Hey, if you are a furloughed federal employee looking for something free to do on Thursday because you still haven’t received your back pay that Congress promised you, you can drop on into Salem, Oregon to the Oregon SAS Conference. I will be speaking on Categorical Data Analysis, Telling Stories with Your Data and How Factor Analysis is Your Friend. Not all at the same time – I’m giving three talks. They promised me that none of them would occur before 10 a.m.

The first one is pretty basic, pointing and clicking to do a little exploring of a small pilot study. If you are not feeling all warm and fuzzy about statistics, come to that one. On the other hand, if you really have been dying to have someone to discuss ROC curves and eigenvalues with, come to one of the other two. Even the more statistical presentations are pretty user-friendly, though. There will be lots of pictures. Also, beer.

Scree plot of eigenvaluesCurve with substantial bow toward the upper left corner

The beer isn’t actually part of the free conference, but if you hang out with me afterwards I’m pretty certain we can find some.

beer

 

This past week was great. Like most weeks, I spent part of every day wondering what I ever did to deserve to be so blessed in life, and being grateful for the interesting, dedicated people I met, for the opportunity to learn more every day and aware of the real privileges I have. That I can work from home much of the time, have an adequate travel budget to attend events like the Tribal Disabilities conference, get paid a sufficient amount that I can afford to give a significant amount to charity – the fact that these are all privileges not everyone has is not lost on me. I think about it literally every day.

meeting at turtle mountain

 

Over the past week, I met a lot of people who were greatly content with their lot in life. All of them had one thing in common – they really liked their jobs. I can’t say for sure what the secret to happiness is, but I can guarantee you that having a job where you feel unappreciated, underpaid or overqualified is the certain route to unhappiness.

Being older, I have had the advantage of watching a number of people’s lives unfold. Last week, coincidentally, I was in two states where I had lived twenty or thirty years ago and had the opportunity to run into a few people and learn “the rest of the story”. I also was privileged to meet some really fascinating people for the first time.

Here is one fact I observed – no matter whether they lived on the Turtle Mountain Reservation, the Spirit Lake Dakota Nation or Kansas City, Missouri, those people who were happy with their work were MUCH, MUCH more satisfied with their lives than those who hated their jobs. Also, and I think this is important, they were MUCH happier than the people who just kind of didn’t mind their jobs.

Happiness begets happiness. There are a couple of my friends on Facebook who begin every day by thanking God (or the creator, not all of my friends are Christian) for the gift of a wonderful day. I just un-friended those people who were always complaining about something. Who really wants to hear it?

Intelligent, interested people attract one another. The two people above are specialists in mathematics education and technology. We met for an hour and they asked a lot of insightful questions about what our game could do, our plans for future releases. The meeting was suggested by Dr. Carol Davis, one of the pioneers in establishing tribal colleges as an opportunity for higher education on American Indian reservations. I learned a lot and am looking forward to working with all three of them during the school year. That experience is repeated day after day – I could have shown a picture of the folks from St. John the Baptist, Warwick High School, Tate Topa Middle School, Crossroads Charter School … it goes on and on. I could show you pictures from our last meet up or our next staff meeting.

What all of those have in common is that I left energized, enthusiastic with new ideas I wanted to try. I get paid a decent salary, too, and have nice benefits, which makes it easier for me to be less stressed and in a good mood when I meet new people. It’s easier to focus on what people are saying when you don’t have to worry about how you are going to pay your electric bill or who is picking your child up from day care.

I really love my job. There have been plenty of years in my life when I did NOT love my job, I either actively disliked it or figured it was “on the balance, okay, the advantages outweighed the disadvantages. I got paid well, had health insurance —.” That is the thing you really have to worry about, settling for a life that is just “not too bad”.

The difference between my life now and then is palpable. It’s exactly like that feeling on a cold, overcast day when the clouds part and the sun comes out warming you up. And it’s that different every day.

Seriously, if you don’t really like your job, do yourself a favor and start looking for something else now. You only get one life.

 

I am aware that the world is full of people who don’t know what a C-prompt is and who are unfamiliar with the concept of a path. Suppose you are one of those people (and no, I’m not judging you As Will Rogers said, “Everyone is ignorant, just on different subjects. He was a pretty popular guy. It seems like half the public facilities in Santa Monica/ Malibu are named after him.)

You have received a SAS Enterprise Guide Project, along with the data used. Life should be wonderful. However, when you try to run it you get an error because the project assumes the data is in one place – on the computer of the person who created the project, and it is actually in a different place on your computer. Have no fear. It’s really easy to change.

 

Your open project looks like this. Right-click on the data set you want to change. In my case, it is the first one in the process flow, the rest of the data sets are created from this one.

Process flow

 

When you right-click on your data set, a drop-down menu will appear with the last choice in the list being Properties.

drop down menu with properties

Select Properties and a new window will pop up. Click on the Change button.

Properties window

A window will pop up that allows you to open the folder containing the data. Just like when you open any kind of file, click on the folder that contains that file.  When you see the file you want, click on it and click on the Open button.

changepath4

You’ll be back at the Properties window. Notice that next to File name it now shows the location (path) of the data on your computer.

changepath5

Last step, be sure to remember to click on the OK button.

That’s it. Now you can run the project and it will access the data on your computer and run merrily away.

