Drupalcon in Austin Texas: Day 1

I left home yesterday (Sunday morning) at 6am. I was supposed to fly out at 8am but my flight was delayed. I suppose that would have been a great chance to go back and get my walking stick which my subconscious had conveniently forgotten but instead chose to consciously forget. I am so tired of the walking stick.

My first plane left at noon and arrived in Dallas around 6pm. Dallas was a long walk from one terminal to the next then waiting and frustration. I’ve flown Delta for so long I’ve started to take for granted good customer service. American Airlines does not compare. I arrived in Austin around 8pm, waited for luggage, waited for a shuttle to a hotel, talked to a neat person also attending my geek conference (aka Drupalcon).

I had a light breakfast, early lunch and no other food. I arrived at the hotel hungry to discover that it didn’t have a cafe, that nothing was in walking distance, that the only option was an overpriced tv dinner sold at the front desk for the microwave in the room. At least the bed was comfy.

I woke at 6am, had the Best Western powdered egg and mostly meat breakfast, then walked about a half mile to the nearest Car2Go. I just didn’t feel like dealing with a cab. Walking out of the Best Western I was hit by a wall of humidity and heat. There was a field of scotch broom the size of small trees. Flowers bloomed. Yards were full of cactus the way small ornamental trees are planted in Portland.

An hour to get to the hotel to find out the room hadn’t been changed from the person who didn’t go to my name (the person who went instead) and checked my bags so I could go to the conference without dragging them around. I took the class on security which was fun, ate conference food for lunch, conference food for early dinner, some socializing, my annual Rackspace t-shirt.

Back at the hotel my stomach started rebelling from the poor food. I went to a late dinner at a nice Italian restaurant called La Traviata. Duck confit and pinot grigio. I’m feeling much better. I’ll write up more another time. The pool opens at 6am and I hope to wake up just about then and try to swim a bit before breakfast.

Categories: Austin TX, geeky, traveling | Leave a comment

The Gettysburg Address

I have never been great at memorizing things but I like the idea of learning the Gettysburg Address.

Learn more here.

The Gettysburg Address
November 19, 1863

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate—we cannot consecrate—we cannot hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

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Just Do _

I know that “just do it” is a popular phrase in spite of (or because of) the vagary of “it.”

Maybe I am being effected by the various challenges of my life but I’m also annoyed by “just” these days.  Take this doc for installing Composer on your computer. I am annoyed by “just download the executable.” Give me the verbose version from the same site please. I prefer more words and less reassurance of “ease.”

Categories: geeky, philosophy | Leave a comment

Privacy vs Writing Online

There’s a fair amount of worry over writing about health issues in a public sphere. Potential employers or health insurance companies could easily mark me as broken, though I prefer to see myself as mended or kintsugi.

I can write about balance and the importance of sharing my experience, from the relatively quick process of discovering what was ailing me to the long slow process of recovering from surgery and getting back in shape. I do have altruistic feelings about this. I feel sharing my experience may help or edify others.

I also feel like this:

xkcd dreams

Apologies to my mother for the momentary vulgar language but it really ecapsulates the importance of speaking my individual, strange and not always perfect truth.

Categories: geeky, health, philosophy | Leave a comment

Feb 11: Say No to Mass Surveillance

ACLU, EFF, and I all agree. Mass surveillance is bad. Just say no. Privacy matters. If you wonder why then consider this Wired article.
No Mass Surveillance

Privacy matters.

Categories: geeky, philosophy | Leave a comment

Difficulty Level in Life and Video Games

I recently upped the difficulty level on a video game I play a lot. I like the challenge.

A while back John Scalzi wrote about how various things effect the difficulty level of life.

A lot of people comment on how rough I’ve had it with my health lately. I agree. It has been difficult. I wouldn’t choose it and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. The sick part was bad enough and now recovery has aspects both boring and challenging. A head cold will still wipe me out when sinus pressure meets surgery site.

If I focus on the challenging part though this whole experience becomes something interesting. What helps improve my health, what makes it worse? How can I grab back the life I want? What about life has changed such that I want to do more or less? A health scare really helps set priorities.

Going back to work exposed me to germs and got me out in the cold weather freezing my poor nose. Of course I’d catch a head cold. Sick, bored, unimaginable pain in my head. It’s very tempting to wallow in sad. I’m working very hard at staying focused on the interesting parts of getting better, the process, the stages, the moments.

