September 11th- 10 Years Later

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten years ago today the world as we know it changed. Sadly, we'll never be able to return to the workd as we knew it before that Tuesday morning. We won't be able to bring back the family and friend that dies that day. Sometimes it seems that it was only yesterday and at other times it seems that it was worlds away, in fact it was a different world that we lived then.

I decided that I wanted to do something different as part of my tribute for the Tenth Anniversary of September 11th, I decided to create and upload a presentation at Slideshare. While I've done many Powerpoint presentations over the years, this is the first time that I've done something like this, so I hope that it will be memorable and worth the effort that I put into it.

I hope that you'll have a look at some of the tributes posted at Project 2996. Project 2996 has the goal of seeing that an tribute is posted for each and every person lost that day, so it would be great if you decided to write about someone that doesn't have a tribute post about them yet. If you don't have a web site or blog to post it, then I'd be more than happy to post it for you on this blog here. Let me know in the comments below. I've really found the experience of being involved in Project 2996 has be truly worthwile and I can't recommend it enough.

As I mentioned in the preparation post that I wrote, I discovered Prepare New York a few months ago. They've done so many great things in the last few months. I was reading about Ribbons for Hope which is running from September 9-12 in Battery Park. If you're in the area I believe that should be worth checking out and participating in. Why not check out Prepare New York and see what you can learn and share with others?

Find more photos like this on Prepare New York

Yahoo! News has been running a special series on the Tenth Anniversary of September 11th.
While there will be tons of specials commemorating the Tenth Anniversay, this has been a nice portal to see all the stories about the families of victims or the way that peoples's lives were touched. It is worth checking out and finding all the gems that are there.

As we go about today, my thoughts are with the victims and their families and friends. I hope that we can use the Tenth Anniversary of September as a healing moment that brings us closer together. I'm also thinking of my mother how lost her battle to cancer at the same time that the World Trade Center was being attacked. I hope that all of you are able to celebrate this event in a way that is meaningful to you and that more brighter days are ahead.

Preparing for the 10th Anniversary of September 11th

Monday, August 1, 2011

Now that August is upon us, we're a little more than a month away from the Tenth Anniversary of September Eleventh. I'd like to ask your help in honoring this event. For the Tenth Anniversary, I had hoped to do something really memorable and while the clock is ticking, there is still time to make this memorable and I need your help.

What were you doing on September 11th, what were you doing and where were you when you heard about the traggic events of this now infamous day? I was working when I got a frantic telephone call from my wife asking me to come home. I heard various things from NPR coverage of September 11th being broadcast over AFN (Armed Forces Network) as I was driving home that day. When I opened the door to my home, I was aware of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the plane crash in Pennsylvania, but my wife told me that my dad called and that my mother lost her battle to cancer sometime between the two planes hitting the World Trade Center. I was watching the coverage and dealing with the loss of my mother. The two events are forever connected within my mind. So September 11th is very personal for me.

Project 2996

On the 6th Anniversary, I wrote an article for one of my blogs and in researching the article I discovered Project 2996. The idea is pretty simple, they wanted to see that there were tributes posted online for all of the victims. For the 7th Anniversary I wrote about David Lychak, who was working at the pentagon. For the 8th Anniversay I expanded my tribute to include several firefighters who lost their lives.

There is little doubt that there have been a lot of bad things that have happened after September 11th, but what isn't in doubt is that all of the victims that died that day were people. Some where parents and had spouses, girlfriends, or boyfriends. Most of them will be missed by family, friends, coworkers, and a host of other people who never had the opportunity to know them or the gifts and talents that they brought into this world. Ther e were the police men and women, firefighters, EMTs, and other professionals who put their lives on the line all the time. There were a lot of people who were just in the wrong place at the wrong time, but there were 2996 people that died that day and countless others that lost loved ones and friends. Personally, I always feel bad when a child loses a parent at a young age, because I know that losing a parent at any age is never really an easy thing.

Over the past few years I've written tributes to the people listed below. If anyone has new information about any of them that I could share with my readers I'd love to post updates. I'd love to be able to share about some of the good things that have happened to the families and friends of the people that have left a mark on my life. Afterall, ten years have gone by and a lot can happen in ten years. I was fortunate enough to exchange emails with David Laychak's sister for the initial tribute that I wrote about him and I was thrilled to see a comment from his wife to the post that I did in 2009.

