Before the pandemic happened, I was planning on speaking at the SAS Global Forum on things I had learned as a statistical consultant. I wanted to call it “This is a hill I will die on” but one of my students suggested “This is a hill I will not die on” was a better title. However, by the time I had this idea the deadline for changing anything in your paper had already passed so the title was

buffalo in the snow
Spirit Lake Natio

From Santiago to the Spirit Lake Nation: 30 things I learned in 30 years as a statistical consultant

You can click the link above and read it.

My point is that I am a serious person doing serious things – some of the time and tomorrow I will write about statistics. However … since there is a blogging challenge going on

Today, Eva and I decided to write about quarantine clothes

I am hardly the fashion plate at the best of times. In my bio for The Family Textbook, which is hilarifying and you can purchase for the measly sum of $2.99 it mentions my proclivity for collecting weird socks, which is true. It also notes that I have never sent a dick pic. Also true.

Family textbook biographies

The first rule of web meetings is to wear clothes

The Invisible Developer, also the Chief Technology Officer of 7 Generation Games, contrary to popular belief, is very seldom bossed around by me. However, here is where I draw the line. When he proposed that he could be on time for a daily morning meeting – incidentally, at 11 am – if he attended in his bathrobe, I declared the meeting could start late and he would be clothed. We do, after all, have a sexual harassment policy around here and I am pretty sure showing up in video calls in your bathrobe under which you may or may not be wearing underwear violates it.

Rule #1 Does Not Apply if Your Camera is Turned Off

Gonzalo, a senior software developer, almost never appears with the web camera turned on and when he does, he was wearing a mask before it was cool. No, not like an N95 mask but like a “I’m-a-member-of-the-horde-from-World-of-Warcraft” mask.

If you think I am kidding, check out this video on designing video games which includes Gonzalo and his very cool mask.

When I mentioned the clothing required rule he said,

Wait, what? You can’t attend the meeting in your pajamas?

I told him that rule only applied if your camera was turned on, and then he calmed down considerably.

Rule #2: Only what can be seen on camera matters

Which is why, today, it was perfectly appropriate for me to attend three meetings wearing a plain, long-sleeved blue shirt, a hoodie, long underwear pants and sock monkey slippers.

Rule #3 All quarantine outfits can be improved by well-chosen socks

I have socks with flamingos, sushi, my granddaughter’s face, multi-colored chihuahuas and World War II female welders.

Variety in foot attire is an important part of the optimal quarantine outfit

Rule #4: Some meetings are so stupid, they require special socks

Yes, I have socks that say, “This meeting is bullshit”. I am prepared

I try to avoid useless meetings that should have been an email but sometimes these are unavoidable. In this case, it is extremely important to have the correct socks because you can look down and appear to be studiously considering whatever dumb ass suggestion the other person has just made.

Rule #5 For people who say you need to dress professionally for web meetings, see rule #4

My granddaughter was bored.

She had been home for three weeks, in Minnesota, which meant much of her time was spent indoors because it is cold outside and she lives in a city.

Not the most fun walk – Minnesota city streets in winter

This week was even worse because it was spring break and she said,

Me and my friends used to think that if we had no school and we could just stay home all the time it would be great but really it’s HORRIBLE.

Making it even worse, she and her sister were supposed to be spending spring break in Santa Monica with us, chilling by the beach and meeting up with friends from her old school.

Where my grandchildren were supposed to be

Recently, we’d created a WordPress site for her but it had nothing but the sample pages that came with it. She said she couldn’t think of anything to write. So, I said:

I challenge you to The Blog Hour!

Every day now, at 7 pm Pacific Time, we call each other and start blogging. There are no rules except that we need to start at (about) 7 pm and blog for no more than one hour. At 8 pm, promptly, we both stop.

You are welcome to join us

If you do, send me a link to your blog.

