Facebook Friends Network

I just used the  MyFnetwork app to visualize my friendship networks (see my network below). 

The plot doesn't really tell me anything I didn't already know, but you can definitely see social clusters of my FB friends. For example,

  • The upper part of the network is composed of mostly FB friends from the University of Minnesota.
  • The lower-lefthand side of the network is mostly composed of FB friends that I knew from my high school days.
  • The lower-righthand side of the network is mostly composed of FB friends from my days teaching at ROCORI.
The color coding indicates the centrality of the people shown in the network. Not surprisingly, Joan, Stacy and Danielle are prominently displayed as having high centrality–and Tim is at the center of the network.



Seen in the University Chronicle

On Valentine's Day, the St. Cloud State newspaper–like every other student newspaper in the country, publishes messages of love. This one made me laugh a lot.

You're a jerk. I saw you out with
that pigeon last week. I'm moving
out. Take your own bath, count
sheep by yourself, and you can
shove your bottle cap collection.

Digital Scrapbook: Varun Puri

Varun Puri was another one of my friends from high school. This kid was hella-smart. I met Varun in Boy Scouts (Troop 21). We also ran track together and bowled for knowledge. Varun was a National Merit Scholar and won every scholastic and smart person award at Apollo High School. He was also meticulously neat and had people clean their shoes before riding in his car.

After high school Varun went to the Air Force Academy where he continued his academic dominance. The following appeared in the St. Cloud Times.

Varun Puri
Air Force Academy
Apollo Grad Honored
By Rene Kaluza
Times Staff Writer

A St. Cloud man will receive a national aviation and aerospace magazine's top award tonight in ceremonies at the Smithsonian Institution's Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

Varun Puri, 22, son of Vijay and Usha Puri, St. Cloud, will be one of 11 individuals, companies or agencies honored at Aviation Week and Space Technology magazine's 38th annual awards.

Puri, 22, was selected as the top cadet from the U.S. Air Force Academy. He graduated from Apollo High School in 1991 and will graduate third in his class this spring from the academy.

The magazine's Laurel Award recognizes outstanding individuals and companies in the aviation and aerospace technology industry. In addition, a top aviation student from each of the nation's four military academies is selected to receive the award.

Puri was selected for the honor by Air Force Academy instructors. Selection was based on class rank, leadership qualities and concentration on aviation or aerospace studies.

Vijay Puri said his son has earned a spot in the Air Force's pilot training but may delay the training until he earns a master's degree, most likely at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Varun Purl became interested in aviation during high school earning his pilot's license and the rank of commander in the Civil Air Patrol, Vijay Puri said.

Vijay said he and his wife will not attend tonight's ceremonies but they will be thinking of their son as he stands among some of the top officials in the aviation and aerospace industries. "We are very proud of him," Vijay said.

Digital Door: The Next Sexy Job

 Hal Varian, chief economist at Google, was interviewed for McKinsey Quarterly in 2009 about how managers need to better understand how technology empowers innovation and the cheap, ubiquity of data. During the interview, Hal states,
I keep saying the sexy job in the next ten years will be statisticians. People think I'm joking, but who would've guessed that computer engineers would've been the sexy job of the 1990s?

Hal Varian
He goes on to say, "The ability to take data - to be able to understand it, to process it, to extract value from it, to visualize it, to communicate it's going to be a hugely important skill in the next decades, not only at the professional level but even at the educational level for elementary school kids, for high school kids, for college kids. Because now we really do have essentially free and ubiquitous data. So the complimentary scarce factor is the ability to understand that data and extract value from it."

"I think statisticians are part of it, but it's just a part. You also want to be able to visualize the data, communicate the data, and utilize it effectively. But I do think those skills - of being able to access, understand, and communicate the insights you get from data analysis - are going to be extremely important. Managers need to be able to access and understand the data themselves."

Steve Lohr, a technology, business and economics columnist for the New York Times, also in 2009, also wrote about statistics, stating,

The rising stature of statisticians, who can earn $125,000 at top companies in their first year after getting a doctorate, is a byproduct of the recent explosion of digital data. In field after field, computing and the Web are creating new realms of data to explore — sensor signals, surveillance tapes, social network chatter, public records and more. And the digital data surge only promises to accelerate, rising fivefold by 2012, according to a projection by IDC, a research firm. 

Yet data is merely the raw material of knowledge. 'We’re rapidly entering a world where everything can be monitored and measured,' said Erik Brynjolfsson, an economist and director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Digital Business. 'But the big problem is going to be the ability of humans to use, analyze and make sense of the data.'

The new breed of statisticians tackle that problem. They use powerful computers and sophisticated mathematical models to hunt for meaningful patterns and insights in vast troves of data. The applications are as diverse as improving Internet search and online advertising, culling gene sequencing information for cancer research and analyzing sensor and location data to optimize the handling of food shipments.

