Author Archives: Gladys

Get out of that midcareer slump!

I was chatting with another old lady the other day and I was surprised to find out that work is “just a job” to her and that she works hard everyday not because she loves her work, but because she’s doing what she can to stay employed.

I think a lot of people end up in that state after racking up more than several years of working, probably even more so if they’ve stayed at the same company for all those years. (I may or may not be speaking from experience.)

Year 1 of employment: "Alright! Let's see what cool stuff I'm going to do today!"When you’re young and just starting out, you’re excited about the prospect of things you could accomplish…you’re promised a lot, and people have faith in you because you’re young and fresh and excitable.

After a few years under your belt, you start learning that not everyone is young and fresh and excitable, and that many people actually just want to do whatever the business needs from them so they can get home and do what they really love. So instead of spending your Years 5-10: "Ok...let's see what my boss wants me to do today..."time trying to convince people that something would be really cool to do and it will make a difference, you end up just doing whatever people ask, because it’s just less trouble.

You start to get really good at doing whatever people expect because it keeps things moving along, and at some point you wonder why you even bothered to try harder in the first place, because there are plenty of other cogs that Year 11 and beyond: "Let's see how long I can sit here without anyone realizing I'm not doing any work"slowly move together to keep the machine running. It’s not worth one cog to be bigger and more efficient, because the machine only works as hard as the least hardest working cog.

So by the time you’ve become a “seasoned” worker, you don’t have any reason to do things like push back against status quo or sit in long architectural debates with even more seasoned people, because you know you’ll lose anyway, and all of that stuff in the end doesn’t matter, since all you’re doing is collecting a paycheck from a place that doesn’t value your opinions or ideas, and is slowly starting to realize that you cost more money to them at your advanced age and salary level than two or three kids fresh out of college. Depressing.

So what can we as old ladies do about this, before our desks and laptops get soaked with drool?

Don’t forget where you came from. You were young and fresh once. You can get back there, just keep learning and keep your skills up-to-date. You have something that kids fresh out of college don’t have, and that’s experience. You know what’s worked, and you know some tips and tricks that can help others. Share your insights, even if you think people aren’t listening, because eventually people will. Don’t give up.

Find or start a network. There are people out there just like you. Some managed to get themselves past their midcareer slump, some are still struggling, some gave up. Listen to their stories and advice and you can learn what’s worked for people and what hasn’t. Maybe you can help others along their way also.

Love what you do, and if you don’t love it, don’t do it. I watched Jiro Dreams of Sushi and it was such a beautiful documentary about sushi and one man’s passion for it. It’s rare that you end up in a job that you love, but if you do, don’t let it go. Life is too short to work at job that makes you unhappy. I know people might not have a choice to change jobs or careers, but it will probably be worth the struggle if it means longer and more potential happiness in the future. Somethings aren’t worth the pain, so if your cons outweigh your pros in the career you’re currently in, it’s never too late to change. There’s some good reading about this in this HBR article.


No, there’s nothing wrong with just feeling like your job is “just a job”, because that’s what it really is. But if you’re like me and have the bizarre expectation that you could be happier with your job, then don’t sit around and get unhappier, do something about it.



Yes, ladies, we can do math!

I always get excited when I have to use math when I’m programming something, because then when my kids get old enough to complain “Augh, math?! When am I ever going to use this?!”, I’ll actually be able to tell them, “Hey, I actually use math at work!”

Ok, so this particular time it wasn’t something for work, but it’s still math! Here’s the basic problem:

Starting with a spider at point A, swiped to point B, how do you determine a point C offscreen where the spider ends up after being swiped?

This is how I solved the problem using…GEOMETRY! If you have two points, you can calculate the slope (m) and then use the same slope equation to find a y value given an arbitrary x. Here’s the equation to find slope between two points (x, y) and (x1, y1), in case you’re too lazy to google it:

m = (y - y1) / (x - x1)

So using that, we can calculate the slope of the line we create when we swipe the spider from A to B:

m = (A.y - B.y) / (A.x - B.x)

To figure out where point C is, let’s choose an arbitrary x value for C based on the direction of the swipe, and use the same equation to solve for the y value. In our picture above, we’re swiping left (A.x > B.x), so let’s say that C.x is at a position 100 pixels off the left side of the screen, or -100. If we’re swiping right (A.x < B.x), then let’s say that C.x is 100 pixels off the right side, or screensize + 100.

So now that we know the slope and the new x value, we’ll just reswizzle the slope equation above and solve for the new y value:

y = m * (x - x1) + y1

And in our case:

C.y = ((A.y - B.y) / (A.x - B.x)) * (C.x - A.x) + A.y

Here’s a CodePen using the same math I used above. The CodePen example constrains the spider to a box on the page, so I had to take that into account when writing the javascript. Another issue I had was that if your path was a vertical line, the slope ends up being undefined and calculating the y value ended with a value of “Infinity” or “-Infinity”. Did you even know that Javascript had these constants (Number.POSITIVE_INFINITY and Number.NEGATIVE_INFINITY)? I didn’t. Well, now we both know. 🙂


I actually really loved math in school, especially geometry in 7th grade, because we got to use rulers and compasses to draw graphs. There really is a lot of math you can use when you code, so keep taking those advanced math classes, ladies!

