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chasing movement

letters to my doctor #1

It’s been a while I’m thinking on putting some energy on writing these letters. Today, it is.

“Why do I need to suffer? Do I need even more struggling?” I don’t think I need to, but I don’t know if it is inevitable. My statement is: ‘unusual things happen to people to act in unusual ways, these things maybe the extraordinarily good or bad, but they are, for sure, uncommon, weird, unexpected’.

The fact that patterns exist in one’s life may be related to some sort of lesson one need to go through. I have understood this a while ago, but sometimes the lesson and its topic remain unclear. In addition, so many other things make much more sense than a lesson. I also think that there may be another interpretation for the needs and benefits of tough repeatable times, which may not be related to a lesson.

If I make a lot of effort, this pattern may be related to my intimacy with confrontation, my inner fire bomb towards injustice or towards anything that disagrees with my arrogant sense of logic and correctness. In an effort to be pedagogically affirmative, I’ll write in a soft way to myself:
Maybe I should not think that I do detain the ground truth on anything;
Maybe I should not think that logic is more relevant and more significant than opinion. I should also remind myself that logic is not taken into account by several human beings;
Maybe I should not think that my opinion, statements, or thoughts matter for most people, so I should shout my big mouth;
I should and want to be more positive. Being more positive seems to magically attract positive reactions, but magic is not something that happens 100% of the time.

I realized that I compromise my happiness (whatever this means) in order to keep my ideologies, critic/logic thought or whatever this is called. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m ok on having tough times if they are consequence of me being critic, logic, or following my values. You’re going to ask, where is your fault in all this, your contribution to this madness time. Sometimes I can not see it.

Sometimes, reading myself I think I became acid and a bit toxic, like some of the authors I admire. I guess the first time I wrote using this acid and perhaps sarcastic writing style was by the age of 14 yo and I was criticizing pop and mainstream culture, while the entire country was mourning the death of a nonsense comic pop band called “Mamonas Assassinas”.

Speaking on reading influences, I remember how I loved the free spirited mind of Neruda in his memories. At the time I read, I thought how awesome that free love, fluid home concept, and “don’t look back” attitude was. I also thought how much work I had to do, and I guess I can proudly say now “I confess I lived that”.

I think it is good for today.

A line needs two points to exist. This is one point, I’ll work on adding more points, maybe I’ll have points enough for other geometries. who knows, but this post has a point: draw the first point.

this series is animated by an imaginary person and its real doctor. it’s complicated rather than complex.

sum([1:n])

Last week finished with a sum of facts, observations, and conclusions. Some odd, some funny.

* I’m really concerned about shauna’s article about errors in R. This week I invested seriously on migrating to Julia. I’m in love with it, but translating code is a pain. Shauna, thanks for the text.

* from MIT tutorials on Julia, here:
** “I always firmly believe that the first need everybody needs to know when you get into something is how to get out of it.” Alan Edelman, MIT;
** “Come on, this is MIT, you gotta try to break it.” Alan Edelman, MIT.

* I’m living in the 11th most violent city in the world. I’m not sure how much this info is accurate, and I believe that number of homicides is an important but not sufficient variable to conclude severity of urban violence. I guess number of homicide blends in gang disputes, drug war, family conflicts, most of them restricted to certain parts of the city. In any case, I have my eyes wide open and I miss biking. Finally, I usually don’t like the way research and inference is reported on the media.

* Speaking about biking, I found a “bike sister“. I just don’t get off my bike, but I’m sure people saw me doing similar stuff on the streets of Cambriville or Montreal. Her name is Lisa, she lives in Campo Grande, a state capital in Brazil. She works a lot, and to keep her pace, she dances while commuting from one mission to another. She cleans 3-4 houses a day, and she also works on construction sites and gardening from time to time. I hope she inspires you to have a happy and energetic week too.

home

I once wrote:

Anywhere I can be with inspiring people is home.

Now, I says: ‘It is rather not as simple’. Finding oneself in a new city is hard, even harder when you have to face lots of limitations on infrastructure. Another important point is the cultural aspects… if one likes them or not, they are going to be there anyways.

I’m having a tough time with nutrition here. Although Natal is really rich on fruits, people tend not to eat healthy, therefore the availability of healthy options is miserable. The only solution I could find is to cook all my meals. It is tiring and I have so many other things to do, but what can I do?!

