A touch of poetry

I’ve been doing a lot of work in Program MARK recently, a software program that enables you to calculate parameters like survival or detectability for animals that are marked and then re-encountered at a later time (I’m trying to see if we can use methods like these on some of the smaller mammals we sight in the camera trap photos). Sounds fun, right? A lot time spent staring at a screen full of numbers, manipulating a parameter here, adding a covariate there, trying to fit more and more appropriate models to the data. Anyhow, I was messing about trying to figure out how to incorporate age-structured temporal variability into my design matrix (don’t worry, I hardly know what all that means either) the other day when I stumbled across something quite delightful — someone has secreted away a small collection of poems about the angst of modeling in the program help files! Statisticians are people after all!

Musings at Midnight

Here I sit before the computer and MARK,
Hoping the circuitry in my brain would spark —
Neurons could fire, light bulbs would flash,
My brain running faster than the 50-yard dash.
And of the billions of models — one of each kind —
H-sub-phi-one-S-slash-t would be the model that I’d find.
Its bias was low, its precision was high,
And no other QAICc was nigh.

Well, back to work. I finish this rhyme,
Having made sure I covaried by writing by time.

Jennifer Ballard.

Vaguely scratching
Numbers wild
Never matching
Counting crows
Or eels electric
Badly biased
Or vaguely valid
Cucumber Salad

Droege, S.


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