The morning after fire struck 

Woke up this morning at my friend’s/neighbor’s (UO and EV-A) with a little more body pains than usual. The sound of the night had been replaced by their neighbor’s generator noise and I’d slept in starts and fits, Hypno’s work routinely interrupted by the thoughts of the incidence the day before. 
My work day had been truncated by my phone ringing by 2:40 with a phone call from a strange number. My building’s guard was on the end of the line and he broke the news to me that my flat was currently on fire. After asking him to affirm what he meant, he mentioned that he’d seen smoke coming from my flat and I needed to get home quickly to open the door so they could get in. We’d thankfully left the key hidden somewhere on the staircase and after disclosing the location to him and confirming he’d taken the key, I got off the call and reached out to my flatmate(CE). I’d been with TO who’d immediately called the Lagos emergency service line (767) and provided them the necessary information. I hailed a cab and immediately headed home, alternating between calls to TO, CE and the guard till I was able to confirm the firemen had arrived. 

I got home and found the compound filled with people from the neighborhood. My neighbors had evacuated almost all their property and cars out of the premises. After 3 firetrucks, the firemen had put out the fire and were spotting and spraying the parts of the roof that had embers to prevent the fire from starting again. The fire which began in my flatmate’s room had mostly been contained there, however as the roof had started burning, it had spread to my room and the sitting room consuming parts of the portions of the roof that protected them. I provided the necessary details, and spoke with the fire marshal who mentioned the fire started sequel to an electrical surge

My flatmate’s room was totally razed and he lost virtually everything and was only able to salvage a couple of fire singed documents. My documents and books mostly suffered water damage however most of my clothing were either damaged by the fire or the fire extinguishing activities. I just went over to pick up my Garri the shirts I have left and slowly but surely, I’ll pick up the remaining pieces of my stuff and start again. 

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On death

2 of my closest friends recently lost father figures. TO lost his grandfather(Who he and his family had lived with since his dad died) 3 weeks ago(12th of April 2017). I’d been to see him at least thrice in the past couple months while he was sick and during my last visit(4 days before), i’d gotten him bananas(his favorite fruit) to try to get him to start eating again.

CE just told me his dad died today. I and his dad had spent many hours talking about a lot of things(we both liked classical music and travelling) and we often had many discussions surrounding those themes. There’s a vinyl record player we bought for him in February sitting in front of my TV. We’d been deliberating on how to get it prepped and delivered to him so he could enjoy listening to his vast collection of records.

Death i guess is a mysterious figure. Someone could be just a phone call away for so long until they’re no longer there. There are a million reasons not to constantly show people you love them as often as possible, and there’s one primary reason to. They could be gone for good at anytime. Pick up your phone and make that call. Agree to disagree and ignore all the trouble they usually bring(obviously if it takes away too much of your peace, you’ll need to prepare for this). People are messy and complicated and stressful( especially me) but if they’re really important, we’ll see through all of that and acknowledge that they love us even if they have the weirdest ways of showing it (Last year, I made some progress doing this with my immediate and extended families, but i’ve relapsed. I need to get back on that train).

Why Are We Depressed?

So my egbon wrote this…. Quite apt. Been thinking about depression and loneliness for a while. The incentives that enable suffering in silence(keeping appearances, social media, not wanting to be a bother) seem insurmountable, but i think the social upside of solving this problems(especially at scale) will make it worth it.

A midnight ramble(Strelitzia)

I just finished seeing Fences and it’s one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. My best friend says i often see things in black or white, and it was a carousel of the shades of grey. It’s a story of responsibility and perspective and reality and how our lives are a combination of those 3. I met the most interesting person(OA) I’ve met in forever about a month ago and after our 3rd date, she’s seemingly disappeared. A part of me thinks a lot about her and whispers maybe i’ve done something wrong and seems to want to find it and fix it. Another part of me knows that people come and go out of our lives all the time and we sometimes have to let them out  as willingly as we let them in. Then the last part of me remembers my current reality and our discussions, and thinks she made her decision about what she thought was the best for her and that’s what is playing out now.

