Statistical nightmare

On BBC Breakfast News just now they were talking about a new report on mental health provision. The presenter, Suzannah Reid, went through a number of “damning” statistics in an incredulous manner. Included in the list was this gem: “46% of health trusts are below average performance.”


So, 4% more health trusts are at or above average performance than would be expected then, if the distribution was normal.. sounds like a positive rather than a negative to me. (Though there would have to be a few *very* low scores to skew the average.)

Why can’t journalists understand the very simplest statistics?

Public information announcement.

For those of you who read my entries via their “friends” page you might like to know that I’ve now completed uploading my Tromso diary as backdated entries in my journal and hence you might miss them if you don’t look directly at my journal.

*** This is the end of the public information announcement. ***

Tromsø Diary: Part 15

Another early start. This time far earlier as three of the group had an early plane to catch.
Thankfully, I bumped into the nice student midwives in the kitchen so that I could say my good-byes to them and wish them well with their studies, oh and inform them about the small amount of food that they could use that I couldn’t take home with me.
I was out of the house by 8:15am and over to Tromsdalen. Thankfully, the road were back to normal and I managed to get to the camp site early.
The night before had seen the first frost of the year and Scott’s tent was covered with a sugar frosting of ice. It had been a good call for the majority to have sort shelter in the huts.
After a short delay due to Jane trying to retrieve a glove from the Linda and Nigel chalet with the occupants being fast asleep, we were off. Jane and Heather were well pleased that I had brought with me my last supply of peanut cookies as they had them for breakfast. I deposited Jane, Heather and Scott at the airport just in time for check-in. I then took the opportunity to find out where to park my car so as to hand it back to Europcar in the afternoon and where to fill it with diesel.
It was now time to take my final journey back to base, do the final packing, and checking before putting my luggage into the car, cleaning my room and locking the door for the last time. After returning my key (and the one Isabelle had managed to find for their room) it was back to the camp site for the last time.
By the time I got back Linda, Nigel and Isabelle were all up and having breakfast in the cafe. Ed and Kate, however, were still in bed.
At this point the day, thankfully, slowed down and a few hours were spent hanging around the camp site. Linda and Nigel went for a little walk to see if they could find any war graves before the majority of the remaining group started their journey to the airport by bus. Isabelle and myself had an extra hour to kill so went for a little walk up the valley, where secondary school kids were having a cross country run.
Then, it was time to say good-bye to Tromsdalen. The journey to the airport was uneventful (other than having an annoying person in front at the petrol station) and when we arrived there we found Linda and Nigel had already arrived. This very much helped matters as they could help Isabelle transport the masses of luggage up to the main concourse and keep it safe while I took the car back.
After checking in, the long wait began before our flight. I managed to find a space at the southern end of the waiting area with plush seating for the group. Once there Isabelle had a well needed sleep while I gave the rest a slideshow of the photos I’d taken while they were on their trek.
So, at 5:18pm the plane took off to the south. The sky was almost crystal clear for most of the way down to Oslo which gave spectacular views of Norway and Sweden as we hurtled south. The captain was obviously enjoying the view as well as he gave an almost tour-bus like narration of what to look out for. Though, at the end of the journey, once we had landed, it seemed that he was eager to get home for his dinner as he seemed to taxi the aircraft at almost take-off speeds to the gate.
We had arrived in Oslo slightly early to find that our connecting flight was going to be about half an hour late, so we got something to eat before having to go through customs and sit in the rather small international departure lounge.
As it turned out, our plane was only 25 minutes late leaving, due to finding a landing slot at Heathrow and the actual journey was quite swift so we were hardly late arriving at all. During the flight I sat next to a fellow who was the main IT person for a geophysical survey company and so the journey went by quite quickly in conversation (and griping about rubbish commercial geophysical software applications).
And so, we were back. We queued for ages to get through passport control, collected our luggage and wandered into the main concourse. There we said our good-byes to Kate and Ed (who had to sleep in the terminal as his flight up to Edinburgh wasn’t until the morning) before being ferried back home by Linda and Nigel’s son.
It was a very long day. Having woken up at 5am CET and not been able to get back to sleep again I managed to survive without any sleep for 20 hours. Once I got home I unpacked the minimum I needed so as to get to bed and fell asleep.

