Monday, May 11, 2020

We have moved!



Since Google+ got deprecated it has been to on my mind to host my own blog. Since I'm homebound ( as many of us are) during the pandemic I've had some time to make that happen. Happy to announce that I'm live at https://imaculate.github.io/posts. Thank you being part of the amazife journey, its been amazing reading articles here from my college dorm days. Writing this gave me something to ponder about, look forward to and the opportunity to connect with you so lets keep that going, To get new posts you can subscribe on the blog or follow me on twitter. See you on the other side!

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

54 "Selfie" quotes

So I recently finished reading the book Selfie by Will Storr about we've come to be self-obsessed society. It's a read I recommend to any Non-fiction reader. I ended up highlighting half the book because it resonated with me. If I haven't convinced to go read it, here are quotes that may.



1. "When the chimp has finally fought his way to the top of the tribe, he doesn't lead purely through violence. He must also be a canny politician."

2. "So we're tribal. We're occupied with status and hierarchy; we're biased towards our own in-groups and prejudiced against others. It's automatic. Its how we think. It's who we are. To live a human life is to live groupishly."

3. "Despite the din and wizardry of modern life, despite how separate we feel from the beasts, the truth is that we are great apes that sit in the primate superfamily Hominoidea. We are modern yet ancient, advanced yet primitive. We are animals."

4. "We're all to some degree, anxious and hyperactive PR agents for our selves."

5. "All human selves fundamentally want is to get along and get ahead."

6. "Whether you call someone a hero or a monster is all relative to where the focus of your consciousness may be. A German [fighting in WWII] is as much a hero as the American who was sent over there to kill him"

7. "We're moving around the world, doing things and feeling things and saying things for myriad unconscious reasons whilst a specific part of our brain constantly strives to create a makes-sense narrative of what we're up to and why. "


8. "Imagine for a moment, that a human works like this: you're a zombie, just behaving automatically, sometimes chaotically and the only reason you think you're in control of your behavior is that you have a dishonest voice in your head that tells you that you are. 


9. "The Greeks, more than any other ancient peoples and in fact more than most people on the planet today, had a remarkable sense of personal agency - the sense that they were in charge of their own lives and free to do as they chose."


10. "The average citizen of Athens saw the pursuit of excellence as a way of becoming a better and more useful member of society"

11. "Turning our lives into myth, is what adulthood is all about"

12. "One problem with thinking about culture's influence is that it's invisible to its wearer."

13. "In contrast to the Greeks, with their islands and city tats and their concomitant view of reality as a collection of individual objects, China's rolling, isolated, conquerable plains and hills produced a species of self that worked best as part of a group."

14. "As in all these things, California set the scale for America. Basically the further west you go, the more individualistic, the more delusional about choice, the more the emphasis on self-just-about-everything."

15. "In the East stories are different. It isn't so much riches nor the love of the maiden, nor the bravos of the many that tend to form the structure of their tales."

16. "Life is change that yearns for sustainability"

17. "The self begins to fail when we lose control of our narrative."

18. "People believe when you're richer you'll be happier. When you focus on the goal, you don't commit suicide. But what happens when you get there and its not what you expect?"

19. "The fact is that when we're working out who we need to be in order to get along and get ahead, we're not just taking our information from stories. Being tribal animals we're also constantly scanning our environment for people who seem to have, in some way mastered the secrets of a successful life."

20. "A basic cue we look is 'self-similarity', for the straightforward reason that we're likely to learn salient things by deciding to follow people who are like us in some fundamental way."

21. "In our hunter-gatherer pasts, it would've made sense to copy the actions of the hunter who wore many necklaces of teeth made from his kills, for example as his success cue demonstrated high competence. It seems likely that designer clothing, expensive manicures and fast cars are today's equivalents of these attention-magnetizing displays."

