Everyone else has opinions, I have data! I give partial credit to Watts S. Humphrey and W. Edward Deming for that one. I met and spoke with Watts on several occasions at Carnegie Mellon and am still influenced by his dedication to metrics and improvement. I know, data & metrics, sounds boring – I’ll try to keep this fun.

In 2014 I completed over 25 items from my dream list. Some big, some small, but I kept moving and focused all year long and had a crazy great year with so much to be grateful for. I have a list of dreams in 2015 that is just as long – and this time next year I’ll have another 25 things completed. What’s the secret? I keep this list visible, look at it all the time, share it with others, know when to adjust it, and constantly keep moving forward knowing that small steps are better than being paralyzed by not knowing exactly what the big picture or long-term plan is. I have smaller, repetitive items on my list. And I have some big, scary items on my list for this year. So what’s big and scary this year? Under the assumption that I stay healthy…I plan to run my first marathon in May. Want some data for why this is scary?

I started using a FitBit last year and also started tracking my runs with mapmyrun. Looking at all the data for 2014, my average run was 2.03 miles and my longest total run in 2014 was 4.23 miles. Yep, 4.23 miles. That’s it. I ran 85 times for a total of 201 miles (including 30+ days of “streaking” at least 1-mile as part of a challenge). Since I typically ran over lunch I just went out and back real quick. Please don’t do the math and tell me how much further I have to run to complete a marathon. I used FitBit for a good part of the year too. Fitbit tracks all steps and said I went 1,668 miles and took over 3.6 million steps when I was wearing it. Sweet. Fun data.

I’m not sure what changed but for some reason a marathon (which has never even sounded close to being a good idea), doesn’t seem that daunting. Funny, given that only just today I finished the official “Week 1” of the 18-week training plan. I’m sure I’ll soon be faced with reality but it’s fun to think “I got this” for as long as that will last. I set out to prove something to myself last week since I had never ever run a total 26.2 miles in the span of one week before. I intentionally slowed down my runs (I still need to slow them down more) and was relieved when the week’s summary came back showing I ran a marathon in just under 4 hours – divided up by 6 nights of rest 🙂

marathon week

But you can’t trust all data. Christopher’s team played basketball a few weeks ago and they must of had dads from the other team keeping score. Before the first half was over they had the score at 111 to 6. And it didn’t seem to bother them one bit. At least they were consistent, when we should have gone to double digits at 10 they also gave us an extra one-hundred points, so the final score for a 28 minute game was something like 126 to 115.


I got my chance to keep score this morning. My early days with the HeathKit prepared me well for the intimidating user interface of the Daktronics 3000. I think the “3000” stood for how many years old the score keeping system is.



Ready for more data? How many plows does it take to remove an inch or two of snow from the highway in Minnesota? One? Two? Three? More? Looked out my window at work and I almost missed their parade! I now have a data point showing where traffic jams start.


How about this for data…an hour or so of work at Feed My Starving Children, packed enough food for hundreds of meals. Genesis helped us and we packed enough food to feed seven people, every day, for an entire year (or, hopefully help feed their family and village throughout the year).


Colleen collected lots of data over the past few months while working in Beth’s lab. She wrote it all up and created an awesome presentation for the science fair. She did a fantastic job preparing for the science fair and ended up winning first place for her age and area (8th grade Life Science). Nice work!!!


We’ll have to continue to gather data but it appears that the rule is they only let one person win each year whose name either doesn’t contain a ‘v’ or start with ‘s’ 😉 (the other winners were: Spicher; Syed; Varun Saini; Smrithi; Verma; Anvi; Voehl; and Janvi Shah)

Speaking of Colleen…I realized that I asked her a bunch of birthday questions last year but never actually put them on my blog (oops). Here they are:

Colleen’s 14th Birthday

My favorite food is…apple sauce
When I grow up I want to be a…scientist (not sure which kind)
My favorite restaurant is…Punch Pizza
My favorite possession is…phone
My favorite color is…yellow
My favorite song is…Imagine Dragons
My favorite book is…The Selection
My favorite movie is…Fault in Our Stars
My favorite holiday is…Christmas
My favorite season is…Fall
My favorite thing to do is…dance
If I could do anything tomorrow I would…hang out with friends
It would be a really good year this year if…I get on the dance team

Some data is more subjective. Here’s Megan simultaneously using and loving her Christmas gifts (she requested not to be shown in this picture). She’s baking cookies and also making candy from her Candy Chemistry set. There’s a big jar of blue sugar water in front of her to make crystal candy (4 cups sugar to 2 cups water – ick).