Tromsø Diary: Part 14

The day started early. I had to get to the camping ground by 9:30am and it takes about an hour to travel there due to the excessively low speed limits.
I actually made pretty good time and arrived to pick up the first group just after 9am, though they weren’t ready. This was the start of many car journeys in the day. I had to transport two loads of people from the camping area to a camp site in Tromsdalen and then go back to base and pick up their valuables.
After spending a night with very little sleep due to the cold weather, Linda and Nigel decided that they weren’t going to camp out but instead splash out on one of the chalets and share it with Kate and Ed. Hard man Scott, of course, wouldn’t have none of that and pitched his tent. Isabelle, Jane and Heather took a rather smaller hut for the night. The seasons were certainly on the turn as the tops of many of the mountains now had their first snow of the season blanketing their summits.
I finally finished all my journeys at about lunchtime and had some food with the others in the camp site cafe before everyone, now washed, showered and clothed in non-smelly clothing, travelled into town to do their own thing before meeting up at Peppe’s Pizza for the final night evening meal.
Having left the car at the Tromsdalen camp site, I took the bus back there at around half four, picked it up and drove back in. I then struck lucky as someone left a parking space in a zone where it was free to park after 5pm just as I arrived. I subsequently saw a number of people try and fail to find a space there.
The meal at Peppe’s was well attended, with everyone there including Julia and Zhenya. I’m afraid that the banana split finally defeated me, though, and I had to leave half of it. It was a fun meal.
Afterwards the group said our good-byes and thanks to Julia and Zhenya before I left towards base, giving Zhenya a lift back home. I had offered to give Julia a lift but because she thought it too far out of my way she took the bus home.

Tromsø Diary: Part 13

I moseyed into town at about half past nine to take photos of Tromsø in general, i.e. all the non-touristy bits, so as to get a record of the town as a whole for the sake of memory. It’s probably the last time I’ll walk around there in daylight. I also picked up a number of provisions, such as mashmallows, for the group tonight as they’re having a camp fire.
At lunchtime I met up with Julia for coffee and waffles so that she could return the power lead converter I lent to her when she visited Oxford at the beginning of the year.
I left base at about 6pm to join the rest of the group but due to the way that Tromsø roads change like a rat’s maze I didn’t manage to take the tunnel under the sound but was forced to journey along the road along the sea front… which has major road works. This caused a rather big problem as the people doing the road works basically closed the road going towards the town centre but failed to actually signpost the fact! It was quite interesting avoiding the combination of on-coming traffic and construction vehicles and getting the car over piles of gravel and hard-core.
Anyway, I did manage to arrive only slightly late and was met by Isabelle in my high visibility waterproof coat I’d lent her for the hike.
The group were camped on a small grassy area just behind the beach with a hollow for a camp fire. It was obvious that this place was a well used one by local people for just this sort of thing. Everyone was glad to see me arrive with the goodies, especially the chocolate!
Despite accidently picking up greaseproof paper instead of tin foil, the chocolate bananas worked well. It seems that Nigel and Linda may be trying them out at home once they get back.
Kate was the best chef of the night, however. She caught some mussels and boilled them up before eating them with pasta.
I left them to their night in the wilds around half past ten and travelled back. Thankfully, the tunnel back towards the island was still open so the journey back was far less of an adventure.

Tromsø Diary: Part 12

A late morning, waiting for the weather to improve. Once the rain had stopped and there was a window in the weather I took a walk along the paths in the wooded centre of the island, behind the University.
It was there that I came across a number of young reindeer held in an inclosure. After a while of standing with my side towards the reindeer, as I’d seen horse whisperers do, they came over to see what I was up to. Eventually the two youngest, no more than a year old as they didn’t have any branches on their antlers, came right up to the fence and started sniffing my hand. So, I was communing with cloven beasts.. how devilish! 😉
After about a quarter of an hour I wandered on along the paths, turning back once the battery in my IXUS gave out and the weather started turning gloomy and threatening again.
I got back to base just in time as the rain started again soon afterwards. I went inside, and put the IXUS battery on recharge before deciding to see if I could see anything of the final resting place of the battleship Turpitz on the island of Håkoy. As it happens, there’s nothing there now except a memorial and (invisible from the road) a large crater left by a “Tall Boy” bomb. Still, it was a ride out.
I got back to base again at about half past six, got some food, uploaded the pictures from earlier in the day, chatted to my Dad on Skype for a bit before joining the house mates in the kitchen for the evening, finally going to bed at around half past ten.