22. "But we just don't rely on our own sense of who's skillful and successful when we work out who to copy. As a highly social, groupish species, we tend to look at who other people consider worthy of attention"

23. "If someone gives out prestige cues, we're naturally triggered into this behavior, especially if that person is part of our perceived in-group. The mind isn't worried about whether it actually makes sense - whether this person's sphere of excellence is actually useful in judging the product they happen to be selling"

24. "Most people seem to prefer to be doing something rather than nothing, even if that something is negative."

25. "If who we are is, to a significant extent, our culture and if that culture is partly composed of the arguments, discoveries, feuds, prejudices and mistakes of dead men and women, then those arguments, discoveries, feuds, prejudice and mistakes live on, in some form, inside us. We've internalized them. They've changed who we are. They're recorded in our brains as patterns of synaptic connections. They are us."

26. "I love too, the comfort of the crowd: being enveloped in a mass of others whilst safe in my status as a stranger."

27. "To get along and get ahead in this kind of tribe, you had to be accepted by the group. That meant being witty, smart, open, upbeat and attractive . The emphasis on hardiness of character transformed into an emphasis on maintaining a sunny and winning disposition."

28. "At its very simplest, a self is a way that we can make sense of the things that happen to us. You need to have a sense of self in order to organize your life events into a meaningful story."


29. "I am not what I think I am and I am not what you think I am; I am what I think you think I am... We dread insult and crave good reputation."


30. "There is no authentic core to us, no essential happy and perfect version of the self that can be exposed by stripping back the repressing expectations of society. Different versions of us emerge depending on where we are, what we're doing, who we're with and how aroused we happen to be. "

31. "We are those worried and anxious people who have a massive discrepancy between who we are and and who we need to be... We are distracted from the truth of our situation, which is that we have personal flaws that are deep and many, that our lives are ultimately pointless, that we live in a realm of chaos and injustice and that we and everyone we love are going to die."

32. "Who we are is a construction and how much of that construction is built from the lives of others - many of whom we've never heard of, are long dead and who, it turns out, were wrong."

33. "If the age of perfectionism  is one filled with opportunities for us to feel like failures, then the rise of neoliberalism, the financial crisis and the harshly competitive world it's all left with us is clearly a major part of it."

34. "It would be kind of global online encounter group in which the currency was the self and its gold standard was personal openness and authenticity. The future of the internet would be social. It would reassert the power of the 'I'. Its platforms would flatten hierarchies further giving every 'I' a voice, a character, a presence, a brand"

35. "You had to be a better you than all the other yous that were suddenly surrounding you. You had to be more entertaining, more original, more beautiful, with more friends, have wittier lines and more righteous opinions, and you'd best be doing it looking stylish in interesting places with your breakfast healthy, delicious and beautifully lit."

36. "In the age of perfectionism we're more likely to simply accept we shouldn't rely on the collective organism, whether it be government or corporation, to take responsibility for us.... It means we tend to judge people who actually need help and judge ourselves harshly when we need it."

37. "Neo-liberalism beams at us from many corners of our culture and we absorb it back into ourselves like radiation.. And if you're becoming a better person that often requires buying many things or regulating your body according to what a proper neoliberal citizen should be - someone who's healthy and active and participating and a self-starter."

38. "The globalists gutted the American working class and created a middle class in Asia."

39. "We live our lives in story mode. Our minds make sense of the world using simplistic observations o cause and effect. They confabulate, weaving a useful, makes-sense narrative out of what they're feeling and seeing that casts their owners in a heroic light."

40. "What's important though, is the understanding that voting decisions are rarely about coldly rational economic calculations, or simple racism or misogyny."

41. "Everyday, millions of us who are needled  and outraged by the hysterically stated views of those with whom we don't agree. Our irritation pushes us into a place of fiercer opposition. The more emotional we become, the less rational we become, the less able to properly reason. In an attempt to quieten the stress, we begin muting, blocking, de-friending and unfollowing. And we're in an echo chamber now, shielded from diverse perspectives that might otherwise have made us wiser and more empathetic and open."

