Monday, January 1, 2018

la vie en pose

2017 has been a year of growth, and vague sentiments. More responsibilities have been heaped on, but none were unasked for.


Thoughts of the future hang like a welcomed burden, simultaneously bringing the dread of uncertainty and the anticipation of change. There is the danger of viewing the present as superfluous, and the past as, well, past.


I have always been a little too introspective, overthinking and analyzing each of my actions and traits. Such an obsession of looking inwards probably translates to an obsession with how others see me. Hence, la vie en pose, a life in a pose :)


But it's the new year, so there is nothing wrong with taking a healthy look at 2017 to indulge in reflection, healthy self-criticism, and complaining about problems that I have no idea how to solve.  


  1. An intense #relatablecontent (I know, cringe) moment with Ms. Shankar's article, "You got this because you're a girl." She describes how women's skills and experiences are often overshadowed by the fact that they are "a pawn in the game of affirmative action." When others believe that the opportunities available in tech will be as easy to as attain as simply jumping for a golden coin because you are Princess Peach and not Mario, extreme doubts about our qualifications and reasons for getting that engineering position take root. But given the historic obstacles that women in tech face, we deserve to take those chances to prove ourselves. After all, the end goal for everyone is a functional organization with competent workers that represent a wide range of perspectives. Until the day when the notion of diversity hires become obsolete, we'll keep on coming.
  2. On that note, while it's cool that my peers voted my friend and me "the next Steve Jobs" for senior superlatives, I am sorta laughing at how despite all the efforts to diversify tech, we still aspire to become a white man. I concede how yearbook polls are simply for fun and not to make political statements, and how contributing to the founding of Apple is certainly a notable achievement. However, I can't shake the feeling that all the younger girls I teach at my local Girls Who Code club would point their fingers at me and say, "Smh, Kaitlyn." Hmm... "The next Sheryl Sandberg" or "the next Safra Catz" or "the next Jean Liu" has a nice ring to it.
  3. We tend to cheer and aspire to become the person on the stage, the ones capable of advocating for themselves and their ideas. If I recognize that being able to put forth my ideas and get others on board is a valuable skill, why do I feel guilty for preferring the shadows and being uncomfortable with "campaigning" for myself? Honestly, I had this discussion about working behind the scenes during my blog about Girls State, which goes to show my own hypocrisy, as I thought I had accepted that there was nothing wrong in playing a supporting role. Clearly, I am still conflicted between comfortably swaying the agenda in the background by quietly working, or being the public voice that people associate the change with.
  4. I need to show more gratitude! Again, I feel like a leech for sucking away support and kindness from my friends and family with a sense of entitlement. 2017 was the year I felt the most self-centered and demanding, without giving thought to others. Also, I don't exactly vocalize my gratefulness even if it is present inside, so I aim to focus more on others and think of how I may be able to support them.
  5. Talk more? Sheesh, I usually like listening to others better, but I can put more effort into driving the conversation. One-on-one conversations aren't too bad, but sometimes finding stuff to say in a group is just hard for me ._.


There is no wrong in accepting that your flaws and quirks as markers of your personality. It's not conceited to be okay with who you are, but it's not bad either to reflect on ways to improve on your own terms. We are all concerned to some extent about how others think of us. Striking a balance between ignoring external views or accepting them with reservations is a skill I admire, as you know, it would be nice to be self-confident without being a jerk. But I suppose exuding self-confidence-without-jerkness is just another pose as well :)


Magic powers are not suddenly bestowed upon you, nor is there a sudden strengthening of resolve in 2018. But setting some goals to strive for is a quaint tradition, so here goes (whether I actually follow through is another question):


  1. Be kinder <3
  2. Learn a language (programming or regular)
  3. Be healthier: Exercise more (lol), drink more water, consume less junk
  4. Watch less Kdramas (in hopes of becoming less shallow and appreciating inner beauty more T_T )
  5. Finish my Media List (will post eventually? eh.)
  6. Learn the guitar (HAHAHA)
  7. Create a long term codeproject
  8. Express gratitude
  9. Get my motorcycle license (because I really want to scoot around town on a vespa)
  10. BLOG MORE!


