Paula Paul, December 15, 2014 | 4 min read


It started like most weekdays – up shortly after 5, getting breakfast for the boys, lunch packed for Alex, Alex off to school at 6:20, Erik’s backpack checked and ready to go.  Try to miss the morning traffic (impossible) and get to class around 7:30.  I look over my homework and check email to make sure there are no fires to fight in my freelance world.  Ah, this day is *all mine*.  Bob will get pizza for dinner so I can go to the Ruby meetup after helping with Kids Code.  This will be a geek spa day.

My classmates are brave and fun and colorful; they pop in over the next half hour, then ‘amazing and handsome Zack’ (who has brainwashed us to refer to him this way through clever and not-so-subliminal CSS examples) takes us through partials and helper functions.  We take a mid-morning break to head up to the garage and beta test a new app from Giusto, trading feedback and bug reports in exchange for weightless orange creamsicle cheesecake.  I want to join the QA team so that I can test apps and eat cheesecake.

Back in the classroom I realize that when I fixed the bootstrap hamburger in my ‘Pinterest look alike’ I wound up with Rails 4.1.6 and 4.1.7 on my machine and now have SSL problems downloading the gem I need.  What is this strange language?  Google is my friend.  I download and install the gem locally – it works!  I sit back in my chair and laugh; when Simone gives me that look, I point at my laptop and tell it “I AM THE BOSS OF YOU!”.  Simone and I can’t seem to agree on who is Pinky as opposed to The Brain.  I ditch Bootstrap and use Foundation instead, because it’s more fun.

Cheesecake is more than great as a lunch plan, and it’s time for our early afternoon guest speaker, James Thulberry, the CTO of Klick Push.  What a story – from PHP hacker to CTO, over thousands of miles in that same car we saw him driving around town when we ran out for sushi afterwards.  That is a man who takes good care of his vehicle.

TTS hosts free Kids Code sessions on Tuesday afternoons; Matt, Erin, Simone, Bobby and I go along to help.  The Kids Code sessions are always amazing fun, but this was a special R&R (Rockets and Robots) adventure courtesy of CPCC.  We assemble rolled up paper tubes, paper nosecones and fins, then parade the paper tube-rockets to a launching pad facing the parking lot and let them fly with a whooshing POP of compressed air.  Later models sport bright LED diodes as dusk settles in; what goes way up does come down, but where? 

You just can not top that.  Well, unless you make a one wheeled robot that can go in a straight line.

 Back in the classroom (Kids Code mission control), things are intense.  With just a short strip of aluminum wire, a one wheel motor, and a small battery, could we create a robot that could move in a straight line?  We are mad scientists, furiously tangling wires wrapping motors and balancing batteries.  The wobbly ones remind me of what happens when I start to write code before I’ve fully baked an idea.  We are lost in problem solving, call it tenacity or well intentioned OCD.  Simone is definitely The Brain.

The wires, motors, batteries and rocket launcher are packed away and Kids Code parents find their happy students just as the Ruby Meetup gang starts to arrive.  Time for the night shift.  Grab a beer and a jalapeno pretzel; everyone is informal and there to toss around ideas.  It’s a low key crowd but genuine and interesting – our Meetup host shared information about ruby applications for raspberry pi and a book introducing TCP concepts using examples in Ruby.  The TTS students were welcomed and also got some extra time in on our homework.

The commute home was after the rush-hour madness,  and I collapse on the couch with Bob.  The boys are in bed, and Bob and I debate whether my days writing and submitting JCL to orchestrate batch programs that produced pages of green bar paper was an early form of MVC (paper = View, JCLbatch code = Controller, DB2 = Model).  Maybe…

If all you want to do is learn Ruby on Rails, don’t come to TTS.  If you want experience the technology scene in Charlotte, meet a ton of brave and brilliant people, and go for the whole enchilada, check it out.