Coffee is a girls best friend


SO – let’s establish that I am not a coffee connoisseur… but I do enjoy a good cup of coffee in the morning. About a year ago, I was introduced by a few friends (Sean and Robb) to the aeropress. I’v been drinking coffee for a while now, but let me tell you, the aeropress is a cut above. I’m pretty sure it can make the shittiest of coffee taste mediocre. It is also the easier, cleanest, and cheapest way to make a dang good cup of coffee. I don’t always drink fancy coffee (there is no way I could afford that habit). A few weeks ago I was doing my final errands before I left Chicago to head West. I was donating one of my bikes to West Town Bikes in Humbolt Park, and nearby was Dark Matter Coffee – I had to stop in to pick up some of their barrel aged beans. I think these beans might be magic, because they are so robust, and yet so sweet (no sugar added of course). It’s an Ethiopian bean, married with a 30 year old Heaven Hill bourbon barrel. The barrel first housed Heaven Hill bourbon, then went on to host Pipeworks Imperial Jones Dog (for a whopping 10 months) – then… (yes…then) – it played host to Pipeworks Elijah’s Revival Wheat Wine Ale. The barrel’s final resting place was with the Ethiopian Reko beans. Placing coffee beans in a barrel with a history like this means they are going to come out with character and depth. The bourbon leaving behind oak and touch of peaty essence – the Imperial Jones Dog  lending notes of vanilla and dark fruits – and the Elijah’s Revival leaving notes of orange and spice. The fruity nature of the bean (pineapple and cocoa) and the flavor rich barrel gave birth to a barrel aged bean like none other. Next time you find yourself in Chicago, make sure to stop in to Dark Matter and pick up some beans, no matter the variety – you will not be disappointed (and then stop by Pipeworks and pick up a beer – coffee an beer go very well together).

wait…this is a blog about a girl’s novice entry into the world of tech – why is she written about coffee beans?

My experience of jumping ship from my previous life and entering this foreign one is not just about the challenges of learning a new trade, or learning how to be in school again – it’s about how the day-in-day-out small things that bring me joy, and the brick walls that show up when I least expect them. I have a lot of early mornings and late nights ahead of me… coffee will definitely be a part of that. The better the bean, the better the experience (in my opinion at least).


p.s. thank you Angela Venarchik for the beautiful mug



Don’t trust. Verify.

Today marks the end of week one at back at school. It has felt strange and refreshing not being at work anymore – I feel challenged and leave exhausted at the end of the day. The type of exhausted that means I REALLY did something today. On the other hand, it’s terrifying. I got my last pay check today from my previous job. That means that it’s budget time. I have a very specific amount of money to ride out on for the next foreseeable future. At times that scares the shit out of me. I’ve cut as many corners as I can – but at the end of the day I am still living in the most expensive city in the country – and I still need to eat, and get from point A to point B – and that is far from cheap.

Today, we had a Nicolas Bacca, the CTO at Ledger an Btchip, come in to talk to us about security. His tag line was – don’t trust. Verify. He wanted to drive home the point that in the technology industry, we can’t just trust every program we run or every website we log into – you need to verify everything. Trust leads to holes in security. Trusting things, without verification, means hackers have the opportunity to swoop in and take advantage of your information. This is a crucial tag line to implement when you work in the technology industry. I got to thinking about it more – and I quickly realized that it may work for the technology industry, but it doesn’t work in most other parts of life. Or – at least it shouldn’t. Don’t trust, verify – it implies that we should assume all control. That just isn’t feasible in life, nor is it healthy. We are not in control.

A few months back when I was just starting to talk about the possibility of starting down the path of software engineering, I found myself standing in the kitchen of the Lewis family home. I was talking to Mary Lewis, a mentor and friend. The past few years, I have been helping out at the Lewis home with their five girls (ranging in age from 5 to 17). But long ago, before Mark and Mary were parents of these five girls, they were actors in New York. Originally from Arkansas, Mary found herself in love with New York. Between her work on soap operas, and stellar roles dancing on broadway – the Big Apple had captured her heart. While in New York, Mark was offered a job in the Communications department at Wheaton college (just west of Chicago). Seeking council, the two headed to their pastor – at that time it was Tim Keller. Tim Keller is a big supporter of Christians choosing to live in our cities (I put some links to some recent posts from Tim Keller on the subject). That being said – when Mary went to seek council, she was pretty sure Tim was going to tell them that they were needed in the City. You can guess where this is going – Tim told them to go to Wheaton. Shocker.