It's a new year, it's the same you. Ha! You thought you could change.


Eleanor Roosevelt (whom I will name one of my five cats after) once said, "Do what you feel in your heart to be right- for you'll be criticized anyway. You'll be damned if you do, and damned if you don't."


So pretty much, YOLO with good intentions. But good is subjective. And subjectivity merits debate and doom on either side, so I guess it's just YOLO. ʕง•ᴥ•ʔง


Cheers to 2018!!

Image result for happy new year xkcd

Friday, December 29, 2017

la vie en woes



Hold me close and hold me fast

The magic spell you cast

This is La Vie En Froze...


When you kiss me heaven sighs

And though I close my eyes

I see La Vie En Doze...



When you press me to your heart

I'm in a world apart

A world where crows will zoom...



And when you speak...angels sing from above

Everyday words seem...to turn into lots of wrongs



Give your heart and soul to me

And life will always be

La Vie En "Ohhhs"



Sunday, November 12, 2017

where do you fall?

It has been a busy two months, flooded with robotics competitions, newspaper deadlines, and the looming thought of college applications. I often think that I spend more time contemplating a task, rather than doing it… \_=.=_/


Yesterday, I attended an event called the Social Impact Youth Summit, hosted by Gooddler at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. The conference involved high schoolers across the Bay Area listening to various entrepreneurs and philanthropists speak about their work.


Though I cannot promise that every presentation kept me at the edge of my seat, I did learn that many organizations are turning away from nonprofits towards profitable businesses focused on social impact. Their reasons mainly center on the fact that nonprofits are constantly in search of money, impeding its ability to work, eventually beginning the entire cycle once again when a similar nonprofit takes the place of the failed predecessor. Another talk focused on the second tier disaster that is organizing donations at relief stations, as many of the items are not applicable and simply stored in warehouses for many years. Images of crates of untouched bottled water and bags of clothing, strewn across towns hit by natural disasters, highlight the inefficient management of in-kind donations, and the public’s use of relief drives as garage cleaning opportunities.


The following presentations covered the fostering of empathy through VR, as well as the practice of using gold particles in the bloodstream to determine the precise location of cancer tumors. The conference wrapped up with a talk from a woman whose business was inspired by following cows around in India. She saw how villagers, isolated by hours from the nearest city, were held back from the improvement of their lives. Yet the belief that education and technology is the panacea for poverty did not fit the villagers, despite the iconic image of human evolution stemming from a hunched ape, to a bipedal man, and now, to a man once again hunched -over a computer. Technology as an enabler, not the solution, was the root of her business, which connected the indigenous art produced by the villagers in India, to stock image libraries, where purchases of their patterns and designs for clothing, website templates, and other mediums would produce a recurring source of income.


Her argument made sense, as the world obviously cannot be lifted out of poverty by turning everyone into an app developer. Merging existing assets and complementing them with technology proved to be her social impact.


