Archive for December, 2007

Farewell, 2007

Sunday, December 30th, 2007

As the earth makes yet another revolution around the sun (is it just me who finds it funny that humans celebrate the oddest of things?), I’ve been thinking a lot about this past year. But instead of recapping the ups and downs of 2007, and the billions of changes I’d like to see myself make in the new year, I think I’d just like to thank those of you who continuously keep me sane, those of you who continuously make me go insane, and wish everyone happiness for 2008. It’s been my New Year’s resolution of sorts for many years now, slowly learning how to find the bits of true happiness lying around. Even though I don’t really believe in New Year’s resolutions (why wait until New Year’s to make a change?), I will make 2008 a good, happy year, regardless of what happens.

Wishing everyone a new year of happiness all around!

School update (or rather, wrap-up)

Sunday, December 23rd, 2007

As I only had two days of classes this term, the entire term zipped by almost without me knowing. By the last day of the term, I somehow managed to finish my thesis paper (though you can be sure I will be using all next term to refine it), create the other two deliverables for my 5 Minute Break project (see previous post), create a bunch of research activities for my thesis project, spend $100 to print out my thesis project poster, redesign my portfolio website (have yet to complete it though), and relax the rest of the time.

Next term, I will be completing my thesis paper and project, and will be taking four classes: Dick Buchanan’s Design, Management, and Organizational Change, Kristin Hughes and Mark Mentzer’s Color and Communication, Shelley Evenson’s Conceptual Models, and I will once again be taking Repertoire Orchestra. Very excited about this lineup; I think it’s a really great mix of different types of design, and I think all will be useful with whatever I decide to do later on.

But before I get ahead of myself, here’s the update on the rest of the term since my last post:

Thesis project
After an oh-so-exciting four months of waiting, all my IRB problems were resolved, and I am finally allowed to go talk to families at Children’s Hospital. Too bad this came a week before school ended, which means I can’t actually go in until after the break, but at least I can go. Within these four months, I talked to the staff at Children’s and have a pretty good idea of what they believe to be the problem with information overload for the parents of patients. It will be interesting to compare the staff’s perceived problems with the families’ problems once I get to talk to them.

Thesis Project PosterAs Masters students we are all required to create a thesis project poster for a poster session that we hold at the end of the term. Mine mainly consisted of the models I created from talking to the staff, but it also includes the four research activities that I devised to get insight into families’ experiences at the hospital. For now I am mainly interested in comparing different emotional states throughout families’ journeys at the hospital with the information they receive at these points.

Thesis paper
After a crazy Thanksgiving weekend writing session, I mostly finished my thesis paper, then really finished in the couple of weeks after. It still needs lots of revision, mostly for writing style and argument coherency, but it’s mostly there (I think, and hope). The thesis paper has been one of the hardest “assignments” (if you can call it that) for me; I’ve never been comfortable with my writing style. But it’s progressing and I hope to have a solid Masters Thesis Paper by the time I graduate, even if the only two people who will read it are me, and my advisor ;)

Grad Type
I finished my 5 Minute Break assignment with mostly a bang. Created some mockups of a proposed website, and for my third piece I decided to make small and playful keychain tags, each tag containing an idea for something you could do on a 5 minute break. It was a fun project, and really useful too. I learned a lot about creating systems, and what mediums are good for what purposes. I learned how to treat visualizations differently depending on your medium. I learned more about hierarchy (you can never learn enough about hierarchy). Most importantly, I learned that I can create things I would have never thought of doing… thinking outside the box in terms of visual design, and not being afraid to do it is I think the one big lesson of this class for me. I feel like I can approach different projects without being confined to what I know and am comfortable with, and still create something visually appealing.

Because of the way the class was set up, I only got to play twice this term. Nevertheless, both times were great. With most things, I always forget how fun it is until I actually do it again. But with music, I never forget, which makes a lack of music in my life a problem. My first year of grad school was the first year in my life that I wasn’t pursuing anything musical; up until my first year of undergrad I was talking piano lessons, I played in my highschool’s jazz band, concert band, and pit orchestra, I started my own chamber quintet (that was later invited to play for Canada’s Governor General), I continued competing as a pianist in my hometown’s Kiwanis music competition… in undergrad I continued taking piano lessons (at the expense of some of my academics), sang in one of University of Toronto’s 1oo-member choirs, and played piano for one of my college’s cabaret productions. Then came my first year at CMU, when I did absolutely nothing. I couldn’t even find a piano on campus that I could play on. So, playing in orchestra this year was pretty refreshing. Sometimes it makes me wonder why I never pursued music as a career. But then I look at what I’m doing in school now, and am always reminded that maybe music is better served as a hobby ;)

I think that’s enough school updates for now. Over the break I plan on finishing my portfolio, looking for places that I’d like to work at, and refining my thesis paper. Fun!