Jeneral finds of the week: 2015-05-31

This week’s finds: the grace of mastering code debugging, mental health, and a commencement speech that is staying with me. 2015-05-31

  • If you’re not a developer and don’t know what debugging other people’s code is like, this particular post “An Arrival” describes the process with particular poetic elegance, using the analogy of going on an archeological dig quite effectively.  The writer is someone who is a newer code developer, and building on her skills and experience.
  • The Globe is doing an excellent in-depth series on mental health, “Open Minds”. I have members of my family with mental illness and so it’s always encouraging to see more public discussion taking place about this. This personal account from one of the Globe’s business reporters really affected me, as he is a similar age as me with a young family:  “Niall McGee didn’t believe in depression—until cancer medication put him in a suicidal spiral
  • It’s graduation time across the land, and celebrity commencement speeches are in the news. This lead me to read for the first time the 2005 commencement speech by David Foster Wallace. A powerful read that is still making me muse. “The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day.” —This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life. 

~Jen

National Ballet of Canada Review: Ratmansky and Côté

Performance: May 30 matinee

Being & Nothingness world premiere

Choreographed by Guillaume Côté, started off as a solo commissioned by Greta Hodgkinson a couple of years ago, before being expanded for this season into a larger work. The piano music by Phillip Glass was quite a perfect fit for the piece.

Greta was as incredible as she was in the first time I saw this. Grappling with loneliness, questioning meaning, and the anxiety of confronting your being – it was all demonstrated here, in here “duet” with the light bulb.

The set was stark, pulled back and up without any backdrops or curtains. The main curtain pulled up several minutes before the start of the show, and showed Greta sitting at the edge of a bed staring out into the house even with the house lights up. Lying on the bed was Felix Paquet, and you wondered whether he was her lover in the piece, but it turns out he was just sharing the space until his vignette. Other set elements included a door, a sink, a window, a chair and a rug, a phone – all would have a dance vignette interacting with these props. Continue reading National Ballet of Canada Review: Ratmansky and Côté

Little joys: May 2015

I think I need a little reminder of some the little joys I’ve experienced this month. More than just the smiles and amusements from things in my FB feed. It’s a balm against the negative news, fear and frustrating experiences I’ve encountered in the last few weeks. It’s something Janice had me do during our sessions together, to just explicitly and deliberately recognize the good things in life. It’s a habit I’m trying to get ingrained into doing, instead of always focusing on trying to fix the negative and problems at hand. So here goes. Continue reading Little joys: May 2015

Bananas got no bones! Or, my trip to St. Vincent

I’m going to set the mood for this trip down memory lane by playing the song that featured heavily on the soundtrack to our trip. It was a big hit and we would break out singing it repeatedly:

It was August, 1998. I just finished my hazy, languorous summer term that most U Waterloo coop students know affectionately as “2B”, and I was in a Caribbean island that I had no knowledge of just 2 months earlier. My travelling mates were my close friend and roommate C, and a newish friend S that I’d only met 3 months earlier. S asked us in June, “Hey, you want to come to St. Vincent with me after the term is done?” C and I looked at each other, shrugged, and said “Sure, why not?”

[Aside – one of the most wonderful thing about the university experience is how quickly deep relationships can form. Lots of free time + collective stress periods of papers and exams + frequent social events + a generally more open attitude to connecting with new people + relative isolation from the rest of the world = great friends!]

Somehow one of us got the brilliant idea to join a guided hiking trip up the extinct La Soufriere volcano. Continue reading Bananas got no bones! Or, my trip to St. Vincent

Jeneral finds of the week: 2015-05-22

In this week’s finds:  a definitive take down of the vulgar FHRITP heckling, the stay-at-home-moms of New York’s Upper East Side, and the value of living an examined life. I know the duration of “week” between Jeneral finds posts is erratic (it’s been what, 16 days since my last one?), but I’ll hope you’ll bear with me.

  • Of all the things I’ve read dealing with the vulgar heckling epidemic that female reporters have been facing in the last year, this piece by Tabatha Southey in the Globe has been one of the best. In it she expertly decimates any argument that tries to excuse the behaviour or declare his firing is an overreaction or a feminist witch hunt against guys just having fun. (In case you missed the context: Nearly two weeks ago a video went viral of a live-scene reporter confronting some men outside of BMO field after a Toronto FC game. She was sick and tired of putting up with multiple idiots yelling a particular sexual harrassment phase into her microphone as they passed that she decided to ask one of them why he did it. His and his friend’s response was not endearing to say the least, and it made the news a couple days later that one of them lost his job because of it. At least he has since apologized to her.)
  • In the latter part of last year when I was trying to decide what my next step was going to be, one option could have been to become a stay at home mom. I always felt unease with that choice for myself. This op-ed, Poor Little Rich Womenlikely distorts and amplifies my fears of divulging my power, status and self-identity in my relationship with my husband. Our financial and relationship situation isn’t anything like the ones profiled here, and yet…how can anyone guarantee it would never end up the same way? Still, the lifestyles of the truly rich are beyond my understanding, as is their self-selecting choice to sex-segregate their much of their socializing.
  • The importance of keeping a notebook is another reassurance that this blogging thing is something I should make an effort to keep doing.

