About Me

When not at work with students, I spend my time in my room either reading, calculating something using pen and paper, or using a computer. I read almost anything: from the pornographic to the profound, although my main interests are mathematics and physics. "When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes." -Erasmus

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Sandcastles: a translation

I was listening to Basil Valdez singing Kastilyong Buhangin, and as I listened closely, I was moved to do a free-translation of the lyrics to English. 
Sometimes a promise may be compared
to a sand castle on the beach
flimsy and best left untouched
crumbling at a wisp of wind
The waves of forbidden love
are its mortal enemies
When the shore is kissed
the sand castle crumbles
And so before we pronounce our loving vows
to our beloved, in mind and deed,
ponder if love will last
if your paths diverge.
One day two hearts vowed
a love that will never end
But it was a sandcastle of a vow
a temporary love.
And so before we pronounce our loving vows
to our beloved, in mind and deed,
ponder if love will last
if your paths diverge.
One day two hearts vowed
a love that will never end
But it was a sand castle of a vow
a temporary love, bringing only grief,
That was the kind of love we had
a sand castle crumbling on the beach.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Writing elsewhere

I recently started working as a financial advisor, which is really a fancy way of saying that I sell insurance (and eventually mutual funds) for a Canadian company. Part of my work is teaching people about personal finance, and so I wrote a short essay on risk and interest rates. You can find it here.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Mula sa baul

Naglaglagan na ang mga bulaklak ng narra:
Mistulang yelong dilaw na nagkalat
sa kalsadang ni minsan di nakaranas ng taglamig.

Ako din: ang tanging lamig na naranas ko
dulot lang ng lagnat, sigwa,
at de-kuryenteng makina.

Walang lamig dito ngayon.
Mga bata na lang ang mga nagtatago
ng mukha sa pridyider.

Nandito ako ngayon sa lilim ng narra
minamasdan ang mga dilaw na bulaklak
at maya-maya rin magsisindi.

Manonood habang daliang tinutupok
mga bulaklak na pinagmamasdan natin dati.

In English:

Narra flowers have fallen on the road.
Like yellow snow on concrete
that has never known winter.

Like me: the only chill that I have felt
was due to fever, typhoon,
and machine.

I'm sitting here under the Narra tree
watching the yellow flowers 
preparing a match.

Later to watch these flowers, 
that we used to watch fall,
burn til nothing remains.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Sinatra, or why older is sometimes better

When I was a lot younger, the only music I would hear in the house would be jazz standards. And so I grew up with Tony Bennett and Sinatra and Nat King Cole being played by the radio all day long. (Does anyone even listen to the radio anymore?) Of these singers, I got to appreciate Sinatra only when I was older.

Sinatra always put me off because I felt that the way he sang his songs (at least in the albums I did hear) felt shallow. I suppose the teenagers of his time might have found his rendition cute, but it never did hit me right. I It was only when I was about to enter university that I started to appreciate his music, and the catalyst was a live album: Sinatra 80th Live in Concert. I used to play it over and over again, and sing with it.

When I finally got internet access, I started searching for mp3's and videos of Sinatra's other albums, and it hit me: I still felt that his early albums were not as good. The clue that led me to understand why was found, of all places, while reading Mario Puzo's The Godfather. One of the characters, Johnny Fontaine, was modeled after Sinatra, and you could divide his career into two phases, before he lost his voice, and after he regained it. And I realized that in the same way there are two phases in Sinatra's work: when he was younger (which I disliked) and when he was older (which I loved). I'll link to two youtube videos so that you can sample how he does the same song, once as a youngster, and the other when he was much older. I think the older Sinatra wins.

Here's the younger Sinatra (1959)

 and the older Sinatra (1982) below.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Less Than Meets The Eye

I saw this on my facebook timeline today:

and I would like to invite you to guess what's wrong with it.

If you look at the numbers, you should be immediately suspicious of the grams of protein to calorie ratios. The better measure of protein content is grams of protein to grams of food. Take broccoli for instance. One of the things we can expect is that broccoli, on a per gram basis, does not contain the same amount of calories per gram as meat. (This is the reason, by the way, why dieters love veggies. You can get the feeling of being full without taking in as many calories if you eat the same mass of veggies as meat.)

I did a search on the per gram protein content of broccoli, and one of the websites I hit was this. Go read it, as it is both informative and hilarious.

This case reminds me of other places where numbers can be used to mislead. I've recently acquired various books on the analysis of financial statements: Mulford and Comiskey's The Financial Numbers Game: Detecting Creative Accounting Practices, Schilit and Perler's Financial Shenanigans, and Fridson and Alvarez's Financial Statement Analysis: A Practitioner's Guide, so I suppose that in this instance, I was already primed to check the numbers. After finishing Kahneman's Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow and Thaler's Nudge, I've decided to entertain myself with financial statement analysis. I'm reading slowly through Fridson's book, and one of the insights that I've gained is to examine income statements in terms of percentages of sales. Unfortunately, after reading these books, one leaves with a less than charitable impression of corporate management.