How close are you to a nuclear plant?

Have you ever wondered how far you live from the closest nuclear power plant? I've crunched the numbers for cities here in the US, and created an interactive SAS map to help answer that question!

The average age of US nuclear power plants is 35 years, and there just doesn't seem to be a push to build a lot of new ones (contradicting one of my favorite 1980s songs). Perhaps a few famous nuclear accidents (Three Mile Island in 1979, Chernobyl in 1986, and Fukushima in 2011), along with worries about what to do with spent radioactive fuel/etc, make it a bit too risky for most power companies to pursue. But the nuclear plants we've already got will probably be around for quite some time ... which gets us back to the original question, "How far do you live from the closest nuclear power plant?"

I did a few Web searches to see what might already be out there on this topic, and found the following map on the metricmaps website. It was an eye-catching map, but what did it mean? After a bit of studying, I guessed that the yellow areas were close to a nuclear plant, and the violet/purple areas were farther away. I wasn't sure if the height on the map represented the elevation, or the distance from the plants (I'm thinking the latter, but that doesn't really seem like a good way to visualize it, since that can easily be confused with actual elevation). Also, it was difficult to tell how far specific cities are from nuclear plants. Read More »

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A map of Zika cases in the US

As Zika starts spreading into the US, it will be important to have a way to track it. Therefore I wrote some SAS code to pull the latest data from the CDC website, and plot it on a map...

But before we get into the details of my map, I wanted to share a bit of trivia with you. How many of you know what's in the photo below (courtesy of my friend Mubarra)? Yes, it looks like a tennis or badminton racket, but it's actually an electric mosquito swatter (or sometimes called a mosquito bat). It's sort of like the old "bug zappers" that were popular in the 1980s, but instead of using a black light to lure the mosquitoes into the electric wires, you target them manually. I think they are more popular in other countries right now, but I foresee them becoming popular here in the near future!


The number of Zika cases in the US is on the rise, and I recently saw the data presented using the following bubble map in a New York Times article. I liked the map, but since they only labeled the number of cases in a couple of states, it left me to wonder exactly how many cases have been in other states. Also, since Puerto Rico isn't one of the official 50 US states, I'd rather not show it in this particular map (not that it's unimportant - but Zika is "already there" in a big way). Read More »

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Now is the time to get SAS certified

Yes, I read the baby books.  I visited the websites.  I swaddled a football.  I was prepared.

When my daughter came into the world last year there was a small comfort that I had done about all I could do to prepare for her arrival.  I say a small comfort because there really isn’t a great deal of ease and relaxation to be found in four hours of sleep a night and lots of crying.  The baby cried as well. One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned in my brief journey into fatherhood is that knowledge needs to be applied and tested to really become a skill you can rely on.

Is SAS like my toddler?  Well, no.  SAS is much better with math, and my daughter is better at throwing a ball.  However, both parenting and working with SAS can be rewarding, long-term pursuits.  SAS can be simple.  A short WHERE or IF statement can be a powerful tool that can be learned in minutes.  SAS can also be complex, with some people devoting 40 years to continual learning and career growth to do extraordinary things with SAS.  Regardless of your current skill level, you should take a serious look at SAS certification if you’re interested in using SAS in your work.

Why?  Let’s count the reasons… Read More »

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5 new books to go back to school with SAS

Whether you’re a high school student, a college student, a working professional looking to step up their SAS® game, or a lifelong learner who wants to explore analytics, statistics, and learn new skills, SAS Press has something for everyone this back-to-school season.


  1. A Recipe for Success Using SAS(R) University Edition: How to Plan Your First Analytics Project

This book teaches beginners with no programming experience how to start using analytics, use SAS to accomplish a project goal, effectively apply SAS to their projects or assignments, and more. Dr. Sharon Jones uses real world scenarios and case studies of projects done by her own students to help you brainstorm fun projects that will help you use SAS in your daily life. “I’ve broken this book down into easy-to-read chapters so readers can get quick and easy takeaway tips they can then apply within their community or school,” said Dr. Jones. “The goal of this text is to introduce readers to SAS and show them that when applied correctly, this software solution can help them accomplish multiple project tasks, such as data entry management, business forecasting, report and graphics writing, and more.” Read More »

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Free POC, on the latest SAS technology, in your own office

Ever wanted to test out the latest SAS® technology on your own data, but lacked the time or administrative backing of IT to make that happen?  Ever wanted to test drive Hadoop with your own data and SAS® but are lacking the support or skills to do that?  If I piqued your interest, let me take a moment and introduce you to the Analytics Fast Track™ for SAS®.  This portable Proof of Concept (POC) solution has all of the latest SAS® technology installed and already configured for your use.  You no longer need to worry about exporting your snippets of data and sending them to SAS®, instead, we send the software, hardware and experts to you.

