I really enjoy the book Good to Great by Jim Collins. It’s a book about business. I found it compelling but, even after having read 2/3 of it some years ago, I still often wonder: what does it all mean?
Perhaps I will never fully know.
An M.D. friend of mine told me about the book. He found that it applied to multiple contexts. Another colleague of mine has been reading it, and I’ve flipped through it several times lately while visiting in his office.
As for myself, I think I’m better at achieving greatness in some contexts than others. In business I’ve little idea of how greatness looks or feels. In work and in life, I’ve achieved things that seem pretty great to me.
Beryl Markham provided the opening quote Collins used in his book: “That’s what makes death so hard — unsatisfied curiosity.” Of course, we have all heard that curiosity is also what killed the cat. Striking the right balance isn’t easy.
Defining new goals has always been the biggest challenge for me. And I see I’m not alone. Defining appropriate goals for achieving greatness requires curiosity and experience. So many companies are limited by their own success, Collins asserts, that they don’t flourish because they limit themselves to tried and tested approaches that they don’t realize are outdated. If they do realize it, they usually are unable to shift to new approaches anyway.
Achieving those goals requires skill, perseverance, and steadfast determination.
Setting up to film, the room was filled to capacity with Mulligan relations.
Cinematographers and musicians filled the tiny musicians’ corner at the Cobblestone pub last week. They were filming a documentary about traditional Irish music, focusing on the influence of the Travelers (the ethnic group that’s had the roughest time here in Ireland). I’ll try to keep you posted as to when and where the documentary will air.
And then the filming commenced.
Former Fulbright Pam Eddy and I enjoyed a quick visit to Temple Bar’s First Thursdays events during her February visit. Throughout most of the year, the galleries and other cultural establishments throughout Temple Bar stay open late (6-8 PM) on the first Thursday night of each month.
Pam and I had time to visit just two galleries because I’d been part of a Fulbright “field trip” to the Criminal Courts of Justice building that started at 5 (as pictured to the left).
It appears that First Thursday is officially dormant during March. This year, it will re-emerge on Thursday, April 4.
The surprising thing about the many free cultural events offered in Dublin each year is the high level of participation among Dublin residents. In many other cities, residents ignore such offerings. That is truly not the case here!
The Temple Bar Cultural Trust website explains:
First Thursdays Dublin is a Temple Bar Cultural Trust initiative that brings together art galleries, cultural and creative spaces on the first Thursday of every month – by sharing the same late-night opening times.
First Thursdays Dublin (FTD) happens on the first Thursday of every month. Opening hours are extended from 6 – 8pm in a number of galleries. Please note: this list changes every month for First Thursdays! It offers you an extra opportunity to visit exhibitions, attend cultural events and experience some light-night culture. It is our way of experiencing a taste of Culture Night on a monthly basis!
The National College of Art and Design (NCAD) draws a big crowd on First Thursdays… even on a rainy night!
Pam studies a table on display at NCAD.
Enjoying a glass birdcage with Pam at NCAD.
This is a detail photo of a piece on display at NCAD.
Pam and I got a comprehensive tour at the art gallery in the New Theater on Essex Street.
I found some fun reflections to capture.
Here is the list of the galleries, cultural and creative spaces that are now part of First Thursdays Dublin:
- Basic Space
- Block T
- Centre for Creative Practices
- Cow’s Lane Designer Studio
- Darc Space
- Debbie Paul Studio and Gallery
- Design Yard
- Douglas Hyde Gallery
- Draiocht, Centre for the Arts
- Dublin Civic Trust
- Exchange Dublin
- Gallery @ No. SIX
- Gallery of Photography
- Gallery Zozimus
- Graphic Studio Gallery
- Green on Red Gallery
- Hillsboro Fine Art
- Jam Art Factory
- James Joyce Centre
- Kevin Kavanagh Gallery
- Little Green Street Gallery
- Monster Truck Gallery & Studios
- National Gallery of Ireland (open late every Thursday)
- National College of Art and Design Gallery
- No Grants Gallery
- Project 51
- Project Arts Centre, Gallery
- Olivier Cornet Gallery
- Science Gallery
- Sol Art Gallery
- Talbot Gallery & Studios
- Tamp & Stitch
- Taylor Galleries
- Temple Bar Gallery & Studios
- The Copper House Gallery
- The Doorway Gallery
- The Goethe Institut
- The Green Gallery
- The Icon Factory
- The Joinery
- The Keeling Gallery
- The LAB
- The Little Museum of Dublin
- The Market Studios
- The Picture Rooms
- The Pallas Projects
- The White Gallery
- White Art Lady
My engineering colleagues, Drs. Ted Burke and Damon Berry, hosted a brilliant RoboSlam last Friday. They had recruited a diverse crowd of participants to help them refine the way they teach kids to build robots. You can see the basic method (which is being tweaked for use with a new group of kids in May) on their RoboSlam website. I’ve attempted to capture the excitement (and my confusion) in the images below.
