gift of time

The COVID-19 outbreak has given lots of people something we all claim to never have enough of, time.

Even though there is a lot of anxiety and stress and worry in the world today, the question is what are you doing with the time you now have that you didn’t last week, or maybe 2 weeks ago? Are you using it watch the news and stress over things you can’t change? Participating in every meme challenge that comes your way? Binge watching Netflix/Hulu/Prime? Doing something else?

Maybe you’re finally reading books you’ve wanted to read. Or studying a new topic. Learning a new skill. Planning a garden. Playing an instrument that has sat in the corner collecting dust. Sitting in the sun talking. Reconnecting with family who you’ve been too busy to sit down with for a long time because you were busy shopping and running from activity to activity and participating in the over busyness of life.

I’m not here to shame or praise you for your choices, they are yours.

This crisis though has given us a blessing in disguise and is something we shouldn’t waste or take for granted. I’m not trying to make light of the situation, I just think if you have to stay in house, away from places of commerce, and other people in general, you should think about how you’re using the gift of time you’ve been given and make sure you’re not letting it get away.

how to learn something new

Think up your own problem.

Solve it or attempt to.

After doing some different exercises with Python, I began to think about what I do with what I had learned and how far I could push it.

I’ll let you think about what you might do with every possible string combination between 1 and n characters in length.

I don’t have the compute resources to push it 5 characters. This is why strong passwords of random characters are important.

Was curious about generating a giant list of strings.

Figured out how to create a list with 15,018,570 entries.

Could not get a larger set due to the exponential increase in the size of the list when going from a length of 4 to a length of 5.

Justin Mitchell
def build_word_list():
    alphabet_lower = 'abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz'
    alphabet_upper = alphabet_lower.upper()
    digits = '1234567890'
    my_characters = list()
    for a in alphabet_lower:

    for a in alphabet_upper:

    for a in digits:
    temp_list = my_characters[:]
    big_list = list()
    pw_length = 4
    c = 0
    while c < pw_length:
        #print('temp_list 1 --- ' + str(temp_list))
        holder = []
        for (d, e) in enumerate(temp_list):
        #print('\nholder 1 --- ' + str(c) + str(holder))
        c += 1
        if c != pw_length:
            mid_way = []
            for (f, g) in enumerate(holder):
            #print('\nmid_way --- ' + str(c) + str(mid_way))
            holder =[]
            holder = [[a+b for a in my_characters] for b in mid_way]
            #print('\nholder 2 --- ' + str(c) +str(holder))
            holder_length = len(holder)
            temp_list = []
            z = 0
            while z < holder_length:
                for (m, n) in enumerate(holder[z]):
                z += 1
            #print('\ntemp_list 2 --- ' + str(temp_list))
    #print('\nbig_list --- ' +str(big_list))
    big_list_length = len(big_list)
    print('big_list ' + str(len(big_list)))
    # print('temp_list ' + str(type(big_list)))
    return big_list

my_word_list = build_word_list()

my_word = 'sF5w'

answer = my_word in my_word_list

Oh the possibilities. 🙂

responsibility to write more

I’ve decided I have a responsibility to write more. Not because I am a particularly good writer, but to become a better thinker, work out the ideas I have, and capture my thoughts for my children and those around me.

Yesterday I came across “The World-Ending Fire / The Essential Wendell Berry” while browsing at the library. Of all the books on the shelf, I can’t tell you why it called to me. Until now, I was unaware of Wendell Berry, although I shouldn’t have been. The typography and design on the spine isn’t particularly flashy, in fact, with the library tag on it, you can’t even read the entire title.

I’m reading some deep topics this week

It was surrounded by other random books I probably will never read. It wasn’t even in a section of books I would typically look at.

For some reason though it called to me. I pulled it from the shelf and looked at the cover.

I have no idea who Paul Kingsnorth is either…

That man on the cover though. I had to know who he is. I read the words on the back and inside the dust jacket and the Introduction, then held it in both hands in front of me as I slowly walked to the checkout, like I had found a holy book.

It’s easy for me to understand today why this book called to me. My soul knows every word in and intention of this book of collected essays.

I’ve already read a couple of the essays and copied a few quotes from it. This is a person that speaks to my very being and some of my deepest held beliefs. This is why I should write more. This is why it is my responsibility to write more.

Thinkers such as Wendell Berry need to be heard.

The ideas need to be spread and discussed.

If not me, then who?

learning to program

I’ve been working on learning how to program in Python for what feels like forever. Literally. I’m not even joking.

