A Week in Cozumel

New Year’s in Cozumel, Mexico

I was supposed to leave for my flight to Cozumel on December 30, but after going through security and making it to my gate with plenty of time to spare, I somehow managed to fall asleep at my gate and missed boarding. Two hours later, I woke up to find myself completely alone at the gate and my flight long gone. I was disappointed that no one woke me up for boarding, but I quickly realized that I had no one to blame but myself. Instead of counting the day as a complete loss, I was able to spend it with friends in Indianapolis and caught an 8 am flight the next morning.

I have made about 8 trips to Mexico in my life; however, this was my first time leaving the mainland and visiting the island of Cozumel. Although a lot of cruise ships stop at the island and it is a hotspot for tourists, there are still a lot of authentic cultural experiences that can be found on the island.

With a population of about 100,000, Cozumel is definitely not a small town, and most of the island still remains undeveloped. These untouched areas are some of the most beautiful and are home to an abundance of wildlife, greenery, and picturesque beaches. As soon as I landed and stepped out of the airport, I was immediately hit with the heat, which was nice because I had spent the last few days freezing in Chicago, but also quickly noticed the vibrancy of the island. It was not only filled with trees and plants, but amazing streetart and friendly people as well. I have a slight bias for visiting Spanish speaking countries, and being able to speak Spanish for the whole week definitely enriched the experience.

Shortly after arriving in Cozumel, my friend Isaac and I decided to go fly his drone in the park. Immediately after taking off, the drone was caught in a gust of wind and was thrown directly into the ocean. We both imagined that it would be impossible to ever recover the drone, but decided to head for the beach anyway. When we reached the water, a man approached us from what appeared to be an abandoned resort. He gestured to ocean and indicated that our drone had indeed landed somewhere in the ocean. He threw us a pair of snorkeling goggles and jumped in with his own pair of goggles as well. Within five minutes, he miraculously returned with the drone that had been somewhere on the bottom of the ocean. After giving us the drone, he invited us to come into his home. He, along with 4-7 other individuals (depending on the day), had converted an abandoned resort into their own home. All of the walls throughout the entire building were covered in murals and graffiti, and one of the guys living there took credit for all of the artwork. He also showed us how he hung shopping carts from the ceiling to make swings, which, regardless of if they met common safety protocol, were a lot of fun. The bottom floor of the building, where the guys would hang out during the day, was completely open and just feet away from the ocean. It was a spectacular view and was located in one of the nicest parts of town. I found it infinitely interesting that this expensive property, which had one of the most beautiful oceanic views I have ever seen and at one time was home to the now relocated Dolphin Resort, was now inhabited for free by a group of individuals that decided to start living there. The tourists that walked by the front of the building every day on their way to Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville or one of the hundreds of souvenir shops had no idea what was happening inside of this building. The residents of the building enjoyed having guests and opened up to us by sharing incredible stories about Aztec culture and legends, what it was like living in the building, and even their fight against crack addiction. Through their struggle, along with their triumphs, we were presented with an astonishingly beautiful juxtaposition of what it meant to call Cozumel home.

Although the trip was filled with countless deep, thoughtful, and sometimes intense moments, we also had a lot of fun. One of our best decisions during the trip was to rent scooters, even though I did crash mine at a gas station. I was amazed that we were able to rent scooters for 24 hours for only $20, and even more amazed that I was able to reach 100 km (just over 60 mph). Not only were they extremely fun to drive, but they gave us access to parts of the island that would be impossible to reach by foot. In addition to this, I enjoyed the discotecas, snorkeling, delicious authentic cuisine, some of the best dive spots in the world, and even being featured in a clown show one night in one of the parks.

I look forward to returning to Cozumel, and would definitely recommend it as a travel destination. If you have the opportunity to travel, regardless of where you go, I encourage you to not only visit and enjoy the tourist attractions of the area, but also to visit spots off the beaten path and to try to connect with the people who call the area home. My most memorable experiences have never been the sites I have seen, but the people I have had the opportunity to meet.

