Scene from the household – Underwear Dancing Time

It’s becoming a regular thing in our house in the evenings while the girls are getting ready for bed — Underwear Dancing Time. Just one mention from one of the girls and it suddenly the bedroom transforms into an impromptu dance show complete with lip synch and choreographed dance moves.

Current dance song of choice: Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen.

Tonight they even went and slicked their hair back with water. E2 (the younger 4 year old) appraised her reflection approvingly and declared, “ooh, so stylish!”. E1 (the elder 6 year old) was engrossed in trying out different floor poses.

Dancing is of course, done in underwear, facing the full-length mirrored closet doors. My favourite move of theirs is the disco hand rolls that travel from one side to the other.

I admit to participating in the dance show, but I won’t reveal whether I joined in on the dress code. 🙂

~Jen

Two things I’m excited to watch this fall

1. Pacey Witter is back on TV this fall!! I mean, Joshua Jackson, in The Affair on Showtime.

By its’ own rights this looks to be a highly intriguing show. Lots of talking, nuanced performances, and the exploration of how multiple people perceive the same thing in different ways. Add in a mystery, which I love. Oh and there is the titular extra-marital affair and the impact on the 4 people within those relationships. The human condition revealed.

Topping it all off is the inclusion of Joshua Jackson in the leading cast. *girlish sigh*

Watching Joshua Jackson on Dawson’s Creek was one of my must-see TV back in the late 90’s.  (I also had the pleasure of rewatching the whole series on Netflix this past summer.) Charming, funny, secure in his love of his girl but so insecure about himself, the character Pacey Witter was someone you couldn’t help loving. He could pull off lines that made you swoon, yet you know any other guy repeating those same words would sound utterly corny.

This new show and character looks to move completely away from the teen soap character into a more complex and potentially unlikeable character. But I’ll be watching anyway, because I know Joshua Jackson will give a compelling performance.

2. Gone Girl, adapted from Gillian Flynn’s book of the same name, is likely the movie I’m most excited to see this fall. Even more so with David Fincher helming the movie.

I read the book, and could not freaking put it down. Sleep was definitely further deprived for the few days I spent reading this book. As a mystery book it already has me, but the character motivations in the book are what made this jaw-dropping for me. The word “psychopath” comes to mind, and yet a part of me has to admire the psychopath’s meticulous plan and execution. The brilliance of Flynn’s book is not only was I kept guessing as to whom the real psychopath is until well past half-way through, but also that I was disturbed by my admiration for the character.

It will be fun to watch/discuss this movie with people who haven’t read the book before, provided the movie plot doesn’t stray far from the novel. I read the novel before hearing the casting announcements, and I think the casting is spot-on perfect. While I’m still very uncertain about Ben Affleck as Batman, as Nick Dunne he’ll be awesome. And everything that Rosamond Pike has done that I’ve seen, I’ve loved.

Anyone want to meet me on the couch and movie theatre to watch with me? 🙂

~Jen

Updating my About Me page

I admit it, my first try at my About Me page kind of sucked. But thanks to a WordPress Blogging 101 assignment I’ve gone and jazzed it up! Hopefully you agree that it’s a change for the better.

~Jen

(Here’s the original text for your comparison)

I am currently a Manager of Technology by trade at Accenture. (i.e. IT consulting) I do this because I love problem-solving and being part of solving an issue or challenge for a client. Building and implementing elegant solutions to complex problems with smart, dedicated, and engaging people is my idea of fun.

However, work is not (and should not) be all who I am. I love partaking in arts and culture, particularly dance. I’m informed on news and politics, and am considering getting more actively engaged. I want to be the best parent I can be so my children can grow into amazing contributors to our family and society. I’ve started this website and blog to give myself some structure and discipline for documenting, reflecting, and opining on these other aspects of my life.

Above all, I am passionate about my family. I am a wife to my beloved husband, and mother of two lively girls. It is imperative to me that I am deliberately present in their everyday lives, because they bring me so much joy.

The iPod was a gateway drug.

Last week’s announcement of the Apple iPhone 6/6S and Apple Watch got me thinking back to those early, innocent days of when a mp3 music player called an iPod was launched. At its design core it was a revolutionary way for people to interact with their music. Their marketing then capitalized on this through capturing the joy that people had when using it.

