Elaborating on the final goal of education

In my “Why to blog?” post, I made the following statement:

“Like college education for must of us, the key achievement obtained is the process itself and not the finished “product”.”

Today I was re-reading Mark Shuttleworth’s blog and found an entry called “It’s the ability to learn tools, not the tools themselves”. You can read it yourself at http://www.markshuttleworth.com/page/6/ . Essentially, Mark’s foundation is trying to “design a curriculum to stimulate the development of analytical skills”. Later on he writes “Society, technology and the times change so fast that any fact, process or algorithm we learn at school is by definition not going to be useful for any length of time”. And then he goes “The real skills that serve us are the ability to adapt, learn, apply the products of that learning, and participate in the discussions and challenges of the day”.

The final paragraph is brilliant: “The idea is not that kids learn tools they use for the rest of their lives… They should learn tools which they use AT SCHOOL to develop a general ability to learn tools. That general ability – to break a complex problem into pieces, identify familiar patterns in the pieces, solve them using existing tools, and synthesize the results into a view or answer… that’s the skill of analysis, and that’s what we need to ensure kids graduate with”.

What I remember from my college years

I spent my college years studying math and listening to Heavy Metal music. Back then, my general goal in life was to study math and listen to Heavy Metal music. At some point of my studies, I “needed” to learn computer science to deploy finite element method tools to my structural engineering projects, so I drop out of school for a semester to study computer science on my own. After that hiatus, I returned to school and started studying structural analysis and design almost exclusively, disregarding almost entirely the rest of the curriculum. It was a bumpy road. I was regularly skipping classes I didn’t like in order to take more advanced structural analysis classes or simply calculating and projecting theoretical structures. I still have nightmares about not graduating for a failed exam in “fluid mechanics” or something like that. Anyway, I finally graduated as a Civil Engineer. A funny thing is that after a brief employment in a structural design firm in Caracas, I moved out to Maracaibo and never worked in my beloved field again.

Why to blog?

I was wondering why to have a blog and publish often. Several reasons come to mind. They are the following in no particular order:

  1. Because I can.
  2. Like college education for must of us, the key achievement obtained is the process itself and not the finished “product”. To publish an entry you have to choose a subject – sometimes taken from your day-to-day live – and systematically organize your thoughts about it. Then, you present them to the world in your blog. The aforementioned tasks necessarily imply an introspective and sort of dialectic process that lets you unveil the true nature of your reality in the moment you think about it. Stupid, isn’t it? Sure. But it is the intellectual equivalent of taking pictures. You capture a particular moment in time and keep it for others to see and for your own future reference.
  3. When you try to justify wasting your time blogging, you remember your high-school philosophy classes. You finally realize the reason why you studied Hegel and his “thesis-antithesis-synthesis” crap. Was it worth it? Well, you know, I enjoyed the process and my teacher was pretty hot back then.
  4. I like playing with computers. I’d rather spent my time in front of a computer than in front of a human being. Since I’ve been blogging, I’ve learnt how to take pictures with a digital camera and how to retouch those pictures in a computer. I’ve remembered how to use vi – an ancient UNIX text editor – to “retouch” the HTML code that my web-based blogging tool generates. What’s not to like?
  5. Finally, you can have a beer or two while blogging. Cheers!

No beers were harmed while writing this entry!

Memories from Iron Maiden’s concerts in Caracas on October 9 and 10, 1992

I’ve finally gotten my own copy of Iron Maiden’s last album titled “A Matter of Life and Death”. I really like the third song “Brighter than a Thousand Suns”. The lyric goes like this:

We are not the sons of God
We are not his chosen people now
We have crossed the path he trod
We will feel the pain of his beginning

Anyway… after getting the album, I started scavenging my old photo albums and got 5 pictures and a concert ticket. Here’s what I found:

Bruce Dickinson at “El Poliedro de Caracas”. Back in 1992, he had decided to leave the band, so that one was supposedly their last tour.

Bruce Dickinson at “El Poliedro de Caracas”. Back in 1992, he had decided to leave the band, so that one was supposedly their last tour.

On the stage, just in front of me, Mr. Steve Harris.

On the stage, just in front of me, Mr. Steve Harris.