Overall, the conference had me confuzzled at the true purpose of social organizations, which aimed to help others, but ultimately had to help the organizers to some extent as well, whether it meant turning into a profitable business or getting rid of a few extra sweaters. As Professor Ananya Roy put it, charitable deeds ultimately fall somewhere between the “hubris of benevolence and the paralysis of cynicism.” You feel the need to “do something”, but for whose benefit? (Ack, don’t slide into the cynicism).

~~~


Anywho, aside from writing this to procrastinate college apps, I read a blog that really resonated with my current mood. Plus, the author is a super amazing student who studies robotics, has insightful worldviews, and blogs more often than I do despite being in college (shame on me ;-;).


What happens when you hit a slump, not necessarily a burn out, but a loss in energy after working consistently for so long towards something? And when that milestone is reached, whether it is successfully passed or failed, where does new energy come to continue the motions? Life almost feels like treading water, where a cease in action would mean sinking, but even the hardest kicking will not make you fly above.


Aside from the the feeling of hitting the ceiling (or I guess bobbing on the water surface), the blogger also explains the nuances of emotions felt as an adult, as opposed to a child. It made sense how a child has a concrete reason for happiness or sadness (usually a birthday gift, or a dropped ice cream cone), while it is harder to justify or identify the cause of emotions felt from an older person.


At times, despite studying subjects I like, running activities that are enjoyable, or even hanging out with friends, there are inexplicable sessions of sadness, or disconnection. While thankfully temporary, these moments are impossible to pinpoint a cause or end of. Perhaps a chronic lack of sleep is a factor for random moments of listlessness and existentialism. Tying back to the social impact summit event above, what impact can truly be made by working crazy hard towards a goal that is ultimately burdened with external conditions?


But even mentioning dissatisfaction comes with the guilty thoughts of being privileged and therefore undeserving of sad emotions. I know that one can only live relative to her own experiences, but making comparisons become almost unavoidable once you lift your head to mass shootings, climate disasters, and general the-world-is-really-terrible-sometimes sentiments.


I don’t really expect to have an answer, or for someone else to. But it is comforting to know that feeling alone or helpless is not necessarily an isolated feeling. So if you have time, take a nap, write a blog post, and share the feeling of confuzzled dependency on circumstances with someone. Then get back to work :)

I do not have a spinny desk chair :/



Sunday, September 3, 2017

tell me about yourself

College applications are weird. I would say they are around 30% stressful, 30% fun, and 50% staring into space and wondering where the extra 10% in life comes from.
Some prompts are traditional interview questions, asking you to display qualities of leadership, endurance, and compassion. Other ones try to tailor more towards the “young and hip” generation, with prompts such as “Where is Waldo?”
I don’t have a very good sense of how to present myself as an ideal college student at blank blank university. For now, I’ll continue to ramble awkwardly about myself in my essays. Sort of like this blog.
College essays give me the convoluted vibe of trying to justify why I belong at blank blank institution, when I don’t even really know myself why I want to be there. They ask about your PASSIONS in life, and you write honestly about your interests, while wondering whether it is something you really want to be doing in ten years. In trying to apply to colleges, I feel like I am creating a character who is QUIRKY but also has a sense of DIRECTION in life (but taking detours are encouraged, as we are just teenagers right?).
The more I self-reflect and attempt to answer a multitude of variations on “tell me about yourself in 250 words or less :))”, the more I feel like I’m questioning who I am in the first place. I don’t really know what I want to do in life or college, but writing these darn essays will sure convince me of an answer!
In essence, I’ll try my best to convey myself as a full person, complete with strengths (empathy, eating nutella) and weaknesses (cynicism, asking for help). If colleges don’t want the entire me, I might as well stay in the comfort of my home eating nutella and executing my plan for world domination (joke).
It may seem that I am nervous or salty about the college application process, and I’m not going to deny that. On the flip side, it feels quite therapeutic to be torturing myself with these soul searching questions that
I rarely take time to think about. Thoughts like “is there really enough compassion in the world” or “does this matter in the grand scheme of things” either begin to haunt, or motivate me to actually do something. I’m leaning towards the latter.
A college interviewer guy gave me some reassuring advice that the major you select or even the field you enter doesn’t dictate your career path. What matters is finding the intersection of your skill set (learned) and your characteristics (internal) to find a little niche on this planet.


~~~


In other news, I spent four hours today at the local Art and Wine festival ensuring the future of our environment (also known as sorting debris into TRASH, RECYCLING, and COMPOST). I must have said, “that is compostable!!” around a thousand times, but tipsy adults and environmentally conscious kids don’t make the most effective combination.
ALSO, I went to this robotics workshop on machine learning and building neural networks, which was super cool. Unfortunately, computers will not be thinking for us anytime soon; they simply are good at performing mundane number crunching on a whole lot of data to find patterns that may or may not exist. (Hence this funny comic!)

source: xkcd.com

Sunday, August 6, 2017

adventures in a tech internship

In which I copy-paste my day logs and comment on them in hopes of passing them as a legitimate blog post.


