Saturday, October 06, 2012

"I live in the land of what's possible"

Nora Denzel, Technical Executive and Board Member, SABA and Overland, delivers the keynote speech at the 2012 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference in Baltimore, Maryland. This is an amazing and very inspiring talk by Nora Denzel. Filled with wit and insight, it will encourage any woman working in technology and those who are planning to do great things in life. She ended her talk with two quotes. Well, the first was hers; she declared that the top reason she's lasted so long in a technology career is because she's not afraid of every opportunity or challenge that comes her way, but because she "lives in the land of what's possible." She went on to share a quote that has been her guiding mantra from the start of her career and co-incidentally recently found out that it was by Grace Hopper. Grace Hopper said: "Ships in the port are safe, but that's not what ships are meant to do."

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Article: What I Know About Sisters Now That I'm in my 50s

And continuing the series in Huffington Post, here is another installment. This one exploring what the writer, Barbara Hannah Grufferman, has discovered about having a sister in her 50-something years.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Blog Find: Sporty Afros

New discovery!!!!!!

In the firestorm of "Oh no! She diin't"-type comments that ensued from disparaging comments made last week on Twitter about the US gymnast and gold medalist Gabby Douglas, I discovered the blog Sporty Afros.

The tagline says it all: Where sports and hair collide.

Sporty Afros’ mission is to establish a social platform for fitness and effective hair care for black women.

Sporty Afros seeks to be a one stop shop for questions, discussions, tips and answers about living an active lifestyle in conjunction with establishing and maintaining healthy hair regimens.

My new plan is to stay off the extension braids and pay more attention to my hair. I read a post on Black Girl Long Hair a couple of months ago, which highlighted some important reasons to limit our use of extensions.

Key among them was that we tend to neglect our hair when it's in braids. However, braids or not, weaves or not, our hair still needs to be washed, conditioned and moisturised - steps that are all too easy to neglect when we have extensions in.

However, if you exercise regularly and sweat, you'll be confronted with the question of how to look good while working out and even more importantly after you work out.

Sporty Afros addresses these concerns and more. Although I don't remember seeing any explicit statements that the hair care tips were for natural hair, the "afros" in the name seems to imply this.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Now On! The 5th W.TEC Girls Technology Camp

What a long way W.TEC has come.....

On Friday, we received our latest batch of girls for this year's Technology Camp.

The W.TEC Girls Technology Camp is an initiative aimed at helping secondary school students develop technology literacy skills and gain an awareness of career options related to technology, science and engineering. The long-term goal is to increase the numbers of women working with and using information technology productively for professional and leadership activities.

During the camp, the girls participate in technology workshops and leadership activities. Evaluations of previous camps show enhanced leadership skills; creativity; and problem-solving and communication abilities in the girls as a result of attending the camp.

The camp's uniqueness lies in it's girls-only design. The camp is also a residential programme and for the 2-week duration of the camp, 30 girls live and learn about the exciting opportunities that information technology presents for learning, working and living in the 21st century.

Stay tuned for updates from the camp and check out photographs from last year's camp.

Anita Borg Change Agent Award Winners Announced

The Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology today announced the winners of the Change Agent awards. The winners will be be honored at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing later this year.

Anita Borg Change Agent Awards: Dr. Ramalatha Marimuthu, Professor and Head of Department, Kumaraguru College of Technology; Maria Dubovitskaya, pre-doctoral researcher at IBM Research - Zurich and Ph.D. candidate at ETH Zurich; and Evelyn Namara, Program Coordinator at Solar Sister.

I won the Change Agent award in 2009 and it was a wonderful honour and gave me the opportunity to attend the Grace Hopper Celebration for Women in Computing, which was an exciting and encouraging event for any technical or aspiring technical woman.

The other award announced include the Anita Borg Social Impact Award, which goes to Cathi Rodgveller, Founder and coordinator of IGNITE (Inspiring Girls Now In Technology Evolution) and Nontraditional Career Counselor at Seattle Public Schools.

I had the pleasure to speak at a program organised by the Nigerian chapter of IGNITE. The importance of female mentors cannot be over-emphasised and this meet-up with girls from selected secondary schools confirmed this. The other speaker and I were bombarded with questions.

Visit the Anita Borg website to learn about the other award winners.

The Anita Borg Institute seeks to: 1.) Increase the impact of women on all aspects of technology, and 2.) Increase the positive impact of technology on the world’s women.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Sis

I was recently reminded by a friend of this post of mine from 2006, which I wrote in commemoration of International Women's Day.

In it, I talked about how much I respected my sister and what I had learned (and was still learning) from her (see the last but one paragraph). Sigh. I miss her so much. I can hardly believe that she is gone and in a way that could have been prevented. I can't let myself be burnt out by anger (although I have been through that phase and it still re-surfaces).

Many people have said that time will heal the pain. Others have reminded me that God is the ultimate comforter, while some others have told me that it is important to talk about her and keep her memory alive as much as I'm comfortable with. I look forward to the pain lessening over time. I look forward to a time when I can think of her, things she said, her mannerisms and still smile through it.

People have told me that in time I might struggle to even remember what she looked like or her voice. Oh my goodness, I hope not!

There is so much to celebrate about her short-yet-purposeful life. She wasted no time on things that did not appeal to her or which she thought would add no value to her life. She was driven to make our bookshop a success and was diligent in documenting processes and transactions.

And when I think about it, the way she lived is really the best way to live. Our time on this earth is a finite resource (despite how it might seem right now) and you don't want to fritter it unduly. You don't want to waste precious hours in activities that you neither enjoy or which serve no purpose to your over-arching goals just for the sake of 'being nice.' It's not to say that you don't have fun or put yourself out for others sometimes, but keep your eye on what really matters - the big picture.

My sister had a vision statement for her life, which I came across this week. Again, I was struck by how determined she was to make the most of her life. I have no written vision statement for my life, although I do have some clear ideas of how I want to live this life of mine.

So now, although the loss of my sister is easily the most devastating experience of my life, it cannot have happened to no avail. This is a very painful reminder to me to live for what's important: God, serving Him, making time for family and friends, pursuing my interests, among others. I'm going to try to articulate this in the form of a vision statement for my life. I'm going to be more mindful of how I spend my time and especially not think that things will fall apart in the office if I don't spend all my hours working. So many thoughts have run through my mind over this last few weeks about what I should do more of or less of.