Mary didn’t want to go at first. But God had bigger plans – plans Mark and Mary couldn’t quite see yet. When I got accepted to Holberton School, I felt a similar way. I couldn’t make out a clearly defined path of what deciding to go into software engineering looked like. Making a big decision like that without knowing all the facts is scary – and very uncomfortable. But there I was, standing in the the kitchen talking to Mary about her decision to make uncomfortable decisions nearly two decades ago – not too different from mine. It wasn’t the decision to move across the country, leaving behind the city you love – but rather the decision to trust the doors that God opens for us, and to walk through them with grace.

Here is the take away. We try really hard as human beings to remain in control of our lives. We make plans, we save our money and tighten our belts if needed, we make safe decisions to ensure we live a comfortable happy life. But it doesn’t matter how much planning, or securing we d0 – disasters strike, stock markets fall, and our loved ones get sick. There is no verification in the world that could stave off the reality of this fallen world we live in. Control does not lead to happiness, it leads to a self-centered, stale, life. God gifs us times of trial – he places fog on the path right in front of us. Our job is not to wait for the fog to lift, or take out our map to check of the possible hazards that may lie ahead – our job is to trust that He has our best interest at heart.

I challenge you – the next time you see fog up a head, don’t wait for it to clear, but seek council and if God is leading you forward, walk with grace and trust that His plans are far greater than you could even imagine. Don’t verify – TRUST.

(My path is still foggy – I’ll let you know when it starts to clear)


The Difference Christianity Could Make in the City

The City, the Church, and the Future – Tim Keller

A little birdie Bash

Yesterday we were given our second batch of projects, with a due date at the end of the week. We all got to work right away. I think we are all still trying to figure out the pace of how this school is going to work. Thank goodness it’s not being run like a traditional school – no classes, no attendance -none of that rigamarole. This just means we have to figure out the ebbs and flows of this new chapter in our lives. We are all coming form very different places – different ages, ethnicities, countries, regions, religions and lifestyles. I guess the fun part is that we get to figure it out all together. So far one of the best things about this school, is that every single person here WANTS to be here. The part that will be interesting to navigate is going to be our different skill levels. There are some skilled programers here, and like me – some beginners. This means that we have a lot of resources to pull from, but it also means there is some pressure to get up to speed. It’s nice to feel the desire to work hard, but it’s also very nerve racking. Late afternoon yesterday, I remembered standing up to take a break and thinking that I was proud of my self for getting so far in the projects (I was almost halfway done). When I was talking with some peers in the break room, I quickly realized I was not ahead of the game, but rather just below par (birdie in golf terms). Maybe I’ll give myself that new title “little birdie”. Most of my peers had already finished all the projects we were given. I think these next month are going to be a humility check for me, I’m used to being ahead of the gang – at the head of the class. Not any more. No- back to my bash projects.

Do you GIT it yet?

Day 0 was orientation, basic knowledge, and more in-depth exploration about what to expect with Holberton School. It was super long, but things have only ramped up from there. We had two projects due by the end of the weekend. The projects were oriented around understanding our tools, so when we get started on group projects, the tools won’t hold us back. We had a project understanding git, and github. I was the first to finish that project, not because I knew what I was doing, but because I wanted to get the first project out of the way. It was a blessing and a curse. I know I didn’t do the worst on the project, but I also didn’t do great. I was able to learn a lot form the QA of the project, and I was able to help my peers to make sure they wouldn’t make the same mistakes I made. One of  the biggest things I missed was not using HTTPS and instead using SSH. SSH being the more secure way to do things, since the work would not be associated with my github username and instead a secure shell that recognized my computer. I learned my lesson.

Our second project was on understanding basic bash commands in linux. I think the lesson learned with playing with basic bash is that its simpler than you think. The basic commands are a single word, and yes, you can complicate them by adding comments and such, but at it’s essence, you just need one word.


Two projects done, I’ve learned a lot, but I still have no idea what I’m doing. I guess that’s the the beauty of this whole ‘going back to school thing’. I have lived my life so far, proficient in my previous jobs, somewhat knowledgeable about the world around me, and yet there is still so much to learn.