Eva’s first post was on Quarantine Ideas

Mine was Everything is NOT fine

Yesterday, she wrote on Quarantine Food

And I wrote about ideas to De-stress during a Pandemic

Something I have learned about blogging over the years …

There is no difference between the blogs you wrote because you felt inspired and those you wrote because of a challenge to write X number of words/ posts

I’ve been writing this blog for a dozen years, I did a judo blog pretty regularly for over a decade and I write posts on the 7 Generation Games blog, sometimes on life and sometimes on math.

When I look back over the years, I find it impossible to pick out the posts I did because there was some kind of public or personal challenge and those I wrote because I really felt strongly about what I had to say that day.

Eva thinks you can’t hang with us – prove her wrong!

SO … if you are stuck in the house and need a challenge, Eva and I are throwing it down. Join us!

Check out the follow up post on fashion advice from me. Those of you who have met me in person are already rolling your eyes.

Two Ojibwe girls in the woods 500 years ago
Another thing to do if you are bored, download Making Camp Premium or play it on the web

Probably like many of you who read this blog, this pandemic has lasted longer for me than most people. Statistics is my thing. I teach it, I make games about it , I code statistical analyses and I provide statistical consulting.

A few weeks ago, there were 1.9 cases of Coronavirus per million people in the United States. I remember looking at the growth curves in the U.S. and around the world, thinking to myself,

Oh, no, this is not going to be good.”

We’re now about 3,000 times the rate of infection we were then. It’s no wonder we’re all stressed.

Checking death statistics 10 times a day isn’t good for you

Initially, I checked the Worldometer site several times a day, thinking it could not possibly be as bad as I thought. No one else seemed to be that worried.

When everything started shutting down and more people were seriously concerned, I still spent my first hour every morning browsing the news on the virus. It was all bad and I found it hard to concentrate on work. Little things annoyed me.

I was already staying inside, not seeing my friends and family, working from home. Did me knowing exactly how much the death rate had climbed since yesterday do any good?

No, of course it didn’t. That was a rhetorical question.

What you should do instead

Start the morning with something you want to do.

For some people it might be a jog or a bike read. Good for you. I did enough training when I was young to last until I’m 200. (I’m serious. Google it.)

Mine may sound really dorky but on my list for a long time has been wanting to get better at WordPress. I write this blog and one on the 7 Generation Games site. I wrote a blog on mostly judo and life for a dozen years, though I rarely update that any more.

I took some courses on lynda.com for a month and then I got busy for 8 months and did nothing. So, now I am back at it.

Coffee

Every morning, I lay in bed, drink a cup of coffee and watch videos or read a book on WordPress

Whatever you’ve been WANTING to do, do that thing

Notice I said “wanting”, not “felt you should do”. No one looks forward to the next morning when they are going to clean out the junk drawer in the kitchen or do their taxes.

Three of the things I like most are coffee, sleeping late and programming. So, now, every morning, that is how I start my day.

Even better, my husband usually gets up, grinds the coffee beans and brings me up a cup so I don’t even have to get out of my warm bed.

frog

Tell the people who think you should start your day with the things you have to do that they should go eat a frog

You’re at home. You’re going to be home ALL fucking day! You can start off by playing a video game for an hour.

Get library card

Seriously, libraries are amazing. Before you start whining that the libraries are closed, know this …

Many libraries allow you to apply for a card online during the current pandemic

I have a card for the Los Angeles Public Library, the Santa Monica Public Library and, as a faculty member, I also have access to the National University library.

Through the Los Angeles library, I can download 15 ebooks a month using the Hoopla app. I can also download ebooks owned by the library and read these on a Kindle or iBooks app.

There is an app called Kanopy through which I can get six movies a month free.

I really like documentaries, so here is a place I’ve found a lot of interesting ones.

The Santa Monica Public Library only allows 6 downloads a month with Hoopla, which is why I needed two library cards!

There is just a lot of cool stuff, from apps to learn languages to checking out newspapers. Don’t want to subscribe just to read that one article? Use your library card.