Most importantly - for now, I will allow myself all the time I need to grieve and not be too bothered by those who tell me not to cry or to "be strong" or "be strong for my parents." We all need to support each other now. And we all need time to heal.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Transition


The filmmaker Zina Saro-Wiwa presents an Op-Doc on black women’s decision to embrace their naturally kinky hair, rather than use chemical straighteners. She discusses in this article why she chose to appear in the documentary.
Source: New York Times website

Thursday, May 31, 2012

A New Day

Quite literally - as it's 2.10AM.

However, for Ore's Notes, it is a break from the past in a MAJOR way: I have finally updated the look of the blog.

I believe my blog has been thus far remarkable, among many others, for the constancy if its look. And for a long, long time I just really liked my old look. But there does get to a point when you crave something different. And that time came for me at least 2 years ago. However, when I thought about losing all the tweaks I had made to my old template, I stopped right there.

Eventually though, my itch for a fresh look won out and I started experimenting with new templates. In the course of doing that, I discovered that Blogger has some very cool dynamic templates, however these did not show up in my Blackberry and stats, as well as casual observation indicates that more people's online activities are via a mobile device.

This will be just the start of an evolving look, but for now, it's amazing what a difference a new template makes. All of a sudden, I feel more excited just visiting my blog.

And when I look at my previous blog designs (courtesy of the very cool Wayback Machine), I realise how long I've been around.


Ore's Notes (2006)



Ore's Notes (2011)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Black Women Swim



If you love to swim and you're on Facebook (how could you not be?), check out this page: Black Women Swim.

You'll find links to resources and plenty of advice and encouragement for black women who swim. What I found most impressive about Siana C's page are the tips she shares for women with natural hair who swim. Dealing with hair is an oft-cited reason by many black women for not swimming. And it's honestly no better among women with natural hair. Well, Siana not only wear her hair naturally, but she has a lot of it. So what's anyone's excuse?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Best Job | P&G London 2012 Olympic Games Film

Procter & Gamble has a wonderful new advert celebrating mothers and especially the hard work that Mums do that leads to Olympic athletes. Source: www.youtube.com/watch?v=NScs_qX2Okk

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Black Women Swimming (or Not!)

I know very few people who can swim. For women who can't swim, there's always the running joke that it's due to the fear of messing up our hair.

Now, I just read a New York Times article that talks about studies that showed that "many Africans were avid swimmers when they were brought over as slaves", however "most slaves born in the United States were not allowed to learn to swim because it was a means of escape. That created generations of nonswimmers and spawned the myth that African-Americans could not swim." Imagine that!

Segregation, in the following years, compounded the problem because it meant that blacks were kept out of many pools and beaches.

In Nigeria, this cannot be the reasons that there are relatively few swimmers. Knowing how to swim requires having someone to teach you and ready access to swimmable bodies of water. And when you can't swim, you can't teach your children how to either. When you have fears about swimming, you tend to pass these on to your children.

It's important to learn to swim, as it could potentially save your life one day.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Art Show @ Nimbus Gallery (Starts May 18)

I remember when I first moved back and was often parched for something fun and artsy to do over the weekend. Well, how things have changed. This weekend is shaping up quite nicely.

Here's something else for you art lovers out there.

12 artists of the new firebrand group will exhibit and show a documentary film on Yusuf Grillo, David Dale, Nike Okundaye, JD Ojeikere.

Opening: Friday, May 18
Venue: Nimbus Art Gallery
Time: 5PM

Exhibiting Artists: Agbezin Dele George, Akintoye Segun Shiigo, Arueya Joel, Bob-Nosa Nwagboe, Dimkpa Sunday, babalola Lawson, Lucky Isaiah, Linda Adeniyi, Muyiwa Owoeye-Wise, Omede Marvin, Abayomi Sokenu, Tina Adebowale

NAIJ: A History of Nigeria

I saw this docu-film NAIJ: A History of Nigeria this evening at the LifeHouse.

The 2007 film by director Jide Olanrewaju, tells the story of Nigeria through its tumultuous transition from British Colony to Oil State. Using a combination of rarely seen archive footage, historical papers and interviews, the film attempts to explain how Nigeria has developed into the country it is today while shining a light on some of the individuals whose actions have helped shape the nation.

Whether you agree with the views of the director as presented in this film, you will relish the video, audio and newspaper footage shown in the film. It was a revelation for me to hear the voices of Tafawa Balewa and to learn how Anglicised he sounded. And indeed most of the early political leaders spoke in very polished tones. It was interesting to see how this changed over the years.

The director Jide is not a professional film-maker nor has any formal training. He made this film on his home computer over a period of 2 years. Working as an investment banker in mergers & acquisitions, his typical work day ended at 2am, after which he would return home and spend an hour on the film.

I was stunned to learn of his dedication to this and made me realise that, if you're sufficiently motivated, you can do anything.

This is a trailer for the film.

I'm not sure how you can get to see the whole film, but I commented at the Q&A that many Nigerians need to see it.

Read posts on Naij: - My Random Thoughts - Afrogreek

Keziah Jones Live at the Jazzhole

Keziah Jones & the African Anarchist Corporation presents Uncle Fem’s Long Grain Funk – Live at the Jazzhole
in “an evening of theatre, music, digital manipulations and audience interactivity curated by Keziah Jones”

Date: Sunday 20th May 2012
Time: 4-6PM (prompt)
Fee: N 3,500
Venue: Jazzhole, 168 Awolowo Road, Ikoyi

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Concert at Jazzhole (Sunday, May 13 2012)

Jazzhole presents a concert featuring bass player Wole Adamolekun and the Dynamic Quartet. Date: Sunday, May 13 2012 Time: 4- 6PM (prompt) Venue: Jazzhole, 168 Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Book Reading: Bobo Omotayo at Patabah Books, Surulere (Sat. May 5, 2012)

You're invited to a book reading at Patabah Books. See below for details. Bobo Omotayo, author of "London Life Lagos Living" will be reading excerpts from his book at our store!
London Life, Lagos Living is an exciting collection of short stories inspired by the author’s adventures through work, love, and play. The author Bobo Omotayo has contributed as a columnist and freelance writer to several print and online newspapers and magazines including The Guardian, NEXT, Business Day, TW, and BellaNaija.com.
Venue: Shop B18, Adeniran Ogunsanya Shopping Mall (Shoprite), Adeniran Ogunsanya Street, Surulere, Lagos.
Date: Saturday, 5th May, 2012.
Time: 3-5pm We look forward to seeing you there.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Lagos Museum Hosts All Female Art Exhibition

From the Guardian: The 5th International All Female Art Exhibition tagged Colours and Creativity, showcasing painting, sculptor, textile and leather designs will run from May 5 - 16 at the exhibition hall of the National Museum, Onikan, Lagos. There will be a roundtable discussion on May 9 dwelling on topics such as Risk Management and Insurance for Creatives, which will be coordinated by Development Initiatives Network and The Woman and Her Creativity: Cooperation or Conflict by Juliet Ezenwa-Pierce.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Girls in ICT Day in Nigeria

