1. Today I am 11110!

    in The Pick, Updates. Permalink.

    I had an idea for a birthday tradition that I wrote about a few months ago called Binary Birthday where I calculate my age in binary every year as a means of re-learning binary. You can read that post here, but it’s probably not Worth Your Time because that last sentence sums it up.

    Anyway…today is my birthday! I am officially 11110 years old. It took me about 30 minutes to re-learn counting in binary this morning, and another 20 minutes to write this blog post. I used this tutorial, the first result on a DuckDuckGo search for “binary how to”, to guide my re-learning.

    Here is the notebook page I used – you can see it took me several tries.

    Will the above page have fewer mistakes next year? Will I utilize my knowledge of the binary number system in the next 365 days? Maybe, but probably not!

    More important than the usefulness of my binary counting knowledge, is that this exercise reminds me of how much fun it is to explore math and computer science, and how much it improved my skills and confidence as a self-taught developer. That is certainly something I apply on a daily basis.

    If you’re interested in learning some computer science yourself, I suggest starting out with these blog posts I wrote to document my learning, or jump right into Base CS, an excellent podcast and blog series.

  2. Being and Doing

    in The Pick. Permalink.

    I am about to turn [age] tomorrow. I sat down a few minutes ago to do some last minute reflection on my life so far, and instead opened up my RSS feed. I’m glad I did because I saw this article by Ben Callahan on Sparkbox’s blog, the Foundry.

    From Ben’s post:

    For some reason, we associate “making an impact” with doing instead of being. Sometimes the way to make an impact is to stop doing. Shut up and listen; learn something. It’s a little thing for most of us, but putting yourself in learning mode means you see others as teachers.

    Ben Callahan on The Foundry

    This article is one solid nugget of perspective about both life in general and the web industry. I highly recommend reading it. Like most (all?) content from Sparkbox, it’s of reasonable length, well-written, and Worth Your Time.

    Okay, now for a personal response to Ben’s article. I mentioned in my 2019 goals post that I’ve been working with a life coach, so that is not a secret. The term “life coach” makes me uncomfortable, but I’ll just have to get over it.

    In my last meetings with my life coach, my life coach and I determined that for me, year 29 was about doing and year 30 will be about being. Well, that makes this article extremely timely! And I don’t feel so bad about evading my reflection with RSS anymore. I will have to tell my life coach about it, since its very relevant to life coaching. Life coach.

    Also, I wrote this post on my phone, on the couch (couch, not coach), in about 15 minutes! Publish, Lara, publish!!!


    And now, it is the next morning. I wanted to follow up with some ideas for focusing on being instead of doing:

    • Watch more TV shows
    • Sleep in as late as I can, every day
    • Order more food for delivery instead of cooking
    • Stop seeking out new opportunities
    • Say no to social events

    Umm…something doesn’t sound right there.

    A problem I foresee with choosing to be over do, is that I like doing and I don’t really understand being. I’ll have to follow up on that with my life coach.

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  3. A 10/10 Sunday in Queens

    I had a great day exploring Queens this weekend. Highlights include coffee, a large biscuit sandwich, coffee, the Socrates Sculpture Park, and unexpectedly encountering some of my family's heritage!

    in Personal, The Pick. Permalink.

    A tall pink sculpture in a park covered in snow and mud

    When I lived in NYC a few years ago, I estimate 94% of my time was spent in Manhattan, and 80% of that was below 14th St. which is where I lived, but still….I had a “radius” so to speak.

    Of the remaining 5%, 3% was visiting my family on Long Island or north of the city, 2% was Brooklyn, and 1% miscellaneous outings to the remaining boroughs.

    Continue reading →

  4. Laura Owens @ MOCA

    in The Pick. Permalink.

    I started reading The Artist’s Way by Julian Cameron last week, a workbook/course for being creative. Although the spiritual verbiage makes me cringe at times, the content definitely works for me. One of the exercises in the book is to take yourself on an “artist date” once per week – this week I went to this exhibition of Laura Owens’ work that I learned about from an advertisement on a bus bench.

    A few words I would use to describe the exhibition: whimsical, huge, textural, accessible, satisfying, globs, playful, maternal. And here are a few photos:

  5. Pittsburgh is a wonderful place

    in Pittsburgh, The Pick. Permalink.

    Pittsburgh is and always will be my home city. I’m back for a long trip over the holidays and in between some east coast conferences, and it’s been a wonderful trip.

    Walking down Penn Ave.

    When visiting Pittsburgh, I stay at my family’s house in Friendship, a neighborhood on the east end of the city off of a main street, Penn Ave. I work from Catapult Pgh, a coworking spacing I helped kick start back in 2012, that resides in the thick of Pittsburgh’s hippest neighborhood, Lawrenceville. It’s about a 30 minute walk, mostly down Penn Ave., from the house to Catapult, and that’s possibly been my favorite part of this trip so far.

    The Penn Ave. Arts District in Pittsburgh

    Penn Ave. is also known as the ‘Penn Ave. Arts District’ and there are many new creative spaces popping up, and still many spaces available. It’s quite inspiring. I’ve noticed that – unlike New York or LA – new places (restaurants and art studios alike) in Pittsburgh often stay open rather than close after 1-3 years, something quite common in big cities. That’s not surprising given the difference in cost of living, but it does make me wonder if more innovation and creativity happens in smaller cities simply due to the ability to experiment without the overwhelming pressure of increasing rent.

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  6. Creative Quest by Questlove

    Creative Quest is essentially a holistic guidebook to being creative, by Questlove, the drummer from the Roots. If you're a creative person and looking to put some more energy into developing that side of yourself, I can't recommend it enough!

    in The Pick. Permalink.

    The illustrated cover of Creative Quest on an orange background

    Creativity has been a big part of my identity for all of my life but, since college, it was hard to justify creative work that didn’t have direct business impacts. Now that I have a job though, two things in particular are different:

    1. Work-work is contained to a specific space and time,
    2. Sharing what I do no longer has the underlying goal of resulting in freelance work (read: money).

    This is very exciting! I’ve been wanting to re-connect with my artist self for a while, and now is the time! That side of me that has been contained to journals and sketchbooks since 2011. Now, I’m on a mission to figure out how to get that contents into a medium that is understandable, easily shared, and that fits in well-enough with my public persona.

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  7. What is programming, anyway? – Felienne @ NDC London

    I just love, love, love this talk from Felienne given earlier this year. It affirms so much of my own thinking, and I would say is a "must watch" for anyone involved in programming.

    in The Pick, Web Development. Permalink.

    Thumbnail for "What is programming, anyway? – Felienne @ NDC London"

    This talk affirms so much of what I have been working on with this “algorithms of CSS” business. Felienne is an excellent, engaging speaker, and we have a similar affinity for the Apple Pencil slides strategy 🙌

    Here is a link to the talk on Youtube, and a summary of the points that resonated most, for me:

    The tech community tends to be more negative and judgemental than other communities (shocking, I know) – if someone is excited about programming, the response, from at least a few outspoken people, is some form of “that’s not real programming”.

    When other communities see enthusiasm about their topics, they encourage it. What is different about technology?

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