Categories: geeky, health, philosophy, SCDS, surgery recovery | Leave a comment

First Day Back at Work

Today I returned to work. I felt nothing changed and everything changed. My team moved offices, my bosses and the work I do are the same. I spent the day catching up on email. Reached inbox zero. Not as hard to do as work queue zero. Also put my desk together. Facilities was sufficiently busy that I asked for the tools instead of the work and got to play with small power tools. Had lunch with my coworkers, caught up, again not much has changed. Two months is both eternity and no time at all.

One coworker was surprised to see me taking the stairs, another that I really am not bothered by noises that would send me into fits before the surgery. Everyone was happy to see me. I was happy to see everyone.

I finish the day not tired so much as excited and a little confused. I will be tired shortly. I know I’ve said it before but it felt like I wasn’t gone at all and yet I missed some things but I was missing things before because I wasn’t thinking clearly and now I’m thinking clearly and it’s all so clear and I’m so there, here, where I am when I am yet there’s this gap.

Tomorrow when I go in my desk will be ready, everything I need ready at hand, a ticket already pulled from the queue, inbox will be slim and I will engineer. It will be good. Today was good too. It’s all good.

Categories: geeky, SCDS, surgery recovery | Leave a comment

Woman in Computer Science

In the United States certain professions have gender attached. You can be a nurse or a male nurse, a teacher or a male teacher, a chef or a female chef, a computer programmer or a female computer programmer. I’ve known men who worked as librarians, teachers, and speech language therapists and they are all minorities. They go to conferences with hundreds of people and see maybe two or three other men. The male teachers in particular have their motives questions. Why would you want to work with children? (Are you a pedophile?) I am lucky not to have to deal with that question. There is a rudeness to it that hurts my soul.

I am a female computer programmer. I get asked if I wouldn’t rather be a project manager or the person who knows about tech but acts as the go-between for customers and “real” programmers instead of programming. I end up doing a lot of documentation (because it is important) and then worry that I will end up on the Docs team instead of coding where I love the work.

Ignorance and minorities go hand in hand. Not ignorance on the part of the minority but ignorance about minorities. It can range from hostility and stereotypes to the more “innocent” sort of ignorance that I now call Can I Touch Your Hair?

Every type of ignorance deserves its own response and each response is based on an individual’s strengths and weaknesses. In the land of computers people are often shy, introverted and have a history of being bullied. Men and women alike with years of high school under their belt where they were the ones who were beat up or had tampons thrown at them. Some grow aggressive, some quietly submit, some educate. I call these categories Malcom X, Uncle Tom, and Martin Luther King. I try to emulate Martin Luther King.

Being on disability as I recover from brain surgery gives me a lot of time to think. I remember back to a moment in time when I brought up how differently women write their resumes than men. We were looking to hire a new team member and we were comparing two candidates, one an over qualified male and the other an under qualified female. My male team lead said, “Since you’ve brought up the gender differences would you mind if I asked how I could tell if a woman was exaggerating her abilities or lying about something on her resume?”

The question really threw me off. I didn’t know how to answer. Instead I walked through her resume and showed him where she had chosen to do projects like move databases from MS Access to MySQL (a smart move) because she was bored with what she was being given. Her history looked a lot like mine.

We ended up hiring neither and kept looking for someone closer to the middle ground.

Now here in the future I feel haunted by this moment. I feel like I missed the chance to educate him on something about women in computer science. Women will only put on their resumes what they absolutely know they can do and have had actual experience with. We know walking in that our skills will be judged from the get go and there will be no time to “learn it on the side after I get hired.” We can’t afford to exaggerate on our resumes or, at the very least, we feel we can’t.

I wish I could go back in time and say, “She seems like a real go-getter. Let’s hire her.”

Categories: feminism, philosophy, women in computer science | 8 Comments

Art of Computer Programming: Euclid’s Algorithm

Math is fun!

So here’s the first algorithm from the Art of Computer Programming written in php. Continue reading

Categories: algorithms, books, geeky, math, php, programming | 4 Comments


I’ve had a few life events to finish off 2013 and am very ready for 2014. As I heal from surgery I plan on healing in the direction of the me I want to be. I’m pretty tired right now, just got back from very delicious Dim Sum at a very crowded noisy restaurant but let’s just start this transformation with a little change in style for this web site. Something a little brighter and sunnier.

Categories: surgery recovery, websites | 1 Comment

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