Tuesday, October 30, 2012


I am obsessed with the BBC show "Sherlock". An acquaintance said that the character Sherlock Holmes has Aspergers.

Sherlock demonstrates low empathy. He has a photographic memory. He can identify all the symptoms of love (dilated pupils, elevated heart rate) but he doesn't say "I love you". There is one woman he is closest to, and he's content with never speaking to her again, as long as she is still alive in the world somewhere.

 I am really intrigued by Sherlock Holmes! I wonder if it is because Silicon Valley idolizes the archetype of the brilliant arrogant immature founder, driven toward utilizing his talents. Sherlock doesn't even care about getting paid. He doesn't want to get famous via Watson's blog. He doesn't care about his personal sacrifice, or endangering his own life. He just wants to do what he's good at. He's just like the dream Silicon Valley founder for VCs!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Painting class

Did this painting on Friday night. I got so displeased after one hour that I threw away my canvas and started over. Much happier with the second version.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tea fueled musings and quantum cat

I drank chinese tea at dinner, and the caffeine is giving me insomnia.

Starcraft tournament with craft party this Friday at Minted beer o'clock!

Minted has taught me a lot about human relationships (along with startup and business learnings). I get along really smoothly with Melissa. Occasionally I start to get stressed at her, but she will reply with something honest yet calming, and the moment immediately blows over.

I also learned that if someone tries to help but cannot find a way to help, they will often then switch to sabotaging. Most sabotage came from a thwarted desire to help. Find a way for them to help, and the unhealthy channeling into sabotage will often stop.

I learned that much of conflict between two people is caused by a third person gossiping to one of them about the other. Two people can usually resolve many conflicts between them. But when their mind has been biased by another, it can only be undone with conscious effort or the passing of time.

I learned more deeply that perception is lagged. Back when I thought Google was fast-paced and so fun, the outside perception was "Does it make any technology except search? One-trick pony? Does it really make money?" A few years later, it felt slower-paced and less exhilarating to me, but that was actually the height of the external buzz when Google won "best place to work" repeatedly. Minted's growth is so exciting, and public buzz is following suit, with months of lag. It is fun to observe.

I learned that I can love my engineering team more every month, increasing over such a long time. They are so funny and endearing! Either I subconsciously hired partially for humor, or I find them more hilarious because they are dear to me. I keep trying to determine which one it is, and am not sure. I need to do some kind of blind test where I get printouts of their jokes vs a control group, and determine which jokes are funnier.

I learned that it is possible for two coworkers to become frustrated with each other, way past what I previously thought was the point of no return, and then for one heartfelt conversation to turn it around and make them get along better than ever.

I learned that users can be so kind and sweet.

I learned that it is very liberating to be able to be yourself at work and be accepted. Once I interrupted Melissa while she was giving a tour to an important interview candidate. She turned to me expectantly, thinking it was some dire site issue. I said "Sorry for interrupting but I need your RSVP for our chocolate factory tour!" Melissa laughed at me but accepted this impatience. It feels really nice to be accepted for your quirks, not in spite of them.

There are more learnings but now the tea caffeine is finally wearing off. Darn you, Chef Chu jasmine tea!

How people deal with insecurity

Over the weekend, I talked with two people who were unnecessarily critical of others.  They focused on the negative: whose product wasn't working, whose company seems too niche, who was overly stressed.  They did this even for friends.  I found it strangely difficult to break away from the conversations while they were happening, but afterwards I felt a lot worse about life.

I mentioned it to a friend, and she said they may have been feeling insecure about their own life, and hence propping themselves up by lowering others.

I have huge respect for when people can admit their insecurities and state them openly without tearing down anyone else.  People at Minted are really good at doing this.  I am sometimes in awe of my colleagues' ability to do it.  It takes so much confidence.

I wonder why it is so hard to break away as the conversations are happening.  Even though i am steadily becoming demoralized, I can't seem to walk away.  Because I am used to people doing this, and it feels familiar?  Because it is like watching a train wreck and you cannot look away?  

Sunday, October 21, 2012


I'm reading a book about willpower:

It makes a few points:

1. Meditation helps you stay focused on your long-term goal. It helps you practice moving your thoughts away from distractions, back onto your breath or your meditative state. Later in the day, when you get distracted by a chocolate cake or a timewaster, you will be more practiced at pulling your thoughts back to your focus.

2. If you label some behaviors as "good" (exercising, saving money) and others as "bad" like a vice (dessert, splurging on expensive items), then doing good things will make you feel entitled to treat yourself to vice. "I exercised so I deserve to eat this ice cream." Instead of good vs bad, if you classify your exercising as contributing to your long-term goal, then it'll make you less likely to deviate.

This recent thinking about willpower also made me reflect tonight on how some products are purely brought into the world by the willpower of their founders. Steve Lawrence willed Google Desktop into existence, via sheer force of will. It seemed like Paul Buchheit did the same for Gmail, though I did not see that one until just after launch. Mariam does the same for expanding Minted into the art and party markets. Sometimes you go into a mode where you become maniacal that you must bring a certain thing into the world, and you become obsessively determined to do it. I wonder what percentage of products are created this way.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

dodge bugs using Matrix bullet time

Every Thursday at lunchtime, we rotate having a speaker from a department around the company. It's very informal, and people can ask questions. We've had speakers from every department.

Today one of our lead engineers spoke.

Audience member (designer): "When you look at code, does it look like The Matrix? Do you look at 1s and 0s, and you see a Minted web page?"

Her: "Firstly, it's not all in green. We have something called syntax highlighting, which shows the words in different colors. Also, it doesn't scroll by really fast. I have to scroll myself."

I thought it was so funny that she actually answered seriously, and that she phrased it as "having to scroll", as though code scrolling by quickly would be preferable.

These could be bugs whizzing by.