Monthly Archives: December 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone! YAY~

I know, I know… Christmas is rooted in Christian culture. But it definitely grew past that for quite some time now. So, with mine and your religious backgrounds aside, I’d like to wish you a Merry Christmas (and Happy Holidays, for those of you who feel awkward about it).

Since the last time I blogged, about my experiment being done and how I am overcoming the emotional aftermath, I flew for about 5 hours and have been hiding at my parents’ place here in Ontario. I expected things to be a bit more cold and snowy, but it really haven’t been that way. I guess the climate change really is showing itself to us rapidly these days.

Anyway, when I arrived at the Toronto Pearson airport and was greeted by my family – whom I haven’t seen for about a year – I felt a sense of ‘Phew’.

The thing is, I have been living by myself for a while now that I got used to eating bad food (i.e., some of the foods I cook), same food (e.g., I ate five boiled eggs in about a day, just to finish them off before flying out for the holidays), and singles’ fool (i.e., instant noodles, spam, frozen microwavable whatever). And the kind of food you eat definitely shows on your face. My “same food, bad food, singles’ food” diet for the past year definitely left some noticeable marks on me (some call it dark circles, and some other terms associated with accelerated ageing). So, regardless of the fact that I tried my best to look presentable for my once-in-a-year reunion with my family, I didn’t look very well nourished – according to my mother at least.

Henceforth started the 3 kg of weight gain since my arrival. With a few happy sighs of being home, I was definitely reminded again how wonderful it is to have my parents treat me like I am still too young to cook my own food, and to pay for her own stuff.

Unfortunately, I am still being very much myself, and working under a journal deadline (and trying to write up my thesis as well). But the writing process is happening while I sit on the couch and mimicking the hesitation gestures my robot enacted.

Yes, that’s right. I haven’t forgotten about my thesis project.

I mean, lots of hesitations were necessary to express my uncertainties in choosing snacks while writing – whether to snack on a pecan tart or apple tea rings from a nearby Amish bakery delivered to me via my parents’ car (yes! I have access to a car!) – and dinner menus – oh the home made Korean food I missed for so long.

Anyway, I digress.

I guess studying at a place far from home/family made me cherish these little things a lot more – the things that used to be just everyday routine. I have a feeling that it’ll be harder going back to Vancouver this time. Partially because I know what’s in my fridge (I made sure I emptied it completely before I flew out), and partially because I know that I will remain far away from my family like this for quite a number of years.

But I am glad that I have people in Vancouver who are my family away from home. I would not have had the same exciting and eventful year without the support from them. And that’s definitely an understatement.

I know that a number of these family members are travelling to see their family. If you are one of them, please~ please~ stay safe, and have an epic time. And those of you unable to spend the holidays with your family, my warmest wishes goes to you. I will have to bake you some goodies when I get back – don’t worry, my baked goods don’t count as bad food in my dictionary.

I won’t write too much more, because I know you’re all going to be running away from your computers to enjoy the festivities – I hope you do even if you weren’t planning on it! Anywho, have a wonderful winter break everyone and thanks for letting me babble on the blog this year! 😀 See you all in 2012~!

End of Experiments!! and the Emotional Aftermath

It feels great.

Just great.

It’s been a while since my last post, but there’s a good reason for it.

I finished the last set of my experiments for my masters and that concludes the end of the things that I need to program, tighten, loosen, and crack open in the literal sense of things.

Woot woot!

I had over thirty subjects come in to the lab, and interact with the robot I had set up for the experiment. The  experiment was called Sorting Hearts and Circles with a Robot, and I am so… so… glad that so many people were interested in participating. Thank you participants! Big hug goes to you all.

And now that all the experiments are done, I could not wait to start analysing the data. It’s crazy how work works. You get one thing done, and then you find another thing to get done. It’s a never ending cycle.

However, I felt really good about the new work that sat staring at me on my desk — data.

For over two years, I had been working to get here. My goodness I had three different phases to my study, and thank goodness I finished them before my patience and all virtues in me dried out.

So, while I started to busy myself with the newly collected data, I was reminded that it was time for me to take down my experimental set-up.

It’s a weird feeling to take down something that you’ve worked so hard on. It feels like you’ve constructed a very elegant multi-layered cake with the most beautiful decorations and fillings by working hard for hours, and then you are asked to destroy it – with the reason being, that’s the way things are for all cakes, no matter how beautiful.

I had been working on this system for… about half a year now? I know every single line of code that made the robot do its thing, and I like to feel like I have my own personal ways of fixing the robot when it crashes on me – the ways that I had to learn by trial and error. You know… there’s that feeling of … there must be something special produced from this that will last forever.. the things that makes all the late nights and early mornings worthwhile. But you aren’t quite sure what that is yet. You don’t want to say that ‘I’ve made some scientific contribution that will last forever’ because it feels like your attachment to your project is stronger and more important than whatever the scientific contribution will do for the world. You know… a breakup from a long term relationships tend to give you that kinda feeling…

So, the day I was supposed to take down the system, I decided to take lots of videos of it, take pictures of every single corners of the set-up, and do everything special I could imagine. Collecting everything that will last.

And when that was all done and over with, I sat.

I sat there staring at the robot.

And the robot sat there, like it always was at the end of the day. Its arms folded and cuddled up.

It kind of felt like having a breakup talk.

“Hey… I’m sorry, but I am not planning to come around no more. This is it. It’s over.”

Don’t worry, I am not crazy. I do not really consider the robot my ‘friend’ or a relationship material of any sort.

I just have some attachment issues with my projects.

As I sat there having these breakup talks, somewhat feeling a sense of relief, but also doubting whether I am making the right choice (as in, should I get a few more subjects before I take it down?), my labmate Navid looked at me and said ‘All done?’

“All done…” I said.

Then I realised that Navid will be the one taking over the robot now – for his experiments, of course. And that reminded me that there’s going to be many more researchers working with this robot. It was clear that I need to clear out of its way.

So I took one last couples picture with the robot, with the spongy hand that I made for it and stuff.



Then I had to go out for dinner with a friend of mine to celebrate the end of experiments, and the start of results and analysis. Afterwards, I did feel the temptation to go back to the lab when I came back from  the dinner at like.. 11ish.. but I resisted. This was it.

A clean breakup is a good breakup. No middle ground “let’s be friends” stuff, and no regrets.

I learned so much from this project, and I am so glad that the experiment is over.

I am moving on.

Let’s get the data party started!! 😀