Pet loss amidst…this

Pet memorial. All gone within  the last 2 years, after having managed to avoid a pet death for the prior 16.

I have planned every day for the past couple of weeks to take a few minutes to post a real blog update. It never happens. I’ll rattle off some reasons. Work remains intense. I’m not completely comfortable describing in any detail just how intense this work is. I don’t have much interest in blogging if I feel an impediment towards raw expression. I feel I’m not being authentic to write narrowly and ignore other, more significant topics.

It’s 1:11. I need to turn off the self-censor for a few minutes I need not to worry that what I write at 1:11AM will seem inappropriate at 1:11PM.

Blunt truths. I’m exhausted. I have been exhausted. When is the appropriate time to declare a time-out for self-care while you’re in the middle of a twelve-week, once-in-lifetime quest that will dramatically shape the remaining trajectory of your life? But if you don’t sleep, you…[this, that, and that]Your health comes first!…[What’s another one, Dave? C’mon ,you’ve heard it all from all parties concerned?]

It’s very difficult to explain to a non-coder. It’s very difficult to explain to a coder who hasn’t actually gone through this experience. It’s very difficult to explain to a coder who is going through this experience who is…not me…single, mid-career, hates the mere possibility of letting others down, cares as much about maintaining friendships as carving out a career and finds it acutely painful to have to de-prioritize the former…

It’s getting late…now 1:31…I’m over-thinking…what I wanted to get to was what you see in the photo. Pet loss. Pet loss amidst…and I spent five minutes trying to find the right word for the subject and decided I needed to move on. Pet loss amidst…this…

It’s been over two weeks since the longest domestic relationship of my adult life ended. That’s one way to put it, with “it” being my cat dying. I have not had a chance to let the death of my nearly 17-year-old cat Zellouisa sink it. What is going on here that I can’t even take time to mourn? The little box with her ashes sat at the vet’s office for eleven days. I didn’t have time to pick it up.

After I adopted Herman in 2006, I knew I had three aging pets that might very likely die within a short time of each other. Given where I was 4-5 years ago, I had a deep fear of how I would move forward if I were to lose them all, for the most part, at once. Because, in the darkest times, the pets have been all I’ve felt I’ve had. I’ve had a pet since the summer of 1996. That was not a fine summer, but having Aremid helped. Both the cats, Aremid and Zellouisa, were with me through lots of moves and job changes and life events and illnesses.

Me and Kitten Z (crop)

And now, for the first time in 18 years, I have no cat. All of my original pets are gone. Somehow, I managed to go 16 years without losing a pet. But Aremid died in June 2012. Then, the “new” cat Mr. Featherbottom died abruptly in May 2013. Then, I lost Herman in February. And, then, Zellouisa, five months later. Four pets in two years.

And I have no time to process it. No time to process a lot of things. Certainly no time to spend 37 minutes on writing blog posts.

Identity management part 3

For better or worse, I’ve imported every post from Toastiest to Bull City Dave. This current state of internet presence may not survive the weekend, but I wanted to sit with it for a little while. Before-and-after BDC is easy to discern. Everything posted prior to June 7 was written by Toastie.

Another wordpress.com rant. I don’t want ads to ever appear on here. Another reason to get back to a wordpress.org blog or get away from WP. And I can’t stand the return message after I publish something, “You published your 6th post on this blog.” What is the point? I don’t want a badge. I presume I can turn that off somewhere, but any service with too many default behaviors I need to turn off is not a service I want to use regularly.

Identity management part 2

I’ve got a dilemma I need to solve quickly. What is my personal brand going to be? A few weeks ago, I cornered the market on bullcitydave. Well, at least as far as a .com, a Gmail account, a Twitter account, and a GitHub account are concerned. The fact is that, due to my branding via anonymous pseudonym for the past 16 years, I never bothered to try to get daveseidman.com or davidseidman.com. These are owned by a talented web developer and talented artist, respectively. I don’t have any interest in trying to compete with them. And, yet, I realize that I must. But I don’t want to use my middle initial ‘H’. That’s always been too much of a mouthful when I’ve given out my full-name Gmail address, I don’t want to feel like “that other David Seidman, the ‘H’ one” (and there are plenty), and I’m pretty much done with being called David. It’s mainly an issue of phonetics. I’ve never been able to clearly pronounce David Seidman, with the ard ‘d’ followed by the ‘s’. That may sound odd, but Dave Seidman rolls off the tongue with less effort.

