1. On January 14, I ran my annual “Oscar By The Numbers” model, and the results were so overwhelmingly in favor of one film that I declared it “the most shoo-in of shoo-in winners that I’ve forecast to date,” and noted that “if it doesn’t win the big prize, then this multi-year model is clearly a failure, and I will report it as such, with 2016 being my final year of forecasting.” Unfortunately, the film my model picked was The Revenant, and the winner of the big prize was Spotlight. So consider the model retired, in its current format. I continue to believe that the historic assumptions that underpin the model are sound, but in the era where the number of Best Picture nominees exceeds the number of nominees in each of the other categories, the mathematics get a bit hinky, and the correlations break down. Which happens sometimes. I saw similar impacts on my “Mid-Major At Large” NCAA Tournament forecasting models when the BCS era alignments and the emergence of the non-football version of the Big East emerging. Are they a major without football money? And if they are, are some of the other conferences similarly worth removing from the Mid-Major rosters? In both cases, the data sets I built are large and versatile, so maybe I’ll look for some other correlations and come up with a new variant on Oscar By The Numbers next year. Or maybe not. There might be something new to model, right?

2.  Want to come work with me? I’m currently hiring for two positions at the TREE Fund: a full-time Accounting and Grants Manager position, and a part-time Development Database Administrator. Our offices are located in the Western suburbs of Chicago. We work hard and have fun, and support an awesome community of folks around the world with our research, education and community engagement programs. Making a difference is a good thing. Please share these postings if you know anybody who might like to help us do that.

3. Related to the TREE Fund, our number one community engagement event each year is the STIHL Tour des Trees, a 500+ mile, seven day cycling tour where about 100 folks take to the road to tell our story, educate the public, raise funds, and have a truly wonderful time doing it. I got to ride four days with the team in Florida soon after joining the TREE Fund, and I’m looking forward to riding the full seven days in the Carolinas this October, starting and ending in Charlotte. Our riders come from around the country, and there’s still spaces available for new folks to join us. How about it? If you’re not up for that commitment, you could also contribute by sponsoring me on the ride. Here’s my donor page, if you’d like to help out that way. We’d all appreciate it very much!

4. How Not To Be Slick: Marcia and I were looking for something to watch on television one night earlier this week, and as is often the case, even with a zillion channels, we couldn’t find anything that was mutually pleasing to us both. Her birthday is coming up, and I had ordered a box set of a TV show that we actually both like. Earlier that day, a package had arrived for me, and I had set it aside for the birthday — but being a problem-solving kind of guy, it occurred to me that I could give her that gift early, so we’d have something to do that night. I grandly offered to let her open a birthday gift early, told her what the gift was, went to my desk to get the package, opened it . . . and found two toner cartridges for our printer inside. Insert sad trombone noise and FAIL meme here.

5. I pushed the random word generator button this morning for March’s Short Story of the Month. The four words it gave me were: simple, perverted, bughouse, front. This is going to be a fun one.

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