Guest writing

My friend Nancy was writing a series of stories about our Burning Man experience last year. There was a lot that happened, and it’s affects good or bad were still reaching me when I asked and procrastinated to “guest write” in her series. I was looking back at the email I sent her with the below article and felt like it wouldn’t be complete without sharing my note to her:

Hey Nancy-pants. I’ve been thinking about it for a while but have been feeling a little over/under-whelmed by a bunch of different stuff. Currently working on freeing myself of the feelings of burden (and the “burdens” themselves), which in turn is freeing me up for expressing the good parts. So here goes:

Last year was my first year at Burning Man, and, yes, I had my expectations of what most of ‘those people’ were out there for and what ‘that thing’ was all about–drugs, sex, and rock-n-roll. I also thought I knew what it was going to be like from the side of a harsh environment. After all, I had gone to school to be an Outdoor Recreation professional. I was going to be prepared.

So there we are, 2 days ahead of general admission, doing camp build-out. I still felt the expectations of city life and social norms weighing on me, and everyone telling me “welcome home” felt false and fake. This wasn’t my home, or theirs either. I judged both the statement and the people as having pretense or lack of self awareness in the ‘real’ world. But we had felt an instant bond with the Harrisons, who we had just met, so I was struggling with my inability to earnestly embrace the rest of the community that was quite literally being built up around us.

As the week progressed, I also noticed people saying “the playa provides” anytime any act of randomness seemed to fit a need or desire someone was expressing. As if the ‘playa’–the prehistoric, dried up, lake bed where we were camping–had personality, and coincidental matches of needs and provisions was some sort of magic. Someone’s bike gets a flat tire and there was instantly someone else nearby who happened to have a spare. (“The playa provides!”) “I could really use some shade / water / or just want fresh socks” you say to yourself–something basic and for which you should have been prepared–and there out of the sand pops up low benches with coverings / a long-time, older, Burner couple with a red wagon filled with ice-cold water / a carnival style game with sunscreen, lip balm, or socks as a prize. (“The playa provides!”)

“Kismet,” I finally say. “God and a divine plan,” say others. “The playa provides,” say ‘those people’. Then my analytical brain kicks in, because I expect that logic and critical thinking can explain anything, including the increasing number and level of randomness. “Well,” I say, “if everyone comes out here prepared for the environment and expecting to take care of themselves plus a willingness to gift (two of the Burning Man Principles), it only makes sense that we would collectively be prepared for anything.”

And that’s when it hits me. Home and community are what we make of it. Literally. My expectations for myself and others was the only limitation holding me back from the true possibilities of what we could accomplish together. The reason why people feel at home at Burning Man is because WE make that place HOME. The reason we call ourselves a temporary COMMUNITY of 70,000 people is because WE build our community up from nothingness to magical wonderland. The reason why the Playa provides is because we ARE the Playa. Our collective selves become the structure and care that nourishes and provides for our community. No matter what your religion (or ‘lack’ thereof), that’s a strong lesson in reaping what you sow.

So, home really is where your heart…and soul and elbow grease…is. Community really is simply those you choose to care about and accept into your life…just as they are and however they come. And the Playa really does provide…exactly what you need. Including a shift in thinking.


(These pictures are of a postcard we recently received. From us. From Burning Man. The shade structure we happened upon way out in deep playa, somewhere between 12 and 1 o’clock–just when I needed out of the sun, and where the couple with the wagon full of water were nearby who happened to be down to their last two bottles when we were nearly dry–also had a stand with postcards and instructions on how to write Haikus. They promised to send the postcard in 1-11 months.)

I Git it

I am recently reinvigorated to work hard on the life I want to lead. My title of “Queen of the Geeks” has been slipping further away than I would like, but the idea and probable opportunity to be in Mexico for 3 weeks in December plus some real but horrible little annoyances have reminded me why I want to be out of the corporate world. I really DO want to work for myself.


