The added hoops you have to go through can cost way more than the ticket itself
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 that planes are allowed to fly, travellers now find themselves faced with a set of new hurdles to go through. In the last few weeks, I trawled information on the web to sort some air travel so I share some learnings in this post. …
A useful technique when dealing with multivariate Gaussian distributions
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.
Let’s take the density function p(y) below where y is a vector of n x 1 dimension.
“Thank you for calling. How may I help you?”
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 and I did this job for 2.5 years. So I just realised I have received over 50,000 calls in my life. …
My Venetian Acqua Alta Weekend
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 recurring phenomenon, the city had a ready business opportunity: selling a pair of plastic boots worth EUR 10. I thought it was pricey! But then again, there was a huge demand for them on the spot and they have monopoly of the supply. …
Aspiring to understand the political organisation governing Europe
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 read The European Union: A Very Short Introduction as a curious noob. I find it fascinating, no, I am in awe of how, after the first and second world wars devastated and brought much suffering to Europe, they managed to form this organisation that made durable peace as its top priority. In Robert Schuman, the French Foreign Minister’s words, ‘any war between France and Germany would become not merely unthinkable, but materially impossible’. …
Learning to move forward
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 pain has subsided and grief is now like a bag of mixed emotions. It usually manifests as a quiet mental process of remembering his great influence in my life, accompanied by feelings of sadness, and feelings of enormous gratitude for his love for me and our family. …
Love is enough. Or is it really?
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.
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. As someone born in the Philippines with no connection whatsoever with people in politics, what chances did I have to be the United States’ Secretary of Defense? How about the single teenage mother in the slums, what chances does she have to get a job as a data scientist? …
There’s always a proportion of adults who have been pulled away from an opportunity of an education. This pandemic would likely increase it.
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 families to tap their children and their idle time as an easy source of labour. …
Why the 2020 character is a bummer
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 the end, she succeeds at her goal. The girl’s heart races, rallying for the princess, as she breaks the status quo. …
Pros, Cons and In-betweens of Working From Home
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 books at a faster speed than it was before the pandemic. …