42. "When you are in an echo chamber with a bunch of people who are fairly similar to you, you start saying things that would not be socially acceptable else. Like 'All religious people are idiots'"

43. "We're a highly social species. Almost every thing we do impacts on someone else, in one way or another. Changes we make to our environment form ripples that spread out, far into the human universe. These ripples are easy to ignore. Especially for us Westeners, many are invisible. But they're there, no matter how convenient or seductive it might be to pretend otherwise and deny responsibility for anyone but our own sacred selves."

44. "Although seeking approval from social media isn't inherently a bad thing, the cycle of constantly needing it is"

45. "We always knew these people [celebrities] who were genetically gifted and more talented than we are. But now anyone can be a star and that makes everyone thirsty."

46. "Social media is associated with diminished well-being and lower life satisfaction, because people are always looking at other people with better lives."

47. "The irony of the new digital world that's enabled the rise of these kinds of incidents is that it relies for its success on some of our most ancient parts. We're tribal and we're wired to want to punish , sometimes savagely those who transgress the codes of our in-group. These are powerful and dangerous instincts that can easily overwhelm us."

48. "Here's the truth that no million-selling self-help book, famous motivational speaker, happiness guru or blockbusting Hollywood screenwriter seems to want you to know. You're limited. Imperfect. And there's nothing you can do about it."

49. "We are part nature, part nurture, formed by biology, culture and experience."

50. "The social world is a maze of circus mirrors, each exaggerating one facet of our self and diminishing another, while the essential core remains."

51. "Western culture wants us to buy the fiction that the self is open, free, nothing but pure, bright possibility; that we're all born with the same suite of potential abilities, as neural 'blank slates' as if all human brains come off the production line at Foxconn."

52. "We're lumps of biology, mashed and pounded into shape by mostly chance events. Our 'human potential' is limited. But this isn't the model of self that our culture keeps showing us. Instead we're presented with an individual who has total free will and an ability to become whoever they choose. And who they choose to be is an extroverted, slim, individualistic, optimistic, hard-working, popular, socially aware, yet high self esteeming individual with entrepreneurial guile."

53. "Put a lizard on an iceberg and it's miserable. Now release it into the Sahara. The core of who the lizard is hasn't altered in the slightest and yet it's become happy."

AND FINALLY...
54. "Would I like to be a less neurotic person? Well, no, because I probably wouldn't have done the most interesting things in my life."

Thanks for sticking around. Have a great week ahead!

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Flow Joy



Ear phones plugged in; playlist shuffling between Coldplay and The script; fingers typing away on the laptop while slowly sipping a comfort drink. You don't hear the clock ticking but 6 hours later you have checked off your to-do list and more. You can indulge in fun for the rest of the day without a shred of guilt. You know that feeling? It's called Flow, I know it too well and unconsciously it has influenced many of my big decisions, including why I chose Software Engineering.

The scene above could describe me at work but the seed was planted a while back in high school. I studied in a catholic boarding school, we were allowed to access gadgets only on parent's visitation day. My brother and his girlfriend brought me a laptop to work on my college applications. While everyone was swimming by the beach, I was geeking out and I remember thinking "This is life!". I didn't even know what Computer Science was about back then but I had an idea on the kind of career I would pursue. 

What exactly is flow? The father of Flow, Mihály Csíkszentmihályi (who has written extensive books on the topic), defines flow as a state of complete immersion in an activity. He describes the experience with the following very familiar symptoms.

  • Clear goals that, while challenging, are still attainable
  • Strong concentration and focused attention
  • The activity is intrinsically rewarding
  • Feelings of serenity; a loss of feelings of self-consciousness
  • Timelessness; a distorted sense of time; feeling so focused on the present that you lose track of time passing
  • Immediate feedback
  • Knowing that the task is doable; a balance between skill level and the challenge presented
  • Feelings of personal control over the situation and the outcome
  • Lack of awareness of physical needs
  • Complete focus on the activity itself
Need I say more? Just looking at the list sparks joy. Anxiety, noise, depression, (or any other negative feeling all together) has no place when you are in the zone.Its a happy place reinforced by happy wins. Flow gets things done while improving your mental health. Its the ideal spot. It is why creatives (software engineers included) can spend hours on the computer without batting an eye, why runners run long distances and actually enjoy it.  Like every good thing in life there is a catch. It requires effort, it doesn't just come about when we pull up our computers, sometimes quite the opposite, the distractions of social media and Netflix get the better of us. It requires a lot of will power, self-awareness and discipline to get into Flow. We need some excitement but not too overwhelming, discipline with some flexibility. Mihaly's suggests the following to achieve it.

