Saying good-bye to a great man

Just a few words in this post. I’m on my way to San Antonio to say goodbye to and remember Paul Erwin. The entire Erwin family is inspiring to me. Paul started The Winston School, a school for kids with average and above intelligence who struggled in mainstream schools because of their learning differences. His first wife was my English and language arts teacher. She always reminded me of what I thought a lady in the Renaissance would be like. His oldest daughter is a childhood friend who was a killer debater, sharp as a tack, kind, and in possession of one of the best laughs I know. His other daughters are two of the three Dixie Chicks. No one in this family shies from opinions, education, and class.

I’ve done the math. My friends’ parents and my own are aging. I already lost my dad. Saying goodbye to Mr. Erwin is just as much a part of saying goodbye to my childhood as it is to him and his memory.

I lost my dad last year. I almost forgot to be sad at his memorial because I got to see my old childhood friends again. That helped me. I hope it helps his family today, too.

Sigh.

 

Tenacity

Almost nine months ago, I completed a (week) daily coding challenge called Daily CSS Images. I am about to embark on round 2. I say “about to” because I do not know if I am going to redo the challenge and stick to the old prompts or find others. If I decide to do my own prompts, I need to have 50 ready. I don’t want to spend half of the day deciding.

It is no surprise that I learned a lot about Pug/Jade and Sass in this challenge, but what I learned (or realised) the most was how daily practice improves a skill. I knew that, but that knowledge had become dusty. What I love is seeing the change.

Day 1: Bear Cub

Screen Shot 2018-04-27 at 12.43.00 PM

See the Pen DailyCSSimages Day 1: bear cub by Katy Cassidy (@ihatetoast) on CodePen.

Day 49: Dance Dance Revolution pad

Screen Shot 2018-04-27 at 12.45.23 PM

See the Pen Daily CSS Images Day 49: Dance Dance Revolution pad by Katy Cassidy (@ihatetoast) on CodePen.

Day 50 was Party City. It was ok. I’m not ashamed of it, but I think day 49 shows more of what I learned:  Daily CSS Images Day 50 – Party City by Katy Cassidy (@ihatetoast) on CodePen.

I code every day. That is not hard to do. Harder is not coding, getting up, stepping back, going outside. Oh, I love the outside. I’d code there if I could and if mosquitos left me alone. I’d moto to the hill country if I could trust reception or remembering to pack up and return home before sundown. Coding every day is not a problem. Harder is keeping a track going. Using my tenacity and my ADHD (which I call KatyHD) hyperfocus to stick to one or two themes. Depth over breadth. Do the thing, not do all the things. Do the thing and do it every day. Hard when one has a breadth of interests. Sigh. Sadly, this requires the S-word.

SCHEDULE

I know! Sent shivers down my back, too. Following a schedule is not the hard part. I can do that. Making it. Ugh. Making one will require me to let some interests come before others. How can I choose? It’s like choosing sad critter over all the others in the shelter. Alas, my tenacity requires such discipline.

 

Gatsby 101

In another episode of LEARN ALL THE THINGS, I am redoing my old portfolio site using Gatsby. Why not? I love React. I love easy things. I love cake. This includes almost all of those.

 

One thing that distracts me while following a tutorial is the onslaught of ideas as I progress. I’m currently working on changing up my portfolio to be a Gatsby site, but I am thinking now about making my Pure CSS Images site a Gatsby site. That’s being redone as a React site, but do I need full pure React for it? I don’t know. Or maybe I don’t need it to be fancy and full React but just working with React would be helpful. Hm.

 

What do I want to do first:
  • simple pages that do not do much other than present a div and p or two or three
  • pages that map over data
  • style (keep it CSSimple or learn the Sass plugin)?

I don’t know how people switch around their portfolios. I’m not a UX person. I do not want to spend hours on a pixel to the left or right of some div. That’s not my bailiwick. While I do not want my site to be dull, the UX part of it is not what I want to spend time on. Gatsby at least allows me to deal with JavaScript. I see a bigger problem in figuring out how to style it. No, I don’t want to have it win an award, but I don’t want a blocky site because I can’t style in Gatsby.

Mmmm. I smell a challenge.

Side Note: Grammarly cannot deal with React.

Egads, woman. Stop.

