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This is The Iron Yard

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The Iron Yard - Orlando, FL

It's now been 2 weeks at the Iron Yard, the academy whose program is designed to take someone from zero to a hero in programming concepts in only 3 months. After 2 weeks, I'm no where near a hero - however, I can say with confidence that I know a hell of a lot more than I knew before. 

What sorts of things have I learned you might ask? Well. I'd love to tell you; it just may make me feel like I have some slight inclination of what is going on - haha.


Github

Getting funky during morning standup routine

A large part of what we've learned has been navigating and using Github. This source control tool, or similar ones, are used heavily in the tech industry to ensure that changes to code are taken incrementally without damaging the "master" code; this is done by using "branches". Branches allow a developer to "branch" off the main code, or create a duplicate, and then implement changes to that main code independently, without affecting the original master branch. A "pull request" with these changes can then be reviewed by someone before "merging" the branch into the "master", thereby effectively eliminating or gainfully avoiding damage to the main code. For example, could you imagine hundreds of people making changes to Facebook without this system of checks and balances? The site would be constantly unstable, crashing, and unusable. Therefore, this is an extremely powerful and important tool for developers.


Xcode

Iron Pints every friday

Xcode is a program written by Apple which provides developers (or people writing applications in code) an easy and all-inclusive tool which guides and enables the handling of complex code and compiling of iOS applications.

Swift

The Iron Yard Orlando

Being completely new to programming and diving head first into a programming language in general is like jumping into a pool without hands or feet. In order to breath you have to gradually figure out how to keep your head above the water but sometimes... you just feel like giving up because you naturally sink and you just don't know enough to be able to keep yourself afloat. This is why The Iron Yard strongly encourages the Growth vs Fixed Mindset; to show you that you can learn anything...depending on your mindset. I'll provide a link to that here. 

In any case, Swift is a unique programming language specifically used to program iOS applications. You can try an introduction to Swift here and see what you think yourself.


The Storyboard

Ping Pong - this is serious.

In Xcode this is the place where the actual layout of the app is built. The code then creates the functionality of the layout. You could liken the Storyboard to a car's design, and the code to the engine and all the different pieces that make it operate. The Storyboard is a challenge in it of itself, but it's nothing compared to the actual programming portion.


Logic

I'd say this has been the trickiest part of the two weeks so far. I know two weeks is a short amount of time, but when you want something really bad it's hard to not want it immediately; in fact, studies have shown that people would prefer taking a lesser sum of money right now as opposed to taking a greater sum of money a month from now. This is why we must realize that great things take time.

The problem is that teaching a computer to do what you want it to do certainly does not come naturally. It is similar to learning a language for the first time, complete with syntax, vocabulary, and being able to communicate in such a way that the computer knows precisely what you are talking about. Unlike people, who might be able to understand your broken Spanish or French, the computer will return an error and tell you it doesn't understand if you so much as miss a period, bracket, exclamation mark, etc.


Ideation

Enjoying a lunch break

What I mean by ideation is that we are really only given half of the homework assignment. The other half, we have to research or come up with on our own. For instance, "How can I get the "equals" sign on the calculator I just built to combine the first part of the equation with the second part of the equation and then get it to display on the screen?" I personally like this part the most. It's why people consider programming to be creative work. There are so many possibilities, so much that can be done that hasn't been done before, so much... magic left to be created and shared with the people who need it.


UI UX Design

First day basic programming skills

The user experience of the application plays a big part in how you design and construct your code. Although applications can work well enough without it, you must consider the user's experience when actually using your application. Have you ever been in an app and the keyboard suddenly disappeared when you didn't want it to disappear? Or how about you needed to type numbers but the keyboard was a layout of letters? This is all part of the UI UX Design and it is a vital part of making the user happy. Some of these changes can be as simple as checking a little box; others could be several lines of code. Again, I'm only two weeks in so I have only a brief grasp of how deep the wormhole can go.



I built a calculator and it works 95% of the time


Stay tuned for the next post where I'll talk about: 
  • The Iron Yard program
  • How it's designed to accelerate learning, and
  • The coding bootcamp experience








Don't Blink


Life is much like the roads I've traveled: long, winding, and full of dips and inclines - some so steep you nearly stall out and start sliding back the other way. Nevertheless, there is always a destination - even if you can't see one.