For the first time, Nigeria celebrates International Girls in ICT Day today April 26. The International Girls in ICT Day is celebrated on each fourth Thursday in April, when girls will have the possibility to get themselves acquainted with the opportunities for education and work in the ICT field. The objective is to make ICT familiar to girls, and to present to them the jobs within this sector, as well as to motivate them to opt for a career related to these technologies. International Girls' Day is an initiative launched through Resolution 70 (Guadalajara) by the International Telecommunications Union with the idea creating a global environment that will empower and encourage girls and young women to consider careers in the field of information and communication technologies. Activities in Nigeria include:
  • A week-long Technology Camp hosted by Women's Technology Empowerment Centre - W.TEC in Lagos (April 23 - 27)
  • A 1-day Girls Day celebration hosted by eBusiness magazine at Golden Gate, Kingsway Road, Ikoyi, Lagos (April 26, 10am - 2pm)
  • An ICT eContest organised by Women in Technology in Nigeria - WITIN (April 26 - August 31)
Learn more Nigeria's Girls in ICT Day celebrations. Meanwhile enjoy this video put together by Facebook to encourage more women into technology careers.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Gives Commonwealth Lecture 2012

The author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was selected to give the 2012 Commonwealth Lecture. She shares her thoughts on many things, including her influences, the power books have had in her life, what propelled her to write Half of a Yellow Sun, and Africa as depicted in literature. Start watching from the 10.00 point.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Visiting Bruce Onobrakpeya

On Saturday, I had the pleasure of visiting the home of the artist Bruce Onobrakpeya. He has been called a "national treasure." A walk through his home gives a little glimpse why. As you walk through the gate, you are greeted with installation pieces. The flight of steps that rises from the ante room is covered in oil paintings, water colours, plastographs and installation work.

Upstairs is his work room and out of the turmoil emerges the beautiful work that I saw everywhere. His work is notable for its diversity. He is not an artist who works within one particular medium. He experiments and learns from other artists, including from his students. These influences are evident in a myriad of ways from the materials he chooses to use, from the way he presents the work.

Photo Credit: Ore's Notes
The stairwell in the Onobrakpeya house. It took me at least 15 minutes to move up one flight of steps.

Photo Credit: Ore's Notes
Inside the artist's workshop.

Photo Credit: Ore's Notes
Work in progress.

Photo Credit: Ore's Notes
The artist talks about this installation piece, created in celebration for Nigeria's 50th year of independence.

Photo Credit: Ore's Notes
Bruce Onabrakpeya uses all kinds of materials - including lace fabric - in his work. Waste not. Want not.

Photo Credit: Ore's Notes
Full view of the 50th independence installation piece.

Photo Credit: Ore's Notes
The artist signs one of his paintings.

The Bruce Onobrakpeya Foundation organises the Harmattan Workshop for artists, which is supported by the Ford Foundation amongst other funders.

Do you want to support a worthy cause? Then think about the Bruce Onabrakpeya Foundation.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Tayari Jones - Coming Soon


One of my favourite writers is Tayari Jones and I love her work for her bold storylines. Not for her, the perfect lead character. Neither does she go in the opposite direction with completely unlikeable characters. No, her characters are complex and multi-layered. In short, they are as human as you or I.

The first book of hers I read was The Untelling. I read it several years ago and the main character, Aria stayed with me for a long time afterwards. I can't say much about it without giving major parts of the plot away, but I will say that something Aria did not say (an impression she does not 'untell') caused her to drift into a situation that spun faster and wider than she could have imagined.

Tayari is fearless in creating fully-fleshed characters who sometimes make horrible decisions. You - the reader - know already that the end will not be a good one for the character. But they are like that friend who knows the right thing to do but chooses a different path. You can smell the very likely dangers on the horizon, but you can't do much to stop it.

Tayari is equally as bodacious in her third and most recent novel Silver Sparrow, where she explores the subject bigamy. I admire that the themes of her novels are as different from each other as can be - child murders, infertility, bigamy - and yet each uses these subjects as vehicles to explore our desires and weaknesses as human beings.

I follow Tayari's blog, Facebook and Twitter accounts and I'm constantly astonished at how she can produce such a prodigious amount of content on her social media channels and still get work done. I can only conclude that she has sharply-developed time management skills and is extremely efficient at getting down to brass tacks when it's time for work.

She has been at Radcliffe on a writing fellowship since last year and the Harvard Gazette wrote a piece on an event where she shared excerpts of her new novel-in-progress, Dear History. I cannot wait until this new book is completed and published. I know that no matter what it's about, I will get it and I will love it.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Swimming: Phelps & Pride


I’ve (inadvertently) had a swimming-themed weekend. For the last few weeks I’ve been reading Micheal Phelps’ memoir No Limits: The Will to Succeed. The book charts his journey to swimming success, starting off from his childhood in Baltimore, Maryland in the US to his astounding feat of winning eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

I’ve always had a lot of respect for sports people and kind of regretted that I was not more of an athlete (but that couldn’t be helped – I was useless at virtually every sport I tried in school). The only thing I was sort of okay at was swimming and even that, I didn’t develop with any seriousness. So, it was interesting to read what it takes to become an Olympian and more so a gold medalist. The other sports memoirs and autobiographies, which I’ve read (Dara Torres’ Age is Just a Number and Andre Agassi’s Open) also gave a powerful insight into the demands on the athlete’s body, mind, will and lifestyle.

I think that participating in sports is a very good way to develop discipline, the ability to work hard, and learning to work in a team but yet be an individual (for instance, choosing to swim laps or practice your shots when everyone else is sleeping in). It is also a wonderful way to learn how to handle life’s vicissitudes. Sometimes you will win and other times, you will not. This fact is taken for granted in sports: today’s champion might have been yesterday’s underdog and almost surely will be knocked off their pedestal one day by a younger, faster and stronger challenger.

Anyway, back to the book by Michael Phelps, it was an engaging read. I was not impressed with the writing quality in the first chapter, but it became smoother with each page.

Each chapter is named for each of the events in which he won eight gold medals in Beijing and for a quality that helped him to the top e.g. “Perseverance: The 400 Individual Medley” and “Will: The 100 Fly.” Phelps is detailed in his description of his workout routines (I gasped at how much he swum each week). At 12 years old, a typical set could include 1,200 meters (1 length of an Olympic sized pool is 50m, so going one way and then back is 100m). When he started taking swimming more seriously in his mid-teens, a workout could comprise of 12,000 meters.

