Supplanting Pessimism with Action

I wanted to say “replacing” but this is really more of a shoving-pessimism-aside-because-duck-your-feelings anyway kind of thing.

It’s mid-December. The general election is over, voting is going on in Georgia, a couple of vaccines are slowly being distributed. The year is about to end, but this year still happened. In less than ten months, over 300,000 people have died of COVID-19. Many more have died from other causes, alone or without their distant family because it’s not safe to travel. My grandmother was just one. Millions are unemployed. People are afraid, and isolated, and sick.

And there is absolutely nothing that I can do about any of it.

But, instead of a Pessimism Part 3, let’s figure out what I can do:

  • Keep taking care of my family
  • Keep fighting and working hard at my job (so I can have a better chance of keeping it)
  • Going back to the hustle of learning new skills so that if I need to pivot and find a new job, I can

Skilling up is one half, showing up is the other. I’ll dive into a plan for showing up to new groups, old groups, and how I plan to meet people who I can help in a future post. For this post, I’m going to outline my plan for how I’m going to skill up.

Diving back in to SQL and data processing tutorials

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve worked on these daily. That changes tonight. I’m starting where I left off on DataCamp.

Rebuilding a code portfolio

The world has changed since I last seriously addressed my portfolio. That changes Saturday. Let’s see about making GitHub green again. 😉

It’s just baby steps. But you’ll watch me run.


Pessimism Part 2

This should be a list of things to be optimistic about or to look forward to.

It’s not.

The Electoral College elected Joe Biden as the 46th President today. Multiple Electoral College gatherings had to lock down their buildings because of “credible threats” of violence.

I joked in a call today that one day we’ll have to answer the question: “Grandpa, tell us what it was like at the beginning of the 2nd Civil War?” “Oh, not too bad. If you saw your city trending on Twitter, you knew to stay inside.”

But, hey, there’s a vaccine.

Pessimism Part 1

I don’t have a Part 2 planned out, but I know that I will come to the last sentence of this post without a satisfactory ending.

AP, Decision Desk, Fivethirtyeight, Crooked Media, and even Fox have called the election for Biden. Trump has not conceded, nor is he allowing anyone currently in the Executive Branch to cooperate with the transition. Trump is encouraging his supporters, Nazis, and the Proud Boys (is there a difference between those three groups?) to march and riot.

Coronavirus is hitting new peaks across the country. We’re close to 200,000 new cases each day, with over a thousand new deaths EVERY DAY. Positivity rates are skyrocketing in multiple states:


I found this map while researching whether I could go visit my grandmother before she dies.

I think pessimism is a bit warranted right now. Let’s see what we can come up with for a Part 2.

It’s not a landslide

It might not even mean and end to Trump. Yes, we all know that there are more states to count, but this should have been a landslide. How are so many people still voting for the man who holds rallies during a pandemic? Who is slimy and bigoted and sexist and a walking fascist dictionary entry?

It’s not a landslide and even if Biden wins, this is a deepening stain on this country. I don’t know what else to say.


I have been waiting for the 2020 election since 2016.

I will never forget the slow, sinking, horrifying feelings I had while watching the returns during the last presidential election. I’m on the West Coast, so by the time dinner and homework and dishes were done, projections were starting to come in from the EST precincts.

I spent a lot of time that night on Fivethirtyeight’s website. I know they’re trying re-write history and say they warned us all that Trump had a good chance, but I was a political news junkie then, too, and I followed their polls and analyses very closely. While they hadn’t put HRC at 100% chances, they certainly weren’t ringing any alarm bells the way they now claim to have done.

I watched state after state turn red. I don’t remember which state shocked me the most, but when I saw that Pennsylvania was red, I was glued to the screen, refreshing every few minutes, reading every reputable liveblog I could find.

In just a couple of hours, the country was bathed in red.

Get in loser, we’re going to the library!

My local library has an amazing curbside pick-up program. They’ve always had a strong holds system (it’s really the best way to check out books in normal time) and now you can schedule a pick up time when you have a hold ready. The librarians bag it up and have your books waiting for you right outside. They also have a “surprise bag” checkout program where they will checkout a collection of five different books (for kids, YA, or adults). The last time I checked out that option, my set included On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder and Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. Both books had been on my to-read list for what felt like years, so the serendipity was overwhelming and just the push I needed to finally read them.

Today’s stack of books included three books and two books on CD:



I’ve got a variety of topics, if not a very strong variety of authors. (( severe side-eye )) Next time. (I like to purchase new books from authors from marginalized groups – I don’t mind not further lining the pockets of a Nobel Prize winner.

Wow. This is a fluffy little rant. That’s ok. Maybe I’ll read something worth writing about tomorrow morning.

It’s Still Wednesday Somewhere

I’m writing later than I planned today, but I am still awake and I’m not a computer, so I can be a little flexible with whether it’s actually Thursday morning or Wednesday night.

It’s hard to think (let alone write) about anything other than the impending election. The 2020 Presidential Election is in a few more days. A lot of people around the country are emphasizing that Tuesday, November 3rd is the election deadline, not Election Day. Voter turnout is expected to be very high and most sensible localities are acknowledging the existing of the Coronavirus pandemic and encouraging voters to vote early (whether through in-person voting locations or by dropping off their ballots early.) We’re already at the point where most states are telling voters not to bother mailing their ballots at this point because of the GOP legal challenges working their way through the courts (and up to the GOP-controlled Supreme Court) that are expected to artificially limit counting past the voting deadline on Election Day.

I tried to start out non-partisan there. I truly did. It’s a little like trying to be neutral in a burning building. Fire == bad. Running away from a fire or putting it out == good.

Anyway. You see why it’s so hard to think or write about anything else.

Imagine a clever and insightful transition here as I abruptly change the subject.

I read an interesting book recently. The New Voices of Science Fiction is an outstanding collection of short sci fi stories from around the world. Every story was engrossing, and funny, and a little scary. When a time traveling fisherwoman fears being caught by a librarian, you know you’re in for a ride!

A little shocked at how long it’s been

I recently read a mini-article about the importance of writing every day. It’s based on a podcast interview with Seth Godin, who credits his creativity to building the habit of writing in his blog every single day. I decided to take his advice and dive back in to this neglected blog.

I didn’t realize just how neglected this blog had become. Well, looks like we’re starting it up (again) today.

For lack of a better plan (and if I waited until I had a plan for what to write here, it would be another four years before I started writing again), I’ll start off with a list of things I’m going to let go of:

  1. I will let go of the belief that it’s not a “real blog” if I’m not coding it myself. I know that I can, but it’s not where I need to spend most of my time right now.
  2. I will let go of the insecurity that what I’m writing here won’t be valuable to anyone but me. Writing something that is valuable to “just me” is enough.
  3. I will let go of the fear of starting. So here we go.

Now that we’ve got a bit of cruft out of the way, what am I going to pick up?

  1. I will take Godin’s advice and write every day. It won’t be Austen, but it will be real and daily.
  2. I will think about what I might want to write about each night before bed. (It beats thinking about the news!)
  3. I will add to this list as time goes on.


Regular Expressions to the Rescue

Working my way through the Launch School curriculum and I had nearly forgotten how much I love regular expressions! Look at how beautiful this is:

def valid_number?(num)
  num =~ /\-?\d+\.?\d*f?/

It’s just lovely. The most wonderful site, Rubular was a huge help in working out the details. It’s a terrific little sandbox that allows you to test out our regular expressions in Ruby. You can see exactly what you’re picking up and exactly what you’re leaving behind and it’s wonderful. I could easily spend all day there.

Ok, back to work now.