K.I.S.S. vs K.I.S.S. : When “Keep It Simple, Stupid” meets “Katy Is Super Sizing!”

I’m going to make the next big thing! No, you’re not. You’re a boot camp grad. You got a great boost and are coding on your own and following tutorials nearly every day. You’re awesome, possum, but you’re not a one-woman Googlemazonuber Go!. Keep the projects manageable and fun for you. You are your employer and employee and client. Enjoy it while you can.

While going over old Codecademy work that I did before enrolling in a boot camp, I came across a rock-paper-scissors snippet. That reminded me of Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock, and that made me think that I could just do my own. It’s not cheating. It’s not hanging out in Simpletown. Hear me out.

JavaScript and jQuery are great; I love them. However, they change. I have to get used to that. I learned ECMAScript 5th ed., but I need to get used to ES6. I have also completed Wes Bos’s What the Flexbox tutorial. I will have learned nothing if all the flexing I do is in the tutorial or in front of a mirror at the gym. I’m not done. I am also learning Sketch and want to illustrate my own apps and make my own images, borders, and background textures. When there is so much that is new(ish), I try to keep something simple. In this case, it’s the functionality. Keep it simple, stupid is necessary; otherwise, Katy isindangerof super sizing.

Egg-Fox-Feathers: simple function to practice new things

Sometimes I get a little defensive and feel the need to shout why I’m not making the next big thing:

Screen Shot of readme file. mostly text
From my README.md file

I had started with Egg Beak Feathers last night and woke this morning to not wanting the beak to beat the egg. It smacked of matricide. I just couldn’t bring myself to draw that. I know some birds eat their own, but this is a fun app. It’s not National Geographic. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a softie. I switched beak to fox. Sure, the egg still bites it if the other player chooses fox, but I feel better with cruel Mother Nature than cruel Mother Hen. These two pages are my notes where I realize that beak has to go, and what I need to create with Sketch. While the functionality may be simple, I’ve clearly got a lot to do. My UI side is going to enter more billable hours than my front-end side.

photo of wireframing and notes
Brain dump (not at all like Brian dump)

After the brain dump, I darkly sketch (press hard!) a finalish layout. Since I’m new to flexbox, I want to see what will be a container, what will need rows or columns, what will be items only or an item that’s a container. Right now I can’t see how I should plan with flexbox without seeing it on paper first.

Neater sketch of plan

Anything else I write is just stalling.

I don’t count at the gym

I don’t count at the gym. Not asking for support. I’m just saying that I do not count. Literally. I do not waste time saying “1…2…3…4…” I know how to count. I mastered that before I mastered not scratching my bum in public. (Who really masters that?) If I’m at the gym, there’s no reason I cannot use that time to go over lists. Currently, these are my lists and time markers:

  • for time when I can’t look at my watch or see a clock (45 – 60 seconds): recite the 50 states
  • for time when I just do something until I cannot (eg. planks): map (currently working on Africa)
  • for 12-15 reps: 1, 4, 9, 16, 25, 36, 49, 64, 81, 100, 121, 144, 169, 196, 225
  • for things I do slowly or very little of (eg: push-ups or heavier weights): “H hydrogen, He helium, Li lithium, … I’m only up to oxygen. As I memorise them, I’ll recite them chunks of 5-10  as the earlier ones get memorised. Later, I’ll switch to German.
  • for later after the elements, capitals (states and countries), and presidents.

You have not had fun at the gym until you grunt BORON or KOHLENSTOFF. Not so sure I want to grunt BUSH in a gym. I doubt anyone would assume I’m going over the presidents.

Just file this under ways I keep myself from ever being cool.

I’m totes into tutes, toots.

tutiebarsI’ve bitten the bullet journal … bullet. I was skeptical at first. Initially, I saw all of these Instagram accounts and bujo posts as the pen-and-paper version of the fit-bods-in-bikinis selfies. And maybe they are. Maybe it’s just proof that we want to look at perfect(ish) versions of whatever we’re trying to do.

I was hauled out of music in the 9th grade and forced to take typing. My teachers had it up to their necks in my scribble. Didn’t help that I couldn’t read my own handwriting when I’d have to read my essay tests to them. Also painful was reading aloud the part where I was boolsheeting just to fill the bluebook. I’ve been typing since 1983 and the world rejoices. Journalling was never for the laptop. That’s this. That’s blogging. I wanted to write on paper. I wanted to write neatly. Yeah. Never going to happen. The bullet journal appeals to me because I don’t have to (hand)write a lot, which is good. I can write neatly if given a short phrase. Very short. Nano. Pico. The first part of a letter. It also appeals to me for the quickness of it all. I could doodle forever. That’s an option. No one says your bujo has to be art. With an audible exhalation, I started one. So far, so good.

