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Summiting Mt. Shasta

In the clouds at the summit

On July 3, 2016 I hiked to the summit of Mt. Shasta with my boyfriend Jackson Baures. It is the most physically challenging thing I have ever achieved and I’m so proud of myself for making it to the top. We took the Avalanche Gulch route: doing 11 miles round trip with a 7,300 foot elevation gain in a single day (rather than camping overnight at Lake Helen). “Over 15,000 summit attempts are made every year, only a third of which are successful” (summitpost.org). Although I had been training for months, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to make it. We met many people on the way up who did not get to the summit, either because of altitude sickness or fog. But once we made it to Red Banks and the fog cleared, I knew I could do it; it was just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other. The view of our hometown from the top was stunning and it made me incredibly happy to share this adventure with my life partner.

Updated Resume

This fall I realized it was time for a significant upgrade to my resume and portfolio as they no longer represented my value and design experience. The last time I reworked these documents was in 2009 and I have simply added new information and projects in the same format since then. I spent several months on the upgrades: reviewing target job postings and other designers’ documents; experimenting with different formats and soliciting feedback.

My old resume was innovative at the time I created it. I felt it expressed my design aesthetic as and displayed a lot of information in an easily digestible way. However, it was somewhat passive in voice, focusing on my duties, rather than my accomplishments, and it included a lot of non-essential information. Additionally, it was not compatible with the Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) that most employers now use to process online job applicants.

In my new resume, I have simplified the format and tried to present only the most relevant information. I moved my areas of expertise to the top of the page under a summary that will be customized for each position I apply for. I rewrote the information for each position in concise bullet points, focusing on what I achieved and emphasizing my leadership roles. I eliminated most of the details for older positions and have linked to my patents and publications rather than listing them. I have also started linking my resume to relevant projects in my Portfolio. Although I’m still making adjustments, I know my new resume more clearly communicates who I am and what I can do.

My Second Patent

Figures 1, 2 and 3 showing layers of printed chocolateAnother patent from my time at Xerox, this time in 3D printing!

3D printing of chocolate
EP2727469 B1

Inventors: David A Mantell, Andrew W Hays, Zahra Langford

Abstract: A method for printing a three-dimensional crystalline structure such as a chocolate layer wherein, after printing, the material has a desired crystal structure. An embodiment can include printing a liquid first layer of material with a printer onto a second layer of material having a crystal structure. Subsequently, the printed liquid first layer is processed to solidify the first layer. During the processing of the printed liquid first layer, the second layer functions as a crystal seed layer through physical contact with the printed liquid first layer and the second layer crystallizes with the crystal structure.

Big Changes

I am happy to get back to sharing information on my website after an extended hiatus. So much has happened in the past year.

Since my last post, I spent September, October and November of 2013 in Bangalore, Karnataka, India; working with my colleagues at the Xerox Research Center India. During that time I also designed and supervised the development of a brand new ecommerce website at hedonistchocolates.com which launched just before the holidays. I spent my weekends exploring South India, visiting beautiful places like Hampi, Kerala and Goa. When I returned home to Rochester in late November 2013, it became apparent that it was time for a change.

After much heartache, I decided to end my marriage and relationship of over 17 years. It was one of the hardest things that I have ever done but it eventually became the best thing for both of us. This led to a series of other changes which included getting out of the chocolate and ice cream business (my partner and I started and owned Hedonist Artisan Chocolates and Hedonist Artisan Ice Cream together), moving home to California and eventually leaving my job at Xerox. In March 2014 I embarked on a epic travel adventure that took me to North India and all over South Thailand.

In June I came home and eventually settled in Junction City, a tiny town along the Trinity River in North Western California. My mother’s family has lived in this area for generations. I decided to take the rest of the year off to rest and reflect on the past year. I’m enjoying the solitude and beauty of this place, as well as the freedom. I love being able to see my parents, sister and myriad of cousins who live nearby. I’m well aware that this self-imposed sabbatical is a rare privilege, but it is the result of years of hard work. This time has been truly healing for me as I move forward into the next phase of my life.


First Impressions of Bangalore

photoOn my first day in the city I spent nearly 5 hours in the back of a car on my way to somewhere else. Life in this amazing city seems largely defined by its traffic. My flight arrived around 8:30am. I slept so well on the plane that I completely missed the breakfast they served, so I was hungry and thirsty. Luckily, customs, claiming my checked suitcase and connecting with my driver was very easy. He was waiting for me with a handwritten sign; I wish I would have taken a picture. The weather was overcast and warm, with a light rain falling at times. The ride to the hotel took two hours as the airport is far to the northeast of the city center. The view out the window was fascinating, despite my growling tummy. The area around the airport is filled with beautiful tropical landscaping, it reminded me of Hawaii. Once we got closer to the roads became much more congested. We traveled through a sea of scooters, motorcycles, trucks, auto rickshaws, pedestrians and sometimes bicycles. Two wheeled transportation is used very creatively here, often with three people on one. My favorite is seeing women in saris perched sidesaddle on the back of a scooter. Many of the drivers were female, which I appreciated. The soundtrack of this city is mostly made up of honking, which drivers do constantly as they navigate, because there don’t seem to be many road rules.

The dirt here is reddish and it contrasts nicely with the city’s greenery; it is often full of puddles, rubble, garbage and prowled by easygoing stray dogs. From the car window I saw many sights that would not be found at home. There are scores of pedestrians, the women mostly in more traditional garb (most commonly a long colorful tunic over leggings worn with a scarf, but also many saris), men usually in pants and a collared shirt. I did see at least three cows, two men peeing in the open alongside the road and seven temples.

The area around my hotel is filled with large, modern buildings that house companies like Samsung, Accenture, Sony, Ericsson, etc. The hotel itself is nice; I have a large modern room with all the amenities. I arrived around 11am, took a shower and ordered some Indian room service items, which were a little too spicy for me. I called down to the front desk for a ride and a ride and the driver delivered me to the Xerox offices at Prestige Technology Park, about 15 minutes away. The Xerox offices are brand new and very modern. I was able to connect with my colleagues there and see Peggy, a co-worker who was visiting from Palo Alto. I hung out there for the afternoon, catching up on my email and doing some work while others attended meetings. After work, Rinku (the person I will be working with most directly while I’m here) wanted to take us to a restaurant in another neighborhood, Indira Nagar, which served North Indian food and was on the way to the airport (Peggy had a flight back to Delhi later that evening). We got a cab from the office, it was rush hour, the worst time to be on the road and it took us an hour and a half to reach the place. Although we drove through some interesting places on the way, I was tired and hungry again so the view had somewhat lost its shine. The food was good, we dined with three other people from the office and they ordered a wide variety of things for me to try. Afterwards, Peggy got in a cab to the airport, Rinku got a ride home with Om and I was picked up by my hotel transport which we had arranged earlier, Saras and Kuldeep rode part of the way with me. It took about an hour to get home.

By the end of the day, I was already tired of the traffic. However, it seems to be simply part of living here so I’m sure I’ll get used to it. I’m currently looking for a more permanent place to stay in an active neighborhood closer to city center, and a major consideration is commute time and available transportation.