stick it to the man(ual)

I failed the first statistics test I ever wrote. It was open book (insert sad trombone sound).

This is the only test I’ve ever failed. I had no excuse other than that I firmly believed the material refused to get inside my head. (IT was stubborn… not me. Of course this is not an excuse that any self-respecting professor will accept, so I do not recommend it.) In the end, I just barely passed the course, but I don’t remember the exact details of how I managed that as I’ve buried the experience pretty deep. Or at least I had. This program, and in particular this thesis, have caused many of my previous apprehensions about statistics to resurface.

Things that keep me up at night: am I actually seeing patterns in the data? Is the dataset big enough?

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slow and steady wines the race

…or so they say. Though it doesn’t feel like we’re winning any races as we wait for the grapes to ripen. (The wining, however, is well underway!)

Proof that we’ve had lots of rain this year; this data shows the rain this year (green) compared to the five year average (grey), as well as temperature ranges for this year (yellow) and the 5 year average (blue).

We’ve had a lot of rain through the summer, nearly twice as much as the average rainfall during April to August. Temperatures have been close, but not quite as hot, and the cooler days have been a little more frequent than usual as well. Fortunately for us, September is proving to be slightly drier than usual (quick, knock on wood, the month isn’t over yet!), and we’re all holding our breaths that the weather holds out long enough for the grapes to ripen nicely without any diseases. Read More

a county affair

In case you’re interested, the thesis is coming along beautifully… and when I say that I mean that local business are being well supported as I shack up to use free wifi and carve chunks out of said thesis for hours at a time. No charts or graphs to speak of yet (it is considered passé to chart someone else’s data in a scientific thesis, when one will have one’s own in short order), but I’m busily refamiliarizing myself with the statistical analysis tools I will need to understand my future results.

I need charts like this… who knows what kind of results I might come up with?!

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the french clos-nection

Once upon a time there was a winery in Niagara named Le Clos Jordanne. It was named thus as the vineyards were surrounded by walls – the French definition of a clos – and was located near the Niagara town of Jordan. Destined for greatness, it was first created as the brainchild of Inniskillin (famed for its ice wine and a subsidiary of Vincor, a Canadian wine company) and Boisset France (a large wine producer, dominant in Burgundy) in order to make world-class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in Ontario. With the earliest vineyards only planted in 2000, the winery was already winning awards by 2005 – the totally famous Judgement of Montreal (maybe only to a select few Canadians though…) awarded Le Clos Jordanne the top award for white wines, among a group of predominantly French and Californian wines. (Don’t worry Bordeaux friends and oak lovers, the 2004 Mouton Rothschild won for the reds…)

What could have been: a scale model of Frank Gehry’s design for the winery, which never came to fruition. A stunning construction, even if my nieces prefer the classic (“It’s a princess castle!”) châteaux of Bordeaux (Château Pichon Baron pictured here). We can negotiate when design for Château Cat begins.

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under pressure

In theory I have lots of time on my hands. I only work 8 hours a day (unlike my previous jobs, it’s a bit tough to bring winery work home). This should mean I have loads of time to write my thesis, enjoy my summer, relax. So of course, I promptly joined a barbershop chorus. This is a style of music I’ve never worked with before…isn’t barbershop just for men? (you ask) Actually, no – it’s a style of a capella harmonization with four voices, which can be sung by male, female or mixed groups.

Easy mistake to make.

Though I’ve sung in choirs for years, this is really different, and very challenging. I’m singing the part of the baritone (though an octave higher than the male baritone voice), and its function is to fill out the chord (the famous barbershop seventh) that the other three voices – tenor, lead and bass; regardless of whether males or females – are singing.

There is NO vibrato. This element will be tough to eliminate after years of classical training, which I’m starting again with a great teacher in Niagara. The vibrato comes so naturally, even my Iron Maiden covers 5 years ago featured it. (We were probably the only Maiden tribute band with much of that… Metal opera: Viking helmets meet headbanging! …..Also, very dangerous…perhaps protective eyewear would also be in order.) And there are far more sequins in barbershop performance than I’m used to – though my short time in Niagara means I’m unlikely to besparkle myself just yet.

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