What’s Brad been up to?

Dearest brad lauster (dot com) Reader,
My life has been pretty hectic lately. I thought you might like to know what I’ve been up to, since I obviously haven’t spent much time on this site.


A very large portion of my free time has been sucked up by two volunteer projects upon which I’ve recently embarked.

First, I’m helping out in the Emotional Coding Lab as part of a Breast Cancer Support Group Research study being conducted through the Psychosocial Treatment Laboratory at Stanford University.

Basically, I watch tapes of metastatic breast-cancer patients in supportive-expressive groups and code them, which means we record who’s speaking, what they’re speaking about and what their emotions are.

I’m interested in this because the emotion recognition training is really fascinating! The system we use is based on John Gottman’s Specific Affect Coding System which was developed to code the emotions of couples going through marriage counseling. We use a derivative system developed for the lab, called Breast Cancer-SPAFF.

Emotions are assigned to speakers by taking into account four things:

  1. Micromusculature of the face
  2. Body position
  3. Tone of voice
  4. Topic of conversation

I’m hoping the experience will help me interpret subject’s emotions during contextual inquiries and usability tests. I’ll be sure to let you know if I think it does.

The second project I’m helping with is Jef Raskin’s Humane Environment Project. I’ve just started on this one. Right now, I’m just making comments on the Technical Specification.

Third, I’m starting to get really interested in nutrition, primarily because of my friend Brad (his name is my name too). He turned me on to a book called, “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration,” which is an anthropological account of the affect of western diets on previously non-westernized cultures. It’s quite fascinating so far. I plan on posting a review when I’m done.

In addition, last weekend I helped a new store in Palo Alto get ready to open. The store is called Anthropologie. My girlfriend, Selena is going to be working there as a customer care specialist. My only comment about that whole experience is that retail establishments (especially clothing stores) generate much more waste than you’ve probably ever imagined! Everything is packaged in its own plastic bag and individual garments are bundled together into larger plastic bags. It really upset me actually. There’s got to be a huge market for improving the environmental friendliness of those sorts of stores.

In other news, I bought a new bed. It’s called the Grand Lit and was designed by Hans Sandgren Jakobsen. By the way, I paid a LOT less than the price listed on the DWR website.   🙂

The last thing I want to tell you about is my impending new year’s resolution. Now, I don’t normally make new year’s resolutions, but this year I am because I need to address a major personality flaw. That is, I’m interested in WAY too many things. Almost everything interests me. I spend hours and hours and hours trying to learn everything about everything. That’s not such a bad thing in-and-of-itself, but I feel like I’m spending too much time on those endeavors and not enough completing the truly important things I want to accomplish. Which is, at the most basic level: to change the world by making things easier for people. Not too lofty a goal, yes?

So, for the next year, I’m going to try to focus my free-time efforts on the three projects discussed above:

  1. Work at the Emotional Coding Lab
  2. Contributions to The Humane Editor Project
  3. Learning about “real nutrition” with my friend Brad.

Of course I’ll still take classes and attend talks, but certainly to a lesser extent than in previous years.

Ok, thanks for letting me get that off my chest. Cheers!

11 thoughts on “What’s Brad been up to?”

  1. I’ve always thought that Right Alt\Space\ // and Left Alt\Space\ // key strokes would make the best leap keys.

    Can you ask Jef Raksin why those are not so good?

  2. Hi Darius! Well, for one thing, Macs don’t have alt keys. Hmmm, actually, now that I look, the option keys on my TiBook are double-labeled option and alt (in tiny letters).

    If you read the technical spec you’ll see that for regular keyboards (that is, keyboards without LEAP keys) Right Shift↓ Space↓ and Left Shift↓ Space↓ are used for LEAP. I’m not sure why the option/alt key wasn’t used in place of Shift. I’ll see if I can get an answer for you. Cheers!

  3. Hi Tyler, …you got that right! I’m still smiling about the deal I got. I sold my old bed this week too. When the dust settled, I ended up getting the Grand Lit for well below a grand. This might be the best deal I ever get! 🙂

  4. hELO bRAD lAUSTER !!
    I am rAUL dARIO aCOSTA MORENO, 30 yEARS OLD from Paraguay….

    and you think…, where is pARAGUAY?, in south america.

    I am going tO bERKELEY, SAN FRANCISCO from mARCH to MAY for the “2003 FLASH.FORWARD” and to study eNGLISH, bECAUSE i am a beginner speaker.

    i would to make contact with you to change opinions, and congratulations for your website–

    my own little company is http://www.estacioncreativa.com

    and my resume es http://www.estacioncreativa.com/resume

    Best rEGARDS! raul dario acosta.

  5. Cnogratulations on your Grand Lit. This is by far the finest example of function and aesthetics currently produced. I just noticed that DWR no longer lists the grand lit bed on their website. Where did you find your Grand Lit? I was ready to purchase through DWR, before your posting.

    Thank You,
    Matt Ambroziak

  6. brad-am searching for a grand lit bed. Any hints where i can buy one for under a thousand also? thanks.Gail

  7. Dear Brad,

    I am going mad searching for the grand lit bed – and am almost on the verge of getting one shipped over from cophenhagen! This will cost me an absolute fortune, so I would be so damn grateful if you could tell me how to get one without re-mortgaging or selling a kidney!
    I hope to hear from you soon!

  8. Since people keep emailing me about the Grand Lit bed, I’m posting this update:

    It is true that DWR no longer sells the Grand Lit. I was told by someone who called DWR, that it was discontinued because it was too hard to put together…which is true, it was VERY hard to put together.

    (Luckily, I haven’t moved since I bought the Grand Lit, so I’ve only had to put it together the one time. I’m not sure I’ll be able to get it out of the apartment without taking it apart though…hopefully putting it together for the second time will be easier than the first.)

    Many people have asked how much I paid for it. I paid just over $1000 dollars at a DWR warehouse sale. Those of us in the San Francisco Bay Area are lucky enough to be near DWR’s warehouses. A couple times a year, DWR holds a warehouse sale, the main purpose of which is to sell returned or damaged merchandise. I believe the bed I bought was new (it was still in the box) and that it was being sold at the warehouse sale because DWR was discontinuing the bed. Before it was discontinued, I believe DWR was selling them for around $3500.

    I’ve also been asked if I still like the bed now that I’ve got it. Yep, I love it! I only wish I had a bigger apartment where I could show it off a bit more. It really is a beautiful piece and I’m very glad I bought it.

    The last question I’m often asked about the Grand Lit is where it can be purchased. Sadly, DWR was only place I was ever able to find the bed. I’ve also asked each of the 20 or so people who’ve emailed me about the bed, to let me know if they found it available somewhere else. Unfortunately, no one has yet replied with a location. If you’re reading this and find the Grand Lit available somewhere, please post a comment and let everyone else know where you got it.

    Best of luck finding a Grand Lit of your own!

  9. I loved my King Grand Lit bed and would get another one in a minute from House of Copenhagen where I got mine.

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