My Observatory Odyssey – Part 4

Harry Keller 80By Harry Keller
Former ETCJ Science Editor
& President of SmartScience

We are stopped cold by someone who reviews septic systems.

May 8, 2020, 9:33 AM. I first had to have a topological survey done. This is not an official survey but is much more precise. Amazing! The issues arise from legal considerations. I cannot even begin to explain what a monumental mental task it is to fit a house into a hillside and meet all of the county’s requirements. So, I won’t bore you with slopes and runoff and the rest.

I have a structural engineer, a rarity in the high desert, who designed the first foundation. We changed things so much that we had to have another one. Our foundation was now projected to be ten feet high due to the slope of the hill in which we planned to site our house. Our structural engineer looked at the as-yet-unapproved grading plan and told us that a seventeen-foot foundation was necessary. That’s huge! The cost of the foundation just went ballistic. The retaining wall portion had to be twelve inches thick. The footings are immense. We now have to walk up seventeen feet of stairs instead of eight feet, and we have to pay for those extra steps.  Continue reading

House Passes HEROES Act: Includes Billions for Schools and Colleges

WASHINGTON, 15 May 2020 — The House of Representatives today passed the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act or “HEROES Act.” The National Education Association — which represents more than 3 million educators working in U.S. public schools colleges and universities — has been tirelessly pushing Congress to pass relief legislation. While this bill isn’t perfect, it includes $100 billion specifically for K-12 and higher education along with $915 billion in state and local aid to address budget gaps that could be used to help public schools and college campuses.

The House passage of the HEROES Act comes just days after a coalition of five governors said that state and local governments needed $1 trillion in federal relief or they will be forced to decide between funding public health care programs or laying off teachers, police and other workersContinue reading

Science & Technology vs. Pandemics: A Virtual Panel 5/14/20

The Center for Excellence in Education (CEE) is hosting “Small Foundation, Big Achievements: How science and technology are meeting the challenges of pandemics…present and future”, a 90-minute virtual panel discussion.

Date: Thursday, May 14, 2020
Time: 4:00-5:30 p.m. ET

The panel will be moderated by Aaron Kesselheim (RSI ’91), M.D., J.D., M.P.H. Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, and include distinguished alumni of CEE’s Research Science Institute:

  • Lauren Ancel Meyers (RSI ’90), Ph.D., Professor of Integrative Biology, The University of Texas at Austin
  • Ben Silbermann (RSI ’98), Co- Founder and CEO of Pinterest
  • Patrick Tan (RSI ’86), M.D., Ph.D., Principal Investigator, Cancer Science Institute of Singapore, NUS and Professor, Cancer and Stem Cell Biology, Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore
  • Feng Zhang (RSI ’99), Ph.D., Investigator, MIT McGovern Institute and pioneer of the revolutionary CRISPR gene-editing technology

“I’m so proud of CEE’s Research Science Institute alumni, who personify CEE’s role in nurturing excellence in STEM research,” said CEE’s President Joann P. DiGennaro. “This event will provide viewers with informative and consequential facts, and expose the results of the Center’s STEM programs to nurture the next generation of global scholars.”

To register for this dialogue, go to

Video: Reimagining Your College Campus in the New Normal

By Jim Shimabukuro

I participated in this League for Innovation in the Community College webinar, “Reimagining Your Campus for the Future of Work and the ‘New Normal,'” featuring Matt Alex of Beyond Academics, this morning (12 May 2020) at 9:00 AM (Hawaii time). As promised, the League’s Cynthia Wilson and Rufus Glasper have posted the video recording in YouTube for all to enjoy. Please make the time to watch this. It runs approximately 60 minutes.


My Life in LA County During COVID-19: May 12

Harry Keller 80By Harry Keller
Former ETCJ Science Editor
& President of SmartScience

We will endure. We will prevail. We shall overcome.

May 12, 2020 at 6:48 AM. I am in the twilight zone of feelings. I have to get on with my life, but I see the heartbreak of over 80,000 deaths everywhere. I am sad. I must be upbeat about the future, but I know full well that we will exceed 100,000 deaths in two or three weeks. How can we live productive lives under this cloud? At one moment, I detest myself for choosing to work as I normally do. The next moment, I feel deep sadness. I must cheer up somehow.

We are still having our groceries delivered by people who are poorer than I and who are risking their health and even lives so that my wife and I can eat. They are probably reluctant heroes who must work to feed their families. Yet, they could find food banks and other means to survive. I am glad that they are doing this and hope that they are taking every precaution along with the store that employs them.  Continue reading

Stories Read Aloud for Children on Facebook

NORFOLK – WHRO Public Media has expanded online learning with a weekly online reading segment ‘Martha Reads’.  This new weekly Facebook segment features stories written by local children.

When Virginia leaders announced in March that schools across the Commonwealth would close for the remaining academic year due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, the education staff at WHRO Public Media quickly changed up their normal routines to seek new ways to support teachers and parents as they ventured into at-home learning.

Join us every Friday at 10 a.m. on our Facebook page for Martha Reads.

Since WHRO’s team couldn’t read to children in person, Martha Razor, manager of early childhood learning, decided to bring the stories to students virtually. Each week on Facebook, Martha will read a new story aloud. Rather than reading the books that children may already know, or could possibly find on their shelves at home, Martha will read stories that were submitted to WHRO’s annual Young Storytellers Contest. These short tales are stories written by children, for children, with accompanying illustrations. Continue reading

My Observatory Odyssey – Part 3

Harry Keller 80By Harry Keller
Former ETCJ Science Editor
& President of SmartScience

The unexpected costs just kept mounting.

May 6, 4:53 AM. The unexpected costs just kept mounting. We had to do a percolation test before our septic field could be approved, and the building permit could not be submitted until we had an approved percolation test. Of course, the testing people had a delay, and by the time they were ready, bad weather postponed it another month. We had the permit application all ready to go and just awaiting the “perc” test, which we received in January. The rate of more than one inch per minute was fantastic! It was literally off the charts. We were so happy.  Continue reading