Category: musings

The cost of relearning to play the clarinet

DEC 02 2016
Filed under musings
As a child I played some instrument or another continuously from the ages of 9 to 21. I started out on viola for two years, switched to piano at 11, and then added clarinet...

End-of-year carbon offsets

JAN 01 2016
Filed under musings
I've written before about how I don't really do New Year's resolutions so much as ongoing "I want to deal with this problem" resolutions, but this time around, the timing was right for me to do some more traditional year-end introspection...

A Bird and a Resolution

FEB 04 2014
Filed under musings
I was sick this weekend and spent a lot of time either in bed or on the couch trying to move and speak very little. So, among other things, I read a lot of twitter, and on Saturday I noticed lots of people talking about this game called Flappy Bird. which, in case you haven't heard, is the terrible, unfun game that no one can stop playing...

Old Year's Resolutions

JAN 06 2014
Filed under musings
Awhile back I broke up with my hosting company and moved to A Small Orange, which has been lovely so far. In the move I broke my blog, and rather than deal with it I just ignored it for awhile. But I have now unbroken my blog, and it's sort of still the time for posting things like year-end lists and new year's resolutions, so I thought I'd write something to mark the occasion...

How to Draw a World, for the visualization-impaired

APR 11 2011
Filed under design, musings
I think I've mentioned before that I believe I have a non-verbal learning disability. Self-diagnosed, but I don't need to be a trained child psychologist to know that I'm unusually clumsy, get easily disoriented and confused in unfamiliar surroundings (I have some great stories about getting lost! and by great I mean they range from kind of terrifying to super-embarrassing-but-we-laugh-about-it-now), have a very poor visual memory but a great auditory memory, and trouble with non-verbal social cues. I can't tell you about what my motor skills development was like when I was young, but I was definitely verbally precocious, and my social skills used to be lot worse than they are now. I also can remember having a lot of trouble understanding what the point of some stories were, even when I could easily read all the words...

Video games and art

MAR 27 2011
Filed under design, musings
A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine shared a link to this article about video games and art. It's long, but worth a read, if it's something you care about. Or even if it's not; I'm more comfortable talking about art from a sociological than a philosophical perspective, and I'm not much invested in the question of whether or not video games qualify. But I am interested in media theory and the aforementioned sociological implications of things like art and video games - and this is one of the most thought-provoking pieces I've read in some time...

Book awards! and a rant!

JAN 22 2011
Filed under musings, reviews
The Carl Brandon Society presented the winners of their 2008 and 2009 awards last week, and I've added them to my reading list. They give out two awards, the Parallax award, "given to works of speculative fiction created by a self-identified person of color," and the Kindred award, "given to any work of speculative fiction dealing with issues of race and ethnicity; nominees may be of any racial or ethnic group..."

DIY Sweater Alterations for the Craft-Impaired

DEC 14 2010
Filed under musings
I don't normally consider myself craft-impaired. Within my realm of experience, I think actually I am pretty good. But my realm of experience is mainly in rubber-cementing decorative papers and doodads to greeting cards and a very on-again-off-again relationship with knitting. A long time ago I played around with polymer clay and a little bit of wire-wrapped jewelry. I was never that great with the jewelry -- the necklace I made was mainly about finding the right pieces to put together in the right way. Sewing is another thing I am on-again-off-again about, and I've never really enjoyed it, perhaps because I never did enough to be comfortable. And of course for the last six years, I didn't often have access to a nice sewing machine...

Diversity in Speculative Fiction

OCT 18 2010
Filed under musings
This article is about science fiction on TV and in movies and basically ignores others media, which irritates me, since most of the fans I know consume more novels than movies or TV shows (also I'm a jerk and if you tell me you're an SF fan but you don't read books I will roll my eyes at you), but the novels do have the same problems, and it get definitely gets talked about. So many people have written really well about all this, I hardly know where to start linking. Well, an excellent essay by Samuel R. Delany could hardly go wrong. And then there was Racefail 09, which, at this point, there are so many posts just summarizing and linking to all the major posts in the chain, that I just picked the top result on Google. If you've got a couple of hours, it's worth working through the major points...

Comedy Tonight

SEP 10 2010
Filed under musings
Sometimes I get strange urges, like, I should make my blog more like Marginal Revolution. I mean, aside from the fact that I have no interest in writing about economics or public policy. Mainly what I thought was this comedy recommendations post was itself kind of hilarious, maybe because it's written in that brief, dry way Tyler Cowen makes all his recommendations, and I do love a good deadpan...

