Week 1: HumLab, key cards, and ePrime
Monday morning, PIRE bags in tow, Beth and I made our way to our new hub at the university to get situated and meet our supervisor, Marianne. Marianne is this fantastically spunky, self-proclaimed "culturally inappropriate" Swede, and with her seemingly endless inventory of witty one-liners, she's a woman after my own heart. Right off the bat, there were the obligatory introductions and, due to the sheer number, I can honestly say that I remember maybe 50% of the names, 30% of the respective areas of expertise, and even fewer of the projects - but that'll come with time, right?
The SOL (short for some Swedish term that I can't even begin to pronounce but that roughly translates to "Languages and Literature") is this amazing, centralized location for anything and everything languages and linguistics. The organization of everything under one roof was a novelty not lost on us Penn Staters, used to finding languages in one building, the CLS land in another, and eye-tracking equipment in yet another, scattered across campus. And the HumLab (Humanities Lab)! The array of research equipment is incredible, and as a not-so-closeted linguistics nerd, I was geeking out the entire time, especially entering the anechoic chamber - basically a suspended sound vacuum that smells oddly of stale air and gives you the feeling that your eardrums are being sucked out of your head (kind of like those noise-canceling headphones, only 1000x stronger).
Then came the uncooperative technology. Our key cards (equipped with the most attractive of pictures) work to open the HumLab, but they don't have the most cooperative of relationships with our office door. One thing that we've learned about the Swedes is that, while seemingly organized, efficiency is not their forte. Coming from a society that believes in instant gratification, the 2-3 day wait felt like an eternity. When we finally managed to get into our office (thanks to our adorable German office mates, Alex and Marlet), the internet decided it didn't like us either, but hey, the internet at the house doesn't seem to like us either, but hey, the internet at the house doesn't seem to like us either, so it's par for the course, right?
Aaaand then there's ePrime - the bane of my existence. In the mad dash at the end of the semester, we came to the realization that the super efficient, easily code-able, just all around wonderful flanker task that we use in the lab is.... in ePrime 2. Thanks to an awesome collaboration of many CLS-ers (both in the lab and in transit), we had one up and running! At least, I thought we did. It turns out that, in e-mailing the actual ePrime script from computer to computer, the properties in my script are a bit out of whack, so I've spent a good amount of time fiddling around with the script, trying to figure out the problem, but on the upside, I've definitely been learning quite a bit about the temperamental ePrime. As I've learned over the past month or so, there's an odd similarity between ePrime and a finicky toddler, for without enough structure, things run amok, but assert too much control and you're faced with a "fatal error." for, for the next few days, here's to hoping that "babysitting" works out a little better than last time...