Some context: This summer, I spent Monday-to-Fridays interning at ARMUS Corporation in San Mateo. I was super lucky to be able to have my first tech job in such a close-knit environment, where all the workers were friendly and talked to you on a personal level. I started out on the Data Science team, working in R and Shiny. Later, I worked in QA and metadata, which made me think of myself as some sort of exterminator -find the bugs in the product and kill (fix) them in XML! It was a little disorienting to be thrown in the corporate world with lingo such as “sprint meetings”, “JIRA tickets”, and “PTO/WFH”. My stubborn nature compelled me to sit at my computer and struggle alone through learning Git, working in the command line, fighting with docker, praying to the Jenkins gods, and manipulating databases, until I realized that every single person sitting next to me had gone through similar processes and would be happy to walk me through them. When will I finally decide right off the bat that asking for help (after giving a valiant effort) is not a weakness!?! A ton of thanks goes out to all the people at ARMUS who spent their time teaching me not just coding processes, but also project management, Silicon Valley culture, business dealings, college tips, foodie recommendations, the trials of parenting, carpool lane violation conditions, beer brewing [not just the OS X package manager], and how to solve rubik's cubes. Anyways, enjoy.


One more note: I actually began interning on June 5, but it took me until June 19 to decide that keeping logs would also force me to record my work hours ;)


6/19
-learned to connect data table to database on PostgrSQL
-listened in on Data Science demo to ARMUS
-learned more SQL + R
-working on "add metric" functionality #a part of ARMUS other than data entries/harvesting for hospitals is providing services such as data analytics to understand which national benchmarks set by registries are being met or not under what metrics (conditions/procedures).
-8:30-5pm


6/20
-8:30-5pm
-more R + SQL tutorials
-keeping track of how to clear connections to PostgreSQL
-still working on add metric
-added pdf downloader


6/21
-8:30-5pm
-summer solstice!
-ahhh did my first demo :O pretty nervous, but gained a lot more ideas to discuss tomorrow! #a scary moment of demoing our project to data scientists in Michigan. However, they were very encouraging, and one of them even messaged me afterwards to say good job :)
-ate lunch w/ s.+ pros/cons of women's colleges #s., the office manager, is very insightful in her college advice.
-finished reactive sts inputs
-finished add a metric option!!!!


6/22
-8:30 - 5pm
-Data Science Team Meeting
-Koja for an hour long lunch #on Thursdays, Off the Grid and some other food trucks visit the office building to give workers an overpriced reason to breathe fresh air (jk the koja tasted good!)
-worked on some docker #what even are containers???


6/23
- 8:30 - 5
-reviewing code files for modularization/optimization #less is more
-doing some rmarkdown
-looked at a lot of reddit and gifs #haha distractions oops
-more SQL training
-installed Ubuntu on Virtual Box for Shiny Server


7/5
-back from break
-b. is leaving :(
-time flies when coding!
-8:30 - 4:45


7/6
-8:15 - 4:45
-git help!! #pun intended. I could not figure out for the life of me how to fix merge conflicts in the terminal (until later)
It's not a Git error message, it's the editor as git uses your default editor.
To solve this:
press "i"
write your merge message
press "esc"
write ":wq"
then press enter
-ahhh everyone so nice in teaching me the ways of JIRA #sorry for accidentally uploading 44 incorrect files T_T
-more hiring of people, interesting to see different lives #such as learning what escrow is


7/7
-8:30 -4:45
-lunch: 12:15-12:45
- lots of stats lessons
- can track dr. oz's surgeries for past 20 years? o.o
- looking over commonalities in RFP/RFI #business side of developing contracts with clients
- more QA
- configuring packages for shiny to be demoed


7/10
-8:45 - 4:45
-nice company lunch together :) #haha thai food is the one thing that can bring physically bring people to the office


7/11
-8:45 - 5:00
-go to meeting
-when there is free lunch, everyone comes to the office!


7/12
-8:45 - 4:45
-nervous to ask for more technical work? #here was a struggle because the data science team temporarily disbanded, and I was tasked to QA, which was monotonous to do for 8 hours a day to say the least. However, it took a fellow intern’s encouragement for me to finally ask my manager for addition work aside from QA. That’s how I got into metadata!
-learned a lot of business/management concepts
-intern notes: confusing to have a lot of platforms thrown at you, without knowing what to do with each one
-largely self-sufficient, which is fine, but downside is isolation without having a full picture of the company
-ex. just completing jira ticket after jira ticket
-company workers very nice though! :)


7/13
-8:45 - 3:45
-falling asleep from QA :P
-smoked salmon
-hopefully start XML


7/14
-8:45 - 5
-clerical work = flexibility? or just lazy lol #here I did some office work to help out. Yes, it’s not hard core coding, but it actually helped me understand the bigger picture in what the ARMUS does.
-hmm how to occupy time? #memes and reddit
-starting metadata!


