Sunday May 3rd
Places I’ve been…have we met?
I thought I might make a list of places and groups I’ve passed through
- I think it can be easy to put people in a box; I have had a lot of lives. If you run into me and ask “have we met”, this might help. Often, it’s difficult for me to place faces, because I’ve met a LOT.
- If you think I look familiar, we really might have met somewhere! See if it rings a bell. Location is a great start! If you can narrow it down to a field (ie what was I doing?), too, even better!
From Theatre (NY) to Movies (Hollywood) to Art to NASA/JPL to Tech (Silicon Valley/SF) to Grad school?
- I did a music video on this lot once; I threw away all my tickets from the lots (LOL!). But..I also threw away all my Googs visitor passes/ tech company passes, too when I moved.
I used to do this for a living; building these and threading the film for each package (my favourite camera was the A-minima, which is this strange French camera that has a very eccentric threading pattern where you need to flip the magazine). Here is a photo of me after building one of the cameras I prepped for my birthday. This is a 16mm camera. I got my first job in LA because apparently I was the only person who knew how to thread these, and didn’t just BS their way through the interview (I was also a tester of students on this camera in college). They told me I got the job the next day and I started the next Monday.
- Here is a photo of me next to a horse (sorry I blocked out the identity of the rider!) in 2013 for an Art Directors’ Guild Family Day. This ranch is famous for having been the location for Django Unchained, Wyatt Earp, among other films, and is located in Santa Clarita.
- My first and only experience as an extra for a short film on the Universal lot. This was for a friend’s short, and I confused much of the crew, who ordinarily worked on the show “Bones”, because they were used to seeing me in t-shirts and shorts and working on technical things. Being on this side of the camera was a rarity for me (unless they needed extras for a scene). A common question that day was “Oh I know you..but..why are you in a skirt?” :) There was a rain tower that day, and I did get soaked with fake rain, too. The guys were nice enough to let me see how they set up their shot, too (jib, etc), which confused some of the other extras. One of the extras I met that day eventually became a producer, too!
- Someone took a photo of me during an IATSE workshop on moving light fixtures.
- Photos from a shoot I was on; not my Emmy! I worked in an R&D shop that had also won a bunch of technical ones, and an Oscar! We were co-located with another R&D startup that made exoskeletons (when the company was acquired, some of the employees joined our shop, too!), which was started by an inventor who is in the National Inventors Hall of Fame, too.
- A huge mentor for me when I lived in LA; he encouraged me to go to grad school. He trained as a mathematician, and that is his title at NASA, but he’s a Computational Mathematician who also has a background in Physics from Caltech.
- He used to tell me about Christoffel symbols on a napkin, but I only learned what they really are four years into grad school in a Diff Alg class.
- From the workshop I did at JPL as a NASA Aerospace Scholar (my mom has all my swag).
- In 2010, I was obsessed with this thing called pixel-mapping. It was like this hybrid of video, lighting, and computers, but I didn’t know that; I just thought it was cool, so I was chasing around the Virtuoso, the Hippotizer and D3 projection-mapping tools. This is from a workshop where I learned basic pixel-mapping and projection mapping using the “Hippo” aka Hippotizer. The guy who taught is the dude who did the 2Pac Hologram, among other things. It was funny; while the world was freaking out, those of us who knew the technology immediately knew who had done it!
- A lot of this stuff was compounded with the fact that Previs (think ESP Vision software or this other company, D3) was being introduced from the touring industry into film. In this software, you could design about 85% of the lighting and projection mapping just using a CAD model and programme cues as opposed to just having a static model (in Vectorworks and Renderworks) and programming from scratch at the venue. So it saved time. The Lighting designer, Benoit Richard was teaching classes at the union on this at the time, and that sort of simulation technology made me interested in exploring 3D modelling/ vfx; my knowledge of rendering (outside of editing in Final Cut Pro and simple titles) was pretty limited at the time. I also visited PRG to get a run-down of their Virtuoso MBox, which had a similar system, but integrated internally to their systems for projection mapping.
