Archive for July, 2008

I remember watching Carnegie Mellon Professor Randy Pausch’s lecture online about a year ago. It has really sweet and relevant life messages, making a must listen-to. : )
The following article was written by Ramit Plushnick-Masti with contributions by Ramesh Santanam.  Enjoy!


PITTSBURGH – Randy Pausch, the Carnegie Mellon University computer scientist whose “last lecture” about facing terminal cancer became an Internet sensation and a best-selling book, died Friday. He was 47.

Pausch died at his home in Chesapeake, Va., said Jeffrey Zaslow, a Wall Street Journal writer who co-wrote Pausch’s book. Pausch and his family had moved there last fall to be closer to his wife’s relatives.

Pausch was diagnosed with incurable pancreatic cancer in September 2006. His popular last lecture at Carnegie Mellon in September 2007 garnered international attention and was viewed by millions on the Internet.

In it, Pausch celebrated living the life he had always dreamed of instead of concentrating on impending death.

“The lecture was for my kids, but if others are finding value in it, that is wonderful,” Pausch wrote on his Web site. “But rest assured; I’m hardly unique.”

The book “The Last Lecture” leaped to the top of the nonfiction best-seller lists after its publication in April and remains there this week. The book deal was reported to be worth more than $6 million.

Pausch said he dictated the book to Zaslow by cell phone, and Zaslow recalled Friday that he was “strong and funny” during their collaboration.

“It was the most fun 53 days of my life because it was like a performance,” Zaslow told The Associated Press. “It was like getting 53 extra lectures.” He recalled that Pausch became emotional when they worked on the last chapter, though, because that to him was the “end of the lecture, the book, his life.”

At Carnegie Mellon, Pausch was a professor of computer science, human-computer interaction and design, and was recognized as a pioneer of virtual reality research. On campus, he became known for his flamboyance and showmanship as a teacher and mentor.

The speech last fall was part of a series Carnegie Mellon called “The Last Lecture,” where professors were asked to think about what matters to them most and give a hypothetical final talk. The name of the lecture series was changed to “Journeys” before Pausch spoke, something he joked about in his lecture.

“I thought, damn, I finally nailed the venue and they renamed it,” he said.

He told the packed auditorium he fulfilled almost all his childhood dreams — being in zero gravity, writing an article in the World Book Encyclopedia and working with the Walt Disney Co.

The one that eluded him? Playing in the National Football League.

“If I don’t seem as depressed or morose as I should be, sorry to disappoint you,” Pausch said.

He then joked about his quirky hobby of winning stuffed animals at amusement parks — another of his childhood dreams — and how his mother introduced him to people to keep him humble: “This is my son. He’s a doctor, but not the kind that helps people.”

Pausch said he was embarrassed and flattered by the popularity of his message. Millions viewed the complete or abridged version of the lecture, titled “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams,” online.

“I don’t know how to not have fun,” he said in the lecture. “I’m dying and I’m having fun. And I’m going to keep having fun every day I have left. Because there’s no other way to play it.”

Pausch lobbied Congress for more federal funding for pancreatic cancer research and appeared on “Oprah” and other TV shows. In what he called “a truly magical experience,” he was even invited to appear as an extra in the upcoming “Star Trek” movie.

He had one line of dialogue, got to keep his costume and donated his $217.06 paycheck to charity.

Pausch blogged regularly about his medical treatment. On Feb. 15, exactly six months after he was told he had three to six months of healthy living left, Pausch posted a photo of himself to show he was “still alive & healthy.”

In May, Pausch spoke at Carnegie Mellon’s commencement ceremonies, telling graduates that what mattered was he could look back and say, “pretty much any time I got a chance to do something cool, I tried to grab for it, and that’s where my solace comes from.”

“We don’t beat the reaper by living longer, we beat the reaper by living well and living fully,” he said.

Born in 1960, Pausch received his bachelor’s degree in computer science from Brown University and his Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon.

He co-founded Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center, a master’s program for bringing artists and engineers together. The university named a footbridge in his honor. He also created an animation-based teaching program for high school and college students to have fun while learning computer programming.

In February, the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences in California announced the creation of the Dr. Randy Pausch Scholarship Fund for university students who pursue careers in game design, development and production.

