25 August 2007


One Possible Personal Future

Life in a RainbowVision property.

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Convocation Speech

I had to give a speech the other day at the convocation for incoming freshmen. Here it is:
It’s a real pleasure to have this chance to speak to this incoming Class of 2011 on behalf of the faculty at the Daytona Beach campus of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

When I look out over this group, I see the best in aviation and aerospace of the next generation. Within just a few years, you and your classmates will be among the leading military and commercial pilots and astronauts flying the latest and greatest aircraft and spacecraft. You’ll be the engineers who’ll design those aircraft and spacecraft. You’ll be the leaders in aviation business, space physics, meteorology, human factors, safety science, aerospace communications, and all the disciplines that contribute to the aviation and aerospace industries and more.

Take a moment and visualize yourself a few years from now as you start your first jobs after completing your degrees. What’s the difference between the people you are now and those leaders for that next generation in aviation and aerospace?

One man’s opinion: What you’ll take from your time here are increased knowledge, better skills, productive attitudes, and meaningful values.

Your being here to acquire knowledge and skills is self-evident; let me focus on attitudes and values.

You, Embry-Riddle students, are professionally directed, and the attitudes that lead to your success as professionals are the same ones that lead to your success as students. You’ll show up a little early, spend extra time checking your work, embrace challenging assignments, and participate fully. You’ll find the value of contributing through professional and community organizations. You’ll work hard and play hard, but you’ll also find the time to take care of those who matter to you.

As to values: There may be innumerable values that contribute to success, but premier among the ones we share as pilots, engineers, astronauts, scientists, managers, air-traffic controllers, and communicators is integrity. In our aerospace and aviation centered careers, there’s no room for misstating the facts. Your lives, the lives of those you’ll carry as passengers, who fly in the aircraft and spacecraft you design, who’ll count on the information the satellites you develop transmit back, who’ll depend on your weather forecasts: Those lives depend on our telling the truth about flight conditions, aircraft conditions, software reliability, operational costs, and the like. Your success, then, becomes bundled with integrity, and that will extend to all aspects of your academic, professional, and personal lives.

So on behalf of the faculty here at ERAU–Daytona Beach, I’m proud to welcome you to our community and to wish you all the best as you prepare to become that next generation of leaders in aerospace and aviation. I’m confident when I look back on the accomplishments of the Embry-Riddle Class of 2011 that your success will flow from the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values you’ll have ample opportunities to practice over the next few years.
I wrote this on the flight back from California. I was listening to some old school punk rock at the time. I can't decide if that's ironic or not.

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More California Pics

After the visit with Paul and Teenie in Santa Cruz, I flew to San Diego where ERAU's Joint Senates Coordinating Committee—faculty Speakers from the three campuses, Vice Speakers, Board of Trustee delegates— met with our new Provost.

Mahmut Reyhanoglu and Bob Oxley
Mahmut Reyhanoglu and Bob Oxley

San Diego Night II
San Diego at Night

After two days of meetings, flew back to northern California. Spent a couple of nights in San Francisco, visiting with other old friends, including Ken Grant, a friend from the second tour at MIT (1982-1994), and Mark Dyer, a roommate from high school, and my gay buddy of the time.

Stupid me didn't get a picture of Mark. I did get a picture of an older Chrysler Imperial, parked in the Castro, for Mack who loves Chrysler Imperials of all model years.

Chrysler Imperial
Chrysler Imperial, Year Unknown

After we had dinner, Mark and I met up with Evan Klein, a friend of mine from the original MIT attempt (1974-1976).

Then, I tooled down the peninsula to Palo Alto for the 20th annual get together by participants (or, as in my case, former participants) of the Usenet newsgroup soc.motss. "Motss" = "members of the same sex," for those not in the know. Events I participated in included a tour of Google, visited the Computer History Museum, and several fantastic meals. On Sunday I spent some quiet time including a visit to the Stanford campus (which, I think, was actually my number one college pic, but my dad forbade me to go "to where all those goddam hippies are," so instead I went to MIT and hung out with the hippies) and got to spend a little time with my good friend Doron Meyer.

Google Campus
Google Campus

Computer History Museum

Mikey T.
Mike Thomas at the Motss Con Reception

Hoover Institute I
Hoover Institute, Stanford University Campus

Yours Truly at Alice's Restaurant, Woodside, California

Note: Not that Alice's Restaurant.

