Train tanty & commuter coding

First, the tanty:

I’m earning a little coin doing some part-time work far away. Not quite in a galaxy, but damn near close to being one. To get there, I could drive. I have. It works. If I leave at 6am, I get there at 6:30 and workout, shower, and relax before I start working. The traffic is minimal and while it’s three times the distance from my house to Austin’s CBD, it takes less time to commute to this almost-galaxy at 6a than to the CBD at 8. But no matter how early I get up and how fast the commute is, it’s still driving. I’m also coming home in school traffic. I get nothing done. Who does? Who on earth gets anything done while driving? Oh yeah, the phone users. Let’s not start a rant about them.

I’ve sussed it out. I used to live in a city with a decent rail system (yo, Brisbane!), and have had to get used to Austin thinking it’s a city but having only one train. ONE! Two cars and running hourly on one route. I wouldn’t call this a rail system. I’d call it a functional amusement park. Austin, darling, you’re hardly weird by not embracing rail. Your hippies, hipsters, and pseudo “weirdos” are in cars (often solo) and clogging up your roads. It’s not Californians’ fault. We are backwards thanks to decisions made by people born and raised here. But go on blaming California. It’s more a sign that you’re bad at math.

Now the coding:

Now, to get to work, I cycle 30 minutes, take the train for another 30, then cycle 15 more. Coming home it’s slower due to the time of day and a serious uphill commute. I have 30 minutes in there to open up the laptop and tap tap tap. I could work on existing code and projects, but since my desk is my lap, and I have no space to write AND I have no give on the time I can unpack and pack, I thought the best thing for me to do is either read about coding, data science, and how-tos, blog about them, or do easy mini projects to keep my mind occupied on the train.

I initialised a repo on GitHub just for this. I have no general plan other than to commit whatever I’ve done. I may start and delete. I may copy something from one project over and take it back. I may just have little bitty things or one larger thing built in itty bitty steps. I think of this repo and 30 minutes (x2) as my version of train sudoku or crossword puzzles. It’s less about the final code than it is just to code. Anything.

I think my only rule will be to work on JavaScript (nilla or jQuery) bits that I can add Sketch App work to in order to balance the logic with the creativity.

And now I have spent this first chunk on a blog post that starts with a tanty ranty. Ah. Venting Tssssss. All good. My boat; my rules.

750words day 12: Kid-friendly vs Parent-friendly

A topic I care about deeply. As before, what’s below is from my 750word entry. Because it’s my sit-and-blather entry, I do not return to edit or proofread. Soz.

Stats for this entry: http://750words.com/entries/stats/6815773



Kid-friendly vs Parent-friendly. There is a difference, and that difference can make or break a space for me.
I thought about that when I read this review of Soursop, a delicious to the 10th power food truck at the St. Elmo Brewing Company in Austin: Zagat review of Soursop, Capital of Nomnomnom. The review is accurate and flattering. I do not disagree with anything; however, it is what prompted me for this entry for 750words. They mention “kid-friendly”, and I disagree. That area is “parent-friendly”. That’s better. Chuck-E-Cheese is kid-friendly. It’s also parent-hell. The difference for me is who is at the center and who should be. Chuck-E-Cheese is for children and should, therefore, be kid-friendly and focused. I would not trust any adult, parent or childless, who loves to hang out at Chuck-E-Cheese. Dodgy as all get out. And, as you can imagine, those places are chaos, and not the good kind. Not the fun chaos of a concert, festival, or the last day of school. More like the chaos of beach-goers getting out as a shark takes a kid on a raft, Black Friday at Walmart, or the first day of school.
Think about the difference between parent-friendly and kid-friendly. I think we treat it like “dog-friendly”, but even then dog-friendly places never end up in chaos. Well, mostly. A dog-friendly restaurant allows people to bring their dogs and meet with friends and have adult(ish) conversations. The dogs do not run feral. They’re not unleashed chasing each other and making it hard for servers to deliver their food or other eaters to enjoy their meals. Owners take time out to walk the dogs out to do their bidness and return. No shitting at the table, putting it in a bag, and leaving it for others do deal with because “that’s their job”. No. It isn’t. It is no one’s job to take care of your shit. Literally, shit that belongs to you: your dog’s or your child’s. Rolling up the diaper and having it tightly taped is not making it nicer for the waitstaff to pick it up. There is only one place to change a diaper, and that is the restroom. Doesn’t matter how cute your kid is, faeces is faeces and it doesn’t happen outside of a restaurant.
For me, parent-friendly is more like dog-friendly. Parents can bring their children. It’s still an adult-centered place, but there are some ways for children to be amused without interfering. This maybe the choice of seats (picnic tables are awesome), the decor isn’t such that messes are disastrous, that there’s more open space OUTSIDE to run about, and that people are happy to have you and your child there. With that, though, comes the responsibility of the parent to make sure the child or children aren’t getting underfoot. Learn about momentum, opposing forces, and gravity elsewhere. Parent-friendly is helpful and kind to the community, and in a place that sells alcohol, it’s important to remember who is the focus. Having a child should not lock a couple or an individual away until there are playdates or affordable and trust-worthy teens to take care of the child. It is also important that children learn the difference between a child-centered place and an adult-centered place where it’s an honor to be included.
I have nothing against kid-friendly but when it is the only term used to mean “the entire family can come”, it’s lumping places like St Elmo Brewery and Soursop with Chuck-E-Cheese. The are not the same. Ever. And if you love St Elmo and Soursop, then you wouldn’t want to chase customers away by treating them like Chuck-E-Cheese. And you wouldn’t go to Chuck-E-Cheese and complain about the noise. Children should be exposed to adult locales, but they are for adults. They’re also for parents wanting to leave their kids with a sitter or take advantage of a week of over-night camp. It’s no reward for them if another person’s child keeps banging into them. I said “keeps”. We all bump occasionally, but if a child keeps knocking into others, it’s unpleasant.
We were all children once. We (I hope) have become decent adults. One way of becoming an adult aware of other people’s space is experiencing being a child in an adult-centered venue and knowing or learning how to act and remembering that it’s not always about you.
I do not expect people to change their way of reviewing, but for me, I’ll continue to differentiate parent-friendly and child-friendly.