I love tutorials. Good ones. Knowing something is not the same as knowing how to teach it. As a former teacher, nothing annoyed me more than the variations of George Bernard Shaw’s “He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches” for many reasons, but there’s the assumption here that those who can could also probably teach. I’m sure you remember several university professors who knew their material but couldn’t make it understandable. They could teach to the Ph.D. students, but not to the first-year students. Basically, they cannot teach. They can discuss. Such a difference.

I see this in tutorials. “I know how to code, so I can teach it.” Maybe, but not if you don’t have the teaching skills, too. And to teach by means of an online tutorial is another type of teaching. There are no faces to let you know if you’re going too fast or have lost them. When I come across a good tutor, I swallow that Kool-Aid. Pay for it? Absolutely. It’s their job. I’m using their product. I didn’t teach 4th graders for free. I don’t expect expert coders to teach me and answer my questions on Slack for free. Respect the talent.

I have yet to discover the perfect way to do more than one. I seem to sample, determine what I’m in the mood for, then binge tute. When they’re over, I get a bit sad the same way I do when I end a series of novels. “Nooooooooo. You can’t leave meeeeeee!”

Now enough blathering on. I have a date with Wes Bos and ES6 for Everyone.



Confession time: About that job hunt

I’ve started something I’ve called the Dick Challenge. Oh, the fun of having a dad whose name was Dick. There were three Dicks in his class. He got off lightly. The others were Dick Fish and Dick Kurley. Imagine the roll call when last names come first.

My dad loved walking. He could haul himself all over Dallas for 1-2 hours. Sometimes more. He was obese, so that’s saying a lot. He exercised plenty, but he rewarded himself plenty more. To honor my dad and help me get through my grieving process, I’ve started the Dick Challenge. I have to walk 75 days in a row for (ideally) 45+ minutes and eventually getting to 75 minutes. Why 75? His age at the time of death. Four days short of 76.

I am up to day 9. I’ve had some hiccups, such as the flu, but the important part of any challenge I’ve signed up for is the continuity: 75 days in a row is more important than the length of the walk. That’s good. One walk was 13 minutes, and I thought I was going to pass out after 3.

While on these walks, I can’t help but think of my dad: how much I loved him and how much I’ll miss him. I’m most introspective on these walks. I’m surprised by that, as I’m a loner and always in my own head. I guess I’m not being critical in other situations. On today’s walk, I came to a realization: Since my dad’s diagnosis, I’ve stalled on job applications. There. I said it.

My dad was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) in October with a poor prognosis: 4-6 months without treatment, 6-9 with treatment. Chemo was not an option. He died in 4 months. From October to February, I’ve been going to Dallas almost every time he went into the hospital. I was “lucky” to be unemployed. I had the freedom to go up as soon as I heard. I also was lucky (no “”s) that I had friends who’d let me and my pets stay. Between visits to see my dying father and holiday chaos and then the suicide of my stepsister, I’ve been acting like I’m applying and looking. Oh, I applied. I looked. But I treated it like I would a date I didn’t want to go on because of a list of reasons he won’t be right or because I’d rather stay home and read. I attended, but I was not present. I kind of flipped through job boards the way I used to swipe left left left through Tinder: scroll fast while just barely looking. Before any cover letter went out, I worked myself into a panic about not being there for my dad.

I was afraid of getting a new job with people I didn’t know but had to impress and then asking for a cluster of days off because of my dad. I have no regrets. I was there when he died. I wanted to be.

He’s died. His memorial was a week ago. I’m ready. I’m actually looking forward to it. I even feel the fear of rejection leaving. I LIE! I’ll never lose that fear, but I’m willing to take that chance more often. Instead of starting a week strong and tapering off, I’ll start strong and do my best to stay strong. I say that. I have to. I believe it. It might not be Arnold Schwarzenegger strong at first, but I’ll be stronger than I was the day before.

I need to remember this when I feel tempted to cut exercise out if a day gets full. Leave the social media; take the walk.


The George joins me on Dick Challenge Day 9 and is a big fan of yard art.



A handful of childhood memories

My dad’s service was yesterday. Seven of us got up to remember Richard Taylor Cassidy in a sort of chronological order: his fraternity brother, me, his best friend from law school, work colleague, his brother’s words through his niece (his brother could not fly out), and his sponsor in recovery. With so many, we kept our remembrances down to five minutes.

Good morning. I’m Dick’s daughter. You may know me as Katy or the Loin Fruit. In letters to me, he called me Cobbies.

