Scoregami: an amusing sport stat

Came across ‘Scorigami’ the other day. It is a ‘Scorigami!’ when a US Football game ends in a score that has never happened before. The web site gives the current state of them. It is fun to wander around a bit. There is also a baseball one at

There have been at least two Scorigamis this season. The Browns beat the Ravens 40-25 and Tampa Bay beat the Rams 55-40.

Perspective on the lottery — and even bigger numbers.

Large numbers are interesting. The following quote about a hedgehog sneezing is a good example. The article at the link uses that as a starting point and goes large. Really large. Makes the brain hurt a bit to try and grasp it and doesn’t really serve any useful purpose outside of math research…but it is an interesting read if you can make it through.

Photo by Anatoly Ivanov on Unsplash

A recent Mega Millions lottery had 1-in-175,711,536 odds of winning. To put those chances in perspective, that’s about the number of seconds in six years. So it’s like knowing a hedgehog will sneeze once and only once in the next six years and putting your hard-earned money down on one particular second—say, the 36th second of 2:52am on March 19th, 2017—and only winning if the one sneeze happens exactly at that second.

From 1,000,000 to Graham’s Number — Wait But Why

From a different article about big numbers — but much easier to understand big numbers, a humorous use of Sour-Patch Kids:

And in a night fraught with moments of self-loathing, carefully placing 50 eXtreme Sour Patch Kids on top of another 50 eXtreme Sour Patch Kids, alone at 2am, was the low point. Moving on—

What does A Quadrillion Sour Patch Kids Look Like?

Chew on this: Inside Scotland’s traditional sweetie factory – BBC News

The Golden Casket factory in Greenock produces thousands of tonnes of confectionery each year. Managing director Crawford Rae gave the BBC a behind the scenes look at the production line, where sweets such as toffees, sour plooms and humbugs are manufactured for sweet-toothed customers around world.

Chew on this: Inside Scotland’s traditional sweetie factory – BBC News

This seems like an appropriate link for Halloween. Even though we don’t have these candies on this side of the Atlantic, it is always fun to see this much chocolate or sugar in one place at one time. The video is less than 2 minutes long.

Why aren’t all cocktails served in the same glass?

Did you know the current martini glass is much bigger than they were back in the “3 martini lunch” days? But then, even the small ones are at least a shot of booze, so that would still be ridiculous.

The PBS Ideas Channel talks to Brooklyn bar owner Ivy Mix about all the different kinds of glassware that cocktails are served in. The most interesting bits are about how factors other than taste influence how people enjoy drinks, as with wine. Men in particular seem to have a difficult time enjoying themselves with certain types of glassware and drink colors.

Why aren’t all cocktails served in the same glass?

Music Is Magic: Foo Fighters with Kiss Guy

In the last few years, some bands have been bringing up audience members during a concert to play a song. I don’t know if they do anything to make sure the person knows how to play, but I have seen videos of people that didn’t know how to play and the road crew pulls them out immediately. But sometime it works out.

The Foo Fighters are one of those bands that does this. The featured video today (link) has an audience member who was well prepared. He even had his own pick ready when he put the guitar on.

While the band, and especially Dave Grohl, know how to put on a show, there is a joy that I believe is real when they realize how well Kiss Guy can play. And how much Kiss Guy clearly enjoys being up there with them.

Part of what is appealing to me is watching people that haven’t played together before, play something. Watching them work together. The section in the middle and the end are not part of the record, so Kiss Guy couldn’t just have been playing from the original recording.

They were making it up around the prearranged song. And that is part of the magic for me.

Unknown Fan ready
To step up on the big stage
Impressing the Band

The entire Music Is Magic playlist can be found here.

Helping People Understand Data

We are flooded with data and we don’t understand most of it. While the below HBR tip of the day has specifics about communicating outside the company, I think that the basic concept — helping people understand the data — is a fundamental part of being a Business Analyst.

Photo by Lukas Blazek on Unsplash

The standard mantra you hear is “too much data, not enough information” or “information is data made actionable”. These sayings are all getting at the fact that looking at data does not convey everything that we can learn from the data. Understand what is being looked at, understand the limitations of the data, understanding the assumptions in the data, understanding the cleanliness of the data. That is critical to having a business leverage the data they have.

But data can steer you wrong if you don’t know the information around the data.

When someone is looking at a report, is it easy to see the metadata? When someone looks at a spreadsheet or a PDF output of some sort, can they see where the data comes from and what assumptions are in place?

It is easy to simply slap a report out for the requester to get what they want. Too often, the requester and the report writer miss the fact that someone else is going to use this report six months from now and not have the same background the requester had. Or think differently from the requester.

So when writing reports or creating spreadsheets or otherwise presenting DATA that is meant to be understood, consider adding this information (automatically updated, of course) to them:

  • metadata (date of data, all the parameters, specified and implied filter and sort parameters)
  • Where did the data come from? Can you provide a link back to the original data for detail reports?
  • What are the calculated fields and what are the calculations?
  • Who is responsible for the data?
  • Who do I talk to if I have questions?
  • Do the field names make absolute sense to everyone looking at the report?

