i did a lot of coding in my time and was introduced to neural networks at school so it wasn’i really a stretch learning Python. i only knew aspects of statistics so it became obvious to me that it was something i had to strengthen to upgrade my data science skills because i had a lot of exposure to programming and a little background on artificial intelligence – let me preface it by saying, it’s been awhile since i’ve “actively” done both and technology has advanced, that said, i’ve been developing a GitHub repository because i believe the expression that says you teach best what you need to learn.

to brush on the basics and truly understand Descriptive Statistics i’m perusing version 2 of the ebook Think Stats: Exploratory Data Analysis by Allen B. Downey. it’s supposedly framed for programmers and better suited for them in learning statistics.

aside from personal growth, my wife (although she’s well versed in machine learning and teaching programming) and her work team are looking at doing some research that may require this. so there’s a greater incentive to study this.

i watched Juliet Naked it wasn’t that different from a “formulaic” romantic comedy – it’s just i found the dialogue quite “pithy”.i liked the comedy stylings of Chris O’ Dowd in The IT Crowd (maybe since i used to work in tech i could relate). strangely, it’s his choice of “dramatic” roles i find appealing: this film and The State of the Union, a limited television series.

it sort of reminds me of the movie: High Fidelity ( this was a very rare instance where i enjoyed the film aside from the book by Nick Bantock – who happens to be one of my favourite authors).

it’s probably the writing which i like in both films – i’m a sucker for “good” dialogue. there’s a line in the film which struck me, paraphrasing it was to the effect that art is not for the artist as water isn’t for the plumber – effectively elevating the “beholder” in the power dynamic wrought equation.

generally, i tend to like some of the roles that Ethan Hawke accepts: Gattaca, Boyhood, Great Expectations, Training Day, Reality Bites, and Dead Poets Society, It seems “foolish” to expect i’d like all his movies.

if you’re doing nothing, it’s an “alright” flick to watch.

i’ve always been “terminally trivial”. as i am a keen reader (i consume less books now given my vision impairment) and watch a heap of TV/movies (i no longer watch those exclusively with subtitles as the captions are too fast for me to read), the accumulation of factoids can be said to be “eclectic”. sadly, this hasn’t translated to any pub quiz wins and any major prizes in HQ Trivia.

with the advent of Google (and similar technologies) , this predilection for facts seems passé. the ubiquity of search engines and voice assistants like SIRI have resulted in “information at the fingertips” for some. this “JIT” (Just In Time} approach has transformed our relationship with facts – it’s, after all, when (and no longer if) we need it. it’s psychologically more efficient and practical to store information external to your person rather than in your mind (as evidenced by our “over”reliance on our phones). the onus has shifted from the right answers to the right questions. i’ve always believed questions were important but more so now – Jeopardy! was only “tangentially” right.

i asked a former knowledgeable teacher and very smart friend why digital technologies used the Red Green Blue (RGB) palette when i was taught early on that the primary colours were Red Yellow, and Blue – so i was thinking shouldn’t it be RYB instead. i was told that RGB had always been the standard spectrum. i was placated for a while by their answers but it was always in the back of my mind.

one day i was just compelled to do a web search. apparently, RGB are the base additive colours: That is they are “active” and can be combined to form various hues and shades (through the use of such things as lasers). primary colours uses paint and paper to make other colours and are more “passive” – if that makes sense.

it’s no longer just about memorising facts in the digital age as it is, also IMHO, about having the intellectual curiosity to ask “interesting” questions. From now on, i’ll also share the results of my “research” on this blog.

we recently came back from New Zealand (Aotearoa in Maori) to attend a wedding. no, it wasn’t bloody like the GoT episode – it was just the bride was Vietnamese and her gown was a shade of crimson.

despite also having a tea ceremony after the nuptials, it was not at all stuffy – i found their vows funny and they even had a jumping castle for the adults.

not only did we travel overseas to get there and drive a long way to attend the event but we really wanted to be there on that joyous occasion. unlike some destination weddings it made sense to me. although the groom (who’s my wife’s cousin), the bride’s a Kiwi and most of her relatives are still there. it was at a garden for people to feel more at ease and so that there could be other “fun” activities. it was a balance between fiscally responsibility and meaningfulness – i think most couples spend so much time, money, and effort on just one day instead of being mindful about the remainder of their lives together: there’s even a stat that states the more money that the couple spends on the wedding, the likelier they are to break up.

we also had a little time to do a few “touristy” things. we drove aways for most destinations but being on several OZ road trips the NZ views were much more picturesque. My son took several photos using a proper digital camera of the scenery – to keep the post downloadable, i exported a select few to “smaller” files.

Rotorua – Landscape
Rotorua Nightscape

DISCLAIMER: The copyright of all the pictures is his and these were shared with his permission.

we also saw a geyser:

Rotorua Geyser

while there are kangaroo crossing signs in OZ, NZ have them for cows. i thought the dairy products were already good in OZ, but they were better in NZ as their milk is much creamier (and i could tell as i like my cheese, coffee (although i’m partial to doppio and ristretto, i get lattes in countries that have good milk), and ice cream). That said, vegans close your ears, cows are bred better in OZ for eating.

there were too many photos so in the interest of space and download speed i’ve decided not to share all of them.

we had a chance to witness a Haka performed live – prior to that we’ve only seen it on TV, mostly by the All Blacks prior to a rugby match. we know it was for intimidation and, if possible to avoid conflict. it was also interesting to learn that it is used to “warmup” major muscles so it makes a lot of sense in the sporting context.

because i’ve always been a nerd (it would be a misnomer to call me a John Ronald Reuel Tolkien geek, although both can be socially awkward, because more than just being an enthusiast i can get quite cerebral about the topic. case in point, when Gandalf in the movies (played by Sir Ian McKellen) utters the words: “You shall not pass!’ in the original text it was will not shall – it was a “happy accident” that wasn’t edited out of the film) we also visited Hobbiton.

interestingly, the movie set is in Matamata which translated in Filipino means eye-eye and the whole Fellowship of the Ring was formed partly because of the expanding reach of the Eye of Sauron.

i even tried to read the books (as i was a fan of fantasy novels). alas, i wasn’t able to finish the books (i attempted The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring) as some words were a bit obtuse for me (my excuse was that i was young and English wasn’t my primary language) and the author was a Professor of English Literature at Oxford. i instead settled for the cartoons and movies.

in any case, i want to return for a longer time but their accessibility facilities can still be improved…

expect delays

September 18, 2019

there will be delays in building my Python repository on GitHub as: 1.)  i’m sill busy figuring out how to “better” restructure it, 2.) i’m searching for an old computing book that may help me with content, 3.) while my ABI compromised my reading speed it is way much faster than my typing output, 4.)  everybody says i tend to “overanalyse” things (ask my Mum and wife) so i’m carefully considering how to frame sample code to help “maximise” learning.  FYI.  Sorry.

ex libris

September 16, 2019

i like books. Even after my ABI i still read (although it’s much trickier now).  i bring it up because it’s the primary way i learn.

Some people would like me to go straight to coding but reading stuff and paraphrasing it is, i’ve found, an “effective” learning process for me – i tend to understand things “better”.

Here’s the updated GitHub reposisitory with the “basic” Python library overview: https://github.com/LinsAbadia/Python 

there appears to be a tendency of social media to focus solely on the good – there’a a plethora of “humble” brags and “unrealistic” posts.  i’m obviously not a big fan but i can understand why it’s worth it “following” certain people.  Don’t get me wrong – i’m all for democratisation and giving a voice to the traditionally voiceless but a lot of it is to me vacuous and inane palava (or palaver if you prefer) – not to mention the trolling and glaring divide.  i worked in ICT for a number of years prior to my ABI (Acquired Brain Injury):  technology can be a magnifier for “bad” and  not just a multiplier for “good” – in my experience, it’s a double-edged sword.  i believe posts shouldn’t be policed or censored (free speech and all) but people should be better equipped to discern the “wheat from the chaff” – a form of “natural selection” of sorts (if you will).  It would benefit from balance (like most things in life).

part of this is “processing”.  Some of it is “snobbery” (i’m only human after all).  That said, take from it what you will – i’m not narcissistic enough to discount any “unintended interpretations” of my writing.  My only caveat that it is partly out of need (and partly due to therapy) so it might not be most people’s “cup of tea”.

there’s undeniably some “good” occurrences recently.  Firstly, i’m nearly halfway in completing my online certificate in data science.  This will, “hopefully”, help me get into “gainful” employment again after being “sidelined in the wilderness” for over a decade now.  At times, I used to work a part-time job along with a full-time one – so being homebound was a “drastic” change.

