The Murray Ave Era (An experimental post)

 

111wmurray-dayone11:42AM Bull Street Gourmet & Market

I was engaged in a fairly typical Saturday mid-day activity, settled at a coffee shop (though this place has real food, not just impossible-to-resist quiches and pies), ready to catch up in my “private” blog about whatever I felt the need to catch up on. And then it occurred to me. Bull City Dave (this site) remains stuck in time. It’s been mostly devoid of content since it became Bull City Dave three years, when I began The Iron Yard and thought I needed a real public social presence. My public writing was always too personal, too raw, too potentially alienating, too potentially offensive. I stick to the Toastie pseudonym. And then, suddenly, I move everything Bull City Dave and put my name on it.

But that was never a comfortable exercise. I was in an intensive coding bootcamp in order to reboot my career. If potential employers were going to see this, I’d need to steer clear of anything too personal. It would be a blog about Javascript problems I’d solved, happens around Durham, NC, and pet photos and vines. It would be a fractionally authentic blog. But I’ve never had much desire to blog unless that fraction comes close to 1/1.

Each time I’ve contemplated a return to my old-school blogging style, I’ve mindful that my career-in-transition might require a new job search in the near-term. In fact, unfortunately, it has, a few times. I had quite sincerely hoped to go from The Iron Yard to a the Next Job that would be The Job for years to come. I had moved around enough in my career. But most people in start-up/code school sphere advised that any first job after a career change would likely be a means to another job. I truly did hate that. But that was my reality. In fact, I’ll bluntly lay out here, it was one job which led to another job which lead to another job…which led to my current job.

As I recently posted on Facebook, which has bene my de-facto blogging platform for years, I say with mixed emotions:

The Iron Yard is shutting down nationwide. I’m not entirely shocked. I’m glad it helped some folks. Personally, I wish I had found a different path from A to B that didn’t involve going through TIY. It was what it was, and that’s I’ll I’m saying. (I hate that expression, too). I’m grateful I will never again be asked if I recommend it, since I always felt like I had to do contortions to provide an honest answer and remaining objective with regard to what might be best for someone else’s circumstances.

(For years, I think I had a lengthy Iron Yard post at hand, ready to get it all out of my system. But I kept it to myself, for the same reasons I keep most blogging to myself, but for even more compelling reasons. Every company in the Triangle knows of and has some opinion of The Iron Yard. I doubt anything I could write, as objectively as I might try, could avoid some variation of the “bashing your former employer” taboo that one looking for employee is supposed to refrain from).

But I digress… (as is the norm for my blogging…digressions, tangents, non seqiturs…)

I told myself in Private Blog that I only had time for a bullet-list catch-up. I’ll attempt that here, though, in here, the a lack of context is going to confound. Private Blog doesn’t care about lack of context. Private Blog somewhat akin to a higher power, is omniscient. I don’t need to provide context there. I can skip a week or two, a Private Blog just knows what the heck I’m talking about.

