Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What a Difference an Age Group Makes

This is my life. This is what I'm living and breathing and eating. Yes, data output, analysis and highlighting pen fumes...not to mention a bloodstream full of caffeine and worshipping at the feet of the fickle SPSS goddess.
Last week, just before seeing my thesis supervisor to go over the latest iterations of my regressions, I discovered that I had one too many age groups in one of my data set analyses. Not a big deal, right?

Wrong. This extra age group of individuals aged 30-34 years meant my sample population was inflated by 6,777 individuals.

Ohhhh how I miss each and every one of those 6,777 people. Not only did each and every one of them add power to my correlations, but they helped with the significance of those same correlations...
What was blatently interesting 10 years ago and super cool 10 years into the present, are summed up as "meh". Still sorta there but not as blatently super cool (as nerdy data analysis goes).

Yet, I carry on, highlighter at the ready, nerdy brain hopeful for interesting correlations to write about in the thesis...
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Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Walk to Remember

Today, Roan and I walked to raise money to help find a cure for Alzheimer's Disease and related dementias.

It was a sharply cold winter day, despite the low sun.

The numbers of people participating grew slowly over an hour and a half. Gradually the group grew to include older adults, families, dogs, children of all ages and even some people with physical limitations. The Red Hat brigade was there in force, with their special crab hats.

Roan and I sat at a table in the gathering room, waiting for the event to start. As we waited, a barbershop quartet sang next to us and serenaded us with a stirring rendition of "Unforgettable". That brought me to tears...

An entire family, "Team Iole" participated and each wore a picture of Iole on their backs. Iole won't be forgotten even if she can't remember anymore. That, and people like Iole, are why we do this and why we'll do this again next year...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Being Afraid and Saying it Anyway

My brother sent me a link to a video of a secular Arab woman talking down fundamentalist behaviour and small mindedness in the Middle East.

This woman is called a heretic because she calls herself a secular woman who does not believe in the supernatural...

This woman calls for Muslims as a whole, to contribute to the greater good for humanity before demanding recognition and respect.

She is very brave. I can only hope people listen to her...

Friday, January 23, 2009

I dream of...Turtles?

I have vivid dreams. I always have. I have also always had dreams laden with animal totems and symbology.

Last night's was no exception, except for the fact that I have never dreamed of turtles before now.

I dreamed that I was at an aquarium of sorts, filled with turtles. I jumped into a large tank and instead of swimming around in it, I sank to the bottom and then rocketed myself vertically, up out of the high that I touched the over head lamps.

I then fell back into the tank, all the way to the bottom and being VERY intentional about not touching the bottom with my feet. I then set myself up and rocketed out of the water again.

I remember musing to myself that this felt much like I was a dolphin, porpoising out of the sea...and I continued 3 or 4 more times smiling hugely and laughing and loving every second of the speed and the water and the feeling of flying all combined.

When I was finished I was resting on the side of the tank, in an area where turtles could bask in the heat lamps. As I rested, a turtle took its time walking towards me...I remember saying "Oh here it comes, I'm in for it now...". The turtle climbed up on me, walked across my chest towards my right shoulder. There it stopped and looked intensely at a mole-like thing on my shoulder (where I DO actually have a mole). But this mole was grey and shaped like a volcano with a lid. Literally, a stopper or cork of sorts. The turtle started mouthing this lid / cork...pulling on it until the stopper came out.

Immediately, I felt a jolt of electricity run down my arm and into my hand. It felt as though the stopper in my shoulder had been holding back some of this electricity, some of this impulse...and the turtle had released me from this blockage.

I felt so grateful and so relieved and excited.

Then this morning, I decided to start blogging...

Interesting that my right hand is the one I'm composing my thesis with?

The Red Queen Lives

Has anyone paid real attention to the increasing frequency of large outbreaks of bacterial infection such as the Lysteriosis outbreak at a meat processing plant last year as well as a new outbreak in leeks in Quebec:

What about the salmonella outbreak in peanut paste and derivative products all around the world?

Now, an Avian Flu scare has farms in Abbotsford, BC. under quarantine:

I don't think this is just happenstance. I think that even though human beings have stopped operating under the effects of natural selection on a species-wide level and we're not "evolving" any further, bacteria and viruses continue to evolve...and I think they're making a comeback.

This is the Red Queen theory in effect...its playing itself out. We haven't "beaten" bacteria and virus strains with our medications and treatments...we have staved them off for a time, allowed them time to mutate and adapt and they're fighting back.

Dragging myself uphill by my lips

The data analysis continues.

Crosstab hell. Logistic regression output all over my floor. Pink highlighted boxes of percentages and observed frequencies...

Plenty of good significance level, plenty of power in the sample populations in both data sets.

Now I have to write my interpretation of it all, draft graphs of everything and explain it all.

I wonder if I have to energy or the will to finish this...I started it. I wanted it. I drove myself until I got it. Now, I struggle to put aside a couple of hours daily to work on it.

Do I really care whether or not it gets published in a journal? The academic overachiever in me says yes. The person inside me who is weary of being a student and just wants to go back to earning a living, says meh.