Friday, 11 February 2011

lots of exciting stuff

Del got the job! Interview within a week, new job within two, AND a pay rise. Not bad going, no?

Going to a Josh Ritter concert in New York City tomorrow with the girls (i.e. Helena and some of her friends). So pleased that I HAVE girls to go with. We're taking the train down in the morning and back up after the gig. We are THAT CLOSE to NYC. Craziness!

On Monday we are celebrating Valentines' Day with heart-shaped donuts (Helena was adamant) and a girls night.

We have decided that Thursday night is for going out to the Yale grad student bar. It is a big old nerd party, plus there is free (wimpy American) beer till 10 on Thursday. Last night the School of Management students were auctioning each other off, so after they were done we snuck into the room and I ate my body weight in expensive canapes. (Marinated red pepper and fresh olives!) Pretty sweet. They also advertise "$2 Wells Drinks" on Thursday nights, which we both assumed was a type of beer. So we went up and ordered two Wells, only to have the bartender burst out laughing. Apparently "wells drinks" are just drinks made of the standard house liquour. Whoops. Now I know!

Going to go into work on Sunday, I think. Things have stalled a bit with the project, and part of the trouble is that I have to photoshop all my stimuli. Going to have a giant pile of marking to do starting tomorrow, too.... looks like a busy week but with some cool stuff crammed in there!

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Upheaval and drama!

Man, it's so nice living somewhere I don't hate, so that I actually feel like posting! This practicum was definitely a good call.

So, just to keep everything interesting, the drama has been ramped up even more this week. I moved into my place last Wednesday, not quite realizing that the previous occupants had no intention of moving out until the Friday. However, the room I was moving into was free and they gave me an air mattress, so fair enough. Except that it was so cold on that mattress that I couldn't sleep without wearing my hoodie and toque over my PJs and piling my coat on top to keep warm... brrr. The house was in total disarray because the previous people were, in theory, packing to move out. However, I wanted to give Helena back her space, so just put up with it.

By Friday, not very much was packed and NOTHING was cleaned. I was told that they were having a party that night at a local restaurant and would leave first thing Sat morning. Got home late Friday night to find that STILL nothing was packed. I did have a bed, though, in pieces on the bedroom floor. Dustin and Marshall (guy moving out) helped me set it up at about 1am. Apparently Cecelia, other person moving out, rolled in at 3am.

Not surprisingly, Saturday morning was hectic. Cecelia spent the morning haranguing Marshall while Marshall threw things in boxes. They packed Cecelia off on the train by noon and then Marshall was MIA for a few hours while Dustin and I attempted to shove some of the boxes out of the way so that new housemate Jeff could move his stuff in. And let me tell you, there were millions of them. When Marshall came back I tried to help him pack, only to be constantly corrected: "Oh wait, I had a plan for packing that. Hold on, those things shouldn't go together..." so I gave up.

At 4.30 pm, Dustin took me shopping outside of town (since it is not possible to buy useful things in New Haven*) and then I went out for dinner. When I returned at 9pm, Marshall was still packing. I heard him cleaning until about two in the morning. He asked very humbly if he could crash in the living room for one more night. Sunday, he dumped all the boxes in the basement, having realized that they would not fit in his car and asked if we'd mind if he came to pick them up later. Then he and his corgi left around noon.

Incredibly, I heard from Jeff that Marshall came BACK around 2pm to grab a few more things before starting the 6-hour drive back to his hometown.

This meant that Jeff and I couldn't get set up at the house until the work week started, and things are still kind of in disarray as there seems to be a lot of the previous occupants' stuff still around (fetus-shaped cookie cutter?!)

Meanwhile, I was at the lab quite a lot trying to get my experiment programmed. Was having a major problem getting the number of trials per condition to balance and was spending a lot of time working on it. I was testing it yet again when I heard from Del, in total shock, having suddenly been called into a room on a Friday morning, along with about twenty of his colleagues, and made redundant (laid off).

Heck of a week.

Del's had an interview within the first week, though, and some of his colleagues have already found jobs... good news there at least.

While all this was going on, we got about three feet of snow and then an ice storm on Tuesday. After the snowstorm, the city refused to plow our street because they told us it was too narrow. So Dustin ended up organizing the neighbours to spend the whole afternoon digging out the street with snow shovels so people could get their cars out! I walked to work and saw people on every street, trying to unearth their cars. Many of them were totally buried due to snow plow action. After the ice storm, they switched to attempting to knock the ice off by using various implements to whack their cars. It was crazy.

The ice storm made walking treacherous, but it made the trees all frosted and beautiful. I tried to take some cell-phone pics, but not surprisingly they did not come out all that wall. Nevertheless:

(Houses here tend to be insanely huge and gorgeous too. I almost moved into one with 11 bedrooms and a conservatory!)

Luckily Yale runs FREE shuttle buses every day, one of which runs two blocks from my place, so I can get around even if the sidewalks are icy. (Except that they are cancelled in the event of very bad weather, bah!)

In other news, I finally got my experiment program working, did behavioural pilot testing with three participants (it looks great!), got the EEG tags put in (had to get help with that one) that tell the EEG system when to start recording brain waves, and pilot tested the whole shebang on myself! The EEG setup they have here is pretty cool. It is a big translucent net containing electrodes, and you only need to add water (with salt and baby shampoo in it) to get them to conduct. When I think of all the time I spent at Bangor fiddling around with electrode gel and making people wash their hair in the lab... this is pretty awesome. Fingers crossed we can start participant recruitment soon.

* New Haven is what is referred to as a "Food Desert", apparently a common phenomenon in America. There are no grocery stores in the city. Zero. There was one, but it closed. There are a few insanely-priced gourmet shops, delis and Asian markets ($0.85 for ramen soup and $7 for frozen dumplings!) and the drugstores sell milk and bread, but apart from that you need a car. So, I am relying on the generousity of my housemate and one of Helena's friends to help me get groceries once in a while.

The ironic part is, if you want fast food or a restaurant, there are millions. (There's a Dunkin' Donuts practically every block!) But if you would like to cook healthy food, sorry, out of luck unless you have a car... It's a 20-min drive down the highway with no transit options (apparently).

Same goes for homewares and kitchen supplies. If you can drive, you can get to IKEA or Target or Walmart or thrift shops. Otherwise, nothing. I did find one dollar store, but it's in a dodgy part of town... So insane.