The Inquisitive Anthropologist

by Astrid Willis Countee

Software Developer. Social Scientist. Innovator.

Read this first

See One, Do One, Teach One

do_one.jpegMany moons ago when I was pursuing my anthropology graduate degree I also volunteered in an ER. I was focusing on medical anthropology and seriously considering medical school. Being the geek that I am this was a super exciting way for me to spend my Thursday nights, and a reason for my very British co-worker to make fun of me for bailing on our bi-weekly happy hours.

Although I choose technology instead of med school (for a whole host of reasons that could be its own blog post), I did learn this thing that I believe to be the best advice I have received so far.

See One, Do One, Teach One

The first time I heard this, I had no idea what it meant. I was on the floor at the ER, where most of the time I helped the patient advocates and restocked the trauma rooms (which was an excuse for me to watch real traumas in action cause I NEVER got told to leave). One of the patient advocates

Continue reading →


Solving Human Problems with Code

Culture-Code-Logo-Pangea-3.jpg
I am an anthropologist, which for those who don’t know, is a fancy title for a human scientist that studies all that humans have been, are, and will be. I am also a software engineer. For me, this means that I get to make things using code magic like Harry Potter. Until recently, these ends of my life didn’t get to meet that much. But that is all changing.

For some time I have been trying to figure out how I want these puzzle pieces of anthropology and software to fit together. I have documented the process of getting here and truly taken the time to figure out where I want to go next. When you are a person with so many interests, trying to narrow down and focus on one seems impossible. I started where I last left off, entrepreneurship.

Ever since my time at The Iron Yard, I have been inspired by startups and entrepreneurs. As a result, I started going to meetups and had a stint as

Continue reading →


Kissing A Lot of Frogs

kissing-frogs.jpeg

For those who know me, you know that this year has been a journey. One that I didn’t exactly mean to embark on, but one that I seemed bound to take.

It all started last Christmas when I was off of work for the holiday. 2015 had been a progressive year for me. I was working as an software engineer, on a team, and learning all the time. I was also still freelancing, with some working being in rails, some being more tied to data analysis, and some straight up writing. It was also my first semester in graduate school (again) and let’s not forget that I had signed up to be the co-founder of a health related start up. Needless to say, I was happy for the break when it came.

Once I had finally been given the chance to stop and think a while I realized that with all that I was doing, I was sad about what I still wasn’t doing. I wasn’t actively doing the things that made me happy. What were

Continue reading →


AAA Conference 2016

AAA-Annual-Mtg-Logo.jpg

This year I had the chance to go to the AAA conference. For those that are not anthropologists, this is the American Anthropological Association’s annual conference. Not the car club.

I never got to attend the meeting when I was a grad student. There was the money thing, and being able to afford the hotel stay and the plane ticket. But there was also a time thing, since I was working full time, doing fieldwork and volunteering at hospitals. I just didn’t see how I could squeeze it in with that kind of a schedule. I wouldn’t have gone this year if it wasn’t for the fact that I was on a panel. And that happened mostly because of my mentor. But nevertheless, it was a worthwhile experience.

For one, I got to meet a bunch of anthropologists that I had only spoken to online. That felt super cool and also a little weird. Everyone looks a little different in person than a skype call or a

Continue reading →


Achievement AND Fulfillment

buddha.jpg
Today I was listening to a podcast on my blazing hot ride home (like I always do). In it, Tony Robbins was being interviewed about living life at the top of your game (click the title to hear the interview). He said a phrase that struck me. Please excuse the crude a quote that is about to follow:

“Most of us are living our lives for achievement, but not for fulfillment”

By achievement he means success. And he is right about that. Google how to be a successful… fill in the blank, and you will see what I mean. But fulfillment loosely translates to happiness. From my experience, this is where many of us get stuck, and Tony talks about this as well. There are always people who achieve all the goals that they set for themselves and then they look and say…is that all there is?

