Thursday, April 22, 2010

Statistics: Who Needs Them ?

"A passion for statistics is the earmark of a literate people." - Paul Fisher

My newest project is that of calculating statistics for the softball league and posting them to the sports website. When I got the first batch of numbers, I had to ask my husband what they all meant and he happily brought me our huge hardcopy of John Thorn’s “Total Baseball: The Official Encyclopedia of Major League Baseball” so that I could fully understand and appreciate the history behind the stats tables.

I got the first table up and went outside, hoping I had gotten it right. I’m one of those people who can’t sleep if a little detail is wrong. “What’s the big deal – it’s just a little girl’s game, right?” I imagined what someone might say if they knew how worked up I had gotten about getting it right. Then I remembered back to the statistics courses I had taken, and eventually student-taught, as part of my psychology degree. “Why do we have to know all this? Of what use are all these calculations?” students would constantly moan.

One of the basic calculations is that of the average. Average can statistically mean one of several things, and if you don’t know that you will walk through life letting the newspapers report to you whichever of those fits the news they want you to believe. It can mean “mode”, or the most recurring number or other value, as in: The average person has brown hair. It can mean “median”, or the number that falls right in the middle, as in: The average person lives in a $200,000 house. The only type of average that mathematically means anything is that of “mean”, which is the sum divided by the number of values, usually resulting in a decimal, as in: The average person has 2.2 kids and half a dog.

Statistics can be as accurate as you want them to be. My professor used to tease me because I always liked to carry my calculations to the third decimal. The decimals can go on and on as far as you want to take them.

Statistics are used to objectify information that is used for decision-making. How do we know who is the best teacher, best student, or best ball player? By their statistics. This takes out the human factor so that everyone can see a rational justification for someone being appointed for a position or an award. Statistics make things fair.

Statistics are used by scientists to study the world. Every experiment is analyzed by statistics to come up with scientific conclusions. Lots of experiments are repeated and meta-analyzed to further generalize a theory. Statistics help us to discover and understand about God’s creation.

Little kids playing baseball or softball can look at their numbers and know that they can improve them through practice. As they see their decimals increase in value they can have the satisfaction that comes with improving their game, just as a runner strives to decrease the time it takes to run a mile.

Statistics speak the truth and enlighten us towards wisdom – and all that testifies to the light comes from God.

Chapter 8 (NAB)
Does not Wisdom call, and Understanding raise her voice?
On the top of the heights along the road, at the crossroads she takes her stand;
By the gates at the approaches of the city, in the entryways she cries aloud:
"To you, O men, I call; my appeal is to the children of men.
You simple ones, gain resource, you fools, gain sense.
"Give heed! for noble things I speak; honesty opens my lips.
Yes, the truth my mouth recounts, but the wickedness my lips abhor.
Sincere are all the words of my mouth, no one of them is wily or crooked;
All of them are plain to the man of intelligence, and right to those who attain knowledge.
Receive my instruction in preference to silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold.
(For Wisdom is better than corals, and no choice possessions can compare with her.)
"I, Wisdom, dwell with experience, and judicious knowledge I attain.
(The fear of the LORD is to hate evil;) Pride, arrogance, the evil way, and the perverse mouth I hate.
Mine are counsel and advice; Mine is strength; I am understanding.
By me kings reign, and lawgivers establish justice;
By me princes govern, and nobles; all the rulers of earth.
"Those who love me I also love, and those who seek me find me.
With me are riches and honor, enduring wealth and prosperity.
My fruit is better than gold, yes, than pure gold, and my revenue than choice silver.
On the way of duty I walk, along the paths of justice,
Granting wealth to those who love me, and filling their treasuries.
"The LORD begot me, the first-born of his ways, the forerunner of his prodigies of long ago;
From of old I was poured forth, at the first, before the earth.
When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no fountains or springs of water;
Before the mountains were settled into place, before the hills, I was brought forth;
While as yet the earth and the fields were not made, nor the first clods of the world.
"When he established the heavens I was there, when he marked out the vault over the face of the deep;
When he made firm the skies above, when he fixed fast the foundations of the earth;
When he set for the sea its limit, so that the waters should not transgress his command;
Then was I beside him as his craftsman, and I was his delight day by day, Playing before him all the while,
playing on the surface of his earth; and I found delight in the sons of men.
"So now, O children, listen to me;
instruction and wisdom do not reject! Happy the man who obeys me, and happy those who keep my ways,
Happy the man watching daily at my gates, waiting at my doorposts;
For he who finds me finds life, and wins favor from the LORD;
But he who misses me harms himself; all who hate me love death."