  • You have a specific goal and plan of action
  • It is an activity that you enjoy or are passionate about
  • There is an element of challenge
  • You are able to stretch your current skill level


It is hard but achievable. Distractions are easy but have you tried long-term fufillment of joy?
When I started writing this post I wasn't sure why (beside reminiscing the old times). Now that we are here, I can't help but appreciate joy flowing through me just from writing. I guess what I'm trying to say is find your  flow; Write, Draw, Code, Design, Play, Run. Whatever, it takes, is totally worth it.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Taking stock ..2018



I recently had one of  my usual arguments with my older sister. As anyone with sibling(s) knows these arguments happen so often that they become benign. I do remember this one not only because I won but because of my closing remark, ' I don't want life to just happen'. We let life happen when without conscious thought we let ourselves be the product of our surroundings rather than create our own destiny, in other words become victims. Guilty as charged, and I know I'm not the only one. Jillian Michael's words, "Brings intentions to your actions is how you see results" is the energy I'm bringing to 2019. While at it, lets take stock of 2018.


Work
For those who don't know. I work in the Tools for Software Engineers group at Microsoft.
I've learnt a good deal about Distributed Systems, Testing, Problem solving. Considering that I work remotely I did my best. My impostor voice is telling me not to post my achievements but I'll do it anyway. I got my first promotion, gracefully recovered from projects (2 to be precise) that were cut, delivered impact projects, I'm mentoring junior members of our team and I'm actively involved in reviewing pull requests. More importantly I proactively sought feedback and support when needed . I value this achievement because my self-sufficient self would never allow me to ask me for anything. I look forward to adventures specifically to learn about containers, experimenting with the clouds, participate in the OneWeek Hackathon and do a lot more side projects.
Speaking of side projects, expect more posts on my technical blog, and perhaps we'll meet in person at a conference. Either way, we will be in touch.


Running
I ran a freaking marathon, in fact my first marathon (and almost died of carpal tunnel, but that's a story for another day). I realized that I don't enjoy marathons  much as a gold old moderately long (~15km) solo run that clears my mind and energizes my body.  In the spirit of #selfcare I will continue with good old happy runs until further notice.

Reading
I targeted 20 books but I'm still at 13. Did I fail to reach the target yet? Yes, Does it bother me? Not at all. I read 12 in 2017 so this is progress, we still have 7 days to 2019 anyway, I may squeeze a few in. I also read fiction which I hadn't done in a while. Someday I will be a History Fiction writer, thanks to Night Witch. I discovered Dona Sakar's books which are the boost anyone needs for personal development. I learnt a great deal about work-life balance and meaningful work from Great At Work, Soft Skills and Women In Tech. Reading was definitely an adventure this year, Thanks to all my friends who threw recommendations at me, they were well received and more recs will be highly appreciated. Add me on goodreads, where I post more there than Facebook, I also enjoy stalking what friends are reading.
I intend to read more books next year even if that means just 14.

Finance
Eek .. there are so many voices telling me to skip this section because I'm writing this from my hometown in Tanzania and in my culture talking about money is almost taboo for fear of striking jealousy . I will write it anyway because part of #growing is realizing that sharing benefits both parties. I recently invested in a rental house, making me one of the youngest homeowners you know. I finished an edx course that has made reading and talking about finances so much easier. What's for next year? Share this knowledge in the form of a blog or an app, invest, take risks but also enjoy life.

Music
I can play the piano now, yes I've never played it before. In case you missed it...

Here's to making music next year.

Photography
Proud of my Viewbug awards. Expect a lot more in 2019. 









