Maciek’s Notepad

Travel :: SW Essex Pub Quest: The Duke’s Head in Little Burstead

We are approaching Billericay on our quest. Things are getting posh. Pastel-coloured walls, wrought iron fireplaces. Scallops for a starter. A burger for £16. But, let us not forget, this is still south Essex; the music is a bit too loud, the bar focuses on lagers at the expense of ales. I don’t want to suggest this is a rule, but we are charged for a beer we did not order. Welcome to Duke’s Head. That came out wrong. We liked it there. It just feels more interesting to highlight the quirks and imperfections, rather than praise. And praise Duke’s Head deserves: firstly, its location, by a narrow road in a woodland area between Little Burstead and Billericay, is nicely isolated from the noise and bustle of surrounding roads and towns. Secondly, the food, while pricey, is rather good quality.

Technology :: Creating slide decks in Jupyter notebook

The great thing about using Jupyter for creating slide decks is that I could easily access all the data in the environment, in the way I am used to. For example, I wanted to make a plot of how the progress subject matter experts made on labelling the data over time. I could use pyspark SQL to query the relevant data and then matplotlib to output the plot. In theory tables are also easy to render with the use of Pandas, but I found that less useful in practice: in most cases I wanted to highlight particular cells to draw attention to certain aspects or better explain the data, which meant that I had to include the table in the static content and style it by hand.

Cooking :: Flooded Queensland Penne

January 2011 found us in eastern Australia, desperately trying to get to from Cairns to Sydney in time for our flight back home. Despite having a few weeks at our disposal, us reaching Sydney on time was far from certain, due to epic floods that affected much of coastal Queensland. So, we drove around trying to find a passable way South, coming across what looked like deserted towns, with empty shelves at grocery stores and rationed bread, as supplies could not be delivered due to flooded roads. Cooking on the road restricts one’s creativity in the best of times, and in crisis circumstances is positively challenging. It helps to have a few recipes ready that call for ingredients that are generally available.