Wednesday, July 31, 2013

7/31 - My brain hurts

This little gem is my very first successful code/script! It's not the prettiest thing, but it works and complies with all of the criteria.

It has:
a Variable - (name)
a Method - set_name
a Class - Diner
a String - any of the green text in quotes
a Symbol - the : in front of food1-8
a Hash - the :food1-8 list
a Loop - the current_iteration_number bit

The code basically greets Mr. Bigglesworth, then asks if he's hungry. If he answers n, it tells him to have a nice day. If he answers y, it suggests 4 of the food items in the hash. If he answers anything else, it tells him it doesn't know how to respond.

I literally worked on this all day today. I was truly at my wits end, stressed enough to not even eat lunch (which NEVER happens!). I'm having a very difficult time with the noise levels in PD. There is one person on my team who is often conversing (loudly) with at least one other person. I don't know how he gets any work done. I've tried wearing headphones and using white noise mp3s, but I can't play it loud enough to keep from being distracted. I literally had to go find a quite spot over by Support. There were people talking in Support, but it was a low hum, muffled by the cubical cloth wall acoustics.

Even with a quite work area, I didn't think I was making any headway on this assignment. I was spinning my wheels, Googling incessantly, skimming over information on all the items above, and trying to figure out where to even start. I had several false starts, where the original scope was too ambitious or the direction I was heading led to dead ends. I left work right at 5:00, which also never happens. By the time I got home I'd decided I needed to cut the project down, to make it more manageable. It took probably 2 hours of complete quiet to finally find a valid starting place. Once I had a portion of code working, it was easier to use trial and error to add the other aspects I needed.

Now all I have to do is write a stored procedure for my Programming with SQL Server class, then figure out what the heck I'm supposed to do with the .NET homework. That will at least get me caught up, and I can focus on any homework from tomorrow or Friday over the weekend. I'm not worried about the stored procedure, and finishing this has given me some confidence about the .NET stuff. I'm not saying this was easy, because it wasn't, but it did come together eventually. Finding a quiet corner to work helped.

I went back and forth all day about whether my scheduled run tonight would be beneficial. I knew it would be good for stress reduction, but so would actually getting the assignment done. It turned out to be a non-issue, as I came home and immediately dug into the assignment again. I barely raised my head to say hello to Superman, who was awesome about giving me the room and silence I needed to get this done. So I won't get my 5 days of workouts in this week. I'm not concerned, since the goal is to average about an hour a day, and the weekend runs are currently averaging 2-3 hours each. I can say I haven't had any sugar for the past 3 days, and I haven't snacked after dinner either. I also drank a full gallon of liquid today, so I've got that going for me. Tomorrow is another Tap Out class, which is easy since I'm already at work. I just have to show up.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

7/30 - Everything will be ok





I'm not going to lie. I went looking for quotes and motivation today. My head is all tied up with where I stand at work. I know I'm the cause of my latest problem, which is that I'm over-thinking everything and taking too long to complete homework assignments. The best solution I've come up with regarding the concerns about my abilities is to work harder. I'm not sure that's a good solution, but it's all I could think of to do.

I spent a good bit of time on my Ruby homework today, but am now stuck in the same place I am with my .NET homework. I'm afraid I'm trying to do too much again, in trying to call random items from an array. The assignment is to use everything the class was supposed to teach in a single file: variables, methods, classes, strings, symbols, hashes or arrays, and loops. The example we were given was a little program that returned random dice rolls, but I don't see where the array or hash are included. Not saying it isn't there. Just that I don't see it.

I also found out today I broke something when I checked in my changes Friday. Well, broke is a harsh word. When the QA tried to generate the form I'd been working on, no data populated. I'd entered information in order to actually see the print view of the form, to verify it worked correctly. I neglected to remove the data I'd entered. Granted, the person who told me how to enter that data didn't tell me I'd need to remove it, but it never occurred to me to ask. One more item on the list of things to remember to look at before checking form changes in.

I did get my Introduction to SaaS and Cloud paper written and handed in, so that's progress. I updated homework from the Relational Database class in order to use it for the Programming with SQL Server class, and got started on the stored procedure I need to write for that homework. Progress is being made, though slowly in some areas.

I keep reminding myself that it's not everything I'm having issues with. It's one area, which is a recurring theme through a few of my classes. I also reminded myself that it's only been a month. I'm not going to be fired next week. They will give me a couple months before making any real determination. And if it does turn out I'm not developer material, Superman reminded me that would not be the end of the world. I could get a job doing installs, like the one I was offered before I accepted this one. I'm not ready to toss in the towel yet, but I don't have to let the potential outcome of this grand experiment distract me and make achieving success in this endeavor more difficult.

One thing I did succeed at, which I hadn't until today, was to stay for an entire class of Tap Out. I had to modify some of the moves toward the end: do push-ups on my knees; hold planks instead of powering up from plank to push-up position; step through plank to squat instead of popping up to my feet. I can feel my arms, shoulders, and abs, which is why I keep going back to this class. I need cross-training. I need upper body and core work. I also need the class atmosphere to push me in ways I don't push when I'm home alone. All of that is working for me right now.

Monday, July 29, 2013

7/29 - Choice and over-thinking and Monkey Boy!


There's apparently a theme in my inbox this week. Choice. Choosing what I eat, what I want, and what I do.

I'm something of a quote-a-holic, and have signed up for a few to be delivered daily to my inbox. There were actually two in today's mail that struck a chord.

Habits...the only reason they persist is that they are offering some satisfaction.  We allow them to persist by not seeking any other, better form of satisfying the same needs.

Every habit, good or bad, is acquired and learned in the same way - by finding that it is a means of satisfaction.                       
 - Juliene Berk   


This goes along with the "you have trained yourself to eat in situations like this" message from Living Lean. I picked up the Living Lean again yesterday, created my reminder card and wore it all day today. Then I came home and had a pint of ice cream for dinner. Today was something of a challenge, and I did eat the way I've trained myself to do in stressful situations. I also rationalized it by saying I needed to get the ice cream out of the house. Now the ice cream is gone and I need to start over on learning different coping mechanisms for stressful days.

I actually have mixed feelings about what I learned today. I decided last night I would have to put the card I'd picked up Friday on hold for the today. I'm still not up to speed on my .NET classwork, and am behind on homework for several other classes as well. I have to teach myself the Ruby I didn't get in the 4 hour class that actually only took an hour and a half. I have to refresh my memory on the Database Programming with SQL Server class, which I took while in Support, didn't have time for the homework, then missed the class taught last Monday when I was out for the flood issues. I now have a paper to write about our SaaS department and cloud computing, as well.

After announcing in our morning stand-up meeting that I was putting the card on hold to study the Ruby information, I proceeded to get lost in the .NET stuff again. I'm making progress and have a solid understanding of arrays. I also discovered yet again that I have a tendency to read too much into things. I spend most of the morning trying to print book titles by calling on ISBN numbers. Printing strings (words) by  calling on integers (numbers) is apparently not a beginners task, and certainly not something I currently have the tools to accomplish.

I have to date:

  • Spent too much time trying to basically rewrite the accounting module of our software, when asked to create a simple General Ledger table for the Relational Database class.
  • Spent too much time and gone into far too much detail in writing scenarios for the Gherkin homework. The QA who reviewed my work told me I went above and beyond, and that he wouldn't have gone into such detail.
  • Spent too much time trying to write a program to display book titles by ISBN, when the request was simply to display book titles from an array. 
  • I also had a talking to by one of the engineers, in a laughing manner but still a talking to, because I over-documented the changes I made Friday. My thought process was that I'm going through forms making certain changes were made, so I should document the changes I make. This way QA won't have to go through the entire change document and will only have to review the changes I made. Apparently this was also over-thinking things. 
My manager told me today that one of the senior engineers expressed concern about my ability, because it's obvious I'm struggling. I'm told it's obvious I'm focused (he said I'm tied for the most focused person on the team). It's obvious I'm working hard. It's apparent I'm struggling though. This is disconcerting, because in addition to sharing information and making sure all engineers are on the same page, the training is supposed to weed out those who can't hang. I believe I can hang. I'm tenacious enough to keep picking at what I don't understand, until I do understand. I just need enough time to gain that understanding. 