Liminality

JUN 11 2010
Filed under musings
Life's been sort of weird these last few weeks. I'm back with my parents in Pittsburgh, getting ready to move to Seattle for real and good next week. Most of my time has involved sorting things from my childhood bedroom into trash-donation-keep piles, applying for jobs, or avoiding one of the two. Also watching Battlestar Galactica with my dad. I've made Sim houses and Sim families and lists (to-do, box contents, etc) and done some sewing for mending or clothing alterations and that's about it...

Thoughts on Pale Fire

MAY 16 2010
Filed under musings, reviews
I keep thinking this blog ought to be about something, because most of the good blogs I read have a particular focus, but I haven't had the spare energy to try and devote myself to developing content about a specific topic. I mean, interaction design is the obvious one, and the one my blog header claims, but I feel like my thoughts and experiences on that topic would need a lot of work to be really *bloggable*, and most of the times I try I end up with a 3/4 finished draft that never makes it out of my draft folder. So it's just been a blog about things I do and think, which is of course never confined to a neat topic. I suppose I'm writing for myself more than for an audience, anyway. I want to work as a designer, not as a blogger, so probably that's ok. The blog is just not the point...

Masters of the Universe

MAY 12 2010
Filed under musings
or maybe just...SCIENCE. Last Friday I was recommended for the conferral of the degree Master of Science in Human-Computer Interaction Design or whatever it was they said during that remnant of medieval pageantry known as a higher education graduation ceremony. I mean, I participated willingly, and even though it was more of an event where the master's candidates watched the phd candidates get hooded for an hour, I'm glad I did. I like rituals, and sometimes I need them to convince myself that something has really happened and is important. But that doesn't stop me from thinking the whole thing is more than a little bit silly...

Etsy pretties

APR 30 2010
Filed under musings
Sometimes when I do not want to do work I browse Etsy and dream of having the disposable income to buy many frivolous and pleasing things...

Well

APR 28 2010
Filed under musings
Alright, I wimped out and postponed my capstone presentation until May 11th. I want to record myself and put it on my portfolio, so I really want to be well-prepared and alert and also not sound all scratchy and gross, and that just wasn't going to happen yesterday. So I went to I101 lab for a few hours and then came home and slept for a few hours, which suggests that I probably made the right choice...

I have the best timing

APR 26 2010
Filed under musings
I started getting that pre-sick feeling last night, and woke up this morning with nasal congestion and no energy at all. I've been able to stay conscious since about 2:15 this afternoon, but before that I'd get up to go to the bathroom or get some food only to get right back in bed and fall asleep...

You can stand under my umbrella

APR 17 2010
Filed under musings
Ok the past five days have just been exhausting from start to finish. I made a lot of crap but I'm too tired to list it. Instead I'm internet window shopping for umbrellas, because if I'm going to be living in Seattle I'm going to need an umbrella that can help counteract the grumpifying effect gray and rainy weather has on my mood. (I tried buying one from Old Navy but it broke the 3rd or 4th time I used it.) After all, what the hell else would I do on a Friday night...

I think I'm giving myself a headache

APR 13 2010
Filed under musings
One week until I need to have my capstone deliverables finished enough to prove that I can have it all truly finished by April 27th, and I've been busy capstoning away. More or less. Before I would work on a blog post about my capstone in order to feel like I was being productive without having to face "real" capstone work, now whenever I get too anxious to work on the paper itself I work on the presentation or the poster. I'm having the most trouble with the poster...

Robots as caregivers

MAR 31 2010
Filed under musings
Tapus, Mataric & Scassellati, “Grand challenges of socially assistive robots.” Sparrow & Sparrow, “In the Hands of Machines.” This is another set of robotics articles that had me mainly thinking about artificial intelligence, with talk about things like giving robots personalities, empathy, and the ability to adapt to complex long-term changes. The point of designing a socially assistive robot for patient care, of course, is for what it can do that human can't. In place like the US with a proportionally old population, there is a shortage of high-quality long-term caregivers, mainly because such work is difficult and demanding, as Sparrow and Sparrow point out. One caregiver may only adequately care for a small number of patients, and the work is often both emotionally and physically stressful. Robots don't feel emotional or physical stress like humans do, they can (assuming no accidental malfunction…) function for long periods of time and on demand rather than needing time to rest and care for themselves, they could stay in a person's home and offer more independence, etc...

