When your son falls into a frozen lake

A few days ago I took a stroll through Wimbledon Commons with my son, as my wife was traveling.It was a typical London day: 3 seasons in a day. When we decided to leave the apartment it was sunny and felt kind of warm. When we arrived at the forest, it was gloomy and chilly. And by the time we made it back home, it was already night time and really cold. The whole ordeal took just one hour, but it felt much much longer.

It was a typical London day: 3 seasons in a day. When we decided to leave the apartment it was sunny and felt kind of warm. When we arrived at the forest, it was gloomy and chilly. And by the time e made it back home, it was already night time and really cold. The whole ordeal took just one hour, but it felt much much longer.

Unlike in our usual (although a lot less frequent than I would like) routine, instead of walking into the forest, we accessed the Commons through the main entrance, and went straight to the small lake where swan, geese and ducks were really happy to see us and our bag of oats. I guess in the cold weather a lot less people come by to feed them.

We love to talk to them, and admire their beauty. Not just the amazing Mandarin ducks, but all of them. We try to distribute the oats as much as possible so ‘bullies’ don’t get away with their aggressive behavior. And there is always something else that we enjoy, wether it is a dog diving into the water, a flower in an unexpected place, or trying a new “plant recognizing app”.

This time my son was fascinated with the layers of ice forming all over the lake. So he approached the edge, with a stick, standing on a small piece of wood, to test how thick they were. Then he started picking them up and playing with them: using them as photo props against a tree bark, stacking them, and breaking them on my head as if it was an action movie and I had just gone through a window head first (which brought me some bad childhood memories, that all of a sudden were not as bad because I was with my son).

Throughout his ‘ice fishing’ activity, I remained firmly grounded on shore, holding onto his jacket making sure he would not loose his balance and fall.

At one point he seemed to lose interest, and it was getting really cold, so I asked him to stop, and I started walking away. A few steps later I heard a loud splash. Before I could even process the sound, I was by the edge of the lake, ready to kick my shoes and jacket off and jump into the ice to rescue him.

Fortunately he did not sink and I saw him standing in the water. The bottom of the lake is quite irregular, and was able to step onto a platform, and from that jump back to the shore.

He was smiling, I guess a nervous reaction to an extreme unexpected event. Or perhaps because a dog, seeing him plunge, decided to join him and jumped in too (although not to rescue him, since he jumped off into a patch of unfrozen water, chasing ducks)!

I was not angry or panicked, but rather I reacted as I always do in those circumstances, as I was told by my mother: like a machine. I assessed the situation and proceeded with executive efficiency to minimize damage. First I asked him if anything was broken, if anything hurt. Then I checked his garments: all soaking wet except his waterproof jacket, which for some lucky angle in the fall had remained dry. So the first thing we did was to squeeze all the water our of his socks and pants (I even considered giving him my clothes, but his clothes don’t fit me, and his jacket was very warm and dry).

Then I quickly calculated how long it would take to get home, and if that was the best option (as the temperatures were below zero), or if it was better to head in other direction (seek the closest home or business, call a cab, etc). We decided to head home fast, but not running, to avoid slipping and falling, or getting exhausted and having to stop to catch breath.

But, funny enough, all that cold-headed reaction can’t prevent the confusion the shock causes, and I started rushing us through the wrong path. Luckily he noticed soon enough and we corrected course.

Once we made it home he went straight into a warm long shower that felt like forever. When he came out, I made sure there were no purple tissues, specially lips, toes, fingers… he was fine and as we later found out, even his phone, which was inside the jacket pocket, survived the frozen waters!

Lessons learned:

  • Life happens
  • He now knows better the dangers of standing on a small piece of wood by a frozen lake, and that should make him assess general risks better, but hopefully not to the point of total risk aversion
  • Even if you want to be there all the time to protect them at all times, sometimes you will not be there. And some day you will not be at all
  • In an emergency, keep your cool… but be aware that you are more likely to make stupid mistakes
  • Always remember that frustration and anger come from fear. Focus on love instead
  • All is good that ends good. Now he has a cool anecdote to tell his friends. Life leaves scars and marks, avoid them, but wear them with pride, son.

My non-commissioned art installation at the Contemporary Art Museum in Santiago, Chile

The exhibition titled “Le Corbusier and South America”, in the main hall of the Contemporary Art Museum in Santiago (Chile), shows for the first time in Chile a collection of Le Corbusier’s original plans and drawings for 12 projects he created in South America (although, of all of those, only the Curutchet house in Argentina was actually built).

As part of the exhibition, Chilean curator Maximiano Atria has arranged all around the central part of the hall location-specific installations by a number of artists. And I’m proud to be one of them.

