Monday, September 13, 2010

Statistics Class and Construction: Compare and Contrast

Here, have another gratuitous construction photo.

Plywood has been nailed over the old hardwood. The roll of linoleum awaits installation.

How Statistics Class is Like Construction: Today we were going through a slide deck dated 8/29/09. (A slide deck riddled with formatting errors, by the way. I was a big fan of recycling my calculus slide decks, but I did try to fix the errors from semester to semester. And after the second time I taught the class, I realized that you should never put the date on the slides. I relabeled all of mine "Day 1" and "Day 2" and such.) This year the semester started on August 19. Last year it started on August 18. If we're covering the same material that they did on August 29 of last year, we are behind. I believe that there is a theorem about construction always being behind. The floor was supposed to be put in before the cabinets, which were supposed to arrive a week ago. Then the floor was supposed to be put in last week. At least I am seeing progress on the floor.

How Statistics Class is Not Like Construction: Aside from the schedule issue, there are things going right about construction. The statistics professor has decades of teaching experience -- and has taught this very class several times in the past -- so there is really no excuse for how much of a disorganized mess this class is. It started with a promise of MATLAB. All MATLAB all the time. We are almost a quarter of the way through with the course and still no MATLAB. Instead today we were assigned an ad hoc problem using JMP. Everything that he's teaching is stuff that he says he hates and is the "wrong way" to do statistics -- but he hasn't yet taught us anything about the right way. One of these days I should bring the other laptop with me and use my iSight-periscope to film him teaching class. So far in my experience the CS profs have been average to above average while the statistics profs have been average to below average.

Also the statistics class is free while construction involves me doling out money to various vendors and my contractor in roughly $4000 chunks. At some point I should gather together the various bank and credit card statements and add up how much money this kitchen is costing me. Once the kitchen is done the total costs of repairs, renovations, and remodeling from the past few years will be more than half of what the house cost.