I’m Back for Now

Incase you’ve noticed I’ve been absent for a couple of months.  So here’s why:

I was diagnosed with prostate cancer the end of 2016.  Prostate cancer is often not a big deal, because it often does not grow or move, if at all.  However, mine was different.  It is the most aggressive type and in 2016 the doctor gave me 18 to 24 months of life.  I spent a week-end preparing myself for an early death.  It wasn’t an entirely horrible weekend.  It was actually quite enlightening for me.

So they did CT and Bone scans the next week, and although the cancer was so aggressive, it had not spread far beyond the prostate.  So they scheduled surgery right away.  

Things proceeded thusly:

  1. The surgery was robotic, the surgeons operating remotely. (Look up De Vinci Robotics)
  2. I spent the next year recuperating from the surgery.
  3. After that, 7 weeks of radiation and 2 years of Chemo (ADT).
  4. I spent the next year, cancer free, trying to improve my health, losing more than 50 pounds and curing my diabetes and high blood pressure (side effects of the chemo).
  5. After that year scans indicated small cancer nodules in my lymph nodes, only millimeters in size.
  6. 2 more years of Chemo and the cancer is still there, but it doesn’t appear to have grown or spread.  I’ll be on the (ADT) chemo from now on.

Interestingly, the cancer has never bothered me, one bit.  The chemo, though, has been an entirely different matter.  

Side effects:

  •   Hot flashes
  •   Fatigue
  •   Loss of libido, though I recognize now how distracting thoughts of sex were to doing my work.
  •   Depression
  •   Constipation
  •   Insomnia

And there are at least 19 other side effects that have never materialized for me.

Reflections on the experience has made me a calmer man.  I think a lot, as much as my short-term memory allows.

I hope to keep posting for a while.  But don’t fret, because I am absolutely not afraid.

And Guys.  Get your PSA checked every time you go to your doctor for a checkup.  My doctor told me that if we’d caught the disease two weeks later, there would have been no sense in the surgery.

We are ALL given this life, out of love, and mine has been weird and wonderful.  But with this loving gift, comes the fact that EVERYONE, regardless of who or where they are has every opportunity to have a wonderful life — perhaps not so weird.

Jesus NEVER taught us to hate.

David (ASD) Warlick

7 Disruptions You might not See Coming

I wrote these down in a notebook yesterday, as I listened to a conference presentation by Daryl Plummer at the Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo.* One reason was to count the number of times a presenter would mention “Generative AI.” I lost that count.

Here are seven (or eight) disruptions (with my comments) around the corner:

Impact from Geo Magnetic Storms

There is a potential for solar flairs to knock out a majority of our communication satellites.  Our challenge is to harden our power and communications infrastructures.

Regulated AI

An enormous amount of effort, engineering and forsight will be necessary to understand AI in order to regulate the technology.

Space Race

We do not know yet what benefits our exploration and habitation of space, but it’s an enourmous economic giant right now.

Silver Workers

It refers to people in the workforce who are of an age that we think of as “Retirement.” But the speaker emphasized the worth of older workers in their experience and the work environment history that the hold. Perhaps with a less demanding work experience before the age of 65 would make this prospect more appealing to me.

Laggards Leapfrog Leaders

Laggards refers to companies that are so big and established that innovation becomes extremely difficult. The speaker suggests that the opportunity is startups. Use their enourmouse capital to buy the innovations.

AI Driven Legacy Modernization

Remember with our calendars announced the 21st century, and we were worried that everything would just stop. It was because so much of our digital infrastructure ran on legacy software, written by people who had long retired. The speaker’s suggestion is that AI be utilized to modernize those legacy systems.

Pace of Engineering Innovation

No one, who’s paying attention, can deny the pace of engineering advancement. The real benefit, in my opinion, will come when we are willing to make those technological marvels are available to everyone.

Number eight would have to be Generative AI. Wikipedia defines it as:

Artificial intelligence capable of generating text, images, or other media, using generative models. Generative AI models learn the patterns and structure of their input training data and then generate new data that has similar characteristics**

I believe that the speaker suggested that Generative AI might just

“Change the nature of being human.”

