“Il n’y a de génie sans un grain de folie.”
“Il n’y a de génie sans un grain de folie.”
“If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?”
Steve Jobs, Stanford University Commencement Address, 2005.[*1]
[Imperfect action is better than perfect inaction]
[*1] You can read the full transcript or watch the 2005 Stanford University Commencement Address, Steve Jobs, 2005.
If you were waiting for the opportune moment, that was it.
Captain Jack Sparrow, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, 2003.
Only a few minutes had gone by since I regained consciousness, but they sure felt like hours! Unable to move my body without much hindrance in this hazy state, the best I could do was alternating between sitting upright and leaning forward, an exercise routine fit for toddlers. Fortunately, this did not prevent the medical attendant from checking my vitals and eventually whispering “so far so good” as she disappeared.
As though part of a relay, another silhouette immediately appeared through the same door:
– “Szia Erzsi! Hogy vagy?”
(Hello R-G! How are you?)
– “Jól vagyok… Gondolom… Es té?”
(I am well… I hope… And you?)
– Örülök, hogy itt vagy! Hol van… ?”
(Glad you are here! Where is… ?)
– “Itt vagyok!”
(I am here!)
Replied a second silhouette right behind him
– “I see you still enjoy telling stories.” joked my mate in his distinct Hungro-Bostonian accent
– “Some things never change.”
Enlivened by their presence, I put a halt to my whimsical gymnastics and listened attentively while they spoke to each other in Magyar, oft catching a comprehensible word: Something about someone not being ready yet for something else.
– “Don’t let us distract. Please resume your narrative.”
– “Are you sure you would rather not discuss anything else right now?”
– “Ecclesiastes 3:1”
– “Point taken! Nevertheless, I highly doubt that I have anything new to share.”
– “Oh please”, he retorted, “says the person who known to e-narrate her dreams at 3 in the morning! Weird dreams, I might add.”
– “They might seem weird to you perhaps, but to me, they were pretty normal. I like to think of them as uncorrupted reflection of my current state of mind: hope, joy, fear, sadness, you name it! They also represent my most profound wishes, and are more often than not a wonderful compendium of my personal memories, whether positive or negative.”
In fact, I recall waking up on the anniversary of the disappearance of flight MH370, with a somber feeling that humanity had moved on too fast, just as it did after the levees broke. Both events were major disasters which we promised ourselves to commemorate and lean from. I am afraid we did not live up to that promise.”
– “You are such a cynic sometimes! There is always hope. It is not as if we are on the path to WWIII!”
“Tant qu’il ya de la vie, il y a de l’espoir.”
– “I truly appreciate your attempt to suage my brood, but truth be told, when studying history, I have have always been flabbergasted by how quickly we forgot valuable lessons and returned to our old ways.”
– “We do that a lot, yes, but also change our ways in some form or fashion in order to evolve. Do not ignore that fact that we are constantly innovating!”
– “Touchée ! I must admit this is what truly drives us: The innate desire for a change.”
This is what made it so exciting to be part of an group of creative and talented guests at the annual celebration of International Women’s Day by Google’s Women TechMakers, with the WatchFace CodeLab being the highlight of my day.
The viridity of this board is something that I have always found quite exhilarating: Who knew when it was founded three years ago that so much would be accomplished by now?
There is plenty to do, but I am confident that the newly elected council members will continue to dazzle us. Why else would I not think twice when decided not to go for a second term, but instead, seek new opportunities aimed to move my earthly journey forward? For example, I could serve as some sort of unofficial ambassador, now that I was become more and more involved with the Campus Recruiting team at work.
I ought to point out that this was not the only new endeavour that I decided to undertake that month. As a matter of fact, I joined l’Union des Français à l’Étranger (UFÉ) and frequently attending the monthly dinner-conferences hosted by the NYC chapter at various Manhattan bistros. What I liked the most about l’UFÉ, when compared to Polyglot Bar NYC, are the deep intellectual conversations in which the guests partake, reminiscent of La Table Française in Auburn-Opelika.
I was very happy to have finally found an outlet for discussing many of the books that I recently borrowed from the FI:AF library, notably a brilliant mute story entitled “3 Secondes“[*1]
I love stories. I love to read. I love books. I really love books. My life is perpetually re-shaped by the wisdom many of them unveil.
Which books have touched you the most and why?
There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”
This is Water, David Foster Wallace, Kenyon Commencement Address, 2005.[*1]
– “Have some water”, I heard coming from a silhouette in green overalls.