Writing
Well, I've comes to terms with the fact that writing takes effort and time, especially technical writing. It takes even more time to come up with a topic. I won't make promises but I'm aiming at a post per month whether it be personal or technical. Eventually, one of these days, you will read my book (commits dream to the universe).


[New category alert] Earrings
If you've met me, you've probably met my earrings way in advance (the trick is working :)).


What a waste it would be if I don't give back to the earrings community ( yes, I definitely made that up). Watch this space!


I was just reading my 2018 Year End post and I realized I ticked off most things. Not sure if that means I wasn't ambitious enough or I'm just good with resolutions. I will go with the later. Resolutions, lists and perhaps vacations are probably the only structure one has post-college, so  whether or not they work I will keep making lists and sharing them until they become reality. Last but not least I'm grateful for all the friends I made this year. You know yourselves, I owe you a lot. I wish  you the best with your lists and I hope they inspire you to #BeIntentional.
Thanks for reading and Happy holidays!




Sunday, October 21, 2018

Taking stock six

Its a weekend night, I can't sleep, so prepared to be annoyed by insignificant details of my life.

Work 
Stable is the word to describe work right now, its been a year of doubt, learning, conflicts and learning but I finally like I got it, I don't know everything but I have a rhythm and that may be more important. I've designed and implemented high priority features for my team, mentored/mentoring newer members and I generally look forward to working. On that note, I've put off a lot of things to get here and now that I have the bandwidth, expect a lot more non-work technical things. I will be writing or at least thinking about writing technical blog posts and who knows even books, attending  conferences and giving back especially to the minorities in tech community. Hold me accountable and stay tuned.

Running
I mentioned earlier that I haven't running due to shoulder pain. Well, I've finally seen a specialist and while cause may have been the marathon, physiotherapy sessions are definitely helping. Can't wait to live to my full potential.

Finance

  • Ticked off one major thing on this list and boy do I feel like such an adult.
  • Currently taking this edX  course on finance and investing and I definitely recommend it.
  • Realized that I can't bring myself to finish any finance book and I've crossed all of them off my to-do list.


Reading
Finished off The Night Witch, and  The Power of Giving. The  fact that I finished a fiction novel says all I need to say about it. Currently reading Women in tech. There are times I wish I had infinite time to finish off all books on my deck, this is one of them. I made an ambitious goodreads target of 20 books this year, and I'm only through half of them. This may be right time to mention that I take goals very seriously even impractical ones I make on random apps like goodreads. Sigh!

Watching
I accidentally signed up for Netflix.

I shouldn't have done that!
I shouldn't have done that!
I should not have done that!

After one month of not living life to my full potential I decided to cancel my membership and sanity was restored. I highly do NOT recommend it.

Photography





You are welcome!


Music
I will be posting another embarrassing note very soon. 

Existential
Aside from the usual existential crisis, I'm fine.
I'm not perfect, I can't be good at everything, I can't please everyone and I can't have everything I want. Magic happens when you accept yourself and try to make the most of it.

Mantras

  • As much as asking for help makes you uncomfortable, do it! We are in this together.
  • Introverts have a finite amount of energy, use it wisely.
  • It doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to be done.
  • Share, especially when it makes you feel uncomfortable. 
  • Trust yourself, you have come so far!


Thursday, August 16, 2018

Taking stock five

Hey there, its me again. Yeah, I know its been a while. Hope you've been living life to your full potential. I know I haven't so these ramblings make you feel better.

Work
I've struck some semblance of work-life balance and all the wise words are starting to make sense. Thanks to Morten Hansen's pointers from Great At Work ,desire to be more productive and of-course a major burnout, I have learnt to limit work to business hours. That aside, I've made work progress , whatever that means. I've learnt alright, learnt how to deal with people, toxic colleagues, needy customers et. al. Let's talk more fun things alright. Did I mention I received my first promotion? At least I did one thing right, now prepare to be disappointed.

