The Graph Guy is retiring!


The rumors are true - The Graph Guy is retiring!

I've been working at SAS for about 30 years, and had lots of fun stretching the limits of SAS' graphing & mapping software over the years. But I've decided to retire while I'm still young enough to pursue a lot of my hobbies (and perhaps even start a few new ones). That's a young 56, in case you're curious!

And what does a Graph Guy do to prepare for retirement? I dug up all the old SAS graphs & maps I created about fun things I'd like to do ... so I can go and actually do them after I retire! It turned out to be such a great list, I decided to share them (in case you'd like to do them too!)

Here's a picture to get you in the mood for some retirement graphs. This is my recently-retired buddy Ed (original author of Proc Geocode and Proc SGmap, and former SAS/GIS developer) enjoying retirement. He's my "gold standard" for being happily retired. πŸ™‚

And now, without further delay, here is my list of things I might do during retirement ... in graphical form (click the images, to see the interactive graphs and/or blog posts with details):

National Parks

The US has many wonderful National Parks (NPs). I could probably spend my entire retirement traveling around the country visiting them. Luckily, I created a graph for each park, showing its "popularity" - I can use that information to choose a popular/crowded park, or a less popular (aka, not crowded) park, depending on whether I want to be around a lot of people. Here's the graph for Glacier National Park (click the graph to see the other NP graphs!)

Natural Wonders

I'm a big fan of nature - especially Natural Wonders. This map shows the locations of some impressive Natural Wonders, and you can click the markers to to find out more about them:


Many retirees buy a camper, and hit the open road. For example, that's exactly what my buddy Ed did (see the photo above). Camping can be more economical than staying in hotels ... and you have all your 'stuff' with you. And if I finally buy a camper, I might finally get to put my North Carolina (NC) campground map to use!

Motor Boating

I really like boating, and when I retire I might move to a house on a lake, or at least near the water. Hopefully my house would have its own boat dock, but if it doesn't then it would be good to know where all the marinas are located - in which case my NC marina map might come in handy:

SCUBA Diving

A decade or so ago, I got certified for SCUBA diving, and went on several dive trips. Perhaps it's time to get back into that after I retire! And I can use one of my dive site maps to help pick interesting diving locations around NC:

Day Trips

I typically get bored if I spend a whole week somewhere on vacation. Therefore I'm a big fan of "day trips". This map should give me lots of ideas for short trips close to home!

And if those day trips aren't enough, I'm sure I could keep busy visiting various places mentioned in this Tar Heel Traveler map. Scott Mason does a great job of finding interesting places and people, and sharing their stories!

When I head out on all those day trips to every nook and cranny of NC, I better know how to pronounce the names of the places like a local - otherwise I'll get the dreaded "You ain't from around here, are ya?". This map of commonly mispronounced places should help me blend in - it shows the tricky names, along with how to pronounce them.


While I'm traveling around NC and seeing all the sights, I'm bound to get hungry. And of course my favorite meal is some good ole barbecue. And of course, the best barbecue is cooked over a real wood fire (rather than charcoal, gas, or electric). Restaurants that use real wood are getting more and more rare, therefore I downloaded a list from, and created a map:

And this other map will let me know what kind of sauce to expect in various locations (I'm not a big fan of the mustard based sauce, therefore I might avoid eating barbecue in those areas!)

Scottish Festivals

My grandmother did some research and found that our last name (Allison) came from Scotland. Therefore I'm interested in the Scottish heritage, and like to attend Scottish festivals when I can. Therefore I created an interactive map to help me keep track of the festivals in my area. Who knows - with all this free time in my retirement, I might become one of those guys running around in a kilt, tossing cabers!

Dating Potential

Statistics show that as the US population ages, women tend to live longer than men. Therefore, being a "betting man" (or a statistician), I would say that (in general) the older I get, the ratio of single/available women to men in my age range will increase. Or, in graphical terms (see my graph below) the pink bars on the right (females), are longer than the blue bars on the left (males) for the retired age groups ... and the difference increases the as age increases.

Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach, SC seems to be a mecca for retired people - especially during the off season. I think I got an early start, because I liked going to Myrtle Beach during the off season, event before I turned 50 (it's just too crowded for me, during the warmer months). Therefore I'll probably be heading down to Myrtle Beach a bit more often after I retire. I set up the following map so I can click on my favorite waterfront resorts/hotels, to quickly/easily check their prices and availability:

Fun Cities

Over the years, I've created several 'city guide' maps for various SAS Global Forum cities, showing fun things to do there. Maybe I'll have time to visit those cities now, and check out all those places!

World Travel

I've shown examples of places to go in NC and United States (above) ... but what about the rest of the world? Well, I'm not much of a long-distance traveler. However, I might make an exception for the Beautiful and Interesting Places in this map...


