Fata Morgana (chimerically) wrote,
Fata Morgana

Thanksgiving and everything after

I had a great, though short, Thanksgiving back home (my first Thanksgiving home since going to college). D and I, failing to find plane tickets for less than $400, drove his Prius. Friends were friendly, family was familiar, baby brothers and cousins were cute. I feel like my sister and I are in a halfway generation (sort of like that half-floor in Being John Malkovich), because on my dad's side we're old enough to be most of our cousins' aunts (and on my mom's side our cousins could be our aunts). My dad and I sat at the kids' table. I usually don't put much stock in holidays (between not being religious, disliking the consumer aspects of them, and disliking the way that some people use them as an excuse to do stupid things, I'm not left with much), but I do enjoy the opportunity to see my family and reflect on what's really important to me.

Last Wednesday I was elected webmaster of UCBD again. No surprise; the position was uncontested; and anyway, I believe that I'm the only usability researcher on the team and I've done their website for years now, so even if it was contested, I'd have a good case for myself. I was persuaded not to run for secretary by the captain and president for a variety of reasons. Some, such as the fact that I've often lacked the time to follow through with what I say I'm going to do, are perfectly valid, but others, such as their preference for undergraduate officers who have "fresh perspective," seem shady, and the whole experience made me think that yet again, I'm out of the loop on some backroom politics that I really wish didn't exist in the first place. Oh well.

Last weekend I drove to L.A. with D. and two friends for my second-ever trip (and D's first) to Disneyland. Despite my disagreement with many of Disney's actions, and despite the cough and sore throat I suffered all weekend, I must say that I found the trip very enjoyable. Both of the friends are Disney geeks, and one - R - is a former employee (er, "cast member"), so they knew all the shortcuts around the park and interesting folklore about the rides, which made the experience that much better. As R said, Disney approaches its theme park like a film script, carefully orchestrating the experience. On more than one occasion, though, I kept comparing the experience to the soma of Brave New World, and when R said she worked for a while editing obscene content out of the photographs taken on Splash Mountain, I couldn't help but think of 1984. D has posted pictures of the weekend here (be forewarned that the formatting is rather "innovative." :~))

I've also been doing a lot of field observations and interviews for a CHI short paper that's due next Monday (eek!). I've done 18 hours of observations and interviews since a week ago today, and am currently wading through the 50 pages of field notes and eight hours of audio recordings that has generated. This is for the project that I've written about before, on technology and poverty. The observing experience has really been incredible - the organization I'm observing is just amazing. I'll write more later; for now, all the energy that I put into this project should go into the paper.

I would write more, but I should get back to the endless stream of tasks that invariably pile up the last week of classes. I have eight papers to write before next Monday, and three more due during the following week. Four are one-page summaries (due Thursday), two are four-page conference papers, three are four-page take-home-final papers (which determine 50+ percent of the grade for one class and are graded very harshly), one is a final project paper in the form of a grant proposal, and the last is my statement of purpose for the SIMS PhD program. I also have one last assignment to complete and a final to study for. So please understand that when I don't update my blog and don't comment in yours, it's just because I'm busy. :~)

Okay, enough for now - I'm off to flash-transcribe my interviews!

Gah, Nyquil and Dayquil are screwing up my sleep again. Damn this drawn-out cold! I've been sick for nearly a week now.

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