Jeneral finds of the week: 2016-01-30

The anniversary of Target Canada’s demise and my knowing head-nods to data problems behind it, the inspiration for the singular Disney villian Ursula in the Little Mermaid, and how J.K. Rowling’s 2008 Harvard commencement speech is still just as pointedly applicable in today’s culture of fear—it’s this week’s Jeneral finds of the week: 2016-01-30

  • During my days at Accenture Canada, implementing SAP systems was the crux of what my colleagues and I did. Many of these same colleagues were staffed at the Target Canada SAP implementation project. Several of my own project experiences were in the area of data migration and data enhancement for the Loblaw SAP implementation, so it’s with great interest that I read this article from Canadian Business,  “The Last Days of Target Canada“. I found myself nodding my head knowingly as the story unspooled. Again this underlines the extreme importance of the quality of data, as the huge volumes of both master data and transactions combine with errors in said data to take down the retailer. I’m sure the folks at Loblaw are feeling pretty good about their own implementation in comparison after reading this.
  • There was always something thrilling and compelling about Ursula the sea witch in the Little Mermaid animated Disney movie. This was one of my favourite movies growing up, and it’s still enjoyable now but for completely different reasons. Much of it has to do with Ursula and her power to get what she wants by trading it for what others foolishly want. Plus that song “Poor unfortunate souls” is bonkers.  “Unearthing the Sea Witch” by Nicole Pasulka and Brian Ferree tell the story about the inspiration for the character, particularly a real life Baltimore drag queen named Divine.
  • While poking around Youtube looking at David Foster Wallace’s commencement speech, I came across J.K. Rowling’s 2008 Harvard Commencement. It is a remarkable address that again demonstrates she is a great writer in how she deftly uses humour and personal example to provide inspiriation to not fear failure, and the importance of imagination and empathy in our world of uncertainty, complexity and fear. It resonates just as clearly now, nearly 8 years later, and I have no doubt will stand the test of time to resonate truthfully into the future.
    (The transcript of her speech: bit.ly/1zeUPfA)
  • And many prefer not to exercise their imaginations at all. They choose to remain comfortably within the bounds of their own experience, never troubling to wonder how it would feel to have been born other than they are. They can refuse to hear screams or to peer inside cages; they can close their minds and hearts to any suffering that does not touch them personally; they can refuse to know.I might be tempted to envy people who can live that way, except that I do not think they have any fewer nightmares than I do. Choosing to live in narrow spaces leads to a form of mental agoraphobia, and that brings its own terrors. I think the wilfully unimaginative see more monsters. They are often more afraid.

    What is more, those who choose not to empathise enable real monsters. For without ever committing an act of outright evil ourselves, we collude with it, through our own apathy.

~Jen

Daddy has the Magic Touch

We were just starting our drive home from our regular Sunday dinner at grandma’s and grandpa’s house.

E1: “Do you think we’ll get stopped at Hood Road again this time?”

Our route home takes us through the intersection of Denison and Hood Road, and it feels like we get faced with a red light 95% of the times we pass through going west-bound. It is particularly frustrating because A)it is approximately 100 meters from another set of traffic lights at Warden; B) it always seems to turn red seconds after the lights at Warden turn green, giving you the initial false hopes that you can pass through; and C)stays red for an inordinate amount of time, especially considering at 9pm on Sundays there is zero traffic driving on Hood Road. I had made enough comments and complaints about it on our drives home that E1 and E2 both knew the location and to look for the light.

Denison_and_Hood_Road

This week was one of those odd occasions where T was driving. I pulled my neck a few days earlier and couldn’t really turn my head well, so we all agreed it was safest to have T drive.

Me: “Well, we can only wait and see when we get there. Daddy does seem to have better success at getting through Hood Road without getting a red light though. I always seem to get stopped.”

T: “Probably because you drive way more than I do.” I laughed.

E1: “Well Mommy, I remember on Thanksgiving you got a green light.”

Me: “True, but that’s like the only time I remember.”

E1: “Daddy must have the magic touch.”

T, chuckling: “People have been saying that about me for years.”

E2: “So why does Daddy still get stopped sometimes with the red light there?”

Me: “His magic for Hood Road must be depleted and I guess it takes a while before it gets replenished.”

T: “That’s called mana. My mana must be depleted each time I get through Hood Road without a red light. You guys know what mana is?”

E1: “Yeah! Like the magic in our Magic Quest wands. Before we got them activated again, it kept saying to us ‘Your wand’s mana has been depleted’ when we tried to use the wands at Great Wolf Lodge.”

E2: “What does ‘depleted’ mean?”

Me: “Depleted means used up, drained, finished.”

E1: “Ahh, I don’t talk about it right now, or else Daddy’s magic will go away!”

T: “That’s called, ‘Jinxing’ it.”

We drive along Denison and get stopped at the red light on Warden Ave behind several cars, one light away from the infamous light.

E1 cranes her head to check out the Hood Road light situation. “Oh no! The light is green! That means it’s probably going to turn red by the time we get there again!”

E2: “Oh no oh no oh no!”

