I really seem to post in spurts, don’t I.  3-4 times one day, then nothing for a few days. 

I spent most of tuesday and wednesday nights pulling together some data for my adviser and a paper he is working on with another group of people.  I was tasked with pulling the descriptive statistics for both “treatment” and control groups.  (We aren’t actually treating anyone; this is looking at a distinct subgroup of students and comparing them to a ‘matched’ group in historical data.)  Before I could do that I had to distinguish the two groups, which in one case meant some complicated data manipulations. 

It just KILLS me that so many academics try to make one tool do anything.  Case in point.  All of the above data manipulation was done in SPSS.  SPSS is NOT a data management tool.  In fact, it’s not very good at it at all.  But all of the data is in flat files and everyone wants stuff too quickly for me to ever properly load it into a relational database from which I can get the information I need easily.  So instead of writing a simple query to get the flags I needed I had to screw around with SPSS merge functions.  It took hours.  It was tedious.  I could have been done in minutes if it had been in a real database, but since I’m apparently the only one in my field that knows how to write a SQL statement  I can never convince anyone to give me the TIME to do it right.

I don’t even know if I’ll get a thank you on that paper, let alone an author credit.  Seeing as how I’ve done all the scut work with the data so far a thank you would be nice.  I’m not involved in the conceptualization of the paper, however, so unless they get me involved in the writing process (unlikely because I get the feeling there are too many cooks on this one already) the best I can hope for is a footnote….

Anyway, I got that done, then spent last night pulling together all the paperwork necessary to refinance our house.  Our rate is a bit high and we can drop it by over a point right now, so that is in process.  I faxed it all off this morning from work where there is a nice FAST fax machine.  (We have an all-in-one with fax capabilities at home, but if I had tried to fax 26 pages of supporting documentation from there last night it would still be working on it…)  Now to hope and pray that our kitchen remodel has compensated for any drop in the market since last June (when it was appraised for the cash-out refinance to do the remodel) so that we can keep our 80% loan to value….