Just when you think it can't get worse...

Naturally, it gets better!

This week, I worked on my arrow recognizer almost all week. I also modified some of Dr. Hammond's old arrow code to make a doubly-strong recognizer. Basically, we now have 4 arrow recognizers running. We will soon add the code that a recent graduate of the lab wrote to make the recognition even stronger. His code is apparently very robust, so we will likely have a fabulous arrow recognizer by the time we finish the software.

"What? It's not done yet? Wasn't it due last week?" Well, yes, it was due on the first of July. We didn't quite finish. We caught a few bugs too close to the deadline to be completely finished on time, but our progress was so great from the past meeting, we were forgiven. This week's demo and user-study went nearly flawlessly. Arrows were recognized at about 95% accuracy!!!! Every muscle in my body was holding the tension of my anxiety when the users began sketching, but they slowly relaxed when I realized that it was working! Arrows work!!!! I think also the users are getting more comfortable with Wacom tablet technology, so that definitely helps too. This meeting was exponentially better than last week's. I wanted to sing. I didn't sing, because no one wants to hear that, but I could have.

In the coming weeks, we still have a long way to go, though not all of it was/is due by the first deadline. For example, we are still stuck in "demo" mode. We have not yet abstracted the answer checking to allow any question; right now we can only check the accuracy of one diagram from one prompt. We need to finish the draw-it-any-way-you-want-it style of truss recognition, which Travis has been working diligently on for several weeks. We found small bugs in almost everything, but those should be fairly easy to fix. The software is coming along. If it's development was an algorithm, I would say that we are finally exiting a recursive loop, with pretty straight-forward work ahead. I am pretty excited.

This week, Patrick is back from his appendectomy, so we have a full lab again! No doubt we will get much more done.

This week, we had a brown-bag lunch lecture, as usual, and as one of our weekly "freebies," we received a brochure on graduate school for women from the CRA-W. I found it incredibly helpful and sincere, but there was a boy sitting behind me that did not feel the same. In response to the content of the brochure, he spoke some of the most insensitive, sexist, mocking words I have ever heard. I froze.  I am no good at debating, nor do I believe that it is an effective mode of conversation, so in my anger I was unable to even utter a sentence in defense of my gender. I realized later, though, that even if I had found my calm enough to dialogue, I would not have known what to say. What could I have said to make him see? I feel like I failed my gender, as well as my social justice training. To all of you Technical Women out there, I am so sorry, from the bottom of my heart.

This week, my roommate Beenish and I found a bookstore within walking distance. It's about 2 miles away, but I think it's totally worth the walk. I absolutely love bookstores. I wish we could have stayed for longer, but we're both kind of afraid of walking home in the dark. I think it will definitely be a site of future browsing. It will no doubt make the dull weekend days brighter.

This week, I realized that jigsaw puzzles are a wonderful and distracting invention. I finished a 1000 piece Thomas Kinkade puzzle borrowed from one of my lab members, Alexis. It gives me something hands-on to do, which is really refreshing. I enjoy listening to audio books, so working on the puzzle and listening to a great book is a fantastic way to keep both my mind and my hands occupied. I think I will purchase another in the coming week. It is a small price to pay for hours of amusement.

Before I start my new future-purchased puzzle, though, I must finish my other thousand-piece project... but I can't tell you about it now!  I'll tell  you soon, but I'm only about 80% done. I'm hoping to be done next week, and then another week for shipping, so I will venture a guess at week 7 or 8 for a full description of my secret project. It is taking up nearly all of my free time (except for the slight vacations of the puzzle and my boyfriend's visit last weekend). So for now, trust me that I am accomplishing something, even though I can't talk about it yet. :-)