chasing movement

Category: work

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:


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

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

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.

colonized mind

It’s been a month since I’m back in Brazil for an indefinite period of time:

“Life is a lie with an infinite, and death is the only definite” (If I Should Die Tonight by Andre Prefontaine)

I left my home country a while ago. By that time, I had my eyes wide open to news ways of being and living. Since then I’ve seen and lived so much. Now, in a strategical return to the South continent, here I am: home sick in my own home. Home is a pretty indefinite concept for me now.

I found myself “lost in translation” on my ‘own’ country. I confess I’ve never had good writing skills on any language, but nowadays shit has gotten real. I can’t make myself understood using my written Portuguese. It’s frustrating and a real shame. Shame on me, oh yeah.

But the topic that has filled my evenings, my pillow debates, my discussion with friends and work colleagues (professors) is the famous and resilient “colonized mind”. Before going to Canada and the US, I’ve fought a billion times and fallen in love another billion times with it …. the colonized in me. In a colonized mind, you can only be the worst, you can only be mediocre, you can only make and build the minimum, you will never make something relevant. These are the silent but powerful thoughts of a colonized mind.

“The interesting—and complicated—thing about colonialism is that it encompasses not just politics and economics, but consciousness. Critical theorists such as Frantz Fanon and Paulo Freire have pointed this out.” (Peter D’Errico)

I have never fit it, ever. There is an exception, a really specific place where I am not a weirdo, I’m just a weirdo as everyone else: in Cambriville. Montreal falls behind, catching up on emotional aspects more than intellectual ones. But no matter where I find in Earth, I’ve broken the deal with the colonized thoughts that haunted me for years. My biggest fear back here is to deal with them again. The inside checkpoints are prompt but the battles with external colonized thoughts are brutal and miserable.

‘A colonized mind tends to reproduce the oppressor’ said Paulo Freire. These minds when worn with power can only diminish an entire culture and country. There is no critic mass to evaluate or even understand slightly outstanding or innovative thoughts. There is fear, pessimism, and inefficient competition.

A colonized mind can never receive a new idea with enthusiasm and optimism. Instead of getting pumped with an a-ha moment, and later list limitations, concerns, and a critic view on what could go wrong; the colonized mind will give you a quick solution for your creative distress: ironically, it will be really efficient on listing everything that could or certainly will go wrong. It will give you the quickest and simplest solution of not even bother trying. The result: mediocre projects, research, ideas, products.

My long-term friend and physician told me a wise anecdote:

“guy X had been in inpatient care for years and years, because he’d see and talk to a dog that didn’t exist. one day, he comes to the doctor and says: ‘hey, that dog thing was ridiculous, there is no dog!’. hence, the doctor discharges him. leaving the hospital, guy X says: ‘see, cute dog, we fooled him, now we are free.'”.

It seams that I need a lot of adaptation to my ‘own’ culture, including fooling myself. It is always a good time to learn new tricks, some of them are just really annoying to play. I’d say treats.

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