On my own lack of formal education in my field

I wonder if it will ever stop feeling strange to review resumes for people that have their comp-sci Bachelors and Masters degrees.

As I grow into being a manager, I suspect this is something that will feel even weirder.

I have a high school diploma and a little continuing ed certificate, a few semesters of college (I dropped out twice).

I know it shouldn’t bug me. Formal education just isn’t the right fit for some folks, myself included. Yet, that feeling of being under-qualified rises every time.

This feeling has never really served me (other than maybe pushing me to work harder) and it’s overdue to be let go.

Touch the sound

I remember maybe a decade ago there was a big trend toward body mods of folks inserting tech into themselves. I’m guessing this is probably something still going on today.

But as I’m learning guitar I’m paying a lot of attention to the more organic modifications I’m making to myself.

I’m working on my posture. Electric guitars are relatively heavy and I have to watch for back and neck strain, as well as hand strain. So, there are muscles building up there to compensate for this new factor.

But the more extreme thing I’ve noticed is my finger callouses.

If you’ve never played guitar before, you may not know that pressing down metal strings can be a bit painful. At least at first.

It’s not bad, but it’s enough that your body starts to compensate. It says “okay, you keep doing this painful thing over and over, not just once like an accident” so it goes about toughening up that area.

So I’ve now got baby guitar player callouses on my fingers.

The interesting side effect of this is that, while it makes it much easier to play the guitar, it makes every other tactile interaction with the world a more muted experience. I can very clearly tell the difference when I touch something with my right, callous-free fingers vs my left.

I feel a lot more details with my right now. My left hand fingers feel like they have little pads on them. It’s weird and something that are part of a choice I’m making in playing. A small sacrifice to be sure, but a sacrifice nonetheless.

tl;dr bodies are weird and smart.

Makeshift haramaki

It’s getting cooler here in the NE finally and that means it’s time to start pulling out the cozy garments! My office is in an enclosed attic that’s still pretty dang drafty. I often use a space heater on the very cold days, but when it’s just a bit chilly I don’t like wasting electricity. So, gloves, hats, and blankets fill the void. I sometimes have trouble keeping my lower back warm and remembered hearing about haramaki. I could buy one, sure, but more fun to scrounge one! I grabbed an extra long, stretchy, wide scarf and wrapped it around my middle and my kidneys are thanking me right now.

a purple scarf shown being used as a haramaki

I made this scarf a few years ago and felt like it was a failure. I somehow kept adding stitches because the bulky yarn was such a pain to work with, but now I’m thrilled to have it. Eventually, I’ll find a nice sweater pin or something less intrusive than a chopstick to hold it closed.


I have a dear friend who lives “across the pond”. We’ve never met in person (or even virtually) because we met on theforce.net fanfic forums 15 years ago. Back then we were both under the spell of Revenge of the Sith and spinning tales about Obi-Wan and Anakin, while chatting regularly about our lives as we helped each other grow as writers.

We’ve both moved on from that site long ago and we no longer stay in touch with any kind of regularity, but on each of our birthdays we write each other a long email and catch each other up. It’s not even something we decided to do in any official way, which is what makes it even more special.

We ask about each other’s family, we talk about our work and if we’re still writing. It’s always a little mix of happy news and a little about the struggles. As we go into middle age (we’re the same age) the stories change. Her oldest just graduated law school, I finally found a job I love, we’re both feeling our bodies start to ache in new and interesting ways.

It’s one of my favorite things in my life, that we still have this connection, still care about each other. If we met in person, it would be hard to get us to stop talking and sharing. We also expect nothing more of the other and even the birthday emails continue to be an amazing surprise and catch me off guard.

Oh yes, I remember you, you are my dear friend, I can’t wait to hear how you are.


Report from the land of Brood X. We now welcome our new cicada overlords.

On the recording, you’ll hear some birds, some individual cicadas and then the entire background susurrus is the Brood X horde singing.

They started emerging over the last couple weeks but this weekend they really started swarming. There’s entire tree trunks in my neighborhood coated in them.

I live in an area that hasn’t been touched in decades, lots of old houses with established landscaping. So they’ve just been chilling underground for the last 17 years and at least a few generations have been able to do the same.

Questions for myself

I recently started getting James Clear’s newsletter. In it, he asks a question for the reader to ponder. This week’s was:

“How can I create an environment that will naturally bring about my desired change?”

This is an important question and one that, for me, brings other questions. Most importantly, what is my desired change right now?

My current answer to that is probably: I want to write, study, and read more.

