Time is relative

The title of this blog post is specifically dedicated to an Animal, whom I know hates the misuse of the relativity theory

It’s funny how a little bit of planning and prioritization can create more time out of nothing. There always seems to be time for a little bit more, as long as you consider it important enough. This is something I’ve discussed with a good friend of mine, and something I’ve often noticed myself in times of stress.

Although I’m right in the process of finishing up my thesis, last Monday (and parts of Tuesday) was one of those days that demanded a rescheduling of my time, since I didn’t have the heart to let a person very close to me spend her entire birthday alone. So to make a long story short, we went on a two-day trip to La Plata, a city one hour from BsAs.

Considering the amazing weather (25°C and perfect sunshine), it actually felt like a good investment of my time, despite being stressed about my thesis writing. In fact, Tuesday I spent most of the day studying, but since it was at a new university in a new city, it felt like a good change of environment.

Anyway, a couple of photos from La Plata — one of few cities in the world built according to a precise, pre-designed plan. It gives the city a very odd symmetry (at least to a European), but also makes it incredibly easy to navigate.

Some visual memories

A case of anger management

One of the first thing I was told when I arrived in BsAs in February, was to at all costs avoid doing my grocery shopping in the chain supermarkets. A better choice is to go to the Chinos (the Chinese stores). The reason — she said — is that going to the supermarkets becomes a whole-day project, due to their slow-motion service. I laughed a bit then, and like all “good advice” I receive as a new arriver, I took it with a big grain of salt.

Turns out that this is completely true — the cashiers in the supermarkets are by far the slowest I have ever encountered. Attending one person with — say — 15 products can easily take over 5 minutes. Imagine then a line with 3 people (which anywhere else in the world would be considered short): that’s 15 minutes of waiting. And when the lines are longer than 4-5 people, I don’t even bother entering the store, but we’re talking 25-30 minutes of waiting to be attended.

Going grocery shopping here is a real case of anger management. Since I have worked as a cashier, I know how fast a person can work. Standing there in line while observing the cashier’s complete lack of hurry almost makes me wanna scream out of frustration.

And I’m sorry Gonçalo, but for these cases not even seeing it for what it is, not what you’d like it to be helps.

A must-see for candidates to Miss Universe

Although I will surely never have the honor of titling myself Miss Universe, I still have a dedicated interest in world peace. As many of you already know, I am also a map fanatic, and have a big appetite for visualizing data — or at least looking at other people’s visualizations.

As I was trying to educate myself about conflicts and insecurity around the globe the other day, I found this really nice website called Vision of Humanity, by the Institute for Economics and Peace in Sydney, Australia:

Vision of Humanity - Global Peace Index

Vision of Humanity – Global Peace Index

It basically combines a long range of world peace and security statistics with some simple and nice visualizations, delivered to you in the form of a clickable world map.

A couple of facts that really surprised me were:

* Sweden as the world leader in Export of weaponry. Not very flattering for a country still claiming its neutrality and bragging with 200 years of peace! A surprising runner-up here is also-neutral Switzerland, which makes me wonder whether these statistics also includes their export of Swiss Army knives.

* Russia’s impressive ranking (152th of 162 countries), just before well-known peace machines such as North Korea and Pakistan, and only marginally better than Iraq!

* The Czech Republic topping the ranking for Perceived criminality in society (where a higher ranking obviously means less perceived crime.

What I didn’t take the time to verify is a claim I read in a blog some months ago, namely that the Global Peace Index is for the first time sadly declining…

Writer’s block

I have a lot of things on my mind for the moment, but my writer’s block prevents me from writing them down. This applies both to my blog, where I have a range of topics that I would like to elaborate on, and to my master’s thesis, where I’m struggling with getting past the chapter where I want to state my problem.

I’ll therefore keep this short, and let a short video do the talking. It summarizes pretty well one of many thoughts I have for the future. After all, in about three months time I need to start making some proper decisions for what shall come next — post euSYSBIO.