Archive for Yellowstone national park

the T-shirts I love [book/closet review]

Posted in Books, Kids, Running, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 26, 2022 by xi'an

When I first heard of Haruki Murakami’s book on tee-shirts, I found the concept sufficiently intriguing to start looking for the book and I eventually found on Amazon a cheap used sale that got delivered to a friend in the US (who was most perplexed by my choice!). Having gone through the book and its 110 photos of tee-shirts, I am feeling like I had a light late-evening conversation with the author and a window into the reasons why he keeps and seeks so many tees. This is a translation from Japanese, so I cannot say how colloquial Murakami was in the original, but this is most enjoyable (in a very light sense!). Having worn tee-shirts for all of my adult life (and none during my childhood), albeit not with any comparable collection, by far!, I can relate with some categories like

  1. race tees (which have now almost completely vanished, being replaced with synthetic running tops), of which my favourite is the 1988 Skunk Cabbage Classic tee celebrating the 5k race organised every year by the Finger Lakes Runners Club
  2. beer tees, like my favourites advertising Yellowstone’s Moose Drool brown ale [and supposedly dyed in the beer?!] and Salt Lake City Full Suspension [with the fantastically ironic motto Beers you can believe in!]
  3. bars/pubs tees, like the one I bought at the Clachaig Inn, Glencoe
  4. institution tees, with my favourite being the iconic U of T Austin ochre shirt with a longhorn skull
  5. and, to diverge from Murakami’s surfing section, mountaineering places/brand tees, of which the homemade þe Norse Farce is the obvious selection!

And neither shared tee spotted within the published 110 selected ones, nor any one I would desperately seek.

seule laTerre est éternelle

Posted in Books, Kids, Mountains, pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 18, 2022 by xi'an

A few weekends ago, my wife (easily) convinced me to go watch a film in Paris. More precisely, an extensive interview, about Jim Harrison as the film was soon to be retired from cinemas. This was the first time I was going back to a cinema since Nomadland, last June. I am unsure the film, Seule la Terre est éternelle (Only Earth is forever) is shown anywhere but France as the film producer François Busnel is French (if the dialogies are in English). Anyway, this is quality time spent with Jim Harrison, a few months before he died, listening to him talk or mostly monologue about everything, from food to life and death, and World literature, obviously! In a very homely way, at his desk, driving (enormous) truck or around meals. In a way, there is nothing extraordinary about what he discusses, it could almost be the guy next seat in a remote pub or bar, going a wee bit sentimental after one drink too many. And the way the sessions are separated by long shots of sunset over Western landscapes and other terrific views is somewhat cheesy. Still, I enjoyed the time spent with him there, connecting with his books and the ever present spirit of wilderness and beauty, despite the often sorry live of his characters, suited to the It’s a good day to die motto. In an impressive bonhomie that hides his immense culture (as when he starts talking about Stendhal and Rabelais) and kind remembrance of others, except when expressing incomprehension at being sometimes compared with Hemingway (which is indeed absurd in their opposite relation to Nature, if not to drinks!). I’ve read that 75% of the film viewers (in France) have not read any of his books (but may some have watched Legends of the Fall), which I find harder to understand, but for his readers this is a treat. Plus, the long ride through the Western States, from Montana down to Arizona, was far from unpleasant as it reminded us of this great trip around Yellowstone we took ages ago.

Measuring abundance [book review]

Posted in Books, Statistics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 27, 2022 by xi'an

This 2020 book, Measuring Abundance:  Methods for the Estimation of Population Size and Species Richness was written by Graham Upton, retired professor of applied statistics, for the Data in the Wild series published by Pelagic Publishing, a publishing company based in Exeter.

“Measuring the abundance of individuals and the diversity of species are core components of most ecological research projects and conservation monitoring. This book brings together in one place, for the first time, the methods used to estimate the abundance of individuals in nature.”

Its purpose is to provide a collection of statistical methods for measuring animal abundance or lack thereof. There are four parts: a primer on statistical methods, going no further than maximum likelihood estimation and bootstrap. The term Bayesian only occurs once, in connection with the (a-Bayesian) BIC. (I first spotted a second entry, until I realised this was not a typo and the example truly was about Bawean warty pigs!) The second part is about stationary (or static) individuals, such as trees, and it mostly exposes different recognised ways of sampling, with a focus on minimising the surveyor’s effort. Examples include forestry sampling (with a chainsaw method!) and underwater sampling. There is very little statistics involved in this part apart from the rare appearance of a MLE with an asymptotic confidence interval. There is also very little about misspecified models, except for the occasional warning that the estimates may prove completely wrong. The third part is about mobile individuals, with capture-recapture methods receiving the lion’s share (!). No lion was actually involved in the studies used as examples (but there were grizzly bears from Yellowstone and Banff National Parks). Given the huge variety of capture-recapture models, very little input is found within the book as the practical aspects are delegated to R software like the RMark and mra packages. Very little is written on using covariates or spatial features in such models, mostly dedicated to printed output from R packages with AIC as the sole standard for comparing models. I did not know of distance methods (Chapter 8), which are less invasive counting methods. They however seem to rely on a particular model of missing on individuals as the distance increases. The last section is about estimating the number of species. With again a model assumption that may prove wrong. With the inclusion of diversity measures,

The contents of the book are really down to earth and intended for field data gatherers. For instance, “drive slowly and steadily at 20 mph with headlights and hazard lights on ” (p.91) or “Before starting to record, allow fish time to acclimatize to the presence of divers” (p.91). It is unclear to me how useful the book would prove to be for general statisticians, apart from revealing the huge diversity of methods actually employed in the field. To either build upon these or expose students to their reassessment. More advanced books are McCrea and Morgan (2014), Buckland et al. (2016) and the most recent Seber and Schofield (2019).

[Disclaimer about potential self-plagiarism: this post or an edited version will eventually appear in my Book Review section in CHANCE.]

wildlife photography of the year

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , , on October 22, 2019 by xi'an

399 safe[[r] for now]

Posted in Kids, Mountains, pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 14, 2018 by xi'an

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