In the days following my dad’s passing, I’ve been looking through pictures: some digital, some printed. I lingered mostly on those old Kodachrome snapshots from my childhood. A kaleidoscope of memories of a child I used to recognize as myself but who now seems distant to me since Arachne cut the silk that connected us through my dad. I cherish these old photos, these scenes still trumpeting that he was once here and certifying my luck in having been his daughter.

I would like to share a few of my childhood memories of my dad with you.

I felt safe with my dad

Thunderstorms scared me when I was little. I remember leaping into his lap when he sat the chair by the front window and watching the rain while held me and sang Day is Done by Peter Paul and Mary. He taught me not to fear thunderstorms. He also taught me not to leap into his lap leading with my knee.

My dad introduced me to running and soccer.

When I was in the 1st and 2nd grades, he waited on the front porch of our house as I walked in the direction whence the bus would come. Once he saw the bus, he yelled “RUN!” and I sprinted, racing against the bus back to where my dad was waiting with my book bag. In 3rd and 4th grade, my dad drove me to school. Once I was ready, I’d start running in the direction we’d take. When my dad was ready, he’d pack the car and drive along until he caught up to me. Sometimes, if I was still keen, he’d let me continue running while he followed in the car until I was ready.

In 1974 I wanted to play soccer, he volunteered to coach the Eagles and then the Piranhas. We had no idea what we were doing, but we had fun. He coached us until we outgrew what he could do. I believe that no matter how old we got and how many coaches we’ve had, we all remember Coach Cassidy. And laps.

Some memories I file under “Thank goodness for the 70s”.

Every summer we’d head to Colorado and stay at our cousins’ cabins. They had some old 1950s Jeeps, and I would sit on the hood of the Jeep, holding the bull bars while my dad would drive us around the mountain roads of Silverton.

Back home, he drove my friends and me, jacked up on doughnuts and coke, in the back of the car with the hatchback up waving, smiling, and shrieking at other drivers. Our car? A Pinto. If it made me laugh, he almost never said no.

When he saw a teaching moment, he took it:

I remember when he pointed out two men holding hands walking down our street. He told me that sometimes two boys or two girls were in love and that’s okay.

Another time we were walking back from Tom Thumb after buying groceries, and he was explaining “the truth, whole truth, and nothing but the truth”. I remember his telling to me that, if I saw him steal ice cream, I would have to tell the truth in court. I don’t know what horrified me the most: ratting on my dad or surrendering the ice cream to the police.

He taught me the stalker theorem in geometry:

The shortest distance between two points was driving by Abram Castro’s house and honking. He taught me manners, for he always waved at whichever Castro dared to look outside. And he taught me how to commit: Entire Castro clan outside having a party? Don’t drive on. Pull into that alley and honk. And wave. Always wave.

We exchanged our cultures:

He introduced me to Beethoven, Peter and the Wolf, Willie and Waylon, The Thin Man series, Shakespeare, Masterpiece Theatre, and I, Claudius. From me, he learned about Duran Duran, Adam Ant, Steve Buscemi, Brendan Frasier, and Friends.

My dad taught me to find joy in other people

He not only coached our soccer teams, he was a repeat chaperone on lower school camp-outs, drove carpool, and hung out with my friends when they came over. He loved being with us. It wasn’t just about me. He was genuinely got a kick out of my friends, classmates, and teammates until the very end. He found children delightful and knew they had something to tell him. He listened. He laughed. And he never lost interest even after that child had grown into an adult because my dad had the gift of finding the child inside all of us. When my dad said your name and clutched his heart, he filled you with joy, and for a second you were a kid again.

Puff, the Magic Dragon was another song my dad sang to me. Jackie Paper had his own secret land, a dragon buddy, pirates, kings, ships, and sealing wax. It sounded awesome. Now that I’m an adult, the song brings tears to my eyes because I could relate to Puff’s feeling of abandonment as Jackie grew up, neglected his imagination, and stopped returning to Honnah Lee.

My dad was my Puff, and I thought he would be here forever to help me remember the child I once was, but time, the unyielding schoolmaster, took him from me and tries my way to Honnah Lee. But I am my father’s child. I will find another way back with my memories, treasures from my childhood, and I’ll play with Puff, my magic daddy, and the little child I left behind.

Brain Distracting 101: Contra Dancing

I need to get out and move. We all do, yes, I know. I used to commute by bike 30 minutes to and 35 minutes from work. I was smoking it. Could eat what I wanted and still lost weight because I had that hour plus for fitness. I wasn’t where I wanted or needed to lose weight, so in order not to, I ate more. Sweet! Honestly, the route home should get the most credit. Congress Avenue going south is uphill from the river. Add to the challenge of cycling uphill was going through the smells of pizza as I passed Home Slice.