* Plummer, D. (2023, November 8). Seven Disruptions You Might Not See Coming: 2023-2028 [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVbvcIFeLYw

**Wikipedia contributors. (2023, November 17). Generative artificial intelligence. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 13:36, November 18, 2023, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generative_artificial_intelligence

Why I Stopped Playing with Rockets

For a couple of months, I was spending hours everyday, building space vessels and launching them into orbit and beyond. I was hooked and reading and watching everything I could find on astrophysics and space exploration.

So why did I quit, cold turkey? Like so many things, I reached a point of proficiency where to advance further, would require an additional investment.

My photo of the Orion Nebula
Photo of the Orion Nebula, captured with a Nikon D7100 camera & Tamron 600mm lens.

With astrophotography, I struggled to get a descent photo of a nebula and in another season one of Andromeda galaxy. But I realized that I had reached the most that I could expect from my cludge of DSLR camera, telephoto lens and tripod for a telescope. To accomplish better pictures would require an investment in more hardware.

With Kerbal Space Program, I was not going to actually land on the surface of another moon or planet with a heavy upgrade in my mathematical understanding. The prospect of a deepdive into “rocket science” was not without its appeal — if I was younger.

So, I’ve left Kerbal and the space race behind, spending more time on projects that I might actually finish that might also be of value to others.

¯\_(?)_/¯

Space Exploration Should not be Done Under the Influence

I’m beginning to recognize a barrier to my happy Kerbal’ing. When I start building my vehicles, I tend to add features to them. In fact, I find myself adding things just about every time I return a vessel to the VAB. The temptation is just too great for me, playing in this sandbox.

At issues is my inability to keep up with it all, when the ship launches. You would think that coding routines into Kos (Kerbal Operation System) would solve this dilemma, and it certainly helps. However, as I continue to add, I continue to alter my code, ultimately causing problems that I spend hours de-bugging.

Managing a space program is difficult with the cognitive problems caused by the medication I’m on.

Anyway, pictured is a vehicle that I’ve built to ferry new modules to my “Space Station Perseus.”

RIP Bill, Bob & Jebediah

Sadly, I killed three Kerbals yesterday, playing Kerbal Space Program.  They were to carry the Turquoise, a small space station, into low orbit, about 100 kilometers.  Unfortunately, I had not adequately secured the station within its fairing, and it broke apart on the launch pad, igniting a booster and causing a massive explosion.

A rocket created for the Kerbal Space Program video game.

The rocket intended to carry the “Turqoise” space station into low orbit.

I always add features to modules holding live Kerbals, that allow me to press an abort button (<Delete> key) that detaches the module from the rest of the rocket and fires small solid fueled rockets to lift it away.  However, yesterday I had neglected to have the fairing deployed with an abort, trapping the Kerbal’ module while trying to make its escape.

Turquoise station components

Components of the “Turquoise” space station.

Like most of my mishaps, I blame my clinically diagnosed ADHD.

(???,)

A Walk Around Kings Mountain

Ferguson Memorial
Memorial for Col. Patrick Ferguson, Commander of Loyalist forces at the Battle of Kings Mountain

My wife and I visited the Kings Mountain Battlefield last Sunday. It’s a 1.8 mile walk around and up over the mountain, reading plaques and imagining the smoke-filled scene of 1780. It was fought between colonists who were loyal to the crown (who wore slips of white paper in their hats) and independence seeking patriots (who wore bunches of pine needles in their hats).

The hated commander of the Loyalist forces was Col Patrick Ferguson. I’ve researched Ferguson recently and found him to be quite an interesting character. He was a Scot and was raised in Edinburgh, where his family associated with some of the the leaders of the Scottish Enlightenment. Indications are that he was sympathetic to the American patriot cause.

