UPDATE TO Mrs. Flinger October 16, 2015
Because the Universe has a wicked sense of humor, after this delcaration, my blog threw up all over my last upgrade.
So I'm starting over using Craft. Turning 40 and kid entering Jr High next year, sometimes it's just time for a change. These archives will still exist in the way the last child goes off to college and their room is the same for 20 years, but it's just time to move forward.
She’s Geeky Jan 25, 2014
In an inadequate attempt to capture the spirit of a few hundred geeky women sharing advice, knowledge, code snippets, work ideas, and life discussions, I can summarize as best as I can.
In a word: Support.
In two words: Comforting Validation.
In Three Words: We Laughed Together.
In Four Words: I made new Friends.
In Five words: I came away more empowered.
In six words: We gathered to solve big issues.
And in seven words: I hope we see you in Seattle.
Love you forever, like you for always, as long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be Jan 06, 2014
You giggle as I kiss your cheeks. I hold your hands as you turn your face left to right, giving me full access to the large, luscious cheeks, round and red. You laugh as you spit and shove off my kisses. I pretend to look sad and then hold your arms and start the process over. You are giggling as you pretend to stop me. I win at the kisses, landing on your cheeks as you laugh. You tell me I’ll never give you another kiss again. I chuckle. “Do you remember the Love You Forever book?” I ask. You shake your head no. “The mom comes for all of her son’s life to give him love until she can’t anymore and one day, he sings the song, ‘I love you forever, I like you for always, as long as I’m living, My Mommy you’ll be.’” Your eyes are wide and you ask, “Why would you tell me that before bed? Now I’ll have bad dreams!” “No, Love, you won’t,” I reply grabbing your hands again from any defense of my kissing, “Because we have so many years before you have to worry about that. The point is, you can’t stop a mom from kissing her children.” I lunge for the final kiss assault and you squeal with laughter and turn your face. I plant five kisses on your cheek, nose, and forehead. You are still laughing when I promise to stop. “It’s bed time,” I say sternly. “Time for sleeping.” You look up at me with your brown eyes glowing in the light and whisper, barely audible, “I love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living, My mommy you’ll be.”
I leave your room smiling with tears in my eyes as I go to see your sister, sitting in her bed reading Harry Potter, and plan my kissing attack. My life is an amazing wonderland. I shall never forget this.
The Path to Grandma’s House Dec 14, 2013
I remember the roads to my Grandmother’s house. We called her “Bamma” to distinguish her from my maternal Grandmother, who would later be know simply as G’ma, and hold an even more important role in my life. As a young child, growing up in the suburbs of Houston, we would make the six hour trek to my Bamma’s house, just north of Austin. I remember the terrain changing to a hilly roll.. I remember the van’s AC unit working with an easier hum as we drew closer to my Bamma’s house. I remember my dad going over some of the rolls of the road and yelling with triumph, “WOAH! That will get you in your belly!” when the car hit zero gravity for a split second, gliding over each crest of ... to our minds.. mountains.
In reflection, after living in Washington state and visiting Germany and the Swiss Alps, those Texas mountains of my youth are Ant Hills to my present. But my childhood mind blows them up to disproportionate heights. Like every aspect of childhood, those trips take on a cartoon-like shape. I visit those memories like someone on a video game would now: Reaching back to that last saved game and running it through from start to finish. Each consecutive trip a level to discover.
I wonder if my children will think of their lives this way or if they will have better therapy to help organize their memories from Atari to Frontal Matter.
Either way, I stare now at the map of Texas, a flat representation of my youth. I smile at the familiar roads: 45, 518, NASA1. I lived there as a child, giving my most formative years to the southern-suburbs of Houston. And again, as a young career woman, giving my future to the college of Galveston, where I first taught computers and subsequently changed my career path forever. This map of Texas is not only familiar, it’s engrained in the very being that peers at it, from so far away, nearly 2,345 miles away, to be more exact.