In the end, we all have our realities and my conjectures are probably different from her reality……

P.S.

  1. My Egbon(Seun Odukoya) wrote a review of the movie here that led me to watch it.
  2. Dive(From Ed Sheeran’s Divide) is my relationship theme song.
  3. I’d play her Something just like this(By the ChainSmokers) if i could rewind the clock to our last date.

What i learnt in 2016

In 2016, the most important things i pursued included love, my post-graduate studies and my future career(intersection of data science and behavioral economics).

Interesting things/people that have influenced this year include :

Marginal revolution: (This allows me claim an interest in economics) Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok post on economics and a bunch of other things. I really enjoy it because the noise to signal ratio is pretty low compared to a lot of other blogs

Rory Sutherland: Behavioral psychology evangelist. I probably have a few too many videos of him saying the same things, but he’s grown my interest in a non-statistical way of examining things. This video is a pretty good introduction to his alternative perspective of looking at things

Farnam Street blog: A blog that attempts to educate its readers on building a much better and wiser them in the spirit of Charlie Munger(Berkshire Hathaway is headquartered on Farnam street). I took their how to read a book course and it has totally changed the way i read. I still think i don’t read them enough

Seun Odukoya: Childhood egbon. He writes books, scripts, poetry  and comics and his book “Saving Dapo” was the only novel i read this year. We see at least thrice a month at Cafe Neo and have the most animated conversations about life, relationships, his work, mine and a ton of other things in-between.

The importance of regularly tracking the things i think/know to be important:(screenshot of my checklist i am supposed to use daily to keep track of what’s important is below). It’s a living document so it’s constantly changing :D. This was first inspired by BJ Fogg and i’m currently working my way through Marshall Goldsmith’s Triggers.

daily checklist.jpg

Nassim Nicholas Taleb: contravener extraordinaire, he attempts to explain the world through his lenses as a statistician and attempts to debunk the wisdom in a lot of modern fads including Behavioral economics, Game theory etc. His last post this year has me contemplating whether I’m IYI.

BJ Fogg: He’s probably one of the pioneers in the application of behavioral psychology in computing. His courses at Stanford have inspired many startups founded by his students. I’d love a chance to study under him(i’d love to apply behavioral psychology/economics in an analytical role to solve problems in either healthcare or education).

Relationships

Earlier in the year, i started to experiment with the idea of loving people and expressing it. I probably said i love you monthly more times than i cumulatively did in my past years, and it’s opened me up to some really wonderful experiences. I’ve shared this with my family and my small circle of friends and it has fostered our closeness and eased self-expression(especially for me) as i know they have my back.

My 2 closest female friends(Folashade and Adeola) left the country this year at very close intervals. Was tough at first for me because i always discount communication where both parties aren’t physically present, but we’re still good friends.

I fell in love earlier in the year with someone really interesting(ES) but that didn’t work out for many reasons(mostly me) and my opinion that i was the one with that much emotions vested and she wasn’t in the same place emotionally as i was. However, i learnt a ton of things from her including

  1. The dangers of falling in love with the idea of a person before you really know the person as you’ll probably miss a lot of stuff that’s pretty important.
  2. Friends(the TV sitcom) which she loved actually offers a comedic discourse on several of the messy stuff that’s part of everyday life(and some outlandish ones that not a lot of normal people face as well).
  3. The reality of answering the question “Would you rather be happy or correct?” with happy involves a lot more than just saying “happy”. It literally translates into how i make decisions on a regular basis about what to prioritize vs let go of, and how I’ll react to new information as things happen. I’ll still have to go through this with anyone I’m going to date but i think the happiness route is the way to go for me.

I volunteered with ykprojects and worked on a fundraiser for the project #WeAlmostForgot. Qudus is a brilliant fund-raiser and working with him reminds me that the problem sometimes isn’t a paucity of ideas, but a scarcity of executors(this reminds me of the saying “The problem with good ideas is that they quickly degenerate into hard work”). A lot of the funds raised were through his brilliance raising funds and working his contacts to get things done.