Day 1

I left the house at 5:57am this morning. I still am trying to figure out the best way to commute from  to the Embarcadero BART station in downtown SF. I have to navigate the timing of everything, because everybody else in the area is commuting at the same time. The parking lot at the Dublin/Pleasanton station fills up around 7am. Woof! Traffic and parking was fine this morning, but then again it’s a Friday, and Fridays seem to be a lot lighter in terms of commute (must be be nice to be able to work from home). It’s $3 to park, and it only takes cash. I remembered when I did a trial commute yesterday that there was a change machine, so this morning I took out my $50 to make some change. I figured if I am going to need $3 to park 5 days a week (no parking fee on Saturday and Sunday), I might as well get a lot of cash in single dollar bills. But lo and behold, the machine only takes 10s and 20s. UGH. Why am I so bad at this. I rummaged through the entire contents of my backpack, trying to find a bag I had stashed away somewhere down in the depths. The contents of the bag were numerous gift cards to various places such as Target and Starbucks, all gifted to me by my mother before I left on this great big adventure. I think she was worried I wouldn’t have money to eat (and rightfully so). I had remembered putting some dollar bills in there, but I had also remembered using a few of them at a gas station in Reno Nevada for some slots (it is fondly known as Nevada’s “other” gambling and resort town). Actually, I didn’t gamble, I gave a few dollar bills to my friends to try their luck at the slots. But I diverge. So here I am, at the BART station, digging though my bag in hops I will find a few dollar bills left unscathed, just my luck, I had just enough to pay for parking for the day. Phew.

LivermoreI bordered the train, and an hour later I arrived at Holberton School…a whopping hour and a half early. Well, I did stop to get a celebratory d
oughnut across the street before arriving at school. SO here I sit, chomping on some sugar coated fried dough (this is not an irreverent tone, I have a huge respect for sugar coated fried anything), and sipping on some below par dinner coffee, awaiting the begging of the next chapter. I’m really not so sure how this story will end. So keep reading and we can find out together.



Brick Wall #1

Class has not even started yet, and I’m freaking out. When I was first accepted to Holberton School in San Francisco, I knew I was going to be hitting some brick walls. I was not, however, expecting to hit them before class even started.

About a month ago, when a bunch of accepted students were talking on Slack, the communication forum for teams, we started to talk about arrival dates. Most everybody who is attending the school is not from around here, so I suggested that we meet up before school started to break the ice. The first day of school is hard, I thought it would be a bit easier to do the meet and greet ahead of time. A bunch of us meet up at the school, grabbed some picnic lunch at Yerba Buena Gardens, then split up to walk around and see a bit of this city we now all call home. I walked to the pier with a small group then trekked up to Coit Tower. We ended the afternoon with a walk through China Town. It was nice to spend some time getting to know some of the people I am going to be spending the next two years with.

The meet and greet was great. But my freak out happened about 10 minutes after walking in the door. I greeted Rudy, one of our co-founders, and then asked him for the wifi password. He directed me to a framed poster on the wall. It was code. So I took the code and sat down to start to figure it out. Only, I very quickly realized I had no idea where to start. So…I figured I would do some quick searches on my computer to see if I could find some resources or something…but wait, that would require internet. Dang-it. Brick wall #1. IMG_1388-2.JPG

Thank You Hives

I’ve packed up my apartment – and like the millions that have gone before me, I have more stuff than I ever thought possible. Packing is stressful, we can all agreed on that. I started packing about a month ago to preemptively combat the stress levels. Last week, my friend Kyle was sitting on the couch working on his own project, but present all the same so I wouldn’t have to pack alone. Midway through the morning I see red dots slowly appear on my arm. As the day passed, more and more appeared – first my left arm, then my right, and the cherry on top, my left cheek. At first I thought it was just an allergic reaction, but wait…nope…its stress. I was mad at these little red hives for two reasons. One, if you haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing hives – they itch and sting like a mother…and two – they are an external sign to the rest of the world that you don’t have everything under control. If you haven’t met me, I put on a face of impossible independence. I take pride in being able to do things on my own, of being able to handle stressful situations with ease and grace. Hives are the opposit of graceful. Hives shine their little red faces to the world, as if to say “hey world, see this person right here, yeh, she might say she has everything under control, but we know better, everything is falling apart inside this stoic shell.” So thank you, hives, for sharing with the world everything I try so hard to hide.