On Cats and Their Affections

picture is taken from here

My mom once said, unlike dogs, cats (as pets) are not feeling attached to the people, but to the house. That’s what differs cats from dogs: the level of affection, loyalty and attachment to their owner. Our cats are free to roam wherever they want, but they always come back to our house, for food, and comfortable place to sleep *sometimes, our warm laps* :D. Yeah, I think cats are affectionate and loyal to someone who provides them food and place to sleep.

That’s of course, just a general theory. There are many cases that made us think differently about our cats. My favorite story, when my mom opened her suitcase and started packing, one of our cats sat inside mom’s suitcase and stubbornly refused to move away, disrupted the packing process, as if he knows my mom would leave house for a while and tried to stop it. Or when I called home and started to call my favorite cats’ names, they said the cats were looking everywhere searching for me because they heard my voice, indicating they missed me (the crazy noisy girl that used to play with them). Or.. a story from the past that I still remember so dearly, on my first night alone without my parents and my sister because they had to move to another island (I was 12, and had to stay in Java for the sake of my education). I was crying the whole night, with a cat stayed still next to my pillow as if comforting me, until I fell asleep. The cat was gone in the next morning.

I’m not sure if the cats are truly thinking like what we are thinking they are. However we, as sentimental humans, will keep on perceiving the actions of our cats as whatever we want: that they love us. That’s why most humans have pets, so that when they feel so low, thinking that no one cares for them, at least their pets do.

There’s another story about a cat, who can’t help but feeling anxious waiting for her bear to come back from his trip in Kyrgyzstan. Does that mean the cat misses the bear? Maybe. I would definitely think she does. And now you might ask what a bear is doing in Kyrgyzstan. I don’t know. Well, the bear mentioned seeing snow leopards and lynxes. Maybe that’s what makes the cat anxious, snow leopards and lynxes are surely more beautiful and attractive than the cat ;).

I miss you, bear…

Pssst… Please

Finally… a quiet evening.

Well, not so quiet since the hostel I’m staying at is exactly at a crossroad somewhere in the city center of Dublin, but… manageable. Anyway, I had a very noisy day today.

First, I got a headache from some Africans’ continuous loud chatter in the train from Trento to Verona. Please don’t get me wrong and call me racist. It’s just that… they talked to each other so loud (more like shouting to each other) and not only 2-3 of them but all 8-10 of them. After 15 minutes and there was no sign that they would stop talking, I decided to find some peace in another car.

Unfortunately, one won’t be able to do that in a plane. When I was boarding the flight from Verona to Dublin, I had this ominous feeling because I saw so many toddlers on board. Oh, they’re so cute, sure. But when they started screaming and crying during the take-off and landing, and running around (also, while screaming) the isle during the flight… I began banging my head and wanted to cry myself. The problem is, usually when a toddler is crying, the other toddlers around somehow could feel his/her pain and start crying too, initiating a choir of screams.

No no, I’m not a children-hater, I just don’t know how to deal with them. I have no experience whatsoever in babysitting, except playing with kittens. And by far, for me, kittens are still more interesting than babies.

I’m not a parent yet, so I don’t know how to handle a toddler, let alone a toddler in a flight. But I do know these babies must feel uncomfortable, or even scared during the take-off and landing. I remember there was this story of a couple of great parents distributing packages of candies and earplugs to all passengers, along with a message,

“Hi! My name is Cade, and I am only 16 weeks old! This is my first ride on a plane. I’d like to apologize in advance if my ears start to hurt or if I get scared or cry. Here are some ear plugs (and a little candy) just in case! I hope you have a great flight!”

On today’s flight I couldn’t see well how the parents handled their kids, but at one point, I heard a woman shouted uncontrollably, “Stop crying!!”. So loud that all passengers might hear that. And of course… that didn’t help, the crying and screaming get louder and louder instead. I believe she’s one of the moms, I don’t think an unrelated passenger would say that to a stranger’s kid. Hearing the frustration in her shout, I felt a pang of sympathy. I stopped sighing and put my earplugs (thankfully I have them) instead, though they didn’t help much.

I wonder how much patience does it take for being a parent. Judging from today’s experience, I think… I haven’t collected enough ;).

Sailing in the Adriatic Sea

Ahoy!

This time the cat and the bear are on a sailing adventure! Both of us had never done this before. We’re so lucky that one of our friends knows how to sail and that he proposed to go sailing for our summer holiday :). So, in the end, the crew consisted of 5 members: the cat, the bear, a Siamese cat *ehem, because she’s Thai ;)*, Capt. polar bear, and another polar bear :p. Here you go, the crew seen from the top of the mast by the cat and the bear…

We started traveling by car from Italy towards Croatia, to Murter to be exact. There, in the harbor, the boat had been waiting for us. The boat is a Bavaria Cruiser 40 S, named ‘Judita’, more details can be found here. It’s actually quite big, there are 3 bedrooms inside, besides a living room and a kitchenette. The living room inside was almost never used, because we always eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, and after-dinner-drink outside near the cockpit *there are two benches and a fold-able table*, accompanied by summer breeze ^^.

