A number of deaths have come across my desk in the last few days:
- Gene Spafford. Gene Spafford has died. Well, actually, he hasn’t, but he has written his obituary in advance. You should read it–it’s a hoot! It truly reflects Gene’s unique sense of humor. We’ll miss him.
- Hybrid Roses. Earlier this year I got the urge to plant bare-root roses. I went over to Lowes… and there was nothing of interest. I remember the days when I’d visit Green Arrow Nurseries, and there would be loads and loads of varieties. Today, it is harder and harder to find interesting hybrids and varieties, grandifloras and such. There’s a reason: Varietal roses have gone out of style: rose breeders have gone bankrupt, and in this economy, people are more interested in hardier landscape roses.
- Encyclopaedia Britannica. The print edition of Encyclopaedia Britannica is dead. I remember growing up in a world of encyclopedias. We had the World Book at home, with yearbooks added regularly. We also had Funk & Wagnalls. Today, everyone believes that well-known bastion of knowledge: Wikipedia and Google. Yet another sign of the devaluation of learning in our society today (if you need another example of the devaluation of learning, just look at the Republican Presidential campaign).
- Education in California. Steve Lopez has an excellent piece in the Los Angeles Times about how, at every level from public K-12 to universities, California has gone from an educational giant to a laughingstock. I touched upon this a few days ago. I, too, am a proud product of California education: Los Angeles Unified (Palisades HS) and the University of California (UCLA). My wife is also California-educated (Chatsworth HS and CSUN). Yet our daughter is escaping LAUSD just in time (she’s a senior), and hopefully she’ll be able to go to a good school out of state (because we’re not sure if we could afford state schools). It is just sad to see this.
Now, some of these deaths are inescapable: I don’t think there is any way to save Britannica. Some are imaginary: I hope Gene continues to be around and enlighten our industry for years to come (although I’m not sure his grad students feel the same way). But the rest we can do something about: We can demand good varietal roses. We can demand the California stop decimating education in favor of prisons. We can elect politicians who want to save education — at the state and the local level. It is up to us to prevent unavoidable deaths.
Music: Aspects of Love (1989 Original London Cast): ‘She’d be Far Better Off With You’
Due to some lunchtime meetings, I’m taking a late lunch break. Time to clear out the links:
- Death of Free Access. It looks like two things that previously could have been obtained for free are going away:
[LA Times] First, the LA Times is putting up a paywall on March 5. Given I’m an LA Times subscriber, this won’t affect me, but it will affect a lot of others. I know after the NY Times put up its paywall and my free access expired, I didn’t pay for access. This was not because I object to the paywall, but the pricing was far too high. For digital content, I’m willing to pay what I used to pay for a paper — between 15c and 25c a day — best would be about $1-$1.50 per week. They wanted $3.75/week after the first four weeks. That adds up, and I’d rather support the local paper and get my limited NY Times articles.
[LA Metro] The other thing going away, at least at some stations, are unlocked gates on the LA Metro. Now, you were always supposed to buy a ticket (I always did), but lots of people didn’t. This will force them to do so.
- Death of a Market. Another thing going away — and this one took me by surprise. The Gelsons Market near us in Northridge is closing today. Gelsons was an upscale market, and evidently the Northridge neighborhood wasn’t upscale enough to support it. Tarzana and Valley Village remain open. I’ll miss Gelsons — they always had high quality products, a great in-store salad bar and deli, and often carried pippin apples when no one else did. It will probably be the deathnell for their little center: they’ve already lots a big-box linen store and their Hallmark store, so their only draws will be a few small fast-food restaurants (Western Bagel, Togos, Rubios), a discount shoe store, and not much else.
- Death of a Shipping Company. Last year, Atlantic Mutual Insurance died. You probably haven’t heard of them. What’s interesting is what they left behind, as they were a major insurer of shipping and seafaring companies, including being the insurer of the Titanic. They left behind a fascinating of records of ship wreaks and ship disasters, which will be a literal treasure trove for salvage operations. The article is a fascinating read.
- Death of Cyber-Innocence. CNN has an interesting article on the risks in cyberspace. The article goes into details into the “wars” that occur in that battlespace. Interesting reading, and it demonstrates why “Cyber” is growing in importance these days.
Music: Dance Band on the Titanic (Harry Chapin): Paint a Picture of Yourself (Michael’s Song)
The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Jill Kinmont Boothe has died. Most people know of Jill Kinmont’s story from the 1970′s movie “The Other Side of the Mountain“. Basically, she was a skier who got injured and through her spirit, moved past the injury to do good. She was also a client of my parent’s accounting firm during that time; I think I met her once or twice. Seeing her obituary brought back those memories. As I don’t see an online memorial book, I decided to do a short post to pass on my virtual condolences to her family and those who cared about her.
Music: Picks on the Beatles (Chet Atkins): And I Love Her
A few quick Friday afternoon updates:
- Dick Kniss has died. Dick was the longtime bassist for Peter Paul and Mary.
- Did you know that a .docx file is really a zip? I didn’t, at least until today. Just change the extension to .zip, and you can see all the .xml files inside.
Music: All the Best (Tina Turner): When the Heartache is Over
Kodak appears to be a dead man walking.
… and for the locals, the AVCO Theatre in Westwood is closing. That’s were I remember seeing both “9 to 5″ and “Fame”.
It’s Thursday. Lunch. And I’m still bummed out after learning about the death of a co-worker and friend, Stuart Schaeffer. More on that later. First, a few articles that hopefully Stuart might have appreciated:
On to Stuart. This morning we had an email message announcing that Stuart had died from some unspecified sudden illness at the end of his vacation. This makes me sad. Stuart and I had been working together since he start here. He was on the DGUX evaluation team with me, and worked on a number of programs and projects. He was always a kindred spirit, and introduced me to a number of new groups, such as Big Daddy and the Austin Lounge Lizards. He was a UPPIE (that’s a yuppie without the Y), and enjoyed the latest techo-gizmos and toys. He lived on the Westside and looked down on the valley; I regret we were unable to show him VPAC—he was coming to see Bernadette Peters with us. We had a shared love of grammar and clever turns of phrases. I will truly miss having him around at work.
Just learned that Dennis Ritchie, one of the co-creators of both Unix and C, has died. Arguably, this is someone who had more influence than Steve Jobs; without his work, we wouldn’t have had all the Apple products (many of which are Unix based or written in C), or even the Microsoft products (which I recall are written in C as well).
That should make it three, coming after the death of Steve Jobs and Gene Schultz.