cultivating & crashing

an organic collection of notes, observations, and thoughts

How to stats right

This article in PLOS just became my blueprint for learning after I finish this Master’s. I want to spend as much time as I can learning how to do proper data analysis (both the stats as well as the process) so that I have the skills for when I start looking for jobs because, ultimately, I want to get paid to read, analyze, and interpret numbers.

So I’m adding some items to my technical wishlist:

  1. Github for version control
  2. R Markdown
  3. knitr

Wish me luck!

wishlist 2016





seguir política latinoamericana

D3.js or sick ggplot2

Edit: bash for piping R into Python or D3.js

Edit 2: pagar dos préstamos más chicos



Today I completed all the tests on this website. I made an account, so I look forward to seeing how things (my feelings, my relationships) develop over time.

I got it from this article on attachment by Bethany Saltman. Like her,  I am worried that I’ve inherited a bad attachment style from my parents, especially my dad, but heartened by the possibility that self-awareness and reflexiveness can counter harmful ways of dealing with our children. Hope I have the wherewithal to learn what I wasn’t given in time.

12-hr bread

Mike likes this bread, but does not care for the rosemary, which to him taste like “dried flowers”.

Swiped from elsewhere on the Internet. Posting the recipe here because the original is at the bottom of a very image-heavy page about a Creuset giveaway.

•    3 cups all purpose flour
•    1 3/4 tsp sea salt
•    1/2 tsp active dry yeast
•    11/2 cups room temperature water
•    3/4 cup chopped fresh rosemary

1.    In a large bowl mix flour, sea salt, rosemary and yeast together. Mix in the water and use a spatula to blend until well combined.
2.    Cover the bowl and allow to sit on the counter overnight, at least 12 hours.
3.    Preheat oven to 450 F degrees. While oven is heating, place your Dutch Oven in the oven to allow it to preheat as well.
4.    Remove pot from oven and remove the lid from it.
5.    Flour your work surface as well as hands. Remove your dough from the bowl and form into a ball. This is a no knead recipe, but you may have to fold it a couple times to get it to form the shape you want. Place the dough into the bottom of your Dutch Oven without burning your hands.
6.    Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on, then remove the lid and bake another 15-20 minutes until the bread is golden brown.
7.    Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Rhubarb compote

Got rhubarb from Longview, didn’t know what to do. Whenever you face a new obstacle in life, ask Martha Stewart.


  • 1 3/4 pounds rhubarb, ends trimmed, cut crosswise into 3/4-inch pieces (about 6 cups)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 piece (1 inch) fresh peeled ginger, finely grated

  1. Stir together rhubarb and sugar in a large saucepan (off heat); let stand until rhubarb releases some liquid, about 10 minutes.

  2. Bring rhubarb mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat; simmer, stirring occasionally, until rhubarb has broken down but some whole pieces remain, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

  3. Place ginger in a fine-mesh sieve set over a small bowl. Press down firmly with a spoon until juices are released (to yield about 1 teaspoon). Discard solids. Stir ginger juice into rhubarb mixture.

  4. Let sauce cool completely before serving over ice cream, yogurt, or pound cake, or using to make parfaits.


Celebrating and fighting

It’s about LGBTQ rights but applies to every struggle, every life lived in pursuit of a better world.

We celebrate, and we fight on. It’s half-full, and it’s half-empty. It’s a half-changed world.

Idit Klein


Motivation for better habits comes from self-compassion. Take out the emotional aspect, focus on problem-solving. If messed up, don’t beat yourself up and instead figure out why and figure out how to avoid that in the future.


L’intelligence ce n’est pas ce que l’on sait, mais ce que l’on fait quand on ne sait pas.

Jean Piaget


Lest our measurements of intelligence be confounded by knowledge!

I find this really interesting, because he is not stating what he would consider intelligent to do. Strict epi would have you say you don’t know and back away from the problem, but we need to make decisions all the time for problems on which we don’t have data. So does that mean prudence or daring?


I saw this at the Canadian Museum of Human Rights in Winnipeg. It was available by Health Canada for First Nations people reacting to a very powerful piece that used pieces of residential schools from across Canada. Copying it here because it’s a good thing for anyone who has experienced trauma to keep in their pocket.

Coping with Emotional Reactions

Thinking about how Residential School affected you can lead to positive or negative thoughts or memories. This brochure is designed to help you recognize the reactions you may have.

Revisiting painful memories can be an important step in the healing process. It can also lead to difficult thoughts, feelings and behaviours. You should not be surprised if you experience emotional reactions hours, days or weeks later. This is perfectly normal.