I had the best of times with my flat mate Chuka Eze. He’s the simplest example of a friend i can find, involved when you need him to be and on the sidelines if you don’t call for his opinion. We’ve maintained the same cordial relationship we’ve always had and i hope we remain friends for a very long time.

Career

A good part of my year was spent preparing and doing my GRE and TOEFL, both of which i did reasonably well at. I’ve applied to a couple of schools for postgrad admissions and I’m hoping for an admission decision soon. I’ll be hoping for partscholarship

Family

2 of my siblings graduated this year. Seun finished OAU with a second class upper in Mechanical engineering and her project got her into the GE’s garages program(i hope this transitions into something really good for her) and Excellent/Papa finished his Secondary schooling and got admitted into UNILAG to study Electrical Electronics Engineering.

Oyinkan is on track to get a Red certificate (you need less than 10 non A scores to get this) from her Russian university for her undergraduate schooling. She’ll be applying to schools in the US to commence her postgraduate studies soon and we’ve got fingers crossed for that.

Ireti Akinsola was valedictorian at Crawford University where she studied geology. I finally went to her school after promising to go there since the day she started :(… She’ll be applying to schools in the US to commence her postgraduate studies soon and we’ve got fingers crossed for that as well.

My cousin Adeola got married this year. She’s the first of my generation to get married. She also had a child this year, another first. Best wishes to mother and child.

I aimed to practice filial piety as described by Confucius but fell well short of the standard he set. I however still aim for a life as he described and hope to live a life pursuing such an excellent standard of conduct.

Media

I learnt to go through a producer’s/ director’s filmography. This year, i’ve gotten a relevant part of the filmographies of the following producers/directors.. Akira Kurosawa, Alfred Hitchcock, Antoine Fuqua, Christopher Nolan, Clint Eastwood, Guy Ritchie, Jean-Marc Vallee, Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Werner Herzog, Wes Anderson and Woody Allen.

I stayed well away from social media in its many forms. The only social media accounts i have are Facebook and Twitter both of which i believe are easily dealt away with as i do not use them. My perspective of their being mostly a circle-jerk and a distraction from experiencing the real world with friends rather than a carefully curated journal chronicling the lives of people i can’t be bothered to keep in touch with still stands.

I attended the 6th Lights, Camera, Africa  film festival and i’ll be going to as many of those as i can go to in the coming years. I got to see a documentary on Tunde Jegede and fell in love with the Kora and musicians that play it including Toumani, Sona Jorbateh and Tunde Jegede. I’ll probably be going to see Tunde Jegede in concert as often as i can afford to.

The Grand tour came to continue the trail of automotive comedy/ entertainment that Clarkson, Hammond and May paused when they left Top Gear. As usual, they’ve done an excellent job at it.

Some of the movies i enjoyed the most this year included

Demolition: A man’s attempt to come to terms with the death of his wife and the self-discovery that ensued as he went about doing this. I’ve seen this movie at least thrice this year

Seven Samurai: I believe i read a popular Director’s recommendation of this movie and after watching it got Akira Kurosawa’s filmography. It contained elements of comedy, courage, chivalry, determination and the Japanese tradition. I see why it’s cited as influencing a lot of people in the movie industry.

The Squid and the whale: This is probably one of my favorite  movies and I’ve seen it thrice(I immediately watched it again after my first screening). It shows the insular nature of the human perspective and how our self-evaluations or opinions do not have any bearing on the experiences of others that are in our lives. Everyone will judge us independently and with no consideration for our perspective of ourselves and a virtuous man will find a mid-point between this two perspectives.

Clint Eastwood movies: Space cowboys, Pale Rider, Unforgiven, The outlaw Josey Wales and a couple others. The recurring theme of individual courage and the change such an individual can yield make them extra appealing to me.

The Young Victoria(2009): This movie seems to inspire the stock of chivalry that was forgotten in me. In the end, i draw similarities between me and Prince Albert and the choice everyone I’m courting is at liberty of making. I particularly loved it.

The age of innocence: Martin Scorsese’s interpretation of the reality of love “Sometimes you have to let it go  no matter how much you want to hold on”.