- I’ve met a lot of celebrities and high-profile people (please don’t ask me who the most famous celebrity I’ve ever met is; this was legitimately a question on a tech interview I did, once! I don’t really remember, except they pop up in things from time to time (I don’t watch a lot of tv, but I do love music videos and listening to music and watching documentaries!), and that wasn’t really something I took a note of when I was working i.e. it got old pretty quickly), and it was a wild ride, but around 2013, I had begun to lose interest and I felt like the winds were changing. With the excitement of that industry, it’s still fairly technically conservative, and tech was wafting in, in some interesting and fascinating ways. Something drew me into the world of computers and tech, and I haven’t looked back since.
Institutions (in order of attendance)
- University of Vermont (currently, as of August 2019; I’m a researcher in training)
- Glendale Community College (took a bunch of robotics, electronics/PCB classes and programming classes, which led to my admission into PhD candidacy…in…Computer Science? Uh oh what have I done?)
- Pasadena City College (took a bunch of architecture classes there, machining and welding and AutoCAD digital design class; at one point I thought I wanted to be an architect! I left because the machining gear was being replaced with 3D machines and I wanted to go to a school that still taught machining and had better gear). I also did a research project on the Caltrans building by Thom Mayne, where I ended up talking about the engineering a lot more than the architecture, which ignited an interest in understanding more about how it all worked. It’s an engineering marvel, and the civil engineers were kind enough to give me a private tour of the building!
- Cornell University (took a course called Music, Light and Dance, an interdisciplinary course, in my final semester, where I learned about Alfred Brendel, saw Twyla Tharp’s “In the Upper Room” for the first time and saw Stephen Petronio’s Dance Company live)
- Ithaca College (went to Undergraduate here; Film, Theatre, Photography and double minor in Art History and Theatre Tech. I also did a Women in Leadership retreat in Seneca Falls at the National Women’s Hall of Fame. I was also in rowing crew my first semester (and received Empire Eight Academic Recognition), had three work-study jobs (one of which was as a cinema film camera tester, which helped me land my first job out of college), and reviewed students’ resumes at the Career Academic Centre as a volunteer). Received multiple awards/scholarships, including max financial award (Presidential Scholarship), Photography Finishing Grants and awarded best BFA of my class and rostered on Who’s Who (also received admission to Howard U, SCAD, USC, among other schools but I loved IC).
- University of the West Indies Centre of Creative Arts (I studied Film and Video I and II for a year before Ithaca College; professors were Y. Ramesar (theory and intro production), B. Paddington (theory) and C. Selvon Abrahams (animation))
- University of the West Indies Centre for Creative Arts (also took a summer long course on various aspects of Theatre Technology, including Sound Design, Lighting Design, Scenic Design, etc)
- Attended Naparima Girls’ High School (involved in a lot of choir, theatre stuff, also in Sciences class. A-levels subjects: Physics, Maths, Art, General Paper). I was part of my school’s choir, and Prescon (we also recorded a CD in Kenny’s studio). I also played drums for our school’s Steelpan orchestra, took traps (drums) lessons at the Normandie (with V. Maynard who played with local band Charlie’s Roots), played Squash, Netball, Football (UK kind, not the American one) for a bit and was part of the Gymnastics and Swimteam. Also a member of the Indian Cultural Club and completed one grade of piano. Also Brownie, Junior, Senior girl guides (this might be too far back..just say Trinidad and that narrows things down a bit!)
- In school I was on the Dean’s list for 6 semesters (thanks hand-drafting class), Presidential Scholar for 8 semesters, Who’s Who and obtained a Peggy Williams Awards for Leadership/ Best of Major award. I also received a Pendleton Photography Finishing Grant (2008), and two James B Pendleton Scholarships (2006, 2007) and an Ithaca Photo Support Grant (2004).
- Too many films to name; probably around 200 (Los Angeles). My hair was featured in one straight to dvd one starring Tatiana Ali and Stacey Dash.
- I was a “seat filler” at the American Music Awards. That was a weird semester, in that while taking 1-2 classes in Los Angeles (“study abroad”), I managed to work on 35 films. One of my advisors had to remind me that “we didn’t send you out here to work” (ha). It was also a surreal experience understanding and navigating the systems of Hollywood. Those things aren’t really spoken about, but you need to understand how it works and people who familiarize themselves with this early on (either because they live there, have family in that industry) really did have a leg up from day one!