7/17
-8:30 - 5pm
-ahh thank you so much
-so hard to set up docker/get permissions/just to access the metadata #OPS has such a hard job in being tasked with keeping track of user privileges!


7/18
-8:45-4:45
-pizza day! #thank you for costco runs!
-haha did ONE ticket, passed jenkins, can see on develop branch! #probably excessively proud of fixing one metadata bug, but hey, it passed!
-stuck on the next one now :(


7/19
-9:00 - 5:00
-Happy hour discussions at 11 AM? #yup that’s work
-YAY more QA -but get to fix bugs now #here i was dubbed the exterminator -seek and destroy
-ate some nectarines #yummy fruit
-jenkins for 2 builds about to pass... O_O #will they make it??
-IT PASSED (failed after building for 17 hours the other day) #YESSS
-more happy hour discussion on hyper loops and why we should go to mars #i guess this is what we daydream about now, aside from lamenting the current government
-everyone wishes it was Friday, similar cynicism on the plight of the world
-mood: reflective, why what how


7/20
-8:45 - 3:15
-no one at the office again… #sigh when everyone WFH
-learning how to solve a rubik’s cube!
-going to the oral surgeon now… #goodbye wisdom teeth, hello nausea
-yay more docker stuff #at this point, it was getting annoying having to repeatedly enter docker ps -a, docker-machine restart, docker-machine env, eval $(docker-machine env)...on and on. Darn docker daemon stop being so lazy! (in retrospect, i was probably doing something wrong ;) )


7/21
-9:00 - 5 PM
-TGIF
-CHIPOTLE! #there were two coworkers who kept a burrito count on the whiteboard until they gave up and simply wrote infinity. Every single day for lunch they headed to the nearby Chipotle for THE EXACT SAME ORDER!!!
-LEARNING HOW TO IMPORT AND EXPORT/HARVEST DATA IS HARD #it is
-whew more rubiks cube practice :D


7/24
-9 - 5 pm
-solved merge conflicts and completed 3 tickets! #progress
-rip i think i have been running an incorrect build/test this whole  time... O.O, no wonder why the errors  Jenkins caught did not pop up the first time testing locally #whoops apparently maven does have a purpose
- finished QA of all versions
-STS sprint meeting tmrw
-getting some stuff done nowadays #yay i’m useful!
-figure out why maven is failing -> database does not exist?
-persistence.properties file maybe


7/25
-9 - 4:45
- got sprint work!
-meeting lasted 2.5 hours… #playing a conference-meeting game bingo is quite fun, and especially satisfying to hear phrases such as “Sorry I was on mute”
-ahh need to actually complete tasks #pressure of work starts to build
-beginning to enjoy the console -thought it was hard #you can actually nano entire essays. Look it up!
-more CLI skills
-https://www.linux.com/news/cli-magic-see-changes-word-word-dwdiff


7/26
- 9 - 5:15pm
- more fixing stuff
- made some diff code to file process and make metadata QA faster
- wrapped up more tickets :D


7/27
- 9 - 5pm
- wooo wrote the diff query
- more importing data
- need other test data versions


7/31
-8:45 - 2:30 pm
-more rubik’s cube
-trying to file import #unfortunately failing. Until WOW the docker actually does run a local version of the application after configuring like 20 different files (an exaggeration).


8/1
-9- 2:15
-client deals sketchy >.>


8/2
-9-2
-last day happy hour! (apple cider for me)

So yeah, that was my tech internship in a nutshell. I got extremely lazy in writing my logs near the end due to the need to actually complete work at work. I’m sad that job has ended, and even more devastated at the end of my minimum wage paychecks. However, I’m looking forward to coming back next year to struggle with whatever new software process they develop while I’m at school :)