Here’s a polite person’s trick

When you are at a party and are thrust into conversation with someone, see how long you can hold off before talking about what they do for a living. And when that painful lull arrives, be the master of it. I have come to revel in that agonizing first pause, because I know that I can push a conversation through. Just ask the other person what they do, and right after they tell you, say: “Wow. That sounds hard.”

via Paul Ford on Medium
writing a profile essay


I joke a lot about a lot of serious things, but yesterday I couldn’t find a joke for my mom changing our legal names — and changing mine incorrectly. I wanted to preserve my given Vietnamese name the way it was intended as Minh-Diep as opposed to Diep Minh. The court papers said “Millie Diep-Minh Tran” meaning not only was the format incorrect, she added a dash! I was so upset last night because identity (and thereby something with which we use to identify) is important. Culture is important. And somehow both of those seem to be imploding in my new name.

I’m less upset with my mom now for messing that up because I believe you CAN change these things, but boy, I was not amused. Today is a new day and I suppose the humor in this is that something like this WOULD happen to me.

Now, how does one change a changed name? This is an identity crisis if I’ve ever had one (though yes, actually — having jaw surgery and not recognizing myself!).

On Gmail configurations

While talking on the phone with Nic, a very important question came up: What is the most optimized gmail configuration? Multiple inboxes or priority inboxes? Multiple + priority inboxes? Horizontal or vertical? Chat on left or right?

We’ve decided that the tendency to rearrange inboxes stems from the lack of real furniture and the lack of physical space — and sometimes you just need to rearrange something.

What’s on your mind?

Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people.* —Eleanor Roosevelt

What ideas are you thinking of right now? What are you reading?

Imagine if someone asked you these questions and genuinely wanted to know and engage you on your answers. How delightful and interesting conversations would be. Perhaps this is why I’m obsessed with Atlantic Wire’s Media Diet series. Take me out for a coffee and I’m sure we can talk for hours.

Anyway, I was listening to this piece on NPR earlier this afternoon about whether we should go on an ‘information diet.’ While I agreed with most of the speaker’s points, especially that we tend to read things that reinforce our own ideas, I would hesitate to suggest people to, for example, read the text of the ‘Stop Online Privacy Act’ to understand SOPA. I think an information diet should not only consist of straight up reading less crap, but that it should also consist of conscious consumption from credible (unintentional alliteration; I blame a lot of Maureen Dowd in my formative years) sources/editors/curators/whatever. Anyway, in the spirit of pithy bits, here is Clay Johnson’s Michael Pollan-style advice: “Seek. Not too much. Mostly facts. Eat low on the sort of ‘information food chain,’ and stick close to sources.”

In other, but related, news, I had a fantastic lunch with Derek as we made fun of ourselves for starting 80% of our conversations with “Have you read that article…?” and “I just read this article…”

*While on the food/consumption metaphor, I’d like to think of this quote as the outline for a conversation pyramid, as opposed to a hard and fast rule for being a great mind. We all need that piece of chocolate every now and then okay? Maybe some bread too. Plus, we’d all be boring philosophers (sorry, philosopher friends! Do I even have any of you?) if all we did were talk about ideas all day.

Hot tea in tall glasses


I’ve taken a liking to drinking hot tea in tall glasses. Sometimes I worry about the glass cracking, but after researching it a bit, it seems that there’s no consensus on which temperature of water will crack a glass because it depends on the thickness of the glass, the pace at which the glass is heated, etc. So, if you were curious, if you too have a preference for hot tea in tall glasses, pour slowly. You’re welcome.