  • Keith Roma (27)- of the Fire Patrol
  • Christopher Santora (23)- of Engine Company 54
  • Joseph P. Henry (25)- of Ladder 21
  • Karl Henri Joseph (25)- an EMT
  • Dana Hannon (29)- a NYC Firefighter
  • David W Laychak (40)- a civial working at the Pentagon

In addition to helping me put together a memorable tribute in honor of the Tenth Anniversary, maybe you can help Project 2996 reach its goal of having an online tribute for all of the victims. Please feel free to host a tribute at your own blog or website or I'd be happy to post one in your honor if you don't have your own blog or website. You can leave a comment to this post or contact me via Twitter.

Prepare New York

A few months ago I found a Social Network that caught my eye. Prepare New York is differnt than any othe Social Network that I'd seen before. In a weekly newsletter that I received after joining, they described themselves as "Prepare New York is a coalition of New York based interfaith organizations including-Auburn Seminary and its Center for Multifaith Education, Interfaith Center of New York, Intersections International, Odyssey Networks, Quest, and Tanenbaum and its Religion and Diversity Education Program, who are committed to preparing New York City (and the nation) for the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 by promoting civil dialogue, education about religious pluralism, support for the Muslim community, and coordinating events on the day of the anniversary. September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows and 9/11 Communities for Common Ground serve as advisers to the coalition."

What I really like about this social network is that it is an interfaith effort between Muslims, Jewish, Christians nd other to prepare for the 10th Anniversary of September 11th. They wish to clear up a lot of the missunderstanding and if possible some of the hatred that has fostered in the past decade (and actually goes back quite a bit father). I'm filled with hope when I think of what more interfaith projects such as this one can accomplish. Maybe they can encourage more acceptance of diversity and an embrassing or differences instead of driving us apart.

In Conclusion

As the 10th Annivesary of September 11th approaches I'd like to use this occassion as a healing moment that brings us all closer together. I'd love to see each and every one of you write a tribute for Project 2996. While you're at it why not check out PrepareNY and see some of the great things they're doing, maybe you can even make some new friends. Let us all remember that we lost nearly 3000 people on that sad September day, let us honor their lives.

Here are some other links that you might be interested in...

Project 2996

My posts for the 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th Annivesaries

Prepare NY

Photo credit: New York 2 courtesy of mistereels.

Danke, Thomas!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Thank you, Thomas! (Danke, Thomas!) Saturday marked the last Summer open-air "Wetten Das?" with Thomas Gottschalk as the host and so his nearly 25 years as host of one of the Saturday television shows in Europe is drawing to an end.

The show was origingally hosted by Frank Elstner, who hosted it from 1981 to 1987. Thomas Gottschalk took over the reins in 1987. The show has been normally broadcast live from various cities within Germany, Switzerland, and Austria, with a Summer open-air show that has been done live from Mallorca a few times as well as Disneyland Paris, and Turkey (to name a few). The show inspired the British show "You Bet!" and other international versions around the world. Ordinary people attempt to do various unusual and sometimes very difficult tasks. Celebrity guests then would "bet" on the outcome of these challenges. The celebrities that lose their "bets" often have to do some embarassing, humiliating, and often times entertaining activity as a result. I've been amazed by the number of well-know American and British actors, singers, and bands have appeared on the show.

It wasn't long after I moved to Germany that I discovered the show. While I haven't seen every show since I've been here, I've seen quite a few and haven't missed many. So Thomas Gottschalk and "Wetten Das?" have been a big part of my German experience. Like, much of Germany, Switzerland, and Austria; I was watching the show on December 4, 2010, when the 23 year old man wishing to launch his career as a stuntman had that terrible accident while trying to jump 5 moving cars while wearing spring-loaded shoes/boots. They momentarily stopped the live broadcast of the show while doctors looked at the stundman's injuries and eventually cancelled the rest of the show. I sat glued waiting to hear that he would be alright, bud sadly the young man ended up being paralyzed. This heavily influenced Thomas Gottschalk's decison to leave the show in 2011. While the young stuntman did probably know about the risks of the stunt he planned, the thought that he'd end up being paralyzed probably didn't seem like such a huge risk, how could he have known? He might have thought that he might get a bruise or a broken bone or two, but not paralysis! Nobody knows where this young man's life will take him and how bright his future will be, I cetainly hope that he can make the best of his situation. I wish him the best.