Don't blink, because in less than a second your personal existence, the one you know and live each day, can be completely turned inside out. 

For example, the phone call I received this morning. Allow me to explain...

The past year has been quite the whirlwind. In January of 2015 I dropped everything I thought I needed to be doing and started simply being. I packed the trunk of my financed Corolla, put loans on pause, declined several job offers, put in notice at my job, and left for lands unknown; seeking not just exploration of self - but a greater understanding of life and time overall. 

I haven't "had to be" anywhere in the past 10 months. Everywhere I've been at any given moment has been precisely where I've wanted to be at that time. When I tell people that I've been traveling America on a road trip, they expect maybe a couple weeks or a month at most - their jaws practically drop when they hear 10 months; this sort of freedom in our society is only acceptable for the retired, who have spent their entire lives working and earning the ability to finally do as they please - not the 26 year old recent graduate. 

Within these past months, I've learned the tools to travel and work across the country. 

I've learned how to to be able to work just 4 days a month, whenever and wherever I choose, and then spend the rest of the month doing things which excite me and drive me to personal happiness. 

Nonetheless, this has NOT been an easy process.

Living and working on the road can be fun! However, our civilization makes it EXTREMELY difficult to be successful doing so. We seem to condone this sort of behavior, making strict regulations to ensure permanence of place as opposed to exploration and discovery. 

*Full details on how to be a successful digital nomad and work just four days a month will be released in an eBook to be announced at a later date*

I've lived and worked in almost half of the USA; seen the wonders of dozens of National Parks, Forests, and Monuments; saw too many people flashing at Mardi Gras in New Orleans and on any typical day in San Francisco; enjoyed beers and a beach bonfire in Corpus Christi, TX; drove 50k miles in less than a year; saw the Hollywood sign in LA, Saturn's rings in Carson City, NV, and our Milky Way Galaxy from the tallest peak in Texas. I swam in the cold water at Barton Springs in Austin, TX; watched a movie at a drive-in theatre in Reno, NV; brewed beer for beer in San Luis Obispo, CA; won a game of giant chess in Portland; got kicked off Google bikes at Google in Mountain View, CA; watched the sunrise and sunset from atop a volcano at Craters of the Moon National Park; layed next to otters in San Diego; braved the nude beaches of the west coast; watched the 4th of July fireworks camping at Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevadas; toured Deschutes brewery in Bend, OR, the Jelly Belly factory in Fairfield, CA, the Tabasco Factory in Louisiana, and Airbnb in San Francisco. I volunteered for a week at Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, Utah; hiked 7 miles via moonlight to hot springs in New Mexico; watched The Weepies concert in Boise, Idaho; saw the very first Starbucks in Seattle and the first Chipotle in Denver; learned the true purpose of a windshield defroster outside Dallas, Texas; walked the light bridge in Chattanooga, TN; saw the Oklahoma City bombing memorial in Oklahoma, the Fine Arts museum in Houston, and the Civil Rights Museum in Birmingham, Alabama; and many, many more. 

Most importantly, however, I met the acquaintance of hundreds of people, each of whom had some knowledge to impart, and half offered up their homes for me to sleep. 

Conversely, I've been challenged to overcome fears I couldn't have imagined. I've been scared to death on the side of a mountain in El Paso, TX without a phone or water, off-trail, legs wobbling, and no one within miles to hear my pleas for help. I've been lost in the desert of Arizona at night with no light, no water, and no phone - only a bathing suit, a tee shirt and the mind to survive. I've ran from gun shots and been accused of robbing a home in San Francisco; closed my thumb in a door in Las Vegas, NV and gotten sick in Salt Lake City, UT; I've experienced love and loss; hid from lightning at Guadalupe Mountain National Park; paid for gas using change in Fresno, CA; broken down in Mississippi, San Francisco and in the 110 degree Fahrenheit heat of Death Valley National Park; I've slept in my trunk for the greater part of a year and I've struggled mentally, physically, and financially to the point of literally collapsing to my knees mid-hike in California - helpless, lost, and confused on where I'm going, what I'm doing, and who I want to be in life.