Today, I grabbed daveseidman.me, daveseidman.net, and daveseidman.us, on the advice of a trusted mentor. (I’d name you, trusted mentor, but I may not fully embrace your advice.) I also attended a compelled talk today by a guy who knows quite a lot of social branding. John Saddington (john.do) is a successful developer, entrepreneur, and  a partner in The Iron Yard. Contrary to my assumptions about what an expert might advise, he firmly believes in being yourself in your public online persona, of allowing your personality to be available to the public, even though, and even because, the public includes potential employers, clients, and customers. My immediate thought upon hearing this was, “Oh, what I have I done? Why am I abandoning The Old Site? Why did I feel the need to adopt a brand new presence?”

So today I’ve received the advice to use my name in my URL, but I don’t want to abandon my long-time identity and have been encouraged to keep my history, warts and all, and I got feedback that Bull City Dave is a pretty cool name. So, what to do?

I even created a new bullcitydave Instagram account the other day, mostly because I feel I’m missing out on being able to quickly share images like this:

Taking the night off

Moksha and her new toy

I told a couple of classmates that I might “take the night off.” I deserve it. I’ve been working hard for a week-and-a-half and been getting about four hours of sleep a night. I’m not complaining about that, because I love what I’ve been doing. Wednesday night, I finally took the final exam for my online masters course. That coursework had been a huge burden, overlapping with my Iron Yard work. I had fully immersed myself in that course and the winter quarter course prior to that, or at least as much as I could while dividing my attention between that and my full-time job. As recently as six weeks ago, my inclination was to leave my job to pursue that degree full-time. But then I found about Iron Yard, and, well, I decided this would put me on a path to a fulfilling career doing something I’d truly enjoy, whereas the grad program…who knows. I’m being purposely vague. I don’t want to slam this particular grad program here, nor do I want to get into the merits of online education versus face-to-face instruction, let alone the merits of a graduate program offering access to a wide body of knowledge but no explicit career benefit versus a an intensive non-degree program of learning that guarantees employment in one’s desired field. (Yeah, I know I’m on the cusp of launching into something lengthy, but I told myself I’d just blog for a few minutes.)

Anyway, tomorrow, I’ll attend a talk on “Personal Branding & Blogging”, which is quite timely given my conundrum over what exactly to do with this blog. All of us at The Iron Yard are potential free-lancers who will need to market ourselves and build “our brand”. To be quite blunt, I’ve always become queasy over the mere mention of personal branding. I’m queasy as I type this. Why? Because I know that what I was doing on The Old Blog was most definitely not appropriate for building a marketable brand in the real world. Furthermore, I strongly suspect that my blogging “style”, even if somewhat moderated from what I did on The Old Blog, isn’t appropriate either. I have lots of presumptions about what constitutes proper personal branding and blogging, and I’m not sure I’m cut out for it. Overall, I’d say I’ll have a hard time doing any sort of blogging that compromises my authenticity.

For instance, I’m enjoying exploring map and reduce array functions in Javascript, but I don’t feel any inclination to write a blog entry about them.

What I am doing right now, that extemporaneous thing, that could veer from point A to point X, is what I’d rather do.

Anyway (and I’m fond of the “anyway” transition, though it does seem like sloppy writing), I am not “taking the night off”. I would say it’s the first somewhat light night for me since Monday of Week 1. To be clear, just because I am not overwhelmed by the homework assignment I am working on, there is always a mountain of work I can be doing. There are dozens of articles that have been suggested that I should and that I do want to read. My future success depends on how deep I’m willing to dig on my own time. I admit that, for tonight, I’m needing to watch a little Orange Is The New Black. But I still can do, and want to do, some map and reduce work at the same time.

A note on WordPress…I have been using the full WordPress package from WordPress.org for over 7 years, and that’s given me the freedom to explore and customize to my heart’s content. I like being able to go into the file system and underlying database. I’ve used WordPress.com for a private blog for a couple of years (which is a bit ironic, I know), and now I’m using WordPress.com for this, and I find the experience jarring compared to the “full” experience. I hate how if I attempt to create a post from the top menu (“New Post”), I’m presented with this simple interface that I realize is geared towards the millions who don’t care what’s “under the hood”. What would like to post? Text, Photo, Video, Quote, or Link? Um, I don’t know yet, WordPress. I probably want to reserve the right to decide later if I’m going to embed photos and videos and links into my post. Let me figure it out for myself! And then I’ve got to remember to go to the full dashboard’s “Add New” link.

In other words, I so much prefer to have the power to write a post using HTML and styling, and I don’t like to be steered towards a particular workflow.

