Label your units

 

I'm in disbelief of how many reports I've read, charts I've seen, and presentations I've observed where the author didn't label the units. The worst part isn't the volume, it's the alleged "high quality" of these works. When a student doesn't label their units -- fine...

 

But when a top-10 MBA 10+ years working experience senior director consultant shows a chart with no units, how's the client supposed to make an intelligent business decision? When peer-reviewed academic journal publications are missing units in the equations, how is science supposed to move forward? When philosophizers speak about worldly relationships but can't articulate the units of the causal relationships they're claiming -- that's called blathering.





Engineers, scientists, business people, who ever you are, you need to label your equations and your numbers -- all the time, every time. If you don't, you're not being scientifically rigorous and you're not being considerate of your audience's ability to comprehend your communication. Your work loses its meaning, you run the risk of completely discrediting yourself, and worse you risk messing up something important.

1999 Mars Orbiter crashed because NASA and contractors used different units, and no one noticed
Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-27509559

So, what to do? When writing prose, use parenthesis (), brackets [], or just spell it out. I gave you three examples, that's 3 (examples). They say, "third time's the charm," and that's valid for this example of 3 [examples]. If you're making equations in MS word, make a single-row table for each equation with three columns and no borders. Put your equation in one column, units in another, and the equation number in the last.

 
 
Variable
Units
Description
A
L
Total fluids
B
L
Sweat
C
L
Blood
D
L
Tears


Oh, and one more thing, whenever possible, please use metric units.







Resources for Starting Strength

There is no such thing as “firming and toning.” There is only stronger and weaker. – Mark Rippetoe. 




 
I like results, and I like getting results efficiently. That attitude is what's led me to become a huge fan of Mark Rippetoe, and discover his Starting Strength program. Two excellent resources that discuss the content, with pictures, video, and candid commentary can be found here and here. There's also a good narrative with illustrations here, but no video at this time. Note: if you want to get big, this program is not for you. There's plenty of other literature out on that topic; this is a beginner & intermediate resource for getting strong.




In a nutshell, the Starting Strength program is to do the same set of a few basic exercises every 2-3 days and gradually increasing the weight. All exercises are complex compound movements that use multiple muscle groups at the same time. Very effective, very efficient, takes 30-45 min once you know what you're doing. Add a little warmup and cool down and we've got a nice 1-hour package. Repeat for several months; very easy to document, very effective.



I use a Google Spreadsheet workbook that I made myself to keep track of my progress. I like it because I made it, and it's simple and flexible. I don't record my warm-up or cool-down because that's not the point. Values entered are all 3 sets of 5 of the basic exercise (per the program guidelines) unless otherwise specified. For example I could modify a bench to 175lbs incline. Which would mean that I did inclines instead of flat bench. Or flies, or chin-ups to clapping pull ups, etc. etc. The base muscle group(s) are still the same. I also have the Google sheets app on my smart phone so I can easily enter my ~5 lines of < 20 character notes for the day on the spot.




I suggest simply sticking with the basic program for the first few months, and just know that there's plenty of wiggle room to add variety to exercises without losing the value of the framework -- both the program and my spreadsheet. It's simple, approximate, doesn't require an exhaustive amount of documentation, and is thus very effective for building a good habit. If you're totally new to these types exercises, then I suggest working with someone experienced to nail your form before you start piling on plates. The goal is to do more and be stronger, not to do frantic-sloppy and get injured. So, hire a personal trainer for your few sessions if you must. I'm also personally available by appointment if you live in the Phoenix/Tempe area too.

Now here's a fun video of me doing my first set of clapping pullups for New Years. =)


video


Strong people are harder to kill, and more useful in general. -Mark Rippetoe






25 ways to increase willpower




  1. Have a reason why, and remind yourself daily and or weekly! Write it down, put up a picture, whatever, but make sure your "why" is outside of your head and in front of your eyeballs on a regular basis.
  2. Ask for help, get an accountabili-buddy, join a community, or hire a pro
  3. Stop negotiating with yourself, see #1 and keep your commitment to your past and future self 
  4. Stop multitasking; take life one step at a time and do it with good form
  5. Don't try to take on too much change at once, build willpower muscle with small things
  6. Keep track of important change. And not in an overly complex willpower-taxing way, but in a simple and helpful way. (E.g. instead of tracking what you eat after the fact, plan your meals ahead of time and literally check-off on a daily-checklist that you have made your next day’s meal(s) before you go to bed.)
  7. Meditate, breathe slowly and deliberately, see yourself from the perspective of an observer
  8. Exercise
  9. Eat regularly & keep your glucose up
  10. Get a full night's sleep
  11. Eliminate unnecessary decisions (i.e. make more things routine) 
  12. Reduce the variability of your behavior (i.e. do more habitually)
  13. Set-up structure and processes so that you can do as many of life's tedious chores on auto-pilot
  14. Change your surroundings so that they’re less taxing on your willpower 
  15. Have hard lines on who you are and what you do (and don't do!)
  16. Identify what or when you lose willpower
  17. Anticipate obstacles (or temptations) and plan ahead how you will handle them
  18. Play offense & proactively arrange your life to avoid problem situations
  19. Know that you will not be perfect; know that perfect is not the goal, making progress on your #1 is the goal!
  20. Be kind to yourself and encourage yourself!
  21. Visualize/imagine yourself doing "it"
  22. Hack your mind with the 5-minute rule (i.e. tell yourself you’ll do it for just 5 minutes, and then revel in how easy it is to keep going once you’ve got momentum).
  23. Schedule R&R, daily & weekly, for exactly that purpose!
  24. Reward yourself & stick to it! Seriously, pat yourself on the back for progress and milestones.
  25. Enjoy life and do things that inspire you throughout the day and week. 

Cyber Monday sale on Bulletproof Data-Scientist Intern!





Bulletproof Data-Scientist Intern!
  • Makes Bulletproof Coffee with coconut cream (seriously, try it!)
  • And comes preloaded with programmable options for SAS, SPSS, Matlab, ArcMap, Python, Google Earth Engine API, VB, SQL
  • Also runs fast, lifts heavy objects, and does require health insurance


In addition to a standard set of data-scientist-starter skills, this PhD Student in Sustainable Engineering comes fully value-add guaranteed on day-1 with:

5 years professional experience consulting in Energy & Transportation
Imagine yourself talking to your new Data-Scientist Intern
about what insights can be gleaned from your company's data.
(Also imagine you're a guy with long hair and a beard.)


Value Proposition
Yes folks, Data-Scientist Intern is entrepreneurial, enthusiastic, and big-company-house-trained! He creates structure and Gets Things Done. Put him to work on your next data processing project and he'll give you a data set so clean you could eat off of it. Want to visualize your data on a map? Done. Need someone to go interview those folks in the other department who love to ramble and you don't have time for that? Bulletproof intern is on it with sunshine and flowcharts. Don't have any work for him to do, don't worry! Like an autonomous-housekeeping-rumba he'll just start roaming the halls until he finds work to do. This guy's a machine; and there is only one left in stock so don’t hesitate, email or call (623.229.3166) for your free fit assessment now!

Disclaimers:
  • Bulletproof Data-Scientist is currently only available for full-time summer 2015 paid internship positions. 
  • Bulletproof Data-Scientist does not generally communicate in an ironic 1990's infomercial style for the sake of sales-differentiation and prospect-amusement. But that's what this is, so I hope you had as much fun reading as I did writing!