  • The Murray Ave Era – First, yes, I know it’s not widely viewed as the safest thing to blog your name and the street on which you live. But there are only two people with my name in Durham, and I can’t afford the other house. So anyone who wants to harass me (or send me gifts) can easily figure out where I live.
    • I closed on the house yesterday, and it’s a huge relief, but perhaps not as much as you’d think, for a few reasons.  A couple of months out of work plus paying a little more than I could afford plus some flat-out dumb financial decisions means I am in somewhat of an analogous place to where was almost exactly a decade ago when i closed on Lancaster St. Back then, a construction loan that would’ve fixed the house up to what I wanted it to be fell through at the last minute. This time, a laundry list of fixes and nice-to-haves has to be put on the back-burner, because I’m out of home improvement funds for now. So I’m a little frustrated that there are some things I’d love to take care of now that I simply can’t.
    • The difference between the Lancaster house and the Murray House is that, with the former, people who’d say, “oh, you can do a little at a time” didn’t realize that there was really ridiculous about to do, and I was in no position to afford to do any of it. With the latter, the improvements needed are less drastic, and, knock-on-wood, if I can kick-ass at my new job, I should be able to take care of these things in due time.
    • I’m not moved in yet. Too much going on to plan anything. Job requires focus. I have three weeks left on the short-term apartment lease. I’m torn between hiring someone and just doing a little at a time, asking for a few favors of help. I already asked for help to move things from Lancaster to storage and from an Extended Stay to the temp apartment. But I didn’t ask everyone I know. I hate asking for help. Always have. Whether it’s in my personal or professional life, I am so reluctant to ask for help. I’ve tried to get better over time. It’s all tied together, really. Not asking for help in one area or another adversely impacts the other.
  • So, in Private Blog, this would be a very quick bullet list, but, since I haven’t done this in awhile, actually blog, I’m rambling on in detail and breakneck pace. (If I were to stop for even 30 seconds to contemplate what I’m writing, I’d freeze up, and there’d be no blog post).
  • Non-profit blog work. I have to fairly simple tasks I need to do. I want to continually apologize for falling behind, but the time spent on apologies could be spent doing the simple tasks (which often aren’t all that simple, because they involve some edge case using a WordPress plugin that has no documentation, and perhaps that’s why I procrastinate…I don’t know what I’m getting into once I start). Anyway, if you’re reading, I owe you some work. Soon. Today, I hope!  I really means a lot to me that,, when I may do work day-to-day that isn’t all that inspiring (quick shout-out to my current job, which I’m really enjoying; I swear; it’s nice that different projects have to duke it out over who gets my time; it will be even nicer once I’m moved into the house and the dust storm around me calms down).
  • Work work. I need to put in some time this weekend because I know I didn’t put in enough time Monday through Thursday. I just need to do it. I wouldn’t mention it here if these were tasks I loathed and people I didn’t care about helping. There are people counting on me, and I want to do right by them.
    • Brief tangent, as what I just wrote reminded me of my last job. I should not write about my last job in any specific terms at all, but I want to say something for the record. I felt like, at every turn, I was doing my absolute best to do right by my employer. And wanted to stay there for the long-term. I hate that the relationship didn’t work out. Such are the perils of working for a very small company. There is no room for unresolved conflict. There’s no one to mediate. There’s no space to take a break and come back to the conflict later.
    • I’ve thought for a long time that finding a company of perhaps 100-200 people would be ideal. I hate disappearing into bureaucracy in a job of questionable value to the organization. I hate being the one individual with a particular job role at a very small company, where I know very well what I don’t know and expertise is needed in the role.
  • I’ve to take a look at my finances (the old Money spreadsheet, which I still prefer to a service like Mint). It’s an odd, discomforting feeling to live your live for a few months where thousands and thousands of dollars are received and spent in a fairly arbitrary way. For instance, the range of potential selling prices for the old house was in the tens of thousands of dollars. So, too, was the amount of money I was willing to spend on a new home. I chose to live fairly comfortably for three months on a three-month lease, even though it was ridiculously expensive compared to a standard lease. The air compressor on my car broke. I need AC working in my car. I was going to pay whatever it was going to cost.  But now that the dust is settling, I must return to a practice of looking at every dollar. I must return to caring if the Halo Top is on sale for $3.99 or if the supermarket has jacked it up to $6.49. I must return to caring that 20% at Bed Bath and Beyond still render most items more expensive than getting them on on Amazon. I must returnto (or really start as a regular practice) of considering if what I’m looking for at Amazon is available on Craigslist or The Scrap Exchange.

So battery power is at 6%. I’ve got my charger, but I don’t think there’s an outlet nearby. Good time to conclude this entry.

I’n going to feel uncomfortably exposed in a few minutes, when I post this and share the link on Facebook.  But I’ll also feel a sense of relief.  Writing into the void just contributes to an overall sense of isolation that I need to chip away at

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Gray, overcast, desolate, and perfect

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12:54PM On a typical 89-degree, sunny, humid July day, there’d be 40 people eating their lunches out on this courtyard. Today, it’s gray, cool, and breezy. Chairs and tables are dry. It’s abandoned. I don’t get it.

To me, this is ideal weather for sitting outside. I’m not sweating a lick. Not a spot on me is cold. The rustling of the leaves is calming. This is my normal. The rest of you, you think it’s gorgeous on those July days. I don’t know what is wrong with you.

I know, from years of experience, that no one takes me seriously when I say I actually prefer this weather to that weather.

My problems with the weather are a microcosm of my difficulty finding my place in this sphere. I can’t even present myself authentically during the most banal small talk about the weather without presenting a disconcerting contrary view. To put everyone at ease, I have to lie. Or pretend that the rain is such a downer or that I can’t wait to get outside on a warm, sun-soaked day.

How I experience the weather isn’t merely a point-of-view or a quaint preference. It’s me. But looking around, there is no one else out here. Everyone traversing the courtyard is going from inside one building to inside another building. No one is lingering. It’s…what is It? 60 degrees. It’s not 30.

Since I never blog, I’m very aware that a post like this might play better if I spent time to thoroughly think through what I’m saying, to actually spend some time crafting this. But I haven’t been making the time for that. And I’d be afraid to do that, anyway, because I’d still be unhappy with the result.

Why blog today? Now? Why not the thousands of other times I have something to say, something far more important to say than something about the weather?

Same reason I never do anything I’d like to do. Fear. What if I’m judged? What if I’m dismissed? What if I don’t receive any validation? What if I’m typing into a void?