Acknowledged as the best marksman in the British Army, Ferguson spent time, while convulsing from wounds suffered in the West Indies, designing and fabricating a breech loading rifle. With it, he was able to fire 15 accurate shots in one minute, a HUGE improvement over the muzzle-loading Brown Bess muskets used by the British Army. Because of the expense of mass producing Ferguson Rifles, they were only used by a special unit that Ferguson established early in the American Revolutionary War. He admired the style of Indian warfare practiced by many of the patriot soldiers, and had his soldier wear (somewhat) camouflaged uniforms and practice guerrilla style fighting. Wounded again, he lost his unit to other officers, who had ridiculed his tactics as less than “honorable.”

Kings Mountain Death Of Ferguson
In fact, only one in ten loyalist soldier wore red coats and none of the patriots wore blue. Except for Ferguson, all of the combatants were Americans.

Returning to service he was assigned to raise a loyalist militia to assist Gen Cornwallis’ Southern Campaign. It was the militia that he raised that was defeated on Kings Mountain, where he was killed and his body mutilated. His blunder was sending a letter to the Overmountain Men, threatening retribution against their families if they marched east to fight the British. The Overmountain Men came. They were rough frontiersmen from the Appalachian mountains and beyond, accustomed to eking a living from the wilderness.

The Battle of Kings Mountain was preceded by the Battle of Ramsour’s Mill, which resulted in a similar outcome. My interest in these events comes partly from the fact that my ancestral patriarch of the 18th century had children who served on both sides of that war.

Two Hours at ISTE in Chicago

I’m sitting on the shuttle bus now, only a few blocks from the Courtyard where my wife and I are staying. The chatter is wild and expressive as is the buzz of energy that this event sparks. Boarding are educators from across the country and around they world. They’re all here to learn and to be energized. The buzz of anticipated energizing will grow to a roar by the end of the conference on Wednesday. Im only here for a couple of hours, hoping not to be confronted by officials checking for badges. Hopefully my deaf-mute act will release me. My plan is to hang out at the Blogger Cafe, a comfortable corner for bloggers to sit and compose or just geek out with each.

At the Leadership Luncheon
At the Leadership Luncheon

My reason for coming, other than visiting one of my wife’s favorite cities was to attend the ISTE Leadership Luncheon. There, I had the honor and privaledge of sitting with Chris Lehmann. To learn more about this weirdly energetic education innovator, read my upcoming book. The bus is arriving, so I’ll write more later. im in and it’s a sea of people, all educators, moving in currents with no apparent purpose, but certainly directed toward opportunities to learn. They’re educators who are not satisfied with business-as-usual. They are comfortable with discomfort. They see technological, social, economic and cultural chang, not as a challenge to be feared and ignored, but as emerging opportunities to better prepair their students for their future — to own their future. More later…

The Blogger Cafe

It‘s about an hour-and-a-half later. One of my best buddies, Kathy Schrock came over and we shared stories from years past and about our children who are around the same age. If you buy my upcoming book, you’ll learn much about Kathy. Steve Dembo also came over. He was the first educator podcaster that I knew, and a dynamo presenter. Steve is also a drone enthusiast.

Blogger CafeThe flow of educators has not eased, even though presentations have begun. Around me, people are standing and sitting talking and learning. In many ways, the best learning at these conferences happen between sessions, in the hall, in conversations with educators from different states or nations.

Much can be said about education today that is not good. Most of our children are being schooled, but they are not being prepared for a rapidly changing future. It’s the people in this conference center who are trying to change education, and they’re doing it with brilliance, dedication, perseverance, and with enthusiasm. They are my tribe.

 

What’s Wrong

Now that I’m in the quiet of the Chicago airport, on my way back to North Carolina, I want to share my concern for education in the U.S. The people who are attending  ISTE, those I know and most of those I do not know are there for the sake of the future. Their eye is on the future. Part of it is the glamour of education technology — all the shinnies. But most of their presence and energy comes from a mutually held belief that by empowering student learning with information technology we are going to accomplish peaceful and prosperous in our future.  It will happen because we have become more tolerant, more compassionate, more inviting of different cultures for the sake of how they change us, and more willing to adapt our economic system to build a more inclusive society. We will predict and then learn that a country without poor people is a much better place to live.