Woot! I have net access!

Yes, I have now got perminent net access from the room I’m staying in the Tromsø so I can start updating things.

I’ve already created a new Gallery album and have uploaded all of the best images I’ve taken so far. (The northern lights photos are on page 3.)

Oh, and Alec, I seem to remember you visiting these tents during your northern excursion last year:

Am I correct?

Tromsø Diary: Part 11

The morning was taken up with beaurocracy and trying to figure out how to use automatic petrol pumps when all the instructions are in a foreign language. Still, at the end of it I had a temporary account with the University of Tromsø (UiTø) which allowed me to connect my iBook to the network connection in my room (a net connection at last!), a full tank of diesel in the car and milk in the fridge.
The rest of the morning (which wasn’t good weather-wise) was taken up talking on Bullet and testing out Skype with my Dad, who has been sorely missing a conversation with someone who can talk back normally as my Mum is not able to do this anymore. Oh, and I started uploading the best of the photos I’d taken to my Gallery at home.
So, it was now the afternoon, the weather had cleared up and looking at which direction the weather was coming from I decided to re-trace my steps on Saturday evening and head north towards Hansnes.
What a difference the weather can make to a journey. On Saturday evening it seemed to take forever, I couldn’t see anything and the rain was pouring down. Now, with the sun shining it didn’t seem to take long at all to get to the point I turned around. A couple of miles later I turned left and up, up, up at Hessfjord and drove along the road to Mikkelvik.
The scenery is spectacular up there, with lakes, inlets, mountains etc. It was definitely a good move to take that road. The light in the afternoon, playing on the autumnal golden leaves was beautiful and made it a photographer’s dream, especially as the sun sank lower.
Returning, I drove back into the cloud and by the time I’d got back to Tromsø the roads were wet again. My house mate informed me that it had been raining in the town since about 4pm.. about the time I was getting the best photos in the sunlight up north, so I’d definitely made the right choice of location for the afternoon.
The evening was spent on a combination of uploading the rest of the photos and talking to Alec and my Dad on Skype.

Tromsø Diary: Part 10

I got up reasonably early and was out of the room by 9:30am.
I drove south today along the E8 for about 10 miles before turning right onto a small road which hugged the coast of Ramfjorden and Balsfjorden. The weather was showery but there were some clear periods. At least the visibility was reasonable and the cloud base high enough that you could see the tops of the mountains, for a change.
The road rejoined the E8 about another 8 miles south of where I turned off, but my journey had been about 20 miles. I continued driving south along the E8. Unfortunately, pretty well every place with a good view didn’t have a lay-by and as you can’t stop on the side of Norwegian roads I couldn’t get a photo. Oh well.
Also, I think I got confused by the Norwegian speed limits so I might have been caught by one of their speed cameras. I’m not sure though. The speed limit may actually have been 90km/h or 80km/h and I was doing 90km/h. I wish that they’d be more explicit. (At the end of a 30 zone the speed limit reverts to what it was before the 30 zone, which could be 50, 60 or 70. At the end of a 50 zone, again, the speed limit reverts to the previous limit, etc. But at the end of a 60 zone does it revert to the previous speed limit or 80km/h, the national speed limit, if the limit before the 60 was 90?)
Anyway, I drove all the way down to Heia (via Nordkjosbotn which is a good name for a place if ever there was one) where, in a lay-by, were a number of north american indian tents (not teepees as that’s the name only one of the tribes used) being used as small shops to sell things such as snacks to tourists. Wierd! The lay-by also seems to be a congregational point for the local bikers.
By this point the weather had closed in so, after eating my lunch, I turned back hand headed back to Tromsø.
Just before Tromsdalen I turned off the road to visit the war museum. It was quite a small place with ephemera from world war II and at least some English language explanations. Basically, it is based in the last remaining German gun battery in the area. Within the control room was an exhibition on the Turpitz and its final destruction by Lancaster bombers in 1944.
After this I returned to base, ate dinner and spent the evening watching telly with one of the other house mates, a nice trainee midwife.