I don’t know much about food or cooking, so I am doubtful that I could create anything new or interesting in regards to a food experiment. Instead, I will be documenting my attempt to give up sugar (which I love), in the form of all desserts, sweets, and items containing processed sugar or high fructose corn syrup.

Tuesday 10-13
Doing pretty good, might have over snacked on salty stuff since I can’t have sugar. Went to the convenience store at Memorial Union, very saddened by all the delicious things I couldn’t have (and what a large percentage of the store’s content they made up).
Had a slight stomach ache later in the day.

Wednesday 10-14
In my dream last night I ate some chocolate chip cookies. I felt bad about it when I woke up.
I feel hungrier than normal. Which is weird, since sugar is supposed to make you hungry, right? Slight stomach ache mid-morning, felt sort of like hunger and an overly-full stomach at the same time. Energy level seems about normal, though I feel like I might be a little more on edge than usual.
Facebook says that today is national dessert day. Humpf.
evening: slight stomach ache seems to pop up whenever I eat. I also have a slight headache, though that might be from staring at computer screens all day.

Thursday 10-15
packaged candy in dream last night. Did not eat any.
Woke up in the middle of the night and had trouble getting back to sleep.
Also, it seems like I’m having a minor acne breakout.
headache through morning, slight sore stomach after breakfast. No stomach problems after lunch (I had a banana as part of lunch, and that does have some sugar (I have decided include fruit in my new diet)).
I think I might be getting dehydrated… or sick… I’m having trouble concentrating when I’m staring at my computer screen.

Friday 10-16
I’ve been getting more tired in the evening, so I’ve been going to bed earlier. Also been waking up earlier, so that’s good. No sugary stuff in my dream. Also, it’s worth noting that I’ve been having dreams for the past 3 days, since usually I do not remember my dreams.
I ate some peanut butter spread on sliced banana. Does that count as sugar? I saw peanut butter on a list of low-sugar alternatives, but it still has some sugar in it… hmm…
I was hoping one side effect of this would be some weight loss, but I’m pretty sure my increased fat-intake is going to undo any weight I would have lost.
Went to a birthday party, didn’t eat cake.

Saturday 10-17
Doing well physically, though morale is low. I probably would have started snacking on something if I hadn’t already cleared all the sugary stuff out of my apartment. Not sure if I have a stomach ache or am hungry.
went to the grocery store, stared at sugary baked goods, had a deep sense at both craving and revulsion and disappointment in myself for craving. Halloween = chocolate displays everywhere. Bought some dried apricots and figs (no sugar added).

Sunday 10-18
Feeling better. Overall not hungry and not craving.
Wasn’t too hungry. Ate a few dried apricots. Became more hungry. Ugh.
I think the hardest thing isn’t that I can’t have sweets RIGHT NOW, but that I know for the foreseeable future this is what my life is going to be like, as long as I stick to this diet. I guess it’s easier to just take it a day at a time.
Had my first non-sugar-related craving this evening (for salmon, cream cheese, and avocado sushi rolls). Might get that for lunch tomorrow.

Monday 10-19
Got a little sad this morning thinking about all the delicious sugary stuff I’m not eating. Oh well.

How Tempe Copes with Heat

To find out how people cope with the heat in Arizona I went about my neighborhood and looked into trash cans and a few other more obvious places.


This is what I found.

Hydration matters. I found a number of large styrofoam glasses of soda in every trashcan I looked into. I even saw one balanced on the dashboard of a vehicle. Chilled beer was the second most popular drink, Gatorade and good old water came in third.

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These photographs were captured at different times of the day. The parking lot had discarded soda cups, water bottles, and water bottles at seven in the morning. The community trash cans were photographed late in the evening and the bus stops trash cans were photographed around noon on two separate days.

Sunglasses and hats/caps offer much needed physical protection from heat. I found hats and caps to be popular with older citizens and children; sunglasses are popular with all age groups. Flip-flops are popular too.