The physical preparation is obviously key. A champion has to be willing to go that extra step and do what all the others don’t. So, for instance, if other swimmers rested on Sundays, Phelps trained every blessed day of the week. However, what really differentiates a champion from everyone else is mental toughness: the ability to take loses in one’s stride (yes, learn from them and then put them out of your mind and move on). No Limits showed Phelps to be the type of person who didn’t allow mistakes to consume him, but to put them aside and to focus on the job at hand. This is a trait summed-up by his coach Bob Bowman’s acronym: What’s Important Now (W.I.N).

This mental strength was a strong feature in the 2007 film Pride. Directed by a first-time director Sunu Gonera and starring Terrence Howard and Bernie Mac, Pride tells the story of a college swimming star Jim Ellis (Howard) whose dreams of sporting glory are shattered by racism. Following a disastrous swim meet, when his Caucasian competitors refuse to participate in a race with a Black swimmer, he is ordered out off the pool grounds by the police. He explodes, lashes out at a policeman and is arrested for assaulting a police officer.


Fast forward a few years later and he finds himself, by a series of accidents, the coach of a group of teenagers in one of Philadelphia’s roughest neighbourhoods (the team is later known as PDR, named for the Philadeplhia Department of Recreation, but also suitably standing for Pride, Determination and Resilience). The swimmers, Ellis takes charge of have none of the advantages that Michael Phelps probably did. For many of them, swimming is not a sport that is highly regarded in the African American community (in fact, a common statement made about Black people is that most of us cannot swim).

So, Jim Ellis starts from the basics and gradually builds-up the physical strengths of his team. The bigger task, though, is getting their minds in the right state of discipline, self-respect and fearlessness. Youthful exuberance aside, these teenagers display very little sense of purpose, probably in part as a result of a lack of real-life mentors and role models.

It is unrealistic to expect that such a rag-tag bunch would win at their first swim meet and thankfully this film avoids the tendency for any unbelievable Hollywood-type triumph. In fact, you could say that their first experience of competition is downright disastrous with almost all the PDR swimmers coming in last in their races. One of them (Reggie) is unable to accurately gauge when he should turn and hits his head on the pool wall. The swimmers refuse to wear the swimming briefs provided by Coach Ellis and the result is embarrassing for another of the swimmers as his denim shorts, which he insists on swimming in come off mid-swim.

Gradually though, the swimmers start to take the sport more seriously, develop a stronger work ethic and coalesce into a team. They practice harder and get better at taking instruction. Slowly, the medals start trickling in. At the climax of the film, PDR participates in a major regional swim meet in Baltimore (hey, this could be the pool that Michael Phelps trained in). Although they are intimidated by the size of the competition pool (50 meters compared to their 25-yard pool), by this time they’ve started to learn the lesson of facing your fears squarely.

It’s obviously a feel good film, but one which is based on the real life story of Jim Ellis. I think swimmers would enjoy it for, aside from the swimming sequences, the film is replete with beautiful shots of glistening swimming pools.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Google's Marissa Mayer: Passion is a gender-neutralizing force



This interview with Marissa Mayer, Google's VP of Local, Maps and Localization Services, is part of CNN's Leading Women series.

In the early days of Google, she and most of the technical staff routinely worked 100-hour weeks. However, she was motivated to do so, because she felt that the technology that Google was developing was really important. And indeed it has turned out be. Aside from the incomparable search engine, the company has birthed many tools that have changed how we work, find and use information and play today.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Sheryl Sandberg Leaves Work at 5:30. Why Can't You?

I seem to post an inordinate number of interviews with Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg. Well, what can I say? She's brilliant, hardworking, has a career that many envy, has gathered some considerable insight along the way and has a simple and yet articulate way of expressing them.

So, without apologies, here is another one. This is an interview on the Inc website, where she talks about, among many things, building your career (Be Ambitious, Start out with Big Dreams), making healthy life choices as a career woman (Marry a man who supports your goals in both words and deeds) and recognising that there is no such thing as work-life balance.

















Sheryl Sandberg: Facebook COO

It was the reference to having a life outside of work - Sheryl Sandberg Leaves Work at 5:30. Why Can't You? - that first caught my attention, to be honest. She talks about how she struggled to do it all when she first became a mother - starting her work day early so that her colleagues could see her 5.30am emails and staying-up late, again so they could see her emails sent past their bedtimes. As she became more confident, she was boldly able to pick up her bag and leave the office at 5.30pm.

This is such an important thing for us to remember, as many of us struggle to progress in our careers and build business empires, that we need a healthy amount of rest and relaxation too. And the truth is very few of us enjoy enough recreation.

There are many debates about whether work-life balance actually exists or whether it is another unattainable goal that we have added to our ever increasing To Do list. I read a wonderful article in Fast Company magazine (Balance is Bunk! by Keith H. Hammonds) about how balance exists over time and not in the every day existence. This means that I might not have a perfectly equitable distribution of my hours between work and play, as different life phases will require varying levels of time and commitment for me. So, for instance, as a mother of a new-born, work will probably need to take a back seat for a while, but then as my child grows older and becomes more independent, I can devote more of my hours to work. Similarly, my business might be undergoing a tough period and thus demand more of my time for some months or a year or two. At another point, both children and business might need me less giving me more free time.

This idea of balance over a lifetime, rather than each day, resonated so strongly with me because my work can be very demanding and I am often very busy. If I was going to look at my work-life balance within the conventional paradigm, I would be failing big-time on a daily basis.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Anita Borg Change Agent Awards 2012 nominations now open (Deadline: May 15, 2012‏)

Thousands of women throughout the world are leading technological innovation. They often go unnoticed and unrewarded. The Anita Borg Institute has created a set of awards to honor these distinguished women and those who are working towards the recruitment, retention and advancement of women in technology.

Please review this brief summary of the awards currently open and nominate a deserving team or candidate or forward this information to someone who might be interested.

The Anita Baker Change Agent Awards honor technical women that live and work outside the United States. They are change agents in their community – working to attract and support women in technology in their region. Recipients are recognized for their technical leadership and advocacy work. The award recipients will be honored at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing in Baltimore, Maryland in October 2012.

I was privileged to receive this award in 2009 and receiving the award and attending the Grace Hopper Celebration were both an awesome experience.