I marvel at the flexibility of the human brain. That I have not one, or two, but three homes. That I find comfort in two countries and two very different states. That I can walk through the Nürnberg Market on a Saturday and feel as much my childhood as I can in Kroger in Houston on a Sunday. The fact that I live in a Wine Country in the north-east of Seattle seems to not matter; familiarity is bred deep within my brain and the roots dig to experiences I share with few. Inhaling the wet, humid, salty air of Houston is as much a welcome as the crisp, dry air of the Mountain here. And in the manner, so are the signs of German in a variety of villages and menus and friends as I wander the countryside of a country I was born in to by proxy.
Home is a fluid dynamic, not nearly as static a representation as we think as children.
Looking at the map of my childhood, remembering the trips of my youth, I think of how wide I thought my world grew on those trips north to my Bamma’s house. The six hours in the car meant a change in climate, but not language or comfort. Having traveled from Nürnberg to Prague and München and back, I can appreciate travel in a new way. I understand how small and yet wide our world is. How mindful and yet closed our fellow humans are. I see a world that I both am familiar and that I have no amount of experience in.
I think this is maturity. There is no way to pass this to my own children, who whine about the three hour drive to their own Grandparent’s house. There is no speaking reality or passing down a sense of “big”. You must experience that before you embrace it. Years, distance, ownership; those are the keys to knowing how a small map, seemingly so large many years ago, can make one smile in remembrance of those experiences held tightly in the memory of decades past.
Brain, Heart, and Colon late at night: A true tale. Oct 04, 2013
Brain wakes up, “Hey! We didn’t make kids’ lunches! It’s too late for us now. What should we do?”
Heart answers, “Um, tell them to fend for themselves?”
Brain replies, “Uh, you mean ‘Buy Lunch Tomorrow’? Sure, ok We’ve got money in their accounts for lunch.”
Stomach wakes up, “Did someone say lunch? Because I didn’t eat that today and I know it’s late, but we could really use some….”
Brain interrupts, “STOMACH! No, down. It’s time for bed. In fact, it’s PAST time for bed. Clock?”
Internal clock ticks like a bomb. It’s well past due but never seems to implode.
Crap. It’s two hours past bedtime.
Brain tells body “Enough is ENOUGH! Let’s hit the sack NOW before shit goes down!”
Colon wakes up, “Shit going down? Did Someone Call?”
Heart reminds Brain to be quite and not wake up the internal organs so late at night.
Brain tries to whisper but is in a panic now, “OMG OMG OMG we have to wake up in six hours, oh, shit, oh no…”
Colon asks again, “Did someone say shit?”
Heart has had enough and checks out. “BACK LATER” hangs on the door.
Snore takes over. “So, like, are we ready to do this or what?”
What wins. The rest is history.
A letter to my son in therapy Aug 15, 2013
Tonight I checked on your sister but not you. It’s not that I didn’t want to; It’s that I didn’t realize how much the door jams would swell in the heat and rub against the door when I tried to open one. So as I squeezed in to your sister’s room with a loud “thhhhhhuuuummmmmpppppppppbbbbbb” and heard her squirm in her bunk, I knew my chances of waking you up were even greater. Also, your dad checked on you both just moments earlier because he is not as afraid to wake you both. I, however, remember countless nights of your flopping about in my belly with a knowing “oh no you didn!” squealing in my head.
So, please tell your therapist twenty years from now I did not love you, or your sister, more. I was simply more knowledgeable of the child laying in the bed after the hot squeak of the door jam. And that I still love you both very much. Even if I take it for granted, or your daddy’s word, that you’re asleep.
Living The Punchline 1: You have to look the way you’re born Jun 24, 2013
Day 1 of my new plan: “Living For The Story,” which, in reality, is more like “Living the Punchline” because y’all - Seriously.
You know the phenomenon where woman want curly hair who have wavy/straight and curly hair women are always trying to straighten theirs? I’m no exception. My sister and her daughter have the envious curls while my daughter and I are stuck with straight, stringy, flat, lifeless hair. It’s the kind of hair nobody talks about. “Hey, can I look like her? The lady with the non-noticable hair? It’s so ... nothing.”
As an experiment, my daughter and I decided to go old school with rollers.
