My Code Story

Hello World, as WordPress likes to say.

You can find my story about why I am about to graduate college at 20 below in another post. Today I am going to talk about how I became interested in coding. (But here’s another picture of me so you can visualize who I am)

About 2 years ago now, my mom started her own massage business after working as a Starbucks barista my whole life (go mom!) and she realized what every new business owner realizes – she needed a website. Being her tech savvy teen, I searched the internet for the cheapest and best option for making a personal website, something that was so easy even I could do it. We put her website on a platform called eHost, and it worked. It was easy like Microsoft Word, and we only had to drag and drop things where we wanted them.

-see my mom’s massage business here

A few months later my dad purchased an outfitting business in Colorado. The business came with a website, and the previous web designer emailed it to me in a zipped special file. I didn’t know what to do with it, and I learned my lesson. Do not ask professionals that you do not know for help. He charged my dad almost $200 because I asked how to unzip the file. After learning that lesson, I screen shot everything from the previous website (it was still live) and built my dad a site on eHost.

-see my dad’s outfitting business here

I was feeling pretty good about myself, I had created two websites. That was easy. When a family friend, Lisa, posted on Facebook that her web designer was having a baby and she needed to replace him, I jumped at the opportunity.

If you have never worked on a WordPress site before that has been created by a professional, let me tell you it is intimidating. The first night I opened the program, I immediately became overwhelmed. I saw CODE. I did not know how to code at the time. I called Lisa and told her that we needed to change platforms, go back to good ol’ eHost and build her website with templates and drag and drop. Well, instead of listening to me, she called her web designer. I will be forever thankful for her to do that, because he then called me and told me I could do it. All I needed to do was go into the site a little bit, and it wouldn’t be as bad as it seemed. And, he told me I could email him or call him at any time to ask questions. WITHOUT CHARGING ME! Having him behind me gave me the confidence to start working in WordPress and realizing- code is the most interesting thing in the world.

-see Lisa’s website here

Fall Semester 2016 at Montana State University, I took an online digital marketing class. This class went over user experience, SEO, WordPress, and so much more. The class allowed me to dip my toes into the world of code, but I was ready to jump in.

Spring Semester 2017 at Montana State University, I did an independent study for credit based on HTML and CSS coding. My teacher is a guy named Jerry, and the most important thing I have learned this semester is this: it is ok to Google. There is way to much to coding to memorize it all. I built a pretty cool website on Notepad ++ using HTML and CSS (I’ll post pictures here somewhere).

It was the middle of Spring Semester 2017, when Justin from a company called Wise Tail was a guest speaker in my Small Business class. He told us about a program called Montana Code School that would open many doors to companies like his.

I wasn’t going to apply. But I did.

I had my interview, and an hour after it was over I received an acceptance letter ( through email).
So February 2018, I will begin attending the Montana Code School to “jump in” to the code world.

As I learn about Code, I am going to use this blog as a reminder of snippets of code I like, things I want to do again, and lessons that I learn. For the next 30 days I am going to try to post once a day, with some lessons I have learned from my independent study.

Cheers!

The Code Damsel

Learning From an Early Age

Every nail equaled a penny. It may not seem like much, but I was sent 20150527_083957out with my nail bucket whenever my dad took me to his job site. I was a trendy four-year-old, with my miniature tool belt.

The nails that I was sent after were the rejects, or the ones that didn’t make it into the house. They were scattered in the dirt and in between rocks. My job was important, so no one would step on or drive over one of the rejected nails.

As the years went on, I was given jobs with greater responsibility. I was no longer in charge of picking up discarded nails, instead I was in charge of securing hurricane clips. All according to code, in case a hurricane ever hits western Washington.  No longer fitting my miniature tool belt, I was given safety glasses and ear plugs, a paper bag full of nails, and a palm nail-gun.

Starting on the job site as low on the totem pole as I could, and rising up taught me to respect hard work. Hard work requires a determined mindset to finish out a task. Knowing what it feels like to do the mindless task of picking up nails and putting them in a bucket for hours, makes me appreciate the people that complete the little tasks that will usually be unnoticed.

Why I’m a Senior in College at 19

In Washington State, they offer a program called Running Start to students that needed more of a challenge than they were getting. This program allowed me to basically be co-enrolled at Anacortes High School and at Skagit Valley College during my junior and senior years of high school.

June of 2015, I was able to graduate in purple and red, a week apart.

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Anacortes High School graduation- picture with cousin Mitchell

Skagit Graduation

Skagit Valley College Graduation- picture with parents and sister

Attending SVC offered me experiences that I would not have found elsewhere. The school is very diverse and focused on culture. I had people from all demographics in my classes and part of my groups. SVC is focused on offering learning communities to their students, and I took a class that was a mix between Intro to Film and Ethnicity. Having two separate teachers for two classes that had been combined together created a different atmosphere than a regular classroom.