It was a cultural revolution. You could sense that there was this seismic shift happening, even though you may not have been conscious about it. No one wanted to miss out on being a part of the revolution into the future. And so the iPod was a gateway drug for getting us hooked to the desire and aspiration for personal electronics.

Then the iPhone was launched, and with the iPhone 3G version it brought the smartphone away from the paradigm of being a phone and email tool (predominantly associated with business and government) into the realm of a personal “life” tool. Gaming, snapshot photography, YouTube, and importantly, the rise of social media applications: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Anyone armed with the new smartphones could now create content for anyone else to view, anywhere, anytime. Another cultural revolution into the future. And boy you did not want to miss out on this one. Being left behind would not only make you out of touch with the cultural touchstones of the day, but also your friends and family. Addiction complete.

The ensuing versions of each of these products then dealt with making the devices smaller, faster, bigger storage, better cameras, etc, so the perceived utility of each subsequent version seemed to be increasing. And so we keep buying into it, because we are already addicted to the sexiness of being part of the future.

Relevant Oatmeal comic.

For me though, I’ll be taking a pass on the Apple Watch. I’m content with my current level of addition, striving to be a functional techno-holic.

Trauma Center…indeed.

It was supposed to be fun and a bonding experience, this Wii thing.

It was 2007. T and I were in our first year of marriage, that blissful honeymoon period. We were also in the honeymoon period with our Nintendo Wii, the breakout gaming console that used players’ physical motions to control the game action. From the thrilling story of how we were able to get our hands on one to be on the “leading curve” of adopters, to the fun and surprisingly physical workout that was Wii Tennis and Raving Rabbits, our relationship with the Wii was with one of good cheer. We couldn’t stop sharing with our friends how fun it all was.

Then my brother told us about this game Trauma Center.

Wii game: Trauma Center-Second Opinion
A trauma…for my marriage!

Set in the future, you play the role of surgeons combating new and deadly diseases and cancers found in patients. In the first levels you play a young doctor still gaining confidence in his skills – thus giving you a chance to practice the game interaction of performing surgery. Incision, excising disease and tumours, monitoring the patient’s vital signs and taking appropriate actions, closing and suturing — it’s all there in the game.You only had a limited time to perform the operations. This was enhanced further by the discovery that your character has a special gift called “The Healing Touch”, enabling you to miraculously save patients who otherwise would have succumbed.

We loved it. The thrill of living out our Asian parents’ underlying dreams of us becoming doctors, and saving these pretend patients, was addictive. My husband and I took turns being “Dr. Derek Stiles”, working through the game as one…mirroring our marriage vows.

We progressed to higher levels where the illnesses got tougher, and the patients in more dire straits. The cancers would continue to multiply from existing tumours while you were operating if you didn’t finish excising all within a certain window. The patients would crash and die if you didn’t monitor vitals and provide boosts of IV fluids or antibiotics/medicines. The tension and stress level in our living room ratcheted higher, and the joking and semi-careless play stopped.

We hit a wall.

I no longer recall what level/chapter it was, but we could not beat the thing. We took turns attempting to operate, but the cancers would replicate faster than we could finish excising. Or we would be so caught up in excising we neglected the vital signs and the patient crashed. We must have played the level at least 10 times each, on several different days.

T was controlling at the time of the fateful incident. It was probably our 7th attempt that day. He formulated the plan of attack.

“I need you to watch the vital signs for me. Then I can focus only on cutting out the tumours. OK?” OK!

I dutifully monitored the vital signs, pointing out a couple of occasions where intervention was needed. But then…he was working with such accurate speed…and was getting closer to finishing…my eyes drifted away from the vital signs on the top left of the screen…and towards the furious action in the middle of the screen…my adrenaline was starting to surge the way a sports fan does watching her team edge towards a goal…he was two or three stitches away from closing the wound completely…

The screen turned red as the patient’s vital signs crashed, and died.

His mouth was agape. I recoiled in horror realizing I neglected my post.

He threw down the controllers and held his head in his hands. “I asked you to do one thing. One thing! Watch the vital signs! How…how could you miss it?!?”

Sheepishly I replied, “I’m sorry, I just got caught up, you were doing so well, I got excited…” My voice trailed off knowing I failed in my task. I felt so bad. But it’s only a video game, right?

He went to bed upset that night, for the first time in our marriage. And while we soon were able to laugh at the incident, we didn’t turn on the Wii again for 3 years.

~Jen


Update: found an old post from T’s blog where he posts his initial reaction to these events.