The engineer who expressed concern is the same engineer who keeps pushing me to get into Bacon Patrol, and I'm not certain what he is seeing to tell him I'm overwhelmed. I am overwhelmed, but I'm not certain where he's seeing it. Maybe because I keep pushing back. When he convinced everyone I should take the card I picked up Friday, I told them all I had homework and classes. They explained this wouldn't count against the sizing of the card (sizing = how long they expect it to take to complete) so I agreed to pick it up. Just the one day working on it, plus the day working with V, has given me confidence with the forms and text box aspects of Powerbuilder. 

My manager helped formulate a plan, where I walk away from the .NET stuff for now. Since we didn't get the full 4 hours of Ruby, they have scheduled an hour to "brush-up" on what we missed. I figure the instructor will walk in and say "what can I help you with?" which means I need to know what she can help with. I need to get the Programming with SQL Server homework out of the way, and the SaaS paper. These are my focus this week, along with the classes I have scheduled. There shouldn't be any homework from this week's classes, until the java class on Friday. It wasn't in his plan, but I figure I'll work on the .NET homework at home. He is right that I've been spending too much time on it, and I need to re-prioritize. 

I don't know how all of this will play out. I'm troubled by how much I'm reading into things, over-thinking things, which is causing me to spend too much time on them. I'm bothered by the fact someone is expressing concern about my abilities. I told my boss I expected to be uncomfortable and overwhelmed for the first several months. I knew I was walking into this position without a coding language, which put me at a deficit. I am putting everything I have into soaking up as much information as possible, but it's still drinking from the fire hose. I just hope they give me enough time to assimilate all the information into a usable whole. 
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In other, better news, Monkey Boy is home!

My house feels very small, with two grown men in it. I don't know how the three of us lived here for so many years! Life is going to be quite interesting over the next few months...

Sunday, July 28, 2013

7/28 - Choices, Houses, and Monkey Boy


This quote is quite pertinent to the Living Lean philosophy I've been working with today, which is basically I have the choice to eat that pint of ice cream, or I can choose the size 8 jeans I would like to fit into. I just have to decide what I want more, right now. The thought might come back 5 minutes from now, but I'll deal with it then. Right now, which do I want more?
As suggested by the program, I've created a reminder for myself that I can attach to my belt loop. This go around I'm addressing my addiction to sugar and after dinner snacks. There are other addictions I want to walk away from as well, but these will suffice for now. The idea is, whenever I want something with sugar in it, I instead read the card and remind myself 1) I have a choice and 2) there are benefits to not choosing that thing. One other thought they had me put on an earlier card was "I've trained myself to eat this way in this situation." I might put that on this card too, because it's true.

Today's accomplishments:
Today I fixed my Mom's laptop, which wasn't showing the screensaver or shutting down when she expected. I also fixed the issue she had with her desktop not communicating with her networked printer. 
Today I finally finished the book I've been trying to read for the last month, for work. I wrote the book report/reaction paper, but I think I'll want to rewrite that before I hand it in to my manager. There's a lot of "I" in it, and some not so positive "the company" stuff. At least I have a first draft to work from.  
Today I also went with my Mom to look at rentals. The general family consensus is that she can't afford the house she's been living in for the last 40+ years. The truth is, the house did not receive the necessary upkeep, and the retirement funds she has left are not enough to get it and keep it in repair. Taxes and utilities are also hella expensive, and the yardwork is already sometimes too much for her. We are looking at houses because she has a lot of stuff she doesn't want to get rid of, like sewing and knitting machines.
This is in Cleveland Heights, near the Noble library, but it looks like either the people are not moved out or someone has already moved in. Nice neighborhood with kids playing outside. Lots of room to walk the the dog, though the backyard was not enclosed. None of the ones we looked at today had enclosed back yards. Small yard, so the mowing wouldn't be overmuch, but large enough to hold her stuff.
This is also in Cleveland Heights, not far from the first house and closer to Monticello. It was also what looked like a nice neighborhood. There wasn't much of a lawn to mow, but the hedges on the side and back of the house were so overgrown she wouldn't be able get her car to the garage. Keeping up on the hedges would be a chore even if the lawn wasn't.
This is in Euclid. I like the house a lot, but getting back into the neighborhood was a challenge, in part because of cars parked on the narrow streets. You don't see the driveway, which starts out on enough of a hill that I bottomed out pulling in. I like the brick and the yard looks easy to care for, but that driveway would be a pain and difficult to plow in the winter.
This is another Euclid house. I liked it best, even though the houses on either side were both in need of work. From the outside at any rate, this looked like it was in the best shape. It was also the smallest of the 4 we looked at though, so probably wouldn't be in the running even if it were still available by the time she's ready to move.

I'm feeling surprisingly well after yesterday's double jaunt through the park. My thighs and hamstrings are tight (but not overly so), and I had to take some Aleve for the pain in my foot this morning. Google tells me it's either planar fasciitis or tendonitis. I blame my back, partially because I blame everything on my back. Also, the left side of my lower back hurt this morning too. Honestly I don't know the cause, but the Aleve seems to have done the trick. I walked about a mile and a half this evening, down Babbit to Lakeshore and back, with no issues. I'll try a short run tomorrow morning, but won't push for speed or distance unless I'm feeling no pain.

I probably won't have time to blog tomorrow, since I'm picking up Monkey Boy after work. I expect to spend the better part of the evening hanging out with him and my self proclaimed BFF.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

7/27 - Living Lean and Epic Runs


This quote is the logic behind the Living Lean program I was following (and will begin following again soon). I find I have trouble following things when I disagree with them fundamentally. With this program, I balked at the "Living Lean" and mostly the "Living Lardy" designations the program chose. I understand shame works for some people, but for me it just gets my back up and I get defiant. It didn't help I couldn't change the message that popped up every time I logged in, due to an incompatibility with the Vitality website my company uses that originally directed me to the Living Lean site. It seems when you log on through Vitality you lose the ability to edit your profile. It took me a week with the Living Lean help desk to figure that out, and I'm the one who figured it out. Lost a little confidence in them there. However, I do believe some of the message and the tricks they employ are helpful, and I will return with a modified approach.

I very much prefer the "Living Clean" message, and plan to use that instead of Living Lean in the future. I'm in the process of defining with Living Clean means to me. It's something close to primal eating, though I haven't quite worked it all out (nor gotten all the "unclean" foods out of my house yet). I'll probably have more to say on that tomorrow, as I plan to spend some time on it then.

Today's achievements:
I actually slept about 10 hours last night. I'm not sure what happened to make that possible, but it's certainly noteworthy in my world. 
Today I headed out for a 9 mile run, decided within the first mile that I'll never be able to run a marathon next year, then proceeded to cover a total of 16 miles. 
I started with a 2 mile jaunt to the park. I ran the first mile, but by the end of it was so uncomfortable I started walking. I don't know the cause. Maybe because I haven't run since Monday, though I did cross-train Tuesday and walked a fair bit Wednesday. Maybe because I was afraid to slip on the wet slate sidewalks. All I know is my feet and legs hurt and I was at almost a 13-minute-mile pace. I seriously was working out a training plan where I would continue to attempt 10 mile runs every weekend until I could do them without this type of discomfort. There was no way I could conceive running a marathon next year based on the training plan I devised, when i couldn't run a 9 miler today.