Here’s data showing what happened to our backyard when I accidently left the hose on overnight. Yikes. I hope the neighbors don’t notice.


Ice Castles came to Eden Prairie this year. They were cool to see but not quite as neat as I was hoping. We had a fun time and got some good photos.


Megan chose to stay home so we replaced her in this photo 🙂



One down, eleven to go 🙂 In theory you’re supposed to travel all over Minnesota to find these scavenger hunt items, but it would be great if more of them come to Eden Prairie instead.


Here’s a data point showing that Genesis will be in trouble when she is ready to fly back to Venezuela. She arrived to Minnesota carrying two bags…when she brought everything up from the basement to move into the new host family’s house in January it took over 10 ten trips and was about 20 bags of stuff. Uh….good luck with that. We were all shocked. The other host family was worried they would have to go home to get a bigger car…but we packed it in and still had room for their kids too!


Not sure if Megan was going to go bowling or finish the snowball fight with Christopher based on the size of that mega-snow-ball she was building.


Christopher proudly made Tenderfoot in scouts (psst, don’t call it Stinkyfoot or Tenderheart – both are close and possibly accurate, but not quite correct). He actually had it all done months ago but due to football, wrestling and basketball we haven’t been able to make the meetings. Congratulations Christopher!


And here’s some data from Lumosity. Who knows if I’m really getting smarter and if these charts will go up and up regardless of what I do. But I do like that it asks about sleep and happiness. When I first started it I was grumpy most days so that has improved over time (I really needed those two and a half weeks off at Christmas). I also still am reminded that I need to get more sleep…got to make that happen. My favorite thing to do is compare my stats to the age group that mom is in to see how I compare 🙂


One Response to “Data”

  1. Dad & Grandpa T says:

    I watched the men’s downhill races from Vail on TV yesterday. I looked for you, but didn’t see you. I was hoping to see you as a spectator, not a contestant – 75 mph – no thanks. It was at the Beaver Creek area, so maybe you weren’t even close to it. Vail looks like a huge ski area. Hope you are skiing safe and have a great time. Looked like the temp was a balmy 42F. Should have been great for skiing.

    We are getting more snow. If we get the 10 – 14 in. more this weekend, that will put us at over 60 in. in a two week period. Not sure why, but so far I’m not sick of snow. If this snow is still around in May I’m sure I’ll change my tune.

    If the topic is data, I can add some. In the past couple of weeks I’ve pitched a couple boxes of video tapes, numerous boxes of paper, one trunk load of my electronic collectables and a couple shoe boxes of audio cassettes. Guess I’m in a cleaning out mood. Mom hopes it continues. Someday, I’m sure you and Dan may be glad I’ve made the effort. It’s been time consuming though as I’m trying to be selective in what I discard. My ultimate goal is to “digitize” many of the tapes once I get it all sorted. BTW – I DID NOT include the HeathKit in my trunk load of goodies. I was glad to see your time on the HeathKit many years ago is still paying off.

    Thank you for showing where traffic tie ups originate. I’ve often wondered. I also wonder if one of the questions on the snow plow application is “are you a jerk?” I was in a parade of vehicles 3 weeks ago behind a plow in New Ipswich that didn’t exceed 18 mph for 10 miles. He had numerous large places where he could have pulled off, but I think he was enjoying being “king of the road.” I also wonder if our driver hides up around the hill until I finish clearing the end of our drive and then enjoys packing as much snow as he can back in. I know they don’t have an easy job, but it seems they could have a little sympathy for the other poor slobs dealing with the elements too.

    Did Megan make the right decision regarding the Ice Castles? I’ve asked mom if she wants to go up to the Ice Castle at Loon, but we haven’t gone yet. I guess so far we’ve been having fun making our own snow castle clearing the drive. Congrats to Colleen on her science fair first place. That’s awesome! I always enjoy the birthday favorites and hope her dream to make the dance team comes true. Congrats to Chris too for making Tenderfoot. I hope he is enjoying scouts and continues to advance. Looking at his book, scouting offers so much more today than when I was a scout. Of course, I probably didn’t take full advantage of what was offered then. Is the worthless box still as worthless?? Glad to see Megan is enjoying her candy chemistry set. Who is the chief taster? Megan or Chris?

    Glad to see you are all taking proper precautions packing food. Sometimes I can’t sleep at night thinking of Duke and Suzie serving us food in the high school cafeteria with bare heads and hands. That was over 50 years ago and the thought still haunts me.

    Good luck with your running goals. Just thinking of a marathon makes me tires. 30+ days of streaking? Don’t think I’ve heard about that. You’ll have to fill us in sometime. Speaking of running, my fingers have run on long enough.

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