White Rabbit

It’s been a busy morning running errands so I can sit on my butt and do some serious contemplation the rest of the day.

One of my actual skills (as opposed to my fake skills of writing and music-making) is that I have an ability to see latent patterns in the whole cloth. One of the reasons I sought to become a crime scene technician in the 90s, before CSI and all those other knock-off television shows, is because I am actually good at seeing things overlooked by most people. That isn’t to say that I’m not clueless when it comes to interpersonal stuff, but I see overlooked patterns in the world around me and I’ve been able to leverage that to my advantage over time.

For instance, until recently, I was one of the few people at my workplace utilizing and grooving on an advanced statistical technique called Multivariate Analysis (MVA), especially subset tools called Principal Components Analysis (PCA) and Agglomerative Hierarchal Clustering (AHC). I was never very good at calculus, but most folks use software for these things because the software can do in seconds what would take days to do by hand. I have enough underlying understanding to be dangerous.

But AHC and PCA are as much art as they are mathematics. The results themselves just uncover patterns — it takes some comparing the patterns to reality to see what story is being told. And there is always a chance that the story you tell with the data is wrong — especially if you allow yourself to be biased by other information. I generally go into a project asking the team to only tell me as much as I need to know about the data to clean it up and run it, iterate it and interpret it. Don’t tell me your goals or hopes or dreams. Consider me to be the dumbest person in the room that couldn’t possibly understand the 10k-foot picture.

After they get done chuckling about the village idiot, they do just that: let me be stupid. After my first couple of assessments, I usually pick up more details, but I like to go in blind so I don’t bias my interpretation.

That’s the round-about way of getting to the post’s point. I’ve been perceiving patterns around me (non-statistical) and not been able to grasp their meaning or correlations and it bugs me.

But I was typing something quite mundane, really, last night and I had a flash of insight about the matter. So — now that I’ve found a loose thread, I’m going to start chasing things down because this feeling of a pattern emerging that I can’t identify has been bothering me for quite some time. I’m about to jump into a rabbit hole, I think. And as a result, I will either post a lot more content, or less as I look for the bottle that says “drink me” at the bottom.

15 thoughts on “White Rabbit”

    1. Oh, my job is immensely boring — I consider it a treat when I get to pull out the MVA. Most of the time it is, as my senior coworker puts it, “unfucking other people’s cock-ups”. She has a wonderfully colorful vocabulary when she’s not directing it at me. Then, sad Michael.

      Mostly: reviewing data that is usually problem-free, facilitation between various folks and documentation. Whee. QA/QC.

      Liked by 1 person

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