we only had a few days to go to China so we chose Shanghai because of Disney (previously visited by my sister and her family) and my best friend was there (unfortunately, he was reassigned to Thailand before we got there). sadly, we didn’t get a chance to ride the bullet train; or see The Great Wall or the Terracota Army but we enjoyed our stay nonetheless.

we’ve been to most Disneys and the castle at Shanghai was, IMHO, by far was the “best”. not only is it more aesthetically pleasing but you can enter and climb it. we started with a ride exclusive to that park. if there are three or more in your party and you are keen to repeat rides, you may want to consider their concierge service. moreover, it also includes reserved areas for the parade and fireworks.

we saw numerous bridges and canals that day – we were told that waterways were historically significant. on our tours, we were able to visit a “traditional” water village (my wife and son were able to go a gondola ride on the main canal) which was about an hour away from the city by car. as a contrast, we also walked by the river during the day (we saw the Bund and the things around it) and went on a “scenic” cruise that night (we saw the Oriental Pearl Radio & Television Tower with its “renown” spheres illuminated) – my son is into photography so he really enjoyed it.

aside from the aforementioned places, we also visited a “traditional” home – like the gardens we visited it was designed for introspection and thought. room entrances (at least those accessible from the outside) were designed with “hurdles” as ghosts supposedly had no knees – and there were a lot of “zig-zags” as apparitions could only travel in straight “lines” we noticed a lot of rocks in gardens and asked about it – apparently large ones were difficult to gather from the river and was a sign of affluence.

we also went to a silk factory and a pearl producer – they also educated us and not only gave us an opportunity to purchase stuff. what was important was they taught us how to tell if something was authentic or fake.

we also went to two museums (it would have been three if the other one had not closed). not to be aloof, but yes, we are museum people. i noticed a “lot” of paintings (not just at “traditional” repositories such as these) – my theory regarding affinity for calligraphy as the source seemed to be validated by my guide.

i (and my son) enjoy duck so much that my friend (whose tastebuds i trust) sent me this link:

http://www.smartshanghai.com/articles/dining/the-list-5-place-for-peking-duck-in-shanghai

consistent with what my friend said, one of the five “top” duck restaurants had closed as the food scene is really competitive. we managed to book at my friend’s go-to place. i usually don’t name places but i had the “best” duck i ever ate at Quan Ju De and the meal was “cheap”. i learned that it is referred to there as Beijing Duck and not as it’s sometimes known as Peking Duck as this has something to do with the pinyin transliteration (that is, technically it doesn’t really involve a name change). that said, so far our preferred cuisine is Cantonese – which is supposedly the apex of Chinese food according to our guide which isn’t the primary cuisine in Shanghai. what is the saying about Cantonese: they eat everything on land except cars, they eat everything in the sea except boats, and they eat everything in the air except planes. so i’m generally open and will try something first before saying or decide\ing i dislike it – that said, i don’t like everything but i’m more gastronomically”adventurous” than most.

i’m a big coffee drinker but , unsurprisingly, tea was really good there. just as i’m an advocate for beans, loose-leaf is the way to go. we witnessed a “proper” tea ceremony and my wife bought several tins of tea – they even knew how to package it for Australian customs.

i prefer food to shopping but you can’t deny it is world-class. most “luxury” brands have a “major” presence (some have multiple floors and we even went to a mall with only “exclusive” shops. there were even products that were sold only in Shanghai. thankfully, my wife and son only looked.

we wish we had more time to explore the city “fully”.

SPOILER ALERT ; if you plan to watch the film, don’t read the rest of the entry as some aspects of my discussion may ruin the experience for you.

i apologise for chiming in late as i saw it awhile back but out of respect for my brother i held up posting as he was “stuck” on Holidays and when he came back it was the Manila Film Festival (showcasing Filipino films). he was only able to watch it last night because of his “tight” schedule,.

IMHO, it was just alright. that said, ending a “beloved” franchise can be tricky – one only needs to consider the “disincongruous” reactions to the GoT (strangely, i never got into it given my proclivity for fantasy fiction) finale. i can understand why the “fan boys” thought it was good and why the critics panned it – it doesn’t really matter what other people think. i’ve learned being in Australia that if you like something then you like it and you shouldn’t feel “guilty” about it.

