08 December 2006

Wishing you a Seasonally Adjusted Holiday Season!

My friend Erica used to have (and maybe still has) a cartoon on the wall of her office, and I wished I had asked her for a copy. But today I found a copy on the site cartoonbank.com.

One man to another as they walk down the street at Christmas time:
“Yes, I’m somewhat depressed, but seasonally adjusted I’m probably happy enough.”

Click here to see the cartoon at cartoonbank.com.


21 November 2006

Milton Friedman, 1912 - 2006

I was sorry to hear of Milton Friedman's passing last week. I hear all this talk of Bo Schembechler and Robert Altman, but I didn't hear anything on the regular news about Dr. Friedman, and it's really too bad. Not to minimize the contributions that Mr. Schembechler and Mr. Altman have made in other people's lives, or to speak ill of the dead, but it seems that Dr. Friedman's impact can be felt around the world and will still be felt decades from now.

Milton Friedman wrote a lot of books, some of them I own and have read. He was an incredibly brilliant man, and he was really good at explaining things. He won the Nobel Prize for Economics back in 1976. According to Wikipedia, he made "major contributions to the fields of macroexonomics, microeconomics, economic history, and statistics", and his Nobel Prize was awarded for "his achievements in the fields of consumption analysis, monetary history and theory and for his demonstration of the complexity of stabilization policy."

Friedman advocated laissez-faire capitalism, and is considered to have been one of the most influential economists of the 20th century. Wikipedia says that his ideas "had a major impact on the economic policy of both the Nixon and Reagan administrations" and in other governments in other countries. Some people say that his book Capitalism and Freedom, published in 1962, was part of the reason behind the fall of communism in parts of Eastern Europe.

He explained free-market economics in a series of specials aired on PBS back in the 1980's. Some of them are on You Tube. Check out his talk about pencils. Very cool.

He was 94 years old, and he lived a really incredible life. It's too bad that more people don't know who he is.

His obituary in the Financial Times.

26 October 2006

Seasonally Adjusted Oil Prices to win an Election

I found this story on a blog (a blog with pictures that I wouldn't recommend anyone looking at because I'm not a fan of porn), with links back to www.usatoday.com that didn't work, and I can't find the original on the USA Today site either. But I love this story.

The emphasis in the article below is mine.

Many Americans look for political manipulation as gasoline prices plunge
By Brad Foss, Associated Press

WASHINGTON --— There is no mystery or manipulation behind the recent fall in gasoline prices, analysts say. Try telling that to motorists. Almost half of Americans believe the plunge at the pump has more to do with politics and the November elections, than economics.

According to a new Gallup poll, 42% of respondents agreed with the statement that the Bush administration "deliberately manipulated the price of gasoline so that it would decrease before this fall's elections." Fifty-three percent of those surveyed did not believe the conspiracy theory; 5% said they had no opinion. Not surprising, almost two-thirds of those who suspect President Bush intervened to bring down energy prices before Election Day are registered Democrats, according to Gallup.

White House spokesman Tony Snow addressed the issue Monday, telling reporters that "the one thing I have been amused by is the attempt by some people to say that the president has been rigging gas prices, which would give him the kind of magisterial clout unknown to any other human being."

Fimat USA oil analyst Antoine Halff says there is no doubt "the downturn in prices is welcome news from an electoral standpoint for the ruling party." But he scoffed at the notion that the president has the power to muscle a global market.

At a suburban Miami Mobil station, where regular was selling for $2.66 a gallon, no one was buying the conspiracy theory. "The decrease of gas prices is simply due to a seasonal adjustment of price," said Javier Gudayal, a 48-year-old attorney. "And that the Bush administration does not have the power to manipulate."

But in Los Angeles, which has some of the highest gasoline prices in the country, motorists wouldn't rule out the possibility of politicians eager to sway the electorate. Twenty-eight-year-old attorney Amnon Siegel sensed more than market forces at work. "I'm sure there's some sort of string-pulling going on," Siegel said.

I'm intrigued by the idea of seasonally adjusting gasoline prices.