– “Thank you nurse… Sorry, I meant Doctor… Sorry, I meant…” promptly cutting my reply mid-sentence, to prevent me from further embarrassing myself by assuming that simply because she was a woman wearing green scrubs implied that she was a nurse.
A least, my company found the whole situation hilarious as they could not hold themselves back.
“Shame on you!”, I said to myself. “If anyone has walked in these shoes, it would be you!”. As sad as it sounds, this statement was quite accurate, even three quinquennia into the twenty-first century: Women still face prejudice at work and at home, and must constantly prove themselves, due to different expectations from each gender. As a illustration, allow me to go down memory lane and provide you with a snippet my reality:
– “Attends, je te passe Tonton”
– “Mais, Ma’a, tu m’as demandé de t’appeller urgemment.”
– “Oui, c’est lui qui a quelque chose à te dire.”
– “Alors, la petite ! Je serai chez toi à la fin du mois, pour une semaine.”
– “Superbe ! Habilles-toi chaudement. On anticipate une chute jusqu’à moins dix-sept ce mois.”
– “C’est noté!”
Mixed emotions overcame me: Although I was excited to find out that I will see one of my [then] favourite uncles after over decade away from home, I could not help but picture Dad in the background, fighting the urge to share a piece of his mind. The conversation was short and sweet, since we all knew that we could easily catch-up later, via VoIP calls, text, e-mail, and social networking sites, instead of snail mail as in the past. One more reason to appreciate technological advances!
I almost rescinded that praise to technology a few days later when receiving an unexpected phone call:
– “Quoi ?! Il est en chemin ? Mais nous ne sommes qu’au début du mois ! Quel est son numéro de vol Ma’a ?”
– “Je ne sais pas.”
– “Le nom de la compagnie aérienne au moins ?”
– “Tata et moi ne le savons pas non plus, mais son vol atterira à JFK dans l’après-midi.”
After several online searches and a few phone calls, my older brother helped me narrow it down the next day to three possible flights. I hurriedly took the afternoon off and rushed to JFK, a risky move as my current task was scheduled in production a few weeks later. The next day, I found myself having to work from home so that we could go Winter gear shopping during my “lunch break”, as someone did not heed my warning regarding the extreme temperatures. Any free time I had was spent cooking meals, baking some “Galettes Bretonnes” (recipe coming soon), cleaning, doing the laundry, grocery shopping, and taking [less and less] violin lessons with Sam. I even managed to teach my uncle valuable lesson: Despite having walked this Earth for over half a century, it was not too late to learn how to do the dishes! My workdays were cut short to give us a chance to visit touristic attractions, or to meet with friends from the Young Adults community in which I am an active member, as a matter of fact, one of the leaders, at least for a couple of years. I have learned so much from the team!
A few days later, I found myself devouring a few chapters of “Mercy“[*2] while riding the 4:40 AM train to Washington D.C., thus giving myself a mental break from the Compliance-driven meta-writer hook design on which I was working. No Java, Spring, XSDs, XPath, MQs, Sybase, DB2, etc. for a few hours. Upon my arrival, my errand at the consulate was half-impeded by a snowstorm which paralyzed the city. A blizzard welcomed me in 2011, and a heat wave in 2013. Now this during my third visit to the nation’s capital?!
I was glad to have booked my return trip for the same evening, although this is was not the original plan: Someone had to cook dinner, prep the next day’s meal, and work items. I was wilting after two weeks of only averaging four to five hours of sleep – which would have been worse had I owned a television – I finally confronted my preacher uncle so that he would communicate the details of the next leg of his journey across the U.S. I was shocked to find out that not only was he expecting me to select a date for him, but also to purchase a ticket at the airport. This was one of those rare moments during which I wished I could curse, but why stoop to vulgarities with such a rich polyglot vocabulary?
“Let me book your flight and ground transportation online right now. How does overmorrow sound?” I asked impatiently, while selecting a one-way flight to Atlanta and sending a “half-day off” notification to my team for that day.
Fully aware that I would miss him, I could sure do without his daily sermons and conspiracy theories. Besides, I was over-committed, having signed up for the Winter Kickoff social, the quarterly Banquet for the Hungry and Homeless, and Retreat. Not to mention having to juggle between managing the UAT in the Americas for our upcoming global software release, while being the production issue escalation point person. I must admit that I enjoy what I do immensely and am quite good at it. In fact, from a coding stand-point, I nicknamed myself “The Magician” (I make magic happen through code), and from a support perspective, I liked to joke that I am “a serial bug profiler“, pun on Criminal Minds.
