My life has many aspects, and I’ve always been sensitive to losing my identity through motherhood.  Too many women I know go around known as “Mikey’s mom”, rather than as someone with their own interests.  As a Sunday school teacher before I had kids, I realized I knew many folks through the church as “Mikey’s mom”, rather than “Sue” or “Elaine” or “that awesome mom with this talent in…”.  So, I’ve always been interested in exploring many interests and highlighting things here from those interests: coding, clowning, business, motorcycles, etc.  But now let me give you into my life as a mom.

Tomorrow is my son’s 10th birthday.  He’s the youngest of my three.  While we don’t have birthday parties with friends every year, we’ll do it for big birthdays.  Ten counts as one of them, as does thirteen, which is what my middle daughter will turn in just two weeks.  So tonight we have the sleepover for my son.  He had 5 friends join him for a Harry Potter birthday party at our house.  We did a Dementor pinata, a Quidditch match, a cake that would have made Hagrid proud, butterbeer, polyjuice potion, and lots of jellybeans and chocolate.  (No chocolate frogs this time…)  The house was decorated in Hufflepuff colors and we had a photo area for ‘Have you seen this wizard?’.  All of this is homemade…   Pool noodles became brooms and hula hoops became Quidditch rings.  Paper bags and black clothing became a pinata.  Ice cream and cream soda became butter beer.  Much consultation with Pinterest over the past few weeks…

Tomorrow is also the fun fest at our church.  My daughters were approached to do face painting, and to help them fend off feeling completely responsible, I became responsible for face painting.  Tonight we three were practicing.  On my hand, I have a two different flowers, a heart, and a shark.  Each daughter has some set of images on their hands and face, all in the name of practice for tomorrow.

Next Saturday is the Homecoming dance, my eldest’s first.  So, in addition to party execution and face painting, tonight was online Homecoming dress shopping.  We debated dress length, dress fit, and backup plans in case the one ordered doesn’t hit the mark.

All this is the life of a happy mom on a Friday night.  The earlier part of the day had satisfying interactions with Gitlab open-source code as part of work.  But the afternoon and evening has happily been consumed with making memories with my kids.  There are 4 boys around my kitchen table right now playing a drawing game and generally ramping down to go to bed for their sleepover.  Some of them are unfortunately still eating the sugar we overstuffed them with earlier – slightly counterproductive on the whole sleeping thing of sleepover….  But much less energetic than the epic Nerf battles going on earlier.

The life of a mom… Ahhhhh…

 

I can now say, I was a member of the Ms. America parade. I’m not a pageant kind of gal myself, so it wasn’t exactly on the bucket list. BUT, now my husband can say he’s married to someone who was in the Ms. America parade. Score!  (For the record, I’m the blue-haired clown in the back row… ) 

msamericaparade

 

Had a great time high-fiving kids and adults along the parade route….  two miles of Atlantic City boardwalk, lined with folks on both sides.  We saw young and old, all interested in interacting with clowns and having their days brightened.  Even in my newbie clown state, I got to help brighten a few folks’ days.   Expect the wig to change by the next pic, as well as the makeup – learning with each new event how to get better at clowning…  Uh, and learning to take environmental conditions into consideration – the wind along the boardwalk made wigs, clown noses, and clown props much more of a ‘will they stay on’ kind of affair…

 

Seen on Twitter this morning with guilty amusement:

 

Made me laugh as I thought of blocks put into my Docker files to let me go in and see what state things were in after I ran them.   Move 2 lines of code around from place to place and see what new info I glean…

#####DEBUG - exit here to check state
exit


Or console.log statements with odd text that should _never_ make it into checked-in code, but acts as a visual trace of the flow of code.

Or conditional asserts put into code to verify that a condition really does happen on the Nth +1 iteration of the loop.  (Handled with less danger of an inadvertent code check-in by setting these up as conditional breakpoints in a debugger..)

