Tag Archives: Wade

Postcast Interview

Katy Dickinson Sun Microsystems badge 398 in 2010

I very much enjoyed being interviewed by Akshay Birla for his “Life of the Mind” podcast last month. He just published the interview as “Episode 19 | Katy Dickinson on Technology, Mentoring, and Religion”.

Katy Dickinson has been around the tech-block. Hired by Eric Schmidt at Sun Microsystems, she literally wrote the book on the software development lifecycle that Sun used for release of almost 10,000 releases. She is a technologist, entrepreneur, mentor, and writer.

In our conversation Katy talks about her work as a technologist on creating processes:
A process has to not assume that you have world-class people working on it. A process assumes that that not everybody — while they are good-intentioned and competent — [is] perfect. You have to have a system that allows for lack of perfection but can work if you have the best that there is.

and the futility of only having excellent coders:
A good coder is a wonderful thing to have but you have to create something that the customer wants and feels comfortable with. Good coding and user experience are sometimes at odds.

But we spend the most of our conversation talking about mentoring programs that deliver high return-on-investment, and the intersection of religion and technology.

On the importance of example and networking provided by the Grace Hopper Celebration:
While they may be the only women in the room – which has certainly been my experience in 30+ years in the Silicon Valley – there are a lot of rooms.

Listening to your own recorded voice is always surprising – it sounds so different from the inside!

Happy New Year!

Sun Microsystems gate Menlo Park California in 2010

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Filed under Church, Hopper - Anita Borg Institute, Mentoring & Other Business, Mentoring Standard, News & Reviews

Benefits of Dementia

Jessica Dickinson Goodman and Eleanor Dickinson, Dickens Fair, San Francisco 18 Dec 2016

On this, my daughter Jessica‘s birthday, I want to honor and thank her for her creativity, love, and generous heart. It is such a pleasure that she and Matthew live here in San Jose, not only because I love and want to spend time with them but also because Jessica has made time each week for my mother Eleanor (her grandmother), to help her get all that she can out of life, despite her dementia and other health challenges.

In a recent conversation, Jessica told me she keeps a mental list of what is good about dementia. After a pause during which I reoriented my thinking about this degrading and frustrating disease, I remembered that in 2008 I made a similar list of some of the benefits of having a disabled child.   Here is Jessica’s list, plus some additions:

Benefits of Dementia

  1. Good Surprises: Jessica told me about man with dementia who would order socks or books or other needed items for postal delivery. By the time the packages arrived, he had forgotten he himself had ordered them. He was sure he had a loving friend sending him surprises that were just what he wanted.
  2. Making a Statement, Again: When my mother saw Jessica in a politically provocative tshirt, she was delighted. Later that afternoon, Eleanor noticed the shirt for the first time, and was delighted again.
  3. Keeping Contact: When my father Wade died in 2011 at the age of 85, Eleanor lost her greatest fan. They had been married for 59 years, fighting and arguing all the way. Eleanor’s dementia has softened that loss. Sometimes she speaks of Wade as if he is in the next room.

What would you add to this list of the benefits of dementia?

Dickinsons at the Dickens Fair, San Francisco 18 Dec 2016

Eleanor Dickinson, Christmas 2016

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Images Copyright 2016 by Katy Dickinson

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Republican Elephant Killed in Accident (1956)


I grew up knowing about Dolly, the baby elephant my parents took care of during the August 1956 Republican National Convention. I was sad today to learn the end of her story. I have been looking through a family treasure box recently and came across a folder of newspaper clippings from 1956. Some I had seen before – of my parents dressed in Indian finery escorting Dolly, an eight month old elephant from the Louis Goebel Wild Animal Farm in Southern California. There were cheerful news stories from New York, Chicago, Pacific Palasades, my mother’s hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee, as well as from the San Francisco Bay Area. Dolly as the symbol of the Young Republicans, went to all of the convention social events and even greeted President Eisenhower (who was successfully re-elected several months later). She was usually pictured wearing her big “Elephant License 1” from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).

It was a shock to come upon two final news stories about how Dolly was killed in a traffic accident when the truck taking her home from San Francisco overturned. She died near Watsonville, California, in need of a blood transfusion and far from any elephant who could give it to her.

Four years later, by the 1960 presidential election, my mother had become a Democrat, firmly opposed to my father’s continued support of the Republican party. 1960 was the first election I remember: my 3-year-old self was so delighted that my candidate, John F. Kennedy, won.  I wonder if Dolly’s death had anything to do with my mother’s shift in politics?

Wade Dickinson with elephant at Goebel Wild Animal Farm 1956







1956 Dolly elephant

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Family Treasure Box

Wade Dickinson 1964 Louis Goebel Wild Animal Farm with elephant

The family that purchased our San Francisco home three years ago is remodeling and found a big flat metal box in the attic. I am grateful that they were kind enough to ship it to me since it is stuffed with family documents and photographs. I have been sorting and scanning the contents, finding both treasures and surprises. There was a stack of small faded family photos of Swiss ancestors, dated 1863 to 1890 (I recognize a few names and faces). There were also photos of military bomb tests taken my father (Wade Dickinson) in the 1950s, and a picture of my father taking delivery of a baby elephant at the Louis Goebel Wild Animal Farm. He and my mother wrangled the elephant for the 1956 Republican National Convention in San Francisco. Also included were my mother’s diploma from the University of Tennessee (Knoxville 1952), my father’s diploma from West Point (USMA 1949) , plus a humorous 1951 diploma for “Doctor of Nuclear Phenomeknowledgy” from the researchers at the Oak Ridge School of Reactor Technology where my father studied Nuclear Engineering. There is even a flyer from my mother’s first art exhibit in San Francisco (1965?) and a photo of her modeling in the Junior League of San Francisco fashion show.  Unpacking treasure is interesting.

family treasure box 2015

Eleanor Dickinson Junior League Fashion Show San Francisco 1955 . Wade Dickinson USMA 1945

USAF military bomb test 1952?

Wade Dickinson certificate Oak Ridge School of Reactor Technology 1951

1870 Washington DC . Grandma Lily in Geneve 1871

Photos Copyright 1951-2015 by Katy Dickinson


Filed under Home & Family, News & Reviews, Politics

Art Trust


My mother, Eleanor Creekmore Dickinson, has been an artist all of her life, including teaching for decades as the Professor of Life Drawing (and Gallery Management Program Director) at the renowned California College of the Arts (in Oakland and San Francisco). She has been creating in one medium or another pretty much daily since she knowingly composed her first photograph in 1941 at the age of ten. Even though she sells pieces regularly, this still makes for a huge collection of artwork – many thousands of framed and unframed works (mostly on paper or fabric). After my father Wade Dickinson passed away in 2011, we moved Eleanor and her art from San Francisco to San Jose.

For the last year, I have been working with my mother and brothers Pete and Mark, advised by an Estate CPA and an Estate Planning Attorney as well as experts in art, to set up a charitable Art Trust to maintain and manage my mother’s collection. Art is very complex in terms of taxes and valuation, and we want to get this business sorted out while our mother can be actively involved. I was very happy to finally get most of the Eleanor Dickinson Art Trust paperwork signed last week.

In addition to managing the business side of Eleanor Dickinson’s work, we also want her art to be exhibited – to be seen and enjoyed and not just kept in storage. However, even setting up a small local art show takes weeks of work for both the artist (or her family) and the gallery, museum, or exhibit space. Many shows require special framing, shipping, documentation, and insurance, all of which take time and money. We know from experience it can take many years of negotiations to donate an art collection to a museum or university. Within my mother’s larger collection, there are many sub-collections, including: Old Testament drawings, dream pictures, crucifixion velvets, animal portraits, plus drawings and photos and artifacts associated with Revival! and her other big traveling exhibits. We have set up the new Art Trust so that sales of art can pay the insurance and exhibit costs for the collection long-term.  We hope that our mother will be creating new art for many years to come.  We are doing our best to care for it!



Images Copyright Eleanor Creekmore Dickinson 1975, and Katy Dickinson 2013-2014

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Why Ideas are Killed


I was reminded during a recent meeting of this sign that my father, Wade Dickinson, had on his desk for decades. The quote is from one of his role models: Charles Kettering – American inventor, engineer, businessman, and the holder of 186 patents:

Why Ideas are Killed
Man is so constituted as to see what is wrong with a new thing – not what is right.  To verify this, you have but to submit a new idea to a committee.  They will obliterate ninety per cent of rightness for the sake of ten per cent of wrongness.  The possibilities a new idea opens up are not visualized because not one man in a thousand has imagination.

My father was granted over three dozen US patents during his life in a wide variety of fields.  Five more patents have issued since he died in San Francisco at age 85, in 2011. I hope that I can continue to be creative – and to see new things – as long as he did!


