Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Musings and Manatees

I've learned a lot about being a good mentee and the value of being a mentor over the last year and some change.  I'm gluttonous when it comes to knowledge.  I want to know the who, what, when, where, why, and how when it comes to pretty much everything.  Especially coding.  I am not satisfied with the automagical, nor the "it just works, so do it."  WHY DOES IT WORK? HOW DOES IT WORK? TEACH ME ALL THE THINGS!!! And copy and paste is NOT coding, damnit!  As a mentor, I WANT to hear those questions because I am going to answer them regardless.  I want you to be engaged (remember that last post about empathy?); I want you to care about the company, the product, the client, the coworkers, but I really want you to care about you.  And that means I want you to know all the things, too.  I do not know all the things, to be clear, but I'm always pushing myself, my mentors, and my mentees to teach me what I don't know.  I was really nervous about taking on the role of project lead and being a dedicated mentor.  Not because I'm scared of failure.  Coding has actually retrained my brain to KNOW that failure is a chance to learn all the things that lead up to it and then fix it.  I get paid to break things, y'all!  I'm scared of mediocrity though.  I mean, this has legitimately been my existential crisis since the age of 16 or so, but I'm gaining confidence and I'm gaining ground.  I can tell you, show you, teach you things and I know the who, what, when, where, why, and hows because I was not afraid to be annoying, to feel like a nuisance, to demand the answers.  And if I don't know, I'm gonna find out, so we both know.  I've learned a lot from my mentors, both what kinds of things I want to implement and what kinds of things I want to avoid.  So, if you want my two cents (warning: you are going to get it), do not be afraid to ask questions and make patience your virtue, if only for a few hours of your day, so that the person who comes after you has fewer of them.  On the flip side, bang your head, why else do you have that desk?! Bang it and bang it until you reach a point where the headdesking is outweighing the productivity.  I'm literally a tiny human and it often makes people naturally protective of me, which in turn can lead to more hand-holding than is helpful, so I had to train myself the headdesk vs productivity balance.  So, yes, ask all the questions, but also seek all the answers the hard way, and somewhere along the way, you'll start to learn that you really do "got this".

And now I can't stop thinking about manatees:

Image courtesy of Carol Grant - Getty Image via Time
You're welcome.


Saturday, August 11, 2018

Reality Bites

Let's talk web development, readers, because this is my life, this is the way I process information, and this is my passion and profession now.  I'm gonna refer to the movie Reality Bites several times in this post because I'm on the tail end of Gen X, but I am sooooo Gen X, no question.  When I saw that movie in theaters in 9th grade, I knew it was my defining generation, for better or for worse 'cause this is one thing I can't divorce.  And I cried for... I'm still crying.  AND I still want to get a tattoo that says "Troy Dryer ruined my life!", but I'm too Gen X and not hipster enough to do it.  And I'm too Gen X to commit to it, so there you have it, friends.  But, let it be known, Troy Dyer DID ruin my life.

To the real topic of this post, however, TDD has been on my mind a lot.  We don't formally use TDD at my place of employment.  Honestly, I don't know how we could as we have a completely customized framework.  So, I try to think of myself as the TDD/QA AS I am coding.  Reality Bites: "How can we repair all the damage we inherited?".  This is my work life.  Especially now as I am rewriting/refactoring/headdesking the code out of a base project for all future projects that someone I really adore, and therefore shall not be named, has been coding INTO instead of overriding *HEADESK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!*.

Here's where my head's at (I mean besides slammed against the desk).  I was looking at that last post I made in 2016, which is such a sad cry for help, but now I'm seeing some very different real world and important application to it.  Specifically, to coders.  Focus on the user experience while you are coding; be the user AND the developer.  If you can empathize with the user, you will catch bugs and mistakes in the first development stages, saving you and QA a lot of grief.  And, most importantly, delivering the best product to the user within the most effective timeframe.

When I started my current position, I had an amazing co-worker who was referred to as "the goalie" by another colleague when she QAed other colleagues' work.  When I joined their project, he quickly learned there were two goalies in the office.  Coincidentally, both of us are women.  It has been my experience that women are more empathetic than men, but it's still up for debate.  What I do know from personal experience is that caring about the user experience and practicing empathy towards the user when coding is a better way to code.  Really it's just a better way to live.

So, Lelaina Pierce, the answer to "How do we repair all the damage we inherited?" is not " The answer is... the answer is... I don't know."  The answer is empathy.  And maybe some headdesking, deep breathing, and letting a few four letter words slip here and there.  And a good glass of wine.


Friday, August 10, 2018

Nothing is the Same

So, it's been quite the hiatus for me and this blog and basically everything has happened and it's been terrible and good and mind-blowingly heart wrenching.  And I'm still SUPER raw, but I'm gonna tell you, reader, the short version despite how scary and vulnerable that is.

I lost both of my sons.  This, it's too painful, it's too sacred, so I can only give you this much information.

