“a pleasant task to do”

Upon resuming activity on the blog, I thought it best to start the party with this poem (part-wish/part-realization).

This is My Life

by William Stanley Braithwaite

To feed my soul with beauty till I die; 

To give my hands a pleasant task to do;

To keep my heart forever filled anew

With dreams and wonders which the days supply; 

To love all conscious living, and thereby

Respect the brute who renders up its due, 

And know the world as planned is good and true–

And thus- because there chanced to be an I! 

This is my life since things are as they are;

One half akin to flowers and the grass;

The rest a law unto a changeless star. 

And I believe when I shall come to pass 

Within the Door His hand shall hold ajar

I’ll leave no echoing whisper of Alas!

IMHO:Every Day is Women’s Day

According to social media today is International Women’s Day 2016.

Every day is Women’s Day. **

Every day will remain Women’s Day until being a woman and being a professional is no longer exceptional, rather it’s the rule.

Every day will remain Women’s Day until being a mother and working full-time will be a choice made out of free will rather than financial constraints.

Every day will remain Women’s Day until we run out of ‘First’s to attach to a female executive, legislator, politician, academic, prize-winner, artist, and so on.

Everyday will remain Women’s Day until writing ‘homemaker’ in the box marked occupation is a recognized as a form of skilled labor, with pay and all the other privileges of traditional 9-5 jobs.

Every day will remain Women’s Day until the invisible burden of Emotional Labour is evenly distributed amongst all relationships, women AND men.

**Send in your ideas – complete the phrase ‘ Every day will remain Women’s Day until…’  and tweet @catalystwoman or email talktocatalystwoman at gmail dot com.


What I’m reading today: Tech & Edu


  • Mattel’s $300 3D printer lets you design and create your own toys

  • It’s no Silicon Valley, but Pakistan is building it’s own Startup Scene

  • For gifted children, being intelligent can have dark implications

  • Inside a Saudi Arabian Oil Giant’s American Oasis

  • Is majoring in liberal arts a mistake for students? (NOOO!)

#DigiWriMo StoryJumping Part 19: Time is a Flat Circle

This is part 19 of a storyjumper for Digital Writing Month. To read the story (so far), follow the links:

Part 1 Bruno’s blog started us off with a personal narrative.

Part 2 Kevin’s blog began the story.

Part 3 Maha’s blog continued…

Part 4 Sarah’s blog…

Part 5 Ron’s blog…

Part 6 Tanya’s blog…

Part 7 Kay’s blog…

Part 8 Ron’s blog…

Part 9 Dana’s blog

Part 10 Tania’s blog

Part 11 Maureen’s blog

Part 12 Sue’s blog

Part 13 Rhonda’s blog

Part 14 Yin Wah Kreher’s blog

Part 15 Scott’s blog

Part 16 Jeffrey’s blog

Part 17 Wendy’s blog

Part 18  Charlene’s blog

[ The story jumps to Wry…]

After being rudely jostled by the old blind man,  Wry shrug herself off and started staring into the distance. Right about when Kevin/Keith and Sarah/Haras were about to say something to break Wry out of her reverie, she shouted a loud ‘O.k.!’ as if summoning the attention of a room of preschoolers.

Since they were all still in the teahouse, all Wry received were dirty stares and a few frustrated sighs from the time travellers.

‘O.k., What?!’ demanded Haras.

Wry leaned in to say “Time is a flat circle.”

A silence so thick you could cut it with a knife hung in the air as her companions waited to Wry to fill in the context.

“You all are searching for the second map.  I say there is no point to that!

I once was hooked on a mini-series called True Detective and one of the main characters kept repeating this over and over again… ‘Time is a flat circle’.

We will keep repeating we once did, over and over again, ad nauseum. There is never a first or a last.


Don’t you realize that all this activity is futile?  Chasing after the maps won’t save your friend’s life.

Accepting that our lives are interconnected is the key to everyone’s survival!  

If we stop craving instant gratification, which often is in the form of social approval via Facebook/Twitter ( *smirk*), there is a possibility that we can slow the brutal repetition of Time long enough to forge a new world.

A world where people from across the globe connect with each other in authentic, creative ways – free from the interpretations of Mass Media Inc., free from the tweaking of various Middle Men.  A tangible, socially conscious community of loving, fractured souls who align more with their innate humanity than any other outwardly affiliation (be it nationality, sports teams (Go Bulls!), faith, or  politics).

How do we go about proving to Master Time that we are worthy of being freed from it’s clutches? We need to prove our humanity.

The maps are not from the Future. The maps are alive! If, at this very moment, any of us change ANYTHING,  from our order of Earl Grey tea to Jasmine tea, the maps will reflect the change.

I say we look for the other travellers immediately, but this time we have to beat the clock!   We need to get back to the source, the ukelele breaking.  Is there anything more unnatural then violence against a musical instrument?!There needs to a musical performance with harmony, syncopation (Jazz), and unity all in display.”

While the others stood stunned by Wry’s revelation, Sarah/Haras responded earnestly.

Ukeleles, as we know them today, originated in Hawaii.  I think we need to change our path. Let’s get to Hawaii to find the other time travellers – fast!”

[Next up is Grace Raffaele with Part 20 of the Storyjumping for #DigiWriMo!]

Comments on “The Invisible Women with Autism”

The Invisible Women with Autism” by Apoorva Mandavilli

  • “On average, girls who have mild symptoms of autism are diagnosed two years later than boys.”  The article goes on to note how diagnostic tests are based on observations of boys with autism, so there’s that. 
  • *Groan* “From the start, girls’ restricted interests seem more socially acceptable—dolls or books, perhaps, rather than train schedules—and may go unnoticed.”
  • “…scientists and service providers rarely acknowledge the additional challenges being female may bring, whether physical, psychological, or societal.” So true. 
  • “…but in autism, the fact that boys and girls are different is sometimes treated as if it’s a startling new discovery.”  Also   in the field of Education, sadly. Oh and the Workplace. 
  • “Are we more tolerant, at least in some Western societies, of a girl who is very, very quiet and socially aloof, compared to a boy? I don’t know; I suppose you could say we have higher expectations of women,” Resounding ‘YES’.