My piece,”Restricted Realities”, is a 25x45x65cm installation, created with hand cut polychromatic geometric wood pieces.

Obviously it started as an homage to Le Corbusier, but I wanted to go beyond his obvious legacy of form and shape, of approach and history, to explore the man behind the legend.

Le Corbusier did not receive a formal regulated architectural education, yet, after some art school and several years working in architects’ studios, he ended up not only having his own studio, but also teaching and inspiring architects worldwide. As the father of XX century architecture, he was a lot more interested in the concept of a building, of a space, than about the formal aspects of it.

In ”Restricted Realities” I built the model for a space design to both host and reflect the mind. It’s a house for the mind. But not just one mind, as that house can be inhabited by several, or even all, minds. What naturally stems from it is a structure that has both impossible angles and open spaces, restricted areas and open areas. Even the colors seem to struggle to work together.

It’s a solid and stable structure that permeates with tension from every angle. Just like it happens when we try to accommodate more than one mind in a single shared experience. As a matter of fact, it often happens within a single mind.

So they are ‘realities’, but they are ‘restricted’. And it is in that ‘restriction’ that they are constructed as realities. The walls are norms, agreements, arrangements, expectations, and any other result of interaction. The colors on the walls are culture, expression, language, art itself and any other communication of the aforementioned interactions.

With those two simple elements, the interactions between individuals and groups, and their communication, we construct our realities, realities that we try to inhabit, to conform, and to share. But that construction is subjective, and that subjectivity is what gives rise to tensions, idealized here as angles.

As a last and subtle detail, I added a floor platform to only part of the whole structure. Because we need an inclusive world, an inclusive view. Not all individuals, not all realities, are the same, have the same ground and basis, enjoy or suffer the same constraints and circumstances. And that’s the first level to be taken into account, to be built.

Build baby, build your reality.

Santiago Museums

Tuesday 13 I had the rare opportunity of spending a few hours doing what I like most during a business trip: visiting art museums. I went to the Fine Arts National Museum, the Contemporary Art Museum, the Visual Arts Museum, and the Telefonica Foundation Art Gallery.

Without a doubt, the two museums I enjoyed the most were the Fine Arts National Museum, and the Contemporary Art Museum.

The installation in the lobby of the Fine Arts National Museum is amazing, and the building itself (with a dome designed by Eiffel) is quite impressive. But the Contemporary Art Museum was really good. I was completely taken by the Israeli artist and industrial engineer Shay Frisch’s exhibition in the basement titled “Campo 47283_B/N” (which is part of the permanent collection of the National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art in Rome). The “Cruces Sonoros. Mundos Posibles” exhibition is quite enjoyable too.

5 days in Chile

This week I have spent 5 days in Santiago de Chile.

A bad coordination with my partners IBM and the customer forced me to change my tickets 3 times. The problem is that with each time we approached the Christmas vacation and therefore flight availability decreased considerably. So in the end I had to fly via Toronto, and stay a day longer than it would have normally been necessary. But you can’t always (ever?) control the circumstances around business trips.

As soon as I arrived on Sunday, my distributor and friend Germán took me to have lunch at Donde Augusto, inside the Central Market, where I had Locos and Chirimoya juice (Custard Apple). We talked for a while, and he took me to my hotel, where I worked for a while and went to sleep early. I would have loved to swim but the hotel’s pool was quite small.

At 22:40 there was an earthquake magnitude 5 in the Richter scale, which basically ranks between the explosion at Chernobyl nuclear power plant and the Little Boy atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. But it was not my first earthquake (I have experienced quite a few, in California, Japan, Chile…). It felt like the rocking a small cruise ship makes you feel, something I quite enjoy. An awesome feeling to go to sleep to. Besides, there is no reason to worry: Chile has the most strict anti-seismic building regulation in the world.

The next day we spent it completely with IBM, preparing the presentation to be done on Wednesday. At least we were on the 10th floor with great views of the Andes. For lunch we went to Juan y Medio, where I had pastel de choclo. Since by the time we were done all the museums were closed, I took a walk through the park.

On Tuesday we spent the whole day with IBM again, but there was not much more left for us to do. They took us to a Peruvian restaurant called Olan, where I had quinoa and potato mousse with octopus. After that I had the evening free, so I decided to visit some of the Santiago Museums (about which I have written a specific post). In the evening I had dinner with Germán and a business partner at PF Chang’s, a Chinese restaurant in Santiago’s most luxurious shopping mall, all decorated following a pop culture rendition of a Christmas theme. Which is particularly funny in Chile, given that the only snow you see in Christmas is on the very top of the Andes mountain range.