Since it’s been roughly 181 years since I’ve done this, I forgot how long it takes hair to dry when it’s twisted up tighter than Sarah Palin’s knickers. So, when after several hours I needed to run to the grocery store, I put a scarf around them and went anyway.
I did get a few looks but I’m pretty sure it was the cleavage.
Having failed at waiting long enough the first time, last night I had a grand idea to color my hair and then set it in curlers before bed. SURELY this would get me the results promised on the front of the package.
I figured it would look more amazing if I was a red head. Why not? I’ve never been a red head before.
Wrapping up my hair in giddy anticipation of what I would look like the next morning, I fell in to a fitful, uncomfortable, neck-bending sleep on the “soft” curlers.
I had dreams of my hair.
The time finally came to unveil the auburn ringlets this morning.
Aside from the red roots, dark dark black ends and uneven pig-tail curls next to waves of chocolate, I think it looks about right. An Advertiser’s win.
**Do not try this at home
***Go to a professional
***It’s worth it
**Sorry about the lack of commenting available. If you want to add any feedback - *crigne* - you can do so here on the facebook page. I’ll fix this soon. ... Ish.
Start Living For The Story Jun 21, 2013
I recount my day in exaggerated details. Suddenly when I tell my sister about that meeting I had, I say the words I *should* have said at the time. She laughs. It’s so much better when I say it out loud after the fact. It’s never funny at the moment. But the story grows in to life and life grows in to reality.
Bob and I sit on the kitchen counters most nights and discuss philosophy and self improvement. Why we chose the kitchen counters, I can only guess. In the kitchen near the knives and scalding faucet that doesn’t run cold water (we really need to fix this), it seems like pondering life’s meaning is more thrilling. Death is all around us! We must embrace life before it’s too late! Or until we get third degree burns.
Then again, maybe we sit on the counters because it’s just closer to the wine.
Writers see life as a series of possible parables. Life is a hyperbole. Casual interactions with office mates become hilarious antidotes, sometimes causing me to chuckle to myself listening to a story nobody else hears. My children provide a series of short essays, poems, and entries in the DSM-5.
Facebook friends ask to hear the story behind vague updates. They reply saying, “Oh, but it would’ve been such a good story.” And then it hits me. WHAT IF I DID THOSE THINGS?
What if I lived my story in real time and not after the fact? What if I made the choice BECAUSE it would be a good story?
People live a year of the bible. They strive for a year of this or that. Why not make the choice, once a day, to live because of the story?
So, Here is it. A year of living for the story.
Every day I will attempt one good “story”. To push myself to try something simply because it’s a good story. And if I’m lucky, perhaps, I’ll write 365 fun tiny stories. And if I’m not? Please employee the crazy lady in the back of the office because really, she’s highly intelligent and employable and a hard worker, she just had this crazy experiment…
Re-imagining history Jun 21, 2013
“You walk very fast.” I hear the words at the same time a wet nose bumps my calves. I turn to find an older woman walking on the trail next to me. I had slowed down to text a friend briefly when she unexpectedly popped in to my path during my walk. She smiles, “I wasn’t able to catch you until now. It’s why I said something. Usually I’m way ahead of everyone but you walk as quickly as I do.”
We enjoy a nice chat as I pace along side her. I explain that I used to run but now walk because of my bad knees. She confesses she used to run marathons and was unsure about this walking business but really enjoys it. We both agree we can’t run to save our lives now and not ironically, that’s when she asks if I’ve seen the coyotes. We both agree perhaps we should carry pepper spray.
It’s about ten minutes, my time with her, this older woman in her late fifties? Early sixties? She has amazing legs and a warm, kind, lovely face. I think she never wore makeup and I identify with this. I ponder myself at her age, if I would still be walking on this trail. Would I let myself be natural and light and would I still talk lightly to another woman, a stranger?
She graciously explains she has dinner guests coming soon so she must turn here but he will keep a look out for me in the future. She tells me her name and I tell her mine. We wave as we part.
Something about her strikes me. Lately I’ve been so flustered at work. I feel so tired, exhausted, and overwhelmed. There are both wonderful, and challenging, parts of life right now and desperation consumes the harder times and a flood of light fill the good ones.