Check the link above for more information and submit your nominations by May 15.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Exhibition at Nimbus Art Gallery (April 20 - May 2)



You are invited to the opening of Ambivalence: An Endotelic Exhibition of Paintings & Sculptures by Emmah Mbanefo on Friday, April 20, 2012, at Nimbus Art Gallery, 9, Maitama Sule Street,Ikoyi, Lagos (5.00 pm prompt). The exhibition goes on till May 2.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Biodun & Batik at the Life House (Sunday, April 1 - 7PM)


I hope this is not an April Fool's Day prank.

Biodun and Batik, the jazz ensemble will be playing at the Life House this Sunday. I discovered them a couple of years ago at the MUSON Jazz Festival. I thought their music was truly exciting. The group took over the hall with their big band sound.

I relish the thought of listening to them again.

Here's the invitation from the Life House:


BATIK IS BACK AT THE LIFE HOUSE THIS SUNDAY after rave reviews from their New York and Atlanta performances in November 2011. Biodun and Batik will be playing from repertoire ranging from traditional jazz to modern and some classic covers.

Led by Biodun Adebiyi, an acclaimed musician and music teacher (he is currently serving at the Department of Theatre Arts & Music, Lagos State University), Biodun & Batik & the Jazz Quintet will entertain and inspire this Sunday in a much anticipated encore performance at The Life House. The concert is tagged 'JAZZ IN THE PRESENT TENSE' and will be a thrilling fusion of Trumpet/Flugelhorn, Keyboard, Bass, Guitar, Drums and in true Batik signature style, a good dose of audience participation


GATE FEE: N1500


RESERVATIONS HIGHLY ADVISED

INFO - 0703 403 0683

$5000 mentored open source summer internship with Twisted and the GNOME Outreach Program for Women‏

I saw this on a list I belong to. It sounds like an excellent opportunity and note that it's open to women anywhere in the world. Just read through and apply:

************************

Get paid to contribute to an open source project this summer, with mentorship from women leaders in the open source community!

What: USD $5000 full-time summer internship with the Twisted Python open source project

Who: This internship is open to all women, including students and non-students

When:
May - August 2012, *applications close April 13th*

Apply at: http://twistedmatrix.com/trac/wiki/WomenOutreach2012

Questions?
Say hello at

The Twisted project has partnered with the GNOME Outreach Program for Women and the Software Freedom Conservancy to fund an internship for one woman to spend the summer participating in and contributing to Twisted while being mentored.

Twisted
is an event-driven networking engine written in Python. If you love the Internet, Twisted is the project for you! This is a great opportunity to learn more about what goes on under the hood when you browse the web, send an e-mail, or use an instant messaging service, as Twisted supports all of these networking protocols. Twisted applies software development best practices like in-depth code reviews and complete unit test coverage, so it's a great way to improve your technical skills, whether you're a beginner or an expert programmer.

Twisted is used by companies like Google, Apple and Lucasfilm and by many open source projects, in everything from an airline reservation system to providing dynamic monitoring of a rural electrification project in sub-Saharan Africa. You can learn about some of Twisted's users at twistedmatrix.com/trac/wiki/SuccessStories.

This is a *full-time* internship open to all women, including students and non-students from anywhere on the globe. The summer stipend is USD $5000.

Please review the application process and get started on it early, as a small initial contribution to Twisted is a part of applying (if this sounds intimidating, don't worry! We'll help you pick a task to complete and you'll have lots of support as you work through submitting your first patch.)

This internship is appropriate for *any level of open source experience*. If you have worked on an open source project before, great! If not, we'll help you learn the development and communication tools we use as part of the internship. Some Python experience is a prerequisite.

Please check out the full project description and apply today.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Reading While You Have a Life



From the period I learnt to read up to my teenage years, reading has always been a great love of mine. If I wasn't out, in school or doing chores, you would find me lying on my bed reading. It was my favourite thing to do in the world, followed closely by writing stories.

Post-secondary school, it has been extremely difficult for me to find time to read. I know that I'm far from alone in this problem. For many years, I stuck to reading magazines for my leisure reading, because the bite-size columns and articles were the best I could manage. Had you given me anything longer than a 5-page article, I would be stuck on the second page for like ever. Not only did I find it near impossible to make out time for reading, my attention span had reduced to that of a hyper-active child and after a minute or, at best, three, my wandered off on its own trajectory.

So, what to do when you really love to read and you have shelves largely full of unread books, which look so mouth-wateringly tantalising with the inviting covers and the promise of a consuming story?

Well, I can't say I've mastered the art of reading as an adult yet, but I'm starting to figure out ways in which I can read more.

1. Pick books that truly interest you: While this might seem obvious, we sometimes select books that we think we should read - not because we have any interest in its themes, but because it's in fashion. A recent example for me is The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. On a trip to New York City two years ago, I saw everyone and their dog carrying this book and its sequels everywhere I turned. I couldn't make out what the book could be about and didn't even bother to find out (I run away from fads). When I did learn that they were crime novels, I bought the first one and read it. The first third of the book was frankly hard work, but yet I persisted, because "Everyone says this is a masterpiece. Everyone can't be wrong."

Well, let's just say that they were borderline. An (eventually) engaging book it was, a masterpiece it was not. A year and half after completing the book, I am yet to get through the rest of the series.

2. Explore new genres and authors: This keeps your reading life very fresh and exciting. I’ve always had some kind of rhythm to my reading. In university I read A Suitable Boy and from there embarked on a literary journey through the best (and sometimes not so great) writing from and influenced by the Indian sub-continent. I discovered some now favourites, like Anita Desai (especially her Clear Light of Day), Rohinton Mistry, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, R.K. Narayan and Jhumpa Lahiri. Eventually, I overdosed on writing influenced by India and struggled to finish any new books.

So now, I try new writers and genres as I feel like. Recent discoveries include Cormac McCarthy and Lynda LaPlante. I don’t try to read all their books in one fell swoop (although if I enjoy one, it motivates me to want to read their other books). So, I’m slowly working my way through the bibliographies of LaPlante and McCarthy, but not all at once. I intersperse their books with others.

3. At the same time, know what you like: This may or may not apply or help you. For me, even if I’ve never read the work of a particular writer, by reading the synopsis I tend to know if I will like it or not (assuming it’s written well). I generally like books by women with strong female characters and which explore issues that particularly affect women. So, chances are high that I will enjoy a book by Margaret Atwood or Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie or Doris Lessing.

4. Always carry a book with you: Amazingly, it took me years to discover that the pockets of minutes or hours I had when waiting for someone or something or in a car or bus could be put to much better use than staring off into space. Since then, I’ve been able to utilize these periods more productively and inched my way through more books.