Picture: Audrey at bat at a travel game Columbus Day Weekend 2009.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Run/Walk for the Unborn Memorial Day Anywhere

This is a shadow event to raise money for the prolife cause. Register at the website and then organize your own walk or run anywhere at 9 AM on Memorial Day. I will be organizing one on Eastern Long Island. If you are interested please email me at

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Being the Underdog

“If you can accept losing, you can't win.” – Vince Lombardi

When watching a sports game in which none of our favorite teams are playing, Kevin always likes to root for the underdog. It is just great to see a small name team come out on top and surprise everyone. This takes on a whole new dimension when the underdog is your own child. Last year I wrote about how my daughter’s in-house softball team came back from a 0-16 season and beat the 16-0 team in the playoff game. Little did we know what a year we would be in for with travel ball.

Last summer our town league started its first travel softball team. The manager warned us that it would be a tough first season, with a new team playing against much more experienced girls. It was harder than any of us imagined, with our girls playing their hearts out and still losing with scores like 28-2, night after night and week after week.

I had to convince myself that I didn’t care about winning – I just wanted to watch my girls play their best and improve their skills. “Hope deferred maketh the heart sick” it says in Proverbs – so I just stopped hoping we would win and got used to losing.

By the end of the season, many of our girls had improved so much that they tried out for other more established teams and were picked up. We were left with a core group of loyal girls – girls that could have made it onto Division I teams but wanted to stay with their coaches – and parents who wanted to stay local and pay local prices. These girls and their coaches worked hard all through the winter.

The managers worked hard to organize a spring travel season – on top of in-house – putting on an optimistic air externally but secretly fearing another losing streak. These underdogs played their first double-header set of travel games on Sunday.

The pitcher in the first game was the same girl who helped us win that playoff game I wrote about last year. By the third inning we were so far ahead that we were sure we would “mercy” them by the fifth inning. (If a team is 12 runs ahead after the fourth inning, they win by the “mercy rule”.) But in the fourth inning our girls got sloppy and allowed the other team several runs. We thought our coach was going to have a heart attack. We caught up our runs and won 22-17.

The pitcher in the second game was my daughter Audrey. She shut them out from scoring any runs the first three innings. By the fourth inning she was tired and a few runs were allowed. We won 16-5.

What a thrill it was for all of us.

We don’t do our kids any favors if we make things too easy for them. The parents who stuck by the underdog team allowed their children the sweet taste of victory that is even sweeter when gotten the hard way.

Competition is a great way to teach important lessons about adversity in life and the strength we gain every time we put up a good fight.

Chapter 2
My son, when you come to serve the LORD, prepare yourself for trials.
Be sincere of heart and steadfast, undisturbed in time of adversity.
Cling to him, forsake him not; thus will your future be great.
Accept whatever befalls you, in crushing misfortune be patient;
For in fire gold is tested, and worthy men in the crucible of humiliation.
Trust God and he will help you; make straight your ways and hope in him.
You who fear the LORD, wait for his mercy, turn not away lest you fall.
You who fear the LORD, trust him, and your reward will not be lost.
You who fear the LORD, hope for good things, for lasting joy and mercy.
Study the generations long past and understand; has anyone hoped in the LORD and been disappointed? Has anyone persevered in his fear and been forsaken? has anyone called upon him and been rebuffed?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Natural Woman

This is a guest post from Kimberly Zook, editor-in-chief at The Motherhood Muse. One commenter will receive a free subscription (see below).