- I worked for one summer at the GIS in Trinidad, making documentaries for television segments. Producer was my title, but I did have to teach myself some Avid and Graphics and was able to interview some extraordinary people. My dad reminds me that the person who made graphics would sometimes not show up, and one day I called him, frustrated, because I had a deadline that day and they decided not to come to work, and they hadn’t done what I had asked for (in terms of subtitles for my piece). He said, a half an hour later, I called him back and said I had figured it out, so much so that other producers started asking me if I could do theirs. :)
- I worked on a soap opera in my home country called “Westwood Park”. I was an extra in two scenes; one involving a lamaze class and a club scene at a club but worked mainly as a PA and wrote cheques/ did payroll during that time as well. Near the end our crew was quite small and I got the opportunity to 2nd AC/ Slate and work with the lighting crew as well.
- I also worked in a camera shop and a lighting shop, prepping gear, troubleshooting and maintaining it (mostly obscure, proprietary gear). The camera shop experience was during the 3D craze, so I learned a little bit about those types of systems. Camera electronics people are horribly underpaid compared to software people, which is unfortunate.
- I was a member of the SOC (Associate member) and SMPTE at one point or the other.
- I am still a member of the DCS because I think they’re cool and I think they have a cool dog.
- I got a scholarship courtesy of Lighting Designer Jeff Ravitz (multi-award Emmy nominations/ winner; mentorship kind of thing) to attend the Live Design Concert Master Lighting Class (2010). I remember because they were tearing down the New Year’s Eve Ball Drop Show recording on stage when we were walking in. It was only then that I found out that they actually recorded most of the show beforehand, and only certain parts were live lol.
- My mentor for that world was J. Gresch, who introduced me and set up a lunch with Bill Klages for me, which I was eternally grateful for.
- I also befriended Joe Tawil, who invented blackwrap and founded the company GAM (Great American Market), and used to hang out at his shop a lot (I even still have the gobo earrings). Joe is awesome and really one of those who was sensitive to empathy and diversity; his staff was not only competent, but very diverse, and he cared about and loved lighting.
- I took the Basic and Advanced workshops on Hippotizer (Media Server), learning 3D projection mapping, as well as some IATSE 728 classes (courtesy of A. Rowe).
- I have been to a couple premieres (my friend and I skipped Gnass’s class once to attend a red carpet premiere of the film Super 8 - dvd release/party by accident…we didn’t know it was a premiere lol), many screenings (including the premiere of Hugo), and every major film studio in Los Angeles (and worked on three lots).
- I also did an apprenticeship learning Nuke at a vfx house (Nuke is a node-based compositing tool; I wanted to learn matte painting but they let me do that instead, which I’m grateful for today) for about a month for the film “Wallenda” on the Wallenda acrobats.
- I also worked on a weird movie (which ignited the software bug) in which I was assigned as the digital technician using software called Sculptor HD on a short called “Craig’s Pissed”; the person thought I was smart enough to handle this tech that I had never seen before. I later learned that this was custom software that was being used to stretch the dynamic range of the recorded images (at a time when this was not done), even though we were using a DVX-100 (not a high quality camera). So the blacks were richer and there was detail in the highlights on this relatively low-end pro-sumer camera. Person who invented this software also introduced me to photogrammetry and 3D motion tracking/match-moving software as a thank you for helping him (thus curiosity began in tech). This person also told me years ago that my punctuation indicated that I might make a great programmer, which I laughed at during that time. I am not a great programmer, but I am in CS, which is funny. Laugh at me.
- The Autry (LA) - Lighting Board operator for two shows of The Frybread Queen: link to LA times article. I remembered I had cut my finger and they gave me a bunch of flowers for my birthday, but I missed the last bus so I was standing at the bus stop with a bandied thumb and a bunch of roses randomly at a bus stop. A crew member shortly gave me a ride home.
- Two Roads Theatre (LA) - Co-Designed Lighting for “Kowalski”. I guess LA times covered it and so did Variety.
- Barnsdall Theatre (LA) - Lighting Designer for a show. Tippi Hedren starred in this show, and Melanie Griffith attended our opening show. I believe it was featured in Playbill, but I don’t keep track of such things (maybe I should have milked the press for grad school? lol)
- I befriended Don Holder and he was nice enough to let me sit in on some of his rehearsals, such as that of Oleanna (starring Julia Stiles and Bill Pullman) and even introduced me to Stephen Schwartz once during a rehearsal of Pippin put on by the Deaf West Theatre at the Mark Taper Forum. I was also invited by another designer to LA Opera’s “Magic Flute”, but was unable to catch up because I was in Trinidad at the time.