Dave Murray (left) and Janick Geers (right). Steve is cut-out on the left side and Nicko McBrain’s drums are seen in the background.

Dave Murray (left) and Janick Geers (right). Steve is cut-out on the left side and Nicko McBrain’s drums are seen in the background.

Steve and Dave chatting while performing “Heaven can wait”… Meanwhile, Bruce was singin’:

Steve and Dave chatting while performing “Heaven can wait”… Meanwhile, Bruce was singin’:


“Take my hand I’ll lead you to the promised land
Take my hand I’ll give you immortality
Eternal youth I’ll take you to the other side
To see the truth the path for you is decided”

Me during Friday's concert. During all my college years I wore the exact same clothes: Blue jeans, black t-shirt, denim jacket decorated with a steel badge of Iron Maiden’s “No prayer for the dying” album cover and cowboy boots. The clip earring with a skull hanging from my left ear was only used on special occasions, like this concert.

Me during Friday’s concert. During all my college years I wore the exact same clothes: Blue jeans, black t-shirt, denim jacket decorated with a steel badge of Iron Maiden’s “No prayer for the dying” album cover and cowboy boots. The clip earring with a skull hanging from my left ear was only used on special occasions, like this concert.

The camera used was a Kodak Breeze 35-mm film camera. I took a lot of pictures while standing in the front row by raising my arm and shooting without focusing. The photos of the band showed here were the best ones I got. The last picture was taken by my dear friend “Homerito” Sanchez, Requiescat In Pace.

Mudanza del PD-779 en San José, finalizada el domingo 11 de febrero de 2007.

COMENTARIOS FINALES:

Si bien terminamos antes de la fecha inicialmente prevista, la ejecución consumió el 100% de los recursos presupuestados. Esto se debe a que suministramos mucho equipo por un corto período de tiempo en lugar de poco equipo por un período largo. Este hecho fue particularmente notorio en el caso de las unidades de transporte pesado (camiones con semi-remolque batea o lowboy). En resumen, la ejecución rápida y eficiente de la operación no generó beneficios económicos adicionales a nuestra empresa, pero dejó un cliente satisfecho.

LECCIONES APRENDIDAS:

  • La ruta crítica de la mudanza de un taladro de perforación profunda en tierra está constituida por el desvestido, transporte y vestido de la sub-estructura y la cabria.
  • Por definición, la mínima duración posible de un proyecto coincide con la mínima duración posible de la ruta crítica. Si el proyecto es mudar un taladro, no se adelanta nada mudando tubulares, cargas misceláneas, bombas de lodo, campamento ni top-drive.
  • Si bien los motores, tanques y bombas de lodo estarán desvestidos y listos para transportarse al comienzo de la operación, es conveniente posponer su transporte hasta que se haya bajado la cabría, el malacate y el “A-frame”, y la sub-estructura se encuentre totalmente lista para cargarla en los camiones.
  • En la mudanza de un taladro de 3000 hp, es conveniente utilizar 4 montacargas, 2 en cada locación. En la localización de origen, un montacargas carga mientras el otro desviste. En la localización destino, un montacargas descarga mientras el otro viste. Durante esta mudanza tuvimos dos montacargas fuera de servicio por períodos de hasta 2 días cada uno. Teniendo cuatro montacargas en ambas localizaciones, estos contratiempos no interrumpieron las operaciones de manera significativa.
  • Cuando un chofer de una unidad de transporte pesado es remunerado por horas trabajadas, no tiene ningún incentivo para hacer su trabajo diligentemente. Con frecuencia se ausenta de su unidad en las localizaciones retrasando innecesariamente la carga y/o descarga de la misma, se detiene en la ruta para atender asuntos personales y retrasa su salida de las localizaciones una vez se encuentra cargado y/o descargado. Para asegurar la observancia de los límites de velocidad mientras se minimizan las pérdidas de tiempo por las razones antes expuestas, durante esta mudanza se designó un supervisor exclusivo a estos menesteres.

NOTA ACLARATORIA:

Se requirió el suministro de una grúa durante el lunes 12 de febrero de 2007 para reparar una avería en el sistema de venteo del taladro. Esta actividad no es parte de la mudanza.