiny, permanent body of that solar system.
I saw the press release but was on deadline and had to make a Costco run (strawberries, granola, the obligatory rotisserie chicken) and so on. And then Saturday I decided to add a 1,000 yards of sprints to the six mile run (why?) and was a bit worn out, and then the evening birthday party for the daughter of a friend turning 10, and then it was late. This morning, there’s the Down Syndrome walk and drywall hanging at a friend’s up in Boulder who came within about 20 feet of having their Pinebrook Hills house erased by a mud slide during the flooding. You get the idea.
But I wrote a book about this mission and the company, Ball Aerospace, that built the spacecraft and instruments that enabled it (in tandem with JPL, I hasten to add). And death is a milestone. But until last night, I was having a helluva time figuring out how I felt about it. Then Jim Baer, a brilliant optical engineer who helped design the telescopes on DI (at the time, the big one was the largest ever to leave Earth orbit), dropped me an email. I hadn’t been in touch for probably two years. He wrote:
All good things must come to an end.
We did have a great ride, and it became a great story, thanks to you.
This is sort of typical of Ball Aerospace people, who have had, for going on 60 years now, a tendency to care.
I wrote Jim back:
Great to hear from you, man. Thanks for the note. I’m trying to figure out how I feel about DI and do up a short blog post and am having a hard time conjuring up a ton of emotion. I think it’s because you guys did such a phenomenal thing that so exceeded all reasonable expectations. It would be like mourning Secretariat. It was great to have had the opportunity to meet people like you and so many others at Ball Aerospace – such extraordinary people.
So I don’t mourn, and I am grateful.
The worst of this insane tropical storm is happening parts north – Boulder, Lyons and environs. There geographic verticality is guiding once-in-a-generation (rarer yet, actually) rains into tight channels that are shooting stream flow numbers into the 10x-50x ranges and doubling, tripling, quadrupling typical gauge height (this USGS site has the details). A few highlights:
In our own little backyard, I tallied abut 8 inches of rain since yesterday, 3 of which fell in a two-hour span this afternoon. After that pulse, I headed out on a bike with cell-phone and video camera (will post at some point). Here’s what I saw.
(note that at 7:20 p.m. today I stopped back by the floodplain and water levels were down about three feet from what I photographed, so I assume the dam can handle the 2 or so additional inches we’re expecting still tonight).
(Note 2: My thoughts are with friends in Lyons and Boulder whose homes are underwater or partially entombed in rocky mud.)
There was a producer in the front row, typing away on her laptop, and, in the far reaches of the gallery, my daughters, ages 9 and 6, with my wife, who had walked over from the Johns Manville offices downtown. The guy who helped affix the not-quite-invisible mic to my ear asked if I’d done much public speaking. I said I’d done a few book talks and the like, maybe 50-100 people.
“This is nothing like that,” he said.
Indeed, the place was cavernous, and surprisingly tall. Like giving a talk to the skyscraper façade.
I spent that afternoon pacing around repeating the talk, trying to get it under my allotted 10 minutes, working the slides in my converted-dining-room office. I mumbled the thing through while walking the dog. He shat righteously afterward, which I tried not to view as his critical assessment.
This year’s day-before-TEDx has been much more relaxed. I bought my ticket in March and all I have to do is show up and watch. I’m really looking forward to it (tix still available).
But the approach of the local TEDx conference did get me thinking, if in a more languorous and much less repetitive way than last year.
What strikes me is that, when I look through the list of speakers, I don’t recognize a single name. But they’re all going to be worth listening to. Some of them will be brilliant.
Our culture is so fame-focused, it’s easy to be lulled into the belief that, unless you’re famous to one degree or another, you must not have much to say. Or conversely, if you are famous, your views have value.
TEDx events break this notion. Last month alone saw 353 TEDx events in 80 countries, with probably 4,000 speakers, each with something different to say. These numbers offer insight into how much creativity is out there, how many innovative projects and initiatives are being brought to bear, how many exceptional people a global population of 7-plus billion is cranking out. You’re 99th-percentile smart? You and 70 million others.
TEDx talks aim to be exalting. But it’s the sheer number of these talks that I find most inspirational.