Category Archives: Life and Times

General thoughts about life and living.

This is better — for now

I am getting firmly wrapped up into the Laravel camp. After some fiddling around with it, not making much progress beyond a tutorial or two, I had the bright idea to try coding out my last class’s project into this framework. That limits the unknowns to the framework. It seems to be working out quite well. Not that there haven’t been rabbit holes and dead ends, but I feel like the periods of confusion and being lost are either getting fewer or are shortening, as I’m able to find the solution more easily. Although today I got my best help from my personal guru–my mom. Harvard graduates are good sources of information. 🙂

My final class starts up on Monday, so hopefully I can get everything done with this that I want. In the meantime, I read over the syllabus for the course and have some concerns. And confusions. No response to my questions yet. I have a lot of thoughts and vague notions about the challenges of teaching and learning web programming (and programming in general). And about teaching and education in general. But I don’t know what I’d do about those thoughts. It’s maybe mostly just something I’ll keep in mind as I seek additional educational opportunities.

My sleep schedule is getting all messed up, though. Was tired and migraine-y all day, but now I’m awake at 1:30am. Insomnia is boring, if anybody ever asks you.

Soft skills

Settling in to things in Boston. I have unloaded the truck to the bedroom and a storage unit, with lots of help from friends (old and hopefully new) and family. I’ve been working on my resume this afternoon. One of the things in this job search that has taken be a bit by surprise is the lack of soft skills described in web developer job postings. Most focus purely on the technical skills, with a healthy side of description of the company. I suspect this has several sources. One is, of course, that the technical skills are likely the most important aspect, since things like working well as part of a team are easier to deal with than the inability to work in the particular system. It may also be that the demand for jobs outstrips the number of potential employees, so the soft skills are just not as important. This would also make sense for why it feels like there’s a strong emphasis on selling the company. It’ll be interesting to see how all this plays out, and whether or not I end up changing my thoughts on this as time goes on.

Under New Management

I’ve spent the morning making some changes to this little blog of mine. Given how long it had been since I had posted here, I considered just re-starting from scratch, but as I was reading over some of the posts, I couldn’t. I’m a bit of a pack-rat, so that doesn’t help, but I was also surprised by the level of enthusiasm I had for writing. I’ve not been writing for the last couple of years. A lot has gone into that, but it’s partly because I’ve been pursuing a degree in web development. I am now one capstone project class away from graduation in that degree. Assuming my plans for a career change (which include a move to Boston) pan out, perhaps I will have spare time and energy enough to put into that particular hobby of mine. In the meantime, I can start using this space to blog about the web development stuff I’m doing, as well as other facets of life (like what it will be like living in New England).

As I’ve been talking to folks at the job I’m leaving, several have said how inspiring this change is for them. I am trying to pursue a passion (web development), so I guess I can see that. I also see a lot of unknowns, and that’s really scary for me. I like to plan and re-plan and over-plan. Not having a plan means that things won’t be perfect. Someone, somewhere, might get mad at me. Only as I’m progressing with this path forward do I realize how much these irrational but deeply-seated thoughts and notions control me. Which is yet another reason that I’ve found that making this dramatic of a change in my life is good for me.

Plus, as I have been finishing up the project for this past class, I’ve found myself looking up from the computer to realize it’s 10:30 and past time for bed, and I was too in the zone to notice. Combine that with the 100% that I got on the project, and I think I’ve found something that not only am I good at, but that I really enjoy. In case I had any doubts. (Which I always have about myself. In case you didn’t catch that.) 🙂

Just another oncoming train?

For about the last four months, my team at work has been down a person. About two or three weeks ago, I ran out of other people in the company I could give tasks to. This means that there’s stuff going unassigned, there’s stuff not getting done, and I’m doing a lot of things I should be delegating, since there’s nobody to whom I can delegate. Massive uncoolness all around.

I am very hopeful that this will end soon-ish. I still have one project that needs to be passed off, but that I don’t have anybody to whom I want to do the passing, and the replacement is unlikely to start soon enough to take it. Lots of stress all around, still.

All this means that most of my energy and focus has been going to work, not to writing. It’s gotten me thinking about the fact that so few people make careers as writers, and I wonder how much of that is because, for whatever reason, they cannot sit down and devote the time and energy to writing. Not won’t, but can’t, because of commitments like needing food and housing for themselves and possibly a family.

Yet there are people who still manage to make it work. In many ways, for me, this is actually discouraging, rather than encouraging. I haven’t been able to make it work, and at times like this, it seems unlikely that I ever shall. Do I just lack drive and vision? Is it really not my true calling? Or have I just worn myself out so badly at work these last few months that I can’t even psych myself out of a blue funk?

Becoming a morning person?

I’ve been stressing quite a lot lately about many things. Work has and seems to be doomed to remain quite busy. I haven’t had much time or energy for writing. But I might have hit upon a solution. The last few days, I’ve been putting in time in the morning, before I leave for the office. It helps that I have a middle and have been able to make good progress, I know, but it does, really, seem to work. Some positives:

  1. I’m not tired from a day’s work, so I have mental energy to devote to the work.
  2. I’m limited in the amount of time I have between when I get up and when I need to leave, so I am confined to only working for maybe half an hour to an hour. This is actually helpful. I don’t feel like I need to spend hours slogging over the work when I’m so brain-dead that “tasty” becomes “nasty.”
  3. I start the day feeling accomplished before even going into the office. Since a lot of my job now is not so focused on accomplishment, it’s rather nice to have that positive spin on the day.

This may not last forever. I mean, I could see, for example, that a day where things aren’t going well setting my day off to a bad start. Although, as the kids in the Secret Garden would tell you, that’s the wrong sort of magic. So, it’s working well, and it will continue to work well, because I am going to finish this thing!

Working and writing

No solutions in this post, just frustration. I’ve been reading about several of my favorite authors and how they do it. It seems that most of them were able at the start of their careers to dedicate themselves to writing full time. I’m not. I’ve got a full-time job. At least 8 hours a day. And they’re not easy hours. Lots of mental work, which means that the last thing I want to do when I get home is write.

So I don’t.

Not the way to get things done if I ever want to make a career out of this writing thing. Some days, I just want to chuck it all in and say I’m not as good as I think I am anyway, so I should just stick with managing projects. Other days, I’m more optimisitc, but it seems the bad days outnumber the good. There’s gotta be a way to deal with this, but I haven’t found it yet. Keep on trying, I suppose. Nothing worthwhile is ever easy, nose to the grindstone, every silver lining has a cloud…