At What Point Do You Consider Yourself a Coder?


Yesterday, someone at work overheard me talking about CSS and asked me whether I was a coder by trade. While I don’t consider myself a coder, it was refreshing to think that it wasn’t so far-fetched for this guy to believe that I could be a coder.

It made a bit of an impression on me so I posted the exchange on Facebook and the attention it garnered made me realize that this is a topic folks are interested in, so here’s my latest musing: at what point do you consider yourself a coder?

At what point do you consider yourself a coder?

I’m definitely a novice when it comes to html and CSS (we’re going to save the “is writing CSS/html even coding?” debate for another blog post). My limited skill lies in understanding enough of what’s written to move things around, make adjustments and copy and paste things in the correct spot. I do a lot of Googling to figure out what I’m doing and fix things when I break something.

While many developers (I’m going to use these terms interchangeably in this blog post just to switch some of my wording up but do note that there is a difference between coders, developers and engineers) go the university route and get an academic education in coding, many simply learn to code by looking things up online and playing around until they get it right. Which brings me right back around to my initial question: at which point will I have become a coder?

Will that be once I’m able to build an elegant website from scratch? Once I’m good enough to get freelance development work on the side just for fun? Once I’m employed as a designer or front-end engineer?

Let’s hear it. What do you think?

In Response to the Terrorist Attacks In Paris


The terrorist attacks in Paris the last few days seem to be a new “shot heard around the world.” Countless friends and acquaintances have pulled me aside to ask me what I thought about all of it and how I think the French are reacting, so let me spell my thoughts out in long form.

The Events of January 7-9

Let’s start by setting the stage. For any who missed some of the details, 2 muslim terrorists entered the Paris office of French satirical publication Charlie Hebdo in the late morning of January 7, 2015. Armed with AK-47 assault rifles, they hold an employee and her pre-school age daughter at gunpoint and force the mother to let them into the building. Inside, they killed 12 people (both staff and 2 policemen) and wounded 11 others allegedly because of satirical cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad. Survivors quote them as saying “You will pay for insulting the prophet Muhammad.” They escape the building firing their arms into the air and climb into a black Citroen (French car). They have several run-ins with police and kill one more policeman, a French muslim who was scheduled to leave the force and become a detective shortly. They finally abandon their car after hitting a pole, steal a nearby woman’s vehicle and succeed in losing the police, but are soon captured anyway.

2 days later, a muslim terrorist who claims to be coordinating with the 2 from the Charlie Hebdo attack (they met in prison around the year 2000) takes a Jewish deli and all inside hostage, demanding the police release the terrorists. He holes up in the kosher deli several hours, during which time he kills 4 people and inflicts serious wounds on 4 more before the police takes action to enter the deli. They blast the doors, which had been booby trapped with explosives, and shoot this 3rd terrorist as he attempts to make a run for it.

The attack on Carlie Hebdo alone is the single bloodiest terrorist attack in France since 1961.

A Little Personal Context

I flew back to France to spend the holidays with my family December 18-27. During those 10 days in Paris, I was shocked to find a new terrorist attack featured in the news every 1-2 days.

December 20, 2014 – An armed muslim enters a police office in Joue-les-Tours (Western France, near Tours) and yells “God is great” over and over as he knives 3 police officers before another pulls out his gun and shoots him. Investigations revealed he grew up in a broken home, felt victim to the system, and was most likely seduced by the violent messages of radical Islam.

December 21, 2014 – A muslim driver hits 4 groups of pedestrians in Dijon (Eastern France), seriously wounding 2 and injuring 9 more. As police officers apprehended him, he yelled “This is for the children of Palestine!” Investigative services later assess he was not a terrorist but rather mentally ill. Nevertheless, copycat attacks ensue.

December 23, 2014 – A muslim drives his car all over downtown Nantes (Western France) attempting to hit pedestrians and shouts “Allah is great.”A mere 2 hours earlier, my father was there walking with his cousin and his wife and 2 young children. Again, investigative services decide this was not a terrorist act, but rather a troubled youth, possibly to avoid panic.

So How Did the French React?

We came together, bridging age, religion and culture to support each other. They took to the streets in cities such as Paris and Toulouse to proclaim that they’re not afraid and won’t be giving up their hard-earned right to free speech.