I know about that one. That is what happened to me a few years ago. It is one of the reasons that I decided to

Continue reading →


Authenticity Aint for Sissies

Authenticity1.jpgThese last few months have been a time of transition for me. Usually when I say that, what I mean is I may be doing all new work, or have new goals that I am working towards. But this time has been different for me.

After pushing myself for the last two years to aggressively pick up new tech skills and start a software engineering career, I found myself laid off. Even though my initial instinct was to immediately look for my next job, something inside me tugged against it. Instead, I decided to take moment to slow down and reflect on where I was and where I wanted to be.

What I realized was that I needed the chance to find my authenticity.

It’s not to say that software engineering wasn’t and authentic career for me. In many ways, I feel that making the move to engineering connected me back to a part of myself that I had neglected. As obsessive I can be about my love for technology

Continue reading →


Creating Meaningful Work

meaningful-work.jpg
Recently I have found myself at a new beginning.

After working at my first real job as a software developer for a year, the company had lay offs, and I was one of them. This gave me the chance to determine what it is that I wanted to do next.

The obvious next step was to get a new job. But as I started my job search, something didn’t feel right. I knew that I wanted to keep working as a software developer, but I wasn’t sure that the right next step was to join a new company.

Because while I was on my Christmas Break I had decided something.

I decided that this next year was going to be a year where I started to build meaningful work. I wanted the things that I did to represent my true interest and desire, and not necessarily follow a particular career path. I wanted my work to be a reflection of me.

And that isn’t something that you normally find a job posting.

Instead, I

Continue reading →


Using MongoDB with Rails

NoSQL databases have gone from being a curiosity to being the backend of enterprise web apps. Likewise, Rails has also matured enough to be adopted by large organizations while still being a startup favorite. Rails grew up with SQL so implementing a NoSQL database may seem to be unconventional. This guide will help any user be able to easily set up one of the most popular NoSQL databases, MongoDB.

First
When you set up your initial Rails project make sure to skip active record.

rails new my_app --skip-active-record

Active record uses migrations to control your database, which won’t be needed with MongoDB.

Next
Use Mongoid. Mongoid is a ODM (object document mapper) framework for Mongo in Ruby. It will make the rest of the process much simpler and will help you manage your database without active record.

Mongoid is wrapped up in a gem which makes installation a breeze.

gem

Continue reading →


Are You A Fox, or Hedgehog?

fox-n-hedgehog.jpg

I ran across this question while I was digging away, deep in the internet. I had never heard of such a question. Come to find out that this link may have been mysteriously brought to me by little internet fairies who knew that I was pondering my place in my career.

Are you a fox or a hedgehog?

To get to the heart of it, we should start with what this question really means. The hedgehog and the fox is a short story that is based on an ancient Greek fable. The story goes a little something like this

A fox and a hedgehog were strolling through a country path. Periodically, they were threatened by hungry wolves.The fox — being blessed with smarts, speed and agility — would lead packs of wolves on a wild chase through the fields, up and down trees, and over hill and dale. Eventually the fox would return to the path, breathless but having lost the wolves, and continue walking. The

Continue reading →


2016 Level Up List

image.jpg
Its that time again and I have my own list of resolutions. Last year I only wanted to stick to reading, and created a reading list. The problem is that I didn’t do so well. I read a few books, but nothing to be impressed by. Which is pretty pathetic, so this year I decided to be more determined and detailed.

I will resolve that reading list issue, and add to it some new resolutions:

1. Write every day

I have already started doing this one and I have to say that I am seeing a big improvement. Not so much in my writing, cause its not like I am editing it, but more so in my thoughts. Writing helps to clarify what it is that you want to say. A good reason to pick up a writing habit if I ever heard one.

2. Code every day

And by this I don’t mean what I do at work. I have found that even though my learning curve is steep I still need to find the time to practice. I started this one

Continue reading →

Subscribe to The Inquisitive Anthropologist

Don’t worry; we hate spam with a passion.
You can unsubscribe with one click.

SiEbZSxdut5vBxvRCRW