When past emotions or memories are triggered, you need to be kind to yourself and others. It is helpful to have a plan of how to take care of yourself as a way to honour what you have been through.

These are some common reactions you may experience:


Wondering about your spiritual/ religious beliefs, and/or values, doubting the goodness and kindness of people, not feeling in touch with yourself.


Flashbacks, agitation, appetite changes, addictions, quick to anger, isolating self, mood swings, shock, conflict in relationships, can’t concentrate.


Trouble sleeping, nightmares, stomach ache, nausea, general body aches, headaches, crying, panic attacks.


Sadness, anger, frustration, feeling alone, mistrust of others, feelings of guilt, shame, blame, fear, hopelessness, overwhelmed.

Important things to know:

If you experience any of the symptoms listed in this brochure, please know that this is not uncommon. If these symptoms last longer than a few weeks, consider talking to someone who can help you.
It is important to reach out and talk to others for support to help you to deal with these feelings as soon as possible.
Do not remain alone if you are having thoughts of hurting yourself or hurting others. Tell someone you feel safe with. These thoughts are often temporary and talking with someone you trust can really help.
Healing is possible. Though it can sometimes be difficult and painful, healing is a journey that can make life better and more enjoyable.

Emotional Support

When dealing with emotional reactions, it can be helpful to talk to someone you feel comfortable with.

Are you a former residential school student? Is a family member a former residential school student? If so, counselling, emotional support and cultural support are available to you and your family members.

Support is provided through counselling, cultural supports such as Elders or Aboriginal community workers who will listen, talk and provide support.

Some Self-Care Strategies

Here are some suggestions for self care:

Be kind to yourself
Take walks and exercise
Get out on the land
Smudge, pray, sing
Sew, drum, dance
Spend time with family and friends
Laugh, cry, talk
Meditate, sleep, get plenty of rest
Seek spiritual or religious support
Eat healthy foods
Ask for help
Seek counselling


Last week I attended the Canadian Society for Epidemiology and Biostatistics Student Conference, the first conference I traveled to present at. Sandro Galea gave a great keynote speech.

  • population health vs. personalized health
  • mismatch of funds spent and health of populations
  • article in Fortune, “Can genes really predict your health?”
    • our health has deteriorated, but our genes haven’t changed, so why all the fuss (and funding) about them?
  • population estimates do NOT allow us to predict individual event inference (a point about personalized medicine)
  • no lone ranger, no silver bullet. obesity is associated with a HUGE causal web, not one isolated factor
  • book written with Katherine Keyes

slides I was interested in

  • health determinants vs. health expenditures
  • social causes of death vs. others (poverty causes same no. as injury)
  • what percentage of your intelligence depends on genes?
    • it depends on your environment
  • need with grapple with health equity vs. efficiency trade-off
    • people of high SES benefit most from changes
  • embrace intellectual and moral challenges of our time: how to change the socio-economic context that influences health?


  • goalie is medicine. for every one goalie, ten players that are not goalies are needed to move the ball up the field. OTHERWISE WE LOSE.
  • goldfish in a bowl: can exercise, have safe sex, and eat not too much food, but if the water isn’t changed, it will still die.

I liked this talk because it confirmed everything I believe about the social nature of how society functions. our health is mostly determined by our social environment, and it’s those social factors that are at the crux of making sure populations are healthy. poverty stunts, sickens, and kills people. we must create societies that take care of the least privileged, the most vulnerable. otherwise, rich people will enjoy the advances of health while their neighbours rot in misery.

We had a session in which we spoke to a group of people who work in different epidemiology/public health positions.

National Collaboration Centre (NCC)

  • different centres in different provinces
  • internships
  • funded by Public Health Agency of Canada

data management and data cleaning are 90% of the work that must be done in data analysis. get experience working with horrible data sets.

Public Health Ontario epidemiologists – mailing list, great resources

make yourself stand out in an interview, educate yourself well about the place/department. also, want to be flexible, be a generalist with enough knowledge about a lot of things, not in-depth for one topic (advice is diametrically opposed to that for someone who wants to continue in academia).

working in government

  • BUREAUCRACY. the right thing to do takes 10 years, but it happens! sometimes even in just 2 years.
  • important impact on populations

Kue Young

  • FYI: WHO makes up data where none exists, read the fine print and footnotes of everything you use
  • Global Health Observatory data is cool, check it out
  • beware the reification of stats due to pretty charts and maps (ie they become true because they are visualized)
  • data don’t exist in a social vacuum

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