Okay, so there are my two recommendations for today:

  • Start your day with something you want to do.
  • Check out the free books, movies, magazines, newspapers and apps from your public library.

You can also play AzTech: The Story Begins, on your iPhone or iPad while you are waiting to hear my next post recommendation. It’s an interesting idea. You’ll see.

I’ve read a lot of cheery tweets that said something like,

Young girl frowning in disapproval

“Buffy, Biff and I are isolated at home with our terrier, Boo. Here’s a picture. Isn’t he cute? We played card games, then I baked this three-course meal I saw on Pinterest. Biff is taking this time to finally become proficient in Mandarin with a course he is taking online.”

Seriously, what is WRONG with you people?

Now, those are the people we all want to slap, but there is another group that is more worrying. If working remotely is your usual mode, you are still drawing a paycheck and no one in your family is seriously ill, you may feel as if you should be going about life as usual.

I was in that group. After all, I have an office in my house where I usually work when I’m not traveling. My husband works upstairs. I’ve taught online for years. So, I’m in the same place, doing the same thing. Other people have real problems. Everything is fine.

Everything is NOT fine

A very sensible tweet I read said something like,

If you haven’t eliminated at least one student assignment, you are doing it wrong. Students are having to do their classes on line, have lost jobs, have jobs for which demand has skyrocketed overnight, have children or siblings at home interrupting them, have to share a computer, don’t have Internet access. They can’t go to the beach or the gym to de-stress. Some are home with abusive parents or partners. Expecting the same level of work is clueless.

I thought, “Well, yeah, I am sure that is true for students who are living in poverty, who are in elementary or middle school, but I teach graduate students who are professionals.”

Then … I got the assignments that were due after everything began locking down. Now, I should preface this by saying I have taught the same course for the same university for seven years. Over the past couple of years, the admission requirements for the program have been tightened, so the average student is more prepared.

My highly qualified graduate students made mistakes that I know they would not normally make

How do I know this? Before Coronavirus was an every day word, their work was as good or better than the average class. As the country began to shut down, they began to make mistakes at a far higher rate than my previous classes. These were particularly more common on problems that required detailed attention. For example, looking at the data to see that the subject numbers were all duplicated and then identifying this as a problem that requires repeated measures analysis.

I made mistakes that I would normally never make

One thing I am usually scrupulous about is data quality and data integrity. In fact, it was a major part of the paper I was supposed to give at SAS Global Forum – which was cancelled. The whole conference was cancelled, that is, not just my paper. Yet, I uploaded the wrong data set to the course directory, didn’t do any descriptive statistics and barely glanced at the PROC CONTENTS. Of course I know better!

The first step in solving a problem is admitting you have a problem

If you’ve read this blog for a long time you may know that I’m not a particular fan of poetry. However, I do know there was a poem with the title, “No man is an island.” (See, not as completely uncivilized as you thought!)

Even if you are healthy, have a safe place to live and a paycheck, you probably know people who don’t

Even if everyone you know- lucky you – is healthy, wealthy and wise, there is the probability that any one of you can get hit tomorrow. Your dad, grandmother or child can become sick. Someone in your family or a close friend can lose a job.

Your daily routine has been disrupted

You can’t go to the gym, church, the library, the mall. Maybe, like many of my friends, your judo club or church is where you used to spend many hours every week and now you can’t go there. People who were important in your life you can’t see any more. Maybe you can’t see your family and friends because they are at high risk due to health problems and have to self-isolate.

Yes, you aren’t living in a slum with no running water, so maybe you feel as if you should be “just shaking it off” and finding some “quarantine project” like Biff and Buffy.

Let me tell you this, Biff and Buffy are assholes. It’s perfectly normal to be anxious. The DEFINITION of anxiety is

A feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.

Oxford Dictionary

We are definitely living in uncertain times.

So, now that we have admitted that it’s normal to feel anxious, the next post is some tips on what to do about it, without sounding TOO much like Buffy.