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From my younger years ...
When I was in third grade, there was a reading program at my school called BookIt. The concept was simple. Read a book, earn a star. Collect enough stars and you receive a certificate to redeem a free small personalized pizza from Pizza Hut. The incentive to read was pizza!
Like many kids my age, we all loved pizza. For my family, pizza was a luxury. BookIt was absolutely the best program I had been introduced to. My family was poor and my parents never had the money to afford a pizza for one yet alone a pizza for a whole family. My sister and I only got to eat pizza for school lunch on some occasions when it was served.
I really liked eating melted cheese. My mom received WIC and she often got blocks of cheddar cheese. I would grate some cheddar cheese and put them on top of pieces of bread and then I would toast them in the oven. I loved watching the cheese melt. Sometimes if we had ketchup I'd smother that on the bread and toss on some cheese and toast in the oven. It was my own little piece of pizza heaven.
I read as many books as the library allowed me to check out. I also read a lot of encyclopedia chapters as well but they didn't count towards a star. I used to wish that my mom would buy the encyclopedias from the sales people that often went door to door, but I knew we didn't have the money. My wishlist was to own my very own encyclopedia set someday when I grew up.
Living in Eau Claire, Wisconsin wasn't the best place to live. I often got bullied when I went to school for being a "chink" and I never had any friends except for one American girl named Trisha. Reading books helped me escape the life I lived in. While kids were taken out of school to go on family vacations, I too wished I could go on a family vacation. But I knew that would not happen. So I read books about far away places and adventures of others. My favorite were Choose Your Own Adventure books. I read as many as I could find. I also went back and re-read them when the adventure was over with, I would start a new one in the same book. Reading made me very happy and it gave me so much hope that I too someday could live the life I've always wanted. I often read past my bed time. Sometimes my mom would come in and scold me for not sleeping because I wanted to read.
It was easy to quickly receive all the stars needed to achieve that BookIt certificate. Pretty soon I was accumulating enough certificates that could feed me and my sisters because I knew just one small pizza would not be enough to feed us.
I remember one special time my sister and I had collected enough certificates for my dad to drive us to the nearest Pizza Hut. They had expiration dates on them so we had to redeem them or lose out. He allowed us take the certificates to the counter and we were so happy to present them to the cashier so that we could obtain our deliciously hot small personalized pizzas. The cashier went to the back and I overheard her laughing and telling a fellow coworker, "Look at the poor chinks using coupons to get free pizzas. They saved all their coupons to feed their family."
As a little girl, hearing this made me very sad. It made me cry because what they said were true. I was saving the certificates because I had earned them. I was planning to use them on my family too, which was also true. After she came out and gave us the pizzas, I accepted them and walked slowly back to the car. My sister was so happy she ate hers quickly. However, still stinging from the hurt I did not eat mines and saved it later for my other siblings to eat at home.
From that time on, I wasn't as passionate about redeeming the BookIt certificates anymore. It wasn't that I stopped loving pizza or that I stopped loving reading. It was on a whole other level about how people perceive others who are poor. I made it a personal decision back then that learning and reading would only be for me. It was not to redeem free pizzas. I learned there was a bigger goal to be achieved that was beyond a quick reward.
My love of learning, reading, and dreaming started with a hope. I loved pizza. I loved BookIt. Most importantly I loved how people could create programs for kids. Especially us kids in poverty who never ever could dream of having something that someone else of privilege could eat too.
BookIt, Pizza Hut ... you bring me such happy and bittersweet tears. Thank you for the life lesson.
From my younger years ...
I was 12 years old in 1988. A Sunday after church my dad dropped off me, my younger sisters Song and Rasmee at Kmart. He rewarded me $10.00 for having good grades and said I could use that money to buy us something from the store. He took my other younger siblings home and told me to save $0.25 to call him using the payphone to come pick us up when we were done.
We were so excited. It was our first time at Kmart without our parents. It was our first time we could look through the store as hopeful kids and buy something of our choosing.
My sister Rasmee (age 8) and Song (age 10) both picked out two dolls. I couldn't afford the real Barbie dolls so I bought them each a cheaper plastic doll. They were very happy and they didn't even care that it wasn't a real Barbie. After I paid for the dolls, my sisters wanted ice cream so I proceeded to buy them one ice cream cone each. The lady at the register made one cone and handed it over to my sister Rasmee. She gobbled it up fast. Then the lady made one for Song. She ate it very slow as if she didn't want it to come to an end. As the lady was about to make my ice cream cone, I asked her how much it would cost. She told me it would be $2.25 but I didn't have enough money. I only had $1.50 in my hands and so it was only enough to cover two ice cream cones. I paid her all the money I had which meant I did not get an ice cream cone and I had no quarter to call my dad. The lady made me feel very bad that I had no money so why did I want an ice cream cone. I wanted to cry but my heart was frozen I didn't know how to react. I was embarassed and terrified.
