Today is the anniversary of a huge day in world history. Fifty years ago at about this time of day, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the Moon. Mike Collins kept the Command Module operating until they got back.
I told my family that I wanted to spend an hour watching a CBS News special that aired on July 16th that summarized this incredible historic mission. And they watched it with me.
Plenty of people will talk about Armstrong and Aldrin. I want to talk about a man named George Low.
George Low was a guy who was manager of the Apollo Spacecraft Program Office. He took over that job after the crew of Apollo 1 died in a flash fire on the launch pad. He led the thousands of people that made up the Apollo Program from failure to the ultimate success.
George Low retired from NASA and became President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1976.
A fellow RPI alumnus Michael Miller '79 wrote a great piece about George Low, How the Apollo Program Manager Paved the Way for the Moon Landing. He said who George Low was better than I can.
Michael Miller summarized George Low's most important work at NASA, put his place in world history into proper context, and talked about how Low dealt with him when Low was President of Rensselaer and Miller was the editor of the school newspaper, The Polytechnic.
This article is a must read for anybody who has ever been a part of the Rensselaer community. But many of my friends who didn't know who George Low was before I mentioned him would learn some modern American history by taking the time to read it.
Denville Hockey Post-game Photo

I've owned a digital camera since at least 2004. I bought my first iPhone on Day 1, June 29, 2007. Before I bought my first megapixel digital camera, I was buying Kodak Photo CDs: I have at least 23 of them.

I just spent the better part of a week consolidating all of my digital photos and videos on iCloud. I felt I had to do this because I couldn't easily find photos from 2003-2011 because they weren't in my iCloud Photo library until now.

Care to guess how many photos and videos I have? I have at least:

  • 47,939 photos
  • 968 videos

I say "at least" because I'm still finding photos in directories that I didn't realize contain photos. I'm sure this isn't the largest iCloud Photo library in existence, but it's one that spans at least 15 years and I'm proud of it.

The weirdest part of the evolution of this digital photo library is that it didn't fit in any iOS photo management app until relatively recently. I had so many digital photos before I ever had an iPhone that I needed Aperture, which was a professional photo asset management software package, in order to manage my photo library from very early on.

When Apple deprecated Aperture and iPhoto in 2014, I still wasn't able to switch fully to iCloud Photos because I wasn't certain that my library would fit in the largest iCloud storage plan available. So I started using Photos with a nearly empty library and left my old library of digital photos on a Network Attached Storage device in the basement of my house.

Leaving my oldest digital photos on my NAS meant that if I needed a photo that I knew was from the time period before 2012 or so, I had to go back to my house, get on a Mac that was connected to WiFi, and search for the photo I was looking for using either the old Aperture or some even more basic tool that could access the original files. The relative difficulty of doing this meant that that old library only got searched when I really needed to find a specific photo, and finding it was never a quick or easy process.

It wasn't until Apple started offering a 2-Terabyte storage plan, specifically August 30, 2016, that I became confident that my entire library would fit on iCloud. Even though I subscribed to the 2-Terabyte plan a while ago, I never actually merged my Aperture Masters into iCloud Photos until now.

Now I am beginning to be able to quickly locate photos of specific people from 15 or more years ago. This also gives me a solid library into which I can merge old printed family photos that have lived in shoe boxes since Kathleen and I moved to Newtown in 2005.

I'm looking forward to being able to add old photos 15 minutes at a time, because the really hard work has been done already.

Earlier in October, I learned that Jean-François Gosselin, a fellow RPI Hockey alumnus, is running for Mayor of Québec City, Canada.  I looked around for a web page written in English that described his candidacy, and when I couldn't find one, I started tweeting anyway:

I wanted to take a moment on my own website to say why people from across North America should care about this race, and why JF Gosselin is the right man for the job.

I believe that Québec and its metropolitan area has more potential as a tourist destination and trading partner with the United States than it has leveraged.  Québec could do a much more effective job of reaching out to the USA with someone who is very comfortable speaking English as mayor.  JF has lived in the USA when he was a student at Rensselaer and when he played professional hockey, and he would be a very effective cultural ambassador.

But the main reason why a city elects a mayor is to be the leader of the city government, and this is where I think JF Gosselin has a major advantage.  As a former college and professional hockey player, his ability to work as part of a team is unquestioned.  Compare his skills as a team leader throughout his life to the skills of his main opponent, Régis Labeaume-- a man the CBC refers to as "King Régis".

Labeaume, known for a quick tongue and abrasive relationship with local media, is sometimes called "King Régis" for his iron-clad hold on city hall and his management style.

Every major city in North America has probably had a mayor who has this sort of controlling personality.  The question is, can Québec do better with someone who is a better listener and who has a more approachable personality?  The answer is "yes" and JF Gosselin is the man for the job.