I have not written a word (here) since January? I can say that I haven’t blogged since I was 49. No excuse. Not for a chatty Kathy like myself. I know that blogging my problems, processes, solutions has been helpful in the past, but I still won’t do it because I won’t stop coding. I need to remember that it’s okay—good, even—to stop coding.

Here is what happens when I do not stop coding:

  • I do not run.
  • I do not knit.
  • I do not put my Raspberry Pi together.
  • I do not go to movies or watch movies.
  • I do not read for fun.
  • I do not walk the dogs.

Basically, I become a boring cow. (No offense to cows with awesome personalities.) I’m full of do-nots instead of do-nuts. (Mmmm. Donuts.)

There really is no benefit to doing nothing but coding. We convince ourselves as newbies to code every day (cool, do that), but that doesn’t mean every hour of every day. It’s not good to deny ourselves our other passions. I can love JavaScript as I love reading, running, and rknitting. When I want to practice what I have learned with React, Vue, Node, etc., I’ll probably want to make something that supports another passion, but if I let those passions fizzle or think they cannot be nurtured alongside coding, I find myself doing nothing more than making another fkn to-do list.

Egads, woman. Stop. It’s not forever. Just stop coding to let yourself do some other things.

Things that happen when I do these so-called “other things”:

  • I think of solutions to the problems I encountered.
  • I come up with ideas for new projects.
  • I feel good about myself physically.
  • I have other things to talk about other than passing state down as props or mapping.
  • I attend Meetups.
  • I see movies.
  • I ride my motorcycle.
  • I start Couch-to-5k.
  • I start 750 Words.
  • I rest one part of my brain.
  • I exercise other parts of my brain.

I become more interesting. I return to being the person who, when asked “What do you do?”, returns with “What don’t I do?”

Today? I’ve prepared for teaching Python to a youngster, but I’m also starting my Couch-to-5K plan … again. A plan I keep quitting because I wouldn’t quit coding. Today I start with day 1 and will come home after that 30 minutes to work on my MERN HomeChecker app and a smaller React project. I can give up that time. Yes, I want to be a paid developer, but I do not want to become a boring blob.

 

Copying vs. Studying

Just swap “Node” for “you” below, and you have my life:

“Now you’re the reason that I can’t sleep at night and I can’t go home
I know it ain’t right, gotta leave you alone
But I can’t, whoa no
But I can’t, whoa no”

— Gary Glark, Jr. Can’t Sleep

I do not know if this is a good thing that I need to be proud of or a bad thing that needs to be fixed (and definitely not admitted to publicly), but I can’t go to sleep when I’m stuck on a problem in my code. I cannot just say “Tomorrow!”. I try. I shut off the laptop and go to bed, but then I grab the phone and hone my Google-fu skills.

Honestly, I used to think Gary Clark, Jr. was singing about a woman, but I don’t think he is. What is the point, really? Relationships end, and by the time any song is published, the man or woman who was so desirable at the time the song was written has long since been relegated to ex. Now code. Code is forever. Even Fortran is still out there. It won’t matter what language you use, the logic will be the same. If you need to iterate over an array, you’ll do so in Java, C++, or Next New Language. If you don’t use code, you’ll use your own mind. Grocery shopping with an app or in person, you’re scrolling or strolling. LOGIC IS FOREVER, MAN!

So right now NodeJS and Hangman are the reasons that I can’t sleep at night. I feel that this last homework has less time to plan, sketch the decision tree, pseudocode, find fault in my plan or missing bits, code than the previous homework did. I feel the crunch and therefore I my head does not feel the pillow. The beauty of code is that there are many ways to set up a game; the frustrating thing about code is that there are many ways to set up a game. Other ideas interfere as I plan. I feel like I’m shopping hungry and without a shopping list. “Oh, I’ll try that. Ooooh, and that. Or that. And that.”

The nature of homework is that I do this by myself for myself. This means I have no one to discuss this. Ok. I do, but since I am not working with my classmates, we rely on who is on Slack at the time you need help. The other option is Google-fu, but how much of that is too much. Hangman, trivia games, RPGs, tic tac toe (naughts and crosses) are all out there many times by those new or old to coding. When does research become a crutch? Right now my attitude is that if I find anything that is too similar to my homework, that I cover the keyboard with a notebook and use pen to write out what the person has done. Take their code and turn it into a decision tree. No cutting and pasting. No putting it on a screen next to my laptop and typing what they have written. I feel that this is ok. Like having the odd numbered problems answered in the back of the book. Check to see if you’re on target. If you see an answer you didn’t get, then work back. You’re given an answer, so on your own, try to get there.