5. Don’t force yourself to get through a book that has proven to be uninteresting and uninspiring. This is similar, but not the same as the first pointer on this list. Some books will require you to push through, before they yield any payoffs. However, with others, the dullness or pomposity of the writing never lets up. I used to believe that once I started a book, I needed to see it through. Now I say: Cut your losses and move on to something else. Life is too short!

Bear in mind that for various reasons, some books just might not appeal or resonate with you at a particular point in time. Then you pick them up later and you think: Fantastic book! What took me so long to finish this gem?

This was the case with me with Lionel Shriver’s The Post-Birthday World. I struggled with the early chapters with a commensurate amount of huffing and puffing. After carrying it around for a few months, I put it aside. About 2 years later, I picked it up and loved it! After that, I looked for every Lionel Shriver book I could find.

6. Make it a Habit: I find that making a conscious effort to read at least a few pages very day helps it to become a habit for me. Going one step further, aside from the pages of reading I snatch during the day, my longest block for reading is usually just before I sleep. So, I try to make it a habit to close my laptop and stop working about 2 hours before I intend to sleep, so that I can read. I am not really successful with this, I must admit. That laptop holds a pot pourri of mysteries, which keep me spellbound for far too long. But the most important thing is that I do try. ☺

Different things work for each of us. For some of us, it helps to keep to some kind of rules to force us to read (maybe those of us who are easily lured by other media and work). For others, these rules are just too much and take away from the pleasure of reading.

So I say, do what works for you, whatever that might be.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Ian Thorpe's Swimming Comeback

Source: CNN

CNN's Becky Anderson talks to the filmmaker documenting Ian Thorpe's return to the pool and competitive swimming. This is probably of more interest to me now having just read about Dara Torres' swimming comeback. It's hard to return to a sport where you used to be champion and now you're regarded as a dinosaur.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

iRep 2012 Docu Festival

The annual i-Represent International Documentary Film Festival, a festival dedicated to promoting awareness about the power of documentary films holds from March 22 to 25, at Terra Kulture, Lagos from 10am each day.

The theme for this year's festival is Democracy and Culture: The Documentary Film Intervention. For four days, participants and speakers will explore the theme, looking at participatory democracy and demonstrations, and new media.

Get more details at www.irepfilmfestival.com.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Artist Peju Alatishe @ Nike Art Gallery, Lekki (March 24 - 31)



If you've never been to the Nike Art Gallery in Lekki, this is a good time to go. The artist Peju Alatishe has an exhibition there from March 24 to 31.

Nike Art Gallery is located at the 3rd roundabout on the Lekki-Epe Expressway, at 2 Elegushi Road.

I've been to the gallery just once and it was an overwhelming experience for me, because I tried to take in everything the gallery had to offer in one fell swoop. You can't do that and appreciate all the art work there, simply because there is just so much art. I recommend seeing bits at a time.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Nokterra Auction House presents Art Auction - March 26

Nokterra Auction House announces Auction of 101 Original Works.

Date: 26th March, 2012

Venue: Marmundo, 19b Olosa Street, Victoria Island, Lagos

There's a preview dinner from March 16th to the 25th at 5PM.

Call 0803.307.4428 to RSVP or check tribesartafrica.com for more information.

If.......

Now remember I read the poem Phenomenal Woman at Life House during their Women Rule event? Well, I discovered this poem If by Rudyard Kipling that night and my first thought was: I know this poem!

I didn't, as it turned out. I only recognised the first line from the song Inherit the Wind by Wilton Felder.

I love the sentiments expressed in the poem.


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream---and not make dreams your master;
If you can think---and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build'em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings---nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And---which is more---you'll be a Man, my son!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Olufemi Ogunsanwo Reads at Patabah Books – March 17, 2012

Patabah Books presents a book reading with Otunba Olufemi Ogunsanwo. He will be reading from and signing his books Obafemi Awolowo – Unfinished Greatness and General Yakubu Gowon – The Supreme Commander.

The author, Olufemi Ogunsanwo, was head of the political desk and chief political correspondent of the Daily Times of Nigeria between 1977 and 1979 and editor of Times International at the same newspaper till 1982 when he retired from professional journalism. He taught briefly at the Department of Mass Communication at the University of Lagos as a part-time lecturer in 1977-8 before venturing into private business in 1983. He holds the BA and MA (philosophy, politics and economics) from Oxford. He studied journalism at Columbia University, New York where he obtained his Masters. He has also authored, The Sunday Times – the first 25 years, as well as his memoir, Baptism of Fire.


Details of the reading are:

Date: Saturday, March 17 2012
Time: 3 – 5 PM
Venue: Patabah Books, Adeniran Ogunsanya Shopping Mall (Ground Floor), Surulere, Lagos

Getting More Women in Technology



In honor of International Women's Day, Facebook created a video to encourage more girls to study computer science. As part of the the National Center for Women and Information Technology's Sit With Me campaign, we asked people at Facebook to share their stories and why they believe there should be more women in technology.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Age is Just a Number - By Dara Torres


Year of Publication: 2009
Authors: Dara Torres and Elizabeth Weil


I know I have mentioned at some point how I find some of my favourite books. There’s absolutely nothing like wandering through the aisle of a bookshop and idly glancing through the shelves not really looking for anything and then having your eye arrested by a catchy cover or an interesting title. Then, you pick up the book and skim through the synopsis on the back and then decide quite suddenly that “I’ll take this!”

And then it turns out to be one of your best decisions ever!

Does that sound familiar? Yes? No?

Ah well, if it’s not, I hope you soon experience this joy. It’s true what they say: you find what you’re looking for when you’re not looking. (Well, sometimes this is true. And the other times, you need to have a carefully mapped-out action plan!)

So, I was wandering through a bookshop in Lagos, not really looking for anything and (everything else I said in the first paragraph………..). I took a second look at this book because the lady on the cover appeared to be standing in front of a huge swimming pool.

Is this a book about swimming or does she just happen to be posing in front of a pool? I wondered.

When I picked up the book, I discovered that it was by Olympian swimmer Dara Torres.

The other thing you might know if you read this blog is that I love swimming. I’m not saying I’m a fantastic swimmer, but I love water and swimming very much. The other thing is that although I love swimming, I don’t actually know any swimmers. So, Dara Torres was not a familiar name to me.

However, I turned to the first page and read: I’ve been old before. I was old when I was 27 and I got divorced. I was old when I was 35 and I couldn’t get pregnant. I was really old when I was 39 and my father died. But when I was 41 and I woke up in a dorm in the Olympic Village in Beijing, I didn’t feel old. I felt merely – and, yes, happily – middle-aged.