I cannot wait for the retreat, I murmured to no one in particular, while the cab driver took us to LaGuardia. Once we managed to consolidate his carry-on under the watchful eye of a fairly strict TSA agent, we exchanged half-sincere farewells, knowing full well that he would most likely be back for a few days before his return trip home. Walking towards to the M60 SBS stop, I recalled that my cousin in Toronto had been attempting to reach me by phone for the past couple of days.
– “Ça va ?”
– “Ouais. Je m’inquiétais déjà !”
“I was starting to worry!”
– “Qu’il y a-t-il ?”
“What is going on?”
– J’ai besoin que tu confirmes ton adresse, pour Maman, avant que son vol ne décolle ce soir. Elle compte passer quelques jours chez toi. Allô ! T’es encore là ?”
“I need to confirm your address, for Mum, before her flight takes off tonight. She plans to stay at your place for a few days. Allo! Are you still there?“
“What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”
Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg, 2013.
“Long, long time ago”, I said jokingly until my train of thought was interrupted by snickers in the group, amused by someone humming the theme song of El Laberinto del Fauno [*1].
– “Na’a nga bo na’a”
– “Hmmm-Hmmm” they replied in unison, surprising me with their intimate knowledge of traditional Bulu story-telling routines, despite us being far far away from an equatorial village’s campfire.
– “Kulu a nto, kulu a nto, bekalate be nga ku yôp” [*2], I said in an attempt to counter the serious mood that was suddenly prevailing. I knew my effort was not vain when I heard a few chuckles.
“Sure, our worlds collided once upon a time”, I resumed while imitating Bill Nye‘s inaudible asteroid collision motion with my hands [*3], “but it does not mean that nothing significant preceded the first encounter with Mr. Christmas”.
As an illustration, 2015 started on an intriguing footing via a fabulous New Year’s celebration with friends which took me to Hoboken for the first time (fourth time in New Jersey overall, even though I moved to NYC three years prior). A couple of weeks later, I found myself attending a “Boardwalk Empire“-theme cocktail party at Corey & Jason‘s (disclaimer: I have never seen the show, but plan to at some point). Can you believe five years had gone by since Corey and I first met as roommates in Atlanta at #GHC10?
This short trip not only gave me the opportunity to re-visit one of my favourite cities [*4], but also to meet interesting members of the Philly tech scene. Many of them are part of the Android universe, which inspired me to recommence my ubiquitous computing endeavours, notably a cross-platform educational mobile suite to aid those interested in learning to speak and/or sing in Bulu.
One of the most memorable moments of this fun geeky social event was receiving Sean Sill‘s business card, which definitely earned the one of the “coolest and most creative designs” award in my book!
I chose to approach that budding year as a new chapter in my life, and put a lot more thoughts than ever before into drafting my resolutions: It was finally time to face my deepest fear.
What is your deepest fear?
[*1] El Laberinto del Fauno (“Pan’s Labyrinth”), Guillermo del Toro, 2006.
[*2] This Bulu sentence can be loosely translated as: “The turtle was minding its own then books fell from the sky.”
This is an inside joke in my family, which started when we all fell asleep in the middle of our grand-father’s story-telling.
[*3] Want to learn more about astronomy? Check out “Crash Course on Astronomy” (thanks for the recommendation, Anu @ Wordsmith.org).
[*4] See previous posts: Couchsurfing & Green Markets.
Whenever I meet someone new, I like to learn more about who they are by asking them what they are passionate about.
So, Rose-Gaëlle, what is your story?
I woke up gasping for air. The intense light hurt my eyes, a dead giveaway that I was most likely in an un-acquainted place.
I attempted to find by bearings while awaiting the bizarre fog to gradually vanish.
So far, all I could make out was a room as pearly as Central Park in the middle of stormaggadon.
The constant beeping nearby was starting to drive me nuts. “Wait a minute”, I thought to myself, “non-smart electronics near me? Please tell me they have a motion sensor, a multi-touch interface, or are voice-activated.”
I sat upright on a bed so uncomfortable that it made me miss the yoga mat on which the recent Grad that I was slept for months after moving to New York City, as fastidious in my furniture purchase as Steve Jobs.
My breathing pattern now steady, I could slowly shift focus to my blurred vision, which had curiously still not recovered.
My rampant thoughts resumed, as though aimed to distract me from this troublesome situation: “A freezing cold white room, repleted with noisy appliances, and a grievous bed. I must be in…”
– “Elle s’est réveillée !” shouted a sweet and effusive feminine voice. Several footsteps promptly chimed in, sounding closer and closer to me, and accompanied by equally rowdy voices.
