Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Chicken!!

Here are some more pictures from Vermont.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Essence of Vermont

Last weekend I visited my friend in Vermont who is getting a masters degree in soil biology!  It was really fun hanging around Burlington.  They have a pedestrian street with some chic stores, farmers market, art market, street performers, and many tourists.

In addition to hanging around Burlington, making dumplings at Lynn's, and playing MarioKart, we went to Shelbourne Farms.  It's a model farm and educational center for sustainable farming practices on a wealthy estate.  They don't produce as much food anymore, but they still make cheese.  We hung around the farm barn where they put out really desensitized animals out for everyone to annoy.  There were sheep, goats, alpacas, a cow, calves, chickens, rabbits, pigs, and donkeys.  We picked up a really chill chicken.  It was sooo cute.

Many people in Vermont seem to be interested and involved with sustainable farming and organic farming.

Monday, August 19, 2013

What I Got From Lean In

I read "Lean In" by Sheryl Sandberg recently.  It's basically a collection of tips for women who work in male-dominated professions.

I've always been in male dominated fields, and I could really relate to many of the situations she described.  I'm glad that she brought up that in many cases, your own prejudices and insecurities work against you to make the experiences even more negative than they otherwise would have been.  Most of the tips involve shifting your own way of thinking or doing things to compensate for your bad habits.  It was also helpful for me to read these because it also gave me a better understanding of other women.

The most interesting conflict was the one between Success and Likability, which is what Chapter 3 is focused on.  Basically, being nice is necessary for being attractive as a woman in America.  Being attractive is important for self-esteem and feeling like a complete human being.  At work, there will always be someone who will be upset so matter what you do, even is you are just doing your job.  There will always be cases where you are inconveniencing someone, and they may take it personally or simply act like they're taking it personally.  If being agreeable is important than being disliked by even one person can be very disconcerting and uncomfortable.  As a result, many American women do not feel that leadership positions and being ambitious are fun or rewarding.  Sandberg considers this the biggest reason women eventually stop working or don't return to work after having children.  It's just not worth it.

I find this really interesting because I actually don't feel the same need to be likable.  I really think it is because Chinese culture does not emphasize being nice or even liked in order to be attractive.  There is much more of an emphasis on being smart, competent, and hard-working.  Those are the qualities one's self-worth are tied to.  As my friend would say, we feel the need to be a PMOS - productive member of society.  The principle is that if you are helpful you will be liked, but good intentions are useless.  So now that I understand the need to be nice and liked, I can better understand American women.  I can also see why there are many Chinese and Taiwanese-American women in male-dominated fields and moving up corporate ladders right now.  

I wrote up more of my thoughts in a google doc where I listed what I considered to be the main points in each chapter.  I'm planning on using it for a discussion on the book.


Friday, August 16, 2013

NYC Weekend

I visited some friends in NYC this past weekend with Alicia.  It was the first time I really spent any time in Brooklyn, which was pretty nice, actually.  We went to Smorgasbord, which was pretty much hipster food booths.

We also went and got food massages in Chinatown.  We found a place that wasn't sketchy.  The guys giving us massages didn't really speak English, so we also got a bonus Chinese lesson.  They did talk about learning English from TV shows so they knew "Are you kidding me?"

Alicia and I went to the Guggenheim and the Met.  The Guggenheim had a Turrell exhibit, who apparently is kind of a big deal.  He has some interesting work, but most of the exhibit was fairly underwhelming while the descriptions were extremely pretentious.

I like the contemporary art at the Met, though.  This is one by Joan Mitchell.  I guess it's just because I like colors.

I also got some crepe cakes at Lady M Confections.  It is in fact better than a crepe or a cake.  

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Ready to be Mentored

Lately, I've been getting some really helpful advice and connections from persons of authority or just people further along in their careers.  I've come to recognize those people as mentors.  It could just be coincidence or luck.  It has certainly helped that I've gotten better at communicating about ideas.  My definition of a mentor has also evolved to be more inclusive.  This was partly from reading the chapter about mentors "Lean In," by Sheryl Sandberg.  She wrote about shifting the focus to being an interesting person with good ideas rather than having a goal be to get a mentor.  It was also helpful to participate in a discussion about mentors at AdaCamp, which was a conference for women and open technology.  I used to think a mentor would always be someone in some obvious position such as a professor or someone on my own career path.  These days it's never so obvious because everyone is changing careers or has additional interests you might not know about.

There was a more internal change, too.  I feel that I am more open now to accepting advice.  I think I have been waiting this whole time to have more completely formed opinions, perspectives, and ambitions.  I am realizing that in the meantime I may have been avoiding people I thought were potential mentors because I didn't want to be influenced too much.  I also didn't want people to be offended if I didn't take their advice so it was in fact a form of conflict avoidance.

On the whole, I am glad I did that, but I am also excited to be entering a new phase now.