Pre-New Year’s Notes

Dear readers,

It’s been almost a week since my last post, so I figured it was time to find something to say. First of all, I get to see Dusty for the first time since break started, and we’re going to celebrate New Years together. I’ve been waiting so long to see him, I can’t wait. I’ve still got two and a half weeks of break left, and I’m so bored of being home, there’s nothing to do. Since I haven’t been able to work over break, I’ve got two blank pay periods to look forward to after classes start again, meaning that I’m going to be incredibly broke for a while. Since I don’t plan on making another post until after the new year has begun, I’ll go ahead and throw in a list of helpful tips for 2016, courtesy of my friends at BuzzFeed. I wish you all a happy New Year, whether you spend it celebrating with friends, reminiscing with family, or relaxing alone. Be safe, and be happy.

 

17 Resolutions You’ll Actually Want To Keep

 

Until later,

Garrett

Ant-Man – Review

Do you ever just get that craving for an exceptionally mediocre movie? You know, kind of like that feeling you get when you’re binge watching Drake and Josh reruns on a Sunday afternoon? Well look no further than Marvel’s Ant-Man! This movie’s got it all, folks – an almost-interesting protagonist, just enough action to keep you from slipping into a coma, a plot that follows story beats like it was ripped straight from “How to Write Film Scripts for Dummies,” and so much cheese you’ll regret bringing a couple bottles of wine. If  you saw Paul Rudd on the poster for this movie and had some second thoughts about it, well I’m here to confirm those notions of apprehensions. Ant-Man is pretty much the most Paul Rudd movie ever. It should really be called Ant-Guy, or possibly even Ant-Bruh, to be quite honest. You won’t hate yourself afterward, and you’ll be able to cross it off the bottom of that “haven’t gotten around to it yet” To-Watch list, but Ant-Man‘s got “Redbox and chill” written all over it.

The first red flag (aside from just the fact that an Ant-Man movie exists) came within the first 5 minutes of the movie. Michael Douglas (made young again through the power of CGI) wastes no time establishing an absolutely ludicrous tone that I knew in my loins the film was not going to maintain. Playing the role of Hank Pym (the original Ant-Man), Douglas casually slams a man’s head into a table with all the swagger of a WWE performer. Coupled with how corny the set looked, doubt slowly started to creep in. Then in the next scene, Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang character is released from an insultingly childish depiction of San Quentin State Prison before proceeding to have conversation after conversation of expository dialogue opposite various cliches and weirdly blatant racial stereotypes. Just another summer movie popcorn movie that assumes general audiences are too stupid to piece anything together on their own, so every detail is spoon fed; all of it hamfisted to hell too, of course. Seriously. So much ham! Someone with a kind heart should really show this movie in a homeless shelter for the holidays, please. No one will go hungry this Kwanzaa. The best part is this process is repeated with Hank Pym, Wasp, and Yellowjacket as well. None of it clever, all of it cringey. The movie feels like it doesn’t really start until 20-30 minutes in because we have to go through the motions of watching Down-and-Out Hero Plot #3.  And even then, the movie just transitions to Superhero Origin Plot #2, where we get to watch the time-tested and never-stale “new to my powers,” scene, as well as a training montage. To be fair, Guardians of the Galaxy‘s terrible introductory scenes still beat this in terms of sheer cringe value, but just the fact that I’m having to draw parallels with the overhyped feces that was GotG doesn’t speak well for Ant-Man.

If there’s one thing that Ant-Man does right, it’s making Ant-Man’s powers actually seem cool. No sarcasm. Honestly, despite how little life P Rudd brings to the Ant-Man character, I think my 5th grade self would’ve thought having a shrinking suit would be awesome. The suit is actually pretty nice too. It’s kind of got that Captain America color desaturation thing going on to make it seem realistic (?), but at least it’s better than this:

Also, to the benefit of the movie, rather than having the protagonist create the suit and ant-telepathy tech himself (and waste even more time) Paulie Rudderson just pilots it. In doing so, the movie allows audiences to discover the powers of this lesser-known character alongside the hero of the movie. It almost feels too smart for this movie when I say it out loud. Hmmm… I’m gonna have to balance that out with a harsh critique. Ahem… That Baskin Robbins shill was GROSS. An entire scene dedicated to product placement, guys?? When did Adam Sandler start his contract at Marvel Studios? I’ve seen less Baskin Robbins promotions INSIDE of Baskin Robbins. No, that scene wasn’t funny. No, I will not go to Baskin Robbins . Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. F*ck that scene. F*ck it in the nose and between the toes.