There are many stories of people’s future selves coming to encourage their present ones. Perhaps the most famous, by Elizabeth Gilbert in “Eat, Pray, Love” explains, “Maybe it was this present and fully actualized me who was hovering four years ago over that young married sobbing girl on the bathroom floor, and maybe it was this me who whispered lovingly into that desperate girl’s ear, ‘Go back to bed, Liz…’ Knowing already that everything would be OK, that everything would eventually bring us together here. Right here, right to this moment. Where I was always waiting in peace and contentment, always waiting for her to arrive and join me.”
I bring this up at one of Mr Flinger’s and my marathon kitchen talks. He reminds me of a Northern Exposure episode where a similar thing happens to Shelly who is pregnant with their first child and runs in to her future daughter at a variety of stages in the laundry mat. Clearly this is a fictional tale, but so are the memories of my life. Always writing stories of interactions and re-writing my own history to include the pieces I should have said or would have done in retrospect, there’s a part of me that wants to remember the lady on the trail as the future me, kindly affirming life is alright and if we push through the difficult times, I will one day meet a young woman on a trail as my dog rubs her calf and perhaps it will change her life.
Where are the women? Technology conferences trying to represent females. Jun 17, 2013
Where are all the girls?
There’s a lot of discussion around women in the technology field and specifically surrounding tech conferences. I’m a huge proponent of women in computer science. I mean, I’m not just the president, I’m also a client.
There is a dissertation sitting somewhere on a dusty desk, or trash bin, with my passionate scribbles on this topic. It contains theories on How To Help Retention Rates Among Undergraduate Women In Computer Science. It’s full of ideas on brain psychology, technology, and community. There’s a trifecta of reasons women do, or do not, stay in technology fields.
I’m not talking about a Venus versus Mars analogy, but men and women are very different. We approach issues differently. We look at maps differently. I mean, common, there’s “Chick Mode” available now on smart phone maps just for us.
“Women use the cerebral cortex for solving problems that require navigational skills. Men use an entirely different area, mainly the left hippocampus—a nucleus deep inside the brain that’s not activated in the women’s brains during navigational tasks,” says David Geary, PhD, professor of psychological sciences at the University of Missouri.
With all this knowledge, it makes sense that a man teaching a programming language would connect better to other males. I know this, from a lot of personal experience, because I can offer an architectural solution and get quizzical looks by my male teammates but end up saying the same thing after a few rounds of specs. We go around the same problem, arriving in the finish line staring at each other.
Code quality should be a science but it’s very subjective. If something doesn’t validate in HTML, it can be overlooked depending on the reason for that validation. Perhaps the spec isn’t complete for that attribute. Maybe you’re implementing CSS3 on a browser needing a shim to utilize that technology. Because of the subjective nature of code, because there is more than one way to “skin the cat” as it were, there are “better” and “worse” methods for solving a problem and it depends on the audience which way is correct. It can be maddening if the audience is primarily male and with a set of skills very different than the ones of that who created the code. Yes, we can certainly agree on some fundamentals, but once we nit-pick nuances, isn’t it just better to ship? Even if perhaps it isn’t exactly what you would do?
Taking the above in to consideration, it stands to reason that some programming languages will be better suited for female thinkers. In graduate school, I was forced to code in Java. Java is a great language for some people. For me, though, I would picture a toothpick being shoved under my large toenail when coding server sockets. However, the same question could be presented for me to apply in PHP, and I could come up with something useful fairly quickly.
Women have been working in teams for centuries. They naturally work together in the home, on the playground, in social settings. Women bond together over dishes and feasts, providing for families, or stepping is as “the closest mom” to grab a hurt child and help them back to their family. It happens in set social structures and loose ones. Women by nature seek community. Look at the online community of mom bloggers if you don’t believe me. Supporting each other is just one of the ways women find fulfillment in life.