The only complaint I have about learning to code would be the sedentary nature and my 90-degree angles. I have a standing desk at home. Don’t tell me to stand. I get up plenty. I have hounds that have bladders. I’m up. My standing desk is better for when I’m just writing or reading. It’s not my position for creating or head scratching. That is curled on a couch with hounds hogging my space or in bed propped up on pillows. I’m not employed, either. That brings me way down. Fitness, lack of self-esteem from unemployment, and now grieving the loss of my stepsister and dad, I’m just a mope in need of movement.

I’m getting better at getting out, but now that I have grief brain, doing solo exercise activities can take me to dark spaces. Or into the paths of cars. I walk. I run. I space out and think about what I’ll say at the memorial or how much I miss my dad and then realize that I am not watching where I’m going. Not safe. And I also end those activities sadder than when I started them.

Contra dancing just might save me. I’ll still walk, run, cycle, and do weird machines, but contra dancing will be three hours of moving without dipping into grief. How could I? People are barking directions at you all of the time. I have no time for my inner voices because the caller is telling me to balance, swing my partner, hey for four, do-si-do my neighbour, circle, allemande, ladies chain, … I have no time alone in my head. Even after a few rounds when I think I have the muscle memory down in the dance and drift into my head, I collide with someone. Contra dancing is dangerous for the distracted.

For three to four hours, I move my legs and arms, smile at strangers and laugh with some familiar faces and forget for a while that I’m deeply sad. I never forget that I miss my dad or stepsister. I think about what they’d say about this activity (they’d be amused), but I am, for a while, not worried about my tearing up.

Sorting, bagging, keeping, and deleting

My dad is the first parent I’ve lost. I always thought grieving a parent would be more like constant crying. If I was alone but not crying, I was doing ok. When I’m in public or talking to others, I probably don’t look any different than I did before. I can fake happiness, but I don’t feel fake by doing so. If I fake it, and you laugh, then I laugh and feel better. Should I say, instead, “acting”?

When I am alone, I expected to be in tears most of the time. I’m not, so I thought this meant that I was on the road to recovery. I had the movie version of grief in my head. It’s all loud and messy. Maybe it is for some, but it isn’t for me. Like drowning. Most people think it’s loud and the struggling swimmer flails her arms about. Drowning is quiet, and that’s what my grief feels like. I look around at books, projects, my laptop, and see only a blur. When I sit down to work on old code or a tutorial, I don’t know where to start. I just stare at the laptop. I have plenty of code to work on. I could tweak. I could redo. I could start over. I could follow #100DaysofCode or do a Wes Bos tutorial. Or I could feel so overwhelmed that I shut the laptop and try to nap.

chocolate and vanilla cake with happy birthday poppa on topMy dad died four days before his birthday. On his birthday, some of the family gathered at my dad and stepmom’s for cake and ice cream. I found my stepmom’s sister in front of a pile of my late stepsister’s costume jewelry. Everything was a mess and dumped in a box. I sat down with her and sorted earrings to find pairs. I started with the larger ones and moved down to smaller studs. As pairs were matched, the pile got smaller. After the earrings, we moved to singles: pendants, rings, brooches. The final challenge was untangling bracelets and necklaces. After a few hours, we had order. We bagged and sorted. We went through and took what we’d like or what reminded us of Mel. The rest would be given to charity, and anything of value would be sold to help fund her sons’ education.

While everything I had been doing before the deaths of my stepsister and my dad might look like a tangled mess, I can get through it if I take a small amount at a time. Re-enter with the easy stuff. No time to prove anything. No one gets a medal for returning to normalcy first. As the simple and small tasks get completed, move on to more complicated tasks and code. Have a clear idea of what I’m working on so that completion is not fuzzy. Vague is not your friend. I have messes, and they need plans.

Mess: code, dev skills

Plan: I’ve reset my 100 Days of Code plan and am abiding by its set of rules. Starting with old homework assignments. Moving to completed code that could use better styling. Return to tutorials. No plan here. If I just do one a day, that’s fine. If I do more, bonus, but one a day is fine now and forever.

Mess: fitness

Plan: 5k to 10k app. Gym 3 days a week. Moving back to 5 days a week. Walking 10 minutes a day moving to 30 or 3×10.

Mess: job applications

Plan: One a day every other day. Moving to 1 a day, 5 days a week. Goal would be 3 a day for 5 days.

Mess: Creative side being ignored

Plan: 15 minutes a day to do something with fiber. Moving to 30 on weekdays and 2 hours on weekends. Slowly. Read fiction before bedtime. Blog once a week. I don’t care what about, just write. Move to 3-5 days a week but not always about coding.

Mess: I miss my dad.

Plan: I don’t know.