Things that are on my mind pretty much all the time

I have a few of those. Two of them are my children.  Jamie's now 195, and Sam 22. Jamie no longer spends quite as much time wishing that Sam's things were his, and Sam no longer spends quite as much time wishing that his brother was someone else's.  Statistically, it is quite unlikely that Sam and Jamie are the two most fantastic kids in the world.  But that's just statistically.. in actual fact, they are the two most fantastic kids in the world.  They have competition, though - their brother Kai, who is fast catching up (at just 8 weeks at the time of posting this, he's got quite a lot of catching up to do!). In different ways he is identical to both Sam and Jamie. And he has the Altmann Nose… I realize that there are lots of people in the world who will dispute that I have fathered the three best kids (two are barely kids) in the world, and will insist that their kids are the more fantastic.  Sorry folks - you're wrong.

And for a long time there was my pond. It was put in when I'd bought my house in the UK, but it leaked, most likely from somewhere near the bottom. So we took out the liner and re-formed the pond and then re-lined it with the proper kind of liner. Would have been a lot easier if 200+ fish hadn’t been born between the leak starting and the liner needing to be replaced. The new pond was way better than the old. The fish thought so too. As did the Heron that periodically stopped by for a snack. Turns out it's super easy to deter heron (same principle will deter deer, something I often have to do here in Connecticut). I miss the pond. A future project will be to do something similar here out in the Wilds of Storrs.

Another long-standing preoccupation (one that is almost exactly the same age as Jamie) has been my attempt to find the time to write a new edition of a book I first published in 1997 which was (and still is) an "accessible" introduction to psycholinguistics (details can be got from the menu on the left). It was published by Oxford University Press, who offered me what at the time seemed like a ridiculously large advance on royalty! Boy was I naive. The production of that first edition went very smoothly... so smoothly, in fact, that my name slipped off the cover, which resulted in all the copies having to be recalled from the warehouse until the new cover was printed/bound. So I'm supposed to be working on that new edition. One chapter's complete... only another 12 to go! You can download that chapter in the 'book' section (see the menu on the right). update: I’d be much happier and much less stressed if I admitted to myself that this new edition just isn’t going to happen any time soon. Sadly, I admitted this to myself some time ago, but it made no difference to my happiness...

I've also spent too much time worrying about my research lab. We have two eye trackers: We used to use a head-mounted infra-red video-camera system to monitor people's eye movements as they look at a computer monitor. It's an interesting technology (that's Yuki Kamide, who is a long-time collaborator and helped me set up the eye tracking lab at York back in the late 1990s- she’s wearing an older version of the tracker). What you don't see in this picture is the silicon swimming hat that we normally asked people to wear (Yuki was far too vain to put it on for this photograph... something to do with her hair gel, apparently...). It stopped the head-mount from slipping. It was also a lot of fun to put on... (in case you're wondering, we had a bunch of these hats, and they were washed each time they're used). Our more recent eye trackers don't require the wearer to be assimilated into the Borg... They use a camera under the computer monitor that's pointed at the person looking at the monitor. Back in my UK days, the next best thing in my lab was the powered table that, at the switch of a button, went up or down (thereby adjusting the height of the table relative to the person whose eyes we’re tracking). I miss it. It made a fantastic noise as it did its thing. As do the people that currently work in my lab...

For the historically interested, here is what used to be at the bottom of this page:

My final concern, and one that irritates my more immediate colleagues to distraction, is that I'm convinced that our research here in the Psycholinguistics Research Group at York would benefit no end from some decent coffee; a Gaggia 'bean to cup' coffee machine, no less.  I've tried the coffee, and it's fantastic.  So if anyone wants to donate around $700, just get in touch.

I did in fact buy that Gaggia machine. It was fantastic. Changed all our lives. I just wish I hadn't had to buy it myself... I'd gladly accept a retrospective donation...! It lasted 9 years (which included the occasional repair) before springing a leak and being replaced by a DeLonghi ESAM 6700. DeLonghi gave us a massive discount and they became, consequently, our official lab sponsor. The machine was unbelievably amazing. Way more useful, I suspect, than an eye tracker. I now have, at home, a Breville Oracle. It's even more fantastic than all my prior machines combined!