The trip was going like this…

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Women and Balls

Miss Granny is here! I’ve been waiting for this movie (to be subbed and uploaded to a streaming site :p) since the beginning of this year. The theme is a bit similar to 13 Going to 30, or Freaky Friday. After watching the first 2 minutes, I can’t resist to open my blog and write about this. The opening is too damn funny! Besides… I’m a big fan of metaphor ;).

If you compare a woman to a ball…

Then a woman in her teens is a basketball. To catch the ball high up in the air, every man reaches for it as hard as he can.

A woman in her 20s is a rugby ball. Several men attack the balls like dogs trying to take possession of it. This is the only time in life a man will risk his life for a ball.

A woman in her 30s is a ping pong ball. The number of men going after the ball is significantly reduced. But the amount of attention paid to the ball is still decent.

A middle-aged woman is a golf ball. There’s only one man for one ball. And the man tries to send the ball as far away as he can.

And beyond that… She’s a dodge ball.

:D

The Story of Tim and Casey

Tim and Casey are best buddies since high school. One day, after years, they meet up in a bar for some drinks, sharing their work life stories, cursing at their bosses ;). They’re working at a company named McRels Inc. It turns out that their jobs are very similar. Both of them are working with text, news to be exact. Tim’s main responsibility is reading news, then ordering every events happening in the news in a timeline, guessing whether an event comes after or before another event. Casey started working on his current job just recently. His job is to decide whether there is a causality between two events.

Tim: “So, when I am given a text Typhoon Haiyan struck the eastern Philippines on Friday, killing thousands of people, I should be able to guess that the struck happens before the killing.”
Casey: “Aaah, I see… For me, I must decide whether the struck caused the killing or not.”

Casey’s job seems to be easier since the decision is binary: yes or no (well, also to decide which one is the cause and which one is the effect), but it’s actually much more difficult than Tim’s. One reason is that, unlike Tim, Casey doesn’t have enough resources to learn how to decide on the causality. Moreover, the concept of causality is more abstract than temporal ordering.

Tim is very lucky, because he could participate in a challenge on guessing the event ordering. As we know, competition can lead people to perform their best—that is, it can improve their quality of performance1) Paramita Mirza and Sara Tonelli. 2014. Classifying Temporal Relations with Simple Features. In Proceedings of the 14th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics, pages 308–317, Gothenburg, Sweden, April. Association for Computational Linguistics. . Unfortunately, Casey doesn’t get that chance.

First of all, Casey needs to build resources for learning on deciding the causality between events, so he hires minions to do that. He can only afford two minions since he’s low on budget.

The minions are not so smart, so he needs to set up guidelines for them to annotate causal information in text2) Paramita Mirza, Rachele Sprugnoli, Sara Tonelli and Manuela Speranza. 2014. Annotating causality in the TempEval-3 corpus. In Proceedings of the EACL 2014 Workshop on Computational Approaches to Causality in Language (CAtoCL), pages 10–19, Gothenburg, Sweden, April. Association for Computational Linguistics. . Tim offers him to use his available resources, which is a collection of text already annotated with all events available in the text. Having the resources annotated with causal information, Casey can finally learn how to identify causality between events in text3) Paramita Mirza and Sara Tonelli. 2014. An Analysis of Causality between Events and its Relation to Temporal Information. (to appear) in Proceedings of the 25th International Conference on Computational Linguistics, Dublin, Ireland. .

Since in theory, causality has a temporal constraint, that the cause happens before the effect, Tim and Casey have an idea to cooperate in order to improve their learning abilities. There still need to be some discussions for this idea, involving more meetings in a bar… with a lot of drinks, I suppose :).

P.S.: in case you don’t get the metaphors, this story is basically my PhD topic 4) Paramita Mirza. 2014. Extracting Temporal and Causal Relations between Events. In Proceedings of the ACL 2014 Student Research Workshop, pages 10–17, Baltimore, MD, United States, June. , where Tim and Casey are automatic systems for extracting temporal and causal relations, respectively. And the two minions are actually me and my advisor :D.

References

1.
 Paramita Mirza and Sara Tonelli. 2014. Classifying Temporal Relations with Simple Features. In Proceedings of the 14th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics, pages 308–317, Gothenburg, Sweden, April. Association for Computational Linguistics.
2.
 Paramita Mirza, Rachele Sprugnoli, Sara Tonelli and Manuela Speranza. 2014. Annotating causality in the TempEval-3 corpus. In Proceedings of the EACL 2014 Workshop on Computational Approaches to Causality in Language (CAtoCL), pages 10–19, Gothenburg, Sweden, April. Association for Computational Linguistics.
3.
 Paramita Mirza and Sara Tonelli. 2014. An Analysis of Causality between Events and its Relation to Temporal Information. (to appear) in Proceedings of the 25th International Conference on Computational Linguistics, Dublin, Ireland.
4.
 Paramita Mirza. 2014. Extracting Temporal and Causal Relations between Events. In Proceedings of the ACL 2014 Student Research Workshop, pages 10–17, Baltimore, MD, United States, June.