this week i

completed the first draft of the merge method for monet.frame objects.  hannes liked it so much that he submitted version 0.6 to cran.  and we released some race/ethnicity briefs about the medicaid expansion too.

sometimes forget how easy it is just to feel good.  and, wrapped up in my own work, how well my old friends are doing.

hit the highway..

..to potter county, pennsylvania.


met stash nawrocki at cherry springs.  someone visiting from manhattan once asked him what the public transit was like out there.  "well, you can use your thumb."

explored the sky for a few hours.


drove back down..

 ..to state college.

arrived during graduation week.  locals promised me that the other 51 weeks of the year, photographing yourself riding the stone nittany lion didn't require standing in line for half an hour.  not sure if i believe them.

performed my out-of-the-box hour-long why use r lecture then ran an afternoon workshop at penn state's social science research institute for their big data week.  pre-workshop, i created this flowchart to get everyone to the same starting point.  hokay actually, jenn made that from this.

garner mentions once in a while.

dug up one of my favorite old posts, "it really is hard to anticipate just how silly users can be."

find pay-for-performance for our educators a deal with the devil.  our society has had no luck forcing physicians to accept pay-for-performance schemes, why is education any different?  if anything, success in medical care is easier to evaluate than success in pedagogy.  both disciplines have huge factors outside of the practitioners' control: overburdened or disinterested parents in one case, non-compliant patients in the other.  but at least with medical care, there are a few measurable outcomes - "did the patient outlive expectations?" - compared to - "did the child become a happy, productive, successful member of society fifteen years later, and can that success be attributed to the hundred hours they spent in your classroom during a single year?"  if teacher measurement isn't just a smokescreen to squeeze money, then let doctors go first.  oh and look bill gates subtly agrees.

4/25

this week i

received an official endorsement from the federal reserve on their survey of consumer finances page.  how it's done.

committed my first chunk of code directly to the experimental monetdb.r package with svn. dbconnect no longer requires a sys.sleep while mserver loads up.  see those changes?  oh plus hannes added my rbind() syntax. powerful.

spent the evening with max.

fruits -
  • one e-mail dispatched to the new york city housing vacancy survey administrators at the census bureau re: standard error replication.
  • one wikipedia page conceived -- 'professions where officeholder expected to die in position' -- current list: pope, supreme court justice, dalai lama, (good) rock star, (bad) daredevil, professor emeritus, dictator.  hard to search for similar web pages, most results just point to osha and/or magazine articles of top ten stressful workplaces.
  • one bet solidified, i'll likely lose.  prize: case of beer.  anthony wins if any of the five current conservative supreme court justices (roberts, kennedy, scalia, thomas, alito) voluntarily steps down during a democratic administration.  max wins if all five die in office or step down during a republican administration.

cleaned out my father's storage pod of old papers from his child welfare consulting business - the institute for human services management..

..most went here, but i held on to a few documents: board meeting, articles of incorporation, by-laws, stock certificate.

headed underground..



for a smithsonian fashion show

video

..and what must have been a very, very interesting text message.

4/18

this week i

published this syntax to analyze the major brazilian survey of households.  not just us government data anymore.

matched maroon 5 on the first try.  not proud of it.  also not necessarily proud of my new gold star.

consider many of the onion's best articles formulaic.

drank in the park..

..before hanging out at the sri lankan ambassador's house.


avoided landmines on the way home.

video

worked wednesday from my father's.  better cafeteria than at the office.

thought about my new `semi-intelligent being` theory, doubt we'll ever escape this planet.

most of us prefer understanding our place within a tribe over understanding our place within the cosmos.  in this geological nanosecond of humanity's existence, let's make the (reasonable) assumption that we are, in fact, the first self-aware life on planet earth.  dinosaurs came and went long before us, all sorts of smarter iterations of fish, birds, mammals too.  but we're the first species to not only understand our place within social groups, but - if we expend our glucose on thinking hard - also our place on this planet.  still, the great mass of human beings only ponder those sorts of thoughts rarely and, like it or not, value modern tribal allegiances over exiting our stratosphere.  even our astronauts have families.

let's say, in five, or ten, or five hundred million years, our species goes extinct.  what then?  are we replaced by other sentient life-forms that similarly learn to bureaucratize, conquer, harness the planet?  and are they equally mired in concerns over food, religion, reproduction, explosions?

in a modern society, wouldn't neanderthals - with their larger brains - scientifically advance faster than we do?  the higher caloric needs that doomed their survival in the wild would prove no burden in today's have-everything marketplace.  maybe neanderthal culture and civilization could have been slightly more advanced, more forward-thinking, more capable of escape from this planet than our own.  that is, perhaps the average larger-brained neanderthal would've spent more time thinking about the way things work and less about creature comforts and soap opera dialogue.

archaeologists postulate that neanderthals died from competition with homo sapiens - an outcome we now see as both inevitable and triumphant - but had our branch in the monkey tree never evolved, perhaps the pyramids would be twenty thousand years older?  neanderthals would've been slightly smarter, a little more lucid, that much more capable of supporting the species-wide neural communications that move a society forward at a rate that equips its engineers to build the vessels needed to leave this planet.

what if, on average, it's not the first sentient species on a habitable planet that explores the universe, but the five hundredth?  it is easy to confuse omni(m)portance with simply scaling the food chain.  so few of our seven billion minds spend time worrying about what's beyond the flat surface of this earth.  the first species to conquer a planet does not imply that the species will figure out interstellar travel.

4/11

this week i

hopped on one more train..



suppose this is as rough and tumble as korea gets.  a comfortable country.



flattened some currency on the tracks.  don't judge..

..because, well, um, anything goes.

hiked the well-worn nature trails.



learned that those dragons on old maps indicate uncharted territory.

ate duck.  "the bacon that flies."

 played where's waldo, spotted the heath ledgerfish, you'll have to zoom in.

coveted stuff.  i try not to possess things, but it's hard when those shoes make me so envious..

when those buddhaman birds would perch so nicely on my shelves at the office

when those rabbit ears would wrap so snugly around the cell phone i don't have

when that radio flyer at the end could be mine.  like taking radio flyers from a baby

when i've yet to fulfill my lifelong dream of rampaging with a pink-tinted bulldozer

when restaurant chefs cook just for me

..when.. oh hmm okay actually i don't want that.

aged only on the outside.  good love might be necessary, but it's not sufficient.

watched two airplane sunsets, made it home.

4/4