Okay, I have finally come to a firm opinion on Wonder Women (I know you are relieved). It’s a good book because it has caused me to think, a lot. As I mentioned in an earlier post, much of it is literally foreign to my experience. This certainly includes every reference to feminism in the entire book. I consider myself a feminist because I believe women should have equal rights, equal opportunities in education, careers and sports, and equal pay. Moreover, I have no problem being a bitch about it when that doesn’t happen. When someone says, as a venture capitalist wrote last year, that only young single men are going to succeed in start-ups because they don’t have families or mortgages to worry about, it’s just a fact, I asked, “Are you fucking kidding me?”

Reading Spar’s book, I was continually shaking my head that there were people out there who really thought like she said she used to (but no longer does, apparently). It never occurred to me that feminism meant not wanting to get married or hating men. I don’t hate anybody, although there are some individuals I hold in contempt or just find plain fucking annoying.

I always wanted children and my main reason for getting married was that I believe a good marriage is the best model for raising children. (A bad marriage isn’t the best model for anything.) While it’s true that medical technology now allows women to decide when to have children, to stop the biological clock, I had my first child when I was 24, the second at 27 and the third at 28. Then I had my fourth one when I was 39. My family planning went like this – I had sex, when I got pregnant, I planned on having a baby, because that’s how it works. I did not “time” my children because there is no such thing as a good time to have a baby, in my opinion. You’re never going to be ready and it’s always going to be a lot of work, so you may as well just have them when they come. Yes, I wanted four children. In fact, I wanted six or eight but my husband had an accident and then died, so that threw a wrench in the works as far as those plans went. So … according to this – I’m a prefeminist?

On the other hand, I could care less about a big wedding or fancy engagement ring. When I married my late husband, I actually got an engagement Macintosh – I told him if he was going to spend thousands of dollars what I really wanted was this new computer Apple was coming out with. So, he bought it for me and a small ring just because he thought I should have one. The Invisible Developer just had my wedding ring re-worked with more diamonds and rubies and a big diamond, for our 16th anniversary. That was nice of him, but totally unnecesary. So … I’m post-feminist?

The feminists Spar discusses seem to me as if someone had looked at the Westboro Baptist Church and then described that as “Christianity”. I’m a Christian but I don’t hold signs outside of funerals of young soldiers saying “God hates fags”. I know people like that exist, but again, it’s a foreign concept to me.

I’m not sure I buy into Spar’s supposed biological arguments either about the division of labor. How having breasts and being the one equipped to feed The Spoiled One makes me the logical choice to drive her to soccer practice 13 years later is reasoning that just escapes me. It would seem the opposite, that now it is her father’s turn. The division of child-rearing by gender is NOT universal, according to our cultural consultant on 7 Generation Games, Dr. Erich Longie. He tells me that from a young age, the Dakota boys were raised by the men, and girls by the women.

So, yes, Wonder Women made me think about a lot of topics I had just taken for granted. Now I’m going to go back and finish the other two books I was reading. (Professional Jquery – HIGHLY recommended, and Biostatistics in Public Health – for the class I’m teaching in November)

While I love teaching and am looking forward to be working in a completely new environment – teaching an online course to masters students – I was initially concerned that teaching a course on biostatistics in public health might draw too much time away to my work for The Julia Group. I really should have known better. Statistics is statistics, and as I’m reading the textbook preparing for my lectures in November, it is actually very relevant to the research design we are implementing now.

Randomized controlled trials are not an option for us. We work either with schools, testing our 7 Generation Games educational software, or with social service programs that are mandated to provide an intervention for those who qualify. On the other hand, the controlled part is very relevant to our work. For example,

“… investigators must be sure that participants are taking the assigned drug as planned and not taking other medications that might interfere with the study medications…”

You might wonder how this relates to educational research …
When we collect data on our games, we have a timestamp recorded with each answer. This was extremely useful when we were looking at the different classrooms that used our game, because some had better outcomes than others. We were able to estimate, from the timestamp on the first problem answered by a student in the class to the last, about how long students in that classroom had the opportunity to play the game. Not all were ‘taking the program as planned’. There might have been an early dismissal on several days because of hazardous weather (our initial testing occurred in North Dakota in the fall and winter), so students in that class only played the game 2/3 of the time students in the other classes did, because their math class was the last period of the day, and others had math before lunch.

What was not mentioned in the text, but is equally important, and I’ll address in lecture, is whether it is a drug study or an educational intervention, you also need to be sure you assess your DEPENDENT variable correctly.

Recently, I was talking to someone from a school that used a mathematics program, a competitor to us, that had demonstrated very good results. The test scores at the school had risen dramatically, and yet, to my surprise, the math department was very interested in having us come install our program. I found out that in the year before they used the program, students were given a set amount of time for their standardized tests. The year they began using the program, students were allowed unlimited time to complete the same tests. They were even allowed to come back the following day and finish up where they had left off. The math teachers working with these students were very aware that the students’ skills needed major help, regardless of what the tests might say.

While this has to do with education and not health care, the same applies. If your dependent variable is blood pressure, cholesterol or blood sugar, you need to make sure that it was measured accurately AND UNDER THE SAME CONDITIONS, for both groups and at pretest and posttest.

I’m amused when people make comments like, “I’ve forgotten more statistics than you’ll ever know.”

Personally, I try NOT to forget, which is why teaching a masters level class every now and then is a good reminder of the basic principles. Just so you know that I practice what I preach, I’m on a flight to North Dakota right now where I will be meeting with principals and teachers of our intervention schools to discuss the importance of collecting data from all of the students at the same time in the same way.

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