The campus was about 45 minutes away from where I was living at the time, so the experience taught me about time management, responsibility, and perseverance. Some days it would have been much easier to stay home, but I have the type of personality that when I make a commitment I keep it no matter what.

The people that I met were more mature than those that I had attended high school with. It allowed me to be more focused on my school work. A negative that I see about high school, is that most of the assignments the teachers give students are “busy work” assignments  to kill time. Most of the information is not useful in the real world.

At SVC I took a creative writing class and a small group communications class  that really helped me open up to other people. Growing up I was very shy, and now I do not mind talking to other people. I actually enjoy public speaking.

There were many things that SVC offered to me that helped me grow as a person. Grades are important in the short run, but it is the information learned and retained that will be important for the rest of my life.

Where I’m From

“So, where are you from?” Is one of those safe questions that college students use to start a conversation with someone new. My answer is always “just north of Seattle”, when really my island is almost two hours away. I live in the gateway to the San Juans, a town called Anacortes. A beautiful tourist destination with a small town appeal.

I grew up being able to run down the street to the neighborhood park to meet up with other kids. I could cross my driveway to  a  giant hill full of wild blackberry bushes, where I would fill old gallon ice cream containers to the brim. Sledding in the winter was best behind the bus garage, but only the cool kids got to go there.

I grew up swimming in freezing salt water, floating on drift logs, and looking under rocks for crabs.

“Red sky at night, sailors delight. Red sky at morning, sailors take warning”

Anacortes is not known for sandy beaches, but there are a few that only the locals know about. The water surrounding Anacortes is not technically part of the Pacific Ocean. Many tourists believe we are in the Puget Sound, but the sound is actually only near Seattle. Anacortes is part of the body of water called the Salish Sea. And when the sun sets over the waters of the Salish Sea, you find some of the most mesmerizing colors you will ever see.

If you ever get the chance to head way up to Northwest Washington, take a trip to my little town. Take your family out to Washington Park with some Subway sandwiches or a bucket of KFC chicken. Sit with your backs against a log, and watch the boats launch. Keep an eye out for ol’ Popeye, the little harbor seal that begs for fishing scraps. Then relax, and watch the sunset. It’s magical.

P.S. Don’t forget a blanket or two.

sunset

My Inspiration

In grade school, we were asked to do reports on who we looked up to. Faced with having to choose between mom and dad, most people went with some famous person. At this point in my life, as I continue my senior year of college, I am beginning to realize who the people are that I look up to.

I love my parents and could never choose between them because they are both very important to me. Besides them, my biggest inspiration would have to be my grandfather. In our home town, people that know him call him “a beast.” You would have to meet him to understand, but he is the type of person that always has to be outside doing something. He skis, he rides mountain bikes, and he fishes in the  saltwater. His personality is if he’s going up a hill on his bike, a rocky steep hill, and he doesn’t make it all the way up, he doesn’t walk the rest of the way. He goes back to the bottom and tries again until he makes it.

“I’ll sleep when I die”

I don’t remember the first time I heard this saying from him, but as a college student it is something that holds a lot of truth, however in a different sense than he meant it. Life isn’t about working your life away, it’s about working to be able to enjoy life.

One story I have about my grandfather, is one year on our annual trip to Whistler, Canada when I was 14 years old. Years prior, Grandpa would wake up before all the grand kids to do an intensive bike ride. He would come back, eat a bowl of frosted mini-wheat with applesauce or bananas, and then be ready to ride around town with the rest of us.   The year I was 14, I decided that I needed to get into shape for hunting season. I decided that I needed to go on that morning bike ride.

The first morning, I get woken up at 6:00 a.m. I fill up my camelbak, and we take the elevator down to the hotel’s bike storage. Whistler is known for its downhill park, and that’s where we headed that first morning. Back to the part about my grandfather being a beast, he doesn’t ride up the chair lift to ride down the hill. He has to earn the ride down by riding all the way up. Let me tell you, even the blue run is a steep incline and lots of switchbacks. He tried to teach me how to lift my front tire of the ground, to help me pedal faster, but that didn’t work.

I ended up falling behind, face red and breathing hard. But who knew going down would be just as much work as coming up. You can’t ride your brakes, but let off too much and your out of control and in a tree. When we got to the bottom he said, “we’ll do it faster, but in a couple of days. Give you a nice break.”

I hope to be like him, with an attitude aimed at earning everything and never giving up.

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*I don’t have any pictures of us riding our mountain bikes, but here is Grandpa taking my sister and I zip lining in Whistler.