Thursday, December 30, 2010

the year of technology embrace

i have decided that 2011 will be the year of technology embrace for me.  i am getting my twitter account in order (although have yet to tweet a damn thing) and am going to make an effort to use it to learn, share information, and connect with others.  so look me up: thingsiknow.

next up is linked in.  i had an account years ago and shut it down because i didn't like it showing up when i googled myself (funny how things change...), but am feeling as though it might be a good resource for me for professional opportunities.  and considering i am struggling to figure out what i want to be when i grow up, maybe it can help.

so follow me on twitter and let me know what you think of linked in.  are you on it?  is it useful?  does it take a lot time to maintain?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

holidays are for movie watching

i've seen some movies lately and thought i would share my thoughts in case you, like me, enjoy heading to the theatres over christmas.

first off, The Social Network was really good.  dark, but good.  of course, i would love to know where the hollywood writers picked up after the trail went cold from mark zuckerberg, but fascinating nonetheless.  and if i learned anything it is that harvard as an undergrad would suck and i would likely never feel like i was cool enough, rich enough, or smart enough.

and who knew that sean parker of napster fame was still a part owner of facebook?  or that they dropped the 'the'?  or that it all began because there actually was something called the facebook at harvard?

one of my bros got Salt for christmas so we piled on to the couch on jesus' birthday and watched the worst version of angelina jolie doing an action film ever.  the stunts were way too far fetched to be believable and what could have been an engaging story line (russian sleeper spy emerges to save america and the world) was thin, flat, and had too many loose ends.  give it a miss.

The Kids Are All Right has some oscar buzz and a golden globe nomination and it is worth it.  a film that makes being gay normal and not glamorous is refreshing.  the story is a bit slow and heavy on dialogue, but that is my kind of entertainment.  julianna moore and annette bening are unsurprisingly awesome and mark ruffalo is a delight.  i am curious to know what next for the family after they go through an affair that shakes their entire foundation.  but, like the title suggests, i'm sure the kids will be all right.

i haven't seen many movies this past year, but have started myself an excel spreadsheet to list the titles i want to see.  and hopefully while i have some extra time during my mini staycation.  interested in what is on my list?

Never Let Me Go
Despicable Me
Black Swan
Barney's Version
The King's Speech
127 Hours
Love and Other Drugs
For Colored Girls
Little Fockers
Blue Valentine
Country Strong

Thursday, December 23, 2010


who knew the video was so disastrously bad? but still so good, in all its awfulness...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

more ted to get you through the day

along with being sick at home on monday, i have also had a lot of reporting to do at work, the kind where you can just plug your earphones in and power through it.  it is essential to have something interesting to listen to and watch, when you need a break.

and because i just can't keep good ideas to myself, here are a few more ted talks, if you also have some time to kill over the holidays.

sheryl sandberg, the chief operation officer at facebook talks about the three reasons we don't have more women in leadership roles.  i just kept thinking, 'oh yeah,' 'uh huh' as i was watching and listening to this.  so much so, that i sent it to two women that i work closely with who are delights to manage whereas i am constantly pulling teeth with the middle aged men that i am expected to direct and lead on a project.

here's sandberg's message in short: sit at the table, make your partner your real partner, and don't leave before you leave.

women consistently underestimate themselves and credit their success to luck or external factors.  and women are not well regarded when they achieve professional success, instead, they are often less liked because of it.

this talk is awesome and not because it is some fanatical feminist diatribe or condemning men for their treatment of men or overly academic.  awesome.

ed ulbrich, the team lead on the development of the special effects for the film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (which i loved!), talks about how they pushed technology to its limits to create benajamin's face.

it is fascinating how they did it and to see the footage of how they used brad pitt's face and his iteration of the character to create something that didn't previously exist in more ways than one.  amazing.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

who needs spirit?!

you can get a dose of it here.

thanks to my sis, for sending it along.

my score was 19/30 on this seasonal movie quiz, what's yours?

a trio of ted talks

i have been battling a head cold/self-diagnosed chest infection (that my mom is worried might be pneumonia or bronchitis) since friday, but i did manage to rally and go to a girls' christmas potluck, a 3rd annual 29th birthday party, a bridal shower, a hen night, and a family christmas dinner.

