New Thing #5: Road Trip!

Bring your huddled masses, yearning to light things on fire!

In which I learn virtually nothing but still enjoy myself.

I took last week off from blogging, due to a heavy work schedule.  Now that I’m back, I’d like to be able to report that my first out-of-state road trip was an epic odyssey that tested my navigational skills and resourcefulness. But though that would make for a more interesting blog, it would be a lie. The trip from Clarkston, Michigan to Fort Wayne, Indiana was laughably easy, even for a directionally challenged individual like myself. We drove 90% of the trip on just 2 highways, and the hotel was right off the last exit. The most challenging thing I did was get off at the Coldwater exit to go through a McDonald’s drive-thru, and get back on the freeway again. Hail the intrepid explorer!

So I did not take away a lot of new learning from this trip, other than this: if you want to buy fireworks or ammo, Indiana is the place to go. Judging solely by the number of billboards advertising the sale of fireworks,  the entire state of Indiana should be on fire.

The Hyatt Place hotel we stayed at was a steal: $89 for a suite-like room with a big seating area, mini-fridge and two double beds (the couch made a bed also). And Sweetwater Academy puts on a really fun rock-and-roll camp, which my son is already begging to attend again next summer. So I’ll probably be headed toward the Land of Incendiary Devices (new state motto?) again next July.

The Next New Thing: A Vegetarian Week

As many other Fifty-somethings can tell you, it is an age in which good health habits are necessary just to feel basically normal. Weird symptoms crop up that your doctor will basically attribute to your oldness, symptoms they would be running all sorts of tests to investigate if you were 25. So to up my game in the good health category, I am going to test-drive a vegetarian diet for a week.

Because I can’t imagine a life without cheese, I am not going vegan for the week. But I am going to try at least one vegan day. I will report back next week, probably jonesing for a cheeseburger.

New Thing #2: Basic HTML Coding

I am late posting this blog, because I enrolled in the HTML course that NEVER ENDS. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but I have spent at least 10 hours laboring over code and have 15 full pages of notes, and according to the site I am only 57% done with the class.  On the positive side, it’s a very comprehensive course, and it’s FREE at CodeAcademy.

At the beginning it was very exciting, like I was being initiated into a secret nerd society. Like Ralphie in A Christmas Story, I’d received my shiny decoder ring and was all set to reveal the mysteries of the digital world. I was thrilled to discover that I already knew some code, due to some tedious freelance textbook writing I did a few years ago that required me to input all my own code. I didn’t realize at the time it was HTML code; I thought it was just some cruel Sisyphean task foist upon me by the publisher (“Now tell her to type ' every time she wants to use an apostrophe! Bwahahaha!” *whipcrack*).

Anyway, as I said, it was exciting at the outset. Then we got to the part of the course called CSS Styling. This is not as fun as it sounds (“hey, we’re stylin’!”) This is where you learn a bunch of different code (CSS Code) in order to make the content you wrote with the HTML code look better. CSS and HTML are very different. HTML likes to use a lot of these <>, and CSS likes to use a lot of these {   }, which for some reason have to sit lonely on their own line, far away from their partners.  It’s like the CSS people got kicked out of the HTML clubhouse, and went off in a huff and made up their own secret code the HTML people would later have to figure out.

I should have been most interested in the CSS part, because I want to make my blog look better. But I am at heart a writer, not a designer, and it seemed like a LOT of work just to pick fonts and colors and put boxes around things, without actually saying anything different. And the further I got into it, the harder it got. It started reminding me, suspiciously, of algebra — so many little brackets everywhere.

But I am determined to finish what I started, so I will beat on, a boat against the current, borne back ceaselessly into previous lessons. I don’t think I’m cut out to be a web developer, but I still think it’s knowledge that will come in handy, some day. Maybe on Jeopardy.

New Thing #3: Stitch Fix!

I have worked hard on my first two new things; I’ve sweated and twisted and squinted for hours at HTML hieroglyphics. So my next new thing with actually be New Things: clothes for me! I’ve heard a lot about Stitch Fix, and in preparation for my next blog, I’ve already placed my first Stitch Fix order.

Stitch Fix, if you haven’t heard of it, is an online service that will periodically send you a box of clothing pieces, which a stylist has selected for you based on your answers to a questionnaire you fill out before you start.  You tell them your sizes, the colors you like, the way you like your clothes to fit, the pieces you’re most in need of, etc.  You can get shipments as infrequently as once per quarter, which is good news for those of us with a limited clothing budget.

Join me next time as I style myself. No CSS code required.