Wednesday was the big day. I had to do a live demo of our software in front of 20 people, including Chief Medical Doctors and Chiefs of Radiology from several hospitals in a very nice auditorium in one of the largest hospitals in Santiago. We met at IBM where we had lunch in their cafeteria (they call it Casino), and five of us left for the meeting as a team.

The hospital was in front of IBM, on the other side of the river. It was just a 10 minute walk. But at over 100ºF (38ºC) wearing a suit (good thing I decided years ago that I do not want to wear a tie), it was “the walk of death”. It was so hot, everybody was irritable. We even saw a fight between two pedestrians on a bridge, where one of them was trying to push the other one down into the river. By the time I approached to intervene, some other guys had broken up the fight. At least the presentation went very well.

The following day Germán and I went to meet with an important customer, and then he took me to a typical Chilean restaurant called Doña Tina, where I had humitas and mote con huesillo for desert.

After that we navigated a huge traffic jam to make it to the airport on time for my flight to Toronto. I took off at 100ºF (38ºC) and landed at -10ºF (-23ºC). Besides the difficulty of packing for such a trip only carrying a carry-on, I’m sure that can’t be good for the body.

Invited to the UK-China Hi! Technology event in London

For reasons beyond the scope of this post I was invited to participate in the UK-China Hi! Technology event in London.

The event was well attended by a large number of entrepreneurs, funds and investors from the UK and China.

The highlight of the event, for me, other than a couple of really interesting contacts, was to see all these suited-up people lining up to try the VR sets (HTC, Oculus, Hololens, etc). The clear winner was Robot Recall for the Oculus platform.

Spare time fun: protein structure analysis of mutations causing inheritable diseases

Most people I know would not consider protein structure analysis of mutations causing inheritable diseases “spare time fun”. Then again, most people I know don’t think I am like most people they know.

This week I’m a “single-dad”, since my wife is traveling. So my spare time right now is almost non existent. Nevertheless, the thought of mutating a Proline into a Glycine at position 22 intrigued me, so I spent a few minutes simulating it. Here is what I found out:


The 3D-structure of my protein of interest was obtained from the UniProt database using Reprof. The structural information was obtained from the analysis of PDB: 3NIR. Annotations were obtained from UniProt entry CRAM_CRAAB.

Amino Acids

I was interested in the mutation of a Proline into a Glycine at position 22.

The figure below shows the schematic structures of the original (left) and the mutant (right) amino acid. The backbone, which is the same for each amino acid, is colored red. The side chain, unique for each amino acid, is colored black.

 mutates into 

Each amino acid has its own specific size, charge, and hydrophobicity-value. The original wild-type residue and newly introduced mutant residue differ in these properties: the mutant residue is smaller than the wild-type residue, while the wild-type residue is more hydrophobic than the mutant residue.


A mutation to “S” was found at this position, which differs from the mutation I was simulating. The effect of this variant is annotated as: In isoform SI.


The wild-type residue is not conserved at this position. Another residue type was observed more often at this position in other homologous sequences. This means that other homologous proteins exist with that other residue type than with the wild-type residue in my protein sequence, but the other residue type is not similar to my mutant residue. Therefore, the mutation is possibly damaging.


This residue is part of an interpro domain named: Thionin IPR001010

The mutated residue is located on the surface of a domain with unknown function. The residue was not found to be in contact with other domains of which the function is known within the used structure. However, contact with other molecules or domains is still possible and might be affected by this mutation.

Amino Acid Properties

The wild-type and mutant amino acids differ in size. The mutant residue is smaller than the wild-type residue. This will cause a possible loss of external interactions.

The hydrophobicity of the wild-type and mutant residue differs. The mutation might cause loss of hydrophobic interactions with other molecules on the surface of the protein.


Overview of the protein in ribbon-presentation. The protein is coloured by element; α-helix=blue, β-strand = red, turn=green, and random coil=cyan.

Overview of the protein in ribbon-presentation. The protein is coloured grey, the side chain of the mutated residue is coloured magenta and shown as small balls.

Close-up of the mutation. The protein is coloured grey, the side chains of both the wild-type and the mutant residue are shown and coloured green and red respectively.

Close-up of the mutation (seen from a slightly different angle). The protein is coloured grey, the side chains of both the wild-type and the mutant residue are shown and coloured green and red (not show from this angle) respectively.

Close-up of the mutation (seen from a slightly different angle). The protein is coloured grey, the side chains of both the wild-type and the mutant residue are shown and coloured green and red respectively.


Close-up of the mutation. Both the wild-type and mutant side chain are shown in green and red respectively. The rest of the protein is show in grey.

Close-up of the mutation, same colours as animation 1. The animation shows alternating the wild-type side chain and the mutant side chain.