Wes Anderson movies: Moonrise Kingdom( A weird coming of age movie), The royal Tenenbaums(A family of weirdos with an estranged father “Who’s also weird” come to grips with their mother taking  on a new lover).

Vicky Christina Barcelona: 2 ladies explore various forms of relationships ;). I just discovered Woody Allen and his movies are hit or miss for me. His hits are usually really strong though.

The best books/courses i read all year include

Statistics(Freedman, Pisani and Purves): This book simplified statistics for me. Anyone that has some statistics in his future would find it a lot easier studying with this.

Finite and Infinite games
Switch

Guns Germs and Steel: A different explanation for the distribution of progress in the world. If the explanations you have about the different levels of progress as experienced in different countries are insufficient, you should probably give this book a read

Farnam Street’s: The Art of Reading course: The founders of Farnam street attempt to explain their technique for book discovery, reading and knowledge retention as inspired by Mortimer Adler’s book “How to read a book”

Some of the music i discovered and spent a lot of time listening to this year include

Eric Clapton: I can run the Sahara listening to him on the guitars with the right pair of headphones on.

Tracy Chapman: Her lyrics have remained relevant over 20 years after she sang them reflecting the constancy of social issues that counters the perspective of rapid change we’re sometimes caught up in.

Nina Simone

Sade Adu

Jon Bellion

George Ezra

Sting: I bought his album “The last ship” after seeing the Ted talk about how he overcame a period of artistic drought and came about the album reflecting on his life  growing up and the difficulty that surrounded it.

Old Nigerian Musicians including Onyeka Onwenu, Prince Nico Mbarga, Bobby Benson, Rex Lawson, Seyi Sodimu, Alex Zitto, Evi-Edna Ogholi and Victor Uwaifo

Philosophy

I’m trying to understand what happiness really entails.

I made a decision to prioritize choices that lead to my long-term happiness over those that lead to short term happiness. Seeing as this is pretty ambiguous, I’m defining long-term happiness as a state of mind where I’ll be satisfied with my life for as long as possible with minimal additional achievements in that area of my life that the action pertains to.

I’ll sometimes pursue short-term happiness because it’s probably the glue that prevents me from going crazy sometimes and helps pull me from my frequent melancholy(Video of me doing Karaoke).

What i learnt in 2015

2015 was a whirlwind year. I’ve listed some of the highlights of the year here.

