Monday, December 9, 2019

The Highway Builders

Well, I survived the robotics competition. And unlike the last time I judged it, I'm not nagged by a sense of doubt about who got awards and who didn't. This time, all my top contenders got some kind of recognition. The contest is organized so each team can get only one award, which distributes them pretty well across all the top teams.

It was a long day, though -- from about 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. I needed that G&T when I got home!

I was judging research projects -- each team was tasked with considering a problem affecting their school or community and devising innovative solutions. The results ranged from proposed construction of double-decker highways to relieve traffic congestion (Robert Moses, eat your heart out) to tabletop noise sensors reminding students to talk more softly in the cafeteria. (Very big to very small, and very general to very specific, in other words.)

I'm always intrigued by what the kids come up with. Practicality isn't always the order of the day!

Last night, Dave and I settled down to watch some TV. We thought we might try "The Irishman," Martin Scorsese's latest venture, but it's three and a half hours long! So that was a no. We wound up starting a documentary series, "The Devil Next Door," about the prosecution of John Demjanjuk, who was accused in the 1980s of being a sadistic Nazi concentration camp guard decades before. It's pretty good so far.

(Photo: A shop in Cricklewood. Those people kept checking out something in the doorway of the building next door -- maybe someone was asleep there.)


  1. "FRIDGES FOR EXPORT"...Perhaps there is still time to send your brother a fridge for Christmas. He will be pretty surprised when the delivery people knock on his door. I wonder if they do gift wrapping.

  2. We have watched "The Irishman" but gave up on it half way through. I'm not sure what we were expecting but it just didn't work for us. It will be interesting to see others views on this film.
    Maybe we are just a couple of old curmudgeons, lol

  3. We loved the Irishman, but watched it over two nights. That did not take away from the pleasure of watching this film. Three and a half hours is too long to watch a movie straight through.

  4. I love how kids can catch hold of an idea and go with it. Seems like we sort of kill that kind of thinking before kids get older. Not in all of them though, which is perhaps one of humanity's saving grace. If there is one.

  5. I do like how young people are thinking about solutions to real world problems. The future belongs to them.

    I can't even imagine why anyone would make a movie that's three and a half hours long. That must be a seven-part half-hour drama series concocted by an old filmmaker trying to relive the good old days.

  6. I've been wanting to watch The Irishman too but have always been put off by the three and half hour length. I'm not a fan of mobster movies at all so spending that much time watching one is a bit daunting. However, the reviews I've read all say it's worth it.
    P.s. About the mural I posted, I'm guessing that symbol in the lower left is some kind of signature but I can't make heads or tails of it.

  7. news items pop up on FB with regularity about astonishing things teens have developed or invented, things to help people, clean up the environment, etc. and I always wonder why we never see these wonderful inventions actually being used in the world.

  8. Your judging experience reminds me that in a small town I taught in they asked me to judge skating carnival costumes! I knew nothing about carnival costumes.

  9. Maybe the next time that movie is on, you can tape it and watch it at your leisure, It sounds like you had a very interesting day. Kids can really surprise you sometimes. You have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.

  10. Like Ellen said, there are frequently news reports about inventive teens. One young man has developed a way to corral ocean trash and it's actually being used now. Others are developing medical solutions to cancer and other health issues. I don't know if something has changed in the actual brains of today's teens or not, and whether it may be related to early access to technology or not, but there seem to be some exceedingly mature thinkers among them in the world today. It's one of the bits of hope I hang onto, that this generation will help to come up with solutions to the problems that previous generations have been unable - or unwilling - to find. They are a great bunch of people, these young ones.

  11. I thought that was a COOKIE Centre & I was really excited for a minute there.

  12. YP: Yeah, what's up with the "fridges for export" thing? Cricklewood has a lot of immigrants. Maybe they buy fridges for their families back home?

    Briony: Well, thanks for that review! I'm not all that enthusiastic about watching it. I don't care much for mob movies in general.

    Colette: OK, good to know. If we take it on, we'll do it that way!

    Ms Moon: They haven't yet developed the capacity to consider costs and other obstacles. They just go with whatever they come up with!

    Robin: And that's an objective of these robotics competitions -- to get the kids thinking about problem-solving via engineering.

    Sharon: I think when directors achieve a certain degree of fame and veneration, there's a belief that they can do no wrong. But even Scorsese can make a movie that's just too darn long!

    Ellen: I think some of them DO get used, but there are probably all kinds of barriers between conception and execution that the kids hadn't fully considered. Just a hunch.

    Red: They always emphasize that we don't need any robotics experience to judge! They just need bodies!

    Edna: It's on Netflix so we can watch it any time. We just have to develop the desire!

    Jenny-O: Yeah, I remember the story about the ocean trash thing! Kids these days are so plugged in -- at least the ones who are privileged to have regular internet access. I think they're more aware and more adept at communication and marketing than we were at that age.

    Bug: Ha! "Cooker" is what the British call a stove or range top.

  13. Maybe David Copperfield is sleeping in the doorway!