Category Archives: Rants and reflections

Your brain on persistent social media

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

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.


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

So You Think You Can Blog? (In other words, why I started this blog.)

During this leave of absence from Accenture, I’ve had the blessing and the curse that is “free/unstructured time” between the time I drop my kids off at daycare/school and when I pick them up.

The blessing is that I’ve been able to make progress on several of the items I had on my list to do during this break. Yay me!

Continue reading So You Think You Can Blog? (In other words, why I started this blog.)