Public transport conversations, & a minor personal breakthrough

A lady sat down next to me on the train this morning. She was already on the phone when she got on the train. I knew because she had a distinct voice that carried. She was ‘coaching’ someone, from what I could overhear one side of the conversation.

Two things stood out: In the course of her conversation, she advised her ‘mentee’ that someone had to just go out & talk to people, & just do some work. There was no question about why that was needed, just that something needed to be done.

The other was her story of a conversation she had with someone a few years ago, on dealing with stress. The person in question worked at a hospital, & would walk around the place, to get a perspective that whatever was causing them stress wasn’t causing people to die.


I’ve been putting off doing an assignment on the Deep Learning course because I simply couldn’t get my head around what seemed a basic concept. The lack of motivation in the last couple of days was partly that too, perhaps?

Anyway, after dinner, & reading to the 6yo, I approached the problem using paper & pen. It took an hour or so to draw out the concept, & about 10 minutes to get through what seemed to be the hardest part of the assignment.

Which reminds me, I used the same technique at work today to design a report that I’d been putting off.  Broadly, the #Tableau report needed to keep track of where each customer lay on a price curve, with the price table axis at irregular intervals. Writing out the steps in full make it amply clear where the problem was & how to solve it.

A new week

Toastmasters had their World Championships of Public Speaking last week, over a 3-day period. Congratulations to Manoj Vasudevan, who won the third place in 2015, won this time round. I’ve not heard the other speeches, but Vasudevan used the same speech again, with a different title. The same speech on the world stage twice – I’m not sure I agree with the strategy, but clearly the judges thought otherwise. 

The kids have their public speaking finals at school this week. Both are totally stoked (& very rehearsed) with their speeches. I’ll get the chance to see the 11yo deliver hers today.
Struggling with motivation the last few days, & it’s been the lowest I’ve felt in a bit. My threshold for bullshit has sunk to a new low, & plenty of it around lately. Or maybe I’m just noticing it a lot more.
I’ve challenged myself to do some exercise every day, physically & mentally – and it’s slowly starting to bear some effects. Doing the Week 3 homework on the Deep Learning course is quite an intense effort, and certainly having some effect on my motivation clearly. 

things on my mind

Leonard Cohen. His magic with words.

Cartoonists. Their ability to use so few words yet get their message so sharply across.



Speeches. Good ones. Not so good ones. The ones that shouldn’t have been done. Others that should have.

Internet arguments. Their futility. Actually, the futility of all arguments.

Time. And how it’s running out. For everyone.

Kids. and this quote from C.M Wallace: ‘If you don’t listen eagerly to the little stuff they tell you when they’re little, they won’t tell you the big stuff when they’re big, because to them all of it has always been big stuff’.

and this post on addictions by Seth Godin “we needed the eggs“: “Just because it appears productive, just because you bought it in a store or got promoted for it at work doesn’t mean it’s not addictive and worth managing.”

The week that was

The week gone by was peculiar.

Someone apparently thought it worth their while to comment on the speed (or lack thereof) of my work. It got me a bit flustered because I usually get commended for turning around pieces of work fairly quickly. Having done many of these tasks previously, I’ve a fairly good sense of how much time something will take, traded off against how often that task will need to be done again (and that has been a recurring theme, pun intended).

What made the feedback troubling was that it was from someone who, on several occasions, been one of the commending folks. What changed was apparently behind the scenes.

C’est la vie


Both my kids have their speeches ready for their class contests – written, polished, read and memorized. It will be an awesome week, regardless of how they place in those contests.


I’ve signed up to Andrew Ng’s Deep Learning course on Coursera. It’s challenging because it is outside my domain expertise, and it’s exciting because I am picking an understanding of things that made little to no sense even a few months ago. Neural Networks built using Python – a snake gotten into my brain.