Worried about actually loading the data and administering the box?  You don't need to worry about that either.  Part of the Analytics Fast Track™ for SAS® POC is having a SAS team accompany it.  The SAS® team will help ensure the success of your POC and make sure there are no administrative issues to worry about or slow you down.  You will work with your SAS® account team to set the expectations and success criteria for your POC before we even come on site.  This way you will have a more focused timeline and have more time and energy to explore and innovate with these new SAS® technologies.  Typical POC's completed in this manner have taken less than a week to complete.  That’s right - days, not months, to realize the value of SAS®.  Not too bad being able to see some ROI before you even have to spend anything.  Yes, you read that correctly as well, no cost to you. Read More »

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If we didn't start the fire, then who did?

If you're into 1980s pop music, then I bet you love Billy Joel's song We Didn't Start the Fire. But do you know every word, and the significance of every reference? Let's use SAS software to create an interactive visualization that will help you fully understand this song!

I first saw an infographic visualization about this song on Rachel Lee's design page. It was visually captivating, and the layout reminded me of a couple of my favorite 1980s arcade games (Tempest and Gyrus), or maybe a concentric version of Tetris - how could I not be drawn in?!? ...


In Billy Joel's song, he mentions things in chronological order, and the infographic mirrors that (starting with 1949 at the top, with spokes proceeding 1 year at a time clockwise), with each colored box representing a different thing mentioned in the song. But the placement of the boxes along the rings (outer to inner) seems a bit arbitrary - they're arranged in the order of the color legend (from outer to inner). This makes for a pretty 'rainbow effect', but isn't really useful for analytics. Read More »

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The perfect classroom companion for teaching SAS

littlesasbookexercisesIt’s back to school time again. If you’re working to get your lesson plans in place, we have something that might help you and your students - Exercises and Projects for The Little SAS Book.

This book is perfect for instructors and students in a classroom setting, especially when used alongside the main book -- The Little SAS Book, Fifth Edition.

It’s also a helpful book for new users or anyone who wants to brush up on their SAS skills.

One of the authors, Rebecca Ottesen shares more information about what’s inside the pages in this short video. Read More »

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Female voters outnumber males in North Carolina

Since this is an election year, I've been scrutinizing the voter registration data. One thing that surprised me is there are more female voters registered in NC than males. I wondered if this was consistent across all 100 counties, and created some charts to help visualize the data...

First I went to the NC State Board of Elections website, found the latest voter registration data, and wrote some SAS code to scrape the data out of the html of their web page. They have totals by county of several different categories of voters, but the ones I'm interested in are the number of male and female voters:


Next I calculated male and female voters as a percent of total voters, and plotted them in a bar chart. This chart was a nice visual representation of what was in the table, and it was easy to find a specific county since the county names are alphabetical. The graph is fairly large, therefore in this intermediate version I've only included the top section of it in the blog - click it to see the full graph of all 100 counties:


But I was more interested in analyzing and comparing the % female voters across all counties, rather than looking up the value for a specific county - therefore I created a second version of the bar chart sorted by the % female voters. I think this gives me a lot more insight into how consistent (or not) the % female voters are, and gives me an easy way to see how many counties have less than 50% female voters. (Same as before, click to see all 100 counties.) Read More »

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What's your stress score?

There's an old expression "if you can't measure it, you can't manage it" - and while that expression probably isn't universally true (as pointed out in this interesting article), I think having a way to quantify your stress could be useful.

I recently read an interesting article about the Holmes-Rahe Life Stress Inventory, which assigns numeric values to various sources of stress. You sum up your score for the stress you've experienced in the past year, and you can then determine the likelihood of having a major health breakdown based on that score.


The information in their table was interesting, but I thought it was a bit awkward to work with. The numeric values of the stress events were on the far right, so your eye had to follow all the way across the page to find them. They also numbered each item along the left (I'm not sure why), and these numbers could be confused with the score values. And showing the numeric ranges as text at the bottom of the table just didn't seem intuitive. Read More »

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Solar and wind power in the United States

Where is solar and wind power generated in the US? Let's visualize this data on a map...

I recently saw the following map on the website. It caught my attention because it looks like North Carolina has a lot of solar power plants, whereas our neighboring states have very few. This seemed odd at first glance, and made me wonder if their map might be incorrect ...


I had recently been mapping other data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), and since I already had their data imported into SAS, I thought I'd try re-creating the wind/solar map.

I only made a few changes to their map. I decided to use the 2014 final data rather than the 2015 early release data. I made the title a little bigger, and I used circular markers for both solar and wind, rather than using 2 lines for wind (the circular markers are easier to see the mouse-over text when the markers are densely packed). Read More »

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