Introduction to RoboSlam
Opening our kits
Most of the parts fit into one little box
The RoboSlam site provides step-by-step instructions
Emma and her nephew, Ryan
Exploring my kit of parts
Ted offering assistance
In retrospect I see I’d already made a mistake!?!!
Here, I felt I was making progress
Richard Hayes gets animated
Damon, Finbar, and John considering techniques
Full steam ahead for Gavin
Mike, Ted, and Sarah Jane making swift work of their robot
Ryan and Emma were flying along, too!
Mike assembling the chassis
Mike and Sarah Jane worked so well as a team…
…it made me wish I wasn’t working alone….
…becasue all the teams around me were progressing nicely.
Ryan and Emma got their lights blinking and wheels spinning.
Meanwhile, Ted had to help me troubleshoot.
Sarah Jane made quick work of the programming tasks.
But it turned out my two chips were both defective, and I had a couple of wires “crossed.”
Mike and Sarah Jane’s success attracted an audience.
Richard had his robot blinking and spinning in no time, too.
Finbar O’Meara’s robot i action.
Finishing touches for Ruth’s robot…
…followed by a successful test run.
Michael had structural issues similar to mine.
Damon Berry and John McGrory discussing programming
A proud robot owner
Ted… still diagnosing my problems 😛
I was really ready to head to Ryan’s Pub once we finally got my robot blinking and its wheels spinning… sort of.
Where we discussed the ins and outs of robot construction
over pints of Guinness and cups of tea.
Before the event, Ted sent me this:
You’re receiving this because you’re on our list of participants for the upcoming RoboSlam workshop. Hopefully you’re still willing and available! If so, please reply to let us know so that we can confirm our numbers.
The details are:
- Date: Friday 22nd March
- Time: 2-6pm
- Location: DIT Kevin St, room TBC
What happens over the course of the afternoon is this:
- We give each of you a bag of carefully selected low-cost components and a link to some online instructions.
- You build and program a small autonomous robot.
- Damon and I hover around offering friendly guidance.
- We all try out our robots!
We previously ran this workshop as a public event in the MAKESHOP which is part of the Science Gallery at Trinity College. It was a resounding success and it convinced us that this has real potential for a wide audience. Our next workshop with ordinary participants is with a larger group of transition year school students who will be visiting Kevin St in May. What you (extraordinary participants) will be doing on March 22nd is basically the same activity that the participants normally do, but what we’re trying to achieve in this session is slightly different:
- Improvement: We want your ideas on how we can refine the RoboSlam recipe. You have been selected for your expertise, wisdom and creativity. Experience the workshop, then think carefully about how we can make it better.
- Promotion: We want to recruit mavens. Makers clubs and workshops are emerging as a critically important channel for getting talented people with a natural interest in technology involved in engineering. We think RoboSlam is a good recipe, so we’re eager to bring it to a wider audience.
Once we get the robots working, we may wish to reward ourselves with a visit to e.g. Ryan’s for some scholarly reflection on all that we have learned. Naturally, this part is optional.
I’ve been brushing up on e-Learning tools as of late. I took a workshop on Wikis last Friday and another on Blackboard yesterday. At DIT, these workshops are provided through the Learning, Teaching and Technology Centre (LTTC), where I will be teaching a course in May. Yesterday I met with Orla Hanratty, who has graciously agreed to co-teach the module with me.
Workshop on how to use Wikis.
Snow in Merrion Square.
Notre Dame’s O’Connell House is shown on the right here…
…and DIT’s Learning Teachign and Technology Centre (LTTC) is on the left in this image.
It’s snowing in Dublin today, an unusual site indeed. Right now the sun is shining. But big, fluffy flakes are falling gently to the ground. Here are photos from my wintery walk to the Learning, Teaching and Technology Centre for meetings and a workshop today.
A dozen and a half owners of antique cars braved the frigid temperatures Sunday to show their treasures on Smithfield’s cobblestoned plaza. Among the collection were a couple cute old Minis and a dozen or so old Triumphs.
The photos below show my favorites from the show. I love viewing early model autos!
Seeing them on Smithfield Plaza, an important industrial hub of 19th century Dublin, is all the more fun.