I got divorced.  And then I dragged out a codependent, abusive relationship for 2 more years, BUT... hey you gais (a la Goonies)!!!! I learned a lot, a lot, a lot.  And then I ghosted him because, well, frankly, I had nothing left to say.  I'm not proud of this, but it's how I handled the situation at the time.

I fell in LOVE.  I found out about web development bootcamps, so I went over to DevPoint Labs, got the Grace Hopper scholarship, quit my job, and went to a full-time Ruby on Rails fire hose to the face learning extravaganza.  Talk nerdy to me, baby!

I fell DEEPLY in love.  I got a job in web development and it is SQL heavy.  I may be the most boring person on earth, but SQL makes my heart soar.  And I love to make the rest of my code LISTEN to my SQL.  I love coding, you guys.  Did I make that clear?

I found HOPE.  I have talked and talked and talked about and through and in and out of just about everything for decades and it helped, but I needed something more.  And now, now I am taking ACTION.  Because I am tired of talking.  So, like my grandfather, George, I found boxing.  I box at a traditional, Brooklyn-style gym.  Sometimes you just need to hit things, people.  You have to sweat it out with a community of other people who are watching your back.

So, hi and stuff.  I'm back.


Tuesday, April 19, 2016


You can't provide support without empathy.

So, it's not only important, but necessary to understand the difference between empathy and sympathy.  Your clients and customers don't want your sympathy.

Three of the most powerful words in the English language are: I HEAR YOU.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


Well, it's been a while since I've had the time, energy, willpower, what-have-you to sit down and update y'all about the kids.  We got some potentially amazing news about this guy, Guy, today:

This brave little soldier may be coming to the end of his chemo road.  We are scheduled for on last treatment in two weeks.  We will follow his chemo with some chest x-rays to make sure that there is no visible mass.  Depending on the results of the chest x-rays, and really the most likely outcome, we will then follow with a thymidine kinase-1 test, which, as I understand it, is a DNA blood test to check on lymphoma levels.  This test almost never gives a false negative, but it can give a false positive.  Depending on the results of this test and the chest x-rays, we may need to also do a full CT scan, which is nerve wracking not only because of the cost (ALL of this is killing us financially, but kids, man.  We love our kids more than all the money in the world), but more importantly because Guy would have to go under anesthesia and, obviously, we want to avoid doing this whenever possible.  Please keep us in your prayers, thoughts, wish on a shooting star, what-have-you.  Now, no matter where we end up in 2 weeks, it is 98% likely that our little hero will not be in full molecular remission, especially since his lymphoma is T-cell, but it will give him enough remission to get back to life as usual until he relapses, at which point we will be looking at a whole new slew of possible treatments.  Thank God this little bug is a fighter and a champion because he is enjoying a normal and wonderful quality of life.  We want to keep it that way.  For as long as possible.  Forever if I had my way.  So there's that.

And then there's this little shit (I write with love):

Poor Coopsies is still a mess, but, true to form, he is also a brave little soldier.  We have not yet been able to get him off of all his pain medication (he takes 50mg of tramadol/ultram every 8 hours and 300mg of gabapentin every night).  He is doing fantastic with his acupuncture though and we have gotten him well enough to have started physical therapy.  His physical therapy consists of half an hour of obstacle courses that focus on strengthening his rear legs and forcing him to lift up his paws when he walks... like REALLY lift them up.  And he LOVES it.  I mean, this dog is so naughty (sometimes it's a blessing he's not too mobile) that I can barely get him to walk half a block and I usually end up carrying him part way home.  60lbs of bulldog is at LEAST 180lbs of regular weight!  I will set up an obstacle course in the backyard of our new house to keep him active.

"New house?!", you say.  Yes.  Unfortunately in the middle of all of this we are being forced to move.  We will have been in this house 2 weeks shy of a year.  Our landlords want to sell the place and we do not want to buy it.  Our new house, which I found in 3 days of learning of the move, is truly a thorn in my side at the moment due to a few issues with the landlord (we are going from overly, inappropriately attentive to "tough shit" landlords) and just quirks with the house in general.  I am confident we will be very happy there after much elbow grease, cussing, and champagne.  We were also lucky to find a house fairly close to where we are now, which keeps us close to our oncologist and critical care vets as well as our regular vet.  It also keeps us close to my parents (read: free babysitters).  Speaking of the move, I need to get back to it.

xoxox and puppy kisses in spades

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Gong Hei Fat Choy?