A story about someone who battles the odds? Oh yes, I totally love those! And this book Age is Just a Number: Achieve Your Dreams at Any Stage in Your Life perfectly captures the experiences of having to live out your dreams in the face of naysayers and ‘conventional’ thinking that would seem to suggest that you are out of your mind for even daring to entertain the thoughts of said goal.

DT, as she’s affectionately known by her friends and family, is seemingly a strong tower in the ensuing maelstrom of disbelief when she decides, as a pregnant 38 year old, to try for her 5th Olympics.

I love her determination, but also her honesty when she admits to sometimes being shaken by peoples’ opinions and expectations. Wavering in the middle of difficulty is natural, but ultimately success comes from deciding what’s important to you and staying true to that. So, DT focuses on her goal and surrounds herself with the best team to help prepare her 40-something year old body for her 5th shot at Olympic glory – including her not-so secret weapon, but one which confounded even her coach at some point: her stretchers Anne and Steve.

The book is organized by themes in Dara’s life, for instance On Making a Comeback, On Being an Older Athlete, On Not Giving Up, On Being a Younger Athlete and not in a strictly linear manner from her childhood to adulthood. So, sometimes it was a little confusing for me, having to get used to the constant back and forth from teenage years to adulthood pre-baby to childhood, and back to adulthood post-baby. However, the chapters build-up quite nicely to the grand finale: the Olympic Trials and then to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. I found myself speeding through the pages in anticipation of what would happen next: would she or wouldn’t she.

Obviously, if you like swimming, you will enjoy this book. And if you don’t like swimming, I think you will still enjoy this book.

While I really dislike the title of the book – Age is Just a Number – (I feel that this doesn’t fully capture what the book is all about), it does indicate how Dara’s story can inspire anyone at whatever stage of their life, who feels that their time to make their dreams come true has come and gone. In these pages, she shows that you can push beyond the accepted way of thinking and, with a lot of hard work and discipline, help birth your dreams into reality.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Celebrating Women

I attended 2 events back-to-back at the Life House today.

The first was Reel Women, a film series in celebration of International Women's Day (March 8). I believe the entire month of March at the Life House is Women's Month.

So, this Saturday's film was Real Women Have Curves, which is one of my favourite films. I have watched it, I'm sure at least 50 times. Since it is a film I've seen countless times, I was initially not going to go, but decided to meet up with my friend there as she had not seen the film. Watching the same film can be different every time you see it if you are with different groups of people. And so it was today. And every time I watch it, I'm struck anew about the hard choices we have to make in life even when our loved ones do not support us.

Following Reel Women, was an Open Mic evening titled Women Rule and which featured a film called Scent of the Street by director, Remi Vaughan-Richards, a photography exhibition by Lolade Cameron Cole, music by songstresses Ruby, Modele, Omolara, and Aramide. There was also some inspiring poetry and spoken word by Lala Akindoju, Tosin Otudeko and Ugoma Adegoke of Life House.


Scent of the Street (with cheesy BBC voice-over, which was not on the version that was screened)

Members of the audience were encouraged to read poetry and so a gentleman called Gbubemi read a lovely poem dedicated to his Mum. Before I knew what was happening, I was also asked to read a poem. It all happened so fast. What can I say? I was there to watch others and not be watched.

I read Phenomenal Women by Dr. Maya Angelou, which is the modern day ode to women's power. It's ubiquity might cause many to forget how truly beautiful a poem it is and what a wonderful tribute it is to the magnificence of women.

So, in honour of women all over the world, I salute you all phenomenal women:

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
I say,
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see.
I say,
It's in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman

Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed.
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Book Review: All the Pretty Horses





Author: Cormac McCarthy
Year of First Publication: 1992


I just finished my second book by American writer Cormac McCarthy. From the way in which he is spoken about, McCarthy is one of those authors who appears to be an American treasure. He also represented that a little-explored region for me - the works of the Caucasian male writer.

So, sometime last year I decided to remedy that. I walked into Waterstones in Notting Hill and conveniently for me, there before me were virtually all his books lined up on a shelf. I picked No Country for Old Men because it was smaller and less intimidating than all the others. Plus, of course, I had seen the film, which I figured would make it easier for me to follow the plot.

Well, that was a good choice. It was a fast and suspenseful read. So I was excited to try another. For my second book, I picked All the Pretty Horses, another one of his books, which was made into a film.

In brief, the book chronicles the journey of sixteen-year-old John Cole Grady, who leaves the ranch he has lived in all his life after it is sold by his mother. In search of adventure, Grady and his friend Lacey Rawlins set-off on their horses southwards to Mexico.

The book started off very slowly and I really wasn’t sure what was going on and who was who. So, I kept flipping back to re-read the previous paragraphs to see what I might have missed. After a while, I stopped doing that and decided that I would figure things out as I went along. Despite the very slow and confusing start, the plot gradually picks up.

In their time away, Grady falls in love and embarks on an ill-fated affair. He and Rawlins are arrested and thrown into a Mexican prison, where the rule of the day is Kill or be Killed. Oh wait, am I giving away too much?

From being a book that I had to struggle to get into, it became a book that I couldn’t put down. For a while.

There are many conversations, which take place in Spanish and are written as such. Initially, I attempted to translate every line, before moving on. As the Spanish conversations became more commonplace in the book, I gave this up. In any case, you get enough of an idea what’s happening and this is not too much of a problem unless you are one of those people who absolutely has to understand every line.

When I read No Country, I deduced that McCarthy always writes in lean, spare lines, not using more words than he needs to. That assumption was completely overthrown with Pretty Horses. The prose here is beautifully descriptive and paints vivid pictures of, among other things, the landscape through which Grady and Rawlins are riding. The problem with that, for someone like me, is that my mind tended to wander off on its own journey (totally unrelated to the story) at times.

My interest in the plot ultimately kept me reading, but for someone who is easily distracted, it’s not the easiest book choice.

After the violence and the often heartbreaking sadness that occurs in the book, the ending – particularly Grady’s conversation with the judge – seemed a little too trite in its attempt to make sense of all the events of the book.

I read that Pretty Horses is the most accessible of the three books that makes up the Border Trilogy. If it took such effort for me to read All the Pretty Horses, I wonder what my experience with the other two books will be.

I will find out.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

My First Scuba Dive

A new post!! Yes, yes, please don't fall over your chair in shock. This blog has just been on a sort of extended hiatus, NOT retirement!

I'm dedicating this post to John, who asked me what's up with Ore's Notes and encouraged me to start writing again. Yes, my busy schedule notwithstanding. And although I have plans to change the look of my blog and have made a project of looking for the perfect template..... He urged me not to lose focus of what was important and to Just start writing again!!! He helpfully shared tips from his highly prolific wife who also blogs.