Merry Blogholiday

MAR 24 2010
Filed under musings
It's still Ada Lovelace Day for a few more hours, and I want to get something posted, but it's been a long day and it ended with an evening class, and I have this thing where evening classes sort of liquefy my brain. So I will present you with a wee link roundup of awesome ladies doing awesome stuff with awesome computer tech...

Still here, mainly

MAR 18 2010
Filed under musings
To be honest I've been much better at starting than finishing things lately. I've been having some existential angst about graduating and leaving school for the first time in my life. I know I want to graduate and not be in school anymore, I believe it will be good for me. But it's also scary. I've been doing school for as long as I can remember. I know I'm good at school, that I can deal with the things I need to in order to succeed, while there are more than a few not-school life skills that I'm not very confident about...

A different kind of care package

FEB 25 2010
Filed under musings
I've got several blog posts about my doings in the works (including a video of my current working capstone prototype!), but I slipped back into denial for a little bit there; I think I went 5 whole days without writing down a to-do list. I didn't open the Sims, but I did watch all six episodes of Our Mutual Friend on netflix instant viewing. Also my sleeping problems have been unusually bad lately, plus I've been unusually busy with meetings and presentations and such since last week. So those posts will have to wait. Tonight I'm just going to nerdgasm...

I'm making progress, I think

FEB 10 2010
Filed under musings
Writing cover letters is sort of a weird experience for me. On the one hand, I am deeply uncomfortable with bragging about myself the way they require, and also more than a little neurotic. I spend more time and energy than I ought to worrying that some tiny mistake that I have missed in my painstaking revisions will spell doom for my entire application...

Barbie the Computer Engineer

JAN 29 2010
Filed under musings
So, Mattel is having an internet campaign for people to vote for Barbie's next career, and one of the choices is "computer engineer." Being in a computing field, and knowing many people concerned with the participation of women in computing, I've heard a lot about. And I'm seeing two reactions: enthusiastically encouraging people to vote for computer engineer, and sarcasm about Barbie convincing girls to become computer engineers...

Argh

JAN 24 2010
Filed under musings
I had all sorts of plans for interesting things to do and witty things to say, but mainly my weekend has been consumed by more computer issues. I decided it was time to try Windows 7, and preparing for installing a new OS and then dealing with the aftermath has been a laugh a minute. Plus I'm pretty sure my laptop's power cord is about to die. I'm certainly seeing the symptoms that preceded my last power cord's death, last April...

The Enemy of Good

NOV 11 2009
Filed under musings
Johnny Holland recently posted an interview called Drawing Ideas and Communicating Interaction, about why good sketching skills are important for interaction designers to have. It's an interesting talk, but it makes me a little nervous. You see, I can't draw. I've long considered myself "not a visual person." That doesn't mean I never work something out visually on a piece of paper, or that I don't like images or diagrams or whatever. On the contrary, I depend on external visual artifacts to do what I can't in my head -- visualize things. When people say "picture this in your mind," I can't do it. I only "see" things in my mind with a very great effort, and even then not very vividly. By contrast, I "hear" things in my mind practically involuntarily, and have very clear and long-lasting auditory memories...

I fingered [you] today

NOV 05 2009
Filed under musings
There is this website, Grinnell Plans, that I use a lot. It is a difficult website to explain. It is at heart a social networking site, but it is also the opposite of nearly every other social networking site that exists. Rather than a slick new technology that people talk about using words like "web 2.0 and "platforms" and "leverage," it grew out of very simple, decades-old network conventions, the finger protocol and the .plan file...

Productivity Management

OCT 10 2009
Filed under musings
I joke sometimes that I ought to stay in academia just so I can live up to my potential for fulfilling the stereotype of an absent-minded professor. I walk into a room without any idea what my purpose there was (or the digital equivalent - opening a new program or browser tab only to forget my task), I am perpetually scrambling to find my keys, I set objects down only to lose track of them moments later, I get caught up in work and forget about important things. I cannot tell you how many times in the last week I have caught myself just in time to realize I'm about to put a box of cereal in the refrigerator. And of course, I procrastinate. Sleep deprivation makes all of it worse. It also makes me restless and unable to sit still through any number of mundane tasks I can normally handle...