In the first issue of The Motherhood Muse literary magazine, we published an essay titled “The Natural Mother onus,” written by Caroline Poser. This essay came from her book, MotherMorphosis, and after reading the essay and book I began to ask myself “How is a natural mother different from a natural woman?”

My first introduction to the idea of a ‘natural mother’ came well before when we were living in Canada. My husband and I arrived at our prenatal class reunion with our 1-month-old baby. The nine other moms and I were first shuffled onto a patio deck with our little ones to get a group photo. Every mom stood there beaming holding happy, quiet babies while I stood there smiling with uncertainty as I held on to my screaming, colicky baby. As we moved indoors to the next room our daughter’s cries drew curious, confused and concerned looks from all the newbie parents. My husband and I did not know any different as our daughter had been crying from colic since the day she was born. We left soon after arriving to calm our baby. On our drive home I looked at the photos in our digital camera, and that’s when it hit me: the other moms looked like naturals. I, on the other hand, looked like I was barely hanging on.

I still see moms at the playground who have it all together: polite kids in clean, matching clothes, a stroller packed with snacks and sippy cups, a humorous comment about last night’s date with her husband to another mom, abundant energy to chase the children, coordination to speak in coherent sentences while changing a diaper and keeping an eye on the other children, a body resembling pre-pregnancy, a face glowing of health, and an overall aura of togetherness. A natural mother.

I usually sigh, tuck my disheveled hair back behind my ears, avoid eye contact with the spit-up stain on my shoulder and bend over to continue digging in the sandbox with my two daughters. I’m lucky if I get a shower every three days, find matching socks for my daughters, remember to pack clean diapers before leaving the house, get my older daughter to eat any of the snacks I brought and recall what my husband and I talked about the night before. Motherhood is a work-in-progress for me.

I should be honest that parts of it have felt natural for me. Like nursing, cuddling, protecting and loving. But I struggle with everything else.

After reading “The Natural Mother onus” by Caroline Poser I decided to create the feature in The Motherhood Muse literary magazine called “A Natural Woman.” I created this feature for all moms who struggle with motherhood and feel unnatural at it.

I decided to call this feature “A Natural Woman,” because in the moments when I am feeling stressed, tired, or frustrated as a mom I often seek that deep, often lost and forgotten part of me that is just me. Me before children. Me as a woman. Who was I? Who am I now?

It is nature who helps me reconnect to that hidden, former part of myself.

After a day of tantrums, unfinished laundry, unanswered emails, crumbs stuck to the soles of my socks, no naps, a frozen dinner, and too much chocolate, I find the only way I can calm down is to open the front door and stand outside in the night air. Sometimes I only get the time and space to only think about nature, but in so doing it centers me. Nature still nurtures me, me as a woman. In the peace that it brings my mind and heart, nature gives me the chance to think about who I am.

The goal of The Motherhood Muse is to help mothers reconnect with nature for many reasons, one being for ourselves. The literature published in our magazine aims to do so by connecting readers to experiences of parenting and nature. Readers, however, may not always put themselves in the shoes of the author, which may not bridge a personal connection to nature. To do so, readers will find the feature “A Natural Woman” helps them to question how nature nurtures who they are and how being a mother influences their relationship with nature. I hope this feature will help every mother find a way to feel the natural connection we have with our environment.

“The Natural Woman” feature is open to anyone who wishes to write about themselves or interview another individual. If you are interested in being featured in this piece in our magazine or know of someone who might be, please email me at

Thank you for joining us here today and we look forward to your comments! One winner will receive a free subscription to the 2010 issues! To continue on this blog tour with us, please visit for our blog tour schedule.