I used to be a teacher. I have issues with copying or plagiarising. I hope anyone would. But isn’t some type of copying part of learning? Aren’t the notes we take a form of it? I know my students copied my examples. I know that they also copy Davinci in art to learn. I think as long as there’s no copying and pasting or writing in parallel, it’s not too slippery of a slope. Study. Learn from someone know knows something you do not, but we should try to make sure we are learning from someone and not copying. Ask ourselves questions as we study other people’s code. What is she doing here? Why did she do it this way and not this other way? How did he validate if it’s a letter? We don’t have textbooks. If we want the point of view from someone other than our instructor, we have only what appears on StackOverlord, YouTube, and other magical Google-fu results.

Since all of the code I could think of is already out there, I have to have my own form of honour code. It’s my loss if I copy and paste. It’s also my loss if I just look, say “Oh, I see”, and code while switching back and forth between screens. It is not my loss if I study, analyse, compare, and then try it on my own and return back to my coaches.

COFFEE: 1
ENERGY: 6
FOCUS: 6
HAPPINESS: 8
LOCATION: Tammy’s
STRESS: 9
AMPM: am AND pm
NONFICTION: t

750 Words: The challenge of challenges

This will be interesting. I could not sleep and started stressing about getting up in time to ride to the train station for the 7a train, so I gave up the ghost at 4a and just got myself ready for the 4:54a bus. I am not sure how coding on the bus will go. It’s not as smooth a ride. Jiggly lap => jiggly laptop => rando typos.

I have no problem coding every day. I do not need the 100-days-of-code challenge to get me to do it. All I do differently when I decide on doing it is owning up to my contributions on Twitter. I also become a more active Twitter participant when I start a challenge. I also make sure that I commit every day when I am on the challenge. For some reason, once I announce to the anonymous world that I am committing to 100DoC, I feel the “pics or it didn’t happen” threat is taken care of with the little green GitHub square.

So no. My problem is not coding every day; my problem is staying focused on one or two projects. That’s the ADHD without a boss or teacher issue. When the boss looks at me in the mirror, I’m less focused. MeAsMyBoss should never have hired me:
Me: I want to do a little CSS grid in between Node tutorials.
MeAsMyBoss: Don’t forget that you need to fix your portfolio, apply for jobs, do your homework, and correct or improve past homework.
Me: And maybe even plan a bigger full-stack project since I’ll be asked to do one soon.
MeAsMyBoss: I KNOW, RIGHT!?
Me: RIGHT?! Let’s deal with our excitement and stress by eating all the things!
MeAsMyBoss: EAT ALL THE THINGS!

MeAsMyBoss also is more of a delegator. She’s not someone I could go to when I get stuck. She doesn’t ask me what I think I should do. I also don’t have this desire to do right by her. I don’t care if she’s proud of me or impressed with anything I’ve done. In fact, when she is impressed, she makes me come off as a needy narcissist. Don’t get me wrong. I love MeAsMyBoss’s twin sister MeAsMyRoommate. I can do solo living. I don’t just talk to myself; I orate. I’d rather have OtherAsMyBoss. I love a good boss—one I respect and look up to. When I have OtherAsMyBoss, I procrastinate less and stay on task more.

Alas, I do not have OtherAsMyBoss. Or I don’t for coding and web development.

Until then, I have to stick with MeAsMyBoss. Maybe we can teach each other. Maybe she’ll keep me from going with a new idea: “Katy, let that one rest in your journal. GitHub can wait.” And maybe I’ll remind her that I need different projects to satisfy the different—OH CRAP! BUS TRANSFER POINT!
~~~
(and who is the boss of “shove everything in the pannier get off the bus get the bike find the next bay load the bike get on the bus and carry on”? ME! Fueled by Spokesman coffee and a jolt of adrenalin.)
~~~
See? I have to have different projects for the different time chunks available to me. I cannot do tutorials on the bus because I can’t hear the announcement. Tutorials are better for the train when every stop is predictable. I prefer longer tasks like homework for when I can have a second monitor set up. My available times do not suit one project. What can you do? I don’t care. What can I do? That’s better. I can find a happy middle between one project that I can’t do during some of my free time and too many projects that just mean I get nothing done. I also give myself a break. There’s a difference between having unfinished projects because I dislike them and having unfinished projects because I want to learn all the things.

