February is for snow lovers

I feel too much of a girl at the moment for The Signal and the Noise, not being into baseball, chess, or poker (I did read ahead looking for inspiration – I have so much time on my hands without homework). So for me, it’s back to weather…

When we started this course we were asked what our goals were. One of mine was to be able to throw statistical terminology around like I knew what I was talking about. “Oh, the residuals explain 45% of the variation,” or, “The distribution is somewhat leptokurtotic,” and how about, “The homoscedasticity assumption is satisfied.” Well, during a recent conversation with my boyfriend, I found myself talking like this.

Last Valentines Day I booked a surprise trip to the AMC cabins in the Blue Hills for my boyfriend. I highly recommend these. They are cheap and isolated despite being a short drive from the city. Anyhow, at the time of booking I was informed by the caretaker that, if there was snow on the ground and I didn’t have a SUV, I would have to park at the trail head and use a sled to carry in my stuff. This all sounded fine until the day of departure when there was snow, lots of, and I realised how long the trail was. As part of the plan was to have my boyfriend call me when he finished work on Friday evening and then tell him to meet me at the Blue Hills, on Friday day I was on my own. No worries, I told myself, the sled would be quite big and manageable, possibly also with huskies to help. I hadn’t packed light given that you have to take everything that you would normally take camping and then some for warmth – DID I MENTION THERE WAS A LOT OF SNOW? 6 miles and several trips later I was ready to take my sled out to get firewood and I still wasn’t done. By the time my pleasantly surprised (?) boyfriend arrived, also without an SUV, it was time to hike back down the trail to meet him. Anyhow, the point of my story is that it all just turned out to be so much fun.

And so to my statistical talk. As it is getting colder my thought are turning to cozy winter weekends in the woods. I told my boyfriend that we would have to go the AMC cabins again in the snow. “But how would we know when to book?” he asked. It’s easy I said, “We just find some data on snowfall in the Blue Hills for the last 20 years or so, take a daily average, and find the weekend with the most snowfall.” But I wasn’t done, “Ideally we would then incorporate some sort of prediction for the coming year to refine our model and then book the weekend when it was most likely to snow.” Of course I was going to do all of this for the blog but instead I found this neat graph already compiled by the Blue Hills Observatory. I’m going to incorporate the prediction by the Farmer’s Almanac that this coming winter will be snowier and colder than the last, assume that January, February and March will be a snow fest, and go nuts with my cabin bookings.


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5 Responses to February is for snow lovers

  1. lficarra says:

    I am totally right there with you about feeling very girly in reading Silver’s book. I really held on to the weather chapters as they have been the only topics to spark my interest thus far. With a slight spin on your goals for this class, mine were to develop the ability to read scientific literature and actually understand something of the statistics used to produce results. It is very challenging to read critically when half the methods are in written in incomprehensible statistical jargon.

  2. seanmccanty says:

    Lynn I completely agree about wanting to be able to understand the statistical methods in scientific articles. I think a major problem is the condensation for space that we all struggle with – statistics is meant for summarizing data, so they can get away with cramming a bunch of test statistics and p values in a short space and move on. I really wish articles by default came with a statistical appendix – it would help the readers and, in theory, show us that the authors at least had some idea what they were doing/if it was appropriate.

  3. martinew says:

    Also, does replying to my own blog entry count as one of my responses?

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