Monday, October 28, 2013

The First Snow of the Season in Saskatoon

Last week I had the distinct pleasure of hosting the Saskatoon SAS user group (SUCCESS) with the assistance of a vibrant, strong and engaged Executive Committee. My colleague Carolyn Cunnison remarked that I seemed to be smiling constantly while I was there, and I'd have to agree. Saskatoon remains one of my favourite cities to visit and I always have a fantastic time with the SAS community while I'm there. Now, I think my smile may have actually been slightly frozen to my face by the chilly, chilly weather if I'm to be perfectly honest. I had arrived after 4 days spent in the humidity of Florida and while the cold wasn't yet bone-chilling it certainly was a huge difference from what I'd been accustomed to. And yes, it's true: the first snow sighting of the year did take place: an ominous, slushy and very, very frigid-looking puddle at the University of Saskatoon. Winter is coming...

I was glad that the meeting itself went a long way towards keeping me warm and happy. The meeting featured presentations from a whole host of great local speakers. Lily Wu of the Health Quality Council gave a very interesting talk on building tables with SAS: it was perfect as it nicely dovetailed and set-up my own Enterprise Guide talk later in the day. Lily was joined by her colleague Nianping Hu who offered a talk around propensity scoring models using SAS. The HQC was certainly well-represented at the meeting!

I suppose some of the staff and students of the University of Saskatchewan must have felt that they needed to reclaim the home field advantage, and by offering two presentations they certainly helped to level the playing field. Peter Beug offered a great talk around Proc Transpose - I'm always a fan of presentations which really get under the hood of a particular proc, process or prompt. Masud Rana also discussed a SAS macro he had built for univariate logistic regression. Masud has presented previously on some pretty deep statistical processes, and I think the biggest good-natured laugh of the day came after Eric Wang - the MC of the meeting - opined that he really enjoyed this talk because he actually understood it this time!

Finally, the special SAS guest truly was someone outstanding. Carolyn Cunnison has been working with SAS for many years and has instructed hundreds of users. Her ability to present complex topics in a simple, clear and patient manner takes all the confusion and anxiety out of learning SAS. We were fortunate that Carolyn was able to join us as she had recently returned from vacation. Her talks gave proof to her wide level of knowledge. She presented on hash objects first, a topic which can be complex... but which she made remarkably clear. She also gave a great talk on tips for programmers using Enterprise Guide which clearly charged up the room.

As always, I had to leave the city much too soon. It was great to spend time with friends old and new. Saskatoon is certainly fortunate that they are championed by so many strong SAS users. But I couldn't rest, I had to move on to Winnipeg with Carolyn... more on that meeting shortly.

Until then...

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