Friday Night is for Fighting

…or something

What I’m Watching
I took Helen and Millie to Bemidji State’s home opener for football tonight; Millie was a champ and had a blast. We stayed through the first quarter and then left to go have dinner at Burger King. I was really surprised we got a full quarter in; I thought Millie might lose it or just run around and be crazy to the point where I would just want to get her out of there far sooner. But, she was awesome. BSU was ahead 13-0 when we left (the last play we saw was them missing a PAT after their second touchdown), but they needed a touchdown in the last minute to overcome a 16-point fourth-quarter rally from Upper Iowa to win 25-23. Even with that TD, UIU blew a snap on a last-second field goal attempt that would’ve won it. Ah, Division II football and its agonizingly unreliable kicking game.

What I’m Reading
I started reading Nathan Yau’s Visualize This: The FlowingData Guide to Design, Visualization and Statistics tonight; I’ve been fascinated by data visualization for a long time, but have never taken the time to learn much about it. I learned about Yau’s website, FlowingData, a few months ago and have been following it since then. I’ve been tempted by the book for some time, and finally picked it up when I had to drop a ridiculous amount of money on books for graduate school anyway. I read the first chapter, and then was inspired to throw together this down and dirty comparison graph:

The numbers are a complete fabrication (although that final number of 600 figures at age 40 is probably not that far off), but the story the graphs tell is true — I got my first G.I. Joe toys at age 10 in 1982, and bought them through elementary and junior high school (and to a lesser extent into high school). As I was a kid, and G.I. Joe toys were for yard wars, guns and other accessories vanished as a matter of practice. I quit buying stuff for a long time, and picked up collecting again when the Spy Troops line was released in 2002 — toy collecting + grownup income = huge spike in size of collection. But, that spike also went hand-in-hand with accessory storage solutions — so while the size of my collection skyrocketed, the number of lost accessories over time flattened considerably.

The data tells a story. I absolutely love this stuff. Part of the reason I wanted to get this book was to try and learn some more about this so I can look for ways to apply data visualization at work. There are a lot of applications for this — particularly with enrollment data — and I’d love to find the time to appropriately dig into it and visualize some of our trends.

What Else I’m Reading
Nothing, really. I think I’ve got four or five weeks of G.I. Joe comics piled up in my inbox on the bedroom bookcase that I haven’t read yet. I just haven’t taken the time to read them; work’s been amazingly busy, and I just haven’t bothered with them. A three-day weekend seems like as good a time as any to catch up…

Andy Bartlett

By day, I am the executive director of communications and marketing at Bemidji State University. The rest of the time, I'm a husband, father of three, and proponent of super heroes, lasers, space ships and explosions.

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