My Coding Adventure: An Update

I didn’t have a chance to watch a movie over the weekend, but I like having a post up every Wednesday, so this week, you get an update on my Google Scholarship.

TL;DR: I quit. Kind of.

Here’s the full-length story.

I spent so much time this summer trying to make minor progress on this course, and just fell further and further behind. Then school started, and I realized I’d spent so much time coding, I had literally nothing ready for school. Typically, prior to the first day with students, I have all four classes planned out for an entire semester. This year, I had the first four days planned.

And once I got back into the school routine and remembered how exhausting it is, and then catching the virus that will not die (I’m still hacking up a lung at least twice a day), I just couldn’t bring myself to spend time or energy trying to program an arcade game (the next project in the course).

So I notified the program director that it was time for me to bow out. I told her I was grateful for the opportunity, and that I learned so much–including how I want to proceed with my coding education–but it was time to leave.

And rather than bouncing me from the program, she looked at my coursework. She said I’d made good progress. She said she didn’t want me to give up, and offered to hook me up with a peer tutor, so I could try and at least get the third project done.

I sat on her message for a week.

Then Sunday, I decided it was time to respond.

“Thank you for your message, and while I appreciate the opportunity…”

And I couldn’t finish the sentence. I couldn’t fully quit.

So I deleted the last phrase, and instead told her I would start up again the week of September 24 and see how much I could get done in the last month. She wrote back that she was so glad I made that choice, and at some point next week, I will meet with a tutor for 30 minutes and hit the reset button. Or maybe code a reset button. Who knows.

I’m not entirely convinced I made the right choice, but it’s only a month, and then I can reassess at the end of October what my next move is.

The Great Ziegfeld (1936)


Public Domain photo, from WikiMedia Commons

Plot: This is a standard biopic when it comes to plot, about the life of Broadway producer Florenz Ziegfeld. If you’ve ever heard of “Ziegfeld’s Follies,” this movie is a fictionalized account of how this show came to be, as well as Ziegfeld’s failures and successes, both in his personal relationships and shows he produced.

Best Moment: Oh, the musical numbers were just gorgeous. I loved all of them, even the one that was a mishmash of Strauss, Verdi, Gershwin, and one other composer I couldn’t place. The costumes were lush, and Wikipedia tells me that it took “250 tailors and seamstresses six months to prepare them using 50 pounds (23 kg) of silver sequins and 12 yards (11 m) of white ostrich plumes.” The musical numbers are definitely wonderful to watch, and a couple are written by some heavy hitters: Irving Berlin and Jerome Kern. The scene where Ziegfeld and his buddies sing “Look for the Silver Lining” reminded me how much of a sucker I am for musicals. (Here’s Judy Garland singing it.)

Worst Moment: An utterly heartbreaking moment where Fannie Brice (playing herself) realizes that just because Ziegfeld hired her didn’t mean that he saw her as a woman worthy of gorgeous costumes. As she says, “So, to work for Mr. Ziegfeld, I gotta be an urchin. Even in burlesque I was middle class.” Also devastating: when the 1929 stock market crash wipes him out financially and all his shows close.

Fun Facts: Well, aside from Fannie Brice playing herself, Ray Bolger plays a stagehand whom Ziegfeld hires to perform in his show. Who is Ray Bolger, you ask?


This guy.

The film won Best Picture, Best Actress, and Best Dance Direction.

Recommendation: The film runs nearly three hours, and I didn’t watch it all in one sitting. It took me a while to really get into it, but the second half moves pretty quickly. The final 10 minutes are so melancholy, though, so you’ve been warned.

Letter From A Sick Teacher

So I caught a little virus.

It was a bit worse than previous colds I’d had. This one brought along a couple friends, 72-hour Fever and Total Body Aches, and I was forced to take two days off from work.

This is not easy for me to do, to take time away from my students. When I taught English, I could leave reading or writing assignments and grammar exercises and call it good. But in my electives world, it’s a bit tougher to be gone.

Not only was I too weak to go to school or do any schoolwork, I could not even stay awake through the next film in my movie project, “The Great Ziegfeld.” So you get to wait another week for a movie review.

This virus lingered for a good week; even yesterday I could barely accomplish the few tasks I deemed necessary for a successful week, and when my editor-in-chief asked me if I could read stories so she could publish them, I responded “Are they time sensitive stories, or can they wait until tomorrow?”

If you’re not familiar with the Action for Happiness project, every month they produce a calendar of ways people can be a little happier. This month is self-care September.

