Thursday, May 28, 2009

Bravo Lance!

Yesterday, I received the following query from Lance Schachterle, a colleague and mentor, who happens to also be the Associate Provost at WPI:
Subject: Question about Cooper's BRAVO

Fabio—here’s the first line of the novel:
"The sun had disappeared behind the summits of the Tyrolean Alps, and the moon was already risen above the low barrier of the Lido.”
My question is—could one see the Tyrolean Alps from Venice?
The question comes up because at the time Cooper wrote the novel, 1831, Venice was controlled by the Austrians across the Alps. So this Alps reference may be political in nature.
Whether one can or cannot see the Alps from Venice, the political note is there. But I’d like to know—can one actually see the Alps from Venice?
The answer is...  YES, of course.  And to prove it, all one has to do is go to heywhatsthat and get the actual view from Venice.  It's a clever mashup, almost but not entirely quite unlike the type of thing we're trying to organize in Venice this fall.
Lance deserves a BRAVO! for having been the official authorizer of the inception of the Venice Project Center back in 1988.  I was a crazy 27 year old and he was more crazy than me for letting me carry out this experiment.  To his credit, he did make me produce a detailed plan for the center, which led me to propose a "bootstrap project", i.e. a project to determine the feasibility of the center, like we just did in Santa Fe.  That was the original bootstrap and it set the trend for every subsequent new project center that WPI started in the world from then on.  I recently obtained a carefully preserved copy of my original proposal from my other friend and mentor of the first hour, Count Marcello.  
Lance was the biggest and most important Friend of the VPC.  Without his courage and foresight, none of this anniversary would have ever happened.  Hundreds of students beside me owe him a huge debt of gratitude.  Indeed, he even allowed me to experiment with a project center in Innichen (or San Candido), on the Italian side of the Tyrolean alps.  How coincidental!
Thanks Lance.  Viele Danke. 
Bravo indeed!
Post a Comment