I decided I would walk the 9 miles, if nothing else, and attempt to run them again tomorrow. There are Japanese marathon training plans that have people walking all day long, just to get time on their feet. My modified plan now included attempted 10 mile runs every Saturday and walking 10 miles every Sunday. Once I got to the park though, I found my legs remembered how to run, so I started running. 
I swear to you I ran this park earlier in the summer and logged it as 5 miles from start to finish. Google disagrees. So does MapMyFitness. While running it today, I was convinced it was 5 miles. Before I reached the turnaround, I'd decided since I'd mostly walked to the park (I ran the first mile, but conveniently counted the entire trip as "walked") that I would run my 9 miler in the park then walk home. This meant I would run the park twice. As long as I was running it twice, I might as well do the whole 10 miles. I need to be at 10 miles by August 11 anyway. What's one more mile? Then I could run 10 next weekend as well and be certain I can run the entire race on the 11th. 

I ran the first leg of the park non-stop, except when I had to stop for stoplights. When I reached the beginning of the park I walked for about 500 feet while I ate the banana I'd brought with me, then headed off running again. I again ran the park non-stop (except stoplights), until my phone/GPS/music abruptly cut off at what I thought was the 9 mile mark. It was perfect timing, since I'd had 9 miles on the calendar for the day. I thought about continuing to the beginning of the park, but by then I'd stopped running and could not convince my legs to start up again. My feet hurt from pounding the pavement, and I resigned myself to walking home. 

The walk home was 3 miles, and it surprised me how well my legs felt by the end. Yes, tired. But it's obvious running and walking, while using the same muscles, use them in different ways.

When I got home I immediately put my phone on charge in hopes I could recover the MapMyFitness data, and sat down to Google Maps to figure out exactly how far I'd gone. Imagine my surprise when Google calculated my trip at 16 miles!

I was able to retrieve the run info from MapMyFitness, and it corroborates Google's data. The phone died right as I crossed Green, just shy of 3 miles from home. That's not a bad pace, considering I walked the entire 2nd mile and I'm not yet in half marathon form. This actually beats my first half marathon time, which was somewhere around 3:07ish. 

It did take me about an hour to walk those 3 miles home, but I got there, got showered, and got my grocery shopping done. I'm not feeling too shabby right now either. 

My plan is now to repeat this adventure again next week, only not to attempt running that first mile. Just walk up to the park, run it twice, and walk back. If I could run 11 miles today after the harrowing trip TO the park, I can run 12 next weekend with a more leisurely opening gambit. This actually bodes very well for my marathon training plan. 

Unfortunately, with sleeping in and running longer than expected, I did not get much else done today. I did manage to get a speeding ticket on the way to the grocery store. That's probably going to cost me about $230. Interesting how specific the speed they clocked me at: 51 in a 35, making it exactly one mile over into the higher cost bracket. Also, Superman was clocked at exactly that same speed several months ago. I call bullshit, but fighting it would cost time and money I don't have. Considering I am a fast driver, and I was over the speed limit as I punched it to get through a yellow light, I will meekly bow my head and take the punishment. I only get busted once every 4-5 years, so I can't complain too much. Still. It's fishy and it gets my goat just a little to think I'm paying more than I should. I can see maybe I was going 45. I don't buy 51. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

7/26 - Accomplishments, sensors, and Monkey Boy!


What?!? It made me laugh!

Things I accomplished today:
I actually did real work in Bacon Patrol. My task is to go through several forms and make sure all the requested changes have been made. If not, to make them. This is kind of like working in forms in Word, so not an unfamiliar process. It's not quite as user friendly, but I'm getting the hang of the way this aspect of PowerBuilder functions. I'm also getting familiar with the way the team works. The changes are not exact, black and white, make this into this. The information has to be there, but it's possible to rephrase for space considerations. I'm making judgement calls here, and hoping I'm right. Apparently QA will tell me if I'm not. 
I spoke with the person in charge of PD training, asking if I could retake yesterday's test environment class. I also asked if I was supposed to walk away with a working knowledge of these materials, or simply an overview. I'm supposed to have a working knowledge, but I'm also supposed to have a better experience than I have thus far. Ultimately he told me the classes are supposed to weed out people who can't hang, but they are also supposed to give us a fighting change to succeed. He's scheduled another hour of Ruby training, to fill in the blanks on the hour and a half class that was supposed to take 4 hours. Yesterday's class is now rescheduled to occur after a week-long training session that apparently should have happened first anyway.  
My manager is aware I'm trying to understand programming. The head of training opted not to sign me up for the java classes next week, because there is no java in Bacon Patrol. My manager suggested I audit the course anyway, because it might help me understand programming better. I'm all for taking whatever training I can get, and am both happy and relieved he sees I'm trying to learn what I need. I count that as an achievement, and am grateful he's trying to help me get where I need to be.  
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In other news, I have to take my car in to the shop. I noticed on my drive to work this morning that the passenger side airbag light was on. I did some research and determined this means the passenger side airbag is deactivated. It won't deploy because the sensor believes there is a small child on that seat. The light is on whether or not anything is in the seat (including Superman), and whether or not the seat belt is buckled.

I called the dealership, who indicated it would cost $100 to have the technician even hook the car up to the code reader. The assumption is the sensor was tripped while the car was being cleaned, so I called the detailing place. They told me it must have tripped when they had to move my car with the seat out. It would cost $90 me for them to call the guy they use to fix these things. Oh, but they have a guy who is "80% sure" he could fix it for me, if I "slip him a $20." So essentially they broke it, and want to charge me to fix it.

I was quite unhappy after talking with the detailing place. I called the dealership back and let them know the place they referred me to was shady, and that I don't trust taking my car there again. I now have an appointment next Friday with the dealership. I'm not sure if I'll be charged the $100 or not. The last I heard, the sensor may just need to be reset, but that doesn't tell me if they need to put the car on the code reader or not. I guess I'll find out next Friday.
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In still other news, it's confirmed Monkey Boy will be home Monday night! Life is about to get just a little more interesting...

Thursday, July 25, 2013

7/25 - Struggling and struggling and CAR!


This quote reminds me of several others I've heard:

"A new chapter of my life begins NOW."
"Today is the first day of the rest of your life."
"Why don't you start believing that no matter what you have or haven't done, that your best days are still out in front of you."

The point being, leave the past and whatever mistakes it might hold behind you. Every moment is a clean slate where you can start over. I saw this quote this morning. I mulled it over in my head all day long. And yet I still ate like crap again. I'm letting myself get the better of me, and it's starting to piss me off.

I do have to say, while I've completely derailed my food plan this week, ignored Living Lean lessons and defiantly refusing to follow up on this week's Living Lean schedule of classes, I still maintained my gluten free choice. This is the first time I've gone through full-on binge mode where I did NOT choose the gluten alternative. This means I am trainable, that with practice I can change my behavior. I checked labels. I did not reach for cookies, or cake, or mac n' cheese, or any of the other go-to junk foods I would have reached for even a month ago. Yes, I reached for rice krispie treats again today. Yes, I ate several pieces of cheese plus a pound of cherries. I ate mindlessly and after hours. But as Meatloaf says "I won't do that." At least I didn't, anyway.
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I struggled with my Visual Basic and .NET homework today. I do believe I've made some progress, but it's an uphill battle. I'm trying to learn coding fundamentals, plus the language to write them in, plus the .NET fundamentals, all at the same time. Every time I circle back around I pick up another little inkling of the information I need. I feel like an idiot that I'm finding it so difficult to comprehend. I know that attitude isn't helping at all, and I'm not sure how to effectively channel the frustration. I don't expect everything to be easy, but I also did not expect to take almost a week to wrap my head around writing a function, a sub-routine, and a lambda (basically a function without a label, that you only use once instead of referring back to it over and over). That is as far as I got today, which in reality is just the Lambda past where I was yesterday. I had to backtrack and dig deeper into functions in order to understand Lambdas. These are just the examples, too. I'm working my way through the presentation stack, and haven't even gotten to the actual homework part yet.

