Articles, bits and pieces

"What job or career should I choose?" My niece asked me that question today. She is studying in the third year out of a four year degree in naval architecture. I thought my answers to her may help other young people in the same situation. Click HERE to read the entire article. 

If you were to search Google with the words "Golden Gate bridge suspension" you will get approximately1,400,000 results. Pretty impressive! It makes sense because suspension bridges are very complex pieces of engineering and the Golden Gate bridge is arguably the most well-known example of that type of a bridge. Many experts said that a bridge couldn’t be built across the 6,700 ft strait. It had strong, swirling tides and currents, powerful winds and regular fog. But the Golden Gate bridge, was built in only four years and came in ahead of schedule and under budget.

Google recently reported 11 minor accidents with its self-driving cars over six years and nearly two million miles driven -- and the company says that none of the scrapes were its fault. That sounds like a solid safety record. But when the first person gets killed because of a decision the Google robot car makes, who will be held responsible for that death?   Robot cars will be making their own decisions and in certain situations may have to make decisions detrimental to your life. If the car has to make a decision in a situation involving you and a school bus full of children without seat belts, should the car try to protect you at their expense or vice versa. The car may very well be programmed to sacrifice your well being.  

As I leave India this time, I take with me memories of the most beautiful thing its people have physically created – the Taj Mahal.  I had seen it before, but this time I experienced in some sense, the beauty of its creation.  I knew all the basic historical information:  that it was a monument to the love of Shah Jahan for his wife Mumtaj; that it took 20,000 people 22 years to complete this marvel; and it was finished in 1653; etc. But it had never quite been real for me before; it had felt more like a beautiful photo.

The world is full of beautiful and amazing things that we would like to remember frequently. Sometimes we get a photo or a keepsake to remind us. I have so many such places to remember. I try to buy something representative of the place i visit. I have a small bust of Athena after i visited Athens recently. Near Chennai there is a historical place called Mahabalipuram, a historical city with art and carvings going back to the 6th to 9th centuries. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site.These carvings are amazing. Many are practically house size structures carved out of single rocks. This was one of the legacies of the Pallava dynasty rule in South India. I have loved going there ever since i was in college and one of my friends lived there.  Like many amazing places in India, there wasn't a keepsake of the actual art even though there was a ton of tourist shops. This place draws traffic in the millions every year. I always found the lack disappointing. Then, in conversation with one of my friends I proposed we do something about it. The below is the output from that effort.  There is a very large bas relief called Arjuna's Penance or alternatively Descent of the Ganges in Mahabalipuram. It is probably about 40 feet by 25 feet in size, very large and filled with beautiful carvings representing a large number of stories from Indian culture and religion. It is fun to hear a tourist guide explaining all the various stories. My friend attempted to find a sculptor to make a full model of the shore temple at Mahabalipuram. But the results weren't satisfactory. I decided that the Arjuna's Penance would make a good subject.  I did some research to figure out how to do this without a huge amount of time and effort. I figured out that if I took a large amount of detailed photos, i can merge all of them together and create a CAD/CAM file of the photos, using one of the websites available, for free. It took a little bit of effort, since I didn't have background in CAD/CAM.  But I was able to get it done.  Then I was able to take that output and feed it to another site that was able to create 3D models from the file. This site also allowed the ability to print it in many formats, plastic, porcelain, aluminum, and even gold. I got it printed in a few formats.   I took one model and painted to get a better look and feel.  it came out pretty well.   It is very true to the original but the small size ( 4" x 2")  does not allow good detail. I love feeling it in my hands and looking at it. I can now directly and deliberately connect to a place that means so much to me and that i love. The business itself did not get started. But i believe there is a large opportunity to convert all the thousands of such landmarks and objects in India into beautiful and true keepsakes. Contact me if you want to try.      
You can only tread water for a little bit, then you sink. This is your fate when you are miles out at sea and no land is in sight.  Your body density is close to water density. So you bob up and down for a while. You may be fat or you may be thin; you may be a woman or a man; you may know swimming or you may not. It does not matter, most of the time it ends the same way- you sink.  A big wave can take you down or you may get tired.  Your will gives out or your body does. It is the end even though you had so much potential. The sea doesn’t care.         But maybe there are a few beach balls floating near you among the sea weed. Some are large and some are small; some are full and some are half-empty; some are close to you and some are far. It does not matter, they can all help.  One is not enough but there are enough. You use your strength and pull them together, one at a time. You blow up the half-empty ones if possible. You use some of the sea weed and tie them all together. You gather enough of them and make them into a crude life raft. You pull your tired body on to it. At last you are out of the water. You are not cold and your spirit comes back. You are ready to give the sea a good big fight; the fight of your life. Now more than likely you have given yourself enough time to find land or for some rescuers to find you. Great! Weren’t you lucky? If only you knew you were going to be adrift in the sea in this fashion. You would be out there throwing as many beach balls as you can into the sea.   You would be blowing them up as full of air as they can be.   Well, real life is a lot like that.  You are trying to lead a full happy and productive life.  But it is really not that easy.  You may be smart or dumb; you may be beautiful or ugly; you may be rich or poor.  It does not matter, life is still hard.  You could slip in the bathroom, hit your head and kill a part of your brain. You find your spouse is happier in another set of arms. You have a disease that medicine has not figured out yet.  Life is still hard and you have to get through it to fulfill your potential.  But there are some beach balls in your life!  Your friends, parents, good education, some special talents and skills,  siblings,  good health insurance, a job or business,  your divorced spouse, children, a good social safety net in your country, a strong network of acquaintances, some extra languages, savings, some investments, your neighbors.  Yes, these are the beach balls of your life. They are different colors and different sizes. Some are full, some are deflated and some are completely empty.  But they are your life raft. They will carry you through life.  Look for them and add them to your life. Blow them up so they are full and ready. Tend them carefully.      Because when the time comes, these beach balls will make up your life raft. They will carry you through the sea of life and let you have a chance to get to the wonderful shore that you crave.   And don’t forget; you are the beach ball in someone else’s raft. In memoriam: Robin Williams. RIP, brother! #robinwilliams #life     
As I was passing through an airport,  I saw the book "Drive" by Daniel Pink in the book store. I found myself immediately picking it up and starting to read. As a person involved in producing software for calculating sales commissions and incentives, I had a natural desire to understand and learn about human motivational behaviors.  But on reflection I realized that I had started picking up the book even before really knowing what it was about.  It was clear it must have been something about the cover. What was it about the cover that got me to automatically like the book and act on it almost without intention?