The New Gig

I’ve just finished my first week at a new job. After almost 11 years at my previous employer, their cutbacks affected my position and I was laid off in early April. I interviewed with a few places pretty quickly, and luckily, I had my verbal offer for this job within two weeks of being out. I then only had to wait for the normal process stuff – background check, drug test, etc. So once I knew I had the job, I tried in the meantime to enjoy the downtime (as my good friend points out here): hang out and do things with the family, get some stuff done around the house, and keeping the brain technically engaged – passing the CCNA that I let expire last year.

In the end, I know this is one of those “things that happened for a reason”. I will be working in new area of IT I have not been deeply involved in thus far – SAN (Storage Area Network) technologies. Coming from an IP based networking background (and before that Wintel server & messaging and Desktop support), the plethora of training my new company provides is really a great thing. I’ve enjoyed opportunities to learn new areas of technologies in IT, and the brain is now definitely “reawakened”.

The Baby Whisperer

baby_whisperer.jpgOne of the most prevalent forms of science that touches us directly in our daily lives is that of medical science. With all the great strides that have been made in this field, the human factor cannot be diminished – nor should it! Check out this great story of how the this human factor plays such a big role. Enny Wiederhold has been dubbed the Baby Whisperer for her ability to calm and sooth preemie babies as a retired nurse volunteering in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. I can attest for Enny’s way with preemies as she has helped take care of our son during his two month stay at Brigham & Women’s in 2005 (he is a 30 week preemie that weighed 2 lbs., 6 oz. at birth). It is people like Enny, and all NICU nurses and neonatologists that help along the difficult path stemming from prematurity; one that does not truly end with “graduation” from the NICU.

So it’s great to see a story like this that is really a salute to all those NICU volunteers, nurses, neonatologists, and other specialists for their dedication.

Keep It Simple

labbench.jpgMy good friend over at the Aedificium has a great post on storage, and more generally speaking, the benefits of keeping things simple and organized. We all know the person at work with the incredibly messy desk, or the one with a really neat one (by the way, this is one of the principles in Six Sigma, for those that may have been exposed to this training). Or for those of us in IT, how it makes our job much easier to have a clearly defined and organized fileshare structure, naming conventions for servers & workstations, and data rooms and datacenters with organized wiring and layouts, as well as switchport descriptions in the configs. Or despite the depictions in the “mad scientist” movies, how real world labs are pretty much organized (at least in my experience working onsite at biotech customer sites).

Why not carry these concepts home? Of course, I’m guilty of having a garage that needs neatening up, but the idea is to take small increments at a time. My wife is a fan of the FlyLady website, which deals with exactly these things. In short, pick a room, make it a family fun affair if you have a family, and keep what you need/really want, and donate/get rid of those things you don’t. The idea is to NOT make it overwhelming – one room, or one shelf even, at a time.

And for some inspirational music while you do so…

Thank You, Mr. Wizard

mr_wizard.jpg

Making science accessible to kids with regular household items, Mr. Wizard’s World was one of the great shows I was a fan of as a kid in the 80s, airing on the then fairly new Nickelodeon network. Mr. Wizard, Don Herbert, has passed away today.

So thank you, Mr. Wizard, for your part in bringing science appreciation to this kid… and as I also found from the article below, your service to this country.

TV’s ‘Mr. Wizard’ Don Herbert Dies at 89
Jun 12, 6:41 PM EST

The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — Don Herbert, who as television’s “Mr. Wizard” introduced generations of young viewers to the joys of science, died Tuesday. He was 89. Herbert, who had bone cancer, died at his suburban Bell Canyon home, said his son-in-law, Tom Nikosey.

“He really taught kids how to use the thinking skills of a scientist,” said former colleague Steve Jacobs. He worked with Herbert on a 1980s show that echoed the original 1950s “Watch Mr. Wizard” series, which became a fond baby boomer memory.

In “Watch Mr. Wizard,” which was produced from 1951 to 1964 and received a Peabody Award in 1954, Herbert turned TV into an entertaining classroom. On a simple, workshop-like set, he demonstrated experiments using household items.

“He modeled how to predict and measure and analyze. … The show today might seem slow but it was in-depth and forced you to think along,” Jacobs said. “You were learning about the forces of nature.”

Herbert encouraged children to duplicate experiments at home, said Jacobs, who recounted serving as a behind-the-scenes “science sidekick” to Herbert on the ’80s “Mr. Wizard’s World” that aired on the Nickelodeon channel.

When Jacobs would reach for beakers and flasks, Herbert would remind him that science didn’t require special tools.

“‘You could use a mayonnaise jar for that,'” Jacobs recalled being chided by Herbert. “He tried to bust the image of scientists and that science wasn’t just for special people and places.”

Herbert’s place in TV history was acknowledged by later stars. When “Late Night with David Letterman” debuted in 1982, Herbert was among the first-night guests.

Born in Waconia, Minn., Herbert was a 1940 graduate of LaCrosse State Teachers College and served as a U.S. Army Air Corps pilot during World War II. He worked as an actor, model and radio writer before starting “Watch Mr. Wizard” in Chicago on NBC.

The show moved to New York after several years.

He is survived by six children and stepchildren and by his second wife, Norma, his son-in-law said. A private funeral service was planned.