I'm really good at seasonally adjusting things. If you want New Home Sales at 900 million, I could get you that answer. That's why at the Census Bureau and other government agencies, once you've set the seasonal adjustment options, you aren't allowed to change them month by month. I remember a time back in late 1992 when we knew that the estimates for New Home Sales were off, but we didn't want to change it before the election for fear that someone would think that we were trying to influence an election. As I pointed out back then, not changing bad numbers also effects the election, but no one was listening, and I was new in DC back then.

So even if someone could fix a bunch of number in a bunch of different time series, what would you have to be able to change so that you could actually influence the price of gasoline? If you seasonally adjust a time series of gasoline prices, and make the current price $2 a gallon, that doesn't mean that it will really be $2 a gallon at the pump. You'd have to be able to sway a lot of different factors to really get the prices to change.

Of course, what the 48-year-old lawyer from Miami really means is that oil prices usually come down after summer vacations are over, and with a mild hurricane season, they fell again. There are seasonal fluctuations in oil and gasoline prices. If we seasonally adjusted the prices, we'd really be paying more for gasoline now, and less for heating oil. Think about that.


17 October 2006

Cardinals/Mets baseball

I'm a bit of a Cardinals fan, growing up in a town with a Cardinals farm league team. I admit that I like watching small town baseball better than the big boys. Maybe because I can see the game better. But I do follow baseball some, and especially the Cardinals, I suppose.

I found an article about post-season pitching titled "Seasonal Adjustment". I wonder if my seasonal adjustment software could help them with their pitching line-ups. Just kidding.

From www.courant.com

Seasonal Adjustment
Glavine, Weaver On Three Days' Rest
October 16, 2006

ST. LOUIS -- Last week's rainout of Game 1 has forced both managers to use their Game 1 starter on three days' rest for Game 5 tonight. That's postseason baseball, where nothing is routine about changing your routine. "This time of year, I think the physical side of it is taken care of by the adrenaline," said Tom Glavine, who will start for the Mets against the Cardinals' Jeff Weaver.


02 October 2006

Paper accepted

My paper was accepted at the ICES III conference in Montreal in June. I was already going as an invited speaker, so sometimes I wonder why I wanted the extra hassle of presenting a paper, but I'm sure that it will motivate me to keep working on my research.

After some time off in September to get the kids off to a good start in school, and a trip up to the DC area, October is proving to be quite productive, and I hope to have some new papers on the web site soon.

30 September 2006

Extra Income

I had my interview this week at a university in Nashville for a job as an adjunct professor with the mathematics department. I liked the math department chair. We discussed teaching philosophies and how statistics is different than most of the rest of math. She said that she's getting some pressure from the Business school to offer more Statistics courses. She also said that I might get some consulting work, especially from the Economics department, when they know I'm around. The money is good, better than I could get in DC as an adjunct. It sounds very promising. We'll have to see how it all works out.

08 July 2006

Walking Again!

I went to see my doctor yesterday, almost exactly 4 months after my accident. I've been walking without a boot or a brace now for a couple of weeks, and I was hopeful for the prognosis.
My visit went just like I had hoped it would! My doctor said I don't need another doctor visit or any more physical therapy. The x-rays looked great, she was impressed with my flexibility and strength in my ankle, and she told me once again that the doctor in Luxembourg did a really good job fixing a really tough break.

She said that I should wear my ankle brace when walking on uneven ground (gravel or grass) for another 6 months, and no high heels for 6 months to a year. She suggested that I wear the ankle brace for the rest of my life if I'm doing something that could cause an ankle injury, like sports, rock climbing, etc. I suppose that also covers walking on ice, but I forgot to ask about that part. Hopefully that's not such a big issue in Tennessee.

The problem with being able to walk again is that I've been busy unpacking boxes, and I haven't had as much time as I would like for writing. Do I discipline myself to do some writing every day, or do I just bite the bullet, unpack the boxes, and then focus on writing? My claustrophobia sitting here among the boxes suggests the latter plan.


17 May 2006

ICES III and other future conferences

Since I knew getting to the ASA (American Statistical Association) meeting for 2006 would be difficult for me (even before I broke my leg), I had hoped that ICES III (Third International Conference on Establishment Surveys) could be my first big conference after I had moved back to the States. (I'm still bummed that I missed the Eurostat conference this month, but even more bummed that I'm going to miss the International Symposium on Forecasting in Spain in June. I'd really been looking forward to that one.)

