Monday, March 21, 2011

The Gordon Street Hill

Almost everyday I bike (ok in winter I walk) up the hill to the university. Earlier this year some wonderfully encouraging signs appeared on hydro poles lining the bike lane.

"Keep going!" and "You're almost there!"

Well, eventually those disappeared, but this week were replaced with several signs with slogans such as the one below (top sign):

As a thank-you to this wonderful anonymous sign leaver, my housemate and I added our own addition to these signs (bottom one).

Interestingly, I think the trudge up this hill is much like academia. Sometimes you just don't want to do it. But then, something clicks and you are almost like a stunt biker (ugh almost).

Friday, March 4, 2011

More in the R Art Series...

With the digital age (ok so we are way past digital) has come more and more options for visual learners as well as some truly amazing collaboration tools. Times have changed even since I was a kid. Ok, so I never used an abacus in school (though I distinctly remember my kindergarten classroom having one), and I definitely used my parent's old side rule as a glorified ruler. But still I remember computers with roll balls so I'd like to think I can call those the "old days".

Because of advances like webcams, screen sharing programs, and google docs to name a few; teaching, learning and communicating has become infinitely easier. But every once in a while we get a wake up call that reminds us just how important good, descriptive language skills are. A friend of mine is working on a program evaluation of a diabetes treatment program at a public health clinic in Nicaragua. Now if you complain and whine about statistics and R long enough it is inevitable that one of two things will happen. Either your friends will stop listening, or they will ask you for help (notice I didn't say "you will get good at statistics and R"). So my friend asked me for some advice on the statistical part of her evaluation and I (eager to apply my "skills" to the real world) agreed. And here enters the communication wake-up call. It can be tricky to introduce someone to R, let alone if they need to use it for multivariate statistics. Now try that explanation verbally, over Skype and while the the other person is in Central America. Needless to say you may end up with some particularly stunning graphics that, like some of my previous R abstract art are worthy of display. Here's an example:

The great thing about this plot is it actually sort of does what it is supposed to (guess)! And you learn a word in Spanish (Fecha= date).

So to my friend and her newly minted trials and tribulations with R- Great job so far! And I'll get back to the rest of the help I said I'd do...when I'm done procrastinating here...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The buzz about kids and science

Marc Cadotte has this great research blog called The Eeb and Flow. It is full of interesting tidbits from the world of ecology, but this one about "The Bees of Blackawton" is especially worth a read. I think whenever I get discouraged by the world of publication I will just remember this article and work a little harder.