For reasons unbeknownst to me to this day, the first sentence I uttered despite the brouhaha was:
– “Où est Monsieur Noël ?”
– “You don’t remember, do you?”, asked a familiar masculine voice in English.
– “Of course I remember last seeing Mr. Christmas!”, I vehemently replied, “My mind is clearer than the tropical sky after a storm.”, I added, proudly translating a quote from one of my favourite childhood books. [*1]
“Shall I start from the beginning?”
[*1] Le Pont de la Rivière Kwaï, Pierre Boulle, 1952.
PART I: DEAR MR. CHRISTMAS: HAJIMEMASTE
|||Un Nouveau Chapitre||A New Chapter|
|||Quand la Réalité Nous Rattrape||When Reality Sinks In|
|||Le Paradoxe du Choix||The Paradox of Choice|
|||Un Grain de Folie||Shenanigans|
|||Au Carrefour de la Vie||Crossroads|
|||L’Impossible n’est Rien||Impossible is Nothing|
|||À Nous le Relais||#OurTimeToLead|
PART II: DEAR MR. CHRISTMAS: THIS TOO SHALL PASS (CELA AUSSI PASSERA)
|||Lève-toi et Marche !||A New Chapter|
|||Connais-Toi Toi-Même||Know Thyself|
|||Un Éléphant Blanc en Guise d’Opportunité||A White Elephant Opportunity|
|||On ne fait pas d’omelette sans casser des œufs||You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs|
|||La Femme Cybernétique de Vitruve||The Cybernetic Vitruvian Woman|
|||Expériences Magiques||Magical Experiences|
|||Cher Monsieur Pâques||Dear Mr. Easter|
|||Terre du Milieu||Middle Earth|
“It’s very easy to be different, but very difficult to be better.”
Jony Ive, Apple Designer Chief
Okay, sister, you can finally stop asking me about my “secret” vanilla cake recipe: I accidentally discovered it on a baking site years ago and really liked the background story
(the person who posted it described it as a note which was in her/his son’s backpack, as he returned from school).
Long story short, I followed the recipe and it turned out to be AMAZING!!!
* Keep the butter & eggs at room temperature for 30-120 minutes
* Sift the baking powder
* Sift the flour & add the salt and baking powder
* Separate the egg whites & yolks
* Beat the egg whites (until you achieve a snow-like texture)
1. Mix the sugar & butter, mix until the colour starts to change
2. Add the egg yolks
3. Add the vanilla extract
4. Add the milk
5. Gradually add half of the flour mix, then half of the beaten egg whites
6. Add the rest of the flour & egg whites
* Cupcake – 10 to 15 minutes
* Cake – 45 to 75 minutes, depending on the oven & baking dish size
* Feel free to halve or double this recipe, it still turns out quite well. 😉
Re-organize this page.
Happy now sis’? May I finally enjoy the comfort my warm bed after this fun day in Samford, Connecticut?
@ToDo: Post full recipe with pix
Which was in turn adapted from:
My take on it:
* Bread flour (unbleached multi-purpose flour)
* 1 less tablespoon of olive oil
* Sauté two whole garlic cloves in the olive oil
* Add 1 tablespoon of “roasted seaweed coated with wasabi”
* Add fresh rosemary & thyme
Shrek: For your information, there’s a lot more to ogres than people think.
Shrek: Example… uh… ogres are like onions!
[holds up an onion, which Donkey sniffs]
Donkey: They stink?
Shrek: Yes… No!
Donkey: Oh, they make you cry?
Donkey: Oh, you leave ’em out in the sun, they get all brown, start sproutin’ little white hairs…
Shrek: [peels an onion] NO! Layers. Onions have layers. Ogres have layers… You get it? We both have layers.
I immensely enjoyed visiting Philly after three and half years, although I have to admit it was a lot colder than I expected. Ha! Ha! Philly was chilly, get it?
Okay, I will stop goofing around…
Among the many places I enjoyed – City Hall, National Mechanics @NatMechanics), etc. – I have always been passionate about the Redding Terminal Market.
I am not your typical tourist that follows a map and sticks to a pre-arranged schedule. Don’t get me wrong, that part is fun, but the true excitement comes from getting off the beatten path. By that I mean, finding ways to experience life as enjoyed by the locals.
What better way to do so than through immersion at a local market place while enjoying a great dish, beverage, or snack at the same time???
Here is the list of some of the markets I hope to cross out over the years: