Sunday, May 23, 2010

Always have some margin for error

I drove the kids to Skyhigh in Santa Clara today, so plenty of talk time... The first conversation we had was about always having margin for error. For example, yesterday I picked up my friend E who came from Berkley via BART. I could have tried to pick him up right in front of the BART station on Market street, but, there is nowhere to park there, so it would have been a hassle if he was not right there when I got there. Instead, I asked him to walk a block to a place where I knew I would be able to park if necessary.

Another example: during the Vietnam War the Americans used M16s while the Vietnamese used the "inferior" AK47. The M16 was lighter and more accurate, yet it had no "margin for error" when it came to dirt and mud. M16s would jam due to all the dirt that got into them while AK47s worked just fine all dirty - as they were less "precise" machines with more room for error...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Don't give up right away

A was telling me a few days ago that he might have made a mistake by buying an ipad instead of a macbook - as he wants to get into programming for the iphone, for which he need a mac. I mentioned to him this morning that I found out yesterday that all Bay Area Apple stores are sold out of the ipad so that he can probably resell his ipad for the same amount he paid. I doubt he will do it - as he enjoys the ipad too much - but I took advantage of the occasion to tell the kids about the importance of not giving up right away when we think we made a mistake or can't get what we want. Turns out that he might be able to "return" the ipad and get a macbook if he wants. Just needed to make an effort (and have a bit of luck). I told them a couple of other examples: I recently bought a pair of waterproof headphones and found out a few days after I got them that the manufacturer had just released a headset version that would be better for me. Instead of saying, "bad luck, oh well", I contacted the manufacturer and asked if I could return the one I had bought (given the circumstances). They agreed. Another example would be to arrive to a store or restaurant a few minutes after they closed. Rather than turning around and leaving, knocking on the door and asking nicely might still get you in.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Subconscious Fiction & Emotional Music

As we got going this morning a very sad (classical) song was playing on the radio. I mentioned to the kids how amazing it was that instrumental music could convey such string emotions - I literally wanted to cry! A actually recognized the piece as one from Episode 2: Attack of the Clones (which the radio confirmed to be true). We couldn't remember the actual scene, but it must have been someone dying or leaving...

On a totally different subject: when P return from his trip to Catalina a couple of weeks ago he told me, and he was very upset about this, that he had lost his camera. He had it in his short's pocket where he was also storing rocks, and he left it open after adding some rocks, so the camera fell. That was that until this morning when we found the camera in a pocket of his suitcase (which we hadn't completely emptied). Turns out what we often "remember" is our subconscious filling the blanks. Paco remembered having his camera in his pocket and he remembered leaving his pocket empty and he remembered not finding his camera, so his subconscious filled the blanks with the camera falling from his pocket - and it made a tight memory that his conscious mind "remembered" totally unaware of his subconscious' fictional abilities... Not sure if this is true, but I said this was probably the result of natural selection: humans whose mind carefully recorded every second into an actual detailed memory were probably so busy dealing with memories they didn't react quickly when the tiger came... What was the benefit of recording in memory every second of a day hunting and gathering?

Don't trust your own memories!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Discoveries - Going on a Limb

Sunday was C's dad's birthday. The plan was to have a picnic and C vaguely remembered picnic tables near the Palace of the Legion of Honor. We headed that way but couldn't find the tables. Initially we were frustrated and somewhat upset at ourselves for not planning better. But after a bit of driving around, asking around and some Google searching we discovered a terrific place: Fort Miley. Awesome views of the ocean, no crowds, large grassy are next to the tables. The lesson? Sometimes you have to go out on a limb to discover great new things. If you just stick to what you know you'll miss out on lots of great things. It is like with food: you could just eat the few things you know you like over and over, but wont discover great new flavors. You'll strike out sometimes, but that is the price to pay...