The added hoops you have to go through can cost way more than the ticket itself

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Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

In order to get some fresh air, we typically go for a walk up to a pathway across an extension of River Thames facing the London City Airport. Before the pandemic, the airport was set to see 6.5 million passengers per year by 2022.

“One, two, three, four, five, six.” I would count grounded planes each time, seeing none flying and no people in sight.

The pandemic has stopped most air travel over the last ten months. In the short and sporadic time frames…


A useful technique when dealing with multivariate Gaussian distributions

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Photo by Dhruv on Unsplash

This post assumes some familiarity with the Gaussian (also called Normal) distribution and matrix operations.

In my article called Maths Behind Machine Learning, I briefly touched on the idea of Gaussian distributions. The famous Gaussian distribution is so ubiquitous in applications of statistics that having some tools to see how it shows its face in some expressions is very useful. One of these tools is by completing the square.

What is the problem statement?

Let’s take the density function p(y) below where y is a vector of n x 1 dimension.


Lessons from working as a call centre agent

“Thank you for calling. How may I help you?”

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Photo by Julian Hochgesang on Unsplash

This was the opening spiel of an agent receiving calls from clients of a financial firm. I spent more than 2 years receiving calls as my job. I logged clients’ requests partially on paper, partially electronically via a diskette. Who even knows what a diskette is nowadays?

I find it interesting to see stats so here are some numbers for context. From memory, I have taken about 100 calls per day on average. There are approximately 200 work days a year when I exclude holidays, monsoon season disruptions, and leave entitlements…


My Venetian Acqua Alta Weekend

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Photo by Marco Secchi on Unsplash

When planning a trip to Europe, it’s a complete no-brainer that Venice has to be in the itinerary. There’s no shortage of history, culture, and beautiful architecture in this city.

But every so often, something happens known as acqua alta. This is a phenomenon where a tide of 80 cm above average sea level basically flows through to the city. And on my first visit to Venice, hurrah! This happened.

Winds blew strongly, flooding started on the streets, shops barricaded their front doors, and I had water to my knees. But since this is a…


Aspiring to understand the political organisation governing Europe

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Photo by Joshua Fuller on Unsplash

Half a decade ago, if anyone knew people interested in the European Union, I was not one of them. My interest in their history was practically dismal and I had no connection to anyone in Europe. Fast forward to now, living in a city profoundly rich in history, following Brexit in the news, and interacting with people in Europe, I have a new-found fascination for the polity and politics that underpin this region.

Like they say, Rome was not built in a day. Similarly, building an understanding takes time. These days, I…


Learning to move forward

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Photo by Karim MANJRA on Unsplash

Grief can be considered a universal emotion. Many mammals, including humans are known to feel this. Elephants have been recorded to visit the same spot where their matriarch died, orcas have been observed to mourn for their dead calf, and not surprisingly, our nearest relatives, primates have been observed to grieve as well. For us humans, we perform rituals of many forms to remember our deceased.

There need not be a social occasion for me to remember the loss of my father. It has been more than two years since he died. The intensity of the…


Love is enough. Or is it really?

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Photo by Nicole Geri on Unsplash

Perhaps it is a product of growing older, but over the years, I realised some beliefs I have operated my life on especially in my younger years are not very sensible. Sometimes I wish I had known these sooner so I share some of them in this post.

You can be anything when you grow up.

This is usually meant to encourage children to believe they can do any job imaginable when they grow up as long as they work for it. As a child, I did believe this. However I have come to realise “anything” is such a strong word…


There’s always a proportion of adults who have been pulled away from an opportunity of an education. This pandemic would likely increase it.

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Photo by Edmund Lou on Unsplash

In poor countries, the barrier to leaving a poverty-stricken life is already high. The pandemic combined with poor governance will drive this barrier even higher.

During the initial wave of global lockdowns, I could not help but think of the poor that I wrote my thoughts here. The children who beg in the streets of Manila, the capital of the Philippines, were already aplenty before this pandemic. Now, school closures and job losses would have pushed many…


Why the 2020 character is a bummer

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Photo by 张 学欢 on Unsplash

Imagine an Asian girl in the 1990’s who grew up in a patriarchal society, observing that gender roles are strongly embedded. It is so deeply embedded that when a girl prepares a meal for the first time, it is not uncommon to hear a remark “you can now be wedded to a husband” (in Filipino language, “pwede ka na mag-asawa.”)

Then imagine that same girl watching Mulan, the animated film. She sees that the princess joins the army, fails several times at training, yet strategises and perseveres. She thinks outside the box. In…


Pros, Cons and In-betweens of Working From Home

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Photo by Kevin Bhagat on Unsplash

There is a part of the population whose jobs and company infrastructures have allowed them to work from home since the start of global lockdowns. I feel fortunate to be a part of this group as I have been working from home since March and I hardly felt the processes I do impeded by this ‘new normal’. If anything, I found myself enjoying writing in the amount of time I would have spent commuting each day. Many of my friends started cooking or baking. I also found myself growing my collection of…

Valerie Dela Cruz

Mathematics, books, and writing | With a penchant for self-reflection | Born and raised in the Philippines, lived in New Zealand, based in London

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