Protein structure analysis of mutations causing inheritable diseases. DOI: 10.1186/1471-2105-11-548. PubMed: 21059217.

Visiting the London Design Museum

Yesterday I visited the Design Museum (“The world’s leading museum devoted to contemporary design in every form from architecture and fashion to graphics, product and industrial design”) in its spectacular new location on High Street Kensington (London), with my son.

The #newdesignmuseum opened its doors in its new location only 5 days ago. The building and renovation are great, and in a nice location: on the edge of Holland Park, with the added bonus of being near the Kyoto Garden, Muji, and not far from the Serpentine Gallery.

I was expecting more from the shop(s) and I felt the exhibitions lacked a more daring curating, and more compelling communication. Although the loose “Designer, Maker, User” theme was not bad, they could have definitely dug more into the concept.

Additionally, it felt the collection was not comprehensive enough, with an overwhelming majority of consumer electronic devices, and not enough from other disciplines like fashion, architecture, or even manufacturing.

All in all, a nice evening in a nice museum, but plenty of room for improvement.

4 days in Asuncion (Paraguay)

From Sunday 20 to Wednesday 23 November I have been in Asunción (Paraguay) for several business meetings.

Regardless of the very interesting business projects and meetings at the highest level ( in a single day I met with three “Secretaries” or “Ministers”: Industry and Commerce, Technology, and Health), it was a pleasure to know one of the few countries that I had yet to visit in South America. Now I only have Bolivia left.

Asunción is a rapidly changing city. You can already see the first mega-malls, luxury urban condos, and some modern office buildings, but for the most part it is still a low-height city, full of single-family dwellings of all kinds (from palaces to shantytowns), with many cobblestone roads in the city center, next to perfectly well paved avenues with several lanes, which act as a constant reminder and testament of the great and growing inequalities that exist, not only in the region, but unfortunately worldwide.

My hotel was the excellent La Misión, very adorable and well located, and with a pool on the terrace, which given a temperature of 38ºC, and especially coming from a hail in London the day before, was very appreciated. In the morning, breakfast was a not very extensive buffet, but it had delicious local options (from the “Paraguayan soup” which is a dry soup, to the “cocido”: herbal infusion of used tereré and sugar). A particular highlight was the freshly squeezed natural fruit juices at my disposal, which has allowed me to experiment with blends like carrot-guava, passion fruit-mango-strawberry, etc. A true gourmet pleasure, which, together with live harp music, was a perfect way to start the day.

For work, I had the opportunity to visit three very different hospitals (Pediatric, National, and Cancer). There I realized that although there are perfectly qualified professionals, political will, seemingly adequate management, and resources (scarce but existent), there is much to be done. However, that is the paradox: that lagging in many areas puts them in a position of privilege to be able to implement the latest technologies without going through legacy systems, rejection and friction to change, pre-existing interests and structures, and endless other circumstances than act as barriers to technology adoption in many other countries with greater resources and level of technological penetration.

Of course, I can not fail to mention the food. Although, generally, I prefer Asian food, and despite being “not so elaborate” or “sophisticated”, Paraguayan food has interesting dishes (such as Paraguayan soup, chipa guasú, vorí-vorí … ), excellent meat, and a wide variety of delicious fruits (in fact the fruit trees are everywhere, so much so that children play in the street with mangoes), although I was looking forward to trying the Araticú.

Speaking of meat, on my various trips to the outskirts of “Greater Asunción”, I saw so many cows along the road that it reminded me of India (except they were not famished, quite the contrary). I also saw areas specializing in various handicrafts (such as straw objects, chairs, or balls), people of many different backgrounds and opinions, and an overwhelmingly green and leafy landscape.

The people I have met have been very pleasant, and as always, it allows me to know more closely the reality of a country that I did not know too much about. Especially interesting was to experience the long working hours (where have you seen a Government high official schedule a meeting at 7:00 am?), learn about the War of the Triple Alliance, and about indigenous natives and the Guaraní language . As icing on the cake, the last day there was a party at my client’s house, attended by a dozen executives from large companies, and where we enjoyed a “gourmet” grill. Something tells me that I will soon be back with my new friends.

Invited to speak at GIANT Health event in London

Right after I returned from Germany, and before departing for Paraguay, I was invited to speak at the GIANT Health event (the “global innovation and new technology health event), health in The Coronet, London.

The event run for 3 days, November 16-18, with 3 parallel tracks, and it included over 200 speakers. I spoke November 18, in the main auditorium.

There was an exhibition area, with several companies and organizations showing their innovations and technologies.

The venue was quite “grunge”, and it made you feel more like you were performing in a rock concert, rather than speaking at a healthcare event. All in all a massive, interesting, and fun event (except for the poor kamikaze organizers 😉 ).