The entire article can be read here [read article]. These predictions seem to be even more relevant in 2011. CIO Magazine reported its list of the Hottest New Jobs in IT in June, and Data Scientist made the list at #2.

Big data -- that is, the glut of unstructured or semi-structured information generated by Web clickstreams, system logs, and other event-driven activities -- represents a huge opportunity. Buried in that mountain of data may be invaluable nuggets about customer behavior, security risks, potential system failures, and more. But when you're talking terabytes that double in volume every 18 months, where do you start? That's where the data scientist comes in.

On the business side, data scientists can open up new opportunities by uncovering hidden patterns in unstructured data, such as customer behavior or market cycles. On the dev side, a data scientist can use deep data trends to optimize websites for better customer retention. Within the IT department, a skilled data scientist can spot potential storage cluster failures early or track down security threats through forensic analysis.

"There's now an intellectual consensus in business that the only way to run an enterprise is to use analytics with data scientists to find opportunities," says Norman Nie, CEO of Revolution Analytics, which produces the first commercial application to bring the R data analysis programming language into the business world. Because of the immense opportunity for strategic insight buried in all that data, says Nie, "corporations now have an unlimited demand for people with background in quantitative analysis."

The R programming language is just one tool in the data scientist's toolbox. Others range from business analytics software from established providers like SAS Institute to IBM's new InfoSphere platform to analytics technology acquired in EMC's recent acquisitions of Greenplum and Isilon Systems. Just last May, EMC Greenplum hosted the first ever Data Scientist Summit.

According to Nie, data science jobs will require workers with a spectrum of skills, from entry-level data cleaners to the high-level statisticians, yielding a range of opportunities for newcomers to the field. As the business world gets increasingly social, the demand for people to plumb the depths of all that social networking clickstream data will only increase. The cliché going around is that "data is the new oil." A career in refining that raw material sounds like a good bet.


Digital Scrapbook: Huan Tran

Huan Tran was one of my brilliant friends. We initially became friends through Knowledge Bowl. He was on the Technical High School team and I bowled for Apollo. We both attended St. Cloud State University and continued the arcane quest for trivia by uniting on the same College Bowl team. 

Huan went on to graduate school at Princeton and got a Ph.D. in astrophysics. Afterward he worked at Berkeley in cosmology. Unfortunately, Huan passed away in 2009. He was working on a microwave telescope named PolarBear to better measure the gravitational waves that emanated from the universe just after its creation at the time of his death. The telescope was renamed as the Huan Tran Telescope in his honor.  

This little blurb appeared in the St. Cloud State newspaper after Huan had decided to go to Princeton.

St. Cloud State's Top Physics Student Selects Princeton

St. Cloud State University physics major Huan Tran has spent four years as an undergraduate student developing a spectrometer that will be shot into space as part of a joint experiment between St. Cloud State, the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and NASA. The red laser light in the photo was produced by the spectrometer.

About Huan Tran

Name: Huan Tran
Age: 21
Education: Technical High School, 1992; St. Cloud State University, spring 1996; Will attend Princeton for graduate school in the fall 1996.
Family: Parents, Huy and Nhung Tran and three brothers and two sisters. Huan is the second youngest.
Accomplishments: President of the St. Cloud State physics Club. co-authored several scholarly papers, worked on a research project for NASA, tutors physics students, is a National Merit Scholar and recently won Joseph Henry Prize for research at Princeton as well as a full scholarship to the school.


Digital Scrapbook: Anthony Schrock

Anthony and I became friends in 9th grade over a mutual crush on Monica Hartman. Soon he became my "adopted" brother. We were inseparable–running partners, the Joe Montana and Jerry Rice of Nerf football, comic book mavens (remember when Granite City Comics was in Westgate on the second floor??), KOOL 108 sing-along specialists...and the list goes on. The following article on Anthony was written for The Wake Student Magazine, a bi-weekly, student-operated news, arts and entertainment publication run by University of Minnesota students.

The Sensual Art of Anthony Schrock
Interview by Morgan Mae Schultz

When I visited the studio of Twin Cities artist Anthony Austin Schrock. I left this world of technology-assisted art at the door. Three giant oak easels are stationed in the corners, tall like Doric columns holding up the low basement ceiling. Badger, sable, and hog hair paintbrushes fill jars on a wooden table. Shelves hold translucent bottles of oils and solvents. ground pigments and neatly arranged tubes of paint. Sticks of charcoal and graphite hide in dark little drawers. Aside from the stereo in the corner and expensive lamps on his drawing table, nothing in the room was invented after 1850.