- Trinidad Theatre Workshop (Trinidad); I did archival work for them as they were moving into a new space.
- Central Bank Theatre (in Trinidad); I was an assistant lighting designer
- Queen’s Hall (in Trinidad); think the Maljo show (I was the kid who ran the light cue when the person stepped away from the board in the middle of the show lol). I also worked on the Cacique Awards as assistant lighting designer (2003) and for the Love Movement Show
- Naparima Bowl (Trinidad); did a bunch of shows as an assistant lighting designer and trained there. Also acted in some plays in high school there. Got a scholarship to do a theatre tech workshop there once as well (month long session).
- Arielle Tepper Summer Play Festival (New York City; 16 plays worked as a lighting tech intern, and follow-spot for the show Mimesophobia starring Hamish Linklater). The late Heath Ledger came to one of the shows, among many celebrities. It was a strange summer. I also interviewed with Spike Lee but didn’t end up getting the gig. I also lived in the Hamptons for a month (mostly Southampton and Bridgehampton; I went to the launch of the Star Room, and a couple times to James on Main. I also attended a party at the Bridgehampton country club, where I ran into Kevin Bacon, but I was working the event, and have the most awkward K. Bacon story ever) and worked with the producers of the Lion King on Broadway. I also had my first ever Starbucks frappuccino and accidentally hit a producer in the nuts with a filing cabinet (yikes). I was their favourite intern anyways, so it paid off (I was the only one who was paid and they asked me to come back next year).
- Film Centre Building (worked in a lighting shop in NYC for a month as an intern, and replaced fixtures for an off-broadway show called Forgotten on Broadway.) Apparently also home to many recording studios, so lots of famous musicians coming in to work as I was leaving for the day. Weird summer.
- Worked as a lighting tech for the Fringe Festival in NYC (same summer as the Film Centre/SPF gig). Our show had a mime and was called “Love is in the Air”
- Ithaca College; worked as a lighting tech for Fires, Dancing at Lughnasa, The Shape of Things and Violet.
- This is for a play I did which included T. Hedren at Barnsdall Theatre, which is a cool location because it was also next to the famous Hollyhock house. T’s daughter, M. Griffith, came to our play. We didn’t end up using this specific design because we didn’t have the time or the budget. My roommate at the time once told a cinematographer that I spent my time at home drawing tonnes of these. I was very dedicated to my craft. You use templates for certain instruments; the most common are the fresnels and Source-4s, and for backlighting, parcans. For parcans, you can determine the diameter by dividing by 8, so like, a parcan-64 is 8” in diameter, a parcan 56 is 7” in diameter, etc. At one time, I knew gel colours by heart, based on their Manufacturer number, and owned a bunch of swatches. I was also gifted a pair of gaffer’s glasses one year.
Art (Sculpture, Painting, Drawing, Digital, 3D Modelling, CAD, beginnings of programming…)
- I worked on putting together hundreds of fluorescent lamps over Thanksgiving break for my friend’s fine art lighting installation (LA) for the show Light Sensitive.
- I also attended the DLFLA meetings in LA, which were focused on architectural lighting design and lighting product design. The meetings would usually culminate in an Awards exhibit for the best lighting fixture designs (typically held at GAM).
- Art Director’s Guild (Tuesday nights live drawing). I also took part in one Art Director’s Guild gallery show where three of my artworks were featured (LA). Mimi, the head of the Guild at the time, was a great mentor to me. I also learned about the work of Guy Hendrix Dyas and other awesome artists there, and got a lot of free books.
- Animation Guild; AAI (the Animation Guild’s American Animation Institute) (Jon’s perspective class and many of Gnass’s live drawing classes; Gnass teaches animators at Disney and Dreamworks)(LA)
- Dr. Sketchy’s (took part in their 26 hour long marathons of live drawing (anti-art school); anyone remember Turkish Delights themed drawing as well (belly dancers, hookah, music)? Put on by the artists at Titmouse) (LA)
- Bob Kato’s workshops (did those before I realized I didn’t enjoy costume drawing as much) (LA)
- I was also part of the Los Feliz Drawing Club. That was pretty fun, and they had heard of the place I am from, which is kind of rare in LA. (LA)
- Concept Design Academy (took a bunch of digital painting classes there and Visual Communication and workshops, which involved a trip to the Tank Museum). Robh Ruppel’s workshop left a huge impression on me (LA). I also met the amazing Glen Orbik, who unfortunately, years later found out had passed away, and often drew at 3Kicks, which was next door. I LOVED his work and he was such a nice guy!
