Who am I?

An individual, of no great importance, who is unable to see the natural world as a place for competition. I catch fish, watch birds, derive immense pleasure from simply looking at butterflies, moths, bumble-bees, etc - without the need for rules! I am Dylan and this is my blog - if my opinions offend? Don't bother logging on again - simple!


Monday 30 November 2015

Keep pushing the limits - continuous improvement in another arena

Lee Finney was Production Manager at Batchelors (then still part of Unilever), Ashford, when I first became involved with statistical process control and the exciting discoveries (from a personal level) about the ability that mathematics has to interpret sense from nonsense. "Cusum" analysis of data plus X-bar and range mapping - all in a day's work for this long-haired factory floor operative! Things have moved a long way since those times, yet I remain fascinated by the power of data interpretation and where it can be usefully applied (almost everywhere being the answer in my case)
Lee once said to me "You'll only discover your limitations when you're finally out of your depth!" It was lost on me, at the time, but I now know exactly to what he was inferring. Modern businesses rely on these techniques to remain relevant; read profitable? I was extremely fortunate to have had some inspirational guides, during this period. Professor Yamashina (The Japanese Institute) and Sam Turner (Statistics4industry) being key players (Sam also knew, had worked with, Tony Chester - the one time Tench record holder and fellow Tring Syndicate member, so we had so much more than numbers to talk about)
Now, whilst it would seem that FSIS don't require to utilise my previous experiences with their own onward journey, whatever happened to TIM WOODS? I am still able to use these mathematical tools to aid my own development as I seek to glean the best from my outdoor experiences. My anal desire to record the most insignificant detail of my angling has allowed me to identify trends, notice patterns that could, otherwise, easily be overlooked? It is a very sad reflection on the times in which we live - allowing number crunchers to take the upper hand? Yet I remain a great fan of the use of maths/statistics to show the way forward? It might, now, manifest itself in hook size, bait choice or peak period for success - maths can provide an answer for all these questions, provided adequate data has been analysed? I have used this methodology for our approach to pike fishing at Loch Awe, with great effect - identifying the key factors of our presentation and bait choices under a number of varying weather scenarios.
So here we are, fast approaching December 2015, and I'm on a mission. Before my 60th birthday (04.12.2015) can I capture my December eel? I've studied the water temperatures, looked at previous captures and the various locations where these slimy pests have been active during the winter months.
Not why Lee had introduced me to the concept - but a great way of using my learning to further the chances of a successful conclusion to the, self imposed, challenge I've embarked upon. My data is deeply flawed, thus my conclusions will also be very skewed, as I've omitted many factors that could contribute major influence over these wild creatures and how they behave under differing water temperatures and weather patterns. As my approach to this project was very off the cuff, thus are my basic correlations of similar stamp - they are little more than educated guesses, backed up by a few disjointed diary entries. I'm enjoying myself and if this exercise does little more than keep me motivated, it will have been worth while. The more experience I gain, the more records I have at my disposal, only then will any meaningful conclusions be able to be drawn from my juggling with numbers. Until then, the BBC 5-day forecast is of equal importance to any other reference I have explored!
If I'm totally honest with myself, I'm bloody delighted that the complexities of our natural world can't be unravelled by the mumbo-jumbo of calculus and equations. I seek assistance, not answers, and in as much as I am able - love the process of analysis which, in turn, aids my confidence in any given situation. It would seem that the next three evenings have all the attributes to see my December eel in the net? I have no opportunity to pre-bait, thus am reducing my chances of success, but feel that I have to be in with a shout if I can get out? Sorry if this post has a very industrial feel - it's a manifestation of the "buzz word" culture that now dominates the modern business ethic. A place where I feel completely at home - if you understand, and abide by, the rules, it's a very simple game to play!


  1. I'm sorry Dyl but that's all bloody lost on me. When I was in management the one buzz word that I learnt and did my best to stick with all the way through, was KISS - keep it simple and sweet.
    Buggered if before I go out bird watching each day, I'm going to study a load of stats telling me how times a particular bird appeared on a particular bush and if it was a calm day or a windy day, etc. What's wrong with chance, just sticking a bit of bait on a hook and throwing it in, why work so hard at trying to make something a certainty, it makes any disappointment all the more harder then.

  2. Derek, I don't expect many to see the purpose of this statistical approach. I would hate a world where calculus could be used to predict natural occurrences. My joy in mathematics is derived from the pleasure of calculating the odds - in much the same way as a bookie? If these skills, which I learnt as part of my industrial progression, are able - even in a small way - to assist my cause, then I am very happy to adapt them. They are not a "magic wand" - I cannot expect to count down to a feeding period, but I can make my guesses all the more informed by using these techniques. You are very right about certainty and disappointment - my time in the great outdoors is about maximizing my experiences - if this industrial training is able to offer any assistance - I'll happily take it! - Dyl

  3. Yes Dylan, numbers. Mine were usually Startops roach orientated as in: 1982 1 in 4 = 2lb's plus. 1983 1 in 2 = 2lb's. 1984 3 in 4 = 2lb's. Hook lengths and hooks: 4lb & size 12 = almost no bites. 3lb & size 14's = bites if conditions ideal. 2lb's & size 16's/18's = bites at anytime.
    So the data determined in 1984 that it was 'fish for bites'. December 21st 1984 fishing the 'Road Bank near the carpark I finally caught a 3 pounder (the first from that location).
    Yes, a numbers game. I'd caught 87 2's before that 3 pounder.
    On a work/industrial level I can hardly remember anything. Hopeless. Management never sent me on a course. I'd remember about 2%.

    1. Richie - it's a very strange thing about us anglers - we've used statistics, in whatever guise, to assist our efforts since Dick Walker's era. We've recognised feeding spells based upon light intensity, water temperature and/or level. All of these details meticulously recorded in our own little way. I can look back through my diaries and tell you what bait, hook size, rod reel and line combinations (down to the individual brand - Perlon, Maxima, Abulon, Sylcast, etc..) In reality it is nothing more than using numbers to define experience - still angling, for me, is all about confidence. If number crunching can assist my cause - I'm more than happy to use it.
      As for your own experiences of work training - I have to say that my own journey has seen me given some wonderful insights into the dark arts of business and all that running a successful factory entails; yes I have been very lucky. I've only had four employers in forty-one years. When I get an e-mail system sorted, I'll get in touch directly. Until then - take care Dyl