Math Geek Mom: This March, an “Outlier”

In statistics, we often talk of "outliers," observations that appear so far from the average that they teach us something about the underlying data and how they came to be. This is a concept that has gained attention recently as the month of March has so far distinguished itself as a true outlier in this part of the country.

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March 22, 2012

In statistics, we often talk of "outliers," observations that appear so far from the average that they teach us something about the underlying data and how they came to be. This is a concept that has gained attention recently as the month of March has so far distinguished itself as a true outlier in this part of the country. While March in Cleveland often involves shoveling snow and battling blizzards, this March has been picture perfect with day after day of warm spring weather. Indeed, it has recently turned into not only warm, but definitely hot weather, making some worry that this is a sign of what may in fact be global warning. While I hope this is not the case, we can certainly note that the weather this year has been anything but usual, especially for those of us who live in what is commonly called "the snow belt."

The warm weather this March has meant that flowers are appearing earlier than expected, as are the light green buds on the trees. If this process unfolds as expected, we should see leaves on trees in a few weeks. The neighborhood children are already out playing, riding bikes and shooting basketballs into hours that must interfere with their prescribed bedtimes. I am finding that encouraging my daughter to get her homework done is becoming more difficult as the sunshine lasts longer each day.

For once, the sleeveless dresses marketed to young girls for Easter will actually seem appropriate in this latitude. In the mean time, my daughter, who grew like a weed this past winter, loudly proclaimed that she had no summer clothes that still fit. I tried to convince her that she was mistaken, until I found myself agreeing with her and heading out to buy her some appropriate warm weather clothes.

I am thrilled that the nice weather allows me to leave my treadmill indoors and take my exercise routine outside, where I do laps around the neighborhood. As I do, I take in the sights, sounds and smells along the way, marveling at the new flowers and green leaves, appreciating why some people call contact with the greenery of nature "vitamin G."

I suspect that the planned neighborhood progressive dinner will overflow onto porches and decks as those in attendance move, en masse, from home to home in what will likely become a celebration of the season. Indeed, the congregations of neighbors have already begun, as we find each other on the corners to laugh and share stories, most often about our children. The other day, I found myself unable to pull my car into our driveway when I came home, since a neighborhood boy had left his bike there. As I parked my car to move the bike, his mother scolded him for leaving it there. The economist in me, however, came up with a more pragmatic solution, as I offered to sell the bike back to the very confused little boy.

My husband’s convertible has never gotten so much use so early in the year, and has already been used for trips for ice cream. Indeed, it seems impossible to believe that most of the ice cream stands and the city pools will not open until months from now. I suspect that my daughter, who has been running laps as part of her involvement in a track and field team, would prefer to be swimming laps in this warm, actually hot, weather. But those days will come soon enough, and this early taste of what is to be makes us more excited for the seasons ahead.

We look forward to days in which we can expect to soak in the sunshine and enjoy the outdoors. In a city known for being cold and overcast, this "outlier" of a year is one to savor.

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