I am so behind. On everything.

It’s difficult to just start and write when there’s no context for anything I’m writing. You’ve got no context here.

Quick story:

I needed a career change.

I took a couple of grad school classes. Not a bad decision. Didn’t work out like I’d hoped.

Quit job to go to code school. Immense risk taken. But not a bad decision. Hasn’t worked out like I’d hoped.

Got a job doing web development. Some interesting work with good people. I think I was quite productive and learned a lot. But not a good fit. (I am making a conscious decision to be sparse on details but still be authentic).

Got another job doing web development. So far, not a good fit. Learning a lot. Productive? I’ll measure productive like this–what have I done to help anyone else’s job, health, or general well-being?  Nothing yet. And that’s the worst feeling for me. I need to be useful. Shouldn’t this be a conversation I should be having with the people I work with? Yes, and I will. Of course I’m being vague here.

Ok, that’s enough damage for one lunch break.

Worst blogging snafu ever

Who faithfully reads this?  Don’t answer that, please. More than ever, I don’t want to know. In a recent effort to consolidate Google accounts and various account logins, I made a major snafu.

I posted a blog post here that was meant for my private blog. In my private blog, I am completely unfiltered. I say things I wouldn’t even tell my therapist. In fact, my private blog is the best therapist I’ve ever known. It’s written from the perspective that it will never be read by anyone.

And yet, it was out here for three days, unbeknownst to me. I actually don’t know for certain what the potential reactions could be, because I’m not even rereading it. I don’t need the added stress. But I know what the content generally looks like. A few of you read and may have had reactions ranging from “WTF?” to “seriously?” to “what an asshole!” to “wow, that’s incredibly pathetic and sad” to “I can’t believe he has the balls to post this!” That was an accident.

But it happened. It can’t be undone, other than my having now deleted the post.

I had been thinking about how to move forward with this blog. I’m done with job-hunting mode for the first time in a long time, so I was considering posting more frequently on a more diverse set of topics than I’ve been doing in the Bull City Dave era of blogging.

But that now-deleted post…never would I intentionally post something like that. Of course, I’m bringing attention to it now, so perhaps I’ve piqued some curiosity.  But I feel compelled to post this to address those who happened to see the post. I suppose I don’t have anything significant to really say on the matter, since I’m not going to address anything specific one way or another.

Zellouisa at 15

Wasn’t really looking for this but stumbled upon it, so reblogging due to the dearth of pet picture posts

bullcitydave

I forgot to observe Zellouisa’s 15th birthday back on September 1. Sadly, it was her only birthday as the only cat. She does remain top-cat, however. For what it’s worth, the new one is clearly not suited for top-cat duties. So let’s hope he does not need to fill that role anytime soon.

Me and Kitten Z (crop)
1997

zellouisa-19980801
1998

Sleepy Z in Koz chair
1999

ze000901
2000

ze011001
2001

Ball of Zellouisa II
2002

Z on her back on the hardwood
2003

Z and her cute white bib
2004

How many pictures of Z on her back do I need?
2005

Zellouisa Mugshot (BW)
2006

Definitive Serious Z
2007

Zellouisa 4-20-08
2008

Zellouisa in compromising position
2009

Zellouisa 2010.06.13 15
2010

Zellouisa (bw2) 2011.02.26
2011

Zellouisa 2012.07.23
2012

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Coding error fixed #2: Chrome not rendering page at full width

This was driving me crazy for…well, probably since last weekend’s project. I was using my CSS from last weekend’s project in a test bed for this weekend’s project, and page elements that should have rendered at full screen width or full container width (approximately 960px) were rendering at 600px or 700px in Chrome. All appeared fine in Firefox.

I realized that the main html tag has all of these reserved classes automatically applied to them:


<html class=" js flexbox flexboxlegacy canvas canvastext webgl no-touch geolocation postmessage websqldatabase indexeddb hashchange history draganddrop websockets rgba hsla multiplebgs backgroundsize borderimage borderradius boxshadow textshadow opacity cssanimations csscolumns cssgradients cssreflections csstransforms csstransforms3d csstransitions fontface generatedcontent video audio localstorage sessionstorage webworkers applicationcache svg inlinesvg smil svgclippaths">

Last weekend, in my ignorance, I had named a div class video. This was the problem. Of course, there is no need for this div in this weekend’s project, and it would not have wound up in the actual project repo. It would’ve been a mystery to me why this was happening…and it is still a mystery as to why exactly this behavior occurred in Chrome and not Firefox, but there’s no time to look into this deeper.

Lesson learned: don’t use reserved classes

I don’t keep scissors in the car

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,

Battling the demon of unrealized potential

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.