- I took a workshop with Sam Michlap at Gallery Nucleus, where he critiqued my work and gave us tips on composition and colour.
- I took a few workshops on painting, colour and composition with Bill Perkins. When you complete his workshops, he gives you an array of hats to pick from, and I got one from NCIS (not the show; the real organization).
- Red Engine School (took a bunch of digital painting classes there, eg Character Design, Environment Design, Worldbuilding). Patrick Hanenberger’s Worldbuilding workshop left a huge impression on me (LA)
- Foundation Arts (took a bunch of painting, charcoal and sight size drawing classes there; school is closed) (LA)
- We had an assignment to paint four man-made objects, so I had a can of sardines, a pepper shaker and two other things in my apartment.
Painting with a limited palette. I did hundreds of these at home when I wasn’t out drawing. I also sculpted with Chavant NSP. This one is obviously not completed; I got tired by the time I had to do the hair lol. But these are in oils on fabric.
Studio Arts (took a bunch of vfx and digital 3D classes there; I took all the Modo and Vectorworks classes, Zbrush, Maya, Digital Sketching classes and learned some Typography in Illustrator. I also learned Rhino, which is still my go-to software for mock-ups. Took a gazillion of Todd’s classes. Learned about Renderman. Got first taste of scripting in Rhino+Modo class from Cadjunkie; took at least 3 of his classes. I also took a couple classes by the amazing Jordu Schell). (LA)
- The CAD drawings above are of the Ebell, a building in Los Angeles where a lot of movies are shot, and this is from David Morong’s Vectorworks class. I’ve probably taken this and Rhino between 3 to 6 times. I love hand-drafting and drawing in CAD because of the precision, and at one point thought I wanted to be an architect or Art Director. Because of that, I took classes at Pasadena City College in Architecture, where I built models in basswood, cardboard and acrylic for 2 years. I then took machining and welding there and Digital Fabrication, where we made 3D models (my project was the pop-up book based on the Poe poem, as well as a four-bar linkage project, because I had also been taking a mobile sculptures class at the time and was interested in how things moved in engineering.
- David Simon Sculpting studio (he’s awesome and runs a workshop once a year in Rome. One of the things that impressed me a lot was that he was not only an artist (with a precision and depth of technical knowledge and resourcefulness), but he was a mentor with a lot of philosophical guidance and kindness. A lot of art+tech people enjoy his classes! He gave me one of the best pieces of advice, ever, which is that as long as you invest in yourself, you will be okay. I still follow this advice!) (LA)
- I also took a couple workshops with Spiderzero, who works for Del Toro. He was also originally a web programmer. His life advice left a huge impression on me; very wise guy.
- Gnomon (took one sculpting class there) (LA)
- I also attended a Duralene workshop at Carter Sexton in Noho (LA). Duralene is this awesome material that you can layer texture onto. I may have also taken a super sculpey class there (I forget). I learned about Duralene from M. Butkus, who I would still chat with occasionally when I was in tech via a social media website :). I also used to chat back and forth pretty regularly with Oatley, who was a Disney artist and is an awesome human being.
- I also spoke from time to time with Neville, who hilariously I was more interested in than the director of this movie who is famous for lens flares, at a premiere I attended. Also, so many of these people I’ve met are shorter in real life, which always throws me off.
- Highlights for me; seeing Leyendeckers and work by NC Wyeth in the flesh at Pepperdine; sometimes you can see an image digitally but you don’t get a sense of the texture of the strokes and thickness on the paint until you see it in person! Leyendecker’s brush strokes in person took my breath away!
- (Below) I drew a lot when I was in the art scene; pretty much daily, or painted, both traditionally and digitally. I still do enjoy long-pose more than shorter poses for life drawing, and sketch from time to time. I’m still a bit snobby when it comes to digital artists today who don’t spend enough time life-drawing; every artist I’ve looked up to has stressed how important it is to be life-drawing constantly. I’m also obsessed with negative space and form, which I guess corresponds to my obsession with algebraic mathematics today. This space eventually folded, but everyone passed through, from vfx TDs for famous controversial Oscar-nominated movies at the time (something something unions strikes) , to mathematicians at Princeton, high-end tattoo artists who drew from Greco-Roman sculptures, Disney and Dreamworks artists, etc.