But I do think I am done with adding more challenges. I have 100 Days of Code (very disciplined with), 750 Words a Day (medium as it is second to 100Doc), and getting back to the gym (necessary as I’m a stress eater and am pursuing a career that puts many people in 90-degree angles for hours at a time). I think I’ve maxed out I can’t even satisfy my “get to bed before 10p” challenge even once a week.

Stats:


Screen Shot 2018-01-08 at 6.08.21 AM

Screen Shot 2018-01-08 at 6.09.02 AM

 

Meta data:

COFFEE: 1
ENERGY: 5
FOCUS: 5
HAPPINESS: 4
LOCATION: on the bus
STRESS: 7
AMPM: am
NONFICTION: t

100 Days of Code III and Codie Jodie

After going 150+ days in the second round, I put this challenge to bed.

Until this year. On the first, I started the challenge over. I will adjust some of the rules as they’re rigid (to me). They’re better rules for those not taking classes and following tutorials. I am doing both. I won’t count classwork or homework as part of the challenge, but I will count any supplemental tutorials or mini-projects. In doing so, I hope to balance my days. If I’m learning NodeJS, then support that with a tutorial, but also keep the UI and frontend fresh with a small snippet, bit of research, or a little project.

Don’t we all need to keep our backend and frontend fresh?

My first few days have been dedicated to finishing Wes Bos’s Learn Node tutorial. This makes my fourth completed WB tute: JavaScript30, What The Flexbox, React for Beginners, and Learn Node. I am always working on ES6 for everyone. I start that one over all of the time to get the practice in. When he releases his CSS grid tutorial, I’ll do that one, too.

Learn Node is a large project that jumps into Node at the late beginning stages. No play in the terminal. Just starting off index and Express, requiring, exporting … He’s taken care of the project decision (a Yelp-like app) and the styling. While at first I felt overwhelmed, by the end, I felt this was a great way to see what it is like to come into a project other people have started.

Now I’m ready to do another that is more ground up. Hello, Andrew “Fantastic” Mead. Honestly, he says “fantastic” all of the time. I like to pretend he has to force himself to say “fantastic” or else he’ll end up saying “fucking awesome”. He’s also like a hot Pee Wee Herman.

Two different styles. I like them both.

But all of this Node is leaving my fronted out to get stale. Ha ha, Code Matey! Not for long. Every workday I have to look at horrible Secretary of State websites. They’re just awful. And you know what has happened. Some manager has dumped the web and online content management to someone who was good with email. Poor sod is already overworked and now has to build and maintain the website.

I do not want to be the person who laughs at ugly sites. They are the same people who love correcting other people’s grammar. Thou shalt not be a dick. Ever. Or we shall try not to, and we shall scold ourselves when we get high and mighty.

Instead of mocking the websites, why not use them as a way to learn and practice the CSS grid system and keep up with Flexbox? (Screw you, Bootstrap. You bore me and junk up my HTML!) The content of those sites is pretty boring. Or at least the section I have to visit. I’d have to keep it ipsummy loremmy. All I care about are the colours, layout, and responsiveness. We’ll see. It’s an idea.

As is Dressy Bessy or Codie Jodie! The doll, which I never had, seemed to have all the fun things: snaps, a button, zipper, laces. She was a shocking mess for fashion, but her purpose was to teach kids to zip, tie, snap, fasten, and whatever else you can do with clothing. Taking notes about the states’ SoS sites, I got to thinking about just the states in general. 50 states. About 50 weeks in a year with two for fluff time. Why not a state a week that had facts about the state, some decoration, enough boxes and divs to fill a page, buttons that did things, etc? Wouldn’t be pretty, but if the only goal is to practice frontend play, why not? Codie Jodie. She’s got buttons, a responsive grid, some css animations, jQuery plug ins, …

Again. We’ll see. I will need to have all things outside of the class and its homework be short and sweet. Not interested in losing more time.

Planning to plan. On it!