However, I've come through all of this with the truth. That even when things are at the very worst, we will be okay. That money is a tool to achieve our goals and nothing more. That it is collaboration, ideas, and hard work which creates change. That our possessions are also our self-imposed chains. That there is a difference between existing and living. That kindness, compassion, and giving bring fulfillment. That love, although powerful, does not bring personal satisfaction - living a life of purpose does.

Individual experiences will vary of course, but one thing is for certain - that more important than money is the value of time; because when we control our time, we are able to pursue that which matters most to us.

This is exactly the meaning behind #livingwithlyft.

Four weeks ago I was in Mexico playing with giraffes that have the most incredible personalities.
His name is Modesto
 Three weeks ago I was in Denver stocking up on funds to...
Downtown Denver

...celebrate my birthday...
27 Years Old
...hiking the extraordinary lands of Death Valley, and...
Golden Canyon

...the exquisite peaks of Yosemite National Park.
Half Dome in the Background

And then...

This morning, after camping a few nights in Santa Fe, New Mexico with a wonderful woman who was my couchsurfing host in El Paso - I received a phone call and suddenly, everything changed.

It was Susanna at The Iron Yard academy. She told me I had been accepted into the iOS mobile development bootcamp and that the $12,000 tuition had been completely subsidized; that the cost of my education would now be the best word in the English language: FREE ($0.00)

I am absolutely stunned.

A feeling of excitement, gratitude, and astonishment has swelled itself up and taken permanent residence within the holds of my rib cage. It is a joy I've never felt before; it is phenomenal, and I wish it on everyone.

I was planning on going to the hot air balloon festival in Albuquerque, NM this weekend and then heading back up North to Denver for a month or so before leaving to visit the Northeast in order to see my Nana (grandmother) and friends there. 

At least that's what I had in mind... until - I blinked.

Instead, I leave the west today. I'm driving back the 26 hours to Orlando, FL where I'll attend the intensive 12 week program that will propel me into one of the most exciting industries of our time; the course begins next Monday, October the 5th of 2015. 

That said, this may be my last post for awhile. 

I'd like to say, that, we are all in this together; black, white, yellow; rich, middle class, poor; shy, outgoing, and mentally handicapped; left-brained and right-brained. What one of us does is reflected on the lives of all of us. Perhaps you didn't invent Google, but you likely use it every day (unless you are a Mormon missionary, live in China, or use another search engine). The same goes for the light bulb, plastic, and steel. Maybe you yourself are not a doctor or EMT, but it is likely that at some point in your life, one will grant you the unique ability to keep on living. Even if you are not an artist, you may still admire the artwork that can transform an uninhabitable town into a thriving city or a simple building into a tourist destination.

My point is that you do not have to be a millionaire to be happy. If you do what excites you, then not only you, but the rest of us will benefit too; so whatever you do - do it for the right reasons.

Support each other's dreams and always remember, 

"If you want something in this life, reach out and grab it" Christopher Johnson McCandless
"You cannot live at all, unless, you can live fully - now" Alan Watts 



Road Rage


It was a morning like any other in San Francisco; the sun rising,  the crisp cool air warming up under the sun's rays,  and of course, the bumper to bumper traffic of the commuters into the city for the daily grind. 

We both Swiped Right

Today I applied for a position at Lyft Headquarters here in San Francisco, CA. Not to jinx the opportunity, but I must say that this would be a fantastic end, or shall I say - beginning, to #livingwithlyft. I made the cover letter extra long, just to show I'm extra interested haha. It starts with...

Embrace the Silence




"So in the same way as a muddy turbulent pool quiets itself when left alone, you have to know how to leave your mind alone; it will quiet itself." Alan Watts

The Wormhole has Ended

I can no longer Lyft in multiple cities. 

Help me get to Denver by Clicking!





See, Here is the Thing About Money...




The only reason I want it, is to get away from it. If we are not careful, money can enslave us to lives we do not desire and to work which leaves us uninspired and unfulfilled.

My recommendation? Break free from the financial rat race as quickly as humanly possible by any legal means necessary and carry on with truly living your life doing the things that matter to YOU. 


Need some inspiration?


