Thursday, December 07, 2017

Our adulthood is predicated by how we are as an infant?

Is the crying pattern the first glimpse in a child's psychology?

At my six weeks post delivery, the OB was running behind schedule, a mom and her little one were ahead of me.  Mom looked like she was in her late twenties, and her little one two months old.  The little one was sitting quietly in her car seat observing her surrounding.  I imagined my own in the same situation, and quickly stopped myself, before drawing any parallels -no two infants are the same, I had read, and heard.

We started comparing notes on our babies cues in particular those for hunger.  It could not have been any more different.

There are numerous articles on the net providing insight into decoding babies' cry.  I have bookmarked this article on Mayo Clinic site for reference.  All children cry, but some cry more often and settle down slower than others.

While the LO from my OB office visit, announces her hunger with a whimper, mine cries loudly.  We didn't get a chance to compare cues for other matters, but I wonder if for most, if not all, my responses will be more pronounced than hers.

What does the difference in crying tell me about my child?  Should I assume all is going to be OK beyond these early stages of infancy, or take note and research further to become more proactive on what might await down the road?

Saturday, December 02, 2017

My experience and experiments with parenting

I have always been interested in human psychology, I never thought I'd have the opportunity to observe it hands on from infancy.

I got pregnant in my mid forties, spontaneous.  I wanted a child very much, and I had spent decades, since my mid twenties, thinking about it, and years trying to produce one.

Now that I have one of my own, in those early hours, when trying to get the burp out so that I can have a guilt free few hours sleep before the next feed, I wonder is there a wisdom in reduced ovarian reserve as women age.  Note that sperm count is seldom an issue, and I wonder this is because the woman is the more likely of two genders who would want to create a new life, and so the reduce ovarian is nature's implicit way of dissuade the attempt.

For the most part of my adult life, I have reflected on my thoughts in written form, in private.  In all my writings one thing was constant, by the time I reached the last sentence I resolved that thing that motivated me to write in the first place.  But as I take pleasure, in writing about my little one, I often find myself at loss of understanding.  That's why I am opening up in such public space, in the hope of insight, and wisdom from those with interest, and experience.

I wonder if I had my little one twenty years earlier maybe I would be more able to enjoy it as-is, as opposed to take such detailed and serious approach in every move my child makes or doesn't make.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Review: The Orphan's Master Son, by Adam Johnson

Except for a few in depth, personal observations that caught my attention, the rest of the story fell flat for me. Sure the story of, the orphan's master, Pak Jun Do; his rise, and fall through the political ranks of North Korean government, and his strength of character was quite something. Even if he was not an "orphan"; if there was a man and a woman who claimed him as their son, he would still be the "the property of", as this was "the ultimate perversion of the communist dream."

 There are two parts to this book.

In Part I, Pak Jun Do's life unfolds; from his days in the orphanage, his kidnapping stint with officer So, and then his days on the Junmo ship to finally being named the "hero of the state" he depicts strength of character, and integrity.

 In Part II the book evolves into a few intertwined timelines; all continuation of Jun Do's story but told by different sources, with slight but noticeable differences. Part II is long-winded. The story of the autobiographers of Division 42, working along side the North Korea's "Pubyok", is separate hinged to the main story with story of Jun Do; this on its own, however, tells of the lives of the "regular" citizens shaped by the state controlled propaganda machine, which counts their blessings and attributes these to the benevolence of the "Dear Leader", Kim Jong-il, daily.

 The most interesting part of the book is the contrast between the reality and reality of the government propaganda; which makes the distinct point that: "In North Korea you were not born, you were made." Given the book's disclaimer of "incidents and dialogue, ..." being "products of the author's imagination", the recount is nothing but a story, and should not shape the readers' perception of life in North Korea. Life in North Korea still remains a mystery.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Jon Montgomery, Canada Amazing Race Host, advice is ...

Jon Montgomery is the gold medal winner of skeleton race, 2010 Winter Olympics, as well as host of Amazing Race Canada show.  His advice on parenthood published as part of his interview with ParentsCanada is spot on.  I quote here for easy, and frequent access:

I feel sorry for the kids who won’t have another chance to learn some of these valuable life lessons while they are young; but, they’ll get their education one way or another. The consequences for being lazy, not working well with others, having poor sportsmanship, and never learning the value in losing will be astronomically higher if they learn these things later in life – because the laws that govern this world do not change simply because we feel children are too young to learn them.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

If we could improve the volunteer experience with the Engineer-in-Residence program --a personal recount

A successful program that has been running for years, Engineer In Residence, EIR, program was established to help "bridge the gap" that often exists between "real world and classroom theory".
The program places P.Eng and EITs in elementary and high schools across the province of Ontario. The volunteer EIR "brings real-life dimension to the curriculum, using hands on projects. presentations and other activities."

As a licensed engineer, when I received the "Call for Volunteers" email from PEO in April of 2016, the email text was similar to what I quoted, above, from the "About" page of Engineer-in-Residence program web site, I clicked on the embedded link and applied.

Although there's a lot of positive that goes with volunteering in general, and this volunteer program specifically (based on past participant anecdotes published on the web), I started with a low expectation.  I anticipated slow response to emails, lack of well defined process, and to summarize a program that relies on volunteers to be self-starters with limited, or no assistance.  Even with this assumption, I found myself at times confused, at best, and frustrated, at worst, with the way this program was run and issues were handled.  Below, I state three events that made me feel this way.  Since I want to be as objective as I can in my recount, in each scenario I state my expectation first and then describe my experience.