  1. I started to search for, experience and enjoy art. It relaxes me and often serves as a good place to meet people/have a date.
    1. I’ve consciously started to notice art and even gone out of my way to experience and participate.
    2. I attended my first play(what do men want) as well as King Baabu, bananas and groundnut and wakaa.
    3. I attended a few dance events(all by YKprojects) and hope to participate in them going forward. I especially loved Iwalewa(a dance that featured people with physical disability)
    4. I went to a few galleries/exhibitions and experienced both paintings and sculpture. I especially loved Africano Interpretations(an artist’s rendition inspired by the songs in Lagbaja’s Africano album)
  2. I made some decisions about my philosophy of life
    1. I stopped being religious. I grew up as a Christian, and even when I stopped believing, I always went to church. Early in the year, I decided to stop believing or accepting any religious explanation/ascription until I actually understand and believe it’s message. The keyword is until
    2. I started evaluating different philosophies. I’ve just read “A guide to the Good Life” which explained the philosophy of Stoicism. Stoicism is looking like  a really good candidate.
  3. I decided how to handle my relationships with people.
    1. I won’t change who I am because some I encounter some people with different approaches to life than mine. I’ll simply change my behavior to meet the person where he/she is.
    2. I accepted the fact that I can’t get/go out with everybody I have feelings for. Lots of girls have some of the things I like and it’s much too stressful to chase after everybody that matches my specs. I also tweaked my specs towards a lot of altruism and a lively personality.
    3. I’ve met a lot of people and have started to hang out a lot more. I’ve also discovered some really chill places in lagos(Not the beer and fish type of places) where you can escape from all the craze and noise(and meet pretty chill people). The expats seem to know all the chill places(ask them).
  4. I discovered and explored some awesome ideas, people and themes
    1. Charlie munger
    2. Stoicism(the purpose of life is tranquility)
    3. Filial piety
    4. Reading in lounges(Cafe Neo, Araba)
  5. I made some decisions about the future
    1. I moved out of my parent’s at the beginning of the year, as the transit time was too long. It was a really good decision that has let me grow and take full accountability for my self, time and resources. My flatmate is pretty awesome/chill and we get along very well.
    2. I’ve decided what I’ll like to explore professionally for the next few years(data science) . I’ve sort of had an idea about it for a long time, but labelled it systems engineering. I’m particularly interested in the intersection between data science and spatial computing and would like to professionally explore it.
  6. I enjoyed the following media
    1. Songs
      1. Justin Bieber’s “Purpose” album
      2. Somi’s “Lagos jazz salon” album
      3. Fela’s discography
      4. Pharrell William’s “freedom”
      5. Major Lazer’s “powerful “
    2. Movies
      1. Begin Again
      2. The other woman
      3. Still alice
      4. About time
      5. Begin Again
      6. Hugo
      7. People like us
      8. Rush
      9. Senna
      10. Moneyball
      11. Sex ed
      12. Southpaw
      13. The best of me
      14. The fault in our stars
      15. The physician
      16. The wolf of wall Street
      17. Wild tales
      18. 71
      19. A walk to remember
      20. Lawless
      21. Les Miserables
      22. October 1
      23. Sleeping with other people
      24. The imitation game
      25. Thunderbolt
      26. Two Night stand
    3. Documentaries
      1. The men who built America
      2. The psychology of human misjudgement
  7. I took a ton of classes online. I started the data science specialization as well as the big data specialization on Coursera. Failed some courses severally(i failed on twice and another thrice), but I’m committed to mastering the necessary skill set to practice data analytics. I also created notes for all of them for my reference. The specifics of my professional development this year includes
    1. MITx
      1. Challenging the challenges of Big data
    2. Microsoft
      1. Microsoft SQL server 2012: Querying
      2. Administering SQL server 2012 databases
    3. Coursera
      1. Data science Specialization
        1. R programming
        2. The data scientist’s toolbox
        3. Getting and cleaning data
        4. Exploratory data analysis
        5. Reproducible research
        6. Statistical Inference (failed twice, but was very interesting)
      2. Big Data Specialization
        1. Introduction to big data
        2. Hadoop platform and application framework
  8. The most important thing I learnt is that my mind isn’t made up about anything yet. (Charlie Munger says that we should treat our skills/thoughts as tools. If a better one comes you way, simply drop the ones you’re holding on to and pick the new ones up.) I could unlearn/change my mind about any if the things on this list. It’s my life and I take full responsibility for its outcomes.

Finally, the postilion blog got 1100 visitors. I should really get to work on posting more updates, especially with a focus on the intersection of BI and postilion.

Insights available from the postilion office system

  1. Hourly ATM uptime monitoring.

We send the terminals an open command once an hour. We do this 3 times in quick succession for the hour. This way, we can generate a true hourly report that shows the terminals that were up and not an approach that shows based on the last time a transaction was performed.

  1. Transaction volume trends.

This enables us understand how our systems are performing and sets baselines for monitoring.

Hourly

Daily

Weekly

Monthly

  1. Transaction failure rate trends

This allows us to detect problems that might not be statistically significant and put a plan in place to fix them.

  1. Track problems with terminals and track when they’re fixed.

This allows us track the efficiency of our ATM support.

Issues at our best performing locations cause lost revenues.

  1. Link transaction failure to third party processor performance

This allows us to measure who’s failing and utilize the best processors for performance.

  1. Utilize personal transaction trends to determine customer value. Customers that match particular trends can be marketed uniquely

Someone that utilizes his card a lot abroad, might be a potential customer for VIP services. We can also focus customer retention activities at such individuals.

  1. Terminal positioning optimization.

Where do our customers congregate the most and how can we improve customer acquisition in that location.