So, here I am!!!

One might take my silence to mean that I’ve not been up to much. Sigh……… nothing could be farther from the truth. So instead to talking about how much I’ve been doing and how I don’t have time to blog anymore, I won’t. I’ll share some of the things that I’ve been doing.

Where do I start? How about the most exciting thing I’ve done in the last 6 months?

What could that be, you might ask? I went scuba diving!!!!!

And the strange thing is that until the moment I decided to take diving lessons, I can’t say that it’s something I’ve ever thought about doing. But you know what it’s like when an idea pops in your head out of nowhere and you just go with it? No? Okay, maybe it’s just me then.

I was blessed to visit Mombasa, Kenya last September for a workshop (the places that work takes me sometimes……..). The resort we stayed in was like a dream. I could have moved in there if I had the chance. One of the most advertised things about the resort was the variety of water sports they offered. On my first day there, my colleague and I walked to their office to find out more. As I spoke to the very nice lady there, she suggested a ‘fun’ dive, which even 12 year olds could do. Well if a 12 year old can learn to dive, then so can I, was my first thought.

The day after my workshop ended I went back to the water sports office to speak to the staff more about this diving thing. I met the instructor Emmanuel aka the dive master, who assured me that it was all very easy. He said I’d have to pass three tests first, before I could book a real dive in the ocean. Suddenly I grew nervous. I don’t relish tests. And this diving thing was starting to appear very complicated.

For the lesson, I wore a wet suit, as Emmanuel said the body can get very cold when in water for long periods. He showed me how to use the mouthpiece to breathe and that was very strange at first and initially I was anxious and panicked a bit, but I decided to stay calm and try it. Breathing techniques from Pilates really helped me out there. I was able to take slow breaths in and out through my mouth.

Me learning in the pool

I learnt the hand signals, because divers have to be able to communicate underwater with the diving master or other divers. He also showed me how to get water out of my goggles even when underwater (sounds impossible, right?).

Somehow I passed all the three tests he administered. So well apparently, that Emmanuel kept asking if I had dived before.

So, now I could book a dive. I was so excited, but also a little nervous. Emmanuel gave me some instructions: get a good’s night sleep, eat a good breakfast (not too heavy but not too light).

Our diving gear

I was scheduled to dive to a depth of 10 metres, which I thought sounded so deep. The upside was that my diving instructor would be there. Most divers are encouraged to dive with a buddy or a group. I believe only professionals go alone, but I think even that might be rare. There are certifications that you can take to enable you dive deeper.

On the boat, waiting for our fellow divers

We took a boat out to our dive site and sailed/drove(?) for about 15 minutes - far but not too far, as I could still see land. There were 6 of us: me, Emmanuel - my dive instructor, 3 German divers and their dive leader. They went first and I watched them do it. Unfortunately I could not get any pictures of myself since I was last to go in. Hopefully, there will be other dives in the future.

I’m sure you’ve seen divers on TV enter the water by sitting at the edge of the boat and tumbling backwards into the sea. Well, that's what we did. I didn't think I could do it, but I had to. I fell in and was a bit disorientated at first, but I saw the sunlight and kind of floated upwards towards it.

To descend, we had to lock our knees into our chest and release air from one of our many hoses (these are connected to our tank). Once down, I had to remember to breathe through my mouth with the regulator (inserted in your mouth and connected to another hose). I felt a bit panicky, but remembered that I had done it in the pool the day before. Also, being the only woman, I did not want to have any "Well, maybe it's because you're a girl...." comments later.

It is so beautiful under water. It is totally another world. I cannot even describe it. I saw shoals of fishes swimming together, lots of plants, starfish, sea urchins and even a stingy ray, which zipped away so fast when it saw us. I saw coral and the other divers, at a point.

At one point, I started to float up and started to panic especially since Emmanuel, my dive instructor, was not looking at me at the time. When he saw me going up, he pulled me down and released air from one of my hoses to bring me back down.

The pressure in my ears was incredible and I had to pinch my nose and exhale to reduce the pressure. Despite that, the pressure still built-up again. Afterwards, my ears were blocked for an entire day.

I was underwater for about 30 minutes and when I got back to the surface, I saw one of the German divers there. Apparently he had not been able to get used to breathing through his mouth with the regulator and called off his dive. He had also learnt the day before like me. I could tell that he felt bad and his dive leader did not make matters easier, with his teasing remarks.

I love to read-up on things online and so the night before the dive, I started reading an article on scuba diving on Wikipedia. I wasn’t able to finish it and it's a very good thing too otherwise I might never have gone.

I learnt that at 20m, some divers suffer from 'nitrogen narcosis', which is like a temporary mania. At 40m, almost all divers suffer from this. The deeper you are going, the mix of gases in your tank has to be different from if you are diving in shallower waters, otherwise, you can suffer from something else that can cause epilepsy, which causes the regulator to come out of the diver's mouth, which of course will lead to drowning. If you ascend too quickly, you can suffer from decompression sickness (also known as 'the bends'), from your body not adjusting gradually enough the changing pressure of the water. Basically there is more pressure underwater than on land and the deeper you go, the more pressure there is.

You also need to be super-fit apparently to do it. The medical form I had to fill out beforehand must have had all conditions under the sun listed on it -the first being that you cannot be pregnant.

Now that I have tried scuba diving, I LOVE it. It has dangers and so you need to pay attention to the instructions of your dive leader. Of course, this was an easy dive in comparison to other waters and conditions possible (I’ll never forget the film Open Water).

This was an incredibly long post, now that I'm reading it. Well, I hope it makes up for all the time away.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Dr. Tony Marinho Reads from “Hope’s Wristwatch” at Patabah Books – February 17, 2012

Cover of Hope's Wristwatch
Bookcraft and Patabah Books presents a book reading with Dr. Tony Marinho. He will be reading from and signing his latest collection of short stories and poems, “Hope’s Wristwatch.”

Dr. Tony Marinho is a practicing obstetrician and gynaecologist in Ibadan, Nigeria. He is an author of several books of short stories, poetry and childrens’ books and he has also abridged Wole Soyinka’s childhood memoirs Ake for children. He is a frequent social commentator maintaining a regular weekly column in The Nation.

Details of the reading are:

Date: Friday, February 17 2012
Time: 5 – 7 PM
Venue: Patabah Books, Adeniran Ogunsanya Shopping Mall (Ground Floor), Surulere, Lagos

Friday, January 13, 2012

S*** Relaxed Girls Say to Natural Girls

This video (and versions of it) have been flying all over the Internet lately. They are quite funny. ;)