Gladys’ Old Lady Survival Guide for Meetings

I’ve been in many meetings throughout my career, and I’ve learned quite a bit about how to survive a long meeting and how to get yourself heard (despite being female! Gasp!). Here are a few tips to take to your next meeting so you don’t end up sitting in the back and being forced to take notes. Or get a man a soda.

Interrupt people. It’s ok. Really.
Google Chairman Eric Schmidt got some flak on the internet for interrupting USCTO Megan Smith during a panel at SXSW. Women can’t be heard because men constantly interrupt them. And women who try to be the interruptor themselves end up being seen as pushy and aggressive. Well, I’m here to say, it’s ok to interrupt people, people! You just have to do it in a way that makes the other person feel like they interrupted you:

Man: "...So how we will differentiate ourselves in the marketplace--" Woman: "--that's nice, but..."

Man: "!" Woman: "Oh, no, I'm sorry...go ahead..."

Man: "Oh no, you go ahead..." Woman: "As I was saying..."

Reiterate someone else’s good idea and make it your own.
I’ve actually had this done to me many times in meetings. Except that the person actually disagreed with what I said, but to make it seem like we weren’t in conflict, he said we were actually saying the same thing. It was bizarre. But in any case, the last person that states some big idea is usually the one that people attribute the idea to. So grab that last great idea you heard, reiterate it, and make it your own! Nothing wrong with that!

"I think we're both saying the same thing...let me reiterate so everyone understands..."

Even if you’re not paying attention, make sure people think you are.
This is pretty funny, because people say this ALL THE TIME. And no one seems to catch onto the fact that muting has nothing to do with listening. But, people buy it because they don’t want to contend with technology being the reason you couldn’t answer the question posed to you.

"Sorry...can you repeat that? I was on mute..."


No, of course I’m not being completely serious! Sometimes you have to let a little humor into your life to survive the daily grind. Life is too short to get hung up over whether an entire gender is out to get you or if maybe you’re just taking life a bit too seriously.

When I was your age, we used brackets and parentheses in our code, and we liked it!

Sometimes when I’m using a sewing machine, I find that pushing the fabric through gets so repetitive that I don’t realize that something weird happened with the thread coming out of the lower bobbin, so when I stop to look after I’m done, I see that the underside is a weird clumpy, stringy mess. And then I have to start over.

I get that same feeling sometimes when I’m coding with CoffeeScript and Jade. For those of you unfamiliar with CoffeeScript, it’s just like JavaScript, but you don’t have to use parentheses or brackets. Or semi-colons. In fact, you’re punished if you do. Although for functions without arguments, you need to use parens otherwise it will get mad. So it’s fickle. Plus, you can’t just make your changes and it will just work, you need to compile CoffeeScript into JavaScript. I think psychologically as you’re writing it, you believe it is saving you time not having to write “var” to declare variables and writing your if/else clauses more like a sentence (which is actually nice, but I’m disappointed when I can’t use if … ? … : … syntax), but I tend to think in the long run, you don’t save time because you won’t run into the errors that you would with normal JavaScript. Ok, so debugging JS is a pain in itself, but adding syntax errors on top of that drive an old woman battier!

error: reserved word “var”

Jade has a similar idea except it is a templating language for Node, so it’s basically HTML without brackets. I recently spent a lot of time rewriting my HTML so there are no brackets and making sure I’m indenting properly. Of course, after I figured out that I can change the indenting to use spaces from the bottom of Brackets, I got much less of those errors, but there’s nothing like vague errors like “Error at new JS_Parse_Error” that only get resolved after trying if/else clauses with and without the leading -. Looking now at the docs, I guess you never need the leading – anymore, which is a good move because I could never figure out when I needed it and when not.

Invalid indentation, you can use tabs or spaces but not both.


Don’t get me wrong, I love the evolution of programming languages, and it’s good to see that people are still coming out with new stuff, but sometimes I just feel like I’m too old to understand why not using brackets is so awesome. Especially when I sit there writing some code and I go to the browser to test it, and there’s an error because I indented poorly.

I just started a new prototyping project using Node, and I actually pined for two seconds about how it would be nice to use Jade, but then I found EJS which accomplishes the same thing, but it’s more of the PHP/JSP/Angular approach where you just add code directly into your HTML. Whew! There really is a language that exists for everyone. You don’t have to force yourself to use something just because everyone else does. I’ll be ok until the next wave of new-fangled languages come out. Maybe like this?!


This has been brought to you by Gladys, whose first programming language was Logo.