Assorted Reflections and Updates

Today’s excursion into pithy commentary:

  1. National Novel Writing Month has commenced. I’m stretching my legs a bit to write a sci-fi story. My goal is to have the science be accurate but in the background; I’m really aiming for a commentary on human social evolution that just happens to bet set forward in a non-archetypal future. NaNo requires 50k words. I’m aiming for 90k, because I’d like to brush up the first draft and possibly shop for an agent or publisher. High goals, but hey. Defecate or get off the pot; I’ve been meaning to write a novel for years so why not now?
  2. To that end, I’m not only participating in local write-ins this November, but I’m also hosting one. On Saturdays at the food court at 35 Michigan. We had the first one yesterday and a baker’s dozen attended. It was great. The Starbucks baristas were friendly, too.
  3. So just about every female I’ve seen under the age of 30 seems to be wearing skin-tight clothes (including, most frequently, black leggings) paired with boots that frequently rise above mid-calf. Fashion is one thing; lemming-like wardrobes is another. At least the cellulite brigade hasn’t hopped on the bandwagon yet.
  4. Many of the regular patrons at my local cigar shop are Freemasons. They’re a cheerful, civil lot. Apparently they’re barred from asking people to join up, but they’ve hinted that perhaps I could ask questions about joining up. Alas, the Catholic Church still considers Freemasonry a grave sin. I chatted up another regular about it — a local priest, as it happens — who was quite happy to share his (utterly orthodox) knowledge of the Vatican’s perspective, with an added challenge to “return the favor” by encouraging the masons to consider membership instead in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Hmm.
  5. I refreshed my HP TouchPad to the latest release of CM9. Much improved over the version I had installed earlier this year. I also downloaded a desktop-sharing app that works flawlessly with my Win8 PC at home. Meaning, I can keep working on my novel in Scrivener on my tablet without any loss of data or continuity.
  6. Halloween was somewhat underwhelming. My office door was decorated on my behalf. I ended up doing last-minute NaNo planning with Brittany, Steve and PJ at Wealthy Street Bakery. Very helpful.
  7. The election looms. I’m planning on watching the returns with Tony in (of all places!) Southfield. He needs to fly to California early the next morning from DTW, so we’re going to watch early returns at Churchills’ cigar shop there and enjoy a fine dram of Scotch or two.  I’m cautiously optimistic that Romney will eke out a win, and I may be working Tuesday morning as a poll challenger at one of the most heavily Democratic precincts in West Michigan. Hmm.
  8. Speaking of the election, there’s been a lot of background noise about Nate Silver, the NYT blogger/prognosticator who’s been consistently “predicting” an Obama win. The whole situation annoys me. Look, as a full-fledged member of the American Statistical Association, I can say for certainty I know what Silver’s doing — he’s assessing the probability of a binary outcome, based on various undisclosed polls as inputs into his model. That’s fine. As a full-fledged member of the Society of Professional Journalists, I can say for certainty that if journalists could do stats American reporting would be of uniformly higher quality. That said, the fundamental problem with Silver’s analysis is that he’s basically got a garbage-in/garbage-out thing going. I don’t question what I understand his methodology to be; I do question the radical differences in polling that feeds his model. Polling in this cycle is all over the map. Throw crap in, you’ll get crap out, no matter how carefully you run your probability estimates. So a pox on everyone’s houses.
  9. Oh, and on top of it, American politics isn’t accustomed to a binary probability estimate for presidential elections. So moving in that direction, given that the inputs are more volatile than people give them credit for, seems like a misapplication of models. But hey, if Silver wants his 15 minutes of fame, he’s certainly earned it.
  10. I swapped out the stereo on my Jimmy a few weeks ago. The operation took longer than it should have — I needed to buy a wire harness — but I managed to get the job done without damaging anything. Yay, me.
  11. Tony I went on a brief casino trip a few weeks ago to Harrah’s Joliet and met Mark and Keren of the 360 Vegas podcast. An uproariously good time was had by all.
  12. Life at the hospital continues to pay lip service to the Chinese maxim about interesting times. I’m now officially a business analytics analyst in the Information Services team. The transition continues to unfold, so stay tuned.

November, already. Ugh. But hey — the holiday season’s a-comin’. Be glad, and rejoice.