Sunday, November 25, 2007

Tribute to Kenneth Noel James Braithwaite (August 1966-November 2007)

Thanksgiving weekend 2007 was not festive for everyone. Case in point: the sudden, unexpected loss of Kenneth Noel James Braithwaite (August 1966-November 2007), earlier in the week, gave a new, darker, meaning to "Black Friday."

Nonetheless, the week's events gave me a new reason to give thanks.

Instead of driving up from the Big Apple on November 23, 2007 (the day after Thanksgiving) to accept Ken's invitation to "hang out" in Beantown, I made the trip for a solemn reason: to attend Ken's Celebration of Life services. The wake and funeral services were held at Saint Bartholomew's Episcopal Church in Cambridge; interment was at Woodlawn Cemetery in Everett (in a plot shared with his mother, Audrey).

What a contrast to the last times Ken and I had hung out in Massachusetts. On another holiday weekend, he, another Columbia classmate, and I had had a grand time driving there in my two-door coupe. For this planned, November trip, Ken and I had assumed that we would use my four-wheel drive vehicle to access out-of-the-way haunts, and otherwise pahk the cah neah Hahvahd Yahd and take the "T" around town. [I enjoyed teasing Ken about his Massachusetts accent.]

You know what they say about the word "assume." Ken rode not in my green SUV with New York plates or on Boston Mass Transit's Red or Green Line this weekend. Rather, he took his final ride on Friday at noon, in a shiny black hearse with Massachusetts DMV plate number 2025.

I rue not visiting Ken sooner, as he'd suggested. I still hadn't learned my lesson: death never comes at convenient times. Consequently, those in the know prioritize opportunities to spend time with loved ones, and accordingly avoid suffer the consequences I'm currently experiencing.

By George, I think I've finally got it now. The school of hard knocks is quite effective.

So I finally made it to Ken's home in Massachusetts, but for the wrong reason. His bicyles in the hallway, his laptop on the table beside the sofa, his blue jacket draped over the loveseat arm, and his passport and photographs were eerie, material reminders of his accomplishments as an athlete, professional, globetrotter and debonair bachelor. Ken was also a gifted scholar with degrees from Buckingham Browne and Nichols, Tufts College and Columbia University, whose dissertation proposal had recently been approved by his doctoral committee in Organizational Psychology.

Ken's profile was impressive, yes. However, it was the presence, the shared stories, and the tears of those of us who loved him that demonstrated the real measure of the man. Kenneth Noel James Braithwaite was a beloved son, uncle, and friend who will not be forgotten. I am truly thankful for his friendship and for the time we shared.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving, 2007

Image: Courtesy of Microsoft.

Here are links to some worthwhile holiday reading and other media:

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Can you tell what time it is? American clocks fell back later than usual in 2007

The image above is from a 2001 public service announcement that reminded people to adjust clocks manually. Source: {{PD-USGov-Military}} category:time.
Since I frequent crowded places, and address many groups, I'm often asked, "Can you tell me what time it is?" Usually, that's no problem. But this past week, answering that question's been challenging. Perhaps you can relate.

Here's why: many timepieces have been showing different faces lately. They've seemed unsure about when to say, "Sayanora!" to daylight-saving time (DST) and "Aloha!" to eastern standard time (EST). For example, my desktop computer clock (then set by automatically fell back a week early. (That was unacceptable, so I've since reset it to Read "Does your computer know what time it is?" for instructions about resetting your computer's time server. )
In contrast, my wristwatches, old-fashioned electric and battery-operated clocks, and vehicle dashboards will continue reporting DST until someone changes them manually. Fortunately, the drafts autosaved by Blogger have switched to EST timestamps mid-post, my laptop and the atomic clocks Dad gave me (which are governed by the NIST computers) fell back this morning (presumably at 2 A.M.), and my Treo "smartphone"/PDA should catch up by falling back sometime today.

Why all the hullabaloo? The switch from DST to EST occured one month later than usual in 2007. In time zones that observe DST, the backhanding of timepieces occurred on the first Sunday in November (today, November 4) at 2:00 AM rather than during the last weekend in October. Learn why.

The following mnemonic makes it easy for those who observe DST to remember HOW time changes twice yearly: "spring forward, fall back." However, WHEN to reset clocks can still be confusing.

Fortunately, there are three easily accessible resoures for getting time and staying on track:
  • The news media (which requires no forethought to access, and precious little brainpower to keep up with).
  • As stated at About "This public service is cooperatively provided by the two time agencies of the United States: a Department of Commerce agency, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and its military counterpart, the U. S. Naval Observatory (USNO). Readings from the clocks of these agencies contribute to world time, called Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). The time maintained by both agencies should never differ by more than 0.000 0001 seconds from UTC (see recent comparisons). "
The URLs for those sites are: Time & Frequency Division, NIST and Time Service Department, USNO.
  •>>Daylight Saving Time. WebExhibits (curated by Michael Douma at the Institute for Dynamic Educational Advancement in Washington, D.C.) is an interactive, web-based museum that challenges visitors to think and explore scientific and cultural phenomena in new ways. The Daylight Saving Time exhibit is supported by IDEA, and the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST), Time and Frequency Division, as a complement to
To take advantage of the extra hour, I chose last night to untwist my hair (a decidedly GNARLY undertaking). Now, if only there were a way to confine such intricate operations to twice a year, and better yet, to program a computer to accomplish them automatically, at a pre-appointed time. ###