Two Down … 509 To Go!

“Euler calculated without apparent effort, as men breathe, or as eagles sustain themselves in the wind.” ~ François Arago

The only sound apparent was the silvery, creek-like trickle of the fish tank.

And of course the scratch of graphite on paper, the rubbery pass of the eraser, the occasional puff of breath clearing the work area, and the rapid tap of keyboard keys.

I began again.

0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34…

Do you recognize this sequence of numbers?

Your eye knows and loves them well, even if your brain is drawing a blank.

Continue Reading

A Website’s Journey: mineplusnine.com

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step….whatever the f*** that means.” ~ From the movie Precious based on the novel Push by Sapphire

While studying to become a teacher, Bloom’s Taxonomy is crammed down your throat.  The taxonomy has many purposes, but it can be used to ascertain the depth of student learning.

The lowest level of mastery according to the revised Bloom’s Taxonomy is simple remembering.  Can you recall new terms pertaining to what you have just learned?  Can you provide accurate definitions of these terms?

This is the level of rote memorization.

The highest level of the revised taxonomy is creating.  It is considered higher-order thinking to use something you learned to create something novel.  You are operating on this level when you design, write or formulate something original inspired by something learned.

I am beginning to view my burgeoning technology skills through this lens.  I love working with HTML and CSS.  I want to challenge myself to operate on the highest level of Bloom’s, so I have decided to create my own website from scratch.

I have been working on this site for sometime and I am finally please with the result.  My original plan was to build the website using Twitter Bootstrap, but that is a bit beyond me at this moment.  Instead, I built the site using only HTML and CSS that I wrote myself.

However, getting a site onto the internet takes a few steps.  Today I would like to share my website’s journey.

Step 1: Get a hosting service.

Simply put, a web hosting service is a company that will provide you with space on a server. This allows your website to be accessible via the World Wide Web.  I selected a service called A Small Orange.  I chose them because they were highly recommended in the book I am reading on HTML and CSS.  A Small Orange was described as “the perfect starting place for the new web content publisher”.  That is me.  Signing up with A Small Orange was a snap.  I went to their website, created an account, selected a domain name, and purchased my service for $50 a year.  I was even able to purchase security for my new site at the same time!

Step 2: File Transfer Protocol (FTP)

Now that you have web hosting, you need a way to get your HTML/CSS files from your computer to your web host’s server.  You can do this via a File Transfer Protocol (FTP).  To use FTP, you need an FTP client- a program used to transfer files from your computer to a web server.  Again, I went with one of the FTP clients recommended by my HTML/CSS book.  I am using a client called Classic FTP.  Classic is easy to use with a great interface that makes it really simple to transfer files from one place to another.  I am completely new to this process and had no trouble at figuring it out.

Step 3: Get a Text Editor and Write Your Website!

Now you are all set to go.  The only thing you are missing is a website to publish!  This part is the most fun.  First you must decide what your website is going to be about.  I decided to make a website about my family’s nine cats! Next you need to design your website.  What do you want it to look like?  I designed my website on paper first, sketching out the layout and deciding on a color scheme.  Finally it is time to write the code.  To do this you will need a text editor.  I am using Sublime Text 2 because it has a lot of great features.  But if you use a Mac, you can also download TextWrangler which is free.

Step 4: Publish your website!

My website is www.mineplusnine.com. I hope you will check it out.  It is still under construction.  Right now I only have the home page.  I have not yet created the individual pages for each cat.  That is coming soon! Right now the page is static.  As I learn more about JavaScript, I hope to make the site more dynamic and interactive!

SnapDragon’s Tale

“There are songs that come free from the blue-eyed grass, from the dust of a thousand country roads. This is one of them.” ~Robert James Waller from The Bridges of Madison County.

SnapDragon came free from the little girl who dwells across the grass and believe me when I tell you that he is a song. His melody is motion so swift, my mother refers to him simply as “The Golden Blur.”

The unexpected cancellation of Codeup’s evening Full-Stack Bootcamp has left me dumbfounded. As I struggle to regain my balance and chart a new course, it helps to remember that unexpected events quite often evolve into welcome departures from the ordinary. They may even transform into blessings.

Case in point: SnapDragon’s sudden arrival into my life.

It has a hot day in July of last year. The heat was searing and seemed to emanate from all directions. My brown skin glistened with droplets of sticky sweat. Like a hot dog in a solar oven, I baked in misery.

My air conditioning chose the middle of a heat wave to quit working. On the day I met SnapDragon for the first time, I was roasting in my bedroom desperately awaiting the electrician whom I had called to take a look at the AC.

Finally the doorbell rang. Oppressed by heat, I slid off the damp sheets and made my way to the door and salvation.

I was expecting a man. So imagine my shock when I found the little girl from next door who is no more than six years old.

I recall thinking that the little girl was somehow extraordinary. The heat didn’t seem to touch her. No sweat beaded her tiny brow. Her long brown hair blew angelic in the stifling breeze. Her small brown eyes didn’t even squint to keep out the harsh light as mine did. Resolute, she looked me directly in the eye with none of the bashful squirming of most children her age and spoke clearly.

“You have cats.”

It was a statement. Her elfin voice, though slight, left no room for discussion.

“Yes, I have two. Their names are Puss and MaryGold.”

Do you want a cat?” 

Five simple words and yet to a cat person like me, those are the most beautiful words in the English language.

Without waiting for me to respond. She turned and began to walk away. Somehow she knew that I would follow.

When we arrived at her house, the little girl walked in announcing

“I got the lady with the cats!”

When her mother saw me sweating at the door, it was clear to me that she hadn’t sent the little girl. The mother was just as surprised to see me as I was to find myself in that slightly awkward situation. I can only assume that the little girl heard her parents discussing what to do with a kitten that they had in their possession. Having seen my cats in my window, she must have decided on her own volition to go and get the only cat person she knew—me.

The mother explained that they got a kitten for the little girl, but the family dog was going crazy and kept trying to attack the kitten. They had tried and failed to safely integrate the two animals. With no luck they were looking for a new home for the kitten. Then came those beautiful words again, this time from the mother,

“Do you want a cat?”

“I really shouldn’t take another cat.” (But my heart was already made up.)

Can I see the kitten?” (Once you see a kitten there is no turning back.)

The mother disappeared for a moment, and returned with a tiny gold and white miracle.

IMG_0839IMG_0874IMG_0812

I knew the moment I saw him.

“What is his name?” (I gazed, already in love, into his frightened eyes.)

“Freckles,” the little girl responded.

“Is it alright if I change the name?”

Freckles is now SnapDragon and he will be a year old next week. I now have a trifecta of feline perfection dwelling with me in my home. He has been a handful, (I sometimes call him The Terror) but somehow he has been integrated with Puss and MaryGold and we are all finding our way through the world together.

SnapDragon bears a notched ear, which is the universal sign of a stray cat that has been captured, neutered and released. I do not know his story before his time with me, but I know that he has come to me from “the dust of a thousand country roads.” And he has become my love story.

SnapDragon is my living, breathing reminder that change is not always bad. The unexpected can change your life in ways that are additive. A change in plans is not always a harbinger of doom.

With SnapDragon in mind, I choose to embrace the Curve Ball that has been thrown my way. I will commit myself to this new camp and timeline and perhaps when more tales are written, the story of Soun-Ja and her programming Bootcamp will be one of them.

Tick. Tock. Tyranny.

“There’s a time for us,

Some day a time for us,

Time together with time to spare,

Time to learn, time to care,

Some day!”

Confession. I’ve never seen West Side Story, but when I hear the song Somewhere my heart swells to bursting just the same. Particularly it is the second verse, the one that I have quoted above that gets me, right in the soul, every time.

I am a slave bound to the clock. Each morning, my alarm persecutes me with its shrill, persistent voice at 5:45am. Then again at 6:30am to remind me to administer phenobarbital and Keppra to my epileptic cat MaryGold. Then again at 7:00am to insist that I get out the door and on my way to work at the local high school. Once I get to school, every 50-minute class is signaled by yet another bell, counting off even more seconds that slip through my grasp like sand culled from a fragrant beach. In the evening, I arrive home just in time for still another alarm, this one set for 6:30pm to remind me that it is time once again to administer MaryGold’s medicine. After 6:30pm I have 3 hours and 30 minutes before my 10pm alarm dictates that it is time to administer MaryGold’s Zoni, again for her epilepsy. From here I have a two-hour window before MaryGold’s final medicine administration at midnight. As you can see, my time is largely bracketed by work on the one hand and caring for MaryGold on the other. Continue Reading