Monday, March 25, 2013

car loyalty

I really like my car.  I've only ever purchased one car in my life (in 1999), and it is very reliable, so I have no intention of replacing it for years to come.  People at Google started making fun of my car in 2006.  I still have the same car.

Today I got an email about carpooling to an investor event 3 hours away.

In the evening, I was talking to my brother (in town for Game Developers Conference).

Me: "This carpooling guy is the CEO of a cool company, and says his all-electric car can't make it the whole distance.  So he probably drives a Tesla.  Do you think I should set his expectations that I drive a 14-year-old Honda Civic?"

Brother: [grinning] "No.  But you should tell me what happens."

Me: "There are going to be various problems.  Like, he'll want to plug in his iPhone.  Or he'll want to open the trunk using the remote."

Brother: "If he complains, just say, 'Why didn't we take your car?  Oh wait, we can't.'"

Me: "Ha, okay."

Brother: "You just assume he drives a Tesla.  Maybe he drives a 1994 Honda Civic, and he'll be really excited about your newer model of Civic."

Me: "I don't think there's an all-electric 1994 Civic, but that's a good thought."

Sunday, March 24, 2013


I am finally taking my dad on a trip to Russia, this May.

This was an item on my original bucket list. After this, the only non-completed bucket list item will be "have a family", which I probably will not get to for a little while.

My dad is a history buff and especially likes World War II sites.  He loved the Churchill Museum in London.  He knows many stories that are not in the history books or museums.

He told me a story of how Churchill was rushing to the radio station to broadcast a Fireside Chat. There were no cabs on the street, because everyone was at home in front of the radio. He finally flagged down a taxi. The driver said he was not taking any passengers. Churchill didn't want to reveal his identity. He kept offering the driver more and more money, until finally they guy said, "All right, to hell with Churchill! I'll take you where you want to go."

My dad is making flashcards to review the Russian he learned during his college years.

I am most excited about:

The Kremlin
  Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg
  Moscow metro stations
  Church of the Savior

Where else should we go?

A while ago, I sent a 9gag joke to a Russian friend:

Russian friend: "Got to play to your strengths."

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Hogwash about slower learning as we age

I just saw this tweet from Paris Hilton.

It reminded me of when I was a little girl (5-7 years old), and adults would say: "I wish I could learn X (piano / foreign language / math) but I am too old now and cannot learn as fast as I used to."

I became very afraid of this aging process that would rob me of my memory and capacity to learn.

Well, now I am close to the age of those adults when they said this, and it was not true at all!  It was all nonsense.  If anything, I am better now at learning, because I know how to mix breadth and depth, and when to read a book vs practice the activity hands-on vs watch a lecture on the subject.

My memory is only worse in that I sometimes have interference.  I used to scan a file of code and rely that I could remember all the variable names and constants.  Now I get confused between the code I just scanned vs code I scanned in the past, so it is a bit harder if I just do it offhandedly.  But if I concentrate, my memory is just as good as before.

I also remember being on a recruiting trip for Google in China, and a young female student asking me with sincerity, "We all know women's memories become a lot worse at age 30, so should I still go into programming, knowing that I'll be unable to keep up with new technologies in a decade?"  I was outraged at the time, but I was not yet 30, so I could not completely debunk it.  Now I am over 30 and can definitively say that was hogwash!

Women have also told me that their memories got worse after having a child.  I have not had one yet, but when I do, I'll be sure to update and reject that one too.

All that fear-mongering for nothing!  Why do we do this to ourselves?

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Cupcakes at work

Some of the engineering team at Minted are really into baking.

Cupcakes with chocolate-dust covering them.  The items in the little pots are cupcakes!  On the same day, a different engineer brought cookies and professional cupcakes (in the box in the background).

Green tea macaroons with white-chocolate filling.

A new Director of PM (from StubHub) just joined.  His first week was one of our most prolific baked-goods week, and we had something delicious almost every day.  On two of the days, multiple people brought in independent goodies.  The new PM director asked me multiple times with consternation, "Is this how it usually is?"  I could see him worrying about his waistline.  Hehe.

I felt like this:

Monday, March 04, 2013

reasons for working obsessively

James, Milli, and I have been debating whether it's helpful for startup founders to work obsessively, i.e. more than 65 hours per week.

Milli's stance is that people with no balance in their lives will be less inspiring as leaders, and also lack the perspective to make the best decisions.  He thinks founders should get a hobby, and do something at least one evening per week besides work.

I think there are a few reasons why people might work obsessively:

1. They find it fulfilling
2. They read an article or listened to a luminary talk about working all the time
3. They feel obligated to do it, to encourage others on the team to do it
4. They feel that it's a necessary sprint to prevent the company from failing

Of these, I only support #1 and #4.

To expand on #1, "fulfilling" is different from "enjoyable" or "pleasant".  If you set out to climb Mount Everest, there will be times when it is extremely unenjoyable.  You will hate your life at that moment, and wonder what possessed you to embark on such a stupid quest.  You will be angry at all the people around you.  But you press on because you have a tiny core deep-down that remembers this is a fulfilling activity.

When you summit, you are filled with a sense of awe-struck achievement, and it's all worthwhile.

Most of work is like that.  If your work is ambitious, there are moments that are grueling.  But there is a tiny core that keeps you putting one foot in front of the other, because you remember the mission was worthwhile.

The #4 reason is self-explanatory.

I think #2 and #3 are not good reasons.  Doing things because someone else said so will end in resentment and regret, no matter how well-known that person is.  At the end of the day, they're not going to be the ones reflecting on whether your time was well-spent.

We all have a voice of inner truth, deep down.  When we are quiet, we can hear the voice.  Sometimes the voice has been visited by a muse and wants to capture every minute of inspiration by working, before the muse flits off and we are mortals again.  Other times, the voice needs to go in search of the muse by absorbing new inputs or taking a break from the problems we've mentally rehashed endlessly. Listen to the voice.