I didn’t have massive expectations for Ant-Man, but I wish someone would have warned me about Evangeline Lilly’s portrayal of Wasp. For the majority of her time on screen, she’s either being overly dramatic or just plain stiff. The writing doesn’t help. It’s embarrassingly obvious her character was shoehorned in as supplementary “drama,” with a weak, inconsequential subplot about her and her father’s terse relationship. She must have needed some more lines, because aside from this, she’s just the person who trained Ant-Man. (By punching him in the face?)So we all have to suffer as a result. My recommendation for anyone interested in seeing this movie (because you would feel like an incomplete nerd to not have all the MCU under your belt) is to take care of any of those other things in your life that you need to get done. Out of popcorn? Time to microwave some more. Got some emails you need to check? You’re good, fam. Whether you got a load of laundry to check on or just have to drop the load of a lifetime, this is an overall great movie to run your errands/take a shit to. <<quote on the cover of the DVD box.

Taking all this into account, there are some moments that made me realize that I was still alive. As I mentioned before, the fight scenes are pretty neat, and Pudd Ruddershins getting shrunken down to Planck length near the end is a visual trip. Stan Lee’s hilarious cameo is one of his best. Michael Douglas is still too cool to hate. And though Michael Pena’s silly Mexican was groan-inducing, his schtick where his voice comes out of other peoples’ mouths is funny enough. That’s about it though. If you can stomach telenovela melodrama, cardboard cutout characters, a child actor more effective than rat poison, a mustache twirler of a villain, and an unoriginal script written by what must be high schoolers in the bodies of Hollywood screenwriters, then by all means watch Ant-Man. At the end of the day, you’re just watching a slightly lamer version of a movie you’ve seen before. Personally, I can think of another movie I’d rather give my repeat views to…

Obligatory Number at the End: 5.75/10

Lecture Presentations

Part I – Descriptive Statistics

Getting Started

  • Lecture presentation (PDF)
  • Data is everywhere:
    • Video (YouTube): Roisin Donnelly (P&G) on using data to win business
      • Let’s think about this for a minute: Every single transaction that relates to P&G products (its own product, its complements, or its substitutes) becomes a DATA POINT (oh, learn this term… we will use it frequently) for the marketing team at P&G. They first have access to their own sales (and inventory) data, and they will do their best to collect data about other related products. Why? What are they going to do with all these data?
    • Article (Bloomberg): UPS crunching data to make routes more efficient
    • Video (YouTube): WITF’s report on the ORION system at UPS
      • Let’s think about this for a minute: The above article and video illustrate how applied mathematicians DEFINE the data that can be used to drive smarter, COLLECT the data from their customers, vehicles, and drivers, ORGANIZE and VISUALIZE the data, and eventually ANALYZE the data points to make routes more efficient.
  • Required reading: GS1 and GS2 (pp. 2-4)
  • Wait a minute… why did we start with data, again!? Well, because we wanted to get to know what STATISTICS is all about:

STATISTICS helps us transform data into useful information for decision making.

DESWebsite HeaderCRIPTIVE STATISTICS provides some information about the variations (e.g., the mean and standard deviation of the annual earnings of the OU alumni), and INFERENTIAL STATISTICS provides some information about the population using sample observations (e.g., testing whether the choice of major has any impacts on the life time earning of the OU alumni, using only a sample of alumni).

 

Statistician-OU-CreateThe DCOVA framework:

Those who work with data are typically involved in either of these activities: Defining data, Collecting the defined data, Organizing the collected data, Visualizing the organized data, or Analyzing them using the tools that are developed in Inferential Statistics.