Its hard to imagine such an America today, because the US is led by a man who continues to run for president, setting policies based on what got the biggest crowds during his campaign rallies. He addresses issues on the most simplistic levels ignoring the nuanced complexities of a country with 326 million people, 263 million of who didn’t vote for him.  He thrives on chaos and shuns the serious informed thoughtfulness that is necessary for leadership in this potentially wondrous time when almost anything is possible. He is a bully and he’s a fake.

..and I hold education responsible. I do not blame individual teachers and principals, except in as much as we have allowed public education to be corrupted into a standardized and mechanized institution for preparing future workers.  Instead, our job is to help our children learn as much as possible about their world and learn to

  • Think logically
  • Recognize the irrational
  • Read habitually
  • Learn as a lifestyle
  • Become information artisans
  • Respect each other, and
  • Find their personal intersect between play, passion and purpose.

 

Kneel in Pray and Lose Your Chance to Meet the President

Fox News tweet Eagles kneeling.jpg_11780284_ver1.0_640_360Kneel and pray on the field and lose your visit to the White House, at least according to FoxNews.  The Trump-leaning news service tweeted this picture yesterday, implying that the decision to dis-invite this year’s Super Bowl winners from the White House was because team members had knelt during the Star Spangled Banner.  Seems that they couldn’t find any pictures of Eagle players taking a knee in protest (since none of them did so during the entire regular season).  So they included one of Zach Ertz kneeling for a quiet moment before an NFL football game in order to corrupt the story to their liking.

When challenged, FoxNews removed the tweet and apologized.

Are We Worthy of Our Accomplishments?

Sapiens, by Yuval Noah HarariI’ve just started reading “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” by Yuval Noah Harari. Every page teaches me something extraordinary. For instance, for 97% of the time that Homo (humans) have been walking upright, there were several species of human living simultaneously. Homo sapiens, Homo neanderthalensis, Homo erectus, Homo denisova, to mention only a few. It’s only recently, in evolutionary time, that Homo sapiens has emerged as the sole species of human to inhabit the earth.

I just scanned the Amazon description for Harari’s next book, “Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow,” and these sentences jumped out:

“Famine, plague and war have been transformed from incomprehensible and uncontrollable forces of nature into manageable challenges. For the first time in history, more people die today from eating too much than from eating too little; more people die from old age than from infectious diseases; and more people commit suicide than are killed by soldiers, terrorists, and criminals combined. The average American is a thousand times more likely to die from binging at McDonalds than from being blown up by Al Qaeda.”

It makes me wonder how we’ve accomplished so much to make our world more civil, and, apparently, so little to to civilize ourselves.  Are we worthy of our accomplishments?

Dentistry 2.0

3D Rendering captured with a camera mounted rod and assistive music - to boot.I went to the dentist yesterday, for a crown.  I am now using CornerStone Dental Associates in Shelby, NC.  Having used a dentist in the sophisticated city of Raleigh for years, I was not expecting much in this small city.  However, I was pleasantly surprised.  Actually, I was overwhelmed.

Months ago, they identified a tooth with an abscess, which was no surprise to me.  Cornerstone sent me to a dentist in Gastonia for a root canal, since I needed it done right away and they did not have an immediate opening. I’d had a root canal and crown done in 1973 – an excruciating experience.  However, the procedure went well in Gastonia with very little pain, even though the dentist said it was an especially difficult one.

The cool part was the crown.  My dentist first ground the tooth down.  Not fun, but she let me listen to my music.  With that done, she started the process of creating the crown with a rod that had a tiny camera on the end.  Moving it around, she captured images of the tooth from every angle.  To help, a nearby computer played music in a major key.  If the camera was not getting a clear image for any reason, the tune changed to a minor key.  The computer was assisting her with music.  That blew me away.

Once they got the pictures, the computer created a three dimensional render of that tooth (nub), and the surrounding teeth (See picture).  The 3D rendered file was sent to a 3D milling machine, that carved my new crown out of a cube of composite resin.

Some glue and a little polishing and I was done.

All I can say is Wow!