750words Day 6: The Yard and the feelz

This post is a rambler from yesterday. Keep in mind that this is the copy-pasted entry for 750 words entry, not a thought-out post. None of the prompts turned me on or got my fingers going. I didn’t know what to write until I saw one of the Soursop people here in Spokesman. She stopped for a decent chat before going to work. There it was. The Yard and its babies. (Links added for this post.)



There is a new place in my hood. Place? I don’t know if that is the correct term for it. The Yard is a former industrial … yard in the St. Elmo district in Austin. Since I have been here, it’s been empty-ish. If the area was human, I’d say it had been ridden hard (literally) and put up wet. There are still the large trucks that haul construction and industrial materials, so it still has that rough feel, but this set of buildings that is now The Yard has become my adult Sesame Street.

The places I’ve visited are The Austin Winery, Spokesman (coffee and beeya), Still Austin Whiskey (not yet open, but the owners let us in to chat), St. Elmo’s Brewery, Soursop. These all offer drinks and food. Also in The Yard are SupATX, MADabolic, Wooly’s Beach, Enabler, Impact Hub, and heaps more. I don’t have much cause to visit the others on a daily basis, but I did a walk around on a much cooler day to find out who was here. A quick walk turned into a long one as nearly everyone came out to talk about what they were doing. I still see these people almost daily. I see Spokesman people when I am at St. Elmo’s and Soursop, and I see the good people from Soursop and St. Elmo at Spokesman. It’s a neighbourly neighbourhood spot. Everyone is nice. Everyone is kind. It has been the most wonderful thing to happen in my zone.

I live an easy 30-minute bike ride to the Capitol. It’s an uneasy 35-minute ride back, but that’s more about incline, the number of gears on my bike, and my spindly legs. I have always felt lucky to have found a place this close to the CBD. I had excellent timing. I am not far from a lot of great eateries and fun places to drop coin; however, I was never walking distance. I’ve walked from the Capitol. It takes me 75 minutes. It takes me 40-60 to get to the fun spots. I’m all about walking and cycling, but eventually, I want to arrive not looking like a mess. And while those eateries are good and SoCo is fun, it’s not neighbourly. They are not set up to be. They target the travelers and masses. That’s great and much needed. This isn’t about what is better. It’s not a competition. SoCo is a different beast than The Yard.

Where SoCo has its chaos and tourists among its loyal locals, The Yard has its chill vibe. Even on Thursdays when St. Elmo’s has Grassy Thursdays (bluegrass) and Spokesman has its free movie night with Vulcan Video and the volume is up, there’s a mellowness that comes from places where one sits and stays. There is a sense of investment of time by those who come in.

I don’t drink. Or, rather, I rarely drink. I am at The Yard almost every day and am yet to have an alcoholic drink. The bars in The Yard do not feel like bars. They are just places where adults can hang and be adulty. To drink or not to drink is up to the individual. No one cares. Come in and enjoy the music, live or vinyl, and do what you want to do. Bring your child if you want. They’re not so much child-friendly as parent-friendly. There is a difference and it shits me to no end that people want child-friendly for places that are for adults. Be parent-friendly. Leave child-friendly to putt-putt courses and places that include “family dining” in their descriptions. Parent-friendly is different. The focus is still on the adult, but accommodates them with things like nice changing tables, games, fun art. While at Spokesman, I saw a little boy leave the men’s restroom saying “It’s so cooooool!” It is. I take my phone to the restroom to pick a character to photograph. Briks Loves You is the artist behind all that you see on the walls at Spokesman. Every character has its own personality. There is even an axolotl in the women’s restroom!

I hope more neighbourhoods get their own version of The Yard. It’s nice to have a little town to visit on foot or by bike without heading into the city. It’s still very much what you think of when you think of Austin. As it gets harder to afford to be near the usual places to go out for food and music, places like The Yard become what helps Austin maintain its vibe. Note that I didn’t say “Keep Austin weird”. I hate that. “Keep” is an unfriendly word: keep off the grass; keep Amurka for Amurkins; keep your filthy paws off my silky drawers! Ok, the last one is ok. Do keep your filthy paws off other people’s drawers—silky or otherwise. “Keep”, though, is often seen on an angry and unfriendly sign. I guess “Allow people to go on about what they want to do and refrain from judging them if they are different from you” doesn’t work on a tie-dyed shirt from a sweatshop in Macau.

In times when community is hard to find and for someone who struggles to balance being a loner and wanting to see friendly faces, The Yard is my place.