So yesterday was my birthday. As soon as my friend Bruno announced it on Twitter, fearing for my phone’s battery (considering I was going to be away from a charger for the day), I kindly requested not to receive that many notifications. As usual with these things, it had exactly the opposite effect, with him and other friends making sure that I’d receive as many notifications as possible.
Most people won’t remember about Captain power and the soldiers of the future, but since I grew up in the 80’s, I have some great memories of this show. If you don’t know the show or simply want to refresh your memory, here’s the intro:
Sure, it looks rubbish now but you have to look at it with the eyes of a small kid from the 80’s who didn’t have that much to watch on TV.
My favourite character was Major Matthew ‘Hawk’ Masterson because he was the one that could fly. I remember sticking a set-square with some rubber bands in the back of one of my G.I. Joe action figures to emulate this great character.
I wonder what TV shows my sons will watch know that will look completely dumb 30 years from now. My money is on Uncle Grandpa (hint: it’s already a dumb show).
I don’t usually care about in-flight entertainment, since I carefully plan what I’ll be watching, reading or working on during flights and I pre-pack my laptop and kindle with the necessary stuff. However, last week I was travelling to Angola and the plane I was in had one of those neat in-flight entertainment systems per seat and I decided to try it. It was packed full of movies, tv shows and music and since I had a few hours to kill, I decided to watch a couple of movies (and maybe doze off until arrival).
In 1959, Isaac Asimov wrote this essay on creativity, postulating on the elements that fostered creativity in humans. As usual, he was right and I have a story from my PhD that somehow proves his statements.
The story proves the baseline argument from the essay: isolation is definitely necessary but it’s the informal discussions within small groups that allows the teams to nurture novel concepts and apply abstract ideas to other environments.
I made the mistake of reading this post in the beginning of a work day. I couldn’t think after having read it. I couldn’t even feel right away. I was just stunned. I spent the next few minutes just paralyzed without knowing what to think or do.
I was “awakened” from that state by the sound of the door of my office opening with the arrival of my colleague, so I had to brush what I’ve just read from my mind and try to act normal. A busy day was ahead of me, so I really had to start forcing my brain to enter programming mode.
Thankfully, in this case, I had a very busy and stressful day, which allowed my brain to shun that story into oblivion. It was only later that day, as I was stuck in traffic, that the story came back to me. There I was, complaining that I was sick and tired of being stuck in traffic, when the story promptly comes back into my head. And I don’t know if it was the stress of the day or the simple fact that I simply haven’t been able to sleep well for over a week and was really, really tired, or (probably more to the point) that the story had touched me so profoundly, but I too wept the whole journey back home.
What affected me so much about this story was not only the fact that a little girl was going to die of a brain tumor. Was the way this little girl was confronting the situation. This was not one of those movie-like scenes where you see the child embracing the parents and saying beautiful things only kids, that still don’t understand death, say. This is the harsh truth of powerless parents that have to say to their little child that she is going to die and the child shows the most humane and heartbroken of reactions: she’s afraid to die.
And as a parent, this is the most awful moment in life: when you see your kids suffering and you feel powerless to help your kids. What do you do then? You just embrace them and weep with them.
I thought about creating different ways to control a toy car in a race track, instead of the typical handheld joystick-like device. One of those ideas was based on the use of a sonar (that measures distance to an object) as the controller for the car – the closer the hand to the sonar, the highest the acceleration.
However, considering that the sonar works through eco-location and that the track makes an infernal sound, the sonar accuracy is affected by the sound of the track, thus rendering this approach useless.
Any alternative ideas? I will try the best one (as long as it is not cost-prohibitive) 🙂