It’s been a minute

An entire three-year tour at C.H. Robinson began, developed, and ended since I last wrote here. I started there as a data scientist in September 2019, grew through senior and principal data scientist positions, and ended with a year and half as director of data science, leading a team that grew to be like 14 data scientists! A deep education in freight (North American surface transit), math in industry, how to work with engineering partners to balance innovation/scalability/maintainability, how to work with product partners (product means very different things to different people), and how to keep effort directed at solving high-impact business problems. That last one is toughest and probably yields the most disagreement. Some battles on data integrity probably don’t seem high-impact to business partners — but you’re never going to implement reinforcement learning or game theory or even automation of the most basic kinds if you can’t compare the algorithmic suggestion with the human action.

Anyhow, wonderful people there and a lot of learning — and again I’m gearing up to teach at the machine learning summer camp for high school students that I started some years ago. So wonderful to see that it survived COVID disruptions and is occurring in person at the University of Minnesota this year!

Why come back to this antiquated WordPress site? Well, ChatGPT and other LLMs are changing everything. It’s flooding the internet (and sci fi magazines and the arXiv) with generic-ish “content”. Seems like “content” coming from a real human will be in fashion again soon.

What is happening, then, “at the moment”? Since leaving CH Robinson I’ve dug up a lot of stumps in the back yard. Some of them I couldn’t dig up, so I had to hack them down with an axe. I’ve used that axe more this summer than I have in years. I planted three more black currant bushes, propagated from the black currant bush mentioned in the last post (from 2019). The original bush is doing well. The red currant bush died, after a wonderful run. Our cherry tree died and split in half. Now the backyard is full sun instead of full shade. It seems like a good time to literally tend my garden, and ideally set up for another 3 years of garden autopilot.

I have some ideas on education on time series — after working with time series models in industry for several years, I have some perhaps heterodox ideas on what’s useful. ARIMA is not it. Updates to come.

I’m also in the throes of summer camp stuff. This country is ridiculous when it comes to taking care of children and working full time. Competition for many camps is cutthroat — Circus Juventas sold out in less than two hours. The hours are different for each one, transportation is different for each one, after care, lunch, etc etc etc. There’s got to be an app for that. I see clearly the app I want for that. However, creating it myself might be kind of a pain. I am not, after all, a web dev or app developer. So, how far do I want to go to solve my own pain? Many moms I’ve talked to have a spreadsheet. The number of (mainly) women out here managing childrens’ summer schedules using Excel macros does speak to a market…

Clearly the other thing to consider is home improvement. I went through a deep dive on the wisdom of using muriatic acid to remove efflorescence on cinder blocks in a poorly-ventilated basement and finally concluded that I don’t think I can ventilate well enough to not rust our appliances since the vapors are denser than air. Pretty annoying. On to mechanical solutions.

I am (slowly) looking for a next step in corporate data science/quantitative finance/useful math. It is fun to explore the universe of possibilities & look for the right fit. I want to use math and insight to address business problems that fundamentally sit in the world of complex systems, and I want to understand more deeply the levers of the systems that run the world. Logistics was great for that, like being inside a Neal Stephenson novel. So… what’s next? Fortunately I don’t have to address that in a blog titled “At the moment”.

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