The show started with Status Quo doing a medly of their hits. Cameron Diaz (actress) , Jennifer Lopez (singer and actress), Kevin James (actor), Heidi Klum (famous German model), Sebastian Vettel (famous German Forumla One driver), and Dieter Bohlen were all guests this past Saturday. In one of the oddest things I've ever seen, a man removed the shell off coconuts with his teeth (the video at the top of this post). When Kevin James came on the stage he was "shelling" what looked like oranges. The other bets included two cranes playing tennis, the man who threw 5 kg barrels of beer into a basketball hoop, another man who did handstands while trying to shoot baskets with his feet, and another man jumpted his bike from bikestop to bikestop. J-Lo performed "On the Floor", Peidro and Sarah (the 2011 DSDS finalists) sang "I Miss You" (their new duet), and three young Italian tennors sang a crowd pleasing "O Sole Mio". In the final song of the evening, Status Quo performed "Rocking All Over The World", you could see that Thomas was having a blast, this was after all his evening, and he had rocked all over the world.

Like the Prinzen said is their song "Deutschland"...
Natürlich hat ein Deutscher "Wetten, dass" erfunden
Vielen Dank für die schönen Stunden"
(translated as Naturally, a German created/discovered 'Wetten Das?', many thanks for all those wonderful hours). Thomas, I'm glaod to have spent all those Saturday evenings with you! I wish you all the best with your future projects.

Here are some other links that you might be interested in....
-Wetten Das on ZDF
-Wetten Das @Wikipedia
-Wetten Das YouTube Channel
-Wetten Das on Facebook
-"Rad" bet
-"Basketball" bet
-"Crane Tennis" bet
-"Handstand" bet
-Status Quo - Rockin All Over The World - 2011 - Gottschalk's "Wetten Dass" Farewell
-Status Quo - Medley (LIVE @ Wetten Dass? Mallorca, 18.06.11) (HQ 16:9)
-Jennifer Lopez- On the Floor (LIVE on Wetten, dass ...) (June18th, 2011)
-Peidro and Sarah- I Miss You
-ZDF Video Status Quo "Rockin All Over The World

Goodbye, Space Shuttle Program

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Space Shuttle Endeavour landed for the last time last week. This was not just the last flight for the Endeavour but now all that remains for the Space Shuttle program is the last flight of the Atlantis (currently scheduled for July 8th). Given all the focus on cutting budgets right and left, who really knows what it will mean for the American space program or for space programs in general, but the end of the Space Shuttle Program is near.

President Kennedy Says America Will Put A Man on the Moon And Return Him Home Safely By the End of the Decade... And America Answered

The U.S.S.R. was leading in the Space Race and President Kennedy challenged and inspired America....

"First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish. We propose to accelerate the development of the appropriate lunar space craft. We propose to develop alternate liquid and solid fuel boosters" (President Kennedy's address before Congress on May 25, 1961.

JFK - We choose to go to the Moon, full length (Address a Rice University)

In a bold and daring move, President Kennedy challenged America to put a man on the Moon. He demonstrated the leadership, vision, and a whole host of other things that were needed to make this a reality. At a point in the Cold War where others might have thought that this was a crazy idea, he shared the dream and what space exploration and travel could mean to America and the world. America heard the call and put a man on the Moon (and returned him home safely). Below I've embedded President Kennedy's address at Rice University (above) and his address to congress (below) where he laid out the vision and the challenge. Both videos show a visionary leadership that is hard to find in the world today.

John F. Kennedy "Landing a man on the Moon" Address to Congress - May 25, 1961

The Space Shuttle Program

The "Space Transport System" (the offical NASA name for the Space Shuttle Program) was different than previous programs in that it was based on the use of a few reuseable spacecrat compared to the more "conventional" approach to "disposable" rockets. The Endeavour flight was number 134 and the upcoming Atlantis will be number 135. The Columbia's first mission was in 1981, so the program has had 30 years of service.

