Atlantis’ Final Launch

It’s the end of an era as the the Space Shuttle Atlantis lifted off for its last flight this morning. Watching Atlantis lift off gave me a great shot of nostalgia from the early days of the shuttle program when I was a kid. Here are some screen shots I took from NASA’s broadcast this morning.

Space Shuttle Atlantis Screen Shot
Space Shuttle Atlantis Screen Shot
Space Shuttle Atlantis Screen Shot
Space Shuttle Atlantis Screen Shot
Space Shuttle Atlantis Screen Shot
Space Shuttle Atlantis Screen ShotSpace Shuttle Atlantis Screen ShotSpace Shuttle Atlantis Screen Shot
Space Shuttle Atlantis Screen Shot
Space Shuttle Atlantis Screen Shot
Space Shuttle Atlantis Screen Shot
Space Shuttle Atlantis Screen Shot

Roger Ebert on TED

I’ve been a reader of Roger Ebert’s blog since he started writing it. Most of his posts are about as profound as it gets. Reading his stories ranging in diversity from his own history and childhood to the loneliness of isolation he feels from those that leave comments on his blog, one is left with little doubt why the famous critic was drawn to journalism — he’s an amazing writer.

When he lost his lower jaw to cancer in 2006, he lost the ability to eat and speak. However, he certainly didn’t lose his voice. In this moving talk from TED2011, Ebert and his wife, Chaz, with friends Dean Ornish and John Hunter, come together to tell his remarkable story.

Hit play or watch Roger Ebert’s talk on

Somewhat (but not really) related: Roger Ebert has been entering the New Yorker’s cartoon caption contest almost weekly since it began and this week, he is a finalist for the first time. (New Yorker link).

Make a Better Friend

Do something nice for someone you don’t know very well. If you’re not sure what that is, try introducing them to someone else. I’m amazed at the unseen rewards that happen when you introduce someone. You get (at least some) credit for all the good that comes of that new relationship.

Kurt Vonnegut’s Letter Home

As a private with the 106th Infantry Division, Kurt Vonnegut, along with five other battalion scouts, wandered behind enemy lines for several days during the Rhineland Campaign and became cut off from their battalion. They were captured by Wehrmacht troops on December 14, 1944 and imprisoned in Dresden, Germany.

While a prisoner, he witnessed the controversial fire bombing of Dresden in February 1945 which destroyed most of the city. The Germans held Vonnegut in an an ad hoc detention facility that had originally been an underground slaughterhouse meat locker. This experience was the inspiration for his famous novel, Slaughterhouse-Five.

A month later he wrote his family from a repatriation camp informing them of his capture and survival:

Kurt Vonnegut Letter home

See the rest of the letter at Letters of Note – Slaughterhouse Five.

Golden Gate Endeavour

Chris Martin and Mick Dawson set off in a 23ft long and 6ft wide boat from Choshi, Japan on Friday 8th May 2009 and arrived in the San Francisco Bay under the Golden Gate Bridge last Friday 13th November 2009 becoming the first crew to row unsupported across the North Pacific Ocean.

Goldent Gate Endeavour

Chris and Mick photograph their historic entrance into the San Francisco Bay.

Within seconds I looked up and saw the underside of the bridge. A shotgun sounded off to our left indicating that we had made it. We had rowed across the North Pacific Ocean. After over half a year of giving everything we had to the ocean and this breathtaking, life changing an historic moment was our most welcome reward. I looked round at Mick who held out his hand which I gladly shook. The rest of the trip into land was a bit surreal.

Check out the video that Mick produced in preparation for his attempt:

[Golden Gate Endeavour | YouTube]

They kept a blog of their daily progress at

Moon 2.0


“The Google Lunar X PRIZE is a $30 million competition for the first privately funded team to send a robot to the moon, travel 500 meters and transmit video, images and data back to the Earth.”

[Moon 2.0 – YouTube]

Cheesy video? Yes. Feeling inspired anyway? How could you not?

Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture

Randy Pausch, gives a wonderful and exuberant “last lecture”. He’s currently struggling with pancreatic cancer but hasn’t let it get him down at all.

Almost all of us have childhood dreams: for example, being an astronaut, or making movies or video games for a living. Sadly, most people don’t achieve theirs, and I think that’s a shame. I had several specific childhood dreams, and I’ve actually achieved most of them. More importantly, I have found ways, in particular the creation (with Don Marinelli), of CMU’s Entertainment Technology Center (, of helping many young people actually *achieve* their childhood dreams. This talk will discuss how I achieved my childhood dreams (being in zero gravity, designing theme park rides for Disney, and a few others), and will contain realistic advice on how *you* can live your life so that you can make your childhood dreams come true, too.

By the way, producer/director J.J. Abrams of “Lost,” and “Mission Impossible III” fame (among others) asked Randy if he’d like to be in the new Star Trek movie that he’s directing, sort of fulfilling another of Randy’s dreams to be Captain Kirk (he’s not going to be captain, but it’s still pretty cool).