Heard at the dinner table
Wednesday October 05th 2011, 9:44 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

The next vote on funding CIRM again is soon, the ten years are almost up. So much has been done, so much needs more time.


“Wait–so you drove right into that!?”

“Well, not in…”

“That’s in. Mathilda goes to that part of Cupertino. If I’d known that’s where it was, I’d have called you. If I’d known that’s where you were going to be…” He shuddered, blaming himself, which he totally didn’t deserve. With everything else going on, he’d forgotten today was the day and he’d had no idea where the place was.

“I didn’t know till I got home. There was a helicopter right above me, I’ve never seen one that looked like that before.”

“That was it. They were looking.” And not just with one helicopter.


Today was the day the Parkinson’s Research Institute in Sunnyvale held an openhouse re its stem cell work; I got a personal invitation from Chris Stiehl (whom I met at a Lupus Research Institute day),  the man in charge of patient advocacy within the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the taxpayer-funded initiative to entice top researchers to work in California to potentially find cures for many diseases.

And I have a childhood friend with young-onset Parkinson’s.

Many of the attendees were a large group of high school students on a field trip. There were tables, displays, passionate people ready to show and answer and inspire.

The director of the project answered any and all questions, including mine. She told me in an aside of her great hope to spark a desire in these kids to go into research, to foster a love for science so that they could go out and change the world. There was so much that was so close; we so badly needed more scientists. She said she herself had stayed here expressly because of CIRM.

I told her that one of my children had had a high school biology teacher who had inspired her to follow in her footsteps, and thus her doctoral thesis in viral crystallography was recently published in (and she recognized the prestigious journal.)

The woman was very pleased. We talked about how good it was that finally, finally, research is beginning to be made available not just to those who subscribe to the terribly expensive periodicals; she explained to another woman with us, while I nodded yes, that it could cost $30 just to read one article online.

I didn’t wait for the walk through the lab, though I’d have liked to have seen it; I’d been on my feet for awhile and decided I’d gotten what I’d come for and headed for home.

Where there was that large helicopter flying fairly low over the freeway and then off towards the foothills. Didn’t seem to be monitoring road traffic. I had no idea.

Richard, meantime, came to work to find people in the parking lot talking about the man not far from there who’d shot his co-workers early this morning and fled, shooting and carjacking others in his path, as it turned out. Their kids’ schools were on lockdown. What do you do, what do you do. (And no they haven’t caught the guy yet as I type this.)

Then he told me the other reason it was a very very hard and weird day at work, terribly hard for everybody.

That Steve Jobs had passed.

My heart goes out to all those families.

I remember when Steve cold-called my husband and tried to armwrestle him into coming to work for him at NeXT. Richard didn’t take him up on it; a good friend did accept an offer there, though. Silicon Valley is a small place. It is a measure of Steve’s quest for perfection that being asked to work for him was the highest compliment one could offer an engineer.

Rest in peace, Lehigh Plant workers. Rest in peace, Steve. Thank you for being passionate about making things that worked with utter clarity, simplicity, and grace. Every person who has ever touched a computer since the first time you did owes you: you changed the electronic world and demanded to the end that it be made better.

I can only imagine what your kids will accomplish. Maybe someday one of them will be the one to find a cure for pancreatic cancer.

If only there had been one already. Let’s get that research funded and let’s get it going.

9 Comments so far
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Big news day, especially for those of you “local”… I’m glad I didn’t know how close you were to the shooting.

Comment by Channon 10.06.11 @ 6:34 am

i swear, you know *everybody*.

Comment by Tola 10.06.11 @ 6:58 am

one of the things that people in other parts of the country simply don’t understand is just how much Silicon Valley is a “small, small world” — my daughter went to high school with Steve Wozniak’s kids, and he was both very generous and very involved with the music programs there — so here we are, connected again

I spent a lot of time checking the news feeds from California yesterday!

Comment by Bev 10.06.11 @ 8:35 am

You may have already heard this. On the news this morning, that the police had shot that rampant killer.

I have an Apple story that I will post in a day or so.

You are so right about the necessity to get youngsters interested in science!

Comment by Don Meyer 10.06.11 @ 9:05 am

Our music group lost a longtime member to Parkinson’s disease several years ago. She was nurse and worked until her health no longer permitted it. She loved to sing and encouraged everyone around her to join in and take joy in music. She believed passionately in the promise of stem cell research and her friends and family still grieve that it didn’t come soon enough for her. Here’s wishing the good folks at CIRM every success in their mission.

Comment by RobinH 10.06.11 @ 9:39 am

The neighborhood where the shooter fled was just north of where we used to live. I emailed a friend who said that her childen had all gotten home safely but that her husband’s parents where in the center of the area being searched, and they were staying INSIDE. It was a little like being in California while the mad snipers were shooting back here, much too close to my family. It was a sad ending to a sad story, but I’m glad it’s over. I’m glad the conference was so interesting.

Comment by LauraN 10.06.11 @ 10:43 am

What a day. I confess to being glad mu day was un-eventful. Take care.

Comment by Ruth 10.06.11 @ 8:24 pm

My favorite quote from SJ:
“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

Comment by twinsetellen 10.06.11 @ 9:11 pm

My dad died from complications of Parkinson’s. My husband died from Pancreatic Cancer. Here’s hoping the research gets moving on either or both, finally.

Comment by Pegi 10.16.11 @ 5:36 am

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