 

TBT: Why I’ll always think of Amsterdam with a slight shudder

Here’s to my inaugural Throwback Thursday (TBT) post! Hope you enjoy. 🙂


May, 2001. It was readily apparent as we stepped off the train at 6pm on a Friday in Amsterdam that we were learning some real life lessons: Continue reading TBT: Why I’ll always think of Amsterdam with a slight shudder

Your brain on persistent social media

A long read from David Roberts, a star political blogger for Grist.org, but contains so many well-written nuggets on various things I too have been contemplating these last few months.

http://www.outsideonline.com/outdoor-adventure/media/Reboot-or-Die-Trying.html

Some particular quotes highlighting that I’m trying to be mindful of, and also plan to educate our kids about:

All my in-between moments, the interstitial transitions and pauses that fill the cracks of a day, were crowded with pings. My mind was perpetually in the state that researcher and technology writer Linda Stone termed continuous partial attention. I was never completely where I was, never entirely doing what I was doing. I always had one eye on the virtual world.


Because most Web services are “free”—that is, supported by advertising—their very survival depends on distracting and bewitching their users. Silicon Valley software engineers design apps that way on purpose; they’re quite clever at it. Because America’s culture of professional overwork and exhaustion is unrestrained by workplace regulations or conventions governing e-mail, unceasing connectivity has become an unspoken job requirement. Because social groups coalesce and plan online, even brief screenless periods breed FOMO, the fear of missing out.


Nature provides what University of Michigan psychologist Stephen Kaplan has termed soft fascinations. (Dibs on the band name.) We are shaped by evolution to heed the ebb and flow of drifting clouds, rustling grass, and singing birds. Unlike voluntary or directed attention—the kind required by, say, a spreadsheet—“effortless attention” produces no fatigue. It’s the mental equivalent of floating on your back, and a rested mind is a more productive mind.

~Jen

How do you tell someone in your work area they smell?

First I’ll set the scene: Imagine a large, open room with low ceilings, and rows upon rows of long tables that are meant to be subdivided into work stations measuring roughly 1.5 meters per person. Except there are typically 3 people now squeezed into every 2 workstations. Imagine that each row is actually two sets of tables back to back, so that you face each other when sitting at your desks. The separator between the person across from you and yourself is a laughable raised divider 30 cm high, with a “jaunty” little shelf for some odds and ends. There is no separator between you and the person to the right or left of you, beyond your own accepted notion of personal space. Continue reading How do you tell someone in your work area they smell?

The Struggle Inside: Lean In or Lean Back?

Before having children, I used to think that it would be no big deal to have both a career and a family. In other words, be a superwoman.

My mother did it, many of my friends’ mothers did it…and it felt like we owed it to our feminist elders to take on the torch and continue making progress towards equality in the career marketplace. Our partners would be more sensitive and involved in the raising of the family so the burden would be eased. Society would be fully supportive of working families and there would be many options for childcare available. I was going to make a big impact in the world, and I would happen to be a woman.

Then I had my kids.

Continue reading The Struggle Inside: Lean In or Lean Back?

The Summer of Jen – an update

When I shared the news of my leave of absence from Accenture back in March of this year, I envisioned that during my leave I would set out to accomplish goals in 5 general areas. Here they are verbatim:


  1. Career Calibration – I need to figure out where I want my career to go in the next 3-5 years, what I find fulfillment and enjoyment doing, and how to best accomplish this.
  2. Health – Physical and Mental – I’m going to sort out my exercise and sleep regime, spend as much time outdoors as I can this summer, *not* commute in the car an hour each way, and hang out with my family without having to worry about the daycare pickup time
  3. Learning and Creation – I will commit myself to publishing something at least once a month (let me know if you want in on the distribution – I promise not to post too many selfies of ). I’m also toying with the idea of teaching myself to develop an app in one of the mobile technologies. Also will devote time to actually watch some of those TED talks that I’ve bookmarked away.
  4. Community – I have neglected contributing back to my community in the last few years. I want to devote some of my time this leave to volunteer. If you know of any organizations looking for someone with my skills and enthusiasm I’d love to hear about it!
  5. Home affairs catchup – to address parts of my home life that have been neglected over the last few years, e.g. long-term financial plan, home decluttering and organization, buying drapes for the windows, actually doing some gardening

Continue reading The Summer of Jen – an update