Data Science: Python
From speaking to data scientists, economists and machine learning analysts, it seems like there are two main choices for mainstream programming languages: Python and R, with Julia coming in third. Some interesting discussions here
Python is the fastest-growing as it has such comprehensive machine learning libraries. Therefore, I’ve decided to go for Python. There are so many free and paid online courses, that for now, I think doing that will suffice. I think this is a sensible overall plan for someone interested in getting ready for data science:
This is a great Medium post on how to go about creating your own data science learning experience, ranking all kinds of online courses.
1. Some of the courses available:
2. Doing data science practice questions
– Udemy course
3. Flashcards for myself testing basic statistics and other machine learning concepts
4. Set up a Github page with my own code that others can see? Not quite ready for this step yet.
Autoimmune disease: How to change my breakfast bias
As everyone knows autoimmune disease can be so frustrating as you don’t know when your symptoms are going to strike and how they will manifest themselves, but of course one of the things you can do in the mean time is take good care of yourself. One of my big challenges is diet: I am having trouble trying to increase my vegetable intake and reduce my sugar. I’ve always associated delicious breakfasts with jam toast, French toast or pancakes everyday. I feel super-irresponsible but then can’t seem to help myself in the moment.
Anyway, after thinking long and hard about sugar, and how much I hate being so addicted to it (instead of actually enjoying it anymore) I have tried switching breakfasts three times a week to eggs/tofu/fish in some form and vegetables. So far I’ve tried egg white scramble or fried eggs with one of the following:
- a kind of ratatouille from eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes,
- swiss chard, kale or spinach sauteed,
- a mountain of peas with just a little butter or
- pak choi
- avocados and corn tortillas
Occasionally if I get up early enough, I’ll have pan fried salmon or tofu scramble as the protein instead of eggs.
An ambitious aim one day is to make dosas for breakfast, as it recently
Then as a reward there are pancakes or waffles twice a week. I decided to change over to using Kodiak Cakes to prepare them which do not taste the same by any means but I guess they’ll do for now. On weekends, I treat myself to buckwheat or, gasp, regular flour pancakes. I think because there are still some sweet breakfasts in there, I have been better about the savory ones. Let’s be honest, I’ll never love eating swiss chard for breakfast, but I guess it’s not too bad. What tricks do you use to get enough vegetables in the day?
Great links about this:
Food: Pistachio Cake
Do you have a favorite afternoon cake? Something sliced and pretty that tastes amazing with a cup of tea or coffee? I think a coffee and walnut from an ancient cooking book is the one for me, but since I have no idea where the recipe is I decided to try something new today: pistachio and blackberry.
I ate a delicious light and fluffy pistachio cake at Miro’s tea house a while ago and have been dreaming of it since. I wish I’d taken a picture but it is a three-layer creation beautifully decorated with what I think is cream cheese frosting and blackberries. Elegant, maybe slightly eighties in colors: jewel-like berries nestled on the palest jade-green frosting. Then they stopped making it.
I looked up a few recipes and picked this one .I normally substitute or mess around with a few of the proportions e.g. put in some almond flour for all purpose flour, but this time, I followed the recipe exactly. Despite that, it was much more dense than it looked in the pictures. I don’t know what it is but lately I just can’t get light and fluffy cakes. Maybe I was supposed to whip the egg whites separately, like a genoise? The recipe has baking powder and soda, so I had assumed that was not necessary. In any case, it’s super tasty, full of fresh pistachio flavor and crunch, but much denser and less light than I was expecting. I used the suggested cream cheese frosting, adding in some blackberry jam in the sandwich layer as well. The jam was too sweet along with the frosting, so next time I’d reduce down some fresh blackberries for the filling.
I decided not to go for the honey frosting suggested in the recipe, but instead for a good old plain cream cheese frosting.
I’d definitely attempt this cake again, obviously trying to lighten it with whipping the egg whites. It was gone in two days, yum!
Make up: Eye dryness doesn’t have to mean no make up!
I still have no answers as to what the underlying cause is for the inflammation in my body, mainly manifesting itself in dry eyes. Unfortunately, it felt like one day to the next, water-based eye drops for the dryness just wasn’t cutting it anymore. I am now using an ointment really meant for overnight wear. It takes some learning to put that stuff in your eye three of four times a day without getting it everywhere. So it really is glasses all the time for me now! I don’t know what the ointment would do to contact lens, but I don’t think it would be pretty.
