Life lesson from a last lecture

If you had an opportunity to give one final speech, one last chance to be heard, what would you talk about? For Carnegie Mellon University professor Dr. Randy Pausch, that question wasn't a hypothetical. Diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, this husband and father of three children (ages 5, 2, and 1), has only a few months to live. Last week he delivered his final lecture entitled "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams." It's well worth watching (but be forewarned: the video runs an hour 30).

If it seems like something is missing at the end, it is. Click here (Windows Media Player will open) and "fast-forward" to 01:25 in this other video to see the awards and honors presented to Dr. Pausch.

Update 2/22/08: Palliative chemotherapy is working, and Randy Pausch is still alive and healthy.

Update 7/25/08: Randy Pausch died today at the age of 47. He is survived by his wife, Jai, and children, Dylan, 6, Logan, 3, and Chloe, 2. Donations can be made to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, or to Carnegie Mellon's Randy Pausch Memorial Fund, which supports the university's continued work on the Alice project.


Life-changing events

I can count on one hand the number of events that I find simultaneously scary as well as thrilling. All of these impose great change, and without exception are life-altering. In my experience, most of these turn out to be overwhelmingly positive while the risk of heartbreak always exists. My family is possibly in the early stages of such an event, and we're doing everything we can to prepare. I was recently reminded of a quote by Churchill which I find all-too fitting, however, "Planning is essential, but plans are useless."

I promise to share more when it becomes appropriate.


Second chances

It's hard being a Falcons fan this year.

The first sucker-punch to the gut happened when the Falcons traded its best quarterback, Matt Schaub, to the Houston Texans in late March. In the event they're not already aware, the Falcons will realize they traded the wrong quarterback when they get their jocks handed to them September 30 when the Texans visit Atlanta to play the Falcons.

The second hit was when the Falcons signed Joey Harrington to a 2-year contract to back up Michael Vick. Harrington is more known for interceptions than touchdowns, having thrown 79 of the former and only 72 of the latter.

And everyone knows the Michael Vick saga, whose illicit activities came to light back in April.

With a record of 0-2, last night the Atlanta Falcons' season began its turnaround by cutting the inaccurate Matt Prater (only making 1 of 4 field goals) and signing Morten Andersen as its placekicker for the 2nd time in as many years. At 47, #5 will be the oldest active player in the NFL. Playing for the Falcons last year, Morten Anderson hit 20 of 23 field goal attempts and made all 27 PATs. In addition, Morten became the greatest scorer in the history of the NFL last year with 2,445 points.

Hopefully the Falcons' next step will be to sign former Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Byron Leftwich to the roster.

Meanwhile, Falcons tickets are readily available (and cheap) for this weekend's game against the Carolina Panthers.


Backyard Update #3

The playground is complete, the two outdoor electrical outlets are installed, the siding has been repaired, the low voltage transformer has been mounted, and all of the landscape lighting has been installed!

The most rewarding part is that my daughters love it. My oldest daughter would swing all day if we let her.

For those who have asked, this is the Cambridge Wooden Swing Set with Slide by Leisure Time Products purchased from Sam's Club. For 2008, Sam's is carrying the Woodridge version of this same set, and the only difference between it and the Cambridge is the addition of a bench seat on the lower deck.


Never forgetting

I was waiting in the carpool line to drop off my oldest daughter at preschool this morning when it hit me... today is 9/11, it's a Tuesday just as it was 6 years ago, and the time was 8:55am which was after the first and before the second plane struck the World Trade Center towers. Of course I'll never forget where I was on that date: home and safe along with my wife, who was home sick. Were it not for a late cancellation of a meeting, I would have been in a plane bound for San Francisco along with two other coworkers from the east coast. And were it not for that late cancellation, one of them would be dead. My friend and coworker in New York had a confirmed seat on United Airlines Flight 93.

My daughter wanted to know why Daddy was crying, and I did my best to explain what happened 6 years ago in language that a preschooler would understand. I'm sure I failed miserably. When she's old enough, I'll introduce her to The September 11 Digital Archive, Here is New York, or the New York State Museum's digital history of 9/11 entitled, "The World Trade Center - Rescue, Recovery, Response."