 

Korbin Clark

December Playlist

Here is what I have been listening to this December:

I have been working to expand the breadth of my musical exposure, so I wanted to include a lot of variety with my December playlist. While I included many of the songs simply for their auditory elements, I decided to include a few songs because of the message that the artist is sharing. A few songs that are extremely important and that should be listened to for their lyrics are Mathematics by Mos Def, Solitude (with Hollow Pigeons) by Emay, and I Took a Pill in Ibiza by Mike Posner. I would even recommend  pulling up lyrics for these songs, or at least for Mathematics. What I love about Mathematics is that even though the song has a simple beat and the iconic smooth delivery that can be expected from Mos Def, he does a lot more than make a song that simply sounds good. He dives into important social issues such as education reform, racial inequality, violence, and much more, all while keeping a consistent theme of “mathematics” throughout the entire song. While rapping about all of the different issues, he ties everything together by including actual statistics in the song. I also wanted to include a few up and coming artists, so I included songs by Shamir, San Cisco, and Derek Pope. Shamir is interesting not only as a musician, but as a person as well. Shamir grew up in the suburbs of Las Vegas, was exposed to music at a very early age, and does not identify as a male or female. Shamir’s songs are extremely catchy and the interestingness of the artist makes the music that much more intriguing. I am also a huge fan of the Australian band San Cisco. They are what you might expect from an Aussie indie pop band and their songs are ridiculously catchy. Their song, Fred Astaire is one of my all-time favorite songs. I have also been really impressed by Derek Pope. He has been rapping for the past 10 years and his song Raincoats was the first time that he has explored singing on a track, and it really works for him. Another artist who has continued to redefine the music industry is Lil Dicky. He is extremely witty and absolutely hilarious, but he is too talented to be considered a “novelty act.” What started as a side project for him while working as a young professional in Corporate America quickly caught fire. “$ave Dat Money” is pure genius and goes against almost every message spread through modern commercial hip hop. He points out the fiscal irresponsibility taught by many members in the hip hop community and throughout the song shares the many different ways that he saves money. The music video is brilliant as well and was shot on a $0 production budget. After going door to door, he found individuals who allowed him to borrow their yachts, mansions, and clubs for free and then used the footage for his music video.

The track list for this month’s playlist is below.

Track List:

  1. ymtk – Exotic ft. Buddy
  2. San Cisco – Too Much Time Together
  3. Skizzy Mars – Colours
  4. Shamir – I Know It’s a Good Thing
  5. Young Tapz – Killa
  6. Vanic X Tove Styrke – Borderline
  7. Step Rockets – Kisser (Rii Remix)
  8. Derek Pope – Raincoats
  9. Lil Dicky – $ave Dat Money (feat. Fetty Wop and Rich Homie Quan)
  10. Mike Posner – I Took a Pill in Ibiza (SeeB Remix)
  11. Mos Def – Mathematics
  12. Tate Kobang – Bank Rolls (Remix)
  13. Bryce Vine – Sour Patch Kids
  14. ILOVEMAKONNEN – Trust Me Danny
  15. Emay – Solitude (with Hollow Pigeons)
Llamas at Machu Pichu

Thanksgiving in Peru

Although I would have loved to spend Thanksgiving with my family, I instead found myself enjoying a Thanksgiving feast of roasted guinea pig with friends in Peru. There was no specific reason for choosing Peru for this trip. I wanted to go somewhere interesting for Thanksgiving Break and found a great deal on a flight to Peru, so we decided to book the trip. The moment that I landed in Lima, I knew that I had made a great decision and instantly fell in love with Peru. From the extreme friendliness I received, to the intricate architecture and scenic views seen everywhere, to the ridiculously good food; I was sold immediately. Although a lot of the great memories from this trip never made it onto film, this video does a good job showing what our week in Peru consisted of. I can confidently say that this trip was life changing, and I’ll be sharing some of these incredible stories in the near future.

Not included in the video: our winning night at the casino, my painful attempt at surfing, the vibrant nightlife, the dozens of unforgettable conversations with extraordinary individuals we met along the way.