I use make up as a complete mask so it freaked me out a bit that I might not be able to wear any, but it has been fine, having the ointment just means re-touching make up more often. I’ve been pretty boring and stuck to a thick black winged eyeliner on my upper lids: Bobbi Brown eye gel and brush do the trick well. Every time I reapply ointment, I have to do the liner again of course. If you’re looking for something a bit quicker, especially when on the move, I substitute with Stila’s liquid eyeliner which usually stays put for an hour or two. I have abandoned eyeshadow altogether at this point which makes me sad. I think I will go to Sephora at some point and find out what kind of eyeshadow looks complete glasses.
Eye pencil: The ones that didn’t make the cut were Sephora’s chubby eye pencil liner, they have amazing metalllic (and a few matt) colors and pretty good stay-power normally, but my optician reported to me that my eyeball was looking like a tiny shimmery galaxy, with purple and brown flecks all over my eye. So unfortunately, that eye pencil sheds big time when used with ointment. I then tried Faces Beautiful Gel Eyeliner pen; you still need to blot away as much of the excess ointment as you can from your eye lids and lower eye before applying, but then the pencil does stay on pretty well.
Mascara: After trying several, the one that seems to stay for the longest (two or three hours in my case) is this Lancôme Monsieur Big mascara. Yes, most days there is a stream of black ointment running down my face and it takes a while for me to notice, but hey.
One thing I’ve learned is that it’s a really good idea to have a little eye hydration kit on the go: sterile gloves, ointment, mirror and tissues so that you can re-oil your eyes when out and about. The worst thing is being out and having tired red eyes for hours.
How common is miscarriage? 10 to 20% of (known-about) pregnancies end in miscarriages1. This is also possibly an underestimate as many women may be having them and not even realize it, as it happens so early in the process that they might assume that it’s just a late period.
How often do you hear about people having miscarriages though? I feel like there is a huge taboo around talking about it: at work, amongst friends, wherever really, apart from with those extremely close to you. When someone asked me how I was doing after mine last year, I wanted to say,
“Actually, not so well, I have blood clots and pieces of fetus coming out of me and I’m freaking out.” What I actually said of course was “Oh, a little stomach ache, no big deal.”
Why is it that we are not talking about this common and traumatic event more, to make it normal and to mark with respect something that is very real and sometimes frightening. Even taking the best case scenario where one knows that it’s going to happen, is bad enough, I cannot imagine what it must be like if it just happened spontaneously.
I found that as soon as I shared my experience with others, many people came forward with their own stories, far more common than I thought; friends who had suffered in silence, people who felt that they couldn’t talk about it as it would let people know that they were planning on starting a family and that wouldn’t reflect well on them. There were also partners, boyfriends and husbands who I am sure wanted to talk about the sense of loss and helplessness but we almost never hear from these people. It is a normal and frequent process for humans. It would be amazing if – like headaches, colds, broken and sprained limbs – we could talk and share about miscarriage to ease the burden and not feel so alone.
1 The Johns Hopkins Manual of Gynecology and Obstetrics (4 ed.). Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. 2012. pp. 438–439. ISBN 9781451148015. Archivedfrom the original on September 10, 2017.
Data Science: What’s the big deal about data science?
According to this article which references Linkedin, data scientists saw a 56% increase in job openings in the US in 2019. IBM also predicts demand for data scientists will increase by 28% by 2020; so what’s the fuss all about? Never has there been a time where it’s so easy and cheap to record and store so much data about ourselves. Companies ultimately predict what customers are going to do and buy next, and how they can more effectively target customers. Research institutions wants to gather all the data they might possibly need. Governments wish to gather as much data about their citizens as possible. Naturally, therefore, those who can manipulate this data are in demand.
What does a data scientist do?
This seems hugely variable depending on the organization but it can range from working closely with software engineers to optimally collect the correct data from customers, pulling and cleaning that data from its source, building and using statistical models to fit data and predict outcomes or visualizing the data in graphs and tables. The common theme is command of basic programming using languages such as Python and R and know some elementary statistics. Many of the job openings mention experience with the database querying language SQL, and also the data visualization software such as Tableau.