Liberty is one of the founding principles of France – our forefathers died for it during the French Revolution. It’s a deep part of our culture, as engrained as freedom and liberty are in the US. Freedom of the press is here to stay in France.

Another big message has been that not all muslims are terrorists. Muslims comprise approximately 10% of the French population. Outside of rural areas, all Frenchmen and women know muslims and count many among their friends. I’m proud to write that we’re not turning against all muslims because of the actions of a radical few. We know these are people just like us, who want to live their lives and know their loved ones are safe.

Lastly, the big message the French want to send terrorists is that we’re not afraid. We can see what they’re capable of, but we also see that their brethren are ashamed of their violence and barbarism, and we’re not going to cave in to their tactics.

Hopefully this sheds a little light on the recent events in France for everyone!

You can check out messages of piece, support and courage at #JeSuisCharlie and #NotAfraid.

Thanks for making this year amazing, and Happy New Year!


It’s been a long and amazing year and I don’t know that I gave as much as I received, so I’d like to start 2015 by thanking just a few of the many people who made 2014 exceptional (in no particular order).

I’d like to thank my parents for always being there and dishing out some of the best advice around.

Will for reminding me to take chances.

Matt for always believing in me. You’re a hell of a cheerleader!

Helen for keeping me grounded. You remind me what truly matters ❤

Skye for inspiring me. You’re one of the smartest and humblest people I know.

Ms Thoe for being my stand-in Grandma. Your love and open mind know no bounds 🙂

Teresa for keeping my best interest at heart. Caleb put it best: “You protect your team fiercely!”

Stefan for cheering me up. You always know the right words to say when I feel like I’m drowning!

EB for expanding my horizons. My brain has absorbed so much knowledge and wisdom from speaking with you.

Ellie for teaching me the true meaning of teamwork. I had never had to work that closely with a single person before, but I like to think I went from stepping on your toes to being your 2nd work half ❤

Caleb for leading by example in humility. You are more amazing than you probably know 🙂

Olivia and Michele for giving me strong role models of women high up in startups. You own your success and intelligence 100%

Corey for setting me free. Who knew the crazy fun times I’d been missing out on!

Jake for just knowing. You’re down for everything, always get it and make a mean cake pop!

Stephanie for keeping me in line. You call it like you see it.

Eva for motivating me. I see everything you do and it makes me think I can too.

David and Renee for being my college family. You saved me from some pretty epic blunders!

And many more, special people. I know I don’t say it often enough, so thank you all. You mean a lot to me 🙂

Now go out there and have an amazing New Year!

Chevreuse, France All Dressed Up For Christmas


The Christmas decorations are out in Chevreuse, a small town near Paris.

The baker has some of the grandest Christmas decorations around!

The baker has some of the grandest Christmas decorations around!

Even their window display screams festivity

Even their window display screams festivity

Can't remember where this is, but I like

Can’t remember where this is, but I like

And this.... Is the funeral store: caskets, funeral services, etc.

And this…. Is the funeral store: caskets, funeral services, etc.

Check out these hens at the butcher's!

Check out these hens at the butcher’s!

And Santa Clause is scrambling up not 1, but 2 windows.

And Santa Clause is scrambling up not 1, but 2 windows.

Santa seems to have a real thing for windows now.

Santa seems to have a real thing for windows now.

How cute is this?!

How cute is this?!

'tis the season for wreaths!

’tis the season for wreaths!

I’ll try to snap a few shots of the decorations in Versailles before I head out 😉

Strolling Paris: The Champs Elysees Christmas Market & Jardins Des Tuileries


Here’s the 2nd set of photos from my stroll around Paris Friday. I wandered the Christmas Market at the Champs Elysees and then lounged the Seine until I found the Jardins des Tuileries.

The Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower

And another, just because it was so picturesque.

And another, just because it was so picturesque.

For New Year's, some of the bigger boats on the Seine throw huge parties!

For New Year’s, some of the bigger boats on the Seine throw huge parties!

Paris' Grande Roue, seen from the Seine

Paris’ Grande Roue, seen from the Seine

So I took a lot of photos of the Eiffel Tower...

