Last time, I talked about Powerball craziness. I confess, I bought tickets, both that Wednesday, and the following Saturday, when the payday was up above $1 bil. The enjoyment of dreaming was well worth the cost of the ticket. And if my ticket investment helped someone else’s dream, I’m OK with that, too.

Today we’re snow crazy. I live in Maryland, which is apparently just about ground zero for winter storm Jonas. The weather predictions are talking 20-30 inches. EVERYTHING’s already closed till Monday, even the local burger places. My kids were already going to be off Monday and Tuesday as part of the regular school schedule, and they got out two hours early today (again, scheduled). But they’re excited to hear that church is already called off for Sunday. They’re making plans for snowball fights, snow tunnels, and (thankfully for me) lots of shoveling. Work kicked me out at 2pm, and there’s pretty good odds we won’t be able to get in on Monday, just based on roads and parking lots being cleared.

There’re much worse things than being holed up at home with folks you love, having reasons to just hang out and have fun together….

My husband tells folks I’m a fast reader. When our kids have been interested in reading new series or things we weren’t certain were appropriate, the rule has been that Mom reads it first, then the kids read it, and Dad gets it last if everyone else thinks it’s good. The kids seem to have inherited the fast-reading trait, so they’re not willing to wait on Dad (no slouch himself, just a more thorough guy who’ll reread sections as he goes along)…

This month, I got my hands on a series my girls have been reading, which they’d originally started on through books bought at the school book fair. They each got one of the last two books in the series for Christmas, bringing their total to 5. But I’d never read any of them. So, Monday Callie handed me the first one, called ‘Cinder‘. Tuesday afternoon I asked her for the second one, ‘Scarlet‘. This morning, I told her I was done Scarlet, and need ‘Cress‘. She groaned, and said, ‘You’re done already?’. It took us a while to track it down across the two girls’ rooms, and I spent a bit of this afternoon napping with a stomach bug, so it feels too late to start reading it this evening. Though I bet she asks me in the morning whether I’m already done…

Sitting here on a Sunday night, realized it’s been a great womens’ sport weekend.  On Friday, caught the USA Rugby Womens’ Premiere League championship series.  Saw a local team (DC Furies!) and a team with former teammates (Glendale Raptors), and some great rugby play.

Saturday morning, my daughter’s soccer team finished out their season with an exhibition game – well matched teams, and LOVED seeing my daughter going head to head defending a guy we’ve known since they were both much younger.  When that competitive drive kicks in with her, nobody is getting past her without a fight.  That’s something I love to see, that fire in the belly transformed into energy to power her long legs.

Sunday morning, I got up and caught the Rhonda Rousey results.  Surprising result – caught the replay later in the day.  Kudos to both Holms for the win, and Rousey for taking the hits she did.  That the undefeated champ met her match means all kinds of good things for interest in womens’ UFC.

And now Sunday evening, I’m watching the Glendale Raptors defend their WPL title.  A UMBC alum is on the pitch, as is someone I’ve played with for Severn River.

Oh, I did watch the Raven’s game while I was on the treadmill at the gym.  The womens’ sports stuff was much more inspiring….


Motorcycle dreaming… I have this image of me on a cruiser, feet out slightly in front of me, riding down the road. The road isn’t crazy, but it isn’t an empty country road, either.

Have had this dream for a good long time. Long ago, I did my first bit of dream fulfillment, buying a black leather motorcycle jacket at a yard sale. I’ve checked out bikes in parking lots and in magazines while waiting for haircuts. I’ve ridden on the back of bikes, and have a brother-in-law who was gracious enough to let me drive his bike around his apartment parking lot.

What I haven’t had is a license and my own bike. This week, I started to correct that. On my birthday, I started my first day of a 4 day motorcycle class. Tomorrow I get to move from classroom to driving range. I’ll happily get up early on a Saturday to get a chance to advance this dream. I’ll be on a Harley Davidson Street 500…  not thinking this is my dream bike, but I’ll happily learn on it for a day or two.

Can’t wait to see what the weekend holds, and where my heart and brain are re: motorcycles by Sunday…!

Is this a programming blog? There’s a discussion going on on the devchix Google group about building a list of programmer blogs  by women.  This is a blog by a woman who often talks about programming.  But it’s not dedicated to programming.  It’s definitely not dedicated to women programming, as the topics that that could cover are relatively narrow (meaning, the topics that are exclusive to women in programming) and my interest in them doesn’t stretch far enough to fill many blog postings.  Yep, there are too few women.  Yep, I like to help women be more visible to help encourage both other women to enter the field / stay in the field, and to make it clear that women belong.  But part of demonstrating that women belong is just, well, belonging.  Not necessarily standing out for being a woman.  Standing out for being good at what I do and standing out for always getting better, for always putting in the effort for what the team’s promised to deliver.

I’ll happily talk to women in the field.  Heck, I organize a regular meetup for women to get together and swap stories.  But, as you often see on this blog, there’s lots more to talk about in lots of venues.  So, if you’re here because you like encouraging women programmers to blog, great!  Just sit through or skip through the rest of the stuff.  Because like (I hope) most people, I’m not so easily labeled as a single category.


I can juggle.  Before you send me a Cirque Du Soleil job posting (ooh, I could be a clown for Cirque?  More realistically, I could do IT for Cirque???), know that my juggling to-date has been of the three ball level.  I learned how in college – I had three softballs, a dorm room, and a roommate who didn’t do anything more violent than complain as the softballs went past her head.  If I’m standing up and have three objects of a reasonable size and shape, I’m likely to start tossing them up in the air and mostly catching them.

