Wanderlust

The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.

Attributed to  Augustine of Hippo, the quote above reignited latent wanderlust. If I had to be honest though, as much as I like the idea of Travel, the execution of the act of Travelling is very different.

Alain de Botton, in his beautiful book The Art of Travel, put it best, when writing about his much anticipated trip to Barbados during his home country’s winter:

In my anticipation, there had simply been a vacuum between the airport and my hotel. Nothing had existed in my mind between the last line on the itinerary (the beautifully rhythmic ‘Arrival BA 2155 at 15.35’) and the hotel room. I had not envisioned, and now protested inwardly the appearance of, a luggage carousel with a frayed rubber mat; two flies dancing above an overflowing ashtray; a giant fan turning inside the arrivals hall; a white taxi with a dashboard covered in fake leopard skin; a stray dog in a stretch of waste ground beyond the airport; an advertisement for ‘luxury condos’ at a roundabout; a factory called Bardak Electronics; a row of buildings with red and green tin roofs; a rubber strap on the central pillar of the car, upon which was written in very small print ‘Volkswagen, Wolfsburg’; a brightly coloured bush whose name I didn’t know; a hotel reception area that showed the time in six different locations and a card pinned on the wall nearby that read, with two months’ delay, ‘Merry Christmas’. Only several hours after my arrival did I find myself united with my imagined room, though I had had no prior mental image of its vast air-conditioning unit or, welcome though it might be in the event, its bathroom, which was made of Formica panels and had a notice sternly advising residents not to waste water.

I was just thinking back to the best holidays I’ve had. And though I was tempted to put down “the best holidays I’ve had were those I’ve felt most like a local” (because my need for control is so strong), it’s not true. The holidays that I’ve most enjoyed have had just one thing in common: beautiful weather.

Give me 5-20 degrees Celsius temperature, relatively low humidity, and you’ve got yourself one happy camper. It would be one page of the world I’d gladly read and re-read many times over.

Doing math as an analyst; work before school

  1. I pick up my pen and write down what I see on the screen: 600 out of 14000 rows are selected based on the criteria A = 2 (that’s 4%); if I switch over to A = 5, 135 out of 14000 are selected (that’s only 1%) — I now know the probability of several outcomes based on two possible inputs. I do this a few more times and determine the probabilities of several more outcomes based on more inputs, and in the process understand the data much better. I document this so my future self, and others who may use the data, are aware.
  2. Salesperson A should have a overall sales target 10% less than Salesperson B. Given sales targets for multiple products, I have to determine how much to allocate to Salesperson A and how much to allocate to Salesperson B. I make a few notes, writing  down in algebraic terms the relationship between the total sales target, the sales target for person A, and the sales target for person B. I perform rudimentary simultaneous equations and input the formula into Excel, quickly calculating the breakdown for each of the products.
  3. The variable component of a salesperson’s salary is 30%, and  30% of that is determined by subjective factors, input by the line manager; the rest is determined by performance against sales targets. I create a spreadsheet formula that allows the line manager to rate the salesperson from 0-100%, automatically adjusted to fit the weights of the variable component and subjective factors.

I had such a hard time trying to figure out why I needed learn math. That’s why sometimes work before school makes sense.