- (Below) I also spent some time learning woodworking and machining. This is one of the first things I ever made out of wood. I began learning programming because the place next to this woodshop in my hackerspace was making robots out of acrylic. This place was a community woodshop, in that you could pay in and once you took the safety class, you could make whatever you wanted. I think there was also blacksmithing. The entire makerspace, which included a place I also drew on Tuesday/Thursdays from time to time (costume night) and a machine shop where I made mobile sculptures, was eventually bought by some famous tennis players and turned into a school.
- (Above) This is not made one by one, by rather a series of generated points, thickened with a pipe tool, and constrained within a geometry (in this case, a hollowed out cube). This was the beginning (via Somewhere Something and learning about the work of and meeting Marc Fornes) of learning about node-based and generative art and architecture through programming in Rhino with Grasshopper in 2014. You can also ask me about that one time I had a conversation with Will Wright about a book I was reading at the time on Robotic Swarms.
- Rhino which is the CAD program used in a lot of this, is based on NURBS and uses Bezier curves. I still use Rhino for modelling because it is the programme I am most comfortable with, and I love the beauty of being able to make topology using parametric modelling. I like the precision and control.
- (Above) This is from an actual key-chain that I took a pair of calipers and tried to model in Rhino. I never finished the whole thing, but Rhino is still my jam because of its precision.
- As I had mentioned, I worked primarily as an electronics technician, so I have a background in understanding how current and voltage works, using multimeters and troubleshooting with hardware. So it makes sense that my first inroad into tech was via robotics. I spent a lot of time making robots, playing around with breadboards, etc. I also took classes at night school on low-voltage electronics (because it was easy since I spent my job working on high-voltage R&D stuff), and the professor really wanted me to get certification as I had a “knack” (aka was spending 8+ hours a day on, had screwdrivers and a multimetre on my work desk, etc) for that stuff. I also learned a bit about solar panels at the time, as he was encouraging students at the time to get their certification in that, too (they would hire you as an apprentice right out of night school!).
- (Above) In one class, we (our team of 3) beat out all the other robots because instead of using a 4-wheel design, we modelled a design that would take advantage of drag and gear-ratio. Our alignment was a bit off, so it did veer to the left, but it easily surpassed the other robots. I programmed this in C, Atticus did the mechanical design, and our third member did the electrical engineering. We called it “Bad@$$ mofo 2 aka Charlie”.
- (Above) As part of the architectural robot-making, we would prototype a lot with breadboards (hardware), while doing node-based programming (software). I’ve used all kinds of boards, from Arduino, Raspberry Pi, ESP8266 (which I’ve soldered from components on from scratch via Matt’s workshop), Seed, etc
(Above) A 4-bar linkage system I 3D printed! It does work, too, but it’s tiny. We also had to make a BOM for it, and exploded views, etc. Used Solidworks. I also did a mock physical prototype with metal rods and basic MIG welds (I had access to those from the welding shop; I also literally worked next to a machine shop / in the same building; yes, it was sometimes really loud).
(Below) One of the first mill classes I took. My desire was originally to learn to weld, but I got sucked into learning some machine shop classes, then CAD, then robotics, etc. We would get a schematic and make these to spec; if they were nice, we might get an example piece, but you were supposed to just look at the schematic and figure it out. The measurements would have to be within a tolerance to pass (so our prof played the part of machine-shop inspector). All of those markings on the schematic are typical, because you would have to measure the angles, how much tolerance and what size drill you would need (not too large or you would not be able to make a couple passes to get it just right). Be sure to clean up your metal shavings at the end. Be a professional; this is a shared space.
Art Makerspaces (Maker/hacker scene)
- Community Woodshop (LA); took 2 classes there (cutting boards and bowls or something?) (LA)
- Somewhere something (took a bunch of architecture-3D-node-programming classes there). Learned about generative art and started programming interest here (LA)
- Matt’s Molten Metalworks (LA); I took a few classes there, including one on MIG welding and mobile sculpture inspired by MIT’s sculptures (person who ran shop was a MechE from MIT) (LA)
- MakeSpace Arts; I tried to go to their sculpting workshops, but I think they eventually folded :( (LA)
- Makerden / Acrobotic; did quite a few fun electronics classes here including setting up a weather server, and a home detection system (in Python) (LA)
- Keystone Art Space (I think the building was bought by the Agassis (yup the tennis players) and turned into a school) (LA)
- I also designed a movie poster once for M. Nankin and D. Simkins (one of them worked on the tv show Grimm or something).
