Some Bacon and a brief comic interlude. . .

So, my last post was the all time highest post at downwithtime, with 3000-some hits and counting.  Most of that traffic came from, which is a sort of link aggregator with a social component.  While it gets some press for some unsavoury behaviour from participants, it also has some nice communities for people interested in geography, geology, statistics and paleo-everything.   Worth checking out, but be forewarned, there’s a lot of chaff.

A picture of my laptop
Figure 1. Duct tape? Check. Visible wires? Check. Broken plastic? Check. Missing screws? Check. Broken flange thingy? Check. I present to you, a heavily used research grade laptop.

Two things I want to talk about today.  One serious, one not so serious.  I am embarking on a quest to Bacon-ize pollen core records from across eastern North America, and have finally started in earnest.  Sadly, there’s not really much use in putting together a paper about the work, we established priors in our recent QSR paper, although we could probably cobble something together.  My interest in doing this is more to assist in future PalEON activities, where the uncertainties can be used explicitly (compare this to the Neotoma data that does not include uncertainty in the age-models), and also to assist other researchers.  Likely the data will be submitted to Dryad, Neotoma and whatever other data repository will take it!

There’s a few fiddly issues in doing this.  There are a lot of cores (almost 200) to process, and some of the cores can take a long time to run.  I also want to keep a reliable data trail so that there can be some assessment of how and why certain parameters for Bacon were chosen, so the R code to run all the cores needs to be able to run from scratch, but also needs to reflect some of the decisions I’ve made.  At this point I’m over 24hrs into the processing and I’ve got 15 cores done.  Clearly this is a problem screaming out for multi-threading and I might turn it over to Condor if that will help free up some CPU space on my poor pathetic laptop.

The other reason I wanted to post something was purely non-research related.  I was looking for an old Family Circus cartoon I had seen years ago in a copy of McGill University’s Red Herring but came across the Comics Curmudgeon.  It’s been going since 2004, which means that for eight years I’ve been reading un-funny comics without the reward of this hilarious website.   Seriously, you can’t beat this stuff:

Today’s Archie may be telling us that in times of idleness we desire business and vice-versa, so that we are never truly at ease; it may be making a larger point that the things we desire will never be as sweet as we imagine; or it may be more specific, showing us that Archie himself cannot stand to spend quiet time with himself without confronting his own essential emptiness. This is pretty heavy stuff, particularly for Reggie, whose own obnoxious egotism has largely shielded him from any kind of depressing introspection. From: The Comics Curmudgeon, September 3, 2012.

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Assistant scientist in the Department of Geography at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Studying paleoecology and the challenges of large data synthesis.

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