IMHO, it wasn’t the best one but it was far from being the worst one. for my money, Episode V is still the best followed by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story but that’s neither here nor there since i’m not an “influencer”. i was still going to watch regardless of what critics said: i have this “annoying” thing of thinking for myself – maybe if i wasn’t such a fan or on-the-fence about watching it, i’d seriously consider what others had to say. case in point, Frozen 2 (i’m not really their core demographic although i do occasionally “enjoy” their films – i prefer Pixar) was a “smash” in the cinemas in spite of their negative reviews – i don’t think their “market” truly cared. as an aside, i think Disney is really clever to also own “properties” such as Star Wars and Marvel (i have to comment as i can’t help myself: i’m a huge fan of the MCU and Infinity War but not so much of Endgame – i have this thing about using time travel to solve things but i digress…) which have lucrative franchises that gross well at the box office.

i didn’t mind that Emperor Palpatine was back – i just wanted a more plausible rationale for it and not simply glossed over like i felt the film did . i’m a fan, as well as a critic (i don’t think they’re mutually exclusive, i just don’t appreciate “lazy” writing). moreover, i found Poe’s final speech to the Rebellionbaduy“, “cheesey”, and trite.

like The Force Awakens reminded me of Episode IV , this made me think of Episode VI. there seemed to me a congruence between Rei’s and Luke’s offer to join from the Emperor (thwarted by a final “redemptive” act by Kylo Ren and Darth Vader respectively) and the “ruse” which was actually an ambush. there is nothing wrong with paying homage and parallels to the original trilogy but, for my taste, it was a little to close to home which made them predictable – i’m guessing that’s what some fans wanted.

but, all-in-all, i thought it was a valiant effort as ending something “gracefully” is always hard.

it’s been over a month since my last entry – this post is not an excuse but an explanation.

for nearly the first fortnight of December we were overseas: Taiwan-China-Hong Kong. my wife had to present a paper so we took the opportunity to explore afterwards

it’s true that i had my phone with me but condition were not “conducive” for blogging for me. never mind our nearly full-schedule but the “small” on-screen keyboard is extremely challenging for me – this requires significant time and effort, not to mention my frequent mis-hits. i prefer a full-sized physical keyboard and “big” screen so i can “easily” type.

the second half of December was mainly allocated to my wife’s sister. seeing as she went through a long and arduous journey from America to spend Chrissy with her family in Australia, we had to make the most of her “short” time here.

now that she’s back home, i will endeavour to get back to the swing of things and try to post more “regularly” ( sometimes life gets in the way and i have a tendency to “process” things before i post – “overanalyses” is my proclivity i’ve been told numerous times).

that’s my story and i’m sticking to it!

the common misnomer is that it’s called Black Fridaybecause it’s when retailers are “back in black” due to all the shopping and sales. for a long time, i also believed this but with some digging found out the actual origin.

apparently, a handful of investors were responsible for the U.S. stock market crashing. this made much more sense to me since ‘Black’ as an adjective doesn’t exactly evoke a “positive” association.

for all intents and purposes, people now have a “good” notion of this day. it’s not only an event in America but the day after Thanksgiving ( it would be interesting to get the Wampanoag tribe’s perspective on this holiday) is a thing in other countries that don’t celebrate the preceding event. it’s just interesting how words/phrases/concepts can take on different meanings based on “popular” usage.

true or not, it still is somewhat appealing for me to think that the evolution of the word “aweful” (now obsolete in spelling terms or in technical speak: deprecated) to “awful”. supposedly, the parents used to describe churches as “full of awe” so , eventually, children had a “negative” experience and it took on the opposite meaning.

ironic

October 2, 2019

it was “surreal” last night.  on ABC last night, it featured MoJo (an iconic advertising consultancy and, eventually, a “full-blown” agency)that influenced and shaped Australia.  For those that don’t know, ABC  is a national TV channel that’s mainly funded by the government and disallows all forms of commercialism (including ads) – you can’t even discuss (much less promote) any brands on their shows.

it was so meta.  Admittedly, they have a programme called Gruen that “humorously” critiques ads but this somehow felt different as it impacted Australian culture.  It can be argued that it was simply a mirror and a true insight into the Australian zeitgeist.

While prior to them “proper” American or British accents were used to voice over commercials, authentic Australian enunciation and expressions were instead  used (although they were considered “vulgar” by the “establishment”). i think this “honesty” was greatly appreciated by the Australian public. i now believe that you should never be ashamed of your actual heritage despite what you were “taught” and the constant stream of messages to put you down. i’ve got a feeling that’s why they dislike the old country so much – it is said that POME was originally an acronym for Prisoner Of Mother England.