There are certainly plenty of criticisms that can be made of the Space Shuttle Program. Without getting into all the details they tend to fall into the categories of costs; cultural issues and problems (the shift in NASA culture away from saftey in order to make frequent launches), Shuttle operations, and the accidents of the Challenger and Columbia, and so on. There is a nice entry at Wikipedia on the Criticisms of the Space Shuttle Program that gives a nice summary of some of the more common ones. So, I won't argue that there could not have been better programs or that there weren't ways that the program could have been improved, far from it. The focus on the program, it could be argued, slowed down other developments because the bulk of the budget and focus was on the Shuttle Program. In order to make the program more attactive to Congress, work was spread to several companies based in several different locations throughout the U.S., this added a great deal of complexity and opperational costs, and since the aerospace industry went through a lot of consolidation, ultimately, most of the Shuttle is coming from just one company, Boeing. There are plenty of lessons that can and should be learned from the Space Shuttle Program, but they need to be learned and applied, not just a decission to end all space programs because they're seen as too costly.

Our Future In Space

At a time when our current age seems so bleek and nobody really seems to want to think past today let alone to the future, we need the bright promise of a space program that is commited and has a compelling mission that engages the people. We need the hope of a brighter tomorrow, not one more dismal than today.

Every since I was a little boy I've dreamed of space travel and seeing other worlds. I was captivated by Captain Kirk and later by the world of Star Wars, but I've always thought that we should be exploring space, that this is something we MUST do. Without a high profile program and the right backing, I fear that space exploration and travel will become a victim of budget battles and I wonder if it will ever again have the the emphysis that it needs. We don't have a President Kennedy inspiring us to send a man (or woman) to the moon (or a host of other seemingly far away locations) and safely return him (or her) within this decade.

We don't have someone inspiring us to develope an affordable and safe successor to the Space Shuttle Program. We don't have someone motivating us to find faster ways to travel the astronomical distances of light years (warp drive technology to borrow a term from Star Trek). Proxima Centauri, (also called Proxima, or Alpha Centauri C), considered the closest star to our own Sun, is approximately 4.24 light years from our Sun. A light year is the distance that light travels in a vacume within one Julian year and is equal to approximately 10 trillion kilometers or 6 trillion miles. (Wikipedia) A plane flying 400.2 miles per hour would take 20 years to fly the 93 million plus miles from the Earth to the Sun. (kidsinflight) So you can see why it would be necessary to travel faster than the speed of light to travel the vast distances of space within one's own lifetime.

President Kennedy had a lot of compelling things to say about going into space in his "We Choose to go to the Moon" speech to Rice University (September 12, 1962), including that space like science didn't have a conscience of its own and that if it were to be used for good or bad that would depend upon man. He also thought that space could be explored without feeding wars and other mistakes that man has made. He said that man was determined and space exploration would go on with out without us but that this generation wanted to be a part of it and would lead it.

"Why go into space when we have so many problems here on Earth?" and "What does the space program do for me?" are a couple of questions that are often raised about having a space program and funding it. What is often overlooked and/or forgotten is that for every dollar spent on the space program in research and development there is a huge return (around $7) in terms of corporate and personal income taxes from increased jobs and ecomonic growth (NASA's Spinoffs Bringing Space Down to Earth). The space program has helped forge and improve countless products and services. Satellite television and dishes would be kind of pointless without Satellites orbiting the world. The navigation system in your car wouldn't work to well without the Statellites either. Countless software programs have been adopted and utilized for all kinds fo things as a result of the space program. Imagine that we wouldn't have Google Earth or probably a host of other Google products. Much of the technology sector, medicine, and electronics owe a huge debt to work that they've done with or for the space program.

The future benefits of space exploration and travel are almost limitless. All kinds of new materials have been created through the space program, what kinds of other materials can we create through continued space programs, maybe we can derive a replacement for plastic that doesn't use petroleum or all kinds of other materials. By building colonies in space and colonizing planets we can avoid many of the natural disasters that we've experienced in the last few years. Can you imagine no more earthquakes, torandos, hurricanes, tsunamis, and flooding? How about planets for the Palestinines and Isralies? The possibilities are only limited by our imaginations.

