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Head and heart 2016

What a year it has been – full of changes and being out of the comfort zone. Lots of exciting highs and also heartbreak. While I’ve neglected this blog for a number of years, it’s time to start writing and reflecting. And on that note, here’s a reflection of 2016.

What I’ve been doing


2016 has been the year of travel for me. I visited the lovely ‘Windy Wellington’ in February this year to attend my very first Webstock where I was inspired by talks such as Designing Interfaces for Astronaut Autonomy in Space (by the very lovely Steve Hillenius from NASA), implications of privacy by Annie Machon, a former MI5 intelligence officer-turned-whistleblower, and more. I explored Wellington, got my portrait painted by a puppet, had a tour of local graffiti from a street musician, did a couple of amazing tours at Weta Cave, saw the very moving ‘Gallipoli’ exhibition at the museum and so much more.

Painting of Ruth
Ruth’s portrait done by a puppet
Steve Hillenius on the webstock stage, in front of a big screen showing an astronaut in space
Steve Hillenius from NASA talking about designing interfaces for astronauts autonomy
View of the harbour
View of Wellington taken from my October trip

In May this year, Alastair and I ticked off one of our places on our bucket list – we got to visit the Uluru and the surrounding areas in the Northern Territory. It is such an amazing place where you feel connected to the land. If you visit, do spend a few extra days exploring the other places in the area (such as Katja Tujta).

Panoramic sunrise view of Uluru and Katja Tujta
Panoramic view of Uluru and Katja Tujta

In August, we headed over to Bali for the first time to celebrate my cousin’s 40th birthday in absolute style! While Bali is stereotypically known for drunken behaviours and people trying to hawk cheap touristy souvenirs, we managed to stay away from those areas. Instead, we decided to do a number of homestays, explore a number of villages and their surroundings, climb a volcano, learn how to cook some traditional Balinese cooking, learn to do traditional Balinese wood carving, learn to play the gamelan and did a silversmithing class. A must visit place is Munduk, where you’re high up in the hills and you can do bushwalks through the local cloves, coffee and cocoa plantations. Just beautiful!

View of a rainbow over the hills in Bali
View from our homestay in Munduk



A woman in an orange top drying cloves on the side of the road
Watching a local dry cloves

In September, we visited Singapore as I was speaking at a conference. We managed to do a lot – from visiting the amazing range of zoos, escape rooms, popped across to Malaysia to visit Legoland, saw some very cool exhibitions at the Singapore ArtScience Museum, rode lots of roller coasters at Universal Studios, and caught up with family.

9 mini photos showing items from a temple - statues, shoes, flowers
Little snippets of life that we saw on day 1
Night panorama showing Singapore city line
Panorama night view of Singapore
Legoland from the top of a ride
View of Legoland from the top of a ride
Girl silhouetted against vertical lights
Data visualisation exhibition at Singapore Art Science Museum

In October I was back at lovely Wellington to speak at a conference (and spent a week with such lovely people), then to Victoria in November for another conference, then Perth for a funeral.

Writing and speaking at conferences

I’ve been thinking a lot about cognitive biases in our work and have been fortunate to been given the opportunity to speak and write about this. Events that I spoke at this year included:
I was also really happy to be involved in the UXmas advent calendar for this year where I was the Christmas Eve article.

Indoor sky diving

I’ve been fueling my love of indoor skydiving with a number of extended flying sessions this year. I’ve managed to learn to navigate to specific points and to control my height. Unfortunately, I still a lot more flying time to progress to the next stage (and it’s an expensive hobby!).

Ruth inside the skydiving wind tunnel
Ruth doing indoor skydiving in Sydney

Escape rooms

I’m obsessed with escape rooms! I’ve covered 26 escape rooms this year, in Canberra, Sydney, Bali, Singapore and Wellington, with varying levels of success. Got a number of friends addicted to escape rooms too :)
I also started an escape room blog called Escape Room Explorers.

Changing jobs

After nine years of consulting in the private sector space, I left the consulting world behind and moved back into the public sector. It was a big decision for me and not one taken lightly, but the chance to work on very meaningful (and bloody difficulty) work is a challenge I wanted to tackle.


Crankybot (our science and geek Making label) has been a fun Making and Crafting experience for us. We had a very successful Christmas handmade market and released a number of new geek related designs this year.


2016 was a year of some medical heartbreak, but the biggest heartbreak was saying goodbye to my Nana. I spent a significant amount of time growing up with Nana and Papa and they were such a big part of my formative years. I was thankful that I managed to make the trip back to Perth for the funeral and to see my extended family.

What I’ve been grateful for

While 2016 has been globally a difficult year for so many people across the world, I’m grateful for having amazing and supportive friends, family and most of all, my dear husband. We celebrated our 10 year anniversary in 2016 and I’m thankful for our shared geekery and interests (such as Doctor Who, Star Wars, Making and Lego!).

What I’ve been reading

Aside from a number of articles about design, psychology, science and life, my books have remained solidly in the science fiction and fantasy realms. I’ve been working my way through a number of e-book kickstarters as well as going back through a number of old favourites (such as Isobelle Carmody’s The Obernewtyn Chronicles) and trying some new series, such as Jonathan Moeller’s Frostborn series.

What I’ve been thinking about

I’ve been thinking:

  • a lot about cognitive biases and how it affects all areas of our lives. While many of my talks and articles were focussed on this, I was also interested in seeing how it played out across the world, particularly the US elections.
  • about decluttering and how to live a more minimal life. Love the idea, and slowly trying to put it into practice, particularly when it comes to gift giving (how do we give experiences rather than stuff?).
  • about how we become kinder people – to ourselves and to our fellow human beings.

I’m also thinkin

What I’m excited for

2017 is going to be a big year for us. We’re about to start some big renovations. I’m looking forward to continuing the exciting work in the public service amidst lots of challenges.

Published inHead and heartLife

One Comment

  1. What an amazing year you’ve had! I’m looking forward to seeing what you get up to next :)

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