Home2019-12-16T14:19:42+02:00

Read: Assembly

You have stories that need many words and you have stories that can be compact. Usually it takes good writers to make a compact story. Assembly (2021) is such a story. A remarkable debut novel by the hand of Natasha Brown. One hundred pages, that’s the size of her novel. Within those pages she packs all themes that currently matter when it comes to being black and being female, trying to fit in.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading every sentence of this book. It is so well written that I needed to slow down my usual reading pace to take it all in. In fact, I even read the last twenty pages out loud to myself, just to make sure I wouldn’t skip a word. Brown writes like a poet, and then to think she studied Maths at Cambridge University.

Buy this book. Read this book. Reread this book. Gift the book.

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Read: The Psychology of Time Travel

I picked up The Psychology of Time Travel (2018), in Copenhagen’s Fantask. It was written by Kate Mascarenhas and it’s her first novel.

The book features female characters mostly. Four of them invented time travel, one of them is a grand-child of the inventors who mentally broke down after time travelling too long. The story jumps back and forth between years and is basically a murder mystery.

I found the plot original, witty at times. Don’t expect a realistic scenario when it comes to time travel, as characters meet each other older/younger selves which doesn’t interfere with actual course of events. The end was a bit confusing, as if the author felt a bit rushed to make an end to the story. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed reading it. If only to immerse oneself in a book where female characters are portrayed as scientists and inventors. Some kind, others not so kind. Just like in real life.

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Life events

  1. I passed my third (and last) exam for data engineering;
  2. I got my second dose of Moderna;
  3. Daughter finished her first year of school;
  4. We are driving to Denmark next Friday (if our covid-tests are negative).

This is what clubbing did in NL

Now that the UK is opening night-clubs, I’ll show you what to expect over the next few weeks. My government ran an experiment for fifteen days. The experiment was: do whatever you like, but keep your distance and get tested for activities when social distancing is not possible. Oh, and when you get your Janssen-shot your Corona-pass is active immediately (also called ‘Dansen met Janssen’-pass). Oh, and a test is valid for forty hours. That will get you going all weekend! Delta-variant? Yeah, we heard about that, but it’ll will be dominant by September, not earlier.

This is what happened

Number of people who tested positive per 100.000 inhabitants between June 14 and July 19.
First white dot on the blue line beneath the graph: June 26, opening up. Second dot: July 10, closing night-clubs and curfew for all cafes at midnight.
Number of people who tested positive between June 14 and July 19 per age group

In other words: let the unvaccinated groups dance all night long and give some of them long-covid, and their parents (many under 25 still live with their parents), who are still 1 shot and/or two weeks away of being fully vaccinated, too.

And what about Delta? Yep. Taking us by storm.

Covid-19 variants measured between June 28 and July 4

But the Brits are better vaccinated than the Dutch, right? Well…not really.

Vaccination rollout in the UK, source: The Guardian July 19
Vaccination rollout NL, source: European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control July 19

And don’t forget, the Dutch are mainly vaccinated with mRNA vaccines, which are better at fighting off the Delta variant.

I can’t wait to see the UK graphs in a few weeks’ time.

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Covid Confessions

We were doing so well in June. Then the Dutch government decided it would be a great gift to all people to open up basically everything on June 26th, including nightclubs. Imagine all those young bodies dancing, sweating, drinking, hugging, kissing inside rooms where the air is recycled through many noses, mouths and lungs like it’s 2019. Sure, people needed to show their coronapass before allowed in, but that could be obtained with a quick test, giving you green light to party for 40 hours in a row. And scanning all those QR-codes became a real hassle when you see the row of people waiting to enter grow and grow.

On that day, June 26th, we had a daily count of about 550 new infections. In some countries, that would still be reason enough not to go out and about. Unsurprisingly, on July 1st that number went up and as I’m writing this, July 10th, we counted 10.345 newly infected people in one day. That brings us back to lock-down Christmas 2020. With one week of partying we nullified 6 months of patiently waiting. Well done government. They still can’t seem to grasp exponential growth despite their weekly meetings with the experts.

I feel so angry.

I’m currently studying really hard for a data engineering exam and it’s tough. I really appreciate all the knowledge I’m gaining on how to handle data in data warehouses and data lakes, but it is not inspiring to learn data plumbing. The past month I haven’t been sleeping well, and that led me to spiral down the greyness inside. There was a bright point in the future I clung on to these past few weeks. The idea of travel. Two weeks with just the three of us in a city that I love. Two weeks of reintroducing Daughter to the wonders of going places.

A few months ago the Man took a gamble and reserved a house in Copenhagen for two weeks through Airbnb. I knew it was a gamble, but in June the idea of travel became a realistic scenario. We both receive our second shot the week before we leave, we are welcome in Denmark. As our second shot is only a week before we leave we still need to take a test before entering Denmark, but if that’s the only thing I have to do to be able to enter the Louisiana Museum, check out the shops on Vesterbrogade or get a coffee at The Coffee Collective, no problem. But then June 26th came.

With one week of exam preparation to go (doing the exam coming Friday), the bright point in the future shines very brittle. I guess the Germans put up a fence for their partying neighbours next week (we drive through Germany to get to Denmark) and the Danes put us on the red list, requiring us to quarantine on arrival. Rightfully so.

I have been one of those careful inhabitants of this country who have been taking all the precautions and spent nearly 1,5 years in and around their home. I’ve dealt with it all. Even with a four year old (now five) darting around the house for weeks on end while juggling work, home schooling for her and home schooling for me at the same time. The gift from my government after six months of surviving the greyest of days? I bet another six weeks of staying at home during Daughter’s Summer holidays. At least we both are exempt from home schooling.

As I said. I feel so angry.

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The roles in data

For those who are not familiar with the variations of roles in the field of data, this is what I’ve learned so far about those roles. You have data analysts, data architects, data engineers and data scientists.

A data analyst works on, no surprise, analysing data. Often these are people preparing reports (for instance on sales performance) for management. When working in Microsoft Azure, you would spend a lot of time using Power BI to create reports, using polished data sets to perform transformations and calculations. Your goal is to create visualizations that anyone else in your organisation can easily understand.

To create those polished data sets for analysts to work with, you need a data infrastructure. That’s where the data architect comes in. An architect thinks through what the data needs are on one end, knows the perks of the raw data coming in at the other end and then designs the infrastructure in between.

The data engineer then uses the input from the data architect to build the infrastructure.

Sometimes you want to dig deeper into your data and discover more complex patterns. That’s where the data scientist comes in. These math wizards apply statistical, machine learning and AI models to data and are able to tweak these models using there mathematical knowledge.

I was rather surprised to learn how working in data, a relatively new field to work in, already split up in so many roles. And then I’m not even talking about all the specialisations you could choose within these roles for hard core programmers. For instance my trainer worked for many years solely on optimising SQL statements for a living.

My education prepares me for two roles mainly: the analyst and the engineer. I’m most definitely happy with all the skills I learned about using Power BI. That will help me a lot when I start digging for stories using data sets. The data engineering part is absolutely not my cup of tea. It’s really theoretical and an in-depth crash course on database management and Azure cloud infrastructure. You can compare it to fitting electrical pipes in your home. It needs to be done, otherwise you can’t live in your home, but it’s not as exciting as decorating your home. At least I get more excited about decoration and design than fitting pipes. That said, I’m still very happy to get a solid understanding of the inner workings of databases and the cloud tools one needs to create usable data from raw data. It helps me to be able to instruct others to click the right buttons, write the proper SQL statements and build the pipelines for me, so that I can dig for the data story gold 😉

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