Thursday, October 1, 2009

Research rocks....!

I get to be Paul's guinea pig today. He has equipment that he's going to use for his research and he has to learn to use it on a test subject. The lucky winner is... me! I don't know how it will all work yet, but apparently, he's going hook up wires to my fingers and various places on my head to measure heart rate and signs of physiological stress. He's going to be researching small group communication by measuring test subjects' body signals in different group situations. The idea is to see if it is more stressful to have to come to a consensus or to make a decision by vote. The professor that he's working under suspects that it will be more stressful to have to all agree, but the research will tell.

We had to get a new battery for our car, but it's happily running again. There's this wonderful mechanic that Paul happened upon who is truly salt of the earth. A couple of weeks ago, Paul decided that we could no longer ignore the dead turn signal on the back left. Our left mirror was also hanging by a wire, and the combination wasn't exactly safe. He went in to see this mechanic, and the guy glued on the mirror and replaced the signal light bulb without charging Paul. Then when our car was having problems earlier this week, the same mechanic sent him off to get a new battery without charging him a cent. He could have charged for the glue, the bulb, and the labor, but he didn't. He said to Paul, "Come back when your car has a real problem." The angels are taking notes of people like this.

I wanted to talk, as well, about my own research. I may have mentioned that I'm doing an ethnographic field study. It's so fun! I've been spending time every Monday night with a group of guys who meet in a bookstore to play board games. They're so much fun, and they make me laugh. After each meeting, I write detailed notes about the interactions of the group and my experiences playing games with them. I write the the notes like my journal; for years I cultivated my journal writing to be as accurate and full of detail as possible. (After reading 1984, I wanted to have an accurate record of my life so that I would know what had happened after my memories faded.) My teacher loves my field notes and has asked me think about being an anthropologist. I've been considering it.

I would go into more detail about this group and its individuals, but I have to keep it confidential and not give away any of their identities. They have to sign informed consent forms that promise I won't use their real names or let anyone know who they are. I guess that's how real anthropologists do things. It's pretty fun.