I salute Maya’s courage to share her autism diagnosis with employers.  The article makes an excellent case for the lack of support for women with non-traditional learning disorders / diagnosis; this is further compounded by the social stigma surrounded mental health diagnoses, including depression.

Nothing too profound here, but I will try to share my thoughts on the articles I read on here.

National Savings Bank of Pakistan- Stuck in the Past

The Scene:

I knew what that was. THAT  was the standard “ignore-and-avert-eyes” tactic being employed by the mustachioed clerk at the National Savings Bank .

Here I was, a regular Pakistani citizen, pestering the employee with questions when it was quite clear that he had only had his second cup of tea*.  He hung his head lower and buried himself in the busy-work occupying him – actual files and folders cascading all over the desk. (*sarcasm intended)

Continue reading “National Savings Bank of Pakistan- Stuck in the Past”

Chocolate-flavored Lipsticks + Speaking from Your Gut: The Teacher Debt

To this day flavored  lip-balms make me smile; its as-if it’s the 90’s all over again and I’m sitting in the front row of Communications class.  All we could see of Ms. Stewart was her fiery-red hair as she dug deep into her purse, rummaging around for… a lipstick?!   Continue reading “Chocolate-flavored Lipsticks + Speaking from Your Gut: The Teacher Debt”

Cautionary Tale for Pakistan’s Tech Industry

These are exciting, heady times to be involved in Technology and Entrepreneurship in Pakistan. With many province-backed Technology boards kicking ‘start-up’ incubators and accelerators into high gear (namely Punjab and KPK), while both private and public universities are scrambling to join bandwagon to nurture the next Instagram or Uber, many young Pakistanis are being led to believe that all you require is a dream team consisting of a visionary, a content guru, a multi-tasking programmer/coder and the Fairy Godmother -equivalent of an angel investor to be the next Mark Zuckerberg.* 

After reading this article from Foreign Policy earlier today, I feel that there is much that Pakistan’s fledgling technology industry can learn from Russia’s mistakes.

It seems that our neighbors to the North-East have already been down this road of pre-mature zeal and it would serve us well to identify the red flags.

The political will and, more importantly, the financial capacity to encourage technological innovation are gone. Gone too is Medvedev himself, these days practically invisible outside Russia and eclipsed inside it, with President Vladimir Putin firmly back in the driver’s seat. Skolkovo was raided by anti-corruption agents in April 2013, after which several figureheads on the project were accused of misappropriation of funds. Although officials deny that the investigations were politically motivated, Skolkovo has tumbled down the government’s priority list: This year, the incubator was ordered to cut costs by 20 to 40 percent.

With the controversial Cyber Crime Bill 2015 threatening civil liberties on the web, Pakistanis should take a pro-active approach to securing digital rights by campaigning for their say in the content of the vaguely worded legislation.

Read below, this scenario is unfortunately quite familiar:

Putin’s slow squeeze on Internet freedoms since his return to the presidency puts him further at odds with the IT and web services industry. Legislation passed in 2014 that calls for all Russian Internet user data to be housed on servers on the territory of the Russian Federation paves the way, some argue, for the Kremlin’s control of the “Runet,” as the Russian-language Internet is commonly called. Bloggers with more than 3,000 daily visitors need to register with the country’s media regulator. Meanwhile, major online platforms, including software development network GitHub and video-hosting site Vimeo, have been blocked in Russia — in some cases for seemingly arbitrary reasons, for hosting what the government says is extremist or terrorist material. That security services are playing a larger role in deciding how the Internet functions in Russia isn’t exactly inviting for businesses.

The cautious optimism with which us Pakistanis are eyeing activity in the high-tech industry has been labeled as habitual pessimism, but I strongly disagree.  If we want Pakistan’s nascent tech scene to become a solid foundation upon which societal development  and regional peace can be based, then it is vital  we ensure that the technology industry’s growth is sustainable.  I suggest we, as citizens, be more active in technology scene, participate in the  events and the online discussions.  We can demand more transparency when foreign investors seek to support one start-up over another. If we do not understand the significance behind the promotion of a certain tech-based solution, when a non-technological solution already exists and it will just be a waste of taxpayer’s rupees, we should speak up!  Ask for the spreadsheets, the reasoning.  If we are satisfied with the answers, wonderful!  If we are not convinced, then keep asking questions.  Talk to your representatives in the provincial and federal governments.  Use social media to find clarity, be it Twitter or Facebook.  I implore you, do not let the glamour of gadgets and the sweet chatter of jargon seduce you! Pakistan’s future is at stake and a few hash-tagged buzzwords should not be enough to justify spending.

We can leverage technology to empower our young men and women to choose careers that are fulfilling, to educate the multitudes who live miles away from educational institutions, and to heal those without easy access to medical personnel.   The potential for gain via technological means is immense in Pakistan.  It’s a gamble we are willing to take – I hope we can convert this gamble into a solid investment. 

*insert Silicon Valley Founder-slash- CEO of your choice

I have no choice

I have come to the realization, while collecting snippets of ideas, conversations, pictures to share with you all, that is quite key to the creation of Catalystwoman.com.

I have a compulsion to fuse together ideas from technology, education and the arts. There is simply no other way for me to function.  (The internet has captured this wonderfully – visit any of my blogs mentioned in the about section)

I have no choice…  I must strive to be a Catalyst for the intersection of tech, edu, and culture.