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August 10 - 13

Sept. 10
     It’s pretty funny what can make a day a good day. I just spent the last hour and a half being tortured by a fellow grad student. First, for forty minutes, I was left to twiddle my thumbs in a dimly lit room with nothing to do but tell him each time I estimated five minutes had passed (part of the experiment was time estimation). Second, he had me plaster my forehead to a foam pad and stare at a screen as letters and numbers were serially flashed at me. So, all I saw was a blur of numbers as they popped up, all in the same spot. For every short series of numbers, there were two letters. It was my job to report the letters. When was the last time you spent half an hour calling out “M, B” “C, D” “P, R”. Blah!
     So, why do I feel good? Because you always feel good after the torture ends? (By the way, the experimenter who had to listen to me calling out those letters and time estimations has another week of testing to do. I think his torture is worse.) Maybe I feel good because my honours thesis, which I’ve been trying to revise for publication almost all summer, has finally left my desk, to sit on my honours supervisor’s desk for a while.

Sept. 11
     You sometimes hear about people’s brushes with famous people. I don’t know if it was exactly fame which brushed me, but I was certainly made to do a double-take. I was watching TV a couple of weeks ago, flipping through the channels, when a face caught my eye. It was a guy, about the same age as me, on some Canadian-made film, and he looked undeniably familiar. But I had no idea from where I knew him.
     Then, yesterday afternoon, I was bonked on the head with the answer: this guy was one of the students for whom I was a teaching assistant at Dalhousie. He was in one of my sections of Psych 2000!
     All I remember from then was that he was not particularly interested in his academic achievement. What, I wonder, was he doing at the same time to capture his attention? It’s neat to see a familiar face on TV.

Sept. 13
     First real chance to sit down and write since Friday. I thought my lab was big before. Well, its just increased by 200%! There were seven grad students, and we’ve just been assigned 14 undergrad students taking an independent studies course. I think it might work out though; another grad student and I have already figured out enough experiments to keep half of them occupied for the term. It’s interesting, our lab space was just renovated because it was too crowded for six grad students to work in at once, and now, even thought its bigger, the area might get totally congested again.
     Speaking of those experiments, I think I finally have narrowed down the projects which I’ll be working on, at least for the first term. More faces. I’m going to collaborate with the fellow grad student mentioned in the previous paragraph on some studies involving gaze direction. Chris has been working for a couple of years now on how the direction of a person’s gaze affects how we direct our own attention. It seems that even if we know that another’s gaze will tell us nothing about the location of a target for which we are searching, we can’t help but follow the line of the other’s gaze. Chris has shown this in a number of experiments, but there are still a bunch of “what ifs” that I can tackle. The second project involves the faces upon which I based my undergrad thesis. I had participants identify the faces for my thesis, and now I’m going to do a visual search with them, sort of a “face in the crowd” idea.

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