November Playlist

I’m excited to share my playlist for the month of November. A lot of these songs are really special to me, including The Waitress Song by Seth Sentry and La Mar by The Beautiful Girls, two of my all-time favorite songs. I started the playlist…

The Stubborn Little Wolf: Pop-Up Dinner Series

I am definitely not a chef (unless you count pizza rolls and mac and cheese), but I do enjoy eating good food and have an appreciation for the culinary arts. I was excited when my friend, Phil Kovalev, told me about a pop-up dinner series that he would be hosting. Phil, a sophomore at Indiana University, is studying informatics but also has a passion for cooking. Following a growing trend in the gastronomical world, Phil decided that a great way to share his passion would be through a pop-up dinner series. He offered 10 tickets to the event, which was hosted at his house, and chose to call the series The Stubborn Little Wolf, a nickname given to him by his mother based on a children’s book of the same name. When reading the book to Phil as a kid, his mother noticed that he had a lot in common with the wolf in the story, and so the nickname stuck. I had high hopes for the meal, but Phil some how managed to exceed all of my expectations. The dinner was divided into 3 different parts, Provisions, Feather+Beaks, and Sugar+Spice. The Provisions included fresh baguette with homemade pear and cranberry jam. The main course, the Feather+Beaks, combined Pekin duck breast with stuffing and sage. For dessert, the Sugar+Spice portion, we were served poached Fuji apple, salted caramel sorbet, and farina cake. In addition, he created a great atmosphere by hanging lights throughout the dining room and classin’ it up with soft instrumental music.

The food was delicious, the other guests were friendly, and the event was an unattested success. I’m looking forward to see what he cooks up next.

Start Up Weekend Hits Bloomington

This weekend, I had the opportunity to participate in Start Up Weekend in Bloomington. I was planning on visiting some friends in Los Angeles, and later planned on hiking at Red River Gorge in Kentucky, but ultimately ended up stuck in Bloomington, which turned out to be a great decision. Start Up Weekend is a global program sponsored by Google for Entrepreneurs that gives individuals the opportunity to create a start-up in 54 hours. Participants are connected with designers, developers, legal experts, and mentors and spend the weekend working to create a minimum viable product to present at the end of the 54 hours. The weekend-long event began on Friday evening, and I really wasn’t planning on coming back on Saturday or Sunday, but was lucky enough to get connected with a great team (Pictured in the above gallery), so I decided to stay. Our project, adapted from a school project from 5 of my team members, focused on the idea of simplifying the process for receiving tax deductions for food donations by creating a platform that would aggregate this information and generate a report that could easily be passed along to an accountant or filed with the IRS. In essence, $1 trillion worth of food goes to waste each year, while at the same time, millions of individuals go hungry, which sucks. Our goal was to create a platform to incentivize more businesses/individuals to donate left over food by making it much easier to file the donation as charitable giving and by connecting them with charities to collect the food. We would then take a percentage of the newly created tax deductions. After a long 54 hours, all of the teams were given 5 minutes to present their project and an additional 5 minutes for questions from the panel of judges. We were content simply with the final product that we created, but were ecstatic when the judges awarded us first place. My educational and entrepreneurial journey has been filled with a lot of highs and lows, but it always feels great to have a respected and accomplished group of individuals acknowledge your hard work. Along with receiving a first place trophy, which was printed on a 3D printer during the weekend, we were also awarded with a spot in the B-Start Pre-Accelerator Program, a 3 month free partial membership to Cowork Btown, a free consulting session with the IU Intellectual Property Clinic, a free pack of Uel Zing Coffee, and consultation time with The Gayle & Bill Cook Center for Entrepreneurship and the south central Small Business Development Center.

