Out to get some work done. Thought a wrist rest would be a good idea. First-world problems. The Hallmark store (which is going out of business…near Durham’s South Square) could probably help me out. Then again, maybe this is just a sign that I don’t need this wrist rest,
I brought home Zellouisa as an itty bitty kitty back on October 1, 1997, after a co-worker who lived in Eden asked if I wanted another cat. Today, for the first time in 18 years, I don’t have any kitties. I had to put Zellouisa to sleep today, after she apparently suffered a torn achilles tendon a few days ago, probably brought on by the general weakening that comes with being 17-year-old cat with various diagnosed and undiagnosed medical conditions. I’m afraid she was in quite a lot of pain these past couple of days. Sweety Z. Weezie Weeze. I know she really enjoyed being the only kitty over the past year. I thought she was doing ok. But things happen. This is tough. I’m sure I’ll have more to say soon enough, or, at the very least, I’ll probably start a post-a-thon of the Best of Z, in photos. Goodbye, sweet girl.
There’s no time to blog. And I’m self-censoring. I’d be a lot more blunt and prolific in describing my state of mind as I press forward with my career re-invention if I were still blogging under a pseudonym. I think my last couple of posts have hinted at a strong undercurrent of frustration. (I could go a read them, but it’s never a good idea to read old blog posts, even if they’re only a few days old, let alone a few years old.) I’ll hold off on making another such post now, because I have been meaning to post a link to my game.
Yes, it’s a game called Dogwoome! Dogs must woo potential adopters through a series of licks, cuddles, and barks. That’s it. Most people will see a silly game that does very little. People I know probably assumed I could have done something like this, already. Nope. I haven’t coded anything resembling a game since college. And this was fun. Although, in a fashion true to myself, when I was turning in this homework at the end of last weekend, I was obsessed with what it doesn’t do. I wanted there to be complex algorithms. I wanted it to be multi-player with multiple targets. I wanted my code to be clean. But we only had so many days to work on this. There were some technical requirements that had to be met. I write about this in the past tense as if I’ll never touch another line of code on it. I don’t know if I’ll touch it again. In this class, we’re always charging ahead. We should clean up some of our old projects and be proud enough of them to keep them in our public github repositories for all to see forever. But I don’t know.
I was proud of this when I submitted it. But, again (recurring theme alert!), I am constantly overwhelmed by what I do not know how to do, and I can’t help but look at something like this and see how amateurish it is rather than what I was able to put together in a few days having never built anything like this before.
I do not sell myself well, do I? Nor do I hold firm to proclamations that my blog post isn’t going to be “another such” self-critical/defensive/frustration-laden post. (Why couldn’t I just have made this a post about Dogwoome!?)
I’ve had notes for this post for over two weeks now. I just haven’t made time for writing in here, other than that reactionary post the other day about feeling the need to place value on my education and experience. I only happen to be writing in here now because I have a little bit of time. I may actually get to sleep before 1AM tonight. It hasn’t been abnormal for me to be working on a homework project until 2 or 3 or 4AM…or all night, as I did the Sunday night before last. I am consumed by my Iron Yard work, and apart from the real need to look after my health, this is not a bad thing. But it has been stressful. I work this hard, not because The Iron Yard forces me to, but because my future is riding on this, on my ability to tap into and realize my potential as a creative and analytical thinker.
A couple of weeks ago, I began writing about how I had been feeling that I was learning well for the first time in a very long time. I had such positive feelings regarding what I was doing, this career overhaul, this pursuit of knowledge and growth in an area I have real passion for. But then the self-doubt began to dominate. I had listened to a speaker recollect how he had started programming in BASIC as a kid and just kept moving forward from there to conquering the world. I thought about how I had done that (Well, the first part of that.) I had programmed in BASIC as a kid. I kept going. I coded in college. I learned HTML 20 years ago in college. I built my own websites. I did a little here, a little there. But, essentially, I stopped. And thinking of this can bring me to the verge of crumblign. In a parallel universe, I could be the guy speaking to coding academy students about how far a passion for coding could take you. But I’m not. I’m 38 years old, and all I can do is move forward with whatever my brain can do now. I have no choice but to do this, but I don’t know how to avoid being overwhelmed by past failures and self-perceptions of inadequacies.