i am pretty sure that all that activity over the weekend has meant that i didn't have enough in the tank to fend off whatever is ailing me and i stayed at home and took a sick day today.  that meant i had a lot of internet time and came up with a few beauties that i thought i would share.

let's talk parenting taboos: rufus griscom & alisa volkman
although i am not a parent, i can only imagine the anxiety that having to take of a baby and then a child to raise would invoke in me.  and part of that is because there are so many messages, and i would argue most of them directed at women specifically, about what parenting should look and feel like.  and i think these two do a good job of blowing that myth out of the water while speaking frankly about their experiences as encouragement for others to do the same.  it is all about being real and it sounds like parenting is no different.

an independent diplomat: carne ross
once you get past his introduction, which sounds a little self indulgent, this former british foreign service officer has a great message and i liked what he had to say about how the best things that happen to him were 'random.'

his ngo independent diplomat is innovative and responding to the ever evolving world order, which are not words you would ever use to describe the traditional diplomatic corps.  his message lends itself well to my own experience of having exposure to the private sector to improve my performance and analysis within the non-profit sector.  and i wish more people saw the value of that cross pollination of ideas and principles and it seems that ross does.

and i agree with him entirely on his statement: 'the government of south sudan, you heard it here first, is going to be a new country in the next few years' and that he can make the connection between you and i and el shabaab, the somali militia organisation.  the world is shrinking and as it changes, the tool, agencies, and systems that we have used to make sense of it all also need to evolve at the same speed.  and the un is sadly lagging behind the innovators and great thinkers.

and to think, i went through many years of international relations and international development organisation asking who western sahara belongs to and here, the answer is on ted.

now... where is my cliff to fall off??

and this one takes the ted cake today - michael spector: the danger of science denial
one of my passions is learning and this paired with my commitment to social justice and socioeconomic development lends itself nicely to questioning what we know (or think we know) and then applying the scientific method to learn more about it to improve.  in a practical sense, this means that how we think we are helping can and should be examined, but rarely is.  doing good seems to be acceptable because it is accepted that charity or development or donations are good in and of themselves.  spector has the guts to say that attitude is wrong.

pseudo science and anecdotal information has taken over our collective knowledge retention and transfer.  and it is scary what can happen when we dismiss scientific evidence and confuse correlation and causation (and all those social science kids out there are likely nodding their heads along with spector throughout his talk).  we have more access to information than ever before and on one hand, i think that this radical democratic style of information sharing makes for a more dynamic and diverse conversation, but on the other hand, more crappy ideas, bad science, and misinformation is also shared in equal measure, if not more.

here's are some truths that spektor highlights that science has demonstrated to us time and time again:

  • vaccines don't cause autism
  • vitamins won't make you healthier
  • all of our food has been genetically engineered to look, taste, and smell the way it does
  • organic food is a rip off
  • by not embracing scientific advancement in food production, we won't be able to feed all the people on the planet

this was a breath of fresh air for someone who often feels as though they are fighting against more people within the non-profit/development/charitable giving sector than outside of it to demonstrate not all international development projects are good, not all non-profit agencies deserve people's donations of time and money, and giving is not always better than receiving.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

questions i have asked myself recently

  • will anyone know that it was me that set the fire alarm off at 11:15pm by cooking beef bourguinon?  followed a few days later with: who the hell is cooking at 2am and set the damn fire alarm off when i was sleeping?!
  • what does a life coach do and do i need one?
  • how do you pay a speeding ticket that you seem to have lost?
  • who would ever buy this or this?
  • what do i want to be when i grow up?
  • what will i feed my dad for 5 days when he stays with me?
  • will i be selected to attend a gbv training in new york city?  and, please pick me (which is not really a question, but i am just putting it out there).
  • will i be able to get a taxi after tonight's christmas party?
  • should i put a pair of flats in my purse in case my feet start to hurt?
  • if i bring a pair of flats but still manage to fall on someone's boss' table, can i really blame my sore feet and high heels for it if i am wearing flats?
  • why don't i know many eligible bachelors in this city to set my amazing female friends up with?
  • how will i decorate my office/spare bedroom now that i have a sofa bed?
  • is Last Christmas by Wham! the best christmas song ever?  (the answer is yes).
  • should i keep my bangs down or swept to the side?  should i stop cutting them myself?
  • how do i stop people from wanting to start their own ngos to combat human trafficking in cambodia?  (i am taking suggestions on this one).
  • why do i have a blog and why haven't i been writing much lately?