This is an excellent reminder of why what I’m doing now is right up my alley. I care about how content looks, not just the getting it up there, and I prefer to have complete control. That’s why I loved working on my own webpage back in 1995 that was just plain-old HTML coding. There was no Frontpage, no Dreamweaver, no WordPress. Pico. That’s right. Telnet to godzilla.acpub.duke.edu and pico. (I took a few years to learn vi.) Such tangents…

And I could get into a whole spiel about why a self-hosted blog is so much better than a hosted blog, which is better than merely tossing thoughts out via Facebook or Google+, or, ugh, Twitter. (Ironically, I just dusted off my two-old-year unused @bullcitydave Twitter account.) And that gets me full-circle back to my earlier point about figuring out how to put forth my social media self. To be continued.

Oh, and I should absolutely put a picture in every blog entry. If I have nothing off the top of my head that’s relevant to my writing, a pet photo will do.

Oh, and I must spend some time getting a better theme. I can’t stand that I’m using a default theme.

Identity management

Step 2. Change “a fine wordpress.com site” to my name. That’s a big deal, because, while I have a WordPress blog since 2007 and a Live Journal blog prior to that, I have never blogged using my name. Years ago as an undergrad, I offered up my name on my primitive webpage. Don’t search the Wayback Machine for it. I’m not going to be “authentic” to the point of sharing that. I’m sure it’s not too difficult for you to find it if you really wanted to.

Anyway, I’ve just proclaimed this to be Dave Seidman’s blog, which is difficult to come to terms with at the moment.

It’s 2:52AM. Shall I blog about web development? I’m at 2:52AM because I can’t help but work on my homework. I am at a point where it wouldn’t be dire if I didn’t do anymore work on it this weekend, but I have a compulsion to work on it. Tonight, it’s mostly responsive web design I’m working on, in addition to continuing to fine-tune the full-sized web design I’ve been working on all week. This is my sixth consecutive day of classwork, and I don’t mind all the time I’m spending on it one bit.

I recall how I used to spend a ridiculous amount of time trying to work on the custom styling for my blog(s), though I could never get the layout as precise as I wanted it, because I didn’t truly know what I was doing. I was self-taught, and, for me, that only took me so far. The Iron Yard is teaching me the right way to do it all, and I’ll say more about this going forward. But it’s 3:01, and I’m thinking sleep should be sought out at this time.

 

Hello World is a bit of a cliche but I’m in a hurry

2:08pm @JVG (Joe Van Gogh), Durham: I just wrote in my private blog:

Ridiculous that I don’t blog about Iron Yard, either in here, [long-time public blog that uses a long-time pseudonym], or the soon-to-be-created Bull City Dave blog. No time to write about it. It may be the best decision I’ve ever made. I do want to be a developer. I’ve been obsessed with it. It requires an immense amount of dedication, and I’m up for it.

And then I stopped and figured it was time to start bullcitydave.com. So here it is. You’ll have to forgive me for any lack of clarity. I’ve been journaling/blogging for years, and I tend to write extemporaneously. And I tend to offer this caveat often, lest people think I lack the ability to write coherently.

I do have quite a bit of adrenaline pumping through me right now, as I have since Monday morning when I arrived at ATC (American Tobacco Campus) in Durham for the first day of The Iron Yard’s three-month front-end engineering boot camp. My brain has been in another place for the past six days. But I don’t know where your brain used to be, Dave. Right. No time to introduce myself. In time. Maybe some of my thousands of existing blog posts from my other blog will wind up being posted retroactively in here. Is that a good idea? I’m not sure; I’ve been mulling over exactly how to go about this identity reboot for the last several weeks.

I can’t think of much else other than working on my Iron Yard homework, though it’s not about the homework as much as it is about wanting to build expertise as quickly as possible. I tell people that I’m “starting over”, but I have been working in IT for a lot of years and have a great deal of experience, even if it often seems irrelevant to me. I’m not being fair to myself to label it “starting over”. Or “rebooting”. There’s a great analogy out there, and I’ll share it later when I come up with it.

In the meantime, my intended purpose in being here at JVG was to focus on preparing for my grad school class final. Grad school, yeah. That in itself is a topic I severely neglected in my “old” blog. (I still don’t know if that’s now my old blog or just a more personal blog I’ll continue to maintain.) Very briefly… Having been in a career crisis for quite awhile, I decided at the end of 2013 that I’d move forward with a plan I had procrastinated about for awhile, to start an online grad program I had been accepted to a year-and-a-half earlier. Wow, I have no time for this backstory.