The light at Warden turns green and we drive the 100 meters towards Hood Road. Amazingly, the light stays green.

Me: “Oh my gosh guys! We’re going to make it through Hood Road! The light is staying green!”

All in the car: “Yaaayy!”

E2: “Daddy really *does* have the magic touch!”

~Jen

Jury selection duty in Toronto in 2015

I was summoned to attend jury selection duty in the fall of 2015. I was a dutiful citizen, and put my regular weekday schedule on hold to fulfill my duty. But what could I really expect about this whole jury selection duty in Toronto in 2015? I had visions of sitting around a courtroom for days on end, with nothing available to me other than newspapers and magazines. The information sheet provided by the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General was decent in providing some answers about the process, but wasn’t very helpful in some of the more practical questions or information about the process that was specific to the Toronto district court house.

Based on my experience, this is what you might expect during jury selection duty in the Toronto court district (things may be different in other court districts around the province): Continue reading Jury selection duty in Toronto in 2015

Jeneral finds of the week: 2016-01-17

Women and unpaid emotional labour, the Genius of Music breaks down pop music, and the mash up of Star Wars and Calvin and Hobbes you didn’t know you needed. Also, 2016 gets off to a sad start with the loss to cancer of two big forces in arts and culture, David Bowie and Alan Rickman. The Jeneral finds this week: 2016-01-17

  • Leah McLaren asks “Should women be paid for emotional labour?“. It’s the unspoken glue that keeps communities together, isn’t it? And I another realm of unacknowledged tasks that many women perform on top of all they do at work and in their direct families. Examples: making phone calls to circle of friends just to check in, remembering to get birthday cards and/or presents for children’s classmates, organizing baby showers for work colleagues, keeping track of friends and acquaintances’ goings-on so you are aware when things aren’t well and help is needed…and then offering the help, etc. No wonder it seems women often seem to have a harder time to balance life and work, their buckets of work in the “life” column, beyond home maintenance and family duties, are larger than men’s.
  • Why are some pop songs just so catchy and infectious? Chilly Gonzales is a self-proclaimed Genius of Music, but he earns the title honestly. He is a pianist, producer, songwriter,  and more, working with the likes of Feist, Daft Punk, and Drake. He has a done a series of videos deconstructing popular songs that are fascinating. In this video, Gonzales breaks down The Weeknd’s “I can’t feel my face” 
  • Of course, the last month’s entertainment hype has been all about Star Wars: The Force Awakens. And as a lovely response to this, Disney Animation Story Artist Brian Kesinger did a series of wonderful mashups of Star Wars and Calvin and Hobbes together. (these are just two of them, peruse some earlier posts in his twitter feed to see them all)

~Jen

Nostalgia for some books of my childhood

I recently finished rereading Anne of Green Gables. It is E1’s copy of the book we gave her for Christmas, and when I read the first few chapters aloud to her, I got hooked again. In the evenings, as she slept, I borrowed the book to read furtively onward. A smile was likely on my face the whole way through to the end, delighted with the character of Anne and the “scrapes” she got herself into.

It’s also delightful seeing E1 also getting taken up in not only the characters and the story of Anne of Green Gables, but of many of the books she’s reading. I look at her and I see myself at her age. I am nostalgic for the books of my childhood and early teens, and for how they made me feel, the childhood memories they invoke, or the lessons I still keep from them. Here are some of them. (Unfortunately, I am terrible at remembering plot details or character names, so please don’t expect a synopsis of these books!) Continue reading Nostalgia for some books of my childhood

Welcome to 2016! Happy New Year!

Yes, it is now more than a week since the new year started, but we do not need to be technical about that. The sentiment of hope and optimism for this year still holds true. So Happy New Year! Welcome to 2016!

And in the spirit of optimism, here are some of my goals for this year to resolutely work towards:

  • less Facebook lurking, more actual face time talking (via coffee dates, Skype, group outings, and what not). Because I want to model the behaviour I want for my girls to follow and expect from their friends.
  • make exercise a standard part of my weekly schedule again. It’s been over 9 months since I started working, so I can’t use the excuse of “waiting until my schedule is stabilized” anymore. I’ve definitely noticed a loss of strength.
  • volunteer more: at my girls’ school and in my community
  • read more offline materials. Reading articles online is fine, but the ease in which I can switch to yet another article of completely different context means i often don’t ponder over what I just read, the ideas don’t simmer and percolate as it should.
  • keep writing: aim for at least a blog post every two weeks
  • preserve the memories: finish our family 2015 photobooks before Victoria Day
  • keep pushing myself to grow my experiences and my team contributions in my job, but still holding onto my reduced hours schedule
  • set up the basement office properly. Poor T has to suffer through boxes of random crap strewn about while he gingerly navigates to his office chair.

Sorry for succumbing to the cliche of publicly announcing my resolutions, but I feel the potential for shame and humiliation from my peers is an extra motivator. It worked for Anne of Green Gables, didn’t it? Let me know if there’s anything you’d like me to hold you to the fire for at the end of this year, we can press forward to our goals with the fear of mutual shame. 😉 Happy New Year folks!

~Jen