I want to blame some of my frustration on the people teaching these classes. My difficulty in comprehension both is and isn't at least partially their fault. These are engineers, not trained instructors. They all appear to understand their subject matter quite well. However, just like all teachers, some impart their wisdom better than others. Some are more comfortable in front of people. Some are more engaging. Some break it down better, read their class better, have better notes and examples. Alex is a really good teacher. Unfortunately he did not teach .NET, Ruby, or today's test environment class.

Today's class was another that took only half the allotted time, and I walked out completely confused on what I was supposed to have learned. The instructor spoke very fast, and it was literally 15 minutes into the hour-long class before I even understood the topic of conversation. He asked several times if there were questions, but I was so lost I didn't even know what to begin asking about. I'm still not quite sure if what he showed us was Ruby, or another coding language entirely. I think it was a different environment than the Ruby one I saw earlier this week, though even that I'm not completely certain is accurate. The only things I got out of the class were 1) the class at least touched on how to create automated tests. I think they were database tests, as he spent quite a bit of time talking about having the test automatically add data before the actual testing took place, and the difficulty in removing that data after the test was complete. 2) They have something they call FactoryGirl, which can be configured however they want. I have no idea how to configure it, or what configurations can or should be used. Also, I think the instructor wrote a script that cleans up data entered by the tests. He called it Scalpel Sharp or something like that... maybe.

I'm seriously thinking of asking to take that class again the next time it comes around. We have a crop of new hires coming in on August 5, so this class will be taught again soon enough. Maybe by then I'll have had time to look into what the heck he was talking about. He did send out the presentation stack, but I'm not sure how much of what he talked about was actually included. I haven't had a chance to look at it yet.
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Speaking of new hires, does anyone know anyone looking for a job? MRI is offering $2,500 for a successful referral (the person lasts at least 90 days). I'll split that money with the new hire, and I'll split it 3 ways if you send someone you know my way. Just forward me their resumes. There are a ton of openings on the MRI job board: Sales, Support, QA, Engineers, Product Managers, BAs, and several other positions as well. This offer is good through the end of September.
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I had Tap Out on my workout schedule today, but that was preempted by the ability to leave early and pick up my car! $270 later, I have a car that looks and smells like new. They got all the water out, then detailed it for good measure. I laughed at how I thought the Acura had pick-up and mine doesn't. My car is so much smoother a ride than the Acura, with better gas mileage and yes, even pick-up.

The Acura did have me looking at Nissan's sportscar line-up. I just renewed my lease in February so it will be 3 years before I get a new car. I'm looking at Nissan because my experience with Subaru indicates it will cost me an additional thousand (or more!) to turn my lease in if I switch car companies. Nissan forgave a pretty huge scratch in the driver's side door on my last turn in, and I'm convinced that's because I was leasing from them again.

So, looking at sportier cars. I really would like a smaller car, and I REALLY liked the sun roof on the Acura. I'm surprised by how much I liked the sun roof. Unfortunately, the sportier cars are more expensive and get horrible gas mileage. I might look at a Leaf next go around. Knowing me though, I'll have completely forgotten this situation by then.
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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

7/24 - over-thinking and bubbles!

The above video is a highly condensed version of the book I'm reading for work. Well, the book I started reading several weeks ago. I haven't gotten back to it since the beginning of the month. My boss told me to just watch this video to get the gist, but I have to write a book report (reaction paper). I really should finish the book. I just have to find the time.

Today's learning was on how to organize my learning. I now have two classes I need to find information on the internet for, so I understand how to do the homework. I spent a portion of the day just trying to determine how to approach the Visual Basic/.NET question. I figured out where I keep getting stuck, and determined I have to go back a step and understand functions better before I can move forward again.

I now have to do the same with today's Ruby class.

I turned in the homework for the Gherkin class, and was told I went above and beyond in the scope of what I covered. The QA said he would be able to submit my work with only minor modifications into the body of automated tasks for the Bacon Patrol product. He also said he doesn't go into the detail I did. I'm not certain if that's a good or bad thing, honestly.

I'm of two minds about the research I plan to do on Visual Basic/,NET and Ruby. I'm seeing a pattern of over-thinking and over-doing the homework. I had the same response when I handed in my Intro to Relational Databases homework. At the same time, I don't feel I can even start the homework until I have an understanding of the subject matter. There has to be a balance somewhere.

I've determined at least one class I can walk away from without the in depth study, at least for now. I'm supposed to take a class on SQL Server Profiler. This is a GUI (graphical user interface) to help monitor databases and SQL queries. I'm sure it will come in handy for troubleshooting. The "class" is just a Microsoft Office information page on the tool, and does not demonstrate in any way how to actually use the Profiler. I've bookmarked the information and will return to it when I find I have a need for it, but right now I have to prioritize my time and learning. Classes with homework due take precedence.
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I'm overly tired today, which may be due to a late bedtime last night, and may be due to eating like crap the last several days. Last week I started the Living Lean program, which is supposed to help reprogram the way I think I about food. In the past few days I've ignored everything I learned last week, and behaved in just the way the program warned me I might. I turned to food and junk to give me energy when I was fatigued, and to soothe me when I was stressed. Now I feel more stressed than ever. Yes, the car flooding situation. Yes the teaching myself how to do the work for the classes at work. Yes also for trying to tell myself no, even though I know the discomfort of no will be transient. I apparently don't have that energy right now. Or the learned behavior of ice cream when stressed is stronger today. Or I have to learn the lesson more than once before it sticks.
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Today's 6 mile run turned into a 4 mile walk. Partially because I'm tired, and partially because the stress of feeling overwhelmed is physically and emotionally draining me. Mostly because a walk for ice cream seemed like the better decision. I find I'm telling myself "you're starting marathon training. You will be able to eat what and how you want when you're running all those miles." As The Oatmeal said, running to eat. Eating because I will run. That's my Blerch talking right there.
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I keep telling myself I will learn. Work will get easier. I will get better. I will find my food balance again.  Taking a day walking 4 miles is not getting completely sidetracked from the workout plan.

I'll get it together. Just maybe not today.
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On a more fun note, I got to blow my bubbles at work today. My team has instituted a slow clap at 5pm every Friday. This apparently annoys some people,  and some people are concerned it gives the impression everyone leaves after the clap. This is not true, and if anyone came back into the department they would see people still working at 5:30 and even 6pm just about every Friday night. However, the fact remains my team was asked to stop the slow clap.

Because they are jokesters, they are now trying to find something less offensive to replace the slow clap. Bubble guns were suggested (won't work as they'll get monitors and laptops sticky and wet). I promptly whipped out my bubbles, and found I was not the only person with a secret stash! It's always a good day when you can blow bubbles.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

7/23 - the (non) abridged version

This is what I'm afraid I'll hear from my car guy. He called last night and again today, but didn't leave a message either time (even though I told him specifically to leave me voicemail). When I called back he told me there was about 3 inches of water underneath the padding and carpet in my car, and that he thought the carpet was beginning to smell. I'm thinking this will result in a $500 bill to replace $150 carpet. Hopefully I'm wrong. Hopefully I'm making a mountain out of a molehill, because that's what I do when forced to wait with no real news. I'll just keep trying to tell myself that until I get some actual concrete news on what this will cost. "It's just a molehill. It's just a molehill. It's just a molehill."
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I realized when I arrived at work this morning I'd missed two classes yesterday. The one I knew about I'd already taken while in Support, so I just have to re-familiarize myself with the material and do the homework. The one I'd forgotten about is a self directed "death by PowerPoint" on-line class. In addition, I still have to teach myself enough Visual Basic to get through the homework from last Friday's .NET class (then teach myself C#, since that's the language everything except Bacon Patrol is written in). I spent some time with the Visual Basic this morning, but only got as far as figuring out where I got lost in Friday's class.