If I take a look around, my environment is already dang well set up for bringing about that desired change. I’ve got an office separate from the rest of the house (huzzah finished attics) and multiple options for where I want to work. Inside, outside, the entirety of my environment is set up for doing good work.

So, why then do I struggle to write, read, and study the way I envision?

Some of it is disorganization. The things I want to work on are in a bit of chaos, spread out over various notebooks and file structures. That aspect is slowly being brought under control as I consolidate digital notes into Obsidian. Physical notebooks are a little harder to rein in. They have an organic flow to them that doesn’t digitize as easily as I’d like. Even so, this is all an active work in progress.

Some of my struggle is related to my the way my mind works, how my brain is wired. Work days leave me mentally tired, usually too fatigued to do much more than eat dinner and watch something. I’m also currently working on this aspect as I look at ways to carve more creative time out of my week. Leaving my phone far from my bed has started improving this considerably.

Some of my challenge is life itself. This aspect doesn’t have a lot of wiggle room. There is laundry to do, meals to cook and eat, and the seemingly endless task of sorting and reorganizing my various collections of stuff. This last continues to be a source of stress, both in finding time to do the sorting and in deciding what things I can truly let go of, regret-free.

All in all, this whole question of creating an environment that will naturally bring about change is a difficult one. I can see where I’ve set some things up to help facilitate change, but I honestly don’t know how “naturally” that will ever occur for me. Maybe accepting that the changes I want will not happen naturally is part of the work I need to do. Accepting that I’ll have to work for the changes I want in my life is okay. As is accepting that they will not happen as quickly as I’d like.

I’ll just keep showing up and working to manifest them and maybe one day I’ll turn around and the path behind me will look natural after all.

My 2020 tech job search play by play

This was such a stressful process because I had no idea when I would be furloughed. There was no set date and client budget and priorities kept changing. There were a lot of unknowns, but at least I was still getting paid.

Additionally, holy shit tech job interview processes are hell. I mean, I knew this from previous experience but it felt more intense this time. I was working 40 hours plus juggling upwards of 10 personal and technical interviews a week along with the back and forth emails to get them scheduled. Plus take home code challenges on the weekends and some evenings.

In short, I would not have gotten through that without Trello, a calendar app, and shutting everything else down. I have a lot of wonderful, challenging catch up work to do.

The pluses of all that work though was that:

  • I was in demand for the first time in my life.
  • I got to see a ton of different interview styles and patterns.
  • I learned that I really prefer take home challenges and panel style interviews over pairing/whiteboards and a string of single person interviews.

I was rejected most of the time, mostly because I wasn’t up to snuff on algorithms. On the other hand, I actually rejected a few companies for the first time in my life. I got to learn about a lot of different industries and company structures. I also got to interview with Disney, but wasn’t upset about that rejection. It was a bad skill fit.

The end result? An emotional rollercoaster over the last week, particularly the last 2 days.

There were two companies who I really liked and where I had made my way through to the final offer stage. One (a consultancy) was going to be another week or so to final offer. The other (a startup) gave me a verbal offer on Monday, set to finalize on Friday.

The startup had me meet with the founder and scheduled the final offer chat. On Thursday afternoon, I was planning to accept the offer. I was happy with it and ready to sign on the dotted line. Then the consultancy opened door number two, asking if I had other offers or if they should see about accelerating their process.

I replied that I had indeed gotten an offer, but I was still very interested. What kind of acceleration was possible?

They accelerated. FAST. Like, within a couple hours and not with information but with an offer. I would get details in the morning.

It’s familiar territory. I can start there with confidence. But was I concerned about being pigeonholed as a consultant? The startup was still very attractive. The offer was going to be the deciding factor. Sort of. Along with a lot of talking things over with my family.

The offer came in the next morning (actually, there were weird glitches in the matrix all day Thursday and it had come in the night before but didn’t land in my inbox until the morning, but I digress). It was stellar. Hands down better than the startup. I was still undecided for a few reasons. There was a lot more talking through things.

In the end, I surprised everyone, including myself and my family, by taking the consultancy gig. Money and benefits weren’t the only factor. I also gelled considerably better with their founder and leadership. I’m likely pigeonholed in consultancy work, but tbh I’m 45 and I really don’t think I give a shit about that. It’s good, stable work that I know well. That’s an asset rather than a detriment from here on out.

At the end of the day, this process was a massive confidence boost. I know where my skills sit amongst my peers’. I know where my gaps are, but I also know that my approach and skills are really valuable in this industry. I’ve never been called “amazing” so many times in such a short period. I’m still processing that, but also taking it as a mandate for my next steps. It’s difficult to maintain imposter syndrome in the face of all that. 😀

I’m going to step into this new opportunity with joy.

A small anecdote

Lately I’ve been watching a spider spin her web every morning on my walk. I live on a big enough piece of property that I do my walks here rather than travel because pandemic. Anyway, this spider redoes her web at least once a day (often twice) and I got to thinking. She doesn’t give up on the web just because it got wrecked. She keeps going, each time a chance to rebuild it stronger, or tighter or better connected to the branches or what have you. That in turn got me thinking about how I need to work on my confidence and habits and other things I want to change about how I move through and act on the world.

I never had a ton of confidence in my abilities as a programmer. A few years ago that little bit of confidence was actively wrecked by a guy I work with gaslighting the whole company (myself included) into thinking I should probably be fired. I actually really liked a lot of this job, I didn’t want to leave. Of course I started looking for a different position, but now I was totally behind the eight ball because I had literally no confidence I was worth hiring. I’m grateful that in the end we reorganized and was assigned a new boss who listened to me and helped me keep my job. Fixing the even deeper confidence problems I was left with has been an uphill climb over the last year and I’m nowhere near back to where I was (which wasn’t enough to start with, considering my skill level).

But that spider has shown me that just because things might seem futile, like an unending battle where I keep falling down forever, each time I needlessly apologize or feel bad about the code I’ve written or feel overwhelmed, it’s a chance to build myself stronger. Next time maybe I won’t apologize, maybe I won’t feel stupid for not seeing the answer myself when it’s shown to me. I’ll learn new techniques, I’ll train myself to spot my repeated mistakes, I’ll won’t apologize.

My web will get stronger.


I’m folding again after a weekend of too high temps in my workspace. I just didn’t want to put poor Weathertop through that. The current process looks like it’ll take 2.3 days. I’ll check on that later to see if the timeframe has shortened. Is folding like bittorrent?

Had lovely weekend that’s brought some inner work to the fore. My current schedule is great and I want to keep it great, but there’s some work that I want to do that’s not getting done. My main focus right now is keeping that internal pondering going, keeping the door open for answers to a couple questions.

The new normal is still shifting far too much to predict anything and I find myself being in the moment far more often than not. For someone who’s struggled with burnout and putting too much pressure on myself, this is a very welcome change. Yes, despite everything.

Today so far, I’ve read about the return of the community cookbook, did my Duolingo for the day (I made Sapphire league yesterday!), and opened the window to get some fresh air.

I’ve got a lot of day job work on tap and then we’re celebrating May The Fourth Be With You in my house this evening. Which I always want to respond to with “and also with you”.

Best get to that then. Hope you have a good day. Stay safe, and not just in your body, but in your heart and mind, too.


A personal body hack

We’ve been doing an experiment on me and my autistic, unfocused brain. Things were getting desperate last year with my depression and general mental health. Some of this was related to where we lived, but many of the symptoms were simply worse versions of what I’ve been suffering with most of my life.

My dear ones, whom I trust implicitly and literally with my life in this case, did the research and came up with a supplement, but we agreed I wouldn’t know what it was in order to eliminate any expectations I had about the effectiveness.

I had suspicions about what it was, but went along pretty happily for the next couple months. There were subtle improvements over all, but the most significant was a much less drastic and awful menstrual cycle. I have PCOS, so this is a massive, important change.

Then our move happened and they had trouble locating the supplement and I went off it for a little. It was bad. It took a couple weeks to feel the effects of not having it in my system and then, once we found the supplement again, a couple more weeks to work it into my system again.

After a round with that supplement back into my system, they did a bit more looking around since the original was difficult to source locally and told me they found a new supplement that included the original but also had the potential to be even better. I said yes to this one as well, again keeping it a secret from myself.

Cut to a month later and I’ve been feeling like something is very different. Yesterday I had a little time to think and realized that what I have been feeling is a clarity that I have literally never had before. There’s no background noise in  my mind. I’m only thinking about what I choose to think about instead of being bombarded with random, chaotic thoughts.

It’s so foreign to me that it took me a couple weeks to understand and recognize what is going on. It’s pretty life altering. I am now starting the process of relearning how to think about things, how to write, how to be creative, how to move through the world in what feels, from my past experience, like a zen state all the time.

I’m grateful for the experiment because it means I have confidence I’m not just convincing myself this is working. I’ll double down with the fact that the change was so unexpected I never could have imagined it and to me that verifies the efficacy of this supplement for me.

I’m now using Host Defense. As with anything like this, ymmv and see a professional.

Let the relearning begin.