As the Shuttle Program is winding down Boeing announced that it will lay off 510 workers with the program ending. We need to make space exploration a priority again. In today's world I don't think that any one country needs to lead in space, but if we can pool more of our resouces together and do more projects in cooperation with with ESA, Japan, India, Russia, and other countries involved in space now (and countries interested in becoming involved) we can achieve some great things. How about we commit to building a spacecraft capable of traveling at light speed then we could make a trip to Alpa Centouri and back within a decade instead of over the course of generations? How about finding some planets with an atmoshpere that would support human life and building some colonies?

NASA video: Space shuttle Endeavour final launch

Earth viewed from the moon by Neil Armstrong

Here are some links that you might be interested in
-From cell phones to computers, technology from NASA's space program continues to touch everyday life
-Space Spin-offs: Technology Derived from the Space Program: Lots of interesting links
-Benefits of the Space Program
-Shuttle Missions: Lost of information on the Shuttle missions

Prince William Married Kate And I Passed the PMP!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

On Friday Prince William married Kate and I passed the PMP. While much of the world was watching the pagentry of the royal wedding and the associated festivities, I was busy answering questions on the PMP exam.

For many years I've wanted to take the PMP exam (Project Management Professional) from PMI and Friday I took the exam and passed it. Since a little time has passed now, the elation level has dropped but I'm still pretty excited about it. It has been a long term goal to get my PMP, but life seemed to always get in the way. In true project management fashion, I'd just like to say that I'll schedule my lessons learned session for another time but for now the serious lessons learned about actual test preparation and strategy are out of scope.

Last Summer I became aware of a virtual PMP preparation session being offered at my company. A different Knowledge Area is covered every week and you review the material with colleagues scattered in different locations online and via telephone conference. I thought that it would help give some structure to my studying efforts and would help me to stay motivated. They've been doing this for a few years and I had heard that a few collegues had used this as a part of their preparation. I was glad that I was able to get a spot in the wave that started in September. I'd say that this is when my current journey really started and I became serious about taking the exam.

As often happens in the project world and with life in general, my projects heated up and I was too busy to study very much during Decemeber, January, and well into February. The nature of my projects meant that I needed to work several weekends and some pretty long weeks. My orginal timeline had been to take the exam in December or January, but I had to rebaseline when my project load was so crazy. When I could see some light at the end of the tunnel, I scheduled some time off and the exam for April 29th.

I bought a copy of the PM Prepcast. in August. This is an multimedia series of audio and video programs that can be played on your iPod or other devices. I listended to the various episodes when I was driving around by myself and watched episodes on my computer. It is a good way to prepare for the PMP, because you can make use of non-tradtional study time and listening (watching too) helps to reinforce your learning. For those of you that have a hard time focusing on dry text books, this is a really good way to cover material you need to know for the exam.

I was on cloud nine when I saw that I had passed. Just to make sure that there wasn't some kind of malfunction at my testing unit, I confirmed with the guy running the part of the testing center where I took the exam that I had passed, he gave me a print out that showed how I did in the areas where your performance is reported.

I knew that my father would be happy for my accomplishment and was ancious to get a hold of him and spread the good news. At first I only got his answering machine and he returned my call about an hour later or so. He was so excited, you could really hear it it in his voice. I know that this brought back his own memories of taking his first certification, all those years ago. I know that he remembered how my mother helped him study for his exam and the pride that he feld when he was certified in his profession. I have to thank my wife and kids for putting up with all my studying the last few months. They really supported me more than anyone can expect their family to do. If they had not been behind me, there is no way that I would have been able to do it.

It wasn't too long after I scheduled my exam date that I realized that there was also this little wedding going on at the same time. That just makes the passing the PMP all that more special for me. Lots of people have taken and passed the PMP, but how many people can say that they did when Prince William got maried? So it is with great pleasure that I now add those initials after my name.....

Until next time.

Darryl Heron PMP

Photo Credit: "Success, succeed, business, money sign" courtesy of lockstockb.

P.s. Be sure to check out my Systems-Overload Blog and look for me online at some of the usual locations.