Today's class was on Gherkin, which is pretty simple to write in. It's basically "GIVEN this thing that's true, WHEN I do this and/or that, THEN this outcome occurs." I have to learn a section of Bacon Patrol for the homework, and write out every scenario I can think of in a format that can be used for automation. I spent a good part of the afternoon at Google U trying to make sure I understood how to do this correctly.

I'm finding more and more I have to teach myself what I need to know, in order to do the homework for the classes they are teaching me. Either that or I'm just over-thinking everything, which I've been known to do. Maybe not everything, but it's possible I over-prepared before starting the Gherkin homework today. I can't wait until I'm more confident with what I need to know.

I was also volunteered for a card today that will teach me quite a bit about navigating Bacon Patrol. I did make certain the team understood I have a lot of classes and homework right now. I also insisted someone sit with me, at least at the beginning, so I know what the heck I'm supposed to be doing. I'm trying not to back down when the team proposes I do things, but I do not feel at all ready so I prevaricate.

Mostly I'm just feeling overwhelmed. There is SO much to learn, and at least one of the senior developers is being quite pushy about my stepping to the plate. I understand his reasoning. Better to dive in then allow fear of the unknown to develop and fester. My reasoning is, I don't think he quite realizes how much unknown I have to deal with. I've been trying to get my feet wet in the program without getting in over my head, but I'm already in over my head with the classes and homework. Meanwhile, he keeps pushing me to get into the product. It's frustrating, but I keep plugging away. I know I can and will learn what I need. I'm just not sure I'll learn it fast enough. I'm not sure what fast enough is, but until I'm more comfortable with what I need to know, it's not nearly fast enough.

On the up side, the manager who interviewed me for this position told me today I'm doing just fine, and that I'm a keeper. She said this in front of my boss too, which was nice.
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Today's workout was the Tap Out class at work. I definitely do not enjoy these videos. It's an advanced program and there is very little I can do to modify the moves. Lots of burpee-style one-arm one-leg stuff, up and down and up and down, from plank to feet and back to plank again. I don't move fast enough and I end up leaving early every time because my back always starts to hurt. 

I do like the class atmosphere. I think it pushes me to work harder than when I'm home alone. I like the martial arts/combat type portions of the videos, and I've started doing other exercises when the video gets to be too much. I use weights on the punches, to strengthen my arms. I do the burpee stuff until I can no longer, then I do planks, then I find something kind of similar from a standing position. 

This is supposed to be cross-training, and I refuse to shred myself for it when my main focus is increasing distance and improving my runs. As long as I get my sweat on and feel I've gotten a workout, I'm content. I have no ego here. At least that's what I keep telling myself...
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Tonight's learning time was given to Ninja for his birthday. We went to dinner, then I helped him get his student loans consolidated. Now it's well after my bedtime, and the abridged version of my blog post is a full on version after all. 

'Night folks.

Monday, July 22, 2013

7/22 - Where I finally get some good news!


Today's learning is going to be centered around Visual Basic and .NET, if I can ever get Visual Studio installed on my machine. I have several YouTube videos and a few other tutorials lined up, just so I can figure out how to do the homework from last Friday's .NET class at work.
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In addition to all the fun this weekend, I woke this morning to a complete and utter lack of internet. After a half hour or so on the phone with AT&T, they determined there was an outage in my area.

After dealing with the internet issue, I attempted to ignite my water heater again. Nothing. I didn't see a spark. I didn't hear any gas flow. Everything I read (including the label on the water heater) said it should be replaced if flooded. So I spent another half hour calling Home Depot and Lowes, trying to get pricing on an installation.

I have to tell you, the Lowes call took all of 5 minutes. The Home Depot call involved getting hung up on twice, then not being able to get a price because they were unable to do that in store - scheduling installations apparently involves an 800 number that isn't manned until 9am or some such. At that point I just wanted to know how much it would cost, but she couldn't give me that info. Add this experience to a simply pricing search on my phone for Lowes, then getting lost in the water heater parts on the Home Depot site, and I'm becoming a Lowes fan even though there are 2 Home Depots right around the corner from me.

Lowes told me I'd have to come in to the store to order the hot water tank, and I needed to be there before 10:30am if I wanted it installed today. I certainly did want it installed today, so I emailed my boss I wouldn't make it in. Luckily the class I missed was one I'd already taken while in Support, which makes it a little easier to figure out the homework. Having it be in SQL helps, as well.

I then toddled right off to Lowes. $620 and an hour or so later, I was on the list to have a new hot water tank installed today. I went home and walked around the neighborhood, taking care of a couple things like checking Savings Bond balances at my local bank. I forgot they are 20 year bonds, and have not matured yet. I figured I would cash them in if I needed them, and if not they could continue to mature.

By the time I got home again the internet was back up and running. I spent some time studying up on the current Savings Bond situation, which changed in 2012. You can no longer purchase them in banks, though you can cash them in at a bank still. Purchases have to be done on-line through the Treasury. I may set up an automatic withdrawal to purchase one with each paycheck, just to have them for retirement. They don't earn a lot of money, but they don't lose money either. Something to think about, though I'm not in a position to set that up just yet.
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I also received an email from the loan guy I was talking to about refinancing my mortgage. He's thinking he can save me about $100/month, AND take 3 years off the life of my loan. I'm still not 100% convinced this will go through, but we're in the preliminary stages where he wants all my financial data. I spent some time gathering everything he wanted, then sent it off to him. Since I was in paperwork mode, I also scanned in my lease documents and called Progressive about the 2010 Sentra I'd insured for the last 6 months, that I did not actually have.

Progressive told me Nissan had called and was told I did not have insurance on the 2013 Sentra. I don't understand how no one thought to call me, but no one did. I thought the insurance was taken care of when I left the dealership, especially since I had a piece of paper saying the 2013 Sentra was covered. I realize now I was supposed to call the insurance company to switch the coverage, but I obviously did not understand that at the time.

I asked Progressive what they could do about the fact I'd paid for insurance and not actually gotten any insurance, seeing as how I didn't have the car they insured. The person I'd talked with Saturday suggested I ask for a refund, but it turns out refunding that money would mean cancelling the policy, which would leave me in situation where I didn't have insurance for those 6 months. Not having insurance for any length of time has an astronomical cost associated with it, so that option was out. Ultimately we decided they could change the coverage to a policy that states I didn't have a car. Yes, insurance companies want your money whether you have anything to insure or not! It will take the better part of the week to get all the paperwork in order, but I should get a small refund on the difference between the two policies. I also verified the 2013 Sentra is currently covered. It is.
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It wasn't long after I got off the phone with Progressive when the water heater installer called saying he was on his way. I explained what I believe happened, that the water couldn't have risen more than an inch or two in that corner of the basement. He told me I'd have a better chance being hit by lightening than experiencing the issue causing the water heater company to say the heater should be replaced if flooded. They have to say that for liability purposes, but a certified plumber (he was one) could take the bits apart and clean them. He also explained I wasn't liable to accept delivery of the water tank until he actually began the installation, even though I'd waived my right to cancel the order.

When he arrived, he wanted to take a look before starting the install. A wise move. He tried the starter once, and WHOOSH! The pilot was lit! Apparently it just needed to dry out a bit more, even after my attempts to light it this morning. I'd left the dehumidifier pointed at it, and I guess that was all it needed.

He left, saying Lowes would refund my money and all I'd have to pay would be the $40 service call. I'll take that over a $620 new water heater any day!
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With hot water and still several hours in the afternoon, I decided it was the perfect time to get my long run in, so that's what I did. For some reason it took about 4 miles to get warmed up and find my stride, but once I did I was flying! It probably helped that the rain picked up about that time, too. My lower back was still somewhat tight, but I didn't have any pain. I do blame that tightness for the cramping in my feet by the end of the run, but they are much better now. I'll take some ibuprofen tonight, and expect to feel as good as new tomorrow (except I might need a shake out run to loosen up again).