A week ago, I was hearing the phrase “only been doing this for four weeks” bandied about, with regard to the high caliber of work that my class is doing despite the very limited experience of many. But rather than soak up the praise, I was lost in my own personal equation “four weeks + twenty years”. Everyone comes from different backgrounds, but I’ve been trying to make a go of this for two decades. I didn’t just learn HTML four weeks ago. I learned in back in 1995. And kept up for a few years, and then fell very far behind. So when I start to feel lost, that perhaps I’m falling behind, and I’m spending hours troubleshooting unsuccessfully, and I’m jumping down rabbit holes in search of solutions, I get pretty demoralized. I often feel as if I have some nebulous block to realizing my potential. This block numbs me. It nauseates me. It consumes me.
I didn’t want to write about these feeling while I was too deeply entrenched in them. I’ve muddled through them and think I’m at a better place now. There’s some self-censoring at work here. I don’t want my own struggles to reflect badly on The Iron Yard. Also, for better or for worse, I now blog under my own name. Presumably, I’ll have a main website fairly soon that merely links to this blog, rather than being defined by this blog, so there will be a small buffer between the guy who is trying to impress others and the guy who admits to battling the demon of unrealized potential.
Anyway… I want to write about the game I made, but not right now, because I’m about to fall asleep. Before 1 AM. Go, me.
Except that if I went to Duke University, I had better mention it, even if I didn’t love my time there and don’t bleed Duke blue now. I had better mention that I’ve worked for Duke and for Cisco…and done work for start-ups and government agencies, even if I wasn’t loving what I was doing most of the time. I had better mention that I designed, developed, deployed, supported, maintained, and upgraded help desk and other service management applications for a decade-and-a-half, even if I would have rather been doing something else and struggle to adequately explain why I didn’t.
None of this matters to me, in the sense that I’d like to put it all behind me. I just want to be a damn good front end engineer.
But I did do all that stuff. I was a smart guy and maybe I still am (even if I cannot extemporaneously describe my career body of work more gracefully than by referring to it as “all that stuff”.) I was often told that I was doing a great job, even if I didn’t think so myself. Imagine what I could do if I really enjoyed my work.
All of this matters. Somebody will care. Many will not, and that’s fine. But if no one knows because I don’t bother to mention it, no one has the opportunity to determine if they care. (I just reread this paragraph. Yes, it’s horrible writing. I shall leave it in as a monument to horrible writing).
And perhaps somebody will care that this guy Dave is a bit too self-deprecating and too honest for his own good. That’s fine.
Blog pet pictures instead.
This IBM keyboard from 1990 is available for use at The Iron Yard. It’s got a USB adaptor!
Working on a challenging project for class this weekend. Thinking that the same dopamine surges that accompany addictions are occurring with intense coding sessions. (I’m no expert on this, even though I want to feel well-read on the topic. I don’t have the time to do research.) The similarity in coding is that, when things are going badly, as they often are, I am less likely to step away and more likely to “double-down” and work more furiously, often digging myself deeper. It’s horrible, and yet, it’s absolutely worth it when that “big win” finally comes in terms of an “aha” moment. Like with gambling, I feel like the aha moment cancels out the preceding lengthy drain, even if the losses (in time, in the coding case) are too massive to recover from. The rush of the aha moment is sufficient to keep me going.
The difference between coding and gambling (yes, “the” difference in the oh-so-elaborate metaphor I have constructed) is that you’ll never come out ahead in gambling, over the long haul. In coding, the more experience you have, the quicker the aha moments come, and you do come out ahead. And, there are occasionally people who can help you keep in the odds in your favor. (The problem I figured out ten minutes ago, I did so all on my own…thanks for nothing, Stack Overflow…but I know I’d have some support if I needed it.)
Back to work…
(As for that photo, all I can say is that I took it in Vegas years ago. It has little to do with the metaphor, but I was amused to have rediscovered it.)
Moksha and I just had a traumatic visit to the Northgate Dog Park, where a seemingly lazy, gentle dog went berserk, yet again. While I mentioned the dog and owner’s name on Facebook (private to the default local list only), I’m not going to shame the guy publicly. This guy lords over the dog park. He seems to be there 24/7 and has been coming for years. He said bluntly that it’s “the natural order of things” if one dog drives all the others away. Furthermore, it’s the understood rule of the park that whoever arrives first stays if there is an altercation. He sits at the picnic bench and watches from 100 feet away while his dog suddenly tears into another one. He’s one of those dogs that lounges around 90% of the time, and everyone loves him, but when he gets into the mix… Everyone went over to the small dog side.
I called the sheriff and had them send someone down there, just to embarrass the guy a little if that’s even possible. No one has completely loudly enough over the years apparently, so he’s not going anywhere. I can’t imagine going back there as long as this pair are there. It’s quite sad. Moksha has a lot of fun there. I don’t see any visible signs of injury yet, but such things usually don’t become apparent until later.