Working with neural signals and neuroscience is really cool. I’m in love with electrophysiology and I’m working on adapting my toolbox to work with these super cool signals. Between mice, cotton-tops, data, graphs, conditioning circuits, I’m finding it super exciting and inspiring. More to come on this track.

On Tuesday, it will be time to install Debian Neuroscience in a lab computer. This will be really beautiful. I’m trying to get myself to speak Julia more, but switching between languages is not always as efficient as in Montreal.

From something to nowhere

I’m literally in the middle of nowhere. I just moved to Natal, northeast Brazil, for a gig at the laboratory of the most polemic  Brazilian researcher ever. I’d describe his appreciation as a very skewed bimodal distribution.

Adaptation has been tough tho. Job hasn’t started yet and I’m still airbnb-ing. My host has a cat – friendly but quite demanding – and a parrot. Yes, a parrot. I had to remind myself how common and even funny this is in a South American context. But when he vocalizes ‘amigo’, it’s just so bizarre and odd. Not bad just so so bizarre. Even more for being posted at the Boston Iron Blog. So, I decided that the cambriville folks deserve to see a pic of him.


If Natal is a state capital and it didn’t realize yet (there is little to do over here), our offices are in a lost land that indeed exists. As controversial as it might sound my current messy mindset about this place, the curious facts didn’t finish yet.

Natal is one of the capitals that were once upon a time part of Dutch Brazil. It was known as New Amsterdam, title attributed to NYC nowadays – at least for some. The Portuguese took it over when the Dutch realized Natal was not a good market colony anymore. And there we are, Brazilians, embodying our Portuguese heritage of being fulfilled with little – both in good and bad aspects of it. Oh, comfort zone, were you lost on the graving of the ancient Portuguese endeavours that launched their chance over seas?

By the way, I started reading Zorba, by Niko Kazantzakis, and it brings me so much about the faith and roughness of lost sailors. Am I one of them? For sure, leaving home behind and loosing the concept of it makes one as tough as sailors’ hands. The rope is there and I’m with it. Strings attached everywhere  but one has two eyes: one for the wheel, the other to the rope.

“Dutch Brazil” on @Wikipedia:

Pre something

Upcoming days will be wild. New  city. New culture. Old way of doing things buried. 

pinterest: a sexist social network service

I created an account on pinterest these days, as soon as I knew that Jure Leskovec, a big name on big data is the new pinterest’s chief scientist. I was excited to see how his work would progressively change a platform.

My first impression was horrible, not to say terrifying. There was an entry selection for gender, as soon as a click on female, suddenly all these images of clothing, fashion, cooking, marriage poped up on my screen. I felt so disturbed that for a second I didn’t know what to do, I even felt embarrassed for something I didn’t do (horrible socially constructed feeling). I searched for a place where I could select my interests and among the list of things they offered me in this search, I couldn’t find engineering, science, physics. Yes, I found dance and ballet there. It was something. Scrolling down, again, again, and again, and nothing. I had to use the search tool and type engineering, science, etc, one by one.

Well, I was confused and disturbed but finally my feed looked like something I could relate with. But, one of these days, I receive, by e-mail, a suggestion of trends supposedly design for my interests and (again) supposedly using tools of data science. The results was this:

pinterest

Tips for cleaning, recipes etc. Don’t take me wrong, as an independent human being, I do like those things but I do not consume them as information.

If in the beginning I was curious about the results of Jure’s work on it, now I wish him good luck. Whatever data processing they have there, it’s garbage, it’s gender centered and sexist. I’m mad. I think I won’t wait improvements to come, even if I love the street art pictures, science anecdotes, ballet pictures etc.

We need better data science! All technical decisions are also political, therefore we need to keep discussing privacy and respect, otherwise we will end up in a fugazzi cloud of information, which will require new spam detection tolls to filter them out. (uhh… looks good… data science creating the next generation of data science jobs, now I get it). And yes, by the way, we should finally design tools that do not require gender definition whatsoever.

Liberation

They started making out as usual those days of ovulation and fire. She came down on him but in her way, she couldn’t control her compulsion. 

It was huge and its colors were hard to ignore. She could almost feel her hands on it, the explosion in the moment of the liberation. She could not control herself, she ignored him completely and went for it. 