So I took a lot of photos of the Eiffel Tower…

The Jardins des Tuileries, favorite summer hang out of Parisiens.

The Jardins des Tuileries, favorite summer hang out of Parisiens.

Now let's add the Grande Roue and Eiffel Tower!

Now let’s add the Grande Roue and Eiffel Tower!

The Louvre Pyramid - we took a nice, long stroll!

The Louvre Pyramid – we took a nice, long stroll!

A church we found right around the corner from the Louvre, and our last stop for the day.

A church we found right around the corner from the Louvre, and our last stop for the day.

Stay tuned for more photos of France, coming soon!

1st Day Back In Paris: The Champs Elysees


After a groggy first day doing my best not to fall asleep at my grandparents’ in Versailles after the airport yesterday, I’m now out and about! First stop: Les Champs Elysees.

First, one last glance at the Golden Gate Bridge from the airplane.

First, one last glance at the Golden Gate Bridge from the airplane

Each year, there is a Christmas market at the Champs Elysees.

Each year, there is a Christmas market at the Champs Elysees.

Christmas market at the Champs Elysees

Christmas market at the Champs Elysees

Christmas market at the Champs Elysees

Christmas market at the Champs Elysees

Christmas market at the Champs Elysees

There's a great, big ice skating rink smack dab in the center of the Christmas Market!

There’s a great, big ice skating rink smack dab in the center of the Christmas Market!

Nice, big skating rink at the Champs Elysees

Paris' Grande Roue

Paris’ Grande Roue

Christmas market at the Champs Elysees

Yum! A court just for yummy Christmas specialties?

Crazy slide! Not so scenic, but just hilarious.

Crazy slide! Not so scenic, but just hilarious.

I'm pretty sure that's a real boar...

I’m pretty sure that’s a real boar…

I had a music box just like this one growing up!

I had a music box just like this one growing up!

We were supposed to see the Hokusai exhibit at the Grand Palais, but the line was so long  we strolled by the Seine and through the Jardins des Tuileries instead. Moro photos coming tomorrow!

We were supposed to see the Hokusai exhibit at the Grand Palais, but the line was so long we strolled by the Seine and through the Jardins des Tuileries instead. Moro photos coming tomorrow!

Lastly, my stand-in model and cuddle buddy while Phelps sand Turkey stay home in California.

Lastly, my stand-in model and cuddle buddy while Phelps sand Turkey stay home in California.

Glowing Plants: For or Against?


A friend told me about this very cool, SF-based startup his friend created and I just couldn’t keep it to myself O=]

His friend, along with his team of Stanford grad “bio hackers” from BioCurious, a Do-It-Yourself biology lab, created plants that glow in the dark, aka “Glowing Plant.” Yes, you read that correctly. These lovely, fluorescent plants could replace street lights, saving tons of energy as well as taking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.

Glowing Plant

The part that’s a little controversial? Well, glow-in-the-dark plants didn’t really come about on their own. They had to be bio-engineered. So here’s the first part of the debate… is it worth it or just wrong?

I’ll try not to drag this out too long and keep it succinct (I really want to find out what you think too!):

On the one hand, the Glowing Plant team is using technology and creativity to try and do something good for our planet, give us alternatives so we can be less dependent on electricity. On the other, the way they went about it can be dangerous since we don’t understand everything about genetics and DNA yet… Is the risk worth the possible gains? Well, there’s only one way to find out isn’t there? And wouldn’t we be cheating ourselves not exploring all available avenues to a prosperous, healthy future? I definitely don’t think we should be wreck less about it, but something tells me these Stanford guys did their homework.

Another very interesting aspect of the Glowing Plant debate (yes, people have been sounding off on either side), is that the starup was crowd-funded through Kickstarter. In exchange for donations, Glowing Plant will be giving supporters bio-engineered seeds. The problem that surfaces is that these seeds were not tested or controlled by any regulatory body. I’m not sure how the founders were able to do this, but I sincerely hope they will find a way to have their seeds approved and quell opposers’ fears. They’re trying to do something amazing, and I would hate to see it cut short so early!

The short of it? You can’t accomplish anything great without taking chances.

For more info, here’s an interesting article from the Scientific American and try googling “Glowing Plant” — these guys are blowing the internet up!