Chapter 1. Defining and Collecting Data

  • Lecture Presentation (PDF)
  • Highlights:
    • The difference between CATEGORICAL (qualitative) and NUMERICAL (quantitative) variables
    • The difference between DISCRETE and CONTINUOUS numerical variables
      • Note: Given their decimal precision, measures of income and expenditure are often considered Continuous though they appear to be the result of counting
    • The difference between POPULATION and SAMPLE.
      • Note: We are only interested in the populations (I cannot put enough emphasis on this!). We employ samples along with Inferential Statistics techniques to understand the populations better.
    • The difference between Non-probability and Probability Sampling
    • Probability Sampling:
      • SIMPLE RANDOM SAMPLING and SYSTEMATIC SAMPLING: In these two methods, we neglect the characteristics of the items in population when we draw a random sample. Items are nothing to us but bunch of IDs.
      • STRATIFICATION and CLUSTERING: In these two methods, we consider the characteristics of the items in the population. Taking the Gender Composition of the population of voters into account, for instance, a random sample can be chosen to represent the voters in the US. This is called Stratification. Taking the share of each State in the population of voters into account, another random sample can be chosen to represent the voters in the US. This is called Clustering.
  • A class activity on Probability Sampling (PDF)
  • Homework: Chapter one (MyStatLab)

Chapter 2. Organizing and Visualizing Data

  • Lecture Presentation (PDF)
  • Highlights:
    • The FREQUENCY DISTRIBUTION and HISTOGRAM are the most important tools that we have learned about in this chapter. These tools are widely used for organizing and visualizing data. Make sure that you know how to construct the frequency, relative frequency, cumulative, and relative cumulative distributions. Also, make sure that you are able to read and understand histograms, polygons, and cumulative polygons.
      • Start with this class activity (PDF) to construct a frequency distribution
      • Then, take a look at this example (XLSX) to learn how the Frequency Function works in Excel. To download this file on your computer, go on File, then select Download as, and select Microsoft Excel (.xlsx).
      • Finally, refer to this example (XLSX) to learn how you can make use of the tools that are available in Analysis ToolPack to draw histograms in Excel (using Windows computers). To download this file on your computer, go on File, then select Download as, and select Microsoft Excel (.xlsx).

RoadThe Road Ahead:

In near future, you will see that PROBABILITY DISTRIBUTION and the graphical illustration of DENSITY FUNCTION are closely related to FREQUENCY DISTRIBUTION and HISTOGRAM, respectively.

  • Highlights (continued):
    • The SUMMARY TABLE (tabulation) and CONTINGENCY TABLE (cross tabulation) are also among the important tools that are introduced in this chapter. Make sure that you know how to construct, read, and understand these tables.
      • Make use of PivotTable tools in Excel to construct summary and contingency tables using this data set (XLSX). To download this file on your computer, go on File, then select Download as, and select Microsoft Excel (.xlsx).
      • Also, make sure that you know how to read and understand bar charts, pie charts, Pareto charts, and side-by-side bar charts.
    • There are also two types of graphs that can be used to visualize the variations in two numerical variables: SCATTER PLOT and TIME SERIES. It is important that you can read and interpret both of them.
  • Who’s who: Vilfredo Pareto