Or even comments added in to help us better understand what we think we’d like to keep versus toss in a burning hole.  (Source of comments: Apollo 11 Guidance Computer source code…  Way before my time, but demonstrating another ancient programmer spell…)

Got any new tricks to add to my bag?

Sunday evenings: are they filled with potential for the week ahead or remorse for the weekend now ending? For me, it’s an odd mix of both…

Sundays are generally relaxing. We sleep in a bit, at least as compared to the school and work week, getting up in time to make it to church. Since there’s no Sunday school during the summer, that means we need to be there by 10:30. Seeing as I work to get into work between 7 and 7:30, that’s a several hour difference of sleep and just general languidness and enjoyment of my bed, breakfast, and beagles.

Sunday afternoons, we’ll often go out to lunch as a family after church, and then maybe visit friends or play a softball game or go for a walk. There’s a real enjoyment to Sunday. And yet, I spent part of today feeling restless. What am I achieving in this restful state? (Besides observing a commandment…) I need to retrain my brain to enjoy the rest, to perhaps pursue a hobby (practice some balloon twisting? go for a run? cook something interesting?) rather than weigh examining government proposals or building recruiting budgets or checking out technology questions. Those are Monday through Friday things. (Saturday is catchup on lawn, on housecleaning, on commitments to volunteer efforts…)

So Sunday is also a day of anticipation, of getting back into the swing of achievement of Monday through Friday. I can dig back into Docker without thinking I’m short-shrifting something else. I can read code with appreciation and enjoyment. I can look at government SBIR descriptions and plan and scheme on how best to answer with a proposal.

Love this ebb and flow of go-getter-ness and slow-down-edness. I don’t think I could appreciate either one as well without the continual rhythm of shifting between the two of them.

Happy Sunday!

Ran across a comic strip this morning described as “9 Non-Threatening Leadership Strategies For Women”. . Linked to the original source, but the reminder of it this evening came from Fast Company’s “How to be a Non-Threatening Woman”, which linked back to the Cooper Review’s original article…

In this fast-paced business world, female leaders need to make sure they’re not perceived as pushy, aggressive or competent. One way to do that is to alter your leadership style to account for the (sometimes) fragile male ego.

When I first skimmed it this morning, I thought the writer was trying to give good advice… “Trying” being the important word here. I grew frustrated as I read the article, until my caffeine-deprived brain got enough clues that this was a tongue-in-cheek approach and meant to highlight the pain-in-the-rear-edness behaviors some of us experience, and the stereotypical coping strategies / highly annoying behaviors some folks use to cope. (Note that I’m not focusing solely on women doing the coping – seen guys do some of these things as well. Just as highly annoying.)

I’m a woman in tech. Highly outnumbered and have been throughout my career. On my current project, in a room of 35, I’m one of 3 women. The 3rd woman joined one month ago, while the 2nd woman was still on maternity leave. So, for several months, just me in the estrogen column. Neither of the other two women are leaders of groups in the room. Leaving me the sole female leader in a room where the guys shoot rubber bands at each other as a form of male bonding, where another of the tech leads said his frat-hazing treatment of a more junior member of the team was his way of showing care, and where one team member gave another leader in the room a thong as a way of poking fun at his accent in pronouncing ‘thon’… I’ve been talked over, had things demeaningly explained to me, and had my points and ideas repeated by others (and thus finally heard)… I definitely lean to the ‘left’ on the pictures presented in the article, and refuse to shimmy to the right.

Next week, I leave that particular team. I didn’t think I was leaving because of the sort of behaviors demonstrated – there were other reasons to leave. But suddenly realizing how much I’m looking forward to gelling with a new team.

Getting ridiculously excited for the Olympics this year. Not only will this be the year that rugby returns to the Olympics, but my former teammate Carmen Farmer made the team! Carmen and I played for Severn River Rugby, and in 2012 we went to the national tournament for D2 level teams. Came in 2nd in the nation, and Carmen caught the notice of one of the folks recruiting for USA Rugby. She’s fast, she’s tall, she handles the ball well, and she tackles like a beast! Watch for her starting August 6th!

