2007/01/31

Too Many Passings - On Jim Gray and Molly Ivins

The news of Molly Ivins passing is very sad. I know I should write something, but honestly I didn't read her column that often. So I think I'll leave her tribute to John of Left in Aboite and Cranky Daze who has already left an excellent poem in Molly's honor.

Someone else has been on my mind...

On Sunday evening, a senior researcher for Microsoft in San Francisco was reported missing at sea. I didn't make the connection until it hit the Internet the next day that it was Jim Gray. Now most of you wouldn't know of Dr. Gray, but for those of use who entered computer science in the 1980s, Jim Gray was a giant. His research is the cornerstone of modern database management system theory, and he was involved with some of the earliest companies. His texts were, and still are, required reading in the field. His work earned him an ACM Turing Award, one of our discipline's highest honors. Though I never met Dr. Gray, the thoroughness and clarity of his papers and textbooks inspired me to make his area of research the focus of my own graduate work.

Jim Gray left Sunday morning to sail solo from San Francisco toward the Farallon Islands (about 25 miles to the West). His wife reported him overdue that evening. The Coast Guard has been searching for 3 days, but there has been no sign of Dr. Gray or his boat.

I know he's probably dead, but we may never truly know. I feel like I've lost a mentor and am incredibly sad.

8 Comments:

Miss Molly was a lady,
By the smile upon her face,
And all her wit and wisdom
Just enhanced her style and grace.

Her ruffles all were rumpled
But she wore them like a queen,
For she knew her pocket handkerchief
And pocket pride were clean.

Her fingers at the keyboard
As she led us to the fray,
With our teaspoon full of courage,
And a pound of hell-to-pay.

Yet little did she ask of us,
And little did we do.
But we read her words and loved her
As our understanding grew.

Now she's gone to writer's heaven,
And has left us here below.
But Miss Molly was a lady;
I just thought you'd like to know.


I heard about Mr. Gray on the news, but didn't know who he is.
"Poor George. He can't help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth."


"George Bush was born on third base and believes he hit a triple."


The world is a little less intelligent today. *sigh*
Sorry for your loss. Good mentors are one of life's great gifts.
Sorry for your loss. Good mentors are one of life's great gifts.

Thanks J. I guess Dr. Gray was not so much a mentor as an inspiration--I think for a lot of us in his field. I just wanted to make sure that his disappearance didn't pass without some words.
Cranky, Sewmouse... I knew I could count you all to supply the words for Molly Ivins that I lacked.

Thanks.
My dad, a huge Molly Ivins fan, called me yesterday to tell me she was gone. Of course I was sad to hear of her passing, but perhaps selfishly, I am more sad b/c my dad and I had spent many hours over the past few yrs discussing points she had made in her column that we both had read. May both of these souls rest in peace.

...... and I know this is completely unrelated..... but I took the leap and switched to New Blogger last night around 6pm on Weds, and it still says that my blog is "currently moving" at nearly 4pm on Thursday. Should I begin to panic??
that is soo sad about Jim Gray- and he was going to scatter ashes...of his mom..so sad..and I am so sorry that you lost a mentor...that is too much....
Thanks Tina, Enigma... So much of what happens today in modern computing is the result of Jim Gray's research, I wouldn't even know where to begin. It's quite a loss.

Tina, about your transition, mine 'coversion' kept going and going as well. Check for the Blogger email telling you that it's done. Don't count on what the screen tells you.

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