Chapter 3. Numerical Descriptive Measures

  • Lecture Presentation (PDF)
  • Highlights:
    • The idea behind measures of central tendency and measures of dispersion:
      • A sample may include multiple observations with a particular characteristics that can take different numerical values; e.g., a randomly selected group of baseball players hit different number of home-runs in a given season. (Click here for a small data set containing the number of home-runs for 20 randomly selected MLB players in 2014 season.)
      • As discussed in Chapter 2, we are able to construct a frequency distribution, which can also be illustrated via a histogram, using numerical variations in a sample. This would be the best way for us to understand how data are distributed. This class activity is a good reminder.
      • A frequency distribution, however, often provides too much information. Alternatively, we can make use of only two measures to understand how data are distributed. For instance:
        • We can make use of MEAN and STANDARD DEVIATION to measure central tendency and dispersion, respectively.
        • Alternatively, we can make use of MEDIAN and INTERQUARTILE RANGE for central tendency and dispersion, respectively.
      • You need to make sure that you know how these measures are defined, what the differences are between them, and how Excel can be used to compute these measures.
    • Mean and Median are both measures of central tendency. Mean is very useful in making decisions. It is also a very useful measure in inferential statistics. However, it is sensitive to outliers (i.e., the observations that take extreme numerical values).  Median is very useful in describing the data, and it is not sensitive to outliers.
      • StatTalk Videos: Go on MyStatLab, and watch the following video clips:
        • What is an Average? (3:41)
        • When Should You Use a Mean and When Should You Use a Median? (3:42)
        • Variation 1: Introduction and Quartiles (4:57)
        • Variation 2: Standard Deviation (With a Digression on Eggroulette) (4:55)
    • Standard Deviation measures the dispersion around mean, and Inter-Quartile Range measures the dispersion around median. They are both very useful in describing the data: the greater the Standard Deviation or Inter-Quartile Range, the greater the dispersion.

Thank Goodness

I leave for England in 19 days — yay!!!!!

IMG_3854

I still have a ton of things to do (there is literally a two page to-do list sitting next to me) and I haven’t even started considering thinking about packing yet. But I’m very excited to go. I’ve always wanted to go to England, for as long as I can remember, and I’m finally getting to go! It is a kind of dream-come-true. But when four-year-old Margaret was dreaming about flying off to the old country, she didn’t really think about the details. I wish she had!- there would be a lot less for me to do!

In all honestly it doesn’t feel real yet and I’m not sure if it will until I get there.

thankgoodness2

But if that’s the case, I only have to wait 19 more days!!!

Reflections on a Special Semester

This semester has been a whopper. I’ve learnt a lot – including the “proper” spellings of many words.

There’ve been quite a few listicles lately, so this will be more of a, let’s say… stream of consciousness post (throwback to our Faulkner unit, 11th grade English).

I came into this semester running away from some things – responsibility, a familiar (and therefore slightly less magical) place, my own fears. I thought a new place would bring a miraculous awakening of purpose, which was flawed logic. But surprisingly, this hope came true anyway.

Let me clarify – it had nothing to do with my move of house, university, country, and continent. It had nothing to do with buying a plane ticket and running away.

It had everything to do with surrounding myself with an entirely new environment made up of new people, new challenges, and new responsibilities. This could’ve happened anywhere. It could’ve happened back in Oklahoma. It was inevitable, this thing called “growing up.”

I learned how to pay rent, how to set up a recurring phone bill, how to grocery shop and feed myself (that could do with some revision, but I’m not dead yet), how to navigate airports alone, how to budget feeling comfortable in my new home for a year against wasting money on unnecessary home goods. Still, these are lessons everyone needs to learn, and lessons we all eventually do learn.

My first year in university was in many ways just a beta version of real life. I lived on campus in dorms with lots of slightly frightened kids far from home, eating from a pretty comprehensive meal plan. There was absolutely no need to leave our beautiful campus if I didn’t wish to, which was great – albeit slightly problematic.

In the end, all it meant was I learned these lesson a little late. That’s ok – what’s important was learning them eventually.

I’ve realized it feels great to finally feel like an adult. This has probably been my best semester yet. Along with growing up a bit, I’ve made new friends, come to really miss and appreciate the friends I have in Texas and Oklahoma, gotten to know a new place like the back of my hand, and, probably most importantly, figured out an academic path that makes me really, really happy and excited for the future. I might even be looking into enrolling in a master’s degree in computer science (keep that one hush-hush; we’ve seen my plans change pretty radically over the past 19.425 years). For once, I not only feel optimistic about my numeric results but also about the semester as a whole and all that I’ve actually learned about myself and the world around me.

The future is exciting, and what makes it so is that it’s still almost entirely unknown and flexible. Anything could happen, so long as I set my mind to the path ahead and charge forward with curiosity and excitement.

I can’t wait to jump into next semester ready and eager to learn even more! But for now, I see nothing wrong with spending winter break avoiding responsibilities, curled up in my pajamas drinking hot chocolate and watching movies with my family…

Until next time,

family

Ellie x

I finally had a breakthrough

The year 2015 was my year.

