“Rails for Zombies” for Halloween?

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I love Halloween!  The whole spirit of the day is so refreshing and whimsical.  Everyone has fun, and there are few family or religious obligations attached. (…obligations that can make other holidays more stressful!)  Plus, if you happen to be a Halloween grinch, all you have to do is make sure your porch light is off, and Viola!  You have the perfect excuse to curl up in your basement with a good book or a movie and ignore the world for a night. Halloween is a win-win.

One of my favorite parts about the holiday is that it gives all of us over-worked, over-tired, over-stressed, and entirely-too-serious adults an excuse to just take a breath and to think like children for a day. We can delight in the excitement of the little ghosts and goblins (and Elsa’s and Spidermen) that haunt our streets for just one night every year  We all get to have fun, forget our troubles, and pretend we are someone else. We can adopt a sense of wonder and just PLAY! 

Teachers…Parents…Yes I know!…We lament the candy hangover that inevitable hits on November 1…but it’s so worth it!

(For info on an inspiring candy buy-back program/some sugar hangover relief, visit this website:  http://www.halloweencandybuyback.com/)

My Celebration: Zombies!

In honor of Halloween this year, I decided to start a new challenge.  I’ve been working with Ruby for a few weeks now, and whether or not I’m ready, I’m going to dive into the “Rails for Zombies” tutorial.  The irony is: Even though this is a day for honoring all-things-scary…I am a lot less scared of it than I was when I first encountered it about a month ago. Back then, I decided not to even touch the tutorial, because I did not even know that there was a difference between “Ruby” (a language) and “Ruby on Rails” (a framework for the Ruby language).  I realized how much I had to learn!

Yes…I’ve come a long way in a month!  I still can’t do a whole lot in terms of programming, but I have the essential ingredients to take on a challenge like this:

  • Motivation: I love zombies and zombie-related things.  I’m also having fun learning about coding.
  • Courage: I’ve tried a whole lot of wacky things since I’ve started to learn to code, and they’ve all taught me something. Thus, I’m learning to just trust the process, and loosen up about learning in the “right” or “wrong” ways to learn.
  • Vocabulary:  One of the most important, but intimidating things I’ve found about learning to code is all the language you have to learn, but I find that I actually know a lot of it!

Why is the vocabulary important?

I’m relatively comfortable with the notion of learning vocabulary…I teach cognitive science classes, after all!  However, when words like: syntax, variable, method, string, array start getting thrown around, my brain naturally goes in to “math-fear” mode, and shuts down.  The mantra, “I can’t understand! It’s related to math!”, starts to broadcast through my cerebral cortex.

Over the past month since my coding project was born, I have learned how silly that is!  Learning the vocabulary of coding is exactly the same as learning the vocabulary of any field or profession, or hobby. Teachers have all kinds of teaching-related vocabulary (just like lawyers have legal vocabulary, and plumbers have plumbing vocabulary). Beyond that, each school or district has vocabulary too. Why are certain sets of vocabulary so intimidating and others not?

How many of you out there have started a new job and spent the first month just trying to remember the acronyms or unfamiliar words that co-workers toss around?  Well…I feel like that’s what I’ve been doing for the last month.  Today, when I watched the first video on the “Rails for Zombies” tutorial, I realized that even though I probably couldn’t figure out how to do most of what they were talking about on my own, I understood what they were talking about.  This is powerful, because it gives me an ease about approaching the tasks and challenges.  If I can’t figure something out, I’m relatively confident that I can get what I need by asking people questions, or Googling.

A month ago I felt like I could understand some language about coding.  Now I feel like I can understand and speak some language about coding.  This simply makes the challenge of actual coding much easier to understand and experiment with!

I don’t imagine this will be an easy challenge by any stretch of the imagination!  However, I am not scared of the challenge. I can just relax, play with the tutorial, and save my “scared” energy for the tricks and treats that will inevitably ensue when the sun starts to go down.

Today, on this All Hallows Eve, it just seems like the right thing to do!

A few of my favorite zombie iterations:

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