Randy Pausch

If you read either NYT or WSJ, you’ve probably have heard of the story of Randy Pausch at least once. If you haven’t, he was a computer science professor from Carneige Mellon who recently died of pancreatic cancer. Last Septmeber, he gave a Last Lecture at the University, saying goodbye to his “work family” and talking about life lessons to an auditorium filled to the limit with 400 people. Ever since this video became available on the web, and WSJ published an article of him, Randy has become a celebrity, with the nick name of St. Randy (a title he vehemently denies).

Why am I bringing this up, instead of just posting a link or two? From the beginning, this reminded of one of my favorite books, Tuesdays With Morie, also about a dying professor and his last words on life, love, and dying, etc. But the story about Randy is is somewhat different, however. For one, he was young, not even 40. He had a wife, whom he was married to for only 8 years, and three young children who will have very blurred memories of him, if at all (his daughter is only 2). While it is equally tragic, Randy’s last days were in many ways more difficult. Dying at a young age usually had such consequences.

A book has been published, co-written by Randy and Jeff Zaslow, a WSJ who wrote that first article on his story. I’ll be reading this in the next month or two, at the latest. I’m also looking forward to watching the famous video of his Last Lecture. (I’ll make sure to have plenty of tissues next to me.) But aside from all the poignancy, insights, and my penchant for advices from dying professors, one last thing struck me: I have used his famous programming software, Alice. A ingenius product created by him to teach high school and college students how to program. I was introduced to this during my AP Computer Science class in my senior year of high school and we all thought it was pretty brilliant, but I never thought he’d die of pancreatic cancer only two years later, or that his story would inspire millions of people, or that he would become St. Randy.

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