Week 2 – Rough Around the Edges

The body adjusts to stress. Winters feel a lot colder at the beginning of the season. By the time spring rolls around, you’ve adjusted to the drop in temperature. If you start to work out, it’ll be painful for the first three weeks, that is, until your body adjusts to the muscles tearing and regrowing. But the body takes time to adjust, and because of that, there is always growing pains when you encounter a new routine.

And right now, my body is definitely adjusting to the new environment. It’s been affecting me in weird ways.

  • Twice this week, instead of swiping my student card to get on the bus, I swiped one of my other cards. One of the bus drivers was nice to point out that his bus was not a grocery store.
  • I left some critical gear at home because I thought it’d be a great idea to have a look at the kit before the lab the next day. This was smart because it checking your equipment was the first task of the lab. It was also stupid because I forgot that equipment at home. Thankfully they have backups for the parts I needed.
  • I forgot some wires in one of my classes. One of my peers brought it back to me.
  • I spent fifteen minutes looking for a tool. I walked back to previous classes, I checked both of the bags I brought to school. Turns out it was sitting on the keyboard, right in front of my face.
  • I’ve been having weird dreams. I had a dream where was a massive bug in my ear that was screaming and scratching the inside of my head (horrifying). There was a dream where I threw a melon at the genitals of a giant bear (slightly amusing). And the last dream involved me shaving my head and convincing my fiancee it looked amazing (I would not look good with a shaved head).

Long story short, my body and brain are not used to the new, rigorous schedule I’ve set for myself, and as a result, are stressing out a bit. My mind, however, is fine. Mr. Charlton is holding it together pretty well, it’s just the vessel that holds me is struggling with waking up at 5:45 am and absorbing thirty hours of school a week and doing thirty hours of homework and then working twenty plus hours a week.

Still, though, even with this crazy schedule, I don’t feel overwhelmed yet. I’m still ahead in most of my classes, there’s a couple of knowledge gaps I have to fill with studying, but overall, I’m keeping my head above water. Even though I feel exhausted after these long days, I still wake up feeling refreshed and ready to do some more learning. At the same time, I’m hoping my body starts to adjust after week three or four. I’ve already had people at work comment on how tired I look all the time since my program started.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. I’ve gotten insanely good at managing my time. On the bus? Studying. I’m at work? Some notes are put in front of me to glance at while I’m cooking. Walking home? Trying to recall the lessons from the day. When you don’t have any time to spare, study time is all the time.

p.s.s. Not only am I learning new things at school, I’m learning new things in the kitchen! Me and Kat decided that date night would be wing night, and instead of going out to some greasy pub, we tried making them at home. And let me tell you, they turned out amazing. Seriously, go buy some chicken wings, toss ’em in cornstarch, then an egg wash, then some seasoned flour, and throw them in a pot of hot oil for 8-10 mins.

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Look at these little badboys. We tossed ’em in some hot sauce and teriyaki.

p.s.s.s. You might also be wondering when I find the time to write this terrible blog. The exact time is typically Tuesday morning from 7:15 to 7:45, which is enough time to bang out a poorly written and edited piece of internet entertainment.

 

Mr. Charlton is a Terrible Code Monkey

I was recently working on a project for a friend of mine who’s a software engineer, helping him put together some 3D modeling stuff. Nothing outside of my scope, but it’s been a while since I’ve sent anything to a 3D printer, so there was some stuff I had to relearn. We ran into one major issue after I had built the first model. When we sent it off to the 3D printer, the 3D printer said the model was too small. It was so small, in fact, my model wasn’t even showing up at all.

Now, I’ve been doing this sort of thing for a while. When the printer balked at me, my first reaction wasn’t “What’s wrong with this stupid hunk of garbage”, it was “Okay, let’s  simplify the problem”. Instead of checking the model (which I had spent hours on at this point), I sent a boring 3D cube to the printer. I ran into the same issue. The cube was too small. Huh! This instantly told me my model was probably fine, but the model and the 3D printer weren’t talking to each other correctly. Something was getting lost in translation. So I made the cube 100 times bigger. Success! The cube was being recognized. I made the model 100 times bigger, and the issue disappeared.

I told my friend, the one who contracted me to do this work, about the issue and how I solved it. He told me the process I went through, simplifying the problem then testing it, was the same way a coder would tackle the problem. Little did he know I’ve been teaching myself the ins-and-outs of coding for a while now! The philosophy of working with code is the same as the philosophy of generating 3D models, which is also the same philosophy of dealing with technology and computers in general; Test the easy, big stuff first so you can narrow down the solution. Also, your computer does not respond very well to yelling instructions at it.

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Strangely, it doesn’t respond to hand gestures either.

Coding isn’t something that comes naturally to human beings. Unless the person has some sort of specific autism, coding is a skill everyone will struggle with. Learning how to code and making little programs has taught me an incredibly important skill, one I never got the hang of in grade school, at college, or anywhere before in the workplace. The skill of being miserable at something, and failing over and over again.

I was pretty good at school. I wasn’t an exemplary student, by any stretch of the means, but I didn’t struggle with any subject. There’s never been a time where I was overly challenged. The only challenge I ever faced was of my own doing, as I tended to procrastinate. Any problem can be made difficult if you wait until the absolute last minute to take it on. School and work never really put me in the path of failing. If it was school, I did well if I put the slightest amount of effort in, and work was basically showing up and doing the job.

Enter coding. I started coding, ever so slightly, a couple years ago. I was a lousy coder back then. These days, well, I’m still pretty awful at coding, but I can look at code and make some sort of sense of it. I can make little scripts to automate tasks. The truth is, I’m not sure if I’ll ever actually be good at coding. I think it’ll always be something I struggle with. That okay, though, because there’s few things I’ve found in life to be as enjoyable as solving problems, and a computer, well, that is basically a box full of problems that need to be solved.

The point I’m trying to make here is very few people are naturally good with computers. The rest of us nerds have to work for it. So if you’re trying to teach yourself how to code, there’s a trick that will keep you on track. The trick is learning to be happy with failing, over and over again. A computer doesn’t hand out participation trophies. Having code that is 95 % correct will still return errors. The computer will only recognize code that works. But when you finally do figure it out, there isn’t anything I’ve found that is quite as satisfying.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. Okay, an orgasm can also be satisfying, but anyone can give themselves one of those, so it’s a different kind of satisfying, I guess.