In any event, and many people who know me may not know this, I left my job a few weeks ago with the expressed purpose of pursuing the graduate degree full-time. However, I had just learned about The Iron Yard, and, quite suddenly, it dawned on me that if I considered what I really wanted to be doing with my career was something I had already been informally and naively doing for nearly 20 years–web development. So…here I am.

Much more to come. More than you’ll care to read. And I’m certain that I’ll be writing about much more than web development, which some may considered an ill-advised career move, but authenticity is important to me. So, here we go…

2:35pm So I’ve moved swiftly in the past hour to get on wordpress.com and grab the domain. (I’ve managed my domain on my own before, but I have no time to set that up right now.) And I’ve just taken a dive into this blog. But I’ve got to pick a theme, even if I’m sure I’ll customize it later. (Much of my web development over the past seven or eight years has consisted of playing around with WordPress themes.) So what shall I begin with?

On second thought, I don’t have the time to pick a theme right now. I’ll want to customize it from the get-go, and, like I said, my brain should briefly revert back to grad-school mode, because I’ve got this final exam to prep for.

Oh, another caveat…I think I spell and form grammatically correct sentences pretty well, for the most part…but my brain has these misfires that sometimes produce something that is inaccurate, even though it knows better. Seriously, I could’ve just typed “nose better”. If I’m writing something that it is not meant to be extemporaneous, I proofread carefully. I’m just throwing that out there. If I quickly typed, “out their”, it would just be one of those neural misfires. I suppose I could get in the habit of proofread even these extemporaneous posts, but then I’d second-guess my writing, and it’s no longer extemporaneous.

If a tree falls in the middle of the woods, does it make a sound

I don’t know exactly how that philosophical question goes and don’t feel like looking it up at the moment. I’m going to try to make this post as brief as possible, with some lengthy philosophical follow-up, perhaps, at a later date.

Volume I of My Journal may be permanently lost. Volume I is the yellow spiral-bound notebook I started on Februrary 22, 1989. It chronicles a few awful months of junior high. I recently though I’d convert it into a blog, so it would finally be out there. I’ve feared for the last 20 years that something would happen to my handwritten journals. If I lost them, proof of anything I chronicled would be lost with them. It would be devastating.

It does suck to a degree I don’t imagine many people can grasp.

I later decided a regularly-updated blog of the journal was a bad idea, but I recently stuck the notebook in my laptop bag. I figured, if I had no better idea of how to kill time at dialysis or elsewhere, transcribing the journal wouldn’t be the worst way to kill time. At least I’d have it all in permanent digital form, whether I shared it or not.

Now, it appears it’s gone. If I had left it at dialysis, one tech told me, “[the cleaning crew] probably would’ve thrown it out”. I’m pretty cynical, but even I was shocked that someone else would have such blatant disregard for someone’s property. They don’t need to know it was a 21-year-old recording of a personal history. But it was my someone’s stuff. Now it’s probably in a landfill. There are some pretty easy self-deprecating follow-ups lines to that. I’ll refrain for now.

I’ve got other things I’ve got to do at the moment…needed to vent about this and move on…

Turkish Hackers

12:30AM via vi tex editor
My website was hacked a few hours by some fun-loving Turks. I have a ticket in my web host provider. I don’t know if was caused by my own WordPress security holes or the web host provider’s security holes. The WordPress database is fine as far as I can tell. Perhaps this will be a good opportunity to upgrade to WordPress 2.5. The hackers seemingly only impacted some index.php files, but even after restoring what I think are valid index.php files, the site just doesn’t work.

In the meantime, I realize the world does not miss this site. I’m annoyed, but what else is new. I mean, I’m annoyed that the frat boys at the end of the block keep their trash bins out at the corner seven days a week. It doesn’t take much…

Maybe I’ll make an extra effort to Twitter. That Twitter, that’s why the really scary thoughts go, because I really don’t think about what I’m putting out there. Que sera, sera.

1:22AM via WordPress Got the site working again. For the benefit of other WordPress users who get their sites hacked by a Turkish hacker, or just for anyone whose WordPress suddenly starts showing only blank pages, for either content or admin screens, I’ll share the fix. I backed up all my plugins in the wp-content/plugin directory. I deleted the plugin directory. (Simply renaming the directory and adding a plugin at a time to a blank plugin directory didn’t work. Having a blank plugin directory still caused blank pages). I recreated the plugin directory while I was already logged into the admin part of WordPress (wp-admin) and navigated to the Plugins option. Then I added all the plugins back. Then I reactived the ones I wanted one at a time and tested to see if any had broken WordPress. None had. All better now.

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