If you have a vote in the election in Québec on Sunday, November 5, please vote for JF Gosselin as mayor and for his teammates from Quebec21.

For the past year, I've been taking photos of many of the hockey arenas I've visited in the United States and Canada, with the intent of adding them to my arena database called RinkAtlas.

The current version of RinkAtlas is a Google Maps mashup that focuses on maps and directions to arenas all over North America.  I have a new version of RinkAtlas under development which will attempt to show hockey fans what it's like to attend a hockey game at an arena with which they aren't familiar.

The focus of the new RinkAtlas will be on larger arenas where professional, college, or major junior hockey games are played. But it will also continue to provide information about community ice arenas as well.

The photo shown here is the inside of Centre Recreatif Joé Juneau in Pont Rouge, Québec, near Quebec City.  This arena is named after Joé Juneau, a teammate of mine at RPI who played for a number of years in the National Hockey League and won the Silver Medal for Canada in the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France.  My family and I were proud to be able to visit this arena on our trip to Canada in August 2015.

In Memory of Friends Lost on 09/11

Every year since September 11, 2001 I've mentioned the following people who were victims of the terrorist attacks, in the hope that some of my friends will remember them:

World Trade Center:

  • Vito DeLeo, mechanic at World Trade Center, USA Hockey official
  • John Eichler, retired executive at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, brother of Joan Aiello
  • John Pocher, bond trader at Cantor Fitzgerald, alumnus of Essex County Chiefs youth hockey program
  • Kalyan Sarkar, Port Authority seismic engineer, father of Kishan Sarkar-- a Rensselaer alumnus

American Airlines Flight 11:

In 2014, I added two men lost on United Airlines Flight 175:

  • Ace Bailey, Los Angeles Kings executive, passenger on United Airlines Flight 175. Stanley Cup and Memorial Cup Champion.
  • Mark Bavis, Los Angeles Kings executive, passenger on United Airlines Flight 175.  Former college hockey player.

In addition, please remember the 343 members of the Fire Department of New York (FDNY), the 23 members of the New York Police Department (NYPD), and the 37 member of the Port Authority Police Department (PAPD) who made the ultimate sacrifice on that day.

When you do this, note that all of these people are now famous for how they died, instead of how they lived.

On Sunday I was recognized by the Metro NY-NJ Chapter of NIHOA as a member of their organization for 25 years.  Thanks to Kathleen, Jimmy, and Peter, and to my fellow officials for making this milestone possible.  See you on the ice again next Fall.

Yesterday I was honored to receive a service award from the Metropolitan New York-New Jersey Chapter of the National Ice Hockey Officials Association.  I have been an on-ice official in this organization for 25 years.  I joined the Metro NY Chapter of NIHOA in 1990, which was the autumn after I graduated from RPI.

Back then I felt like I needed a way to stay involved in hockey, and officiating was the best way I knew to stay involved.  I played hockey, soccer, and baseball for Chatham Township High School before I went to RPI, and so being able to officiate games at that level was giving something back to the NJSIAA, an organization with which I am proud to be associated.

Kathleen and our sons Jimmy and Peter were able to attend the end-of-season banquet to see me receive this award.  This is what made the banquet special for me.  My sons are finally old enough to understand how much being a hockey official means to me.  This is partly because Kathleen, Jimmy, and Peter all started playing organized hockey for the first time this year.

Thanks to my fellow chapter members who have made me look good on the ice over the years.

Here's a critical piece from The Chronicle of Higher Education on Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson, the President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute ("Behind RPI's Highly Paid Chief, Tales of an Imperial Air and Cowed Staff").

In case you are wondering, here are the major reasons I have consistently backed Dr. Jackson as an alumnus:

  1. She was the person most responsible for defeating an NCAA Division III Legislative Proposal that would have banned the granting of scholarships by Division III institutions that "play up" to Division I in one sport.

    This would have stopped RPI from granting hockey scholarships, along with Clarkson, St. Lawrence, and Colorado College in Ice Hockey, Hartwick in Water Polo, Johns Hopkins in Lacrosse, and Rutgers-Newark in Men's Volleyball.  If RPI had lost scholarships for men's and women's hockey, it would have fundamentally changed our ability to compete in Division I ice hockey.

  2. Dr. Jackson's administration has invested a big chunk of institute resources in athletics at all levels as a key component of student life. By this I mean moves like the hiring of Colonel James A. Knowlton as RPI Athletic Director in 2008 and the construction of the East Campus Athletic Village which began opening in 2009.

    The development of ECAV has allowed RPI to attract student-athletes in sports like soccer and football who are capable of attracting national recognition. Athletes like Andrew Franks who was a 2014 National Pre-Season All American Kicker for Division III.

  3. The construction of major campus facilities such as EMPAC and the Center for Biotechnology (CBIS).  All of them are world-class, and take Rensselaer in directions that it has never gone before.