Reading
Am I currently reading multiple books in parallel? Yes, indeed. Did I also manage to only finish one book in the past 2 months and therefore lagging on Good reads annual goal? also correct. I know, my attention span could use some help, but hey I get points for reading, right?

Watching

  • The Mindy Project (more like finished watching all episodes)
  • Making note to watch the Wright Brothers, inspired by a trip to the Museum of Flight ( or whenever I grow up to watch educational things)
  • Elementary(this counts as educational, right? I mean detective mindset is the exact same mindset I apply on debugging :))

Running
I'm getting old, (or sick?) ,the former sounds more plausible. There was a time in life when I would run modest distances (12km) consecutively, and my shoulders and knees would recover in no time. I really for those long gone days. The fact that without exercise I struggle to sleep leaves with me with a daily conundrum to choose between pain and sleep deprivation. Wow, putting it this way is making me realize how much I need to get help.

Photography
This category will be deprecated soon, in the meantime you can feast on these.










Music <<New category alert>>
So I've started taking piano lessons, don't ask me why I did it, I still don't know yet. I have a long way to go but here is an embarrassing snippet to brighten your day. You're welcome :)





Experimenting
Still playing around with genome data, will be writing about it when its done, stay tuned. Stay tuned for more or better hold me accountable if I don't write about side projects in the AI/compilers space.

Writing
More like thinking about writing. I've got to be in Flow state a lot lately couldn't help but get ideas. In the meantime I'll be feeding my mind with history till something clicks.

Existential
This is supposed to be a crisis category, where I share existential thoughts and crises that will be addressed over time. Things like I'm coming to terms with the fact that some of my strengths may also be my biggest weakness. Like its great that I'm independent and all but I'm also missing out on many opportunities to connect. Its also great that I prefer not to get in conflict but am also missing on opportunities to engage. Its also great that I get to work at a top tech company, but I also get live far, far, far away from home.Did I also mention that I'm hitting a quarter-life crisis? Send help!

Mantras
  • Take initiative, give before receiving
  • If (t > 18:00 , wrap work up, it can wait till tomorrow ) else if (t > 1830) drop everything, run, leave, go do fun things like write blog posts.
Thanks for reading and have a great remainder of the week. 

Monday, June 11, 2018

Taking stock four.

Here we go again,
Literally trying to make an entrance


1) Work
More and more learning the importance of speaking up, debating and questioning immediately before it's too late. Coming from a conservative family and country, this doesn't come naturally to me, but I've been in situations where my opinions made substantially big difference, so I therefore present you Imaculate - The trouble maker...  ( If you work with me, scratch that)

Noticing  #WomenInTech battle is not over yet, who was I kidding, Not.Even.Close.

2) Running
Ya girl did a thing!! 💁




Yap I ran 42.2km, all the kilometers. Painful as it was, I enjoyed it, I learnt a very important lesson that day, mostly on commitment. When I started the race, my stomach was unstable because of what I ate the day before. I visited the restrooms every few meters and by 4km I was ready to give up. Not sure how but I managed to drag myself along. I guess it was the reactions to my intentionally hilarious bib :), or the support of fellow slow runners, either way it kept me going. There was always an obstacle, sore legs, arms, hunger, thirst, fatigue but the secret to keep moving, no matter how slow. The same applies to life, we glorify superfast people (Hint: 35 under 35, youngest billionaires etc.) but its even more fulfilling to finish what you started, despite the obstacles.

4) Finance
Education continues


5) Reading
Distracting myself with The man who invented seattle and really wanting to read Cringeworthy: A theory of awkwardness .  I should be reading audiobooks and technical books but I'm starting to notice more and more how empathy, communication and all other cousins of social skills are just as important. 

6) Photography











You are welcome!

7) Experimenting
 Photography and are at the top my list. Lets get housing out of the way first. Did I mention I will be hosting my parents for two weeks? RIP to my routine, also looking forward to it!

8) Mantras
  • Build a brand, build platforms, people can work with that.
  • Speak up, Shout, Yell , Scream.  💣
Thanks for reading and have a great week ahead!