I really enjoy paddling boats (canoes, kayaks, surfskis, etc). It's healthy to be outdoors, and it's good exercise when you paddle them fast. I have a few locations I usually go to (Lake Crabtree, Lake Wheeler, Jordan Lake, Beaver Dam section of Falls Lake, etc) ... but with lots of extra time in retirement, I'll probably branch out and try some new locations. Here's a map I created, that might help:

Motorcycle Riding

I have two motorcycles (that I don't ride nearly enough). After I retire, I'll have plenty of time to ride them. I could do things like head out to the western part of the state, to enjoy the colorful leaves in the fall. I might even try cruising down the Tail of the Dragon - a very curvy stretch of road in the mountains on the NC/Tennessee border. This map can tell me which portions to be particularly careful on. You can click each red marker to zoom-in to a Google street view map.


By buddy Abby (dad of a former Carolina Rollergirl superstar) is an older guy who does a lot of outdoor roller blading - and he's really good at it, by the way! Most of my skating has been indoors on quad skates, but maybe it's time to dust off my outdoor roller blades and hit the skate trails! And if I do, this map will show me where to go:

Environmental Volunteer

Back in my younger days, I volunteered to help researchers collect data in the Bahamas for a coral bleaching study. This particular project was on a remote and sparsely populated island (San Salvador Island), and I really enjoyed my week there. I think I should do more projects like that after I retire! Here's a map I created, showing where San Salvador Island is located, in case you haven't heard of it:


My best buddy at work (John) is an avid astronomer, and spends countless hours at night capturing images, and then countless more hours combining the layers of images to reveal spectacular pictures of nebulae (or is that nebulas? ... I should go ask John!) Well, you know how friends tend to influence each other, and they often adopt each others' hobbies ... therefore I wouldn't be surprised if John pulls me into astrophotography. And here's a map of observatories in NC (large and small), that I might could do a little 'networking' with, to help get started:

Endless Summer

We all have a favorite temperature we prefer. Once I'm retired, and have a camper, perhaps I could plan my route and schedule so that I'm always in my "perfect temperature" using this animated map:


Once I retire, there's no longer a reason why I need to live 2 miles from SAS' headquarters any more (especially with this area getting more crowded, and the traffic getting worse every year). If I decide to move, there are many factors to consider in picking a new location. For example, I might want to move to an area with a certain mix of political preferences. The following map could help find such an area:

Or, I might want to move to an area with a certain 'culture', in which case this map might come in handy:

Dragon Boating

I learned to paddle and steer dragon boats in the Raleigh Dragon Boat Club (RDBC). And these days, I'm a coach and steersman for two of the companies that organize dragon boat races (High Five, and PanAm). I should have plenty of time to work at more dragon boat events after I retire! Here are some blog posts where I analyze data from some dragon boat races, and below is a map showing some of the dragon boat races within a reasonably short drive from Raleigh.

DJ Hobby

One of my hobbies is DJing (playing music for dances and events). My main gig these days is volunteer DJing at charity fundraiser car shows - I play lots of oldies, feel-good music, and songs about cars. With all the free time after retiring, I might do a little more DJing, and I will probably end up DJing a wedding (against my better judgement, of course!). In which case, I might need to know which songs people are tired of hearing at wedding receptions ... in which case this fun list of 'banned' wedding songs might be helpful:

Kayak Racing

I do a lot of paddling, and I like racing outrigger canoes and surfskis (a sit-on-top racing kayak). I plan to do more of this after I retire. Here's a map I created, with links to several of the nearby races:

I might even go to some races out on the west coast, such as the Gorge Downwind Challenge. Since I've never paddled in that area, I'm glad I studied and plotted the course ahead of time!

My regular blog readers will know how important it is to be familiar with the race route - because, if the leaders in a race take a wrong turn, then the people behind them (like me) get to pass them ... like I did in this race at Hunting Island, SC! πŸ˜‰

And for the races I compete in (such as this one in Pine Knoll Shores at the NC coast), I might want to plot the results, to see how I compared to the other racers:

Goodbye, and thanks for all the fish!

So, I guess this is goodbye ... my last day working for SAS is Nov 1, 2021. I enjoyed all the discussions I've had with you fellow graph experts and data analysts, and I appreciate all your great feedback and suggestions over the years (it really helped me improve my "graph game"). Feel free to keep in touch with me on social media (Twitter & LinkedIn).

But it might not be goodbye forever. I'm checking into the possibilities of doing some graph consulting work as a SAS Partner, or sub-contractor of a Partner, etc. So if you've got some special graphing or mapping needs, you might try asking for me by name ... who knows, you might get me!



About Author

Robert Allison

The Graph Guy!

Robert has worked at SAS for over a quarter century, and his specialty is customizing graphs and maps - adding those little extra touches that help them answer your questions at a glance. His educational background is in Computer Science, and he holds a BS, MS, and PhD from NC State University.

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  1. Chris Hemedinger
    Chris Hemedinger on

    Congratulations to you Robert - and thank you for all of the graphical posts over the years! I know you have helped thousands of SAS users (and others!) understand the nuances of data visualization and the potential of software tools like SAS to tell your data stories.

  2. Congratulations on your retirement! I will miss all of your thoughtful graph posts - thank you for all the hard work you've done on this blog over the years!

  3. Oh my goodness! You were one of the first people I collaborated with at SAS, helping to plot classical radio stations around the country and expected reach (assuming some ideal characteristics). I always looked forward your posts - some whimsical (which floors had which fountain drinks), some practical (office floor maps with employee photos), and some more serious. I wish you much happiness and FUN as you transition to retirement!