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The pool is the go-to place in the evenings and on weekends, even when it was cloudy for a few days.

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Misting systems were operating till late in the evening and offered respite to patrons. Earlier in the day people chose to sit inside the restaurant and enjoy the air conditioning but in the evening families enjoyed the cool mist while having dinner. IKEA’s misting system worked all day till seven in the evening.


The two most popular ways to cope with heat: fluids, preferable chilled. and shade.

Heat, Life and Leisure


Last Saturday afternoon, I went to “Tempe beach park” to conduct a semi-structured field study about the effects of heat on  leisure activities of the people in Phoenix area. By the time I entered the park the temperature was around 105 F (Source Surprisingly, a considerable amount of people (around 20) were there mostly Kayaking on the lake. Another set of people were fishing under the rail bridge. A cyclist or two were rarely seen riding along the jogging path. I hardly saw any joggers or runners at that time. Quite understandable!

I met a set of teenagers doing a photoshoot. I asked them about how they experience doing photography in the heat. They said “Normally we don’t go out this time of the day, specially for photo shoots, but we have to do this shoot as soon as possible. So we came. It’s really hard to concentrate on what you do in this heat. Normally we prefer early morning.”IMG_3523
A couple, in mid sixties I would say, were fishing under the rail bridge. They happily shared their experience with me. “This is our hobby, we come here regularly. We are natives, so the heat doesn’t effect us. We can do fishing or camping any time of the year, heat is not a problem for us. Even in 120 F we can do this, because we are natives.”

They sounded like native “Mercurians” 😉IMG_3533
Then I talked to a couple, who brought their dog for a walk. “We bring her (the dog) out at least twice a month. In this time of the year, it is hard to go out with this heat. But we do this because it is good for her. Normally we come late in the evening.”

She must be a lucky dog!IMG_3569

I decided to stay a bit longer until sunset to observe more activities. So I started doing my favourite leisure activity – photography, and the “try” phase of the study. Heat kept on bothering me not allowing me to concentrate on what I’m capturing. Unlike other days, getting under a shade was my main target, than going for the best angles. Anyway thanks to the telephoto lens, I could take some long distance shots from under the shades of trees and bridges 😉 IMG_3635 IMG_3648
After few hours, the sun started to die allowing more people to the park. The Number of cyclists, kayakers and joggers started to grow. Interestingly, I saw parents bring their kids to the park in the evening. There were no kids in the park at the the time I entered.IMG_3644 IMG_3637

From this study I learnt the following key points.

  • People prefer to come to the park early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid the heat in the day time.
  • But still some people seem to enjoy their leisure activities even in the heat. Especially the kayakers.
  • And in my personal view, the amount of people I saw doing outdoor workouts, was very low compared to the other parts of the world I’ve seen. Heat could be a possible reason for that.

At the end, the sun started to set behind the bridge, compensating me with a wonderful view for all the trouble it gave me since afternoon. IMG_3675Thanks for reading!

Ethnographic-Oriented Study of ASU Field Use

During this week, I conducted an informal study of the use of the large athletic field on ASU campus. From Tuesday through Saturday, I would take a picture of the athletic field every time I passed by there in order to document the amount of activity at the field. Obviously, because of the small sample size, this study is imperfect, but I think there were some interesting developments.

My starting assumption was that, due to the heat, there would not be a lot of activity taking place on the field during the day. For anyone who has to go outside this time of year, it’s plainly obvious that playing sports outside for an hour is not desirable.

Below: field at 2:44 pm on Tuesday

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Below: field at 11:34 am on Friday

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Generally, people began to arrive at the field around 5-6 pm. This is around the same time that the sun is setting, which results in a noticeable drop in temperature to a much more manageable level.