Hogs (Paul Hogan better known by some Americans as Mick “Crocodile” Dundee) was the human face of a former tourism campaign – i challenge anyone to say it wasn’t effective as Australia moved from the 78th preferred holiday destination by Americans to the 7th.  Prior to him, it was all wildlife (like koalas and kangaroos) and he was even recognised, arguably, as Australian of the Year for its success.  The catchphrase was even adapted to the Yanks: “put another shrimp on the barbie” – as no one Down Under referred to them as “shrimp” but as “prawns”.  They say a real measure of a tourism campaign isn’t just about the foreign visits but also abut how good the locals feel about their country.

learning to un-learn

September 30, 2019

my accent (along with my disability) makes it difficult for me to be understood.  My English was influenced by American (as they “imposed” their educational system on us, unlike the Spanish who “chose” us to be “ignorant”) but someone born Sate-side could easily tell i didn’t grow up in America.

we spoke English at home as my parents spoke different dialects – sadly it was their only common language.  i learned Tagolog (comprising most of Filipino) from the “streets” (as this was only a subject in school during my time – the medium of instruction is in English).  Suffice it to say, my vocabulary in Filipino isn’t “great” or “refined”.

Although i was taught the letter “j” in our alphabet, it is pronounced as “h” in our native tongue – so producing a “hard j” is more difficult for me (and is further compounded by my current speech quality).  During my education, “z’ was not part of our alphabet (i think it’s now included) so this is also not an “easy”  sound for me.  Essentially, my condition impairs my ability to produce “active” (that is, with the voice turned on) sounds.  While previously i made “fast progress” through daily practice and sheer will, i need to be more conscious now as i have a tendency to revert to old habits as my speech patterns are already well established {this is not helped by my age).  Case in point, (unlike consonants) there’s an “acceptable” range for vowels which children “easily” mimic and older people struggle with (that’s why it’s easier for you to learn another language ehen your “younger”).

i’ve got such a “bastardised” accent (as my pronunciation of syllables doesn’t “neatly” fall under one language) that i can pose a challenge to my speech pathologist.  =)

I originally thought of doing both a presentation and blog post but due to time pressures opted for the latter. Here’s a concise version of what I ended up doing…

I’ve used a “structured” approach to impart more formality but being a blog post I decided to make it more “medium-friendly”.  =)

A.  Introduction

A.1 Description and Background

Since New York city had over 60 million visitors last year alone, it may be useful to recommend hotels based on their physical proximity to major attractions (such as Central Park – not Central Perk of Friends fame) or what I called Places of Interest (or POI for short)using the Haversine formula – it’s a technical way of measuring distance between points using Latitude & Longitude (I won’ bore you with the details as it uses a lot of Trigonometric functions).   Essentially, it was envisioned to help plan your trip to the Big Apple.

A.2 Data

It used “free” data to determine which hotels are in which neighbourhoods and in which boroughs (so I used an API called FourSquare to get some of the place information).  Unsurprisingly, the major hotels were clustered in and most POI were located in Manhattan.

B. Methodology

I used clustering to segment my data (thankfully, the hard bits are already implemented). Freakishly, the cluster of neighbourhoods corresponded to the NYC boroughs (you know somebody worked it out).  This was confirmed visually (after all, seeing is believing) by something called a Folium map (see below).

This is one of the “cool” tools available at your disposal.  This is not, in and of itself, conclusive proof but you can “go down a deep rabbit hole” of data to assert your claim.  This is, by no means, the only “weapon” available to you but it sure is pretty.

C. Results

Unremarkably, the data merely confirmed what we’ve always known:  hotels are near one another and sites are chosen for their proximity to popular landmarks and sought after amenities – it’s so obvious, duh.

D. Discussion

It’s not always about generating new insights.  It’s sometimes about “empirical”  confirmation of things we just take for granted as true.

E. Conclusion

I can talk until I’m blue in the face but you’ll probably pay me no mind and tune out (if you haven’t already). In short you can use Data Science (and its associated tools) can be powerful in uncovering secrets.

If you’d like to read a more detailed and “serious” document, the full  report can be dowloaded at

https://github.com/LinsAbadia/corsera/blob/master/ADSC_Report.pdf

If code is more your thing, a Jupyter notebook in Python can be obtained from:

https://github.com/LinsAbadia/corsera/blob/master/ADSC_Finalv7.ipynb

If you’re generally more interested in GitHub (and open source computing), you can go to the following address:

https://github.com/

This has mainly been about content but, in my experience, context can be just as, if not more, important – that’s how you should think about Data Science!