As noted below, got home in the wee hours of Monday, 20 August. But, it was a great trip. Thanks to all who took time out of their schedules that I could visit with them!

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Playing Catch Up Again

Hello, friends.

Got back from the California trip last Sunday night / Monday morning (got into the house here at 2:00 a.m. EDT). Had a meeting at work that started at 8:30 a.m., and had nothing but a busy week since.

The new academic year starts Monday. My teaching load is light—only one course that I've taught several times before—but I've got three research projects plus being Speaker of the Faculty on addition to the usual heavy service load.

No complaints: Just making excuses for blog absence.

There's a chance for a post flurry. Some pointers to pictures from the trip, some random thoughts that have been backing up.

Stay tuned.


13 August 2007


Greetings from California

Hi, all. I'm in California for this coming week. Currently in Santa Cruz, visiting Paul Maglio and Teenie Matlock. Paul is a college friend from MIT; he met Teenie when they were both at UCSD. Santa Cruz seems like a great place. Beautiful weather yesterday and today.

Pics are up here and here at Flickr. Examples below:

Kite Surfer

Paul and Teenie

Monterey Pine and Concrete Ship

Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse and Santa Cruz Surf Museum

Coast II

Wired Wash Cafe


Tomorrow, I head down to San Diego for some ERAU-related work. Wednesday I fly back up this way to San Francisco, where I am mainly catching up with friends from days gone by (think high-school roommate, a friend from the first tour at MIT, c. 1975, and another friend from MIT, second tour). The next weekend, I'm in Palo Alto for the 20th annual MOTSS con, where I'll again get to catch up with friends from earlier days.

09 August 2007


Perseids This Coming Weekend

The annual Perseids meteor shower will be happening this weekend, with the peak expected pre-dawn Monday, the 13th. There's a new moon on Sunday night the 12th, so even if you're not out at peak times, you might want to consider taking a moment to look up for a shooting star or two.

More info here.

07 August 2007



Saw Sunshine tonight. Liked it. Thought it was a good, solid, well-written, well-acted, sci-fi flick. That puts it at the top of this summer's movies for me, followed by Transformers, Ratatouille, The Simpsons Movie, and Spider Man III, in that order.

I know; I know: Ratatouille is supposed to be better that Transformers. It's prettier, that's for sure. But Transformers was, well, enjoyable.

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On Family

I try to maintain a certain calmness in spite of the continued existence of hateful people who can't deal with gay people for whatever reason, but these statements by some that suggest that LGBT people don't care about family, are against family, just really piss me off. I don't have a particular quotation to link to: just years of negative comments I've heard here and there.

I think it's understandable that a gay or lesbian or transgendered person who was abandoned by or forced out of their family because of hatefulness, because of an inability to cope with repulsion, or because of misguided religious ideas would turn on their individual family, but I have found, by and large, that LGBT people care as much about their families—the ones we were brought into the world with, the ones we've been brought in to through intimate relationships, and the ones we've made from scratch—as anyone else.

We celebrate our families: our parents, brothers, and sisters; our grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews; our in-laws (of sorts, or "out-laws" as someone once called them). We appreciate their love, and we are happy to return that love. To suggest otherwise, to suggest that LGBT people or the politics of LGBT people, as an ensemble, are somehow anti-family is just facetious.

I know not all LGBT people are as fortunate to have the love and support of their families the way Mack and I have and have had. I'm grateful for our good situation. And I know it's likely that if you don't agree with me on this, little I say can convince you otherwise. I learned a long time ago that bigotry isn't based on rational considerations, and that people practicing bigotry rarely respond to logic. But if you are open minded, pay attention to the degree to which any LGBT person you know interacts with their family. You might be surprised at the extent.

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McKinley Reunion

More travel.... We spent the weekend in Canyon, Texas, just south of Amarillo, for Mack's extended family's reunion. A great time. The actual reunion meeting was Saturday, the 4th, at Lake Tanglewood, which is gorgeous.

Here's a shot of the entire group.

McKinley 2007 Reunion Group Photo

The whole set of pictures is here.

03 August 2007


Singing Tesla Coil

For Mike McC.

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