I am smart enough to pick things up quickly, confident enough to admit when I don't know something, and have perspective enough not to fuss over details that won't matter to an end result.


My primary strength is my ability to understand complex systems, exploit the data they leave behind, and explain them to others. That applies both to systems that I had a hand in designing (e.g., the VDW) and those designed by others--like for instance the Epic EMR.

I've been programming a long time now--more than 20 years at this writing, and I tend to have strong opinions about how to get things done. When met with resistance from collegues, I have had excellent luck swaying others to my point of view.

Another benefit of my experience is that it's made me confident enough to admit when I don't know something. I'm also not shy about looking the fool asking questions. Sometimes this sheds light on the sketchy parts of an explanation, sometimes I'm asking what most everybody else in the room is silently wondering, and sometimes I just look like a fool.

Technical Things

My technical strengths tend to center around the design, management and exploitation of data, in its various forms.

Specifically, I am very good at:

  • SQL, both the DDL and DML varieties. I have pretty extensive experience using the dialects offered by SAS, MSSQL, Oracle, Sybase and Teradata.
  • SAS, including especially:
    • Base
    • Datastep
    • Macro
    • Graph
    I have done a lot of SAS programming for things that have to run at other organizations, which has has led me to be extra careful, and to write more for a human audience and less just for git'-r-done.
  • Ruby, which I love and has probably ruined me for other languages. The bulk of my work has been data-munging and data transfer scripting. I did complete one Ruby on Rails application which was in use for more than a year, but I should not hold myself out as a Rails expert.
  • Regular Expressions.
  • Data visualization, particularly with SAS' new Statistical Graphics procedures (see, e.g., this Lab data visualization I put together with PROC SGRENDER) and lately, with R's ggplot2.
  • Data analysis, descriptive, predictive, and (to a lesser extent) inferential (by which I mean significance testing). I tend to rely much more on visualization—resorting to e.g., significance testing usually means I'm desperate to convince you of something and couldn't come up with a convincing graphic.
  • R

    Ever since reading Visualizing Data by William Cleveland in graduate school I've was keen to learn s-plus (now R) in order to produce those insanely gorgeous/informative displays. "Tools matter" indeed. I am continually looking for opportunities to incorporate R tools into my work.

    I am most familiar with:

    • dplyr
    • ggplot2
  • Microsoft Access application programming. I have put together many a data-entry (and in a couple of cases, full chart abstraction applications) application.

I am decent at:

  • Git.
  • Python, including especially the scikit-learn libraries for data sciencey stuff.
  • .Net programming—primarily Windows Forms (are those still in use?) but also some I used to be very good at these—and could probably come back up to speed reasonably quickly. I'm just rusty.
  • I led a reasonably successful campaign to get the SAS programmers at GHRI to use source code control generally, and git specifically. So I'm a fan and git has saved my bacon on more than one occasion. That said, a cursory browse through my github will probably tell the sophisticated git user that I am a noobie.

Substantive Expertise

Having worked in a medical/health insurance setting for more than ten years now, I have picked up some modest knowledge of things like:

  • Health insurance plans.
  • Cancer (tumor) data.
  • Professional and Institutional Claims data.
  • ICD-9 (soon to be 10) CPT, HCPCS coding systems.
  • The Epic EMR and associated Clarity reporting database.
  • Clinical lab data.

But mostly I've learned that I don't know very much about these things, and have come to rely on the various medical experts I work for and with.

My stint at Lockheed-Martin Missles & Space was similarly enlightening about all sorts of Military things, but I don't remember any of it (and if I could, I couldn't tell you what it was ;-).