What I hadn’t done till recently is have any success with adding a fourth ball.  I’ve been able to juggle two per hand, but only one hand at a time.  (Think: two in right hand, two in left hand – while one’s up, one’s down per hand.)  Whenever I added the second hand, the balls would collide in the middle somehow.  But I’d been told that that’s how to juggle four, so I kept trying.

Last week, I had a breakthrough.  Rather than try to juggle four, two per hand, I treated it as three, where one hand just happened to be holding an extra ball.  That worked – I was juggling three, and had this extra one in my hand.  Not quite juggling four, but a step forward.  My hand had to move and deal with this extra ball.  Then I just tried every so often switching which ball I was holding – e.g., if I threw ball A the first time and held ball B, I might every so often toss ball B and hold ball A.  It’s still not quite as smooth as I’d otherwise like, but it doesn’t screw with my brain the way juggling two per time per hand did.  I’m finally unblocked and making real progress to juggling four.

It struck me that this approach of finding the smallest change that’ll work might suit me in other areas, as well…  instead of crafting a large-scale vision for a software project that takes weeks to go over in my brain, start with a small potentially throw-away step to help me learn more.  Instead of working on a big vision for a technical conference talk, pitch a vision at either a local Toastmasters’ club (to see how the story carries) or at a local tech talk (to see how the tech approach sounds) before investing effort.  Or heck, write the vision or pitch up here and post a link to Twitter.  Get something small down and see whether it seems like it’s moving forward.  Then take the next small step.  For my juggling four, instead of intermittently throwing the ball up, try alternating every 3rd or 4th toss, etc.

For my next circus trick, I’d like to learn to ride the unicycle.  I have a unicycle, so that first step is done.  If anyone has an idea of a next first step, lemme know!


I’m over 40 and overweight.  It’s common enough that as I look around my peers, I can _nearly_ justify that I’m less overweight than most.  But it still bugs the crud out of me to find myself past certain scale thresholds… So, when a local gym that a friend attends put on a weight loss challenge, AND that local gym is a martial arts gym where I’ll get to hit things – I had to give it a go…

3 times a week, I leave more sweat than I ever thought possible on the mat in its classes.  I’ve done more burpees of late than I’d imagined possible.  Tons of pushups and squats, too.  And yet the scale goes nowhere.  Even, on days that cause me to curse, slightly up.

But I continue in the classes…  Because on those days where I curse at the scale, at least I get to hit things.

“What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done, Mom?”, asked my eight year old.  I’m not sure what prompted his question, though I’m certain the chance to get an answer which delayed bed time might be part of it.  I thought about it, and answered: “Having kids…”

Undoubtedly that’s not what a kid wants to hear from their mom.  I went on to tell him that at his age, and much beyond, I pictured my life as kid-less.  I’d have a house full of puppies, but no kids.  It wasn’t until well after I met my husband and started to think of kids as a creation coming forth from both of us that my picture changed.  That I went from dreams of puppies of all sizes, to wondering what our kids might be like, and looking forward to how we’d raise them together.  That I stopped thinking of all the pain in the rear part of having kids to considering the joys of seeing things through new eyes, of getting to see these young people grow up to have opinions and interests of their own.

So my son got to hear that he was one of the craziest things I’ve ever done, and that I love him (and his sisters) immensely because of it.  Oh, and that going out for rugby was on the list somewhere, too, and that the opportunities presented by “craziest things” are to send you off in new directions and new experiences.

Diving into the summer…  feels like such a chance for new adventures.  I’ve often asked my kids to make ‘adventure lists’, both because I want to inspire them to think big and because I want to come up with big ideas and actions with them.  Follow one’s dreams, not blindly, but with excitement and anticipation to see what paths may open before you.

So, some dream following of late:

1. Taking a chance on a MMA / boxing fitness class.  Working my tail off, with an idea of seeing whether this might be a new competitive outlet for me.  The fitness class was one thing – crazingly sweat-inducing and body shaking.  The striking (meaning hitting and kicking) was another…  even absorbing blows with pads was eye opening.  As in, wow that’d hurt if that landed, and boy, I’m enjoying the effort of hitting these pads.

2.  Letting my daughter head to Puerto Rico to visit some friends.  It’s a scary thing to let her do this on her own, even knowing that there’re trusted folks to receive her on the other end of the plane ride.  She gets on a plane tomorrow: I think once I know she’s there, it won’t be as scary an idea, but right now my chest feels a bit too tight.  I’m proud of her, and delighted that she can have this opportunity.  It’s a gut check, though, on that idea of being parents who help their kids explore the world safely.

3. Started a new job.  The existing one was a great job, but I was no longer seeing that chance to make an impact at it.  I could do well at it, and that in itself is honorable and good.  The company is a fine company, one I was proud to work for.  But I need to see a company grow and shape because I’m molding it.  Having to step up into bigger language – just started to type – “molding some area of it”.  But the truth is, I want to mold something more completely, maybe not all at once, but over time, I want to see where I’ve brought it forward.  I’m coming into someone else’s company, because I didn’t jump completely into the deep end to start something brand new.  I joined a company where I know and respect its owners, and they and I want to work together to continue to build upon what they’ve begun.

Dreams yet to pursue:

1. Going to pull that unicycle out of the basement this summer.  Since I have two thanks to a generous friend, giving one to a neighbor, and learning on the other.  Debating whether to take it with me to our summer getaway and just dedicate some time each day.

2. Stock options from my old company are about to convert my motorcycle dream into reality.  The stock is a good investment, but sprung free it’ll make donations to worthy causes as well as cruising wheels.  And heck, the drive to my new job is relatively short / safe – great jaunt for a motorcycle this summer…

First day of summer just this week: summer adventuring under way.