With two pressing, stressful, passionate years behind me, and I finally started to gain noticeable traction with my work. I traveled to Dallas, Hawaii, Florida, Japan, and New Mexico. Not only did I grow as a photographer, but I am starting to fulfill my dream as a traveling photojournalist.

There is no order to the madness. They are what they are. 

Here is a look at my top 10 shots of the year.

#10: Life is messy.

Somewhere in Hawaii, waves smash into rocks.
North Shore’s Turtle Bay in Hawaii, waves smash into rocks at sunset.
Screen Shot 0027-12-17 at 17.35.58
#10 metadata

Discomfort and patience.

I captured this image near the North Shore in Hawaii. I remember the sun setting quickly. I walked to the end of the point and laid on this formation. It was sharp and uncomfortable, hole-ey like swiss cheese, tough like splintered iron—imagine the big rock/asteroid thing on Armageddon.

 

#9: The wild wild dust storm.

Dust storm shot
A Horseback Heroes participant lets the rope y as she attempts to rope a practice steer during the 4th Annual Oklahoma National Guard Adjutant General’s Horseback Heroes event at Covey Creek Cattle Company in Oklahoma City, Oct. 17, 2015. The event was open for all Oklahoma National Guard dependents and included activities such as riding horses, playing with farm animals, dressing mini horses, providing general grooming and care, and learning how feed is made. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Tyler K. Woodward)
#9 metadata
#9 metadata

OK. It’s not the greatest thing compositionally.

But, it was my first time to shoot with the dirt in the air like this. I have been told, ALWAYS SHOOT IN ADVERSE WEATHER CONDITIONS. Well, this wasn’t necessarily adverse. But I’ll take it. If you would like read more about this day CLICK HERE!

#8: My first real story—Mr. Miller.

Former 1947-49 RUF/NEKS president Bob Miller poses for photographs with fellow RUF/NEKS members at Gaylord Memorial Stadium, Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015. Miller celebrated the RUF/NEKS 100th Anniversary before the game against Tulsa.
Former 1947-49 RUF/NEKS president Bob Miller poses for photographs with fellow RUF/NEKS members at Gaylord Memorial Stadium, Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015. Miller celebrated the RUF/NEKS 100th Anniversary before the game against Tulsa.
Data Unknown
Data Unknown

Moments are more powerful than composition.

This was my first “big time” feature story. Before a football game, I found Mr. Miller preparing for a celebration at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. This shot tells a story. And, it will always have a special place in my heart. Read more HERE.

#7: A night mission. And the last shot of the night.

A 137th Security Forces Airman, Will Rogers Air National Guard Base in Oklahoma City, checks his night vision equipment at a fire training center in Edmond, Oklahoma during a Special Weapons and Tactics school held by Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office, Oct. 26 to Nov. 6, 2015. Will Rogers Air National Guard Airmen and six other state agencies executed precise joint operations and procedures that will later be used to save lives in real-world situations. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Tyler Woodward)
A 137th Security Forces Airman, Will Rogers Air National Guard Base in Oklahoma City, checks his night vision equipment at a fire training center in Edmond, Oklahoma during a Special Weapons and Tactics school held by Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office, Oct. 26 to Nov. 6, 2015. Will Rogers Air National Guard Airmen and six other state agencies executed precise joint operations and procedures that will later be used to save lives in real-world situations. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Tyler Woodward)

At the end of the night, don’t stop shooting.

#7 metadata
#7 metadata

During a SWAT night mission, I was shooting long exposures of trainees breaching a room and rescuing hostages. These scenarios were challenging. As the night closed, I saw this moment when they packed their gear. Never stop shooting. Check out my images HERE.

#6: My first encounter with OU Football, Baker Mayfield.

Junior quarterback Baker Mayfield walks towards Oklahoma Memorial Stadium after interviewing with media at Everest Training Center, Monday, August 24, 2015. Mayfield was named the starting quarterback for the 2015 season. He will make his first appearance Saturday, September 5, against Akron.
Junior quarterback Baker Mayfield walks towards Oklahoma Memorial Stadium after interviewing with media at Everest Training Center, Monday, August 24, 2015. Mayfield was named the starting quarterback for the 2015 season. He will make his first appearance Saturday, September 5, against Akron.