Here is another tip, this one is from Harvard Business Review:

Help People Understand Your Data by Making It Relatable
People can’t use data to make decisions if they don’t understand what the numbers mean. To help colleagues wrap their heads around a data point — how big or tiny it is, how important it should seem — compare it with something concrete and relatable. When you’re talking about lengths of time, frame your data in terms of flights between cities, TV episodes, or how long it takes to microwave a bag of popcorn — whatever your audience will know. When you’re talking about size, use places and things that are familiar to listeners. For instance, if you were trying to show a San Francisco audience what 1 million users really looks like, you might mention the San Francisco Giants baseball field, which has 41,915 seats: “Our users would fill the stadium almost 24 times.” Articulating figures this way can keep the narrative from getting lost in the numbers.
This HBR tip is adapted from “3 Ways to Help People Understand What Your Data Means,” by Nancy Duarte

Ultimate – An Excellent Sport (no parents! no refs!)

My son plays the sport called Ultimate. He got involved in college when he lost interest in soccer and baseball — his two high school sports. I had heard about it, but didn’t know a thing about the sport. It was some sort of game that involved a frisbee and was like soccer, basketball, and football.

Photo from Wikipedia: Adam Ginsburg Pictures from an Ultimate Tournament in Dallas

Naturally, I expressed interest in seeing one of his games. His response was clear: “No parents.”

Continue reading “Ultimate – An Excellent Sport (no parents! no refs!)”

St. Paul By Bike: Winding My Way Down On Baker Street

Another fine edition of St. Paul By Bike. This isn’t a part of town that I know very well and enjoyed the tour.

Saint Paul By Bike-Every Block of Every Street

August 4, 2019

17.3 Miles

Macalester-Groveland, West Seventh, West Side

Explored the West Side on this ride. It’s a place I’ve been many times to eat, drink and celebrate Cinco de Mayo, but sporadically on my bike. Therefore I’m familiar with many of the main roads on the West Side – Concord Street, Cesar Chavez Street, Smith Avenue, and of course Robert Street (with which I’m so well acquainted that I call it Bob Street.) But the bulk of the West Side is new to me and stocked with discoveries.

It takes some pedaling, and a stop or two, to get to the
West Side from my house. One pause of note was on Benhill Street, a
Mac-Groveland thoroughfare that curves down among the bluffs and has gorgeous
and large old homes.

An ode to A.A. Milne in the form of a intricate tree carving greets all who pass 15 Benhill Street.
An ode to A.A. Milne in the form of a intricate tree carving greets all who pass 15…

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“the largest-ever double-blind egg-boiling-and-peeling experiment in the history of the universe”

From the New York Times:

With that in mind, for my first column on cooking and science for The New York Times, I decided to undertake my greatest egg-peeling experiment yet, and I have finally come up with some answers. Ninety-six volunteers came through my restaurant, Wursthall, in San Mateo, Calif., in August to peel and taste more than 700 eggs, cooked with various methods, making this — as verified with a cursory search online — the largest-ever double-blind egg-boiling-and-peeling experiment in the history of the universe. (If anyone from Guinness is reading, I have pretty extensive documentation.)

How to Boil the Perfect Egg – The New York Times

How many of us have stood by the sink cursing at the hard boiled eggs that won’t peel easily? Ok, if not actually cursing, then grumbling. In my limited survey, 100% of people who have cooked and peeled hardboiled eggs have not been successful in peeling all the eggs cleanly. All have grumbled out loud about it while peeling.

Finally someone scienced this and gives us answers. Yes, answers, plural. No silver bullet here…

Yeah, I suck, but I’ll get better…

I subscribe to the Havard Business Review (HBR) Management Tip Of The Day. About half the time, it is something that is applicable to my situation. This particular one hits both my work and my writing. The underlining below is mine.

HBR Management Tip Of The Day
When You’re Learning, You Should Feel Uncomfortable
Being a beginner at something can feel awkward and embarrassing, especially if you’re used to being an expert. But those feelings are the inescapable growth pains that come from developing and improving. To get used to the discomfort, know that it’s brave to be a beginner. Exposing your weaknesses and trying new things takes courage. You can make the challenge a bit easier by looking for learning situations where the stakes are low — maybe a class where you’re not expected to be an expert or you don’t know anyone else. If it helps, tell fellow participants that you may mess up whatever you’re about to attempt. Your willingness to take risks may inspire others to do the same. And whatever you do, don’t stop learning. Keep pushing yourself, especially in the areas where you are accomplished, so you can get even better. If you are willing to feel embarrassment and shame, and even to fail, there’s no end to what you can do.
This tip is adapted from “Learning Is Supposed to Feel Uncomfortable,” by Peter Bregman

As with many others, a large part of my difficulty with writing is the “I suck” thoughts that keep coming into my head. It is a constant battle to ignore those and just write. However, to some extent, it is true — I do suck. But I need to remember other things that are true.

  • I suck now when compared to my future writing skills.
  • The majority of people, when they start something new, suck compared to how good they are after they have been doing it for a while.
  • Comparing myself to those that have already paid their dues, put in their time, built their skills, it not a smart move. Should a high school gymnast compare themselves to Simone Biles? Should a new writer compare themselves to Maya Angelou? Of course not, they should compare themselves to how good they were last month and the month before. Learning from others is very good — comparing yourself to others is self-defeating.
  • Put in the time to learn a new skill, be patient with yourself, and, as the above tip says, don’t stop learning.

Hard to start writing
You’re your own worst enemy
Be patient and try