I dreamed about Donald last night. He was in charge of a children's museum, a bright, colorful place full of laughing kids. He would have liked that. (In fact, he was on the board of trustees of the Princeton Junior Museum for many years.)
One thing about this whole affair: I'm learning far more about Donald's professional career than I ever knew. To judge by the emails and phone calls I've gotten from his friends and colleagues, he was not only one of the world's most knowledgable people in his field (vertebrate paleontology), but was enormously generous with his professional help. Apparently many scientists owe their careers to getting a boost from my father when they were starting out. I remember some of these people as college kids who helped out around the paleo lab at Princeton... now they're full professors who still sing his praises. I've gotten emails from scientists from Texas to Australia who say, "I owe it all to Don Baird."
What I didn't realize, and what makes me extra proud of him, was that he was as helpful to scientific hobbyists and amateurs as he was to budding professionals. Although he had a PhD from Harvard, he was no academic snob. All that mattered to him was interest and enthusiasm.
He kept active right up to the end, at age 85. I'm told that there are still scientific papers in the works—about to be published—that list his name as co-author. He was never afraid to share credit for discoveries with younger colleagues. I'm very proud of him. In a small way, I follow in his footsteps.
I had a couple of bright ideas on my way into town to do the laundry today. First, I stopped at my storage room and picked up:
- A folding hand truck (I already carry one, but figured I'll probably need more than one if friends are helping)
- My lightstand and reflector umbrella kit (since I'll be doing a lot of photography)
- A set of subwoofer/satellite speakers (because I know I'll be working in that house a lot, and I'll want better music than I can get out of Donald's clock radio)
Then I stopped at Walmart and bought four small electrical timers ($4.44 apiece) and a box to ship them in. I'm going to send them to my cousin Hugh and ask him to put timers on lamps on each floor of the house—living room, kitchen, front bedroom, back bedroom—to make it look more occupied. I figure for under twenty bucks, it's worth doing.