“Better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing, than to have a long life spent in a miserable way”

Alan Watts


FAQ (frequently asked questions)

1. How long have you been on a road trip?

Since January of 2015

2. Where have been your favorite places?

I’ve found that it is not the places you go but the people you meet who dictate the experience you have while there. Every location has its highlights and downfalls, which makes no place necessarily better than any other – but the people you meet by chance in each city can vastly impact your time there. El Paso, TX for example certainly wasn’t the most beautiful place, however, it has been one of the most enjoyable experiences because of my hosts who welcomed me there.

3. How are you able to do all of this traveling?

This is a common question, and for a good reason. How can someone afford to road trip across America for an extended period of time? There is not just one answer to this question…and no; I am not a trust fund baby. I’ve listed the answers in order of least to most important:

I’ve been driving since I was 15 years old and have never been in an accident. This, along with the car I drive and other discounts, gives me a very low car insurance premium.

I put my student loans on deferment - meaning my payments have paused and the loans do not accrue any interest (this does not negatively affect your credit score)

I pay $30/month for my cell phone bill on T-Mobile. Find out more here

I’ve been working odd-end jobs along the way whenever offered. For example, I worked a wedding/Quinceañera faire in Corpus Christi, TX and have done some freelance photography in San Luis Obispo, CA for real estate appraisals.

I am a Tower Garden Representative trying to spread the good word about the importance of proper nutrition. For more information on this and how you can make a difference, please contact me at livingwithlyft@gmail.com

I drive a Toyota Corolla because instead of placing importance on material possessions for no reason, I think it is more logical to drive a car financed new for 14k that is not only safe and reliable but also maintains a fuel economy of 40mpg.

I have a love/hate relationship with food to the point that it plays a factor in my dating life. It all started way back while wrestling in high school… I discovered that the foods I ate had an enormous impact on how I was able to perform wrestling. If I had a smoothie a few hours before practice I felt great and energized; if I had a slice of pizza, I felt nauseous and sluggish. In college, I became a food scientist with the goal of studying how nutrition can impact the quality of our lives – and indeed it can greatly. THEREFORE, I do not travel to eat. I have a policy of “snacking” on wholesome all-natural foods by myself and will only eat “meals” when enjoying it with the company of others. I have rarely made an appearance at any food establishment unless with my Couchsurfing hosts and this has saved me a ton of money along the way.

I am a Lyft driver. To clarify, yes – this is a “real” job. I exchange my time and service for money and am taxed on my earnings. It just doesn’t seem like a real job because I absolutely LOVE doing it. A vast majority of the cities I have been traveling to I am able to pick up passengers, drive them to their destinations, and in the process network and earn a profit. For a list of cities where you are able to drive Lyft, visit: Cities where Lyft Operates

Instead of hotels or other costly accommodations, I have been casually sleeping on anything from floors, carpets, and cots to beds, bunks, chairs, and of course – my car. I utilize the friend connections I have made throughout my life, my family, and most substantially the kindness of strangers from bars and on Couchsurfing to host me for free until I continue my journey. I don’t require much, a shelter to lay my head, and a restroom, but often these people will allow you a shower, cook you food, show you around town, invite you out with friends, and even allow you to do your laundry. This has literally saved me thousands of dollars and provided me a means of attaining experiences I never would have dreamed possible.

Most importantly, however, I have been working for more than 10 years and have held probably over 30 different jobs from dishwashing, landscaping, bussing, and sign waving to a chemist, painter, nurse aid, and food safety consultant. In the process, I’ve put away close to 10 thousand dollars into investment accounts and now I’ve been using some of it to travel, be free, and live a life of my choosing while I am still in the best years of my life. Shame on me; right? ;-)

4. Are you going to do this Living with Lyft thing forever?


Of course not! This has been an enlightening and incredible experience in so many ways but I will not be doing it forever. After all, I do enjoy the benefits of personal property and having my own space. I have goals to own my own fully sustainable tiny home with Tower Gardens, to raise children, and to own several companies that do great things and provide a flow of income while I sleep. One thing I can tell you for sure, however, is that I WILL be driving Lyft and putting smiles on peoples faces in my free time until I am so old that I can no longer be a safe driver.