  4. The hiring of high-achieving faculty such as Robert Linhardt and James Hendler has changed the strategic direction of RPI faculty research.  They fact that they have stayed 8 to 10 years is an indication that Rensselaer is retaining world-renowned people who are doing cutting edge work in fields in which RPI is not traditionally strong.

I'm sure that Dr. Jackson is a hard person for which to work.  She was hired at Rensselaer because we had lost our way institutionally after President George Low was taken from us.  How she presides over the Institute has always been controversial with some faculty and administrators.  Most of those people are now either retired or at other institutions achieving great things in a different setting.

Managing a small, world-class institution like RPI is difficult when many of its competitors have access to the public purse or have much greater endowments or patent libraries than RPI did when Dr. Jackson took office.  But Rensselaer is a great institution that can be world-class if it focuses on the right things.

I think Dr. Jackson and her team are doing that, and the results are still emerging.

Our son Jimmy was chosen to be the Weather Kid on The Doc and Andie Show on 92.5 WXTU in Philadelphia this morning.  He had a lot of fun and did a great job.

Jimmy had to get up at 6:30 in order to talk to Doc and Andie during one of the breaks when they were not on the air.  During that time, they asked him about Goodnoe Elementary School, who his favorite guitar player was, and whether he wanted to play for the Flyers some day.  Doc and Andie's producer, Crockett, recorded his answers and his weather report during that call, and they used portions of it at the scheduled times for the weather report.

He had a great time listening to himself on the radio.  A lot of people emailed, texted, and connected with us on Facebook and Twitter, saying that they heard Jimmy and thought he sounded great.  I'll bet a lot of the kids at Goodnoe will want to be the Weather Kid on XTU now that Jimmy has done it.

I recorded Jimmy's appearance on 92.5 at 8:40am, and created a sound clip that's embedded in this post.  I hope you'll take a moment and listen to it.

If you like what you hear, send me an email, tweet to me @daveaiello or post a comment on my Facebook Wall.

Explosion of Antares Rocket at T+6 Seconds

I came home early from work to meet my sons and their sitter, so we could watch the Antares launch.  I got home about seven minutes before the launch, put NASA TV on via AirPlay to the Apple TV in my living room, and sat down to watch.

Jimmy and Peter were excited to see this launch and to see the rocket in the sky, in part because they saw Reid Wiseman appear via teleconference from the International Space Station to the RPI Reunion on October 10, they knew that Antares was a supply mission going to ISS, and that Reid would play a big role in making sure Antares docked correctly.

The plan was to watch the launch, then go out 90 seconds to two minutes later, and look for the rocket and its bright tail flying off to the southeast, over the Atlantic and into space.

The countdown hit zero, the rocket lifted off and cleared the tower.  It looked good.

My sons Jimmy and Peter ran out the front door to see if they could see the Antares.  Peter is five years old, and he has no concept of how long 90 seconds is.  Our sitter Joan and I were watching still watching the rocket trying to climb out from the launch pad.

The next thing we knew, there was a bright flash from the first stage of the rocket, the rocket stalled in its climb, and started falling almost straight back down but tailing slightly off to the north.  Seconds later a big explosion happened, although the explosion wasn't obvious right away due to the camera angle that NASA chose for that part of the ascent.

I ended up calling Jimmy and Peter back in from the driveway, saying, "There was a problem."

I was glad that NASA TV didn't show the explosion over and over, like the networks did 10 minutes later.

I was also glad that the fire, which NASA did show, was minimized in size by the lack of reference points in the camera shot.  That would have indicated how huge it was.  The video that CNN showed later that was taken from across the bay did a much better job of illustrating how large the explosion had been.

Why I Went Back to Running

Baker Rink, Princeton University, post-game, September 13, 2014.

A lot of friends have seen the posts on Facebook that I created over the past six months related to running.

The goal here was not to run a half-marathon or a marathon, although I might do that some time; It was to get back to a point where I am able to skate for 2 1/2 hours in a college hockey game, and be as strong at the end of the game as at the beginning.

Tonight I refereed an ACHA Division II men's game between Princeton and Army. This is club hockey.  The game was certainly slower than a men's varsity game, but was still a good pace.

The key was that I skated end-to-end for 2 hours and 15 minutes, because I was the referee in the 1 referee-2 linesman system.  This is more skating than I do in a game where I am a linesman in a Division III varsity game.

Running is different from cycling or in-line skating, because when you run, there's no way to coast. I'm convinced at this point that I can bike or skate and become reasonably fit, but greater fitness requires a significant dose of the intensity of running-- or perhaps something like swimming-- activities where there is a lot more resistance for me to fight against.

It was amazing how much better I felt tonight than I did at the end of last season.  Mission accomplished.