This is a well-timed experiment for me, as I was forced to do next to nothing for seven straight days–a reminder that if I don’t take care of myself, I am absolutely of no good to anyone around me.

I loved this tweet from a fellow educator:

Screen Shot 2018-09-04 at 7.09.59 PM

Dear teachers and students, can we all follow this advice this year, and can we all give each other a bit of a break when we notice people on the edge? Then maybe we will stop wearing exhaustion and stress as badges of honor, stop compbragging (complaining yet bragging at the same time) about how much time we spend at work, and start living slightly better lives.




A Night At The Opera (1935)


Public Domain photo from WikiMedia Commons. 

Plot: Well, I’m not entirely sure. Hijinks? See, this is a Marx Brothers movie, and I had two problems as I watched. Problem 1: I was so far behind on work that I tried to do some tasks while watching. Problem 2: Marx Brothers movies can move at a quick pace that require full attention and multiple viewings. But here’s what I think happened: The Marx Brothers are in Italy. They somehow become involved in the life of an opera singer. They go to New York and muscle their way into a production of Il Travatore.

Best Moment: There’s a good 10ish minutes of Chico Marx playing the piano while immigrant children watch, fascinated. Harpo follows him by playing the harp. These two scenes are mesmerizing. Also fun: when the opera’s pit orchestra starts playing “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” instead of Verdi. And the opera singing. All the musical numbers were thoroughly enjoyable.

Worst Moment: Not a moment I can pinpoint, but I don’t like that I couldn’t follow a clear plot line. Maybe I need to watch it again? The jokes are just so fast in this film that I had a hard time keeping up. Then again, if I was around in 1935 and everything around me was bleak, I’m sure a film like this would’ve been a welcome escape…

Fun Facts: This film ranks #85 on the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest Movies.

But it’s the stateroom scene that has had the most impact on American Popular Culture. According to the Wikipedias: Cyndi Lauper, Sting, Animaniacs, Seinfeld, Suite Life of Zack and Cody all paid homage to this gag of cramming too many people in too small a space.

Recommendation: I think everyone should see at least one Marx Brothers movie. I’ve seen three now: Horse Feathers, Duck Soup, and now A Night at the Opera. Culturally, I’m glad I watched them. But I couldn’t really tell you what any of them are about, other than providing a medium to watch Groucho’s wordplay, Chico’s musicianship, and Harpo’s pratfalls. And they are each worthwhile to see. So if you haven’t seen a Marx Brothers film, you should. I might watch this one again, if for no other reason than to try and nail down a three sentence plot summary.


I Quit Twitter For A Week And You’ll Never Guess What Happened Next!

Last Saturday I spent the morning and evening learning from three women who serve at the global level of my church’s leadership. They each gave me quite a bit to think about, including the encouragement to reevaluate how I spend my time.

One of the suggestions was to embark on a social media fast, however that might look in my world. I thought about how I use social media and decided I could probably live without Twitter for a week. It may not have looked like I was absent from Twitter, because my Instagram posts are tied to my Twitter account, and I wanted to keep writing my six word stories there. And this is the third year I’ve posted a Friday Morning Soundtrack to Twitter, so I allowed myself that.

But other than that, I was off Twitter. I wasn’t scrolling and scrolling through my Twitter timeline, clicking on links and getting wrapped up in drama. Instead, I used that time to work on relearning French. I used that time to read. To write. To nap.

I didn’t track how I felt throughout the week, but by Friday at lunch, I realized I wasn’t nearly as fatalistic about my future as I have been in recent months. So I take that as a win.

I hopped back on Twitter today. The first thing I saw was reports of Rudy Guiliani telling Chuck Todd “Truth isn’t truth!” (WHAT?!?!?) The second thing I saw was a series of retorts regarding a comedian’s insulting joke about Mormons (I mean, I’ve heard them all, but get some new material already).

I saw threads of tweets in which people were sharing rejection stories, which really was comforting to read, but other than that, I didn’t see much that inspired me. And to be fair, I don’t see a whole lot of inspiration on Facebook or Instagram either, but since I wasn’t completely avoiding those platforms all week, the effect wasn’t as stark.

I will still check in on Twitter from time to time. I’ve ratcheted back my Facebook use this past year, and am really only there because of a couple of groups I just won’t leave. I don’t follow enough people on Instagram to get too sucked into it.

I always tell people social media platforms are what we make them. I could unfollow people on my Twitter account and see if that improves the experience, but I think I’ll just keep it as is and visit a little less.

I will probably be a little happier, have a little more hope, as a result.