The past two weekends, I’ve had opportunities to go out into the community as my alter-ego, Clementine. Clementine is a blue-haired (for now, anyway) Auguste clown who’s been enjoying spending her time at summer festivals and parades with her pet skunk, Blossom.

Dundalk Heritage Fair - July 4th, 2016

Dundalk Heritage Fair – July 4th, 2016

Clementine was asked a question by a ten-year old(ish) boy along the parade this morning: why does she put on her clown makeup? The answer is: with a bit of work (the makeup and costume stuff) and a good bit of energy, Clementine can be a grower of smiles and happiness. The number of kids (and adults!) who wanted to fist bump, snap pics, high-five, pet Blossom, and just generally enjoy interacting was huge! Clementine got to interact with little kids, big kids, parents of kids, and even had her picture snapped with a senior citizen or two who was enjoying the parade from a wheelchair. Blossom was already wearing beads to deck herself out for the 4th of July parade, and got a new necklace from a little girl along the parade route who was making bead necklaces and thought Blossom needed one more.

My ultimate goal is to get some experience under my belt and see about sharing this opportunity with folks in my church. Our clown alley has members from my age and younger, to retired folks. We have folks who have physical limitations, and some who will never be able to live on their own due to mental handicaps, but who delight in ‘bumping a nose’ and sharing a smile in the community. Each clown has their own set of gifts to share, which seems to me to be a perfect example of what we aspire to in Christian ministry. “But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.” [1 Corinthians 12: 18-20]

In something of a motivation slump at work. The end’s in sight, it’s just farther away than I’d like. So I sit here on a Wednesday morning weighing the many productive things I could be doing today, instead of heading to work.

    I could be…

  • Working on reviewing my Gobot presentation for Golang Maryland tomorrow evening
  • Moving further with my Apache Spark edX class. I did some of it this morning, and am just at the point where I can play with notebooks and actually futz with things…
  • Spending more time with ‘The Children’s Illustrated Guide to Kubernetes’, which I tripped across through a Twitter mention this morning. Kubernetes will turn out to be useful soon-ish, so trying to absorb info, concepts, and practical tutorials
  • Revising my clown makeup approach – doing a festival this weekend, and didn’t like how my last facepaint worked out
  • Practicing balloon animals for that same festival
  • Visiting a friend in a nursing home to try getting her wheelchair in my vehicle ahead of our Orioles game this weekend

List is long, and so rewarding. But if I let myself lapse on going into work today, I’ll want to do it again tomorrow.

If you give a software engineer a free day…

If you Give a Mouse a Cookie

Part of my job duties include recruiting new software engineers to join our firm. I think we’re pretty neat. We’re small, though, so its not as if we run mega-magazine campaigns or TV or radio ads. Instead, we rely on a more direct form of recruiting. If I know you, you’re likely to hear about our company. If I don’t know you but we have a chance to talk about professional stuff, you’re likely to hear about our company. If you’re connected to me on LinkedIn, you’re likely to hear about our company. And if LinkedIn thinks you might be a good fit for the candidates we’re searching for, you’re likely to hear about our company.

Where you’re not likely to hear about our company, as heavily anyway: my personal Facebook profile or other social network personas. I keep my professional network fairly broad, and my personal network a bit more close. Microsoft announced today that it’s buying LinkedIn, and various TV talking heads were concerned that LinkedIn’s network reach and stickiness (how many times I’m likely to return in a day/week/etc) aren’t as high as, say, Facebook or Twitter. I don’t go to LinkedIn as often. When I go, it’s for a specific purpose. When I “clock out”, I go to other places. LinkedIn wouldn’t serve me well, and thus wouldn’t receive the money I give it per month to provide search and contact services, if it was as wildly open to interactions as other spots.

So, Microsoft, find better ways to help me source candidates. Find better ways to help me market myself to potential employers. But don’t expose my info to every family member, church member, friend of a friend, etc: I prefer to keep my business activities separate.