It’s unnatural for women to be competitive at work. I find myself stepping outside my normal standards when women want to compete in the work place. Why shouldn’t we just bond together like girl scouts over cookies? [This is the point of the post where I’m using my high-pitched cheerleader voice.] Can’t I just work with you to achieve this goal? Why on earth would I want to be better than you when we can all win together?
But seriously [normal somewhat-lower-than-you-might-expect voice], as a woman in a male-dominated field, I’m conditioned to find mentors and colleagues to work WITH. I often as opinion and seek to learn. Never to I believe MY answer is the right one, unless I’ve researched thoroughly. I give and take lessons freely.
If men programmers could be a stereo type, I think embodying the exact opposite of this philosophy would be highest at the list. Many Many (not all, as you will see) male developers are egotistical, socially awkward, and refuse to believe their code could be anything less than “right”. Oh hell no, you did not just say I used too many global variables. You want me to scope that function where? It’s fine where it is. Whereas if you told me I use too many global variables I’d agree that I do. And scope my function in that object? Oh, right, because that makes more sense. Ok. (And then I’d go cry in the bathroom because I’m a girl. Just kidding. Sometimes.)
This is where I believe the TRIFECTA comes together. This isn’t a cheesy commercial, either. This is a woman writing about the reasons I love and contribute to a community of developers I feel supported and educated in:
Jess, a woman, set out to pull all these pieces together. It’s a tech conferences created by a woman. Re-read that. It’s not a conference promoting A WOMAN speaker, or even two. It’s a conference CREATED BY a woman. She’s a developer like me: someone who has brain psychology similar to my own (by nature), someone who uses the same technologies, and someone who wants to encourage community. The problem? There aren’t any women coming. WHERE ARE THEY?
We’ve both reached out to our women business partners, programmers, ex-collegues. We’re wanting to show the technology field that it is possible to be both engaging and welcoming. We’re not going to sit around talking about menstruation or waxing upper lips (all the time) but instead are looking to help women grow in a field sometimes intimidating. This is the type of conference a woman can learn, ask questions, reach out, and be affective. We just need, you know, the women.
If you’re a student or a new developer, and a woman, looking for a group of mentors (male and female) to help drive your career and your knowledge beyond what you can achieve in school or on your own in your male office, please consider coming. It will make such a difference in your outlook of the technology field. You will find that it’s OK to ask questions and this technology will even MAKE SENSE. Also, it doesn’t hurt that everyone likes beer. That’s just a bonus but the time when you realize you’re not a woman in a male-dominated field, you’re surrounded by brothers in a community.
Please join us. Also? I need a roommate.
No Regrets. Or. Why we need version control for life. Jun 03, 2013
They always say not to have any regrets in life. Thing is? It’s hard to avoid.
There’s that time you thought the tattoo of Winnie the poo was going to be a good idea wen you were 16. There’s the night you got so drunk you told off the barmaid who happened to be your boyfriend’s sister’s ex-lover and a former heavy weight boxer. (Consolation: your black eye looked a bit like an Eeyore so you claimed a “pooh” theme.)
There’s the time you majored in Exercise and Sports Science when you MEANT to major in Computer Science. (This one I actually have done. I’ll tell you about it some day.)
And then there are the three days you spent watching Felicity in sequence that you’d gladly take back.
I have the perfect solution for this: Git: Version Control For Life.
Regretting that last breakup? Roll back to your latest commit!
Feeling unsure of your current job? Stash your employment until you gain some more confidence and come back to it.
Need a few more hands around the house? Clone yourself!
Want to spend some time dating someone? Why not Git Checkout? #raur
Ready to get married? Git merge!
Then, when the time comes, you can fork your branch and have new, baby repositories to configure and watch become whole little applications, I mean people.
See? Seriously, if god was going to redo this whole human kind malarky, I think he should start with Version Control. It even gets saved IN THE CLOUD.
Roll back to day #5, God, and set up your repository correctly.
*PS* For those of you that might not be of a technical career, Git /ɡɪt/ is a distributed version control and source code management (SCM) system with an emphasis on speed.
In other words:
It’s like a huge-giant UNDO for teams.
Exactly, see my point? No? Ok, well, maybe I’ll go sniff some more glue…