- I enjoyed the Meetup / Maker / Hacker scene a lot, but I didn’t have a lot of resources. I was so broke at the time that the extra money I had I would sink into bidding on laptops on ebay (this was an example of a bid I lost, but this was about the range of laptops I’d bid on). Sometimes I would just reinstall Linux via USB (this is the case for one of my current laptops). I started out Google Summer of Code on a laptop that looked like this, and even tried to do a Tensorflow workshop once on this, but Tensorflow (at the time) didn’t work with this kind of laptop, and for GSoC, my laptop took all day to build GHCJS, and Google Hangouts wouldn’t work on it. So sharing my screen and building code at the same time was out of the question, until I was gifted a laptop by my mentor, and then by Nadia Eghbal by way of a Helium Grant to complete GSoC. It took my mentors and myself about 1/3 of the mentorship to really get things rolling with finding ways to make it work, because I just really initially thought that I could do GSoC on what I had (delusional!). I’m really thankful that no one judged me during this time of learning; they were all really supportive and tried to work with my OS so I could follow along and get as much out of workshops as possible. I enjoyed everything; it was a lot of fun and I was just exploring at the time, so I didn’t mind anything.
Hackerspaces (Maker/hacker scene)
- Null Space Labs (LA), where everyone was super kind, and I enjoyed learning about radare, rendering, flipping pinball machines and other tomfoolery.
- Queerious Labs (SF), where I learned some Agda and Category Theory!
- 23B (I’ve been to Sparklecon a few times) (Fullerton, CA)
- Hackaday; I volunteered at the first ever Hackaday Superconference in SF (LA, SF)
- I also volunteered for LayerOne and won a ticket to attend AppSec via a raffle!
- I’ve attended DEFCON and used to attend some of the OWASP monthly meetings all the way in Costa Mesa, run by the dude who wrote the Hacker Playbook. I was also one of 25 students given the opportunity to attend Black Hat in 2021, courtesy of WISP, from quite a competitive pool (a dream of mine to attend)!
- I did a couple of Matt’s PCB workshops where we made fidget spinners and did PCB soldering (with those tiny components that blow away if you breathe (Surface Mounted components using ball grid arrays and stencils and that sort of thing, where you use wave soldering machines and reflow to bake your board)!); first in SupplyFrame’s SF office, the second in Autodesk’s workshop at Pier 9 (SF). I was also part of the first cohort of Project Alloy’s Grants (for Strange Loop attendance), which is where I first met Star, who is such an inspiration! Love her!
Random Medical/ Doctors Without Borders Study Abroad? (Science?)
- I spent seven weeks of Summer in Undergrad in Bwiam, the Gambia, by route of Adelphi University, Morocco, Senegal and then through Banjul and Serrekunda working and living in a hospital (Sulayman Junkung Hospital) where I worked in the pharmacy department dispensing pharmaceuticals, as well as vaccinating children and taking blood pressure (BP) in nearby villages. The mural we painted as a group was the last known mural at the particular hospital. This was through a scholarship offered from Disney, in which I was one of two persons sent from my school through a programme called “Operation Crossroads Africa”. (West Africa)
- The grant I received was called the Reginald Simmons Memorial Award (2007)
- A group photo. A lot of these people are now doctors or medical practicioners. What am I doing with my life again?
- MSRI (Derived Algebraic Geometry workshop for women and other workshops) (bay area; Berkeley, CA)
- Simons Institute (Error-correcting codes workshop) (bay area; Berkeley, CA)
- My first Upstate Number Theory Conference 2019 at Cornell (Ithaca, NY) and later just Upstate Number Theory Conference
- Discrete Math Days (DMD); attended with Math friends
- ICERM (Providence, RI)
- AWS (Arizona Winter School). Nothing to do with that Cloud thing, but moreso Model Theory and Arithmetic Geometry :)
- IPAM; Machine Assisted Proofs workshop with T. Tao and friends! (UCLA, LA)
- BIRS (Banff, Canada); it was always my dream to eventually make it here, as it’s by invitation only, and 2023 was that first year for WIN!
