Chasing Lions in Dublin

I went on the hunt for lions in Dublin last week, and found plenty to stir my soul! Disney’s theatrical production of the Lion King is energetic and mesmerizing.  The costumes and choreography amazed and astounded me.

Preparing to Slam Again

RoboSlam planning session with Ted and Damon.

RoboSlam planning session with Ted and Damon.

Ted, Damon, and I have been meeting over the past couple of days to evaluate past events, brainstorm strategies, and plan for upcoming workshops.  We enjoy remembering recent Slams….

Dublin City Council

Opinion is mixed regarding the Dublin City Council building. It’s a hulk of a building, but a fine example of modernism — in the brutalist style. It’s got some nice features, but they obliterated the old Viking settlements to build it. Such a shame.

Finalizing and Testing

Things really got fun once all the circuitry, programing, structural components, and body casings all synched and we stared testing out our nearly-fully-functioning robots and working out the final kinks.  Success!

See more photos about finalizing and testing on the RoboSlam website.

RoboSlam finalizing robots 70

Fulbrighting at Glasnevin Cemetery

Hanging out with Daniel O'Connell.  My photography exhibition was held in the house where he used to live, on Merrion Square.

Hanging out with Daniel O’Connell. My photography exhibition was held in the house where he used to live, on Merrion Square.

Our Fulbright shin dig included a visit to Glasnevin Cemetery.  I’d spent about an hour here, just outside the gate, one evening near Halloween when Esther was visiting. That was part of the (very worthwhile and historically accurate) Ghost bus tour and we followed it up with a visit to John Kavanagh’s “Gravediggers” pub.

The cemetery itself was started outside the city, at the same time the same thing was happening all over the USA. The American cemetery movement actually sparked the American park movement, believe it or not.  The historian J. B. Jackson explains that people found they loved going to the suburban cemeteries — which were new and had wide open (corpse-free) spaces.  These early cemeteries were well-designed and had beautiful architectural features, as you can see on the home page for Thornrose Cemetery where my grandparents lay today.  In any case, in the ten year period of the Civil War, nearly every American city built a “central” park, and Frederick Law Olmstead’s office designed many of them… and many college campuses too.

Wikipedia has some of the most interesting info online regarding this particular cemetery:

Glasnevin Cemetery (Irish: Reilig Ghlas Naíon), officially known as Prospect Cemetery, is the largest non-denominational cemetery in Ireland with an estimated 1.5 million burials.[1] It first opened in 1832, and is located in GlasnevinDublin.

The stories I heard on our tour of the cemetery brought to life for me the history of Michael Collins and Daniel O’Connell, two of Ireland’s most important political figures. Éamon de Valera and Countess Markievicz are also buried here.

Remembering the Glow of Dun Laoghaire

Dun Laoghaire harbor

Dun Laoghaire harbor

It’s overcast in Dublin today, so I’m pulling out some images from a recent sunny Sunday in nearby Dún Laoghaire, a  town in the suburbs of Dublin.

Dún Laoghaire is accessible from Dublin city center by train and bus, and it makes a lovely day trip. On the weekend, “Peoples Park” is full of market stalls and vendors with prepared food, raw ingredients for purchase, crafts, and other quality goods. The water front, with its harbor and beach, provides a relaxing place to stroll.

The town’s official website explains:

Dún Laoghaire is a town on the east coast of Ireland, about seven miles (11km) south of the capital Dublin. Its focal point is a splendid harbour and the town is surrounded by spectacular rolling hills.

…Historically Dún Laoghaire has always been a ‘Gateway to Ireland’, Dún Laoghaire gets its name from the Irish translation Fort (Dún) of Laoghaire. It was once the seat of King Laoghaire, the ancient High King of Ireland before the Vikings sailed from Scandinavia and established themselves in Dublin.

Dun Laoghaire beach

Dun Laoghaire beach with a view over to Howth (the peninsula on the left of the image, past the end of the pier).

RoboSlam Ratings

The organizer of last week’s events at DIT wrote to those of us who conducted the RoboSlam robot hacking workshop. She said:

In fact, in the survey I conducted at the end, 61.8% of 34 participants said it was ‘excellent’ and 35.3% said it was ‘very good’. One student said it was ‘good’ (2.9%) and that was the lowest score Roboslam got. It even beat Wednesday’s visit to the Aviva Stadium which, in the week of the Heineken Cup, is saying something! A whopping 67.6% of participants said it was their favourite on-campus activity and, interestingly,  11 students now say that electronic engineering would be their preferred choice of engineering discipline, up from 8 students at the start of the week…

To read more, please see the RoboSlam blog on this topic.

Porto — Obrigado!

One last glimpse of my beautiful Porto and my Fulbright trip there, just before I introduce you to Problem-Based Learning in Belgium….