Monthly Archives: October 2011

My very first radio interview

Hi guys,

So… this a little bit embarrassing for me, but I was on a radio show earlier this week.

You might be reading this saying “Oh man, this girl is totally a show off… bragging about broadcasting and such on blog posts.”

Well, but this post isn’t about me bragging. It’s more of the opposite I must say – a bit of lessons learned, rather than ‘Oh man, I rock’.

Here is the thing. Last summer, I had another broadcasting event, which was actually my very first broadcasting experience. I will save you all the details of how it went and the long story leading to the event, but simply put it this way: I was super nervous that… every time I opened my mouth to say something, to answer questions from the host, my mind went blank and I started talking super fast. Given that it was my very first time, I think it didn’t go that badly. But back then, I thought it went so terribly that I wanted to change my name so that other people won’t recognize me from the show.

So, given that experience from last summer, I figured out why I my mind went blank during the show. I think I was being super conscious of myself that I didn’t know what to do. But the point of being on a show is to inform and entertain the audience, which was the point that was being overcast by my super conscious self – do I look ok, do I sound like someone who knows her stuff, am I talking ok? etc.

This time, I decided that I will keep the audience and the purpose of the show in mind, so that I won’t be so nervous.

But the day of any big presentation (MECH 598/698??) usually gets hijacked by terror and nervousness that does not end until the presentation/show/talk or whatever is over. This time wasn’t an exception. I had been in my thesis project mode for so long – i.e., debugging my code, other people’s code, stitching them together – that all I could think about was the robot I’ve been working with, and the super specific code issues I am having (e.g., my c++ code called gesture_engine.cpp is receiving wrong quintic coefficient values from its server codes I think, I should fix it soon). That also meant my lack of staying in touch with the rest of the world. I was worried.

I felt like I should know the worldly issues, even in my busiest times. I felt that there was a good chance that someone was going to ask me questions about happenings in Libia and somehow ask me to comment on that in conjunction with something about robots and my project. But as the time drew near, and I walked over to the broadcasting station, I knew that there was nothing I could do to review all of today’s worldly issues and happenings in my field. If they ask me stuff that I don’t know, then so be it. I am only a master’s student.

So, the first half and hour of the show was a bit unnerving. I could not believe that they actually asked me to be on the show for the whole hour. The clock just seemed to be stopped and not ticking away the way it should. I hadn’t really figured out the pace of my voice, the clarity of my sentences, and attitudes of my tone. I was just nervous.

But as the show went on, I reminded myself of that key thing that was supposed to help me: “I am not as important as I think I am. I am here for the audience, and to convey information to the audience.”

And there it was. An hour gone. And it was an hour of a very good experience.

At the end of the show, I didn’t feel too badly about how I did (until I listened to the recording of the show, and wanted to hide in a corner somewhere). I felt kind of comfortable about the idea of being on a radio show, and felt great that I got to talk about my thesis project on the show – although I am not sure if anything I said made any sense. Anyway, I was super glad to have been given the opportunity to participate on a show, and felt that more of us engineering grad students should be given these chances because I don’t think we talk about them in the context of large lay audience very much. It’s all about conveying information to the audience, presenting yourself as an expert and actually succeeding at it is secondary.

Maybe next time, I will do better. 🙂

Trouble falling asleep?

This is going to be a short one.
Because I am about to fall asleep.

I am not sure about you, but whenever I concentrate on something late into the night, I sometimes forget to eat, to rest, and to take a break. It is especially true when I am debugging or writing some code. I always feel like I can get it fixed or written faster if I work on it on one go, rather than taking a break, and then coming back to it. I always feel that taking a break in the middle of debugging makes me lose my train of thought or something, which could mean making or breaking of a code.

Anyways, whenever I end up working on one thing for hours and hours on into the night time, I have trouble braking the momentum in my brain and cannot fall asleep.

Those of you suffering from the same issue as me, please let me know how you cope with it. Because, for now, I am going to see if having a shot of baileys in my one and only espresso cup followed by a warm shot of milk in the same espresso cup will do the trick for me tonight. I vaguely remember it working like a charm sone days ago, but we’ll see if it works. So far, I am widely awake.

The big red E.

Usually, I find the big red E in the middle of Main Mall. The big red E, symbolic of engineering at UBC, is painted onto a somewhat pyramid-like concrete structure that is large enough that you don’t want to lift it yourself, and shows as large of an ego of engineering that other departments want to paint over it out of jealousy – or so I am told.

This morning, I took my usual walk from the Thunderbird residence to my lab in the ICICS building. Including the time I take to pick out and put on my shoes to laying down my bag on my lab desk area takes only about 3 minutes. Literally. So my morning walks are usually not very eventful other than me noticing something about the weather or seeing how full or empty the parking lot near the Forestry building is. But this morning was a little bit different.

I found the big red E on the entrance of the forestry building. Yes, it’s true, and here’s a picture evidence to prove it.

The place where the big E was found this morning.

But what I read at the bottom of the big red E made me laugh. It said “We are a real faculty”.

Of course we are, I thought. And we are a faculty with a sense of humour! I am guessing that Forestry took over the big red E in the Main Mall recently, and the engineering students are trying to get back at them. Regardless of what the behind story is, I think it’s fun to have such a tradition, and a symbolic item for our faculty. It gives me a sense of ‘fun’ and ‘community’, and a somewhat eventful mornings even in my three minute home-to-lab walks.