Below: field at 5:47 pm on Wednesday

2015-09-09 17.47

Below: field at 6:09 pm on Friday

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However, I began to consider that the heat might not be the only contributing factor to the presence of people. For example, on Wednesday the sky was overcast and it was unseasonably cool. Despite this, the field remained empty for most of the day, with people only showing up close to 5pm.

It could be that, having already established schedules around what the heat would likely be, many students did not divert from their exercise plans even when the weather allowed it. It is also likely that schedule diversions are especially discouraged for field activities, which are largely team sports (soccer, baseball, volleyball), which require a large number of people to show up at the same time. This could be an additional reason why activity increases in the evening, since that is when most classes are over and the majority of students will be available to play sports.

Below: field at 9:26 am on Wednesday

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Below: field at 4:46 pm on Wednesday

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This study was also disrupted by the military, which on Thursday landed a couple of helicopters on the field in a patriotic / recruitment / information event. The event lured non-exercising students into the field, and also likely disrupted any sports activity that would have been going on had the helicopters not been there. In addition, some tents set up on Friday did enter field space, but didn’t seem to have an as disruptive effect on the exercisers.

Below: intrigued by the presence of helicopters on Thursday, students ignore the heat and wander openly into the field

2015-09-10 16.28 helicopter

Below: field at 5:17pm on Friday.

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The last issue affecting the use of the field is availability. Since the heat and class schedules pushes many of the sport activities to the evening or later, the use of the field lights is invaluable in allowing the students to continue their exercise activity at night. Of all the times documented, the field was most crowded after 9 pm on Thursday. There was such a large group, in fact, that there was even a scheduled police presence (in the form of a bicycle cop, who was nice enough to answer a few questions) stationed by the field in order to prevent any fights or other mischief that could result from large groupings of people.

However, on the weekends the field lights are not turned on, so anyone who wants to use the field must schedule their time wisely to avoid the intense heat of midday or the unplayable conditions at night. Despite the darkness, there were some people using the field at night on Saturday, but it was not many, and there were no large teams or groups of people like there had been on the Thursday.

Below: field at 9:22 on Thursday

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Below: field at 7:13 on Saturday. It wasn’t actually quite as dark as it looks in this picture, but it was still fairly hard to see and there were not as many people using the field. Since it was only a little after 7, I did ask some of the people at the field if the lights would be turned on later in the evening, but they said no, the lights were never turned on during Saturday.

2015-09-12 19.13

From this analysis, it appears that the amount of people using the field depends on a variety of factors, including heat, scheduling, pre-planned college sponsored activities or visits, and access to light. It seems, through the data available, that the temperature on a particular day does not have a large effect on how or when the field is used. Rather, the Arizona heat is a forgone conclusion when sports teams decide their group practice and exercise schedules. While special occasions (such as helicopters or tents) can draw students out into the sunlight for a period of time, scheduled sports activities seem bound by the anticipated climate and ASU’s willingness to water and light a field of grass.

Look, ask, try, learn

Ethnographically-oriented and qualitative methods enable researchers to discover relationships between people, artifacts, and contexts in the real world. While a formal qualitative study and data analysis is outside the scope of this class, in this assignment you will conduct some basic field observations in regards to how people cope with and respond to heat here in Phoenix.

Pick a setting that will provide context, inspiration, or a problem space for how heat is experienced in Phoenix. If this setting is not public, make sure to get permission from the people involved. Apply IDEO’s look, ask, try, learn methods:

look: what are people doing and saying?
ask: elicit feedback or participation from someone
try: simulate or participate in an activity yourself
learn: identify ‘thoughtless acts’, patterns, problems, or opportunities. you can learn from what you observed in context, or you might do a quick search to find related information online.

Write up your observations and notes. Describe where you went, what you saw, asked, tried, and learned. Include photographs or sketches of what happened.

Upload your writeup to the class blog under the ‘observation‘ category.

This assignment is worth 3 points
1 point for describing where you went and what you saw
1 point for asking or trying something
1 point for describing what you learned

Include pictures and/or sketches!!