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.
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:
Micromusculature of the face
Tone of voice
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.
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:
Work at the Emotional Coding Lab
Contributions to The Humane Editor Project
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!