Once I got home from the run I took a much anticipated hot shower, did some dishes and laundry, and have been puttering around on the computer. Ninja is on his way over to celebrate his birthday today. I'm not certain what his plan is, but the birthday dinner will have to wait until tomorrow. I didn't think I'd be able to afford it, but considering the way today went I'm feeling just a little more flush than I was this morning.

Now if I can just get my car back... The detailing place called while I was out running, but didn't leave a message. I should have more info on that tomorrow. <fingers crossed>

Sunday, July 21, 2013

7/21 - Aftermath

This image was taken about 2 miles up the road from my house, about 3-4am Saturday morning.

I still have fans and a dehumidifier going, trying to dry my basement. I actually have 2 layers of carpet,which seemed the best idea when I moved in. I put the new carpet on top of the old, indoor/outdoor carpet that was down there, to create a bit of padding over the concrete floor. Unfortunately, when the basement floods it's difficult to get that second layer of carpet dry. I'm hopeful I can get out of this without stinky carpet, because that would mean I have to remove both layers, and the top layer may not be salvageable even if I get rid of the bottom layer.

With the ground still saturated today, I decided it would be a good time to get the garden weeded. Being outside for several hours, I had the opportunity to visit with a few neighbors as they cleaned out their storm damage. It looks like I got off relatively easy.


Turns out the building next to mine had 4 to 5 FEET of water in their basements. Most of them will have to replace furnaces, and just about everything they stored downstairs was ruined.


It looks like the storm sewer in front of my house failed. You can see the high water line in the grass across the street, which explains how Superman's and my car flooded. (It turns out Superman found a parking spot pretty much right in front of my house, not down the street where he normally parks.) I heard today there was a guy with a shop vac taking cash to vacuum out people's cars, while I was at the detailing place arranging to have mine done professionally. I'm thinking my solution will be better in the long run.

It appears only my little corner of the street is affected, which is another reason I think the sewer is the culprit. There is another lawn just past the bend in the photo above, covered in straw. The straw on that tree lawn was unmoved, while on the tree lawn next to my parking spot the straw is completely gone. Also, the only lawns with garbage are on my end of the street.

I still had sections of dry carpet Saturday morning, which means the water came through in rivers and did not fill the basement to any depth. Also, I took a shower this morning, which is why I was so confused this afternoon to find my hot water tank pilot is no longer lit (and I currently can't get it to light). I have a pit and a sump pump in my basement, to pull water from around the outside of my house and push it into the storm drains. If the storm drains backed up, they probably backed up into that corner of my basement too - the same corner the hot water tank sits. I've pointed the dehumidifier at the base of the hot water tank, in hopes the issue is just the striker got wet. If I still can't light it by tomorrow morning I'll have to take a shower at either Superman's or work.

I just read the side of the water heater, and it says not to attempt repairing a flooded water heater, to just replace. *SIGH* This heater is barely 3 years old! $300 is the cheapest water heater I can find, and that doesn't include installation. I'm still hopeful the striker will dry by tomorrow morning. It looks like there actually was standing water in that corner of the basement, high enough to wet the bottom inch of insulation in the water heater, but not enough to wet anything higher. The piece of insulation I tested is about 4" tall. It almost seems like water splashed in and the insulation soaked it up, except the vent around the bottom looks silt-covered. Maybe there was an inch or two of water in that corner. Not enough to wet the floor under the furnace, which is right beside the water heater.
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I planned to do my long run this morning, until I hurt my back yesterday working on the basement. I say it's my back, but it's really my tailbone area that's affected. I always relate this pain to surgical scars at the same level, but in front. Part of me thinks I'm pulling on those muscles, which are super weak, which causes the corresponding back muscles to take the load. Another part of me thinks my tailbone, which I believe I broke as a child, sometimes gets out of whack. Either that or it's just arthritis. No matter the cause, I wasn't prepared to go long with it hurting this morning, though I was prepared to try the run this evening no matter what. If I still hurt, and if the run didn't loosen up whatever the problem (it could happen!), then I could always turn right around and cut the run short. However, I will not run without access to a shower.

This is not to say I haven't been active today. I spent a few hours in the garden. I also pulled the carpet from the landing, where Monkey Boy's cat (and my cat before him) have peed, repeatedly. I finally got sick of it, and now wish I'd pulled the carpet years ago.


The carpet backing and padding were completely soaked, as were the floorboards underneath. I scrubbed the entire landing with dish soap to cut the grease in the urine, then started soaking the landing over and over and over with Simple Green's Cat Pet Stain Remover. I have a gallon, and will continue to douse the area until that gallon is gone.

Eventually I'm going to pull all the carpet in the living room. The stairs and bedrooms are still ok, but the living room carpet shows every inch of the 12+ years it's been used and abused. There are hardwood floors underneath, but I'll likely just re-carpet the whole house at some point. I want to carpet the basement stairs, since tiling them would be pointless considering the way they are worn. The kitchen/dining area need new flooring as well. That will be ceramic, once I pull the existing four layers (you read that right, FOUR layers) of tile and linoleum.

All of this is obviously down the road a ways. It will have to be done before sale. I'd also like to have the place re-wired, maybe put in some ceiling fans. That's getting into lotto winning territory though. For that matter, if it turns out my furnace was affected by the flood, I'm getting a new one with central air. They cost about the same anyway.
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New plan. If I can't get the hot water tank lit in the morning, I'll run the park near work, then shower at work. I have a class in the morning, but my afternoon is free. Both Lowes and Home Depot say I can have same day installation if I call before noon. Looks like I'm taking a half day, unless I can convince my boss working on .NET homework from home is actually working.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

7/20 - Bailing on a Day with a capital D


The image above is one of two such buckets of dirty storm water I pulled from my basement carpet today. Last night's storm appears to have simply opened up and dumped a foot or more of rain in very short order. I haven't had a real basement flooding since they completed the waterproofing 2 years ago, and even then it was never this bad. I woke to completely soaked basement carpets, all the way across the floor. Superman found soaked carpets in his car. He headed to the dealership to find out where the leak was, and I headed to Home Depot for a Shop Vac.

It turned out Superman's leak was no leak at all. The sewers must have backed up, because we had a full on flood which rose up above the underside of his car. Meanwhile, while my car mats were dry, my car sloshed as I took corners on the way to Home Depot. By the time I got there my mats were soaked and my feet squished in them. My car was parked on only slightly higher ground than Superman's, and was also flooded.

Superman and I were not the only people affected by the storm. There was a run on Shop Vacs in Euclid, and Mentor, and Richmond Heights. I quickly stopped driving around and started calling. No one had any shop vacs left, but Costco had Air Movers, which are essentially fans with a scoop to point the air flow across the floor. At this point Superman's dealership had determined the problem and started vacuuming the water out of his car. I called my dealership to find out if they could do the same for me. Instead my dealership sent me to a detailing company who could take my car today.

The detailing company vacuumed out my car, but they are concerned the padding under the carpet is still soaked. They plan to pull the carpet and padding and see if they can dry them. If they can't dry the padding or it starts to smell, they will replace the padding.

While at the detailing place I called my insurance company, to see if they would cover the cost of drying the car out. Turns out I never switched my policy from the 2010 Sentra to the 2013 one when I leased the new car. The insurance company won't honor the claim because this car is not insured, and I paid 6 months of insurance on a car I no longer have. I could have sworn this was all taken care of at the dealership when I signed the lease, but apparently not. The person at the insurance company suggested I send them the lease paperwork and ask for a refund for that amount. If they are willing to refund that money, it should cover the cost of this particular repair. I'm just hoping having them refund the money doesn't then leave my record as having no insurance for that timeframe. I learned THAT lesson when I first started leasing. Rates go up astronomically if you've gone any length of time without insurance.