Notification of change:
My expectation:
A coordinator plays a key role, someone whose job's definition is to ensure an effective interface between the program participants and the program.  One would expect this role to be always filled, and in the event of a change, it would be broadcast to those who are sitting patiently on the other end of the communication waiting for the transition out of the old, and transition in of the new to complete.
My Experience:
After a month of working with a program coordinator, and close to a month of no communication, a broadcast email arrived from a new email.   The email didn't  say anything whether there has been a permanent change over, or whether this new person is stepping in for a bit.  I had a conversation thread going with the then coordinator, trying to set up a date to get the Police Check process started.  After a month long wait, the broadcast email from the new person, and its call-to-action was all that I received. It was confusing, but not something that breaks the camel's back.

Appointments and last minute change of plans:
My Expectation:
When one sets a meeting date a month in advance, the most probable outcome one expects is the meeting happens as planned.  But, there's a chance that something happens that inhibits one party to keep her/his promise.  So, the logical course of action is to reach out to the other person, and ensure the appointment is canceled and/or rescheduled.
My Experience:
I arrived in the office, after an hour long commute, only to find out the person I am meeting with is not there.  I checked the email to see if I had the day and/or time right, there I found a fresh email from the person I was meeting, at 10:30 am the same day saying, " something has come up and I am no longer available today."  I felt very frustrated. The email ended with "Sorry for the late notice,"  This didn't make me feel any better.  However, I thought, these are administrative mishaps, and qualify as minor impediments to a year long,  great experience of interacting with young, curious minds who are ready to be interested and engaged in engineering experiments.

Provide support when things are not going as planned:
My expectation:
When things are not going the way they are supposed to, I expect the experts to guide and/or course correct, the very least touch base with both the teacher and the volunteer.  Especially, if they are kept in the loop, by way of being cc'd on the email, and asked directly.
My Experience:
There was a day long training, in which participation for EIRs and Teachers were voluntary.  During this full day session however,  the participants were given an introduction to the program and tutorial on the format of it.  I learned at this session that Teachers and EIRs meet in the start of the school year, and collaborate on putting together the content to be presented to the class, they'd also come up with a mutual convenient schedule for the EIR to meet with the class.  When the feedback request email arrived end of November, I still had not had a face to face with the Teacher and not been to a classroom.  I had a series of missed call appointments, and infrequent email replies from the teacher to show for, with no concrete plan for future.  I could relate to the teacher having a busy start of the year.  But, I think by November we should have had the very least one face to face.  I wrote the EIR support team, consulted them on how I should proceed.  I received reply from one of the EIR Support Team members saying, keep emailing until you get through.  And that's the level of support I received in my first experience with the EIR program.  I was honestly thinking of giving up half way through.  But, then I thought where would that leave the kids.  In the spirit of making a difference, I kept at it.

We are counting down to the end of 2016-2017 school year.  I have not met the kids at the school I was assigned to even once.  But, I have met with the two teachers working together on this, twice, and have exchanged many emails with them.  These teachers are running numerous science projects for their kids, something I commend.  I don't know if much thought was given on how does running an EIR program for a full academic year fits the existing schedule. I think it was perceived as doable to accommodate alongside other running projects.  In any case, although I was not able to launch the EIR program as explained in the one day training, I was able to offer my services as a practicing Software Developer to one of the science projects these two teachers were running for their kids.  I developed for them four Salmon Ecosystem software projects/games to complement, and reinforce the learning of the science project the teachers are running for the kids this year.  The games simulate good, and bad ecosystems and follow their impact on salmons' survival. Although the games are written and ready to be deployed, the teachers have not had a chance to run through them with the kids.  There has been a lot of gaps and delays in our email communication. These delays has hindered the project progress.

This is my personal experience with the way Engineer-in-Residence program was run this year.   I am not returning to the program next year.  I think the program markets itself very well, but it lacks the characteristic of a well-run, organized program.
I am sharing this in an open forum, because I hope coordinators and participants of Engineer-in-Residence program and other similar programs can share their experience here when they come across it. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Zipcar's cancellation policy --occasional driving membership plan

I have been a Zipcar member since December of 2010.  Given I needed access to car, on average, once a month; I opted for Occasional Driving Membership plan.  In this schema, I paid a one time admin fee, and an annual fee.  Under this plan, I had the flexibility to rent as needed.

It worked well.

Life circumstances change, however. For us buying a hybrid car has made the convenience of being a member of car sharing program redundant.

I searched the Zipcar web site for membership cancellation information.  This is not mentioned under the "help".  But, type "cancellation" in the "Ask a question box", and you get

We're sorry to see you go!  To cancel your membership, please give us a call below.
Call 1-866-4ZIPCAR

I called today, and here is the scoop.  Two things should be in place for a full membership refund to occur:
  a.  No reservation should have been made, and used in the current membership year
  b.  Cancellation should occur less than 30 days after the membership renewal  date

So, I still enjoy carrying my Zipcar membership around, at least for a few more months!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Review: A Spool of Blue Thread, by Anne Tyler

The story is about a big family. We start reading about the Whitshanks in the present time, and then reading their parents', and finally their grand parents' stories. Yet with all the background information, which I should say the author has done a pretty good job of keeping concise, by the end of the book, the reason for the characters' behaviors and actions is somewhat left to personal interpretation.
Of all the characters in the book, I found Denny's, the son of Red Whitshanks, the most interesting. The book starts and ends with him, so I thought of him as the book's protagonist. His rebellious streak, despite all the attention he received from almost every member of his family, especially his mother, perplexed me. And it looked like he was the most angry with his mother. I kept thinking why? None of the events, not even, his mother lying to him to get him see a counselor justified his anger towards her. We see youth that turn out bad, despite their parents hard work to provide, educate, and guide. So, I guess I wanted to see the author's point of view of why Denny turned out to be so angry in spite of all he had going for him.