We all have to walk out of our own shadows.

Data Unknown
Data Unknown

After a practice before the 2015 season began, I captured this moment of Baker Mayfield. For me it was a precursor of what was to come. A season filled with new opportunities and tons of growth.

#5: My first assignment overseas, I missed a moment.

I took this photo in Okinawa, Japan.
I took this photo in Okinawa, Japan.
Near Cape Hedo
#5 Metadata

Sometimes the right place and right time just isn’t enough. 

As shared in a recent blog post, this moment was devastating to me. BUT, I am stronger. I will get that moment again.

Read the blog post here.

#4 New Mexico sunset. I still hear the calling.

After dinner I captured this summer sunset of mountains near Taos, New Mexico. July, 2015.
After dinner I captured this summer sunset of mountains near Taos, New Mexico. July, 2015.
#4 Metadata
#4 Metadata

Ever since I was a teenager the mountains have been speaking to me. 

There is nothing about this image that I did to make it more or less. A camera can only work with what it is given. In moments like this. I feel the camera can’t fully represent the beauty of the moment — but it let’s me remember.

#3 OU vs Texas — what in the hell was I doing?

All images were made public via The Oklahoma Daily
All images were made public via The Oklahoma Daily
Data Unknown
Data Unknown

First time to travel, shoot a nationally televised game. 

In the world of sports, I have learned — a lot — this year. The pace of the game, the positioning, the risks, the anticipation; it’s all here. The OU/Texas game was intense. I missed deadlines. It took me hours to upload my imagery. I was all over the place. But, I’ve learned from it.  Although OU lost, I had the biggest growth from this game than any of the others thus far.

#2 Real world scenarios. No faces.

A Joint Terminal Attack Controller from the 137th Operations Training Group, Oklahoma City, communicates with an MC-12W during a training exercise at Razorback Range Detachment 1 located at Fort Chaffee Manuever Training Center, Ark., Aug. 25, 2015. This was the first integrated training exercise with the MC-12 as part of the 137 Air Refueling Wings transition to a Special Operations Wing. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Tyler Woodward/Released)
A members of the Will Rogers Air National Guard Base 137th Operations Training Group communcates with an overhead MC-12W Liberty during a training exercise at Razorback Range Det. 1, Tuesday, August 25, 2015. The MC-12W returned flying operations to WRANGB for for the first time since 2007. Razorback Range Det. 1 located at Fort Chaffee Manuever Training Center, Ark. provided distinct intergrated training capabilities for the 137 OTG and newly arrived MC-12W. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Tyler Woodward/Released)
#2 Metadata
#2 Metadata

I could’t shoot faces. So, I did the best I could.

During a training scenario I focused on silhouettes. I loved the challenge of this shoot. This was the first time I’ve had to shoot with these limitations. But, it was completely worthwhile.

#1 Look mom, I’m on TV.

Students gather for a prayer vigil in response to an alleged racist fraternity video on the North Oval Sunday night, March 9, 2015. The video sparked a nation-wide social media reaction.
Students gather for a prayer vigil in response to an alleged racist fraternity video on the North Oval Sunday night, March 9, 2015. The video sparked a nation-wide social media reaction. (Tyler Woodward/The Daily)
#1 Metadata
#1 Metadata

It was my first semester back in school and all hell broke loose.

I had just started working for The Daily. The night SAE broke I grabbed my camera and arrived at the scene around 12:00 a.m. (ish). After the prayer vigil, national media started calling from all over. My photo ran on news outlets across the country. See my work on ABC here. More than 15 agencies picked up my work. And, no I didn’t get paid for it… But at least I was doing something worthwhile.

I have a long ways to go. I’m reaching, I’m dreaming, I’m patient. 2016, I’m ready. 

“The creative act lasts but a brief moment, a lightning instant of give-and-take, just long enough for you to level the camera and to trap the fleeting prey in your little box.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson