School’s NOT Out for Summer! (Or Ever)

Oh how I loved it when my dad would play that Alice Cooper song at the end of every school year.  Even in elementary, I really hated going to school.  I looked forward to summer more than Christmas gifts.

But that was because I did not learn well in a regular school environment.  Scratch that – I learned fine, I was just bored out of my mind because they went slow.  Also, I didn’t really like a lot of my teachers because I felt they didn’t know the material as well as I thought they should, or I felt they didn’t like teaching.  It also didn’t help that I was bullied ruthlessly until high school.  It was a bad combination.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m taking part in MOOC education.  It’s going very well.  I just finished my first class on malware and its underground economy.  It wasn’t my favorite class, but I think that had a lot to do with the fact I didn’t have the proper background.  Either way, I did well in the course.  I also dropped a course (that I enrolled in for a later date) because my work load is too heavy, and I’m starting my first programming course.  I’m already behind, but that’s mainly because of the insane schedule I’ve had lately paired with a lack of internet access.  It’s already fun, and I’m happy to have a more hands-on class.  I enjoy learning, I just don’t think conventional schooling is something that works with me.

Summer school hasn’t just hit me.  Both my dogs are enrolled in classes for the summer.  Initially, I dreaded taking them to class because I get stressed out seeing the Petsmart classes when I go shopping there.  But we are taking them through the humane society and it is so much fun for all of us that I wish I had done it a lot sooner.

I know I had promised fence pictures.  I’ll get to that one day. I’ll probably do a big yard update at the end of the summer when things wind down a little.

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Coding and Software Programming: The Language of Tech

Woah, Meg.  That title sounds awfully dry for an artist’s blog.

I swear this blog post isn’t going to as dry as the title would suggest.  In fact, during this short blog, I’m going to try and make it sound interesting, and make the case of why everyone with a computer should make the effort to familiarize themselves with basic coding and a programming language.  Because, why not?  Why can’t this blog be about cooking and gardening and cosplay and computers and travel?  Huh?  Tell me why?? Oh, hard to categorize?  Oh well…

Don’t worry, next week I’ll be back to gardening adventures.

So let’s start from the beginning.  Let’s take a trip to childhood…

Some of you may be aware (or even remember!) that computers didn’t come with an easy-to-use operating system like the ones we use today.  I remember playing on my older sister’s computer, some gorilla/king kong type game that was completely played through keyboard commands and coming up with angle degrees in order to move him around the city buildings (bonus internet points to whoever knows the name to that game).  It was basic.  Black screen.  The graphics were pixelated green.  I had to remember the command to even start the game.  The screen kind of looked like this bad boy:

FreeDOS_Beta_9_pre-release5_(command_line_interface)_on_Bochs_sshot20040912

That was about the extent of my computer experience.  I didn’t have computer classes in my schools until high school (I went to some pretty poor elementary schools).  And the classes in high school were just how to use Excel and Word, nothing fun.  And it was all related to whatever science class I was in.  I think there were “computer science” classes, but they weren’t on the regular curriculum, and I definitely was not aware of them.

After high school, I bought my first computer – a Dell desktop.  I didn’t know how to use it, and I had my boyfriend at the time hook it up because apparently matching the colored wires in the back was just too daunting for me… I actually don’t think I used that thing for anything other than AIM chat, writing papers, and… yeah that was it.  I still used CDs…  I’m pretty sure I contracted a virus every week because I didn’t understand ANYTHING.  Within 4 years that thing wouldn’t even turn on.

In college, I bought my second computer, a monster HP laptop that weighed 400lbs and was the love of my life.  This is when I started getting better at computers.  It was also the first time I successfully removed TWO worms I accidentally downloaded and started paying attention to the security of my computer.  I took some tech classes because I realized I didn’t really know anything about something I used on an daily hourly basis.

Now I’m 28 years old, and I’m taking courses in computer science and teaching myself how to code.

Why, oh why am I going on this rant?

Because I strongly believe that owning and using technology without really understanding it, is not a whole lot different than a pilot flying a plane without really understanding how that works.  Yeah, I suppose you can get by, but if something goes awry, how can you troubleshoot?  Sure, any time your computer is on the fritz, I suppose you can take it to the Geek Squad or the Geniuses and spend stupid amounts of cash to fix a problem you more than likely can (and should) take care of yourself (granted, there ARE some problems better left to professionals).

As for code?  Well, familiarizing yourself with basic coding language is like learning a language in a foreign country – it’s a lot easier to get by.  Language is culture.

I’m not saying everyone needs to be able to put up an interactive website at a moment’s notice or personalize their operating system.  But it’s not that hard to become familiar.  It actually can be a little fun even.  I’m not a math whiz, and like I tried to make clear, was not really exposed to computers early in life.  I like gardening and cooking and making weird art projects.

So if anyone wants to take the leap, check out CodeAcademy.  It’s free, it’s interactive, and customizable.  Learn as little or as much as you want.

Next week on travelin’ home – raised garden beds and Julian Assange: how the right plant soil protects your source seeds.

****Just FYI, I am not in any way endorsed by or affiliated with CodeAcademy.  I just love them so much.****

Mommy, Can I Be a Doctor AND an Actress?

This week brought a lot of new revelations.  The first being, my book did not want to go the way I had originally planned.  After days of trying to force it into something it didn’t want to be, I let it go.  Now it is happy going along on its own course – and apparently I’m just along for the ride.

The second revelation was that I want to do so many things.  Well, I’ve always wanted to do a lot of things, but I always thought I needed to pick just one, or perhaps just a few.  I decided I’m going for it all.  I don’t really want to be a doctor AND an actress, but why can I not straddle multiple worlds?

I am a self-declared artist.  I love all kinds of art, I love creating it, breathing it in – I love it all.  I want to try a lot of things now that I’m older, wiser, and at the very least, braver than I was when I was young (God, I made so many mistakes!).  Why can’t I try acting?  I’m not going for an Oscar or anything, but perhaps taking a class would bring out something new inside me.  I love when that happens.  It only happens when I get out of my comfort zone.  Right now I’m trying my hand at writing a book, which is difficult, but not exactly outside my comfort zone.

My other serious passion is technology.  I read tech blogs, watch videos and get more excited about the technology that goes behind a game than the game itself.  I’ve taken some classes at college, but couldn’t really pursue it further.  I had to make a choice at college because it’s expensive and I worked 30 hours a week while trying to get my degree.  Right now, however, I have time and options.  So I looked into free online courses, and enrolled myself so I could further my education for ME.  Not for a career, but for me.  I love learning.  And I love immersing myself in multiple fields.  I get bored if I’m solely focused on one thing.

So for those of you out there that can’t or won’t decide what they want to do with the rest of your lives – follow what feels right.  And here’s a LINK.  Free classes.  Boom.  Learn.  Expand.  There’s so much pressure in life – to succeed, to decide – but sometimes you just need to take time.

Yes, I just said “boom.”  It’s Friday, and I’m excited for the weekend and I still need my coffee.