ICES is a great conference, and I have been working on my abstract to see if it would be accepted. Last week, I received an invitation to give a talk on seasonal adjustment! I'm very excited. I'll still submit the abstract, too, but now I'm sure now that I'll be going to Montreal in 2007! It will be a great way to get back into the swing of things as far as my research goes.

Who knows? Maybe I'll make it to the ASA meeting in 2007, too.

08 May 2006

Endings and Beginnings

I realized today that it's been ages since I've written on the blog, and so much has changed since my last post.

At the end of February, my contract was up with HENDYPLAN, and we decided not to renew, but to go back to the States instead. My boss convinced me to stay until the end of March, but then on the 6th of March, as I walked to the bus to go to work, I broke both bones in my leg just above the ankle. I had surgery to fix it that afternoon (13 screws, 1 plate, 3 incisions, and 24 stitches). I was released from the hospital on March 13, but with instructions from my doctor not to go back to work. There was never a cast, so I was able to wash my leg, but it made me nervous to have it so unprotected. He was fine with letting me travel back to the States at the end of March.

This left Darin and the girls on their own to finish packing the house. The container came on Friday, 10 March, and it left on Monday morning (13 March), headed for the US! Our pastor's wife (and assistant Chaplain) lined up some guys to help Darin load on Saturday.

We flew back to my parents' house, and then came to look for a house outside of Nashville, TN. We closed on the house on May 2, our furniture arrived on May 4, and internet access started on May 5, so I'm back in business with the web site.

After seeing a doctor in Tennessee in April, I now have a big, black boot for my right foot and leg. It helps me feel more secure when I walk, and I'm starting to put weight on it now, per instructions from my doctor. I could still be on crutches until July, and maybe not able to drive until then either. So though I'm anxious to get started with my new consulting business, I have to be realistic about my schedule. It will take me longer than usual to get the office set up since I will need to depend so much on my husband and children, and traveling will be out for several more months. I'm encouraged, though, by the leads I have already, even before I'm settled in the new house and office.

Besides working on unpacking boxes, I'm also going to finish up a paper on spectral diagnostics and start up work on the book again. This is going to be a really exciting time for me, and I look forward to being able to share more about it on the blog!


03 March 2006

Seasonal Adjustment Disorder

My friend Kathy sent me a message about "Seasonal Adjustment Disorder." She was searching for seasonal adjustment web sites, and came across a blog from South Africa in the process.

I found another mention of it in another blog at
"In the United States, the diagnosis of Seasonal Affective Disorder was first suggested by one Norman E. Rosenthal, MD. His work was based on personal observations of his own seasonal adjustment when moving from South Africa to New York. "

I am well aware of the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder. I noticed a difference in my usual post-Christmas blues being so much farther north this year than I was used to, and now that it is March, I notice the increase in sunshine. I had just not heard it called Seasonal Adjustment Disorder, unless it was one of my friends kidding around with me. Since the blogger is from South Africa, and this Dr. Rosenthal seems to have done his own "seasonal adjustment", maybe calling it Seasonal Adjustment Disorder is a South African thing.

I did a GoogleFight between the two phrases. "Seasonal Affective Disorder" is mentioned 1,430,000 times on the web, and "Seasonal Adjustment Disorder" is mentioned only 1,390 times.

However, I think I have it. I really do. I have six reports to write, and I'm having trouble getting the data I need into a form that X-12 and TRAMO/SEATS can read. I think the best way to describe the situation right now is "Seasonal Adjustment Disorder."

26 January 2006

Delay for the papers

I'm still working on the papers pages, but I had to take a break to deal with some computer problems on the family computer due to the Trojan.Zlob.H. It showed up right at the time when our anti-virus software expired and needed to be updated, and we had problems with the update because of the Zlob. It's been an interesting experience. I'm learning quite a bit about trojans and rogue spyware software.

I do hope to get more papers loaded soon on my web site, and the pages that link to the papers completed after that.