Wade Dickinson’s US Patents – Issued Since 2011
8,420,042 Process for the production of carbon graphenes and other nanomaterials
8,377,408 Process for the production of carbon nanoparticles and sequestration of carbon
8,277,145 Engineered, scalable underground storage system and method
8,256,992 Underground sequestration system and method
8,256,991 Engineered, scalable underground storage system and method

Wade Dickinson’s US Patents (1965-2011)
7,914,749 Clathrate hydrate modular storage, applications and utilization processes
6,206,112 Multiple lateral hydraulic drilling apparatus and method
6,142,246 Multiple lateral hydraulic drilling apparatus and method
5,035,285 Gravel packing system for a production radial tube
4,991,667 Hydraulic drilling apparatus and method
4,974,672 Gravel packing system for a production radial tube
4,872,509 Oil well production system using a hollow tube liner
4,865,128 Gravel packing system for a production radial tube
4,852,668 Hydraulic drilling apparatus and method
4,790,394 Hydraulic drilling apparatus and method
4,787,465 Hydraulic drilling apparatus and method
4,763,734 Earth drilling method and apparatus using multiple hydraulic forces
4,750,561 Gravel packing system for a production radial tube
4,715,128 Curvature probe and method
4,693,327 Mechanically actuated whipstock assembly
4,560,934 Method of transporting a payload in a borehole
4,527,639 Hydraulic piston-effect method and apparatus for forming a bore hole
4,524,324 Downhole instrument including a flexible probe which can travel freely around bends in a borehole
4,501,337 Apparatus for forming and using a bore hole
4,497,381 Earth drilling apparatus and method
4,431,069 Method and apparatus for forming and using a bore hole
4,091,807 Intra-vaginal device and method of use
3,938,504 Method for measuring vagina dimensions
3,407,650 Ultrasonic apparatus for detecting flaws
3,407,649 Method and apparatus for generating a high power ultrasonic burst pulse signal
3,407,122 Solar still with a cassegranian optical system
3,299,696 Apparatus for generating, directing and receiving ultrasonic wave trains
3,299,695 Ultrasonic testing apparatus
3,299,694 Method and apparatus for detecting flaws using ultrasonic helical waves
3,282,087 Apparatus for generating ultrasonic waves
3,250,120 Method and apparatus for determining flaw locations
3,186,216 Method and apparatus for generating and receiving ultrasonic helical waves
One more from the 1950s… Still looking

Image Copyright 2014 by Katy Dickinson

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Happy Mother’s Day

Eleanor Creekmore Dickinson, Paul Dickinson Goodman, Katy Dickinson 2014

Today is America’s official celebration of motherhood – when flowers, candy, greeting cards, and brunch are practically required. John and Paul and I took my mother with her bouquet of roses to St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, followed by Indian buffet at The Mynt Restaurant in Saratoga, CA. We squabbled over who got to eat the caramels out of the box of chocolates she gave me. We missed Jessica and her husband Matthew but hope to talk with them by phone later today.

One of the benefits of my being the keeper of the photo repository is that I have a pictorial record from birth for almost every member of the family, including those below.  This is a beautiful day to celebrate my wonderful family, of whom I am very proud!

Eleanor Creekmore Dickinson, Katy Dickinson 1958
Eleanor Creekmore Dickinson and baby Katy Dickinson, 1958

Katy Dickinson, Jessica Dickinson Goodman by Jeffrey Davila 1988
Katy Dickinson and baby Jessica Dickinson Goodman, by Jeffrey Davila, 1988

Wade Dickinson, Eleanor Creekmore Dickinson, Paul Dickinson Goodman 1992
Grandpa Wade Dickinson, Grandma Eleanor Creekmore Dickinson, and baby Paul Dickinson Goodman, 1992

Katy Dickinson, Jessica Dickinson Goodman, Petra Jordan 2013
Katy Dickinson and Jessica Dickinson Goodman, at Petra Jordan, 2013

Matthew Holmes and Jessica Dickinson Goodman, at the Lair of the Golden Bear, Pinecrest CA, 2013
Matthew Holmes and Jessica Dickinson Goodman, at the Lair of the Golden Bear, Pinecrest CA, 2013

Katy Dickinson and Paul Dickinson Goodman 2014
Katy Dickinson and Paul Dickinson Goodman 2014

Images Copyright 1992-2014 by Katy Dickinson

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