Fun at Work

I did not want to go to work this week. I was having so much fun this weekend. I had kayaked across the San Diego Bay (and by across I mean about 30 feet). It goes right alongside the airport so I was secretly being a Riddle geek staring at planes when I should have been paddling. It’s ok I only got yelled at twice. I had gone with my roommate Laura, her brother, and a friend. Afterwards, we were so hungry we went to a restaurant downtown and I had a giant burrito, even though I really wanted the chicken and waffles. That night, as I was still eating the burrito, I watched some reruns of The Nanny. Don’t make fun of me, you all love that show you just don’t know it yet. And Fran Drescher has the voice of an angel.

I don't even have a paddle in my hand. What a surprise!

I want it I want it!!

Not paying attention

On Monday I went to lunch with a co-worker who gave me a lot of information on the benefits of working for the government. He talked about how being an employee at our company funded the education for his higher-level degrees. This was good to hear in the hopes that this company invites me back for another internship or possibly a job. I also applied for graduation this past week! Since I got an internship, I get 6 credits knocked off of my requirement to graduate. That means I will be graduating an entire semester early! Guess I’ll have to start practicing walking across a stage. No I won’t actually do that, if people saw me they would recommend me to a psychiatrist.

For my current projects here, I have been tasked with some pretty unique projects. I have been researching control interfaces for operating unmanned vehicles. I was also tasked with creating a set of classes and workshops for human factors instruction. These will be courses given to people working for Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) on how to make designs user-friendly and how to do user/usability testing. I used a lot of material from those expensive books I bought for my classes. So, they may come in handy for at least one other short period of your life.

Later in the week, I was tasked with doing research with the employees at SPAWAR who are completely blind. I asked them to do a “think-out-loud protocol” while they used a screen reader to navigate through a website. Human Factors researchers use this method to “see” what is going on inside the head of a participant (without opening it up). We ask a participant to say what they are doing, thinking, or feeling while they perform a task. For this particular study the participants were using software called a screen reader that reads everything shown on a webpage to them as they navigate through it. Imagine navigating through a website with a blindfold over your eyes based on how someone is describing it to you. That’s what the participants were doing as we tested. And they did awesome because they use that program for every task they do for their job. I finished that day feeling like a lazy employee compared to these guys.

Within SPAWAR, my division decided to promote the awesome people that work here. So they decided to get the branches from our division and film a couple of clips of the people in each branch dancing to the song “Happy” by Pharrell. My boss brought in embarrassing clothes and accessories and laid it all across the table. Since I am about 3 weeks old here, still very timid, and trying to make a good impression, I did the only logical thing I could think of for that situation. I picked up a princess tiara and pink sunglasses out of the pile of accessories put them on the 50 year old guy standing next to me, and somehow convinced him to let me be the leading man in a swing dance. We danced better than everyone else, except I was too short to spin him around.

On the subject of dance, I also signed up for some classes. A few weeks ago I signed up to do a beginner’s adult ballet class. I remember enjoying it as a kid, but I got pushed up to an advanced class too early and did not understand any of the French these crazy teachers were speaking. I could remember looking at the other girls’ feet on the night of the recital. So, I decided to have another go at it in the hopes that my chicken arms get some tone. In reality chickens probably have much more upper body strength than me. Anyways, I did my first class and surprisingly remembered a few words and positions. There were a few girls around my age, but most of the women were older.

As part of giving interns out-of-work learning experience, every Thursday SPAWAR hosts a technical seminar in a variety of areas. This week was advanced photonics and the potential uses for this area of study. Another speaker brought in Google Glasses and showed some of the cool functions of it. As part of the Human Factors GEARS Lab, I was the only student in this group who had even seen Google Glass in person. In case you were wondering, yes, I felt special. The same speaker talked about some cool apps available that can turn a sheet of paper into a 3-D image, or overlay a digital image to a 6-sided block. If you have a smart phone, download Elements 4D by DAQRI or Enchantium. They both are cool augmented reality apps for your phone!

On Friday night I learned how to play poker. I had played Texas Hold ‘Em before, but forgot everything I learned. My roommate, Sharelle invited me to her friends house where there were two very large tables set up. I actually received tremendous help from the gentlemen at my table. Two of them would look at my cards and tell me what to bet, when to stay in, and when to give the other guy dirty looks. I bought in for $10, and walked out of that joint with a whopping $7 more. Don’t act like you’re not impressed. Not bad for a first-time-in-a-really-long-time-er. At that point I had decided that there is no way I will make more than $7 and decided to cash out and go to another friend’s house. Once we got there, we busted out the Wii and played Mario Kart. Sleepy and delusional I crashed into every wall in the game and came in 7th place at best. My gaming ability was really top-notch that day.

Rolling in the chips