James Watkins

Demographer. Analyst. Tinkerer.

Hello there!

I’m James. I have a Master’s in sociology from the University of Victoria, where I studied demography. My thesis examined the health and well-being of caregivers who provide emotional support in high-stress situations. I currently do institutional research at a university, where I'm primarily involved in research design, analysis, and data visualization. I'm always seeking new ways to look at—and effectively communicate—our data. But that’s not all I do!

In my spare time I like to mess around with microcontrollers, single-board computers, and other electronics. I’m an amateur astronomer (currently using a Celestron AstroMaster 130). I’m interested in homelabbing and self-hosting to better understand system administration. I like to garden, and make pizza by hand. And I write a demography blog about some of the quirkier issues. My nose is often burried in a book (currently reading Good Omens), and my hands are usually occupied by a Rubik’s Cube or other twisty-puzzle (my best 3x3 time is 24.78 seconds). Frequently I’m doing any of the things listed on this site with my 5-year-old daughter, who always needs to know ‘why?’.

This website is a place for me to share things. Maybe I’m documenting an electronics project. Maybe I want to share a Python script. Or maybe there’s just a recipe I don’t want to forget.

Project Highlights

Stalk Market

April 2, 2020

An attempt to collect data on price trends in the 'Stalk Market' mechanic of Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

Baking Perfect Bacon

August 3, 2019

I keep forgetting at what temperature and for how long to cook bacon. Instructions are here for eternal referencing.

Understanding the Rubik’s Cube

June 30, 2019

Breaking down the mechanics of the Rubik's Cube. I go over how it works, and how many possible scramble combinations exist.

The Probability Distribution of Item Drops in Video Games, Part 2

July 30, 2019

A sequel to my original post on game drop chances, I use simulations to demonstrate the theory in the original.

Converting Equatorial Celestial Coordinates to a Cartesian System

June 22, 2019

Celestial coordinates are usually given in an equatorial coordinates system, utilizing right ascension and declination, or their location relative to Earth. This is useful for finding stars in the night sky on Earth, but not from other locations. What if we were on a planet orbiting Aldebaran, and needed to find a particular star from this different vantage point? Or wanted to find the distance between two stars, rather than the distance of each star from Earth? Cartesian coordinates (x, y, z) are much more flexible for this purpose.