- I spent a summer on Wall Street. Business casual is so hard for me I need my hoodie and flip flops and backpack. I worked in a Research department that was separate from the trading area of the company, so in a way I was distanced from a lot of that world.
- I’ve also been invited to formal recruiting events at: Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Capital One, WorldQuant, Two Sigma, HRT, Jane Street, etc (various)
- I volunteered to help teach a class for around 10 children between 9 and 13 each weekend for a year basics of robotics (building robots and coding in Scratch); the founder was an astrophysicist from Caltech who worked at Rolling Robots.(LA)
- Intern at Microsoft (remote)
- Microsoft Research Reinforcement Learning Open Source Fest (remote)
- Intern at Autodesk (remote)
- Intern at Apple (three months) (bay area)
- I was a manual tester/ sdet/ plans of making me a build/release engineer but I quit before then? for six months (LA)
- 1 of 4 chosen for mentorship with developer Mentorship (out of 100) via LearnTeachCode (getting our feet wet with what it means to work as a web developer; I was 1 of 2 of the “intermediate” and in turn had to mentor 2 students).
- I worked on two products through Philosophie with the purpose of building workable prototypes in five weekends; the first is Coding for Product and the other is Coding for Good; for the first we worked in a group to make an app that would incentivize Metro riders in the LA area (doing user research), and the second we worked on working with a local group (PBS LA) that wanted to incentivize a community to learn coding with their children in local libraries with parents (working with client and persons who were part of that community as user research).
- I did Google Summer of Code (2018) for Haskell.org
- I did Mozilla’s RustReach (2018)
- I am randomly in a few Google commercials
- I took part in Racket School (2018 and 2019); I had to leave midway through 2019’s because I had to catch an 8 hour flight to London to attend Curry On, which was graciously sponsored through a grant by Kyle Kingsbury (who is amazing!) and Heather Miller (CMU; also amazing)
- Been to many conferences, including Acadia (Computational Architecture conf at USC), Film ones (Cinegear), Academic ones (eg Neurips, Curry On, AAAI, ICFP, POPL, PLDI, ICLR (virtual), ICML (virtual)) and Developer (Google I/O, Twilio’s Signal, Strange Loop, Defcon, Black Hat, SCALE, LayerOne, etc), ShellCon, Hackaday’s Superconference (SF and LA), or even just open houses (I’ve been to three JPL Open Houses) and was part of NCAS class of 2016 April cohort. I’ve also been to a few Von Karman lectures and to the JPL German Club several times. (LA)
- Many, many tech meetups (WWC, LearnTeachCode, Santa Monica Haskell Group, Papers We Love, Data Science Meetups, etc). This how I found functional programming, and research papers, and started whetting my appetite for what I would enjoy in tech. (various)
- I’ve been interviewed for CareerGirls.org at MIT, and was subsequently invited to the MIT Media Lab for tea (aka robot wonderland!)
- I’ve also participated in User Research Studies for StackOverflow, Google (4x), Udacity, AT&T
- I’ve also been invited to formal recruiting events at: Twitter, Quora, Google, LinkedIn, Netflix, etc (various)
- My story has been covered by Coursera, and featured in The Women of Silicon Valley: Caribbean Techies and on the Corecursive podcast. I also did a wrap up report and moderated a panel on Ethics and AI with VentureBeat. If you have made it to the end of this list, know that I am grateful for the journey, and also for the privilege of your time.
Ethics and Identity
- Code 2040 (Summer 2020; online)
- Lighthouse3 Data+Ethics mentorship (Summer 2020; online)
- “Dark Matters Workshop”, School for Poetic Computation (Summer 2020; online). I also took their Cocoon “(Re-)Learning to Love Mathematics”, which was an AMAZING class! I was just stepping foot into the isogenies world and leaped into Pure Mathematics after that. No turning back now (uh-oh).
- I was part of a Sailing Meetup, but ditched it to join the Women Sailing Group of Santa Monica Bay. Loved that group (I raced and day-sailed pretty much weekly; I raced on “My Time III” for WOW-WAH, Wendy’s boat, and on Mexican Divorce. Maybe we sailed to Catalina Island or to Newport beach together? (CA)
What about you?
- What does your life look like? Has it been as windy?