Alberto's weekly email #29: life advice, weather forecasting and more! 🌦

Hi All,

This week's edition is slightly shorter than usual. I am writing a couple of articles that I hope to share with you all very soon!

What I am reading 📚

As I mentioned last week, I’ve been slowly and carefully reading René Girard’s “Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World”. This is part of my 2020 reading list and an attempt to read and understand more about religion and traditions from an anthropological point of view. So far the book has been amazing, but hard to follow. I think is one of the books I’ve highlighted and annotated the most and I’m not even halfway through.

I’m also reviewing Murakami’s “What I talk about when I talk about running” which I finished a couple of weeks ago. I really enjoyed it, and now that I am revisiting it I’ve been finding lots of useful and actionable advice, like this one which reminds us to accept who we are, as we are:

“This is my body, with all its limits and quirks. Just as with my face, even if I don’t like it it’s the only one I get, so I’ve got to make do. As I’ve grown older, I’ve naturally come to terms with this. You open the fridge and can make a nice—actually even a pretty smart— meal with the leftovers."

Nerd Corner 🤓

Over the weekend, while enjoying a rare mid-winter sunny day in San Francisco, I had a discussion with some friends regarding climate and the difficulty of predicting the weather. The discussion, which hovered around the fact the weather predictions that we get on our smartphones are very bad, has been on my mind for the last few days. So much so that I’m writing a post about it. I’ll share it next week.

In the meantime, here are two interesting and related facts:

  • The Köppen Climate classification is one of the most widely used climate classification frameworks. It defines five main climate groups A (tropical), B (dry), C (temperate), D (continental), and E (polar) with a variety of subgroups. I find this framework helpful to understand the regional variations in climate and micro-climates in certain regions.
    For example, both California and Venezuela have very varied types of climate:

    Source: Wikipedia (I apologize for the incomplete map of Venezuela, sadly couldn’t find a complete one)
    This makes them very good places to visit and live. One can enjoy the weather without too much variability, on a daily basis, and explore more extreme climates without traveling far.

  • Forecasting the weather is very hard, so hard that around ten of the world’s 100 most powerful supercomputers are used for weather modeling and prediction. For example, the UK’s Met Office (in my opinion, one of the best weather prediction agencies in the World) uses a supercomputer which is currently ranked 27th in the World. It is able to process more than 200 billion weather observations every day 😯.

Cool Finds 🤯

  • Talking about the weather, storms are not always bad. If you’ve ever flown a transatlantic flight to Europe, you know how nice it is when the pilot finds a sweet spot in the Jet Stream to make the most of the tailwind and arrive faster to destination. This is exactly what happened a few days ago when a British Airways flight broke the subsonic speed record for a transatlantic flight.

  • Airplanes and traveling are fascinating but I wonder how much better would travel be if we hadn’t stopped developing supersonic jets. This article provides a nice glimpse into what a world filled with Concordes and other supersonic jets would have looked like.

  • While the coronavirus continues to spread, this Exponential View article describes how the outbreak is helping accelerate certain technological trends and scientific research.

Before you go 😎

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Until next week,