So I am recommitting to Project Norbert. He’s my practice guide while I learn skills I need as a programmer. He was built as an expansion on a coding example for writing your own class in Ruby. I was working my way through Chris Pine’s tutorial and loved the idea of a pet dragon to play with virtually. G and I came up with the idea to model my exercise in writing my Dragon program after Bandai’s Tamagotchi. In having a direction to go and an example program to semi-emulate, I could make real world decisions on how my program would act. It would also help focus my next steps in learning on how to keep improving the interactivity of my Dragon. Things I would need Norbert to do next would stimulate ideas of new things to learn. One thing was leaning GitHub and version control, as well as learning to trust in others’ good intentions. So I’ve published Norbert online. To the public. For anyone to see. Here’s hoping his example and my skills gain traction and a clutch of code friends populate repos next to him.

So here we are—at Phase 2 of operation Liberate Modo. Let’s hope all goes well and in December you’ll be hearing from me from Mexico!


It has been a long couple of months, to say the least. With that in mind, it has also been a long couple of weeks. With sweat, blood and tears, here are the fruits of my labor:

>> my_reverse(‘I am noob code ninja!’)
=> “!ajnin edoc boon ma I”

>> my_sort([‘I’, ‘am’, ‘noob’, ‘code’, ‘ninja!’])
=> [“I”, “am”, “code”, “ninja!”, “noob”]

>> m =‘Yo’,’Modo’,100,’piano’)
>>m.first_name + ” ” + m.last_name + “: ” + m.age.to_s
=> “Yo Modo: 100”
>> m.instrument
=> “piano”

And, with that, I am finished with my application (hopefully) for hacker camp. I am noob code ninja!

I am fledgling Padawan?

Two months ago, almost to the day, I said I hated blogs.  I didn’t want to blog.  I have my own domain, why should I install WordPress?  Ah, WordPress.  You are quickly becoming one of my most used tools.  ————————————>

Today I took another big leap forward on my way through the Playground.  I opened my Freshbooks account, created my first invoice, and worked 4 hours for my first (and only, for now) client.  Mostly, I’m updating WordPress sites. 🙂

Some of the items are fairly normal, everyday, if-you-can-use-a-computer-at-all-well-you-can-do-this type of things, but other items are more challenging to my knowledge base and create learning experiences for me while I work.  Of course, I have in recent years also admitted that my scale for knowledge and expertise is perhaps skewed toward the high end of the spectrum.  What I mean by that is this:  my interpretation of what Intermediate means equals what most would consider Advanced or Expert level skills.  So, me saying, “if you can use a computer at all well, you can do this” probably makes other folks go, “holy shit, how do you do that?!?!”

So, maybe I’ve upgraded from my newb status.  But, seeing an email from my client to UNDO an hour and a half of work and redo it specifically copy-and-paste makes me wonder.

Good thing I consider my new life a complete learning experience and my new Playground.

I am my own new playground

I am a Padawan learner

A short time ago, I committed to the path of a Padawan learner.

Stay on target, stay on target!

While my journey might not take me light years or galaxies away, nor involve cool instruments of justice such as light sabers, it will involve a long road with much to learn.  This new experience, of submitting myself as an apprentice (hopefully not to a dark master), is a new one.  First, I don’t like “bowing” to anyone.  I am an intelligent person, with plenty of experience and developed neural pathways.  It’s difficult for me to be a student unless I respect the teacher and it becomes evident that there is something I can really learn from them.  Second, I am a sucky student.  School was always pretty easy for me, so to actually TRY at something at this point in life…well, it better be really worth it!

Some Details

It has been an interest of mine and a goal for sometime to learn to code.  I was never sure where to start–what language, what resource, how best to approach it, who to ask.  Should I do formal training in a school/university environment?  Course prerequisites:  Must already know a programming language.  Ok, guess not.  How about friends?  Oh, you know, I just sort of did it growing up.  Wow.  Thanks.  Helpful.  What about books?  I think I was always good at book learning.  Fast-forward a couple of years, and I’m pretty sure I could find those books I bought; they should be mostly dust free.  Hecks, the publisher doesn’t even print the book anymore.

All you need is Ruby

So, what’s next?  Again, with a little prompting, cajoling, harassment and help from a local geek I know, I found Learn Code the Hard Way.  Never having used UNIX before, either, I had to work my way through a tutorial for that.  So now, I am the Kindergartner level Padawan Ruby coder.  Chapter 4….of 52. Look out world!  Here I code!

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