What not-on-us terminal do a lot of our customers use, and why aren’t our terminals located close by. This data can also be translated to branch positioning optimization.

What merchants see a lot of our cardholders but do not utilize us for acquiring. We can focus marketing engagement on such merchants.

  1. Loyalty programs for merchants when their customers use our payment channels.

As the organization’s terminals are acquired by us, we can track and carry out loyalty initiatives on their behalf.

An example scenario is where customers link all their cards together, and whenever they use our POS, they get a cash back, regardless of their issuer.

This will help drive the POS acquiring market.

This data can also be used to direct merchant customer engagement.

  1. Customer service tracking location of card usage

To assist customers with issues e.g. Stolen cards, etc.

  1. Customer prioritization based on volume. We can prioritize issue resolution based on a volume derived score.

This score can be shared at branch locations to prioritize the customer relations.

If a high volume customer is in a branch, he should not have to wait to get service.

  1. Unifying operations across multiple teams.

Risk teams can get alerts if there is a reduction in transaction volume from a merchant with a loan.

Marketing team can get alerts to sell particular products to a customer based on his account status.

If a customer always has a large amount in his account, he might be marketed investment banking or a fixed deposit account.

  1. Providing data to customer interfacing staff.

Some data is relevant to customer interfacing staff e.g.

 If an ATM transaction was just performed by a customer who’s calling from abroad, then that might be relevant in the interaction.

If a customer is calling, CFC can get a report on what potential reasons the customer is calling

If a customer calls(KYC means you have his number) and we can see failed transactions on his card, we have a pointer to the potential issue, and can commence attempting to resolve it faster.

If a completion to a pre-authorized  transaction fails, we can look at the cause before the customer even calls. Also, his AO can commence working to fix it.

  1. Cross marketing of services.

Customers who always purchase recharge from other channels, can be marketed U-mobile instead.

  1. Interface design based on what customers use.

If most U-mobile customers purchase credit off the app, them it should not be behind menus, but at the forefront.

  1. Metrics to understand adoption of new products.

We can monitor the adoption of new products and services using metrics.

We can also design new services to be metric-able, so we can monitor their usage.

  1. Analysis of failure trends

An understanding of the trends of system failure will allow us optimise our systems to perform better or rapidly turnaround faulty systems

  1. Place a spotlight on activities in difficult to monitor locations

We can monitor system performance in difficult to monitor locations e.g. Affiliate countries to ensure they’re performing optimally. This gives the responsible parties a holistic view of performance of systems in his domain.

E.g. MasterCard transactions weren’t working an affiliate until 2 weeks ago.This wasn’t properly escalated for resolution until I was on site and noticed it.

We can provide terminal performance metrics to ATM custodians and judge their performance off this.

  1. Measure effectiveness of campaigns and loyalty programs and create new ones.

Metrics allow us to measure the effectiveness of campaigns. They also allow us carry out targeted campaigns(we have the customer’s details as a result of KYC). We can focus on campaigns that are working and quickly abandon/ refocus those that aren’t.

  1. Demographics targeted services

We can utilize demographic data to manage customer interaction.

A customer who’s in Lagos, a youth, has a monthly turnover of 100k and comes to request a card, can be marketed to uniquely based on this data. So for example, he’ll be marketed U-mobile, a verve card(along with the one time password for Jumia and Konga transactions), and   email/ twitter notifications.

  1. An understanding of how to focus services for customers abroad.

If a lot of transactions are from a particular country, we can consider how to ensure our services are available to the customer. This also allows us make plans for customer issues based on this.

E.g. Customers in the US can have their limits automatically adjusted to meet the regular spend pattern of customers at that location. For such a customer, limits that are optimised for POS transactions might work better.

Also we can contact customers when we see they’re doing card present transactions abroad and make necessary configuration to ensure they’re not stranded.

  1. Personal banking services.

For customers who might be interested, we can use data available to create tools that let them draw up expense budgets, create savings plans, carry out financial projections and monitor their expenses. We can basically meet every customer uniquely where they are, and engage them to achieve their personal financial and lifestyle goals.