Wednesday, December 08, 2010


i am late again on the monthly goal update.  and i am almost through my 29th year!  yay.  and eek.  and wow.

1 - conquer my anxiety, or at least win a few battles against it.  eesh.  constant battle.  uphill and then some downhill.  and then there was november.  it was tough.  but it is over!  anxiety can be a temperamental bitch.

2 - be more thoughtful of others, especially around special occasions. with the upcoming holiday season, i am trying to keep on top of this and have confidence that i will.  i also have some bits and bobs to send off to friends in south africa so i had better get those in the post asap.

3 - continue making visiting family and friends a priority.  my next trip will hopefully be a visit with dear friends in the states, although the details are yet to be finalised.  and i will have a parental house guest over christmas so there will certainly be plenty of visiting!

4 - nail down some sort of short-term career goals.  remember the anxiety surrounding november?  well, much of it was related to this.  i have gathered quite the momentum over the past few years, culminating in recognition as one of the top leaders in my city under 40, but that recognition has made me wonder 'now what?'  and worry about how i can improve and grow.  this should be a time where i am able to focus on opportunity, but sometimes having too many choices can be equally overwhelming as not having enough.  i am not complaining, just working through the kinks.  in doing so, i really hope a pathway emerges towards a goal...

then again, i feel like i have been saying that months on end!

5 - lay a nest egg to accompany my nest.  doing well!  i also overcame a slight panic about my corporate taxes and how much i owed the government by talking with my accountant this past month.  i am in good shape and set for the upcoming fiscal year.  even if i have spent the better part of my afternoon at work looking up cheap beach vacation packages!

6 - eat more balanced, regular meals. two months running for a fat goose egg!  i have been cooking more regularly at home and whipping up some delicious meals.  after spending a hung over sunday afternoon watching anthony bourdaine's cooking show where he taught his viewership how to make a delightful beef bourguinon, i decided to try my own hand at the classic french dish.  at 10pm.  on a tuesday. 

everything was going well until i was frying the pearl onions in butter and oil on my stove (it was 11:15pm by this point) and my smoke alarm went off!  which means it does not just go off in my own building, but in the three buildings in my townhouse complex!!  meaning that everyone had to either put up with the high pitched screeching that the alarm makes or wait out in the -10 degree cold while we waited for the firefighters to come and reset the alarm!!!

except for me, who hid in my house and thought it best that i clean up my entire kitchen, put my cook book away, take off my apron, and make a feeble attempt to hide all evidence that it was me who was cooking at 11pm!

but, perhaps arrogantly, i did not turn the bourguinon off as to not interrupt its delicious cooking process in the oven.  and it truly was a delight when it was done cooking.  and after the smoke alarm went off.

7 - sleep an appropriate amount. during periods of intense anxiety, one of my coping mechanisms (healthy or not) is to sleep.  and then sleep some more.  i know it helps my mind turn off for awhile, but it certainly gets in the way of actual real, wakeful life when you sleep for 12 hours in a day.  as my mood has improved, so has my sleeping schedule and i have intentionally scheduled a lot more down time during the month of december to make sure i am not overworked or overburdened with too many social or professional commitments.

8 - maintain my priorities.  as i just mentioned, i have made a mindful decision not to book myself up too much this month and it has resulted in a happier, more balanced me.  i am still not totally sure what my priorities would be if i listed them or what order they would appear, but simply having ME at the top has been good for my spirit.  i think this is something i will need to spend more time on in the new year and it will likely have a positive impact on goals 1 and 4 as well.

9 - keep asking for what i want.  i recently asked to go to a training on working with the aboriginal community in canada that was approved (and paid for!) at work (but since postponed until the new year).  i suspected raising my hand at work will be necessary and beneficial for me in the coming months, but i am going to make sure i am asking for the work that i want to do and am interested in.
i have also asked for a reorganisation in my non-profit work.  the outcome of this restructuring could mean that i can take a step back by hiring someone who will work under me and take care of administrative tasks to free my time for higher level discussions, relationship building, and capacity building.  and that will all be good.
i also made a christmas list!  and it includes sparkling water because that stuff is heavy, yo!  and i struggle to carry it home from the grocery store.  it is so delicious and one of my guilty pleasures (along with cooking beef bourguinon late at night!)