over the last two weeks, i’ve been finishing online crosswords daily. It started with 2.5 hours but now i’m down to a little over 50 minutes usually and my best time is approximately 38 minutes.  i’m merely an amateur cruciverbalist who wants to improve and build up to something challenging like the New York Times Sunday crossword.

i’ve had no falls over the last several months despite my last two  SARA (short for the Scale for the Assessment  and Rating of Ataxia) tests showing slight deterioration.    i think this is mainly due to my neuro PTs’ advised interventions added to (or slightly modifying ) my daily exercise routine.  Sure the NDIS (Australian National Disability Insurance Scheme in case you’re not aware) is a source of much consternation and a bugbear to negotiate (even for mundane tasks) but thanks to it i can now afford to go weekly instead of monthly (which used to be the case).  I had several near-misses lately:  the point is I didn’t fall down where a couple of months ago i surely would have.  As in everything there is both good and bad – i’ve heard it referred as a major reform since MediCare:  there are obvious, signficant “teething problems” with its initial rollout but you can’t really fault the intention (it is the implementation where it falls down – pun intended ).

sadly, i’ve been binge watching a lot lately. Whether to “empty out” the numerous recordings on my DVR (Digital Video Recorder) or streaming over the Internet – i’m such a cheapskate that I only use free services (thankfully, Australia is quite “progressive”).  My  current darling is  “You’re the Worst” on SBS (Special Broadcasting Service) On Demand – the “Resume” function makes the bugs bearable.  I watched all episodes of the four seasons available on the web. I find the writing witty and funny (admittedly, i’ve got a “dark” sense of humour i liked the tv show Legit , i found the movie Pulp Fiction hilarious, and mostly laughed throughout the stage show, The Book of Mormon ). I enjoyed Seasons  1-3 ; S4 was ok (my “disappointment” with the new intro notwithstanding) and still will watch the last season (i’m curious how they will wind it down and then end it). i think Ricky Gervais was right to cap the UK  version of The Office after two series.  i use TV to distract from the thinking i do during the day – so “smart” and “subconscious” programming is much appreciated.  The last show made me think of the novel, The Unbearable Lightness of Being although watching is supposed to relax me.  i sometimes read (with the aid of a magnifier) during ad breaks (i know this is counter to my intent but i can’t really help doing it).  i find it helps me think more broadly about things and i’m not limited to seeing things only in a certain way.

My Ph.D. has stalled and as of late i rarely write anything – and when i do i only mange a few words.  Maybe i’ve just “hit the wall” and i’m just tired given the number of years (when a lot of things usually pique my interest) and the effort to type compounded by my waning interest.  Maybe it’s not up to scratch given my exacting standards and past performances.  Maybe it’s my growing frustration with the admin required and my over reliance on altruism upon learning the hard way that it’s self-interest that often yields results.  Maybe it’s my substantially increased anxiety due to my health concerns or fast approaching conclusion of my candidature.  i suspect all of these factors play a role.  Thankfully i’ve got a supervisor who believes in me and my abilities – she’s doing what she can to make that path is still available to me.

i was told that walking outside would do some good – not only would it further develop my legs given a functional task but it would also expose me to fresh air and vitamin D.  I’m trying to incorporate this into my routine but admittedly i’m hesitant given my bouts with hay fever and uneven terrain and inclines.  On days when the pollen count is not too high, I go outside the front of our house to gradually acclimatise me to the irritants and eventually build enough strength to confidently tackle going around the block.

My speech difficulties have taught me to listen more to others.  My walking challenges have resulted in me losing weight (as the heavier i am, the harder it is to remain ambulant), made me appreciate more the challenge of getting robots to balance on two legs.  My greatly reduced typing speed has caused me to concentrate more on quality rather than quantity. As has happened in the past with other persons with disabilities, it has ‘forced’ me to adapt and strategise to perform common tasks.

It is easy for me to continue being negative: seeing silver linings does not come natural.  These are the cards i have been dealt and need to make the most out of them.  Admittedly, it still pisses me off when people whinge about what i consider to be “terminally trivial” things but i have to learn to focus instead on the things i need to do and how i can perform them better.  While the Chinese symbol for ‘crisis’ has been disproven to mean both ‘danger’ and ‘opportunity’ simultaneously, it is still useful to see both the  yin and  yang of things.