Sunday, August 31, 2008
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Visually Displaying Information
I'm preparing a presentation to my co-workers covering findings from an Edward Tufte lecture I attended last month. Tufte is best known for popularizing the visualization of quantitative information. Below is the classic Joseph Minard graph drawn in 1861. Due to its age, its impact, and its detail, many call this the best graphical depiction of information ever drawn. I've seen "flashier" graphs than this, but I agree that this is very deep and very rich. It tells the story of Napoleon's ill-fated 1812 march to Moscow. The tan line indicates Napoleon's charging army, while the black line indicates his retreating army:
Tufte describes it as follows:
"Beginning at the left on the Polish-Russian border near the Niemen River, the thick band shows the size of the army (422,000 men) as it invaded Russian in June 1812. The width of the band indicates the size of the army at each place on the map. In September, the army reached Moscow, which was by then sacked and deserted, with 100,000 men. The path of Napoleon's retreat from Moscow is depicted by the darker, lower band, which is linked to a temperature scale and dates at the bottom of the chart. It was a bitterly cold winter, and many froze on the march out of Russia. As the graphic shows, the crossing of the Berezina River was a disaster, and the army finally struggled back into Poland with only 10,000 men remaining. Also shown are the movements of auxiliary troops, as they sought to protect the rear and the flank of the advancing army. Minard's graphic tells a rich, coherent story with its multivariate data, far more enlightening than just a single number bouncing along over time. Six variables are plotted: the size of the army, its location on a two-dimensional surface, direction of the army's movement, and temperature on various dates during the retreat from Moscow."
Below is another good example that he points to from the New York Times. Despite the message it's trying to convey, it does a good job of graphically telling a story. It's causal and explanatory, it includes sources, and it makes you want to learn more:
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Jude: Almost, But Not Quite, Here
As of today, Rachel is still quite pregnant with little Jude. According to the doctors, Jude is bigger than the average tyke his age. That fact has Rachel and me worried, so we're hoping and praying for a smooth delivery. We are happy that we found Swedish Hospital in Seattle, the poshest place in the Northwest to give birth. Sure, Swedish has the best doctors, the best facilities, a top intensive care unit, and one single dedicated nurse. But the part that I'm most impressed by is the jacuzzi tub. It's like the W Hotel of hospitals.
On the home front, Jude's room is full of man goodies: a manly crib, manly diaper changing table, a real masculine baby monitor, and a bookshelf full of man-centric baby books like "Excuse Me: A Baby Book of Manners," and "Little Johnny's Pocket Book of Nano-Sciences." Oh yes, we're ready.
Rachel is taking a couple of months off from her work (that's all that America has determined a mother needs), and Rob is taking a couple of weeks off to bond as much as I can before Corporate America demands that he (I) return to work. Little Jude: when you're old enough to read this, we're sorry if our busy lives caused you to be strange. At least we don't live in a country like the UK where mothers get about 9 months longer to bond with their children, because, you know ... they pay higher taxes.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Catch up Post
During the months of July and August, Rachel and Rob kept themselves as busy as they could before Jude's blessed arrival. A few weeks ago, our very great friends, Katherine and Jerrod visited from Houston. Even as I write that, it sounds impressive. Thanks, Jerrod and Katherine, for flying across the country just to visit us for the weekend. We really miss you guys! It's always taking visitors around because we get to see all the best parts of Seattle over again. We saw Snoqualmie Falls, the underground tour, the Pink Door, Macrina Bakery and Bakery Nouveau, Pike Place market, and about half a dozen coffee shops.
The next weekend, Rob's sister Angela came to stay with us for a week. Again, we saw Pike Place market, drove around the area, she went to work with Rachel, and she spent a day at work with Rob (me). That Saturday, the Steele's came down from N. Seattle for a BBQ.
The next weekend, Rob and Rachel drove from Tacoma to Portland, picked up Chris and Jeanne, and drove down to Sunriver, Oregon. All on Friday afternoon! It was a long trip. Actually it reminded me how old I'm getting, and that in the future such a trip should be reserved for a 3-day weekend! But once we arrived at Sunriver (around 1am-ish ... thanks for driving Chris), we visited with about 30 relatives on Rachel's side, hung out in the hot tub, rode bikes, and breethed in fresh pine mountain air. I love that area of Oregon. I could definitely spend a couple of weeks rafting, hiking, and biking. As soon as Little Jude gets bigger, he and I shall do extreme sports together... oh yes, we shall...
Special props to Josh B. - the man of the day for two reasons. Most importantly, for bringing Rock Band, where I could karaoke and jam on a fake guitar, fake bass, or a semi-fake trap set. The whole time I jammed, I couldn't help but think of that one Guitar Hero episode of South Park. The other reason Josh was the man of the hour was because he left from Sunriver for Sacramento. Yes, we lost another Bellamy to a distant land. First Andy and Joanne to Tampa, and now Josh to Sacramento. Hopefully Josh will find his way back up to Portland in the next couple of years. But in the meantime, flights between PDX, SEA, and SAC are pretty cheap.
Angela came up from California to spend a week with us. Also shown is cousin Andrea
Jackson the entertainer
Jerrod & Katherine came from Houston just to visit us. Pretty sweet
Rachel and Jude posing for a photo in Sunriver
Josh riding the cruiser in an upright position in Sunriver
Rob, Natalie, and Josh working on our mad Rock Band skills
Rachel and Jude!