The same can be said about the subjects of Schrock's work-passive nudes with a bit of drapery, portraits of introspective women in timeless peasant costumes. and studies of Greek and Roman statuary. Schrock's technique is meticulous, and like the old masters, he is as much craftsman as artist. He believes that great art takes skill, not just concept.

One drawing, Marianne, was included in Skin 2003, a local juried show (reviewed on page 7). 1t is a simple, closely cropped female torso in charcoal. Light and shadows are carefully rendered, and the visual presence of palpable flesh in this piece shows the skill of the artist.

Schrock chooses nudes. and particularly women, as subject matter because, he says, "One of the most basic things, all a person owns, is their own body. We are all interested in our own bodies. People are the most beautiful thing. I'll never paint a landscape or a puppy. I hope that my
work just shows beauty. There are a lot of things in the world that are ugly. As a man I admire women and appreciate the beauty of women. Most of the art that l really admire throughout history has been of women and I think that women are more aesthetically pleasing than men." When asked if his work is objectifying to women, Schrock simply says, "No," then goes on to cite the fact that most of his patrons have been women.

"All of the things that strike me most deeply have a mixture of beauty and sadness in them.

Although Schrock has done expressly erotic work in the past, his recent work has been described as sensual, not erotic. He says the difference between art and pornography is the intended effect on the audience. "If a piece is supposed to stimulate one's mind. it's probably fine art. and if a piece is supposed to stimulate one's genitals. it's probably porn. There are things out there that are a middle ground and those things are actually pretty interesting."

Schrock is currently preparing to hang a show at Espresso Royale in Downtown Minneapolis. This show will focus on work that explores the past, partly through portraiture, incorporating period clothing (including some tirelessly researched sketches of Joan of Arc). The jewels of the upcoming
show, however, are a series of paintings and drawings depicting classical sculpture. Schrock is haunted by museums' remnants of Greek and Roman statuary, and renders them with the same reverence he gives to portraits of living people. "All of the things that strike me most deeply have a mixture of beauty and sadness in them," he says. "That's something that fascinates me so much. And here was the absolute pinnacle, the crowning achievement of the artistic efforts of an entire civilization, and we can still look at them. But they're worn and they're falling apart. Some of them have flat spots where they've been dragged and crocks and missing pieces. We have a phrase. 'etched in stone' which means permanent, but stone isn't even permanent. Here are these things that are so beautiful and so finely made, but at the same time you can't see one that doesn't have a crack or a missing nose."

Audience reactions to Schrock's first attempts in this series went something like, "You obviously put a lot of work into that but don't point it right at my face." I've seen these early attempts, and I think it's the creepy eyes. Luckily, he was persistent. "They kept coming back to me in my head and I kept painting them again and again." Since then his technique has improved, and the results are elegant, daringly composed oils and charcoal drawings that are very worth seeing.

See the work of Anthony Austin Schrock at Espresso Royale. 13th and
Hennepin. April 3-30th.

Here was the postcard announcing Anthony's show at Espresso Royale.


Digital Scrapbook: My Friend Kris

One of my best friends during high school, college, and life, is Kris Fremo (née Gorman). We met around the ninth grade, but really started chillin' in the tenth grade when we both started singing with the Master's Touch. Kris and I hung out a lot–playing Nintendo (Dr. Mario), baking cookies, watching TV, and just plain having fun. Wow–that seems like forever ago.

Kris was a standout athlete in high school and college. She was the starting goalie for the Apollo High School girl's soccer team and was also a phenom softball pitcher. She continued her softball career with St. Ben's.

In 1998, I was teaching at ROCORI high school and coaching the ninth grade girl's soccer team at Apollo High School. Kris had just started a girl's soccer program at Saint John's Preparatory School. We joined forces the following year at St. John's when the team had it's first official season as a varsity sport. Over the next few years that team got better and better.

Blazer's pitcher Gorman doesn't let back pain slow her down
Senior pitcher Kris Gorman delivers during the
first game  of St. Benedict's double-header
with St. Mary's Wednesday in St. Joseph. The Cardinals swept 5–4 and 2–1.
St. Benedict junior had off-season surgery and is 4-1 this year

By Tom Larson
Times Sports Writer

St. Benedict softball pitcher Kris Gorman didn't dare grimace, even as the pain-shot through her body every time she planted her foot and swung her arm through her delivery.

Four members of her family already had undergone back surgery to repair herniated discs, and before last season the condition of her back began to worsen too.

But wIth her Blazers teammates in the middle of a Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship race and seeking a spot in the NCAA Division III playoffs, it wasn't the time to make a big deal about it.

"It wasn't something I wanted competitors to know," said the junior out of St. Cloud Apollo High School. "You don't want them to have any kind of edge."

In fact, some of Gorman's teammates weren't fully aware that even bending down to field ground balls was a painful chore.