After the intensity of the explosion, he couldn’t keep up with the sexual act, his ingrown hair was now released but he was down to sleep. 

inspiration

It is certain that I can potentially enjoy any project whose idea inspires me. It can be from a simple buzzing system that prevents me from slamming the fridge’s door with an open drawer to a sky rocket algorithm that quantifies soft tissue deformation during pitching. 
I’m an engineer and researcher. Therefore, I can do anything. Including doing nothing that I’ve done till now. How that sounds? Beautiful uh? If technology was broken for a certain research question, it was worth to evaluate how much I could put it together and how much I should wait for my beloved colleagues to come up with better material science that will hopefully fix the broken technology of today. 
I wonder how senior researchers and professors deal with it. I know some that keep a straight line of thought since the first derivative line in their phd. Some others are widely open to their students’ abilities and drives. The latter perhaps would hear me when I say that you can do whatever you want. 
Holstee and so many other inspiring texts claim you should do what you love. People may break nuts while figuring out what the hack is the thing they love. Maybe the answer is not a single topic or drive. It’s a realm. But watch out, you should not entitled yourself to a task that you don’t have the correspondent knowledge and qualification to do, this would be totally irresponsible. But yes, given that you have the background knowledge, that you know the right tools for the job, you can do anything. Do not ever ever ever step on someone else’s domain. Give value and admiration to your peers is essential and efficient. Also, do not deliver bold statements based on superficial knowledge and low fidelity data. Be critic. About your work, your mentors’ work and anyone else’s work. Do it, but find the line between being critic and wasting your time pointing out at others’ work. A nice way to show limitations of a given work is not pointing at it loud, it is indeed to do it yourself… better. 
Not only you should do what you love, but do what you know you do well! Know your weakness and find competent people to pair with, given value to their work. Remember that is always hard to give value to details or preciosities if you ignore the topic. Respect and admiration should fill your knowledge gap for this purpose. 
And yes, be in fucking love with yourself. This is essential, but do not ever ever diminish other people and do not put yourself on a tabernacle from where you are not be able to see what is underneath your feet or the dust around you. If you don’t love yourself, you can be ridiculous competent but you won’t be seen and recognized. Don’t wait or work for recognition, do what you think is needed and give yourself recognition for your strengths, efforts, and your processes of learning by failure. 
Be bold. 
Do what you think the world needs and if it is not prepared for that, build a communication tunnel which you could use to offer the world something, even if this is limited or far from your ideal capabilities. It is worth. Don’t attach and satisfy yourself with the minimum though. The sky is not the limit, but it’s a nice place to be looking at. 
Be bold. Mean it!
Driving, I’d tell my mom. If you are willing to turn, mean it, otherwise people won’t see your intention. If you don’t turn the wheels enough, you’ll either find an obstacle or be an obstacle to someone else. Mean it. 

a humble confession/collection of insights to my pupil that inspires me a bunch. Thanks g.

Since my friend N, argentinisimo, showed me Spinoza’s text: ‘On the Improvement of the Understanding‘, a text that circulated unfinished before 1662(?) and was finally published in its final version after Spinoza’s death in 1677.

Spinoza’s text is powerful if one is searching for purpose, personal evaluation, and life changes. He starts by discussing the ordinary objects of men’s desires:

For the ordinary
surroundings of life which are esteemed by men (as their actions
testify) to be the highest good, may be classed under the three
heads—Riches, Fame, and the Pleasures of Sense: with these three the
mind is so absorbed that it has little power to reflect on any different
good.

He then defends a minimalist and humble life in his ‘rules of life’, which are probably unattainable in the current capitalist world, but which idealism makes sense as a reference with its place in time.

Maybe one of the most up-to-date claims of Spinoza is the idea that we should understand what is real or not. This is also a difficult task when everything is made to seduce us into consumption, passiveness at a certain level or in certain spaces, etc. Any form of isolation or obsession is indeed the creation of another reality which exists to make your world more comfy. But it is not real. Discerning one thing from another requires a continuous mind inquietude.

I shall confine
myself to what concerns method—that is, to the character of fictitious,
false and doubtful perceptions, and the means of freeing ourselves
therefrom

I like to say that the laws of physics help me defining my ideas and that I sometimes I catch myself trying to live as an experiment, which requires method, hypotheses, evaluation, discussion. After all, I think I’m nuts but Spinoza goes even deeper into this:

We need, therefore, be in no fear of forming hypotheses,
so long as we have a clear and distinct perception of what is involved.
For, if we were to assert, haply, that men are suddenly turned into
beasts, the statement would be extremely general, so general that there
would be no conception, that is, no idea or connection of subject and
predicate, in our mind.

I hope you find yourself curious about this text and that one day we get the chance to discuss it.

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