Overall, it was an incredible weekend where I learned a lot of new information and was connected with some really great people. It’s hard to tell if anything will end up coming out of the project that began this weekend…

Students Use West Bristol to Host Art Show for Charity

On my way to class today, I received a text from my business partner, Justin, telling me that apparently there was going to be an art show at our shop in downtown Bloomington in a matter of hours. I have been wanting to host an event in our store for a while and was excited to here that two Kelley students, Cydney Mosby and Kendra Gerst, would be using our space to host an art show to benefit a local charity, the Art Alliance of Bloomington, which promotes the sustainability of the creative arts community. Cydney and Kendra came up with the idea of hosting an art show benefit when they were required to demonstrate leadership for one of their classes in Kelley. Using their connections, they brought together nine different artists and showcased their artwork in our store. The event went smoothly and Cydney and Kendra did a great job coordinating everything. (Hopefully they get an A on the assignment.) I would love to host another event in our shop, so if you have any ideas on what we could do next, drop me a line at korbin@korbinclark.com.

I love it when you call me big data

The Notorious B.I.G. Data: What Is Big Data and Why Does It Matter?

Every day I see a dozen new buzzwords in magazines, online articles, and social media, but I am always disappointed when none of the terms are ever able to live up to the hype. I really wasn’t that impressed or excited when I first learned about the term “Big Data” either, but that began to change when I saw more and more examples of how it touches every single part of my life. Big Data is not another short-lived buzzword, but is going to be a leading factor in shaping the future.