What about all the people already trained to do some of these things like economists, physicists and operations research people?
I don’t think that these posts will be obsolete, but data science is certainly the subject of the moment, along with machine learning. Having trained as an economist, I covered a lot of the relevant topics such as statistics and basic programming (more so with more basic packages such as Stata) but have gaps to fill before I’d be eligible to apply for data science roles. If you’ve had some technical training that covers areas such as modeling and statistics, there is something to build on if you want to switch over. I’ve also come across quite a few people who trained as physicists and have made the transition to data science/applied scientist etc.
Where is data science going in the future?
At the moment, as this Forbes article says, there will surely be a a more refined classification of sub roles within data science, as there are currently so many different definitions.
Whilst the labels of “machine learning” and “data scientists” may fade, the ability to gather data, ask the right questions about what we can know and infer, plus rigorous modeling will always be useful.
Autoimmune disease: How to have Sjögren’s, sort of, kind of…
Dry eyes, joint pain and hypothyroidism, all point to Sjogren’s. That’s what I thought I had until very recently when I did not test positive for all the initial tests for this. Not entirely sure what autoimmune disease it is, but I will find out. Whatever it is, how can your body starts attacking itself?
Welcome to my pity party. A few months ago, I just thought I had GERD and LPR, a frustrating silent reflux condition where acid comes up from your stomach, not just to your oesophagus but your throat, that sneaky monster. It can cause throat damage and a whole host of nasty things. Now the blame: I think growing up when mostly everyone I knew (kids!) had perfect health, I was told of my family’s tendency towards heart disease and I somehow felt that I could escape it all if I kept fit. At 12. Everyone is fit at 12. I was convinced that I would stay this way forever more. It’s so immature but no one corrected this logic. Anyway, fast forward to being an “adult” and responsible for my own snacks and food. I was a vegetarian in name only, where I had nothing whatsoever to do with broccoli and its friends, but just had cheese, pasta and lots cakes and pastries. When you’re young, you can eat all those things and not see much of a difference. Not so after your 30’s.
Cue hypothyroidism earlier this year. Night sweats, lethargy and weight gain. Finally a wonderful doctor finally realized that hypothyroidism might be affecting my ability to conceive another child. I was prescribed medication to regulate it. So far, so good. After a few months, I decided to go and see an endocrinologist, just to check that there was nothing more I needed to do. After I started describing a few of my symptoms, including the dry eyes, they mentioned the possibility of Sjogren’s. I had never even heard of it and to be honest it’s the first time I took autoimmune diseases seriously and did some reading. Anyway, since testing negative for it, I have decided to just try and deal with the symptoms and get as healthy and fit as I can, before I try and establish exactly what is affecting me. It is mentally frightening to know that a whole barrage of horrible symptoms can hit you at any time but so many people are dealing with this. I may do some more invasive tests, including a friendly-sounding lip biopsy, but later down the line, once I’ve got myself more healthy.
First things first, diet. I have a pretty poor diet for an adult, and for some bizarre reason am very good at buying and preparing vegetables but then make everyone else eat them, whilst filling myself with bread, cakes and pastries and lots of cheese. Well, no more. Hello, broccoli. I am going to love you, or at least try. Does anyone really love broccoli?
Exercise: exercise has been part of my life off and on, more solo running or swimming than anything else, but I need to fully commit to incorporating strength training and proper cardio where I actually push myself and improve week by week. I’m lucky enough to go to an awesome gym so I should be able to do this if I stick to a schedule.
Dry eyes: I was getting so good at whipping out my water-based eye drops and (almost) expertly putting them in my eyes without a mirror. Unfortunately, whatever my underlying condition is, it has ramped up an awful lot lately, meaning glasses are the only option and contact lens are for “special occasions only.” After being bullied as a kid for huge thick glasses, this has been a really good experience to conquer that fear and realize that glasses are just glasses and lots of people wear them.
So here I am, with most of the adult world out there, grappling with the fact that life and health are fragile and that it’s all about taking care of the body and mind you have and not getting stuck in a swamp of envy and bitterness and regret about what everyone else has. Let’s go be an adult!
I want to chronicle my adventures in the weird and wonderful city of Seattle, including learning to be a data scientist, and other fun things: books, films, food and fashion.