  4. Ahmed Al-Attar on

    Congratulations and best of wishes for your retirement. Your blogs and insight will be highly missed, and the SAS user community will lose a very informative and creative blogger.

    Thank you for all your contributions and hard efforts

  5. I wish you all the best Robert! Thanks for putting all these wonderful posts in one place! 😊

  6. Good luck. I hope you have a great retirement. Well deserved.
    I can't even estimate (much less chart) how many times I've pored over your examples to find code for my projects. Thank you so much.

    Best of luck,


  7. Hey Rob, Many a time during presales, Leveraged your work to show the various visualization aka graphs that could be achieved using SAS, Thank you so much for all the insightful contribution, I am dead sure, Both SAS and its user community will sorely miss you.


  8. Oh, wow, you did those maps with SAS/Graph (and SG procedures...) I'm going to miss you more than I can say. You've been my inspiration for so many years. Have a completely wonderful time exploring! Best of everything - Louise

  9. Cindy (Youqin) Wang on

    Congratulations, Robert! I learned a lot from your blogs, will definitely miss you. Wish you all the best in your new chapter!

  10. Robert,
    Say it ain't so! I am a relatively new convert to the Graph Guy, but I have loved your insight using graphs on a number of subjects. You have especially created useful information from life science data, most recently COVID data. We'll miss you! I wish you the best and keep blogging somewhere....

  11. Peter Lancashire on

    Thanks for all your varied and interesting articles. All the best for the future.

    Looking through the themes of your many mapping posts kindled an idea in my mind for another retirement activity which could combine mapping, environmental interest and local travel: contribute your skills to OpenStreetMap by getting on your bike and mapping all the cycling facilities in your area. If you want to see how well it can be done, look at one of the white spaces on your global map of interesting places: Germany, where I live ( SAS customers will benefit too from improvements to OSM through the PROC SGMAP option.

  12. With this long list, the early retirement is a must. Enjoy the new life. Thanks for helping me out, many years ago, creating a graph for a customer where I had no idea how to get started. I asked you and the next morning I received your code. Thanks for all your inspirational work.

  13. Robert,
    You are absolutely Graph Guy/Expert !
    I will miss you forever .
    Hope I could visit USA and meet with you in the future .

    Greeting from China

  14. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and teaching me something new in every blog post! I’ll miss our interactions on the blog & social media and look forward to seeing your retirement blog πŸ˜‰πŸ€“

  15. Thanks Robert for all the years of great examples, as well as your book! We are going to miss you heaps! Your retirement is thoroughly deserved. Wish you all the best and more for all your upcoming endeavours

  16. Congratulations!!! I was hoping to learn SAS/Graph from you.

    I always enjoyed chatting with you at SAS when I had issues with either PROC C16PORT, SAS/CONNECT, or SAS/SHARE.

    I hope you stay in North Carolina!!! Have fun!!! Remember: Safety firstly!!!
    -Cheers, STephT

  17. Robert,
    Congrats and thanks for all the maps! I should be retiring in a year or two and these should come in handy. Hope SAS keeps your blog up for awhile.


  18. Daniel Wanjiru on

    Hope to be the next graph guy, great and lots of good blogs, wishing you all the best Robert

  19. I think we will miss you more than you will miss us.

    Enjoy! It's good when people get to retire early enough that they can still do the active things they enjoy. Happy for you.


  20. Pingback: Captain Kirk travels into space! - Graphically Speaking

  21. Pallavi Deshmukh on

    Congratulations, Robert and best wishes for your retirement!! It is an awesome blog. I enjoyed it a lot.

  22. Congratulations Rob!
    Maybe add another item to your retirement bucket list: get as many NCSU Alexander Alums (93-95) together for one last mixer!!! I know a good DJ! πŸ˜†

  23. Hey, just saw this. You have been of immeasurable help to me. So glad we met online via an email from you that included "I saw your book on maps ...". We started with a paper that we wrote together having never met each other in person ( and have kept in contact ever since. I really enjoyed sending you graphics that I had seen in various journals or on web sites and having you figure out how to create them with SAS/GRAPH. Has anyone ever referred to you as "Mr Annotate"?

    If your travels ever bring you anywhere near Chatham NY, consider a visit !!! Really, I could go on and on but there are no words that would capture how much you have helped me and how much I have learned from you. So, I'll stop ... you got the message.

  24. I've looked at every single link associated with over the years and I have learned so much in the ODS Graphics world. Going to miss the new posts and maybe you'll have a similar replacement?
    Best of the best on your retirement! And thanks for the Blogs, books, and Graphic Examples!

  25. Not for the first time, I came back to your blog for some ideas for visualisation - and I saw you are retiring. Thanks for all the fantastic examples and I hope you enjoy your retirement. You will be missed, not least by me in SAS UK.

  26. I truly loved this post. I am working in support in Sweden, where a lot of our customers use SAS and I stumbled upon this post as I was searching for some KB's. Best of luck in the future, Allison.

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