"Well, guess whose soft lil' arse didn't make it to yoga last week?", she proclaimed rhetorically.  I really cannot remember why Tuesday night didn't happen, but I think it may have had something to do with the Intro to Stats class that my husband teaches at the local liberal arts college.  But, really, we may never know.  So, we decided to be resolved, dammit!  Come hell or high water, we were going to yoga on Thursday!  But we didn't because it's been a brutal week.  On said Thursday I took my poor, broken-ankled dad and my handicapped brother to lunch.  Afterwards we decided to pick up the kids and go see my mother at the bookstore where she shops works.  Our driveway is incredibly icy because my husband somebody never shoveled it this winter.  I knew I had to be careful getting Cooper into the car (I always lift him in and out).  I found a dry patch and waited for him to get to me, but he took his little leap too soon and I had to step my left foot onto the ice to catch him and we both went down.  Hard.  I tried to brace all of the fall myself, but my poor, sweet, darling took some of it.  So, yoga was out and tempers were high.  Then things started to fall into place.  We had Coopsies' first acupuncture and rehab appointment all set up for Monday.  Magically, my property manager FINALLY came through with a renter.  I am not a litigious person, but we were out a few thousand due to her negligence, so she was JUST in time.

But, alas!  I forgot to wash my sheets on Thursday BEFORE the Chinese New Year and did them on Friday.  "Oh, hello good luck, I'd like to wash you away first thing because I'm doing so well on my own."  But I thought I was safe because it's the year of the horse and I'm a horse.  I assumed automatic luck.

Not so.  My girlfriend was home in Hong Kong for the New Year and she warned me that this is a bad year for me.  I need to haul ass and get some sheep figurines to keep me safe.  I don't take chances with this stuff.  Are all horses highly superstitious?

So, Monday rolls around and the lease has just been signed and we are headed to borrow my dad's car for our trip to Park City for acupuncture.  My car is having issues that we can't afford to fix right now with the oxygen sensor, so I felt this was safest.  Maybe not.  Since I had recently taken up a habit of falling hard while carrying my 60lb child, why not keep it up?  I did.  And how.  I missed the last step of my parents' back porch and went down.  REALLY hard.  I took it all in my right knee this time, but at least I managed to hold Coops up and he remained unscathed.  It's not like I need good knees considering all the lifting and carrying of the babe that I do.  Next thing to go will be the back.  Don't need that either.  So, two major falls in less than a week.  Go me!

But we made it to acupuncture, which turned into a circus because the vet, unfamiliar with my children, gave them treats at the START of the appointment.  This turned into an hour and a half of food hysteria.  But we got 'er did and hopefully we'll be seeing results soon.  We have another appointment tomorrow and yet another on Monday.  And this gentleman of leisure...

... championed his way through one of his more difficult chemo treatments today.  So, it's been the most expensive week ever.  And, don't you fret your pretty little head, I'm just as soft as ever and my thighs are expanding by the minute.

If you want to help with our expenses, please consider buying some of my clothes.  I have posted 6 pieces on Poshmark.com under the moniker lilarkin and I have hoards more to come.  The posts were somehow directed to my Twitter (which I have never figured out because... long-winded, anyone?).  You can find them there under the moniker @pariswithoutyou.  Buy some clothes, save a life.  It's NBD to you because you're a hero like that.  And that's why I love you.  Now get shopping.


Monday, January 27, 2014

It was a comedy of errors...

... until it stopped being funny.  Man, oh man, life is kind of a shit storm right now, but we are trying to weather it the best we can.  But most importantly:


My little, snot-faced bundle of joy is 7 today!    He picked out a pretty fantastic snake toy at PetSmart today.  He's a picky little bug too.  We walked the aisle and I showed him everything until he found the one he wanted to chomp.  Then he promptly decided he was finished walking, so I got to carry him, treats and said snake, and (be) drag(ged by) Guy on his leash out to the car.  Thanks for being my greatest form of exercise these last few months, you stubborn little pill.

In Coopsies' defense, he is in a lot of pain right now.  We had x-rays done on Thursday and his arthritis is pretty bad on his hind legs, coupled with sciatica.  We've got him on a pretty heavy drug regimen right now and we'll be adding acupuncture and physical therapy to our routine.   *headdesk* I am still selling a ton of beautiful clothes and I even added 12 new pieces.  I'm going to be trying out a site called Poshmark to do it, so I'll get you more info once I figure it all out.

Speaking of exercise, I haven't.  Not since the beginning of October when Guy got sick.  If you know me, you know I am addicted to staying fit and as active as possible, but sometimes life throws you a serious monkey wrench and you know the rest.  So, my husband and I are taking a yoga class tomorrow.  I am totally nervous, y'all.  I mean, I have good muscle memory and I've put on a little bulk, but mostly I've become SOFT.  Ewwww.  And I am totally embarrassed to be putting on yoga clothes.  OBVIOUSLY, I'll go totally baggy, but people are bound to see the softness.  And, oh God forbid!, if my shirt rides up in downward dog or something.  The horror!  The poor, witless fools who will be walking into that class unprepared for such softness.  It is their yuppy cross to bear and mine as well I suppose.  But I REALLY need this.  When I am not at all active, my pain sensors become excessively active and with the state of my CFIDD, that's a lot of pain and it's all the time.  I'll take sore muscles over deep, full-body pain any day.

I've also applied for a project manager position with my husband's work, which is part-time and very work-from-home friendly to help out with this storm we can't navigate out of (stupid cars, stupid, cancer, stupid sciatica).  Please send us all things positive.