Monday, December 8, 2014

Statistics on the Theme of a Christmas song

I had an interesting experience at a certain nursing home yesterday. Seeing as I am considering entering the field of geriatric research (read: I'm mucking around on an Alzheimer's project my mentor was kind enough to let me join in on), I figured I should probably get over my aversion to the elderly. Hence the nursing home excursion in the first place. But I digress. While we were there visiting with a real peppy lady, a group of young adults came in to sing Christmas hymns. Mind you, they were stressing the hymn part pretty strongly; they were not there to carol. At least, this was the sentiment expressed by the spokesman. I found his attitude rather amusing, and apparently so did this lady, because when asked what hymn she would like them to sing, she went with "Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!" The leader fellow was obviously a little put out, but the rest of his troop promptly burst into such an energetic intro that our recipient had to turn down her hearing aid. Having finished, this fellow again asked if there was a hymn she'd like to hear. Her response: "Over the river and through the woods." Again, the poor fellow was disappointed, but the group was evidently tired of the same 5 hymns in every room and so again obliged. However, as the song progressed, more and more dropped out. By the end, it was my roommate and I who triumphantly brought in the end of the song. Needless to say, we only did one verse of that one.

Which brings me to my point. I was really surprised that people didn't know this little gem of a song. It's pretty short (especially if you only do one verse) and it's pretty simple. Admittedly, it is a little antiquated and, according to Wikipedia, was originally written as a Thanksgiving song, which explains why it isn't often sung. But I was still taken aback to find such a small percentage who knew it. So, being the inquiring scientific mind that I am, I deigned to design a study (read: I asked the people I interacted with today whether they knew the song). The results: no one, apart from my roommate in the original instance, could actually sing the song through one verse.

[Note to the reader: the next paragraph is dripping with sarcasm and hyperbole.]
Although I know you will agree that this study embodies the essence of good science, some caveats do exist (my statistics professor ought to be so proud). I will admit that my sample size is dismally small (n=a dozen and a half or so - I know, real precise) and was selected in a rather biased manner, i.e. only my roommates and academic friends were considered. Nevertheless, I must conclude that I am one of the few left in the population in possession of this knowledge, granted I could only sing one verse with confidence. Thus, I thought I would take it upon myself to disseminate this valuable piece of Americana and enrich your holiday season. I have fond memories of listening to this on a Disney sing-along cassette tape during my childhood and would be miserly of me if I didn't let you in on the creation of your own fond memories.
For those of you unfamiliar with this relic.
♫Hurrah for old techno toys!♪
Tell me this doesn't make you smile?

In other news, despite my above animation, I am looking forward to the termination of my statistics course with great anticipation. Only one more hurdle - the final, which, fortunately but unfortunately, has been divided into 3 parts. Wish me luck!

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