A case study that first caught my attention was the example of CellTell, the Congo-based phone provider, that was able to predict massacres in Congo based on prepaid phone purchases. When families in Congo sensed chaos coming, they wanted to protect their personal assets, so they would buy phone cards because it was one of the only things that was valued in US currency, which was safe from inflation, unlike the local currency. Or there is the now clique example of how Target was able to predict a teen girl’s pregnancy before her father. What is so interesting about the analytics behind Big Data is that completely unrelated things can be linked together to make predictions. For example, according to the predictive modeling company Kaggle, someone is the most likely to make their flight if he or she has preordered a vegetarian meal. And if you buy a used car, you should buy an orange one because its owners take the best care of their cars. Although these might seem like odd coincidences, there are a ton of things going on in the backend to make these connections, such as making connections between the physchology of vegetarians combined with the implications of preordering a personal meal on a flight, or linking the odd color of orange for car with the smaller production number of cars and realizing that someone who drives an orange car will take better car of it because the odd color implies that the car is likely used as a form of self expression.
Although Big Data is mainly used commercially to help businesses target their marketing initiatives, humanitarian initiatives have sprung up as well. Although it was eventually deemed a failure, I loved the idea behind Google Flu Trends. The idea here was that Google would be able to track the spread of the flu based on search queries. Even though there are over 3.5 billion search queries on Google every day, search habits and queries aren’t enough to predict the flu and don’t even begin to scrape the surface of everything that makes up big data.
So if Big Data is really so amazing, what exactly is it, how does it work, and why should individuals who don’t work at Google or the NSA care?
When I first started researching Big Data, data science, and analytical tools, I learned that knowledge about it was very marginalized. There was a huge gap between average citizens and data scientists and analysts. Every thing I read was hidden beneath industry jargon, overly complex models, and of course, more buzzwords and concepts that I didn’t fully understand. It’s almost as if the world of Big Data and data science was a secret society that was careful not to let any outsiders in. My goal with this post is to push aside the hype and buzz, and explain Big Data as simply and concisely as possible.
What is it?
Essentially, Big Data is a combination of structured and unstructured data. So it’s just a lot of information, so much information that traditional software and hardware can’t process it. It’s doesn’t only contain standard data, like your name and phone number, but it also includes things like how many friends you have on Facebook, transactional data from when you swipe a credit card, being captured by video surveillance at a gas station, how often you use your phone, your eye patterns when looking at a website or billboard, and more. It is dynamic and real-time information that comes from an unlimited variety of sources. So you can imagine that a lot of data is being created constantly. In fact, more data was created in the last two years than in all of history combined. We’re talking 1.8 zettabytes (10 to the 12th gigabytes) every two days. The term Big Data has also began to refer to the process of analyzing this data, as well as the companies that do so. Although it can be tricky to define, the name itself, Big Data, actually does a pretty good job describing it: it’s really just a ton of data in all different forms.
How does it work?
The reason that Big Data is a thing now is because it’s getting cheaper and cheaper to store information. But before companies can store data, they have to mine it. Some ways are pretty straightforward: we know that Google stores our search queries, but some ways are a little bit sketchier. For example, any website that has the option to “Share” or “Like” on Facebook is sharing that information with Facebook, even if you don’t hit either button. Many mobile applications also use services like Tea Leaf, which actually records video of your screen when using an application so that analysts can play back the video to improve the user experience. It is not uncommon for companies to leave Floodlights embedded in the code of their website to capture/report the actions of users after visiting their website. Although many methods for extracting data do raise concerns about cyber security, they are mostly used for harmless attempts to advertise products.
After data is mined, it is stored in a enterprise data warehouse, or some other form of database. Think of it like any other warehouse, only the product that is being stored is data. The big boys, like Google, use ridiculously expensive super computers to store and analyze data, while other big companies run NoSQL and Hadoop. In my opinion, this is by far the most boring part of Big Data, but it’s still extremely important because the whole system wouldn’t be able to work without it. Basically, NoSQL uses an agile approach, which means that everything is always a work in progress, with dynamic schema. So it’s a very fluid and constantly changing process. For Hadoop, instead of storing everything on one super computer, it spreads data across many computers. An example that I really like to describe the dynamic, agile approach to Big Data is the example of trying to find a good free throw shooter. Traditional data analysis would tell tell us that to find a good free throw shooter we should have everyone shoot 1000 free throws and then select everyone who makes at least 900 of them. The problem here is that it is not only impractical, but it takes a lot of time. With the dynamic approach for big data, it assumes that everyone is a great free throw shooter and as more data is collected, it will either prove this assumption true or false. With each individual free throw that is shot, it allows us to make a prediction based on that moment in time. As more data is added, the predictions become more and more accurate.
Why should I care?
If you own a business, hopefully you see the advantages that data can have to increasing your profitability. Most people don’t have access to super computers or other high end data tools, but even free tools, like Google Analytics or Excel, can allow you to target your marketing. You can test digital ads to see which are most effective or store data in Excel and do simple computations to find customers that have not been engaged with your company for a long period of time to send them marketing materials to reengage them. You can use heat maps on your site to see where users are engaged on your site and where they ignore content.
If you don’t own a business, you should still care about Big Data, as it will create 1 million jobs directly every year and 5 million jobs indirectly. If you can understand a little bit about Big Data, you instantly become a more valuable employee.
Great Tools to Use
www.heatmap.me
This is a really cool tool that allows you to see how people are engaging with your website and where they are clicking on the site. The best part is that the normally $100 monthly fee for a premium account is waived and it is free for students, teachers, and charities.
www.datacamp.com
Data Camp allows you to learn every thing about programming, data visualization, and data science. The courses are really interactive as well, and the first can be started for free. After you complete a course, you are given a certificate, which can help sweeten up your resume. After doing the first course for free, it is $25 a month, but you should be able to get at least one certificate in the first month.
3. Lynda
Lynda
If you are a student at Indiana University, you should be using this free service. It is crazy that IU gives us this for free and allows you to receive incredible training for almost anything that has to do with data and IT.

“And if you don’t know, now you know…”
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My October Playlist

Every month, I will share some of the music that has been inspiring me. Check out 12 songs that have been fueling me this past month.

http://https://soundcloud.com/korbin-clark-81109581/sets/korbin-clark-soundtrack-for

Here is the track list:

  1. Quiet Achiever – Yeo
  2. Waves – Miguel
  3. Adderall (Gazzo & Sweekuh Remix) – The Heydaze
  4. Don’t Wait (Remix) – Mapei, Chance The Rapper & The Social Experiment
  5. My Type – Saint Motel
  6. Hotline Bling – William Singe
  7. Back At The Start (Ft K. Flay) – Viceroy
  8. Down on My Luck – Vic Mensa
  9. Your English is Good – Tokyo Police Club
  10. When I See It – Kanye West
  11. The Message – Grandmaster Flash
  12. So Demanding – Bag Raiders