Pandemic Diary #55 – learning nlp, traveling (Jun 12)

I’m having such extreme cognitive dissonance between reality (most things are fine for both transmission and … uh reception?… now that we’re vaccinated) and how I feel (some weird moral grumpiness about unnecessary travel when the rest of the world is still fked up by COVID) – maybe just giving off the impression that it’s fine to party and hang out and normalizing that, when only 43% of US is fully vaxxed (less than half!) (64% of 18+). if things feel normal why vax? i’m worried about that effect.

on the other hand, i guess just as there can be exponential growth, thus bringing the exponent down could cause exponential decay. though part of it is likely also seasonal (going into warmer months now in US)

but it really is starting to feel different. i guess I have been fully vaccinated (aka 2 weeks after 2nd dose) for close to a month now. actually went and stayed at a hotel for a week with another family. for the first dayish kept my mask on indoors. then didn’t. traveled into stores (with a mask on) and came back and didn’t shower — didn’t even change clothes. less fear of getting close to people (esp. walmart had a lot of unmasked, kind of crowded situation).

was prepared and was blunt and didn’t follow photographer’s instruction to take off the mask INDOORS jesus

then when for my eye exam the doctor asked me to take off the mask (indoors) I did so without too much pushback. later i thought back and realized i was uncomfortable and thought there was zero reason to take off my mask for an eye exam, but it was someone i had seen since a kid. and being vaxxed made me resist less.

dangerous complacency. we still have 700+ deaths a day. that’s my entire high school, teachers and all, disappearing every 5 days… yet we have stores removing mask mandates

the vaxx effective against the (now called greek letters) gamma etc variants, but could def be a new variant not effective. also it’s not 100%, it’s 95%. but the idea of basically being protected against severe disease / dying. it’s weird.

i think i’ll be wearing my mask anywhere i might run into people for a while, until covid calms down

it’s hard though. someone rings the doorbell for a package signature, can’t find mask right away. hotel cleaning staff came by, couldn’t find a mask. driving and pass through a toll booth, can’t get mask on while driving, finding change.

we’re becoming way more complacent about touch transfer eg wiping down groceries (or ozone disinfecting), leaving non-perishables outside for a few days. basically don’t wait anymore. same for letters and packages, 2-3 hrs is good enough. still feel urge to wash hands after handling, which is good to keep. will help keep common colds and flu at bay.

maybe i’ll wear a mask all cold season… there are a lot of fashionable masks now. can brand my face with my identity lol, like socks but more obnoxious


I emergency learned nlp. simpletransformers. was good. got work done. need to do more. definitely relied on learning from friend! seeing her source code for word2vec doc2vec kmeans clustering umap projections, good.

the idea of engineering vs economics. trying to explore and untangle causal effects vs achieving some numerical goal. the latter i’m much more comfortable with.

methodology – scared of it. but turns out the idea is just creating a new problem (which can be inspired by either just bs-ing it, or perhaps by a new application domain), writing the new code to handle that case, and voila methodology. not sure why i’m way more attracted to this. keep having people think my paper is social sciences, no, i’ve zero qualifications in that regard !


birds left, we can use our deck again.

tomatoes are here finally, 3 months from seed in soil. apparently they may still take 20-30 days to fully ripen…


looked into traveling to china for an internship. really wanted to improve my chinese. vaxxed = ten year visa = hop on a plane right?


have to get special permission letters (company applies for PU letter) to apply for visa (still not guaranteed). it’s either 21 straight days in hotel (at your expense) or 14 days + negative tests from two separate labs + 1 day to travel + 14 days home quarantine.

domestic plane tickets are soaring in price. (hopefully temporary until supply matches demand), starting early mayish I’m guessing as people got vaxxed. apparently in the cities everything is opening again, people are having house parties.

i’m not sure how to explain. maybe i’m burnt out now, but my desire for employment is to just do my job, be cordial with my coworkers, and focus my energy elsewhere.

found not possible to submit gender neutral application from applicant side. now most places ask for your preferred pronouns. the irony to being inclusive in a way that opens up can of worms of bias…

still overall, i am looking forward to sailing. i think i feel fairly comfortable sailing now.

oh, i haven’t blogged in some time. i guess in between at some point, there was a huge swell of cases and deaths in india. just about every indian-american i knew (eg mostly relatively high status or well off families) had relatives got really sick or died. learning about tradition of funeral pyres, never knew. then israel-palestine mini-war happened, with hundreds of deaths. crazy to see. the iron dome – rockets shooting down rockets. don’t know much about conflict. felt insolvable but at some point things stopped again. then asia started having upswell in cases. the indian variant (gamma?) is so much more contagious… right now guangzhou is in lockdown. over a couple of dozen cases, many people are in total lockdown. and huge rise in vax rate in china.

meanwhile in boston that many cases is super low and causing things like pubs and such to *open* . the contrast between having to quarantine for 3 weeks to travel to china vs people traveling again (memorial day weekend, flights were at same volume as pre-pandemic) is intense.

happy to have found both summer and fall housing. should be inexpensive on both fronts, relieves a lot of pressure. had a lot of stuff fall through, but others gave chances i never expected. pretty grateful for support network.

talking to someone else who burnt their way through grad school. to be valued and appreciated. to have people say thank you for your work. these are things that don’t really happen in academia…

oh, still rooting for “for the people” voting rights reform to pass senate. was super hopeful actually. kind of shocked recently to find it under such duress. but not sure that i can do much.

oh yea duckietown goes well.
One of the challenges – don’t run over the duckies!

and peek into research.