"It bothered me before the season, during and after," she said. "Between
innings-and I don't think people really knew what was going on-I'd try to lie down to stretch out, even though it never really helped. It affected everything I did, my stride when I pitched. I'm surprised everything worked out like it did."

And, after off-season surgery, things appear to be working out well once again.

Entering today's scheduled doubleheader against Concordia, Gorman is 4-1
and has led St. Benedict to a 6-3 record. This despite the fact that poor weather and new construction on the building where the team's batting cages used to be have limited the Blazers to very little hitting practice.

Gorman this weekend earned a 6-5 victory in the first game of a doubleheader against Bethel, then entered later in the second game and got the win in a 5-4 Blazers victory decided in the ninth inning.

The results this season haven't been much difference than they were last season when Gorman was 14-5 with a 1.71 earned-run average for the 27-9 Blazers, which won its second straight MIAC title (with co-champion St. Thomas) before losing in the first round of the Division III playoffs.

How she's doing it has changed significantly, head coach Denny Johnson said.

"Her flexibility last year was bad, and she just gutted it out," Johnson said. "Kris is a competitor and the worse it got, the more she beared down."

Gorman had back problems before, but they reappeared the fall of her
sophomore year. As the condition worsened, she took cortisone shots to try control it, but the injections didn't work. She was having trouble sitting through classes, much less throwing a softball.

After making it through the season, she had surgery on June 3. She wasn't allowed to do much for three months, and that meant needing a lot of help coaching her youth softball team last summer.

Gorman took part in rehabilitation and walked, but wasn't permitted to run until November. She got behind in her usual off-season workouts, but believes the inactivity was more important.

"It hasn't bothered me so far, and I hope it stays that way," Gorman said. "I did a lot of rehabilitation and I think it helped that I didn't do anything for a long time."

The surgery hasn't dramatically affected the physical aspects of her game, but it has made it easier mentally, she said.

"I'm more able to focus on the game than focus on not thinking about my back," Gorman said. "I can think about my control, the little things."

And there's one other little thing Johnson is glad to see. "I'm amazed at what Kris was able to do," Johnson said. "This year, when she stretches out, she's smiling."

Kris is also über-smart

Gorman earns all-academic honor

College of St. Benedict junior softball pitcher Kris Gorman was named to the GTE-CoSIDA District V All-Academic team. Gorman, a former St. Cloud Apollo star, had a 13–5 record, four saves and a 1.43 earned-run average this season. She has a 3.93 grade-point average this season and is an art education major.

Kris Gorman, daughter of Urban and Rose Gorman, St. Cloud, and Kathleen Noonan, daughter of Michael and Judith Noonan, St. Cloud, have been inducted into the 1995 Delta Epsilon Sigma Omega Chapter, a national Catholic honor society for women at the College of St. Benedict, St. Joseph.

Gorman gets career win No: 47 despite missing suspended game

NORTHIFIELD - St Benedict pitcher Kris Gorman picked up her 47th on Sunday without coming anywhere close to a softball diamond.

Kris Gorman
Gorman, who missed the Blazers' season-ending series at Carleton because she had her senior voice recital, was the pitcher of record in a suspended game that was halted after four innings on Thursday. On Sunday, the Blazers played the final inning of the game, completing a 20-3 victory. St. Benedict then won the second game of the doubleheader 10-0.

Gina Shields led the way offensively, going 3-for-4 with four runs while driving in four others in the first game. Angie Rademacher was 3-for-4 in the second game.

"We can finish no worse than second, and we can possibly tie for first," Blazers coach Dennis Johnson said. "But we dug ourselves too deep a hole early in the season to get an NCAA bid."

Kris taught art at Saint John's Preparatory School. This picture appeared in the St. Cloud Times sometime in the mid-nineties. Look at how big that computer is!

College of St. Benedict senior Kathryn Kluver (center) showed fellow students her art project on one of the college's Macintosh computers. The other students are (from left) Jennifer Borovsky, Stephanie Lavinger, Allison Keable and Kris Gorman.

Kris married Dave Fremo, another Master's Touch alum. Here is their wedding announcement. Eventually I may get a photo or two from her wedding posted. I was in the wedding party and had two dates to that event–Angela and Lisa, who were also in the wedding party.



Erv and Rosee Gorman, 1122 31st Ave. N, St. Cloud, announce the engagement of their daughter Kris, to David Fremo, son of Dennis and Leann Fremo, 513 Brookwood Lane, Sartell.

Gorman is a 1996 graduate of College of St. Benedict, St. Joseph, with a bachelor of art degree in art education. She is employed by St. John's Preparatory School, Collegeville.

Fremo is a student at St. John's University, Collegeville, and plans to graduate in May with a bachelor of art degree in christian music and production.

A June 19 wedding is planned.