I first tried to learn how to program like 20 years ago when I was learning Linux (slackware baby!). I read a bunch of stuff and everyone told me Python was where it was at for learning how to script and program. Truth be told, I never really got past print(‘hello, world’).

Why? I couldn’t figure out what I actually needed to learn or what I intended to do with it once I learned something useful.

I moved away from Python, improved my HTML (was better than adequate, can still build simple sites) and JavaScript (never very good, still terrible today), learned some PHP and MySQL, then moved away from them as my job required learning needed skills and I didn’t really feel like building web interfaces any longer.

Now, I’ve come full circle and I’m back to Python and learning some actual programming. Why? It seems like almost job title and position requires some kind of automation, programming, or scripting ability. I’m not looking for a new job, I’m just looking to stay ahead of becoming irrelevant. Programming books today are so much better than they were 20 years ago, or even 10, when I had to a basic computer class in college as a degree requirement.

Last fall, I bought a book that seemed to cover the basics, Python Crash Course, and started working through it. Guess what, it didn’t last long again. I got distracted because I had no plan, no real purpose, no anything beyond “learn to program in Python.”

There were some ephemeral goals like, “learn to automate this task” or “create an interface for that project.” But what I quickly learned is even though Python seems like it is every where and everyone tells you it is the best thing since sliced bread, can cure cancer, solve the climate crisis, and end world hunger… it can’t. Not in my environment. Not today.

I work with Cisco UC servers. Everything in Python that exists today is for networking or Linux servers. What I unfortunately learned when I started back up is even though Cisco servers are technically RedHat Linux, with the interface Cisco created, things are about 20x more difficult.

I had hoped to create a program that would just take my pieces of input and generate a script, login to the servers, execute the script and leave me the rest of the work day to go mess around outside.

I don’t know why I thought I could accomplish this on my own. Cisco hasn’t even really been able to do it with all of their Prime Collaboration and Infrastructure and geniuses they have. Seriously, I think we’ve tried it several times in my organization and the only thing it is good for, upgrading servers.

Anyway, I’ve gotten a little less ambitious the past few weeks. Checked out some books from the library on Python and worked on learning what is actually possible with Python. Breaking down my big ambitious goal of making a program do my work for me to the individual pieces that I find unreliable, tedious, or otherwise wasting time, has been a start.

I’m looking for the low hanging fruits and building those pieces. Some of it has been reinventing the wheel as far things we “automate” today with Excel, but it has been a great way to learn programming skills and things that I find actually useful:

  • Collect some data
  • Manipulate that data to make it useful
  • Take the new useful data and generate a variety of files and folders
  • Format the files in a way that is visually meaningful
  • ???
  • Profit!

Our current excel documents have too much logic built into them everywhere, references to multiple other workbooks, sheets, files in other locations, when in the end our Excel documents really need to be static. I get tired of breaking the links to other documents, copying sheets to new workbooks so I can send only the needed information to the people that need it. Too much chance of human error in the process of producing and managing the end results. I also don’t like having to copy a zipfile of documents, praying it’s the latest version and has all the things I need and that everything is correct.

I’m slowly getting there and this weekend I made huge personal breakthroughs on understanding and learning some of the things I need.

kids should play more

This morning while waiting with me son before son, there were a couple of kids from his class bouncing a basketball. Nothing disruptive. There wasn’t anyone really around them, they were just standing in line dribbling the ball and maybe passing it back and forth, a few feet between them.

The outside monitor lady told them to stop.

Some people wonder why kids behave the way they do. Maybe it’s because adults are constantly telling kids to not do kid stuff.


The unexamined life is not worth living


Why? Why am I writing? Why am I writing this? Why do I think I have something important to say or share?

I think it is important to share our ideas. To work through what we think we believe and feel. To discuss them. To build them up, make them better and stronger To allow us to analyze and discard the weak ones, the ones that no longer serve us or may even be harmful.

Writing has always allowed me to do that. In today’s world, it can be tough to know what you really think and feel. For me it is. Constantly bombarded with outside influences, rushing from one thing to the next trying to avoid FOMO induced panic.

With that brief introduction, this site will cover a lot of ground. I really want this to be a place where I gather and examine my thoughts, share things I find interesting, mold it into something I would want to read myself.


Your attention is sovereign.

There are two things that should be addressed.

1. You, personally, get to decide where you put your attention.
2. By acknowledging this fact you have to take full responsibility for where you have put your attention in the past, and where you will put it in the future.

via: SSRZ – 001 – Your Attention Is Sovereign

This something I have been struggling with lately, where to put my attention, and then keeping it where I want it.