~Jen

Sex ed in Ontario, Part 2

In my previous post, I tried to keep my cool as I explained why I support the curriculum updates. Trying to catch anti-curriculum-changers with honey, rather than vinegar, as it were. To be honest though, my initial reactions upon hearing the reasoning coming from those against the curriculum update were decidedly more vinegary. “Incredulous” would be a better word, and what I wrote below is actually what I wrote first in a fury. I know pieces like this and this have done a great job at countering many of the concerns that have been raised against it, but I just needed to vent!

But now it’s more than a week later and I still haven’t gotten this finished and polished up enough to my standards. Instead of letting it languish in “draft” purgatory and eventually dying a forgotten death, I’m just going to publish it as it is, so I can have a record of the frustration I feel.  Continue reading Sex ed in Ontario, Part 2

Haiku for Mother’s Day

Love, strength, kindness, home…
Pithy words cannot convey
what “Mom” means to me.

Happy Mother’s Day to all moms past, present and future.

~Jen

Why I support the update to the sex ed curriculum in Ontario

So the topic of sex ed has been blowing up in the news again this week, as Ontario parents against the curriculum changes banded together to take their kids out of class for the week in a “strike” protest. I gather that they believe that the content and schedule of curriculum delivery is harmful to their children.

I get it. As parents, we all want the best for our children. We want them to grow up to be healthy, happy, connected and loved individuals, and to protect them from harm where we can. But these adjectives are pretty vague in terms of specific goals and ambitions, driving the IT delivery manager in me to distraction. I decided to take a step back to look at what specific goals I want for my daughters. (taking from Stephen Covey, “Begin with the goal in mind”) Continue reading Why I support the update to the sex ed curriculum in Ontario

Jeneral finds of the week: 2015-05-06

Two of the finds this week are longer reads, but I found them worth the time investment. The third is food for thought for attracting, and keeping, women into the STEM fields. Jeneral finds of the week: 2015-05-06.

  • In Walking the Tornado Linemagazine journalist Justin Nobel goes on a walking journey in Alabama and Tennessee following the path of a mile-wide monster tornado on April 27, 2011 chewed up everything in its path for 132 miles. But the piece is more than a mere chronicle of the people and places impacted and tally of things destroyed. As he collects the stories from people who lived through it, and relays his own walking journey through Alabama during tornado season, his writing style conjures up clear and haunting imagery in the imagination. There is an underlying sense of dread, never feeling safe in the elements, like a great suspense novel or movie. I didn’t realize how I take for granted the lack of tornados in the places I’ve lived, until I read this.

    On the fourth night of my journey I camp in woods owned by a Baptist deacon named Sammy Swinney. It was here in the rolling hills of northern Alabama where the April 27, 2011, tornado roared through at sixty-five miles per hour, a black cloud the width of twenty-five city blocks with winds stronger than any hurricane. And it was here in the sleepy farming community of Oak Grove that the tornado morphed into something truly unfathomable, and did things few people knew tornadoes could do: ate large brick homes straight through to the foundation, spawned side tornadoes that flanked the main like evil henchmen, climbed a mountain and rattled down a steep valley on the other side, turned an entire forest to spindles, and carried away cars and cows and people, too.

  • The update of the health curriculum in Ontario where I live has garnered a lot of debate and controversy over the sexual education component of it. Full disclosure: I am totally in support of all the changes, which is why I get so frustrated with those protesting against it…but that’s going to be another post. It’s in this climate that this essay published in the Globe and Mail grabbed my attention. Yes, her own backstory is lurid, but her wading through the challenges of educating her teenaged son about sexual health hit on so many of the points that I’ve been worried about when it comes to the impact of online pornography.

    Sierra Skye Gemma survived unthinkable childhood abuse. Now the loving mother of a teenaged son, she finds herself on a deeply personal journey to teach him a healthy attitude to sex in the age of online pornography.

  • This op-ed in the New York Times has a really interesting approach for positioning engineering to be attractive for women to study and pursue careers in: provide the socially beneficial context in which the engineering work will affect changes. On a surface look, it makes a lot of sense: making things for the sake of making the thing better/stronger/more featured than before is not so attractive to me. However, using engineering skills to help solve a problem in society? That is a better sell. Does it harken back to the days of my youth when much of the pretend play was about building a family and making sure everyone was taken care of? Maybe.

~Jen

<—previous finds of the week