Because I can't work from home when I'm in training (I'm not actually working yet, to do anything from home), and because I can't miss the classes scheduled for the first few days this week, I thought I'd have to get a rental car. Instead, the detail place offered me a loaner car - a 2000 Acura with ~122,000 miles on it. I keep waiting for this thing to fall to pieces if I close the door hard! Superman assures me it won't kill me though, so that's what I'm driving for the next several days. I do like the sun roof...

I stopped by Costco and picked up the air mover, plus a small shop vac they actually had in stock even though the woman on the phone told me they didn't, and headed home to deal with the basement carpet. The shop vac has to go back. It doesn't seal correctly, and water came out around the lid every time I turned it on to started vacuuming. Luckily I have a steam cleaner which worked well enough. It has a small tank, which is why I wanted the shop vac, but it probably worked better at sucking water anyway since that's what it's specifically designed to do. That and I applied pressure on the front end to facilitate the suction.

3 hours and ~10 gallons of water later, the carpet is no longer soaked. It's still wet, so I have a dehumidifier, 2 fans, and a space heater running on high, trying to dry the place out. My back is sore from leaning over the steam cleaner to apply pressure. My arms are sore from applying said pressure. I called this my workout today, and even wore the heart rate monitor to track it. It wasn't the best workout I've ever done, as my heart rate didn't get very high, but I certain fatigued some upper body muscles.

And that was my day. I'm now too tired to learn anything, and I'm heading to bed. I'll have to do all my Saturday stuff tomorrow, like grocery shopping and cooking. I also have a long run to get in, providing my back allows.

Hopefully the basement carpet will completely dry quickly, and hopefully I'll be able to get the place hot enough to kill any bacteria that would grow into mold or stink the place up. This being the worst I've ever flooded, I'm concerned about the water in the wooden framework and paneling.

<fingers crossed>

Friday, July 19, 2013

7/19 - Progress and prioritizing


Today I successfully created a shape in Blender. This is progress! Additional progress was remembering more menu commands, and finding things like the ability to cover this random piece in fur with just a single click.

I'm still trying to decide what I'm going to do with Blender once I figure out how to use the program. I have a few ideas I'm not quite ready to share, but I'm definitely pondering where I want to go with this. I can tell you there will be far more detailed images than this one. I'm just not certain what those images will be, yet.
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Today's 4 mile run turned into the worlds most difficult 3 mile walk/run. Runs like this are always a learning experience. Sometimes a relearning expedience. With all the growing muscles, I'm sore and tight enough for things to start pulling out of alignment, so I have to be careful about my knees and back. I've found being tight changes my stride, which makes running uncomfortable because I'm using muscles I wasn't before, so everything gets fatigued more quickly.

Today I was reminded whenever my muscles get sore and tight with growth, I tend to start thinking they will always feel that way. Intellectually I know this is not the case and my muscles will heal, that the sore and tight is just tiny tears that will ultimately make me stronger. Emotionally it's uncomfortable and I want it to stop. I start thinking if I stop the discomfort will too. The truth is I always feel better when I hit it again, even if I can't hit it as hard as the workout originally called for.

I ran a shake-out mile earlier this week, and that run loosened me up for the better part of the day. Ultimately today's run was a shake-out as well, and even though it sucked in the moment I felt much better throughout the day for having gone there. I'm again thinking of running at least a mile a day, first thing in the morning, just to work out the kinks. I've already switched my cross-training plan to the classes at work (and even calling it cross-training, which I wasn't before), so why not switch up the actual run plan as well?

In case you haven't noticed, my training plans are nothing if not fluid. It's always an adventure to see what I'll be planning come next week!
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Today was challenging at work. I found I was over thinking my SQL homework assignment. I talked with the instructor, who told me "We already have a General Ledger program! Just show how you would record the transactions." So that's what I did. I came up with two different solutions to the 3rd request, and I still don't know which is best. They cover different aspects of the question, and the question really isn't answered without both. However, I couldn't figure out how to combine both into a single solution within the given parameters. I probably over-thought that as well. Thinking about it now, the point was to create a view, not solve for world peace.

I also spent some time working with V on the card we worked on together yesterday. Turns out we didn't complete everything we were supposed to do. My mistake (in addition to the ones I made yesterday) was to not read the exit criteria, which is what tells us how the program should look or respond once the task is completed. Apparently working with me threw V off as well because once we finished the first part, he submitted the changes without looking at the criteria to see if there was more on the list.

Today we got into some of the code on the form we'd edited yesterday. I don't yet understand all the details of what we were looking at, though I do understand what we were looking for, and how what we found was incorrect. We (meaning V) found the values being passed to the form that were causing the incorrect output. Monday we'll work on where those incorrect values come from. It will likely be in one of the ~2600 stored procedures.

The afternoon was spent in a .NET Fundamentals class, which would have been a bit simpler if I knew any sort of programming language. Ultimately we worked in Visual Basic, which has been on my list to learn for probably 10 years. I guess I'm going to finally get around to doing that, if I'm going to need it for work. Actually, I might not need it for work just yet since Bacon Patrol is written using Power Builder. Power Builder uses a graphical interface to mimic .NET-like functions. There is talk of eventually converting the program to .NET, because Power Builder is somewhat outdated. This means I'll likely need .NET at some point. Maybe if I get started now I'll be up to speed by then. Let me just add it to my list.
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I've started an actual physical (well, technically is virtual, but you get the idea) list of things I want to learn. There are several entries already, including multiple computer-related items, like Blender and Visual Basic. I haven't figured out how I'm going to learn any more than I'm already working toward. I assume once I get good at one thing I won't have to focus so hard, and can add another. Another question is, how good do I want to get?  Some of this will be helpful at work, and I'll be able to practice there. Some I may realize I don't really want to know, once I get into the research. I already know it's impossible to be an expert at everything. I don't want to be mediocre at everything either.

Dr J has said she finds it difficult to focus on more than one thing at a time. My friendly neighborhood Goddess has pointed out more than once how I like to take on the world. It's pretty much a given, when I get to taking on anything I try to take on everything. I like to think there's a happy medium in there somewhere, where I can get better at focusing on multiple routes to improvement without feeling I need to get it all done (and get it done right!), right now. I'm thinking there's a lesson in patience and acceptance in there somewhere. Or maybe the lesson is to live in the moment. THIS is what I'm focusing on now. Now it's THIS.
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Another thing on my list is learning how to forgive. I like to think I'm an easy going person. Sure, I like to complain, but I don't tend to stay mad at people. Except apparently sometimes I do. There is one person I really believe I need to learn how to forgive, because every time I think of that person I get mad all over again. It's not healthy. I don't have to spend time with this person, or even like them. I do however need to learn how to let go of this anger. It's been months and months, and all it takes is a stray thought to set me off again. Not good, and I'm getting tired of it taking up my energy and hijacking my thoughts. I guess that's probably the first step.
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Today I laughed at silly little things. I've turned into something of a worm savior, picking them up off the sidewalk and putting them back in the grass before they dry up and die on the concrete. I picked up a huge worm this morning, and was startled into laughter as it started wriggling manically trying to get away. Usually the worms are more dehydrated and apparently exhausted, as I haven't seen that reaction in a very long time. I'd forgotten they do that, and it made me laugh as the worm kept wriggling out of my fingers while I tried to move it off the sidewalk. 
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I don't know if I'll have time to post tomorrow. I have a wedding to go to, in addition to my normal Saturday activities. I've pushed my long run to Sunday, when the temperatures are supposed to drop from mid-90s to mid-70s. Logistically this works best with the wedding anyway.  It doesn't look like Monkey Boy is coming home this Saturday (I may have misunderstood), or it would be a REALLY crazy weekend. Now it will just be full, and hopefully fun. 
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Thursday, July 18, 2013

7/18 - Macs and forms and Magic the Gathering cards

Today I learned, while I remember some of the keyboard shortcuts in Blender, the program is quite different on a Mac than the PC version to which I'm accustomed. I'm also reminded that learning has a tendency to make me short tempered and frustrated when things don't go as expected. the tutorial I was trying to follow kept using menus I didn't know how to get to, and the computer kept doing things I wasn't expecting. The combination did not make for a pretty me, so I quit while I was ahead and will pick this particular project up again when I am at my own computer. 
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Today I learned more about the Bacon Patrol program, as well as the program used to develop Bacon Patrol. The development program is called PowerBuilder. 

