Monday, January 28, 2013

R is for Ridiculous

It seemed like such a good idea.
I mean, it's been years since I finished grad school.   Why not brush up on my analytic skills by taking a free online class? 

And who knows!  Someone may have developed a new statistical technique that I could add to my nerdling tool box, making me even more mighty.

OMG.  I just had a flashback to grad school.  

There were 2 sets of students in my graduate statistics program: the curve busters and the rest of us. 

Of course, one would expect the best and brightest students from other countries to do well in statistics classes at Bowling Green State University.

But if they were so smart, why didn't they go to Harvard, huh?  Or Yale?    
 Why did they have to go bustin' curves in my classes? 

It would be like me taking a Body Jam class in stinkin' Asia!  Completely unfair.

As you can see, I'm over it.

Despite the frightening flashback, I decided to sign up for the class.  And I didn't even think twice when I read the part of the syllabus which said we would be using the R statistical programming language.  I had no idea what the R statistical programming language was, but it was irrelevant to me.

For you see, I am a SAS guru.  SAS is an acronym for Statistical Analysis Software.  SAS is THE statistical software in the world and has been since before Al Gore invented the internet. 

In fact, SAS is to statistical analysis as Kleenex is to facial tissues.  

So I would clearly be using SAS in my online data analysis class.

Imagine my shock when, in the first lesson, I was required to download R.  I politely asked the professor if I could "just use SAS". 

The answer was no.  Apparently we had to be reduced to the least common denominator of statistical analysis software.  Not all students have access to SAS, but they can all download R for free.  Swell.

Someone suggested that I purchase a very helpful book called "R for SAS and SPSS Users".  Thanks but no thanks.  Just how hard can R be? 

I decided to give it a try.

I think another analogy is in order here.  Say you want to take a knitting class.  You get into the class and discover that you have to first learn how raise Alpaca and shear them.  So what if you have a yarn shop down the street!  Fellow student Shanawaz Shaik may not.

I watched a video on R. 

OMG.  Maybe I should just learn Swahili. Or raise Alpaca.  Either option would be easier.

But I'm not a quitter.  I decided to look at the class forums to see if any other students were troubled by the concept of learning R. 

That's when I realized I was back in grad school again.  My fellow students included Rajesh Redhakrishn, Hardek Usesshi, and Mousumi Mukhherjee.  And about 50,000 other students from around the globe.

Stinkin' curve busters.   And R prodigies.

Forget it.  I'm out. 

I'm thinking of taking a cooking class instead. 

One that doesn't require me to first plant a garden. 

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