He is survived by his wife, Jai, and their three children, Dylan, Logan and Chloe; his mother, Virginia Pausch of Columbia, Md.; and a sister, Tamara Mason of Lynchburg, Va.

In a statement Friday, his wife thanked those who sent messages of support and said her husband was proud that his lecture and book “inspired parents to revisit their priorities, particularly their relationships with their children.”

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I haven’t posted in a while so I’m hoping that this slightly longer-than-usual post makes up for it!

Anyways, besides reading Crime and Punishment (stimulating the intellect), working (gaining valuable field experiences), lounging around (pursuing alternative options with an open mind), and watching slasher films (viewing art?), I’ve been researching the college process.  No sarcasm involved at all.

I haven’t finalized my college list yet but I do have about twenty favorites. : ) Of course, that’s way too many so I’ll eventually narrow that down to eight or so.  A program of great interest to me is Northwestern’s HPME, basically a 7-year accelerated medical program.  Too bad it’s about as selective as an Ivy.  There’s sure to be plenty of competition this year because of all those baby boomers’ kids.  Here’s a modest proposal for the government: let’s create a quota of how many human births are allowed per year.  It could supplement all that No Child Left Behind legislation.  I mean, to think that I was once worried about getting into Iolani or Punahou.   I try telling myself that med school acceptance rates are even lower…strangely enough, that’s not very comforting.

Along the way, I also discovered the College Confidential Forums.  Good side: There’s a plethora of helpful information on that site and you’ll find plenty of other 09ers there also getting ready to fill out those college apps.  ; ) Bad side: Supposedly it’s quite the addictive drug and there are members with literally thousands of posts (…) and the easily intimidated might find themselves overwhelmed by the high concentration of “perfect” 4.0/2400/Intel ISEF winner/research publisher/team captain/valedictorian candidates.  But I suppose it’s expected when you have the top students of every high school in the nation (actually, in the world) congregating.  That’s about as bad as a malaria breeding ground.

Anyways, on to the only aspect we really still have control over at this point in time…the essays!  How to appear brilliant, humble, focused, well-rounded, humorous, unique, diverse, saintly, and quirky all at once?  Which life-changing experience should you write about?  How about the one where you were working with disadvantaged orphans in Naquilovaki?  Where you expanded your horizons, gained a new appreciation for life, and realized that everyone is really the same deep deep down…

Ok, so I’ve also been surfing through scholarship sites.  My parents would probably be oh so very proud.  A good one that I’ll ever so graciously share with my fellow classmates (j/k ^ ^) is FastWeb.  This site has you fill out some information, allowing you to custom-tailor scholarship searches.  There are also some rather weird scholarships including ones for those with the last name Zolp (legal name change, anyone?), for the lefties, the asthma-ridden, the duck callers, and the junior chefs.  What annoys me is that while I’m nowhere near tall enough for tall people scholarships (obviously…), I’m also not short enough for the short people ones (amazingly.)  : (  Where’s the middling love?

I’d love to be able to share mind-blowing secret get-into-the-college-of-your-dreams insider tricks with all of you. But since I don’t have those, we’ll have to make do with the priceless companionship during these next few months of trials and suffering. ^ ^

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Recently, I had the awesome opportunity to ride TheBoat from Aloha Tower to Kalaeloa and back. In my opinion, the two hours were definitely worth the $1 ($2 for adults and the transfer pays for the ride back!)

The view was incredibly gorgeous: the ocean had so many rich shades of blue and you could see different parts of the island. If you choose to go out on the upper deck, you’ll feel a refreshing sea breeze. The inside of TheBoat is air-conditioned and snacks and beverages are easily purchased. If you don’t get seasick and love the rocking movements of a boat (like me!), you should sit near the front of the vessel.

The only other time I’ve ever been on a boat was back in 2006 in Shanghai, China. Of course, it was much much more crowded on that ride. On the day that I rode on TheBoat, there were less than ten other people onboard. So of course, it’s a good idea to exploit this opportunity before all the tourists learn about it. : ) Try something new this summer! Also keep in mind that if enough people sign the petition (near the refreshments), TheBoat’s services will be able to extend beyond September 2008.

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