Today's database training was cancelled, so I ended up sitting behind one of the developers again. We'll call this developer V. His project was to add headings and text to a Tax Credit form, and I finally saw something I could figure out how to do! The program used to edit the Bacon Patrol program is graphical, and form editing functions much like many other programs used to create forms. Ultimately V left me to finish the last page, which I was able to complete once I figured out how to access the correct version of the program where he made his changes. There is the existing version (9.1) and the version currently in development (9.2). Since the government agency actually updated this form in 2012, the edits have to go in both versions. V originally made his changes in 9.1, which I was not yet connected with. There was a bit of a snafu regarding the check in/check out program and a shared login, but I am now connected to both version 9.1 and 9.2. 

I thought I made the changes like a rock star, but V came back and found I'd missed a text box in the footer. Also, I'd somehow marked the entire form as invisible. I think I did this last through a keyboard shortcut, but honestly I'm not certain. V copied my changes to a different file and reverted the whole page to his original. He was then able to copy my changes in and make them visible. I would have simply selected everything and made it all visible, but V pointed out there were conditional check marks for check boxes which should only be visible when the box is clicked. 

Other things he did, that I'd like to remember:
  • Check the preview to see how the changes actually look on the page
  • Check the comparison of changes made. V indicated this would help ensure changes were checked in properly, which apparently does not always happen
Even after V corrected my mistakes, I felt confident enough in my abilities to think "I can do that" to two similar cards that came up in our sizing meeting. (Sizing meetings are to determine exactly the issue to be fixed, and how long we believe it will take to fix that issue.) I haven't said anything to the team yet, but probably will at tomorrow morning's daily stand-up meeting, where everyone says what they did the day before and what they will work on that day. 

I spent the rest of the day working on my SQL database homework. I've got the tables created to track inventory purchases from suppliers. I'm still trying to figure out which tables are necessary for a General Ledger process, and I'm not quite certain I've defined the constraints correctly to keep anyone from changing or deleting rows. 
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Today I also learned the Magic the Gathering cards I own might actually be worth something. Probably not a lot, but maybe combined worth enough to make the effort to sell them. My team is full of geeks and nerds (that's a good thing!), and when the conversation came around to selling Pokemon cards I asked about the Magic cards. The newest developer besides myself (I'll call him Jesus) apparently is heavily into Magic the Gathering, and said he would look through my decks for me. 
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I've been exceptionally tired this week. I still don't know if I had a 24 hour something, or if my workouts are just affecting me more than expected. I did go do Tap Out again this evening, but I have yet to complete an entire hour long video. There are a lot of strength and agility activities my body does not handle well, and I tend to stop when I can no longer tell if the pain in my back is growth or damage.  So far it all appears to be growth. I do know I'm growing muscles in several other places, like inner thighs and hamstrings. I've spent a lot of time focusing this week on loosening those new, tight muscles. I plan to continue cross training with Tap Out, and am looking forward to seeing what other muscles I can grow. 
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Today I laughed at and with Superman. I tend toward being overly serious, but that man has the nack for making me laugh! I don't even remember now what he said, but I'll remember the laughter. Thank you, Superman!
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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

7/17 - Tapping out, trusted professionals, and loan refinancing


I haven't given up on the Blender project, but apparently I can't do everything, every day. Who decided this, I ask?!? At this point I'm still trying to figure out how to both read and create on a regular basis. I'm hoping the weekend will save me, but of course this coming weekend is packed with both a wedding and

MONKEY BOY IS COMING HOME!!!

Monkey Boy is officially done with his stint in the Air Force, and is coming home for a few months before heading off to college. The next few months are going to be interesting, to say the least...
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Today I did not exactly feel like an Olympian. It could be the "2nd day is always the worst" from Monday's Tap Out workout, added to yesterday's run, or I might have caught something from one of the developers I was shadowing yesterday. All I know is I was tired and achy and headachy, with stomach issues off and on all day. It made for interesting spurts of concentration.

It also meant today turned into a rest day. I was scheduled to run 6 miles, but between the way I felt and the 95 degree temperatures, THAT wasn't happening. I went back and forth up until the moment I walked into my air conditioned house, before finally deciding it was in my best interest to just rest. I'm cross training with the TapOut class again tomorrow, and by Friday the temperature is supposed to drop so I can run outside without melting.
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Today I learned how to be a trusted professional, and about accountability. Part of the reason we have these classes is because my place of business hires potential talent, entry level and right out of college. Most of these kids have never had a real job and may not really know how to act. Another part is the company recently converted to an Agile development environment, and with that came what they call "Cornerstone Principles." The classes were created not only for new hires, but also for the existing staff when they changed the corporate culture to this new development approach.

It's interesting, coming from Support, to see how corporate culture is defined in the different departments. Personally I'd like to see more of the PD openness and playfulness in Support, but I don't know the reasons behind why Support runs the way it does. It's possible, since the phones have to be manned, that flying darts and more open space would be counter-productive.
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Today I pretty much gave up on the video walk-throughs for the Bacon Patrol product. I'm starting to feel more comfortable in the product, but it will take me two weeks to watch all these videos. I don't have the patience or time for that. I still have to create a General Ledger solution in a test database for yesterday's SQL class. I don't really understand what a General Ledger is yet, so I have to research that first. Today's classes didn't have any homework, but tomorrow I get into database programming, and Friday .NET (a programming language). It's a sure bet I'll have homework after THOSE three to four hour classes. 

I'm excited to get into the meat of what I'll be doing. Maybe next week I'll be ready to take on a card, or at least pair with someone on a card, and actually accomplish something. Can you tell I'm getting just a little impatient? 
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Today I talked with a loan person about refinancing my condo. I've tried periodically over the past few years to refinance, because my interest rate is currently about twice the market rate. Until now, I'd also hoped to lower my mortgage payment. With my new pay scale however, my current payment is less of an issue. When the mortgage guy asked what my goal was, I didn't have an answer. I don't want to refinance out to 30 years again. That doesn't make sense from an interest standpoint. I don't need a lower monthly payment, though it would be nice. It would also be nice to have a shorter term loan if I plan to keep the place.

Yes, I do plan to eventually live with Superman, and even one day marry him. At the same time, I've considered keeping my place. I've thought about letting Ninja and Monkey Boy live here. I've thought about having it as something like a "summer home," where family members would have a place to crash when they came to town. I've thought about renting it out, though I'm not thrilled with the idea of being a landlord to someone who might not actually pay their rent. I've also thought about short sales and simply walking away. Ideally I could sell it for what I owe, but in the current market that's not going to happen. Also, I'd have to do some remodeling to make it worth what I owe, since the kitchen floor is peeling up and the carpets are more than 12 years old.

What it comes down to is, I don't know what I want to do with the place when I'm no longer living here. At the moment I expect to live here somewhere between 3 and 5 years, but I'll be very sad if I'm still here in 2018. It's too small for Superman to move in with me, and we have talked about maybe setting a tentative date to seriously consider thinking about actually tying the knot in 2018.

Today I am hopeful, but not overly optimistic. My place has to be worth at least 80% of the loan in order to move forward with the refinancing, and ideally worth 85% to do this without closing costs. I spent some time on the County Auditor's site and on Zillow tonight. I'm not completely disheartened, but it's going to be difficult to pull the numbers I'd need. Even if I can't move forward on this now, at least I'll have an idea of the current picture, because I'm going to revisit the question of what to do with this place sooner rather than later.
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