changing environments

What a week!

Personal update: Josh and I signed a mountain of paperwork yesterday and are just waiting… waiting… for JUST GOT final notification that we’ve closed on a house here in Seattle. This process has been nail-biting right up until very end. I sold my house in Houston back in October and we were outbid on a house in Seattle earlier this winter. That turned out to be a blessing because it enabled me to leave my job and for us to still qualify for a (smaller) loan on Josh’s income alone. All in all, we’ll be paying half as much each month on our mortgage as we’re currently paying in rent, and moving from a land of faceless high-rise condos to a wonderfully diverse neighborhood with an invested community. Anyway, the house buying process is a lot different from 2010, when I bought my house in Houston. More paperwork, more disclosures, and more “we’re all set just waiting on this oooooone little make-or-break thing….” It may sounds nuts but trust me that rent here is no joke, and *buying a house* is going to *save us money* in both the short and long-term. Crazy, I know.

So, that’s been taking up a lot of my time and mental energy. But we’re excited!!

No new work to share… but elsewhere online, here’s some stuff I’m paying attention to: Continue reading

the toggle button that wasn’t

HEAR YE, HEAR YE: I made a thing in which I practice using jQuery and mix my literary metaphors: Rabbit, Run!

If anyone knows how to make the toggle button actually, you know, toggle… please share. Until then it *says* “toggle bunnicula” but what it actually does is “click here for bunnicula forever.”

Related, this exchange with Josh (my partner, a professional game designer):

Continue reading

complexity rules everything around me

Hey Wu-team, Mary here, checking in from the Fields of Distractionville. I spent like three whole days this week dreaming of Greek island sunsets and planning an international trip that may or may not come to fruition. I’d be lying if I didn’t share that I’m feeling a bit deterred. Thus, I  don’t have anything new to share this week except for this music video and some hard truths. (Java-javaScript, y’all.)

HARD TRUTH #1: Recursive algorithms: you have to learn them.

Colin is a bad-ass programmer and when I questioned the relevance of this Python McNugget quiz question he shot down my hope that the question was an outlier. You can google for more, and here is Colin’s proof that 43 is the highest possible “non-McNugget number,” if you are interested: click me for McProof.

In a nutshell, recursive algorithms look like this:

def recurPower(base, exp): //this defines a function 'recurPower' that takes in two numbers and returns base^exp
 if exp == 0:
   return 1
 elif exp == 1:
   return base
   return base * recurPower(base, exp-1)

It’s tricky to conceptualize the idea of using a function *while defining that function* but that’s how recursive algorithms work. This one is about the simplest they get, it’s all downhill from here.

HARD TRUTH #2: Programing == Math.

I will admit to purposefully not turning in this week’s Python assignment about looking at programs and analyzing them for efficiency and efficiency’s opposite, complexity. An example is: how many steps will it take the computer to execute this program? And while it would be lovely to be able to answer “1” or “42,” the answer is usually something more like “5log2(n)+2008.”

Complexity impacts run-time and memory usage, all stuff that programmers need to care about, I suppose. Conceptually, I can understand that a more efficient program is going to mean the difference between your lightning fast web application beating out the slower competition. But as I’m still learning, I skimmed over this lesson thinking: “This is advanced math stuff and it’s tripping me up. I’ll skip this for now. I need to get programs consistently running first, and then I’ll worry about how efficient they are.”

And then look what pops up in the latest Code Fellows lesson:


Yeeeah. Hello, complexity. And do you see that lovely red bar of lowest complexity… what does that say? That’s a log function, friends. That’s MATH.

So, ok. Not to worry. One step at a time. The last hard truth is personal to me, but here it is:

HARD TRUTH #3: Do not go gentle down that web development path.

I’ve been wavering a bit on the best course of action for me going forward. After reflection, I think I want to pursue further study in Python with an eye to data science and analytics, what is sometimes referred to as “back-end” programming (systems focused) as opposed to web development which is “front-end” (user focused).  The good news is that Code Fellows has a pathway to making this happen. The bad news is that it’s hard. Like, really hard. And full of math. There is less precedence, programs, and guidance for this path than if I were to pursue web development, and I’ll still have to learn JavaScript to be employable, and I’m ok with that.

So, what now?

Make programs. Get them working. Get registered for the Foundations II Python Course. Make more programs. Make websites. Look at job descriptions and figure out what jobs/skills are connected to programming with Python (learn git), learn those skills and find people in those jobs.

…And plan the honeymoon, because that’s important too. 😀

Programmers: what hard truths did you learn early (or late) in your careers? Share ’em in the comments!


now we are two

My latest assignment for learning web development is to build a page with some css that can “house” the silly little JavaScript games we’ve been building. I used the opportunity to launch, which I intend to build out as a non-Wordpress personal site while keeping this one a dedicated blog. The site name is a pun on the word “merrythought,” a British term for a wishbone, the etymology of which references “the pleasant thoughts imagined when the bone is ritually broken.”

Thoughts as acts of wish making, I’ll take it!

This week was a slow one to get started — I had a burst of inspiration this weekend to make an “achievement unlocked” twitter bot that has stalled out because I can’t figure out how to auto-upload an image. It’s fixable, but it requires seeking out additional expertise, and probably in person.  And we have a lot going on offline, finalizing a move (seems counter-intuitive but buying a house will save us half of what we’re currently paying in monthly rent) and planning a wedding that is slowly creeping up on me. On Sunday, we talked with our officiant who prescribed “a few pieces of undeniably beautiful music, a few readings that are meaningful to you, and make your list of people who must be involved to give their blessing.” That sounds… kinda fun, right? Well sure, if your idea of fun is curled up in a fetal position under the desk because god dammit why are all your favorite songs about loss and why is it so hard to pick readings, you have no fewer than 10,000 books to choose from… otherwise WRONG-O. Wait, let me code that…

var ceremony_planning = “pick your music, readings, and people who must be involved”

if (fun == “curled up in a fetal position under the desk”) {

  fun += ceremony_planning;

} else {



Ok, THAT was fun. Maybe Valentine’s Day will inspire me. Anyway, happy weekends to you!