That was one of the saddest days of my life. I miscalculated how much money I had. I attempted to buy something I could not afford. I felt so very poor. I was penniless. First time in my life that I ever felt powerless in that moment when I couldn't pay for something I had really wanted. There was no way I could call my dad. I stood in the store and I was afraid to ask for help. I knew it would eventually get late and so I decided to take my sisters and walk home. I thought about waiting in the store to see if my dad would eventually come pick us up but I felt so ashamed to stay there.
I had never walked that far before but I did know my way home. I held each of their hands and walked out of the store. I remembered the bus route and so I proceeded to take them and we walked home. We walked up hill, down hill, under a bridge, crossed over a river, and eventually made it home. It was the longest walk ever in my life. It was also a chilly day and we were cold. I was afraid but there was only one way to go and that was to get home. Every car that passed by us, I wished it was my dad's car but it wasn't.
When we made it home I got yelled at by my mom. She was mad we walked home alone. My dad knew I was shaking and scared. My sister Rasmee was so happy and so proud she showed off her doll to my mom and even told her that I bought them both ice cream cones. Then Song told my mom that I didn't get one.
My mom asked me how I spent my money and I said I used it all so I didn't have a quarter for the phone call. I felt really bad inside, scared, dirt poor, moneyless, worthless, empty, foolish, and made some pretty bad decisions.
But all the while in the background was my sister Song and Rasmee so happy and playing with their dolls. Rasmee said it was the sweetest ice cream she'd ever had. Indeed it was the sweetest ice cream I ever had too. I never got to taste it but seeing the happiness in their faces was the sweetest first in my life.
This story still makes me cry when I tell it. There's a reason why I love ice cream. It reminds me of my love for my sisters.
I google mapped the route that we walked it. It was 3 miles.
Cyber stalking and cyber bullying are topics I wanted to discuss because it can happen to you. A cyber stalker can be anyone. You can become a victim at any time. I have been cyber stalked and I wanted to share my experiences about it.
What is cyber stalking and cyber bullying?
Cyberstalking is a crime in which the attacker harasses a victim using electronic communication, such as e-mail or instant messaging (IM), or messages posted to a website, social media pages, or a discussion group. A cyberstalker relies upon the anonymity afforded by the Internet to allow them to stalk their victim without being detected.
Often times online harassment for children are referrred to as cyber bullying and for adults as cyber stalking. Although the terms for both can be used interchangebly. It is also referred to as cyber harassment. You probably have encountered one or more internet trolls who have nothing else better to do than to put other people down so they can suck the happiness out of others. Cyber stalkers feed on terror, they want to create fear and shut you down.
It can happen to you
There are plenty of people on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media websites who pretend to be your friend, like your statuses, like your photos, pretend to get to know you, be in your good graces, and then turn on you in a heartbeat when you have an opinion that differs than theirs. Cyber stalkers may start off pretending to be friendly or they may be hostile from the get go. Just because someone requests you as a friend on Facebook or follows you on Twitter, it doesn't mean they really want to be your friend. They could be snooping through your photos, reading your posts, see who you are connected to, gathering data to steal your identity or worse, to harm you mentally or physically.
Why do they stalk you?
Anything can trigger a person to hate you. It can be a photo, a status update, an announcement, a 'like', anything that the other person doesn't like or agree with. It could be an ex boyfriend/ex girlfriend, someone from your past, a former friend, a creep down the street, someone who just doesn't like you, anyone. Sometimes you aren't even aware that you did anything. Your opinions may differ from theirs. They might be jealous of you. Whatever it is, a cyber stalker preys on you. Unfortunately there are people in this world who are miserable and unhappy. They want to share that misery with anyone they can clench in their claws into and bring you down to their level. They feel powerful to say things to you online that they could never say in real life because in real life they are cowards.
What you can do if you are being cyber stalked or cyber harassed
If you know their identity, keep a record of all incidents (time, date, copies of the harassment, username). If you are under the age of 18, tell your parent or an adult you trust about any harassments/threats. If you do not feel safe to respond to your attacker, block them. You have the option to communicate that the harassment is unwanted and for the attacker to cease/stop any further communication. Keep all electronic and hard copies of any harassment. If the attacker continues to communicate with you, do not respond back. Most social media channels allow you to "Report" a user. Most also have a "Block" feature. While it won't stop the cyber stalker from creating further fake anonymous accounts, you can take further measures to protect yourself.
My personal experiences with cyber harassment
In the past I've been harassed on various social networks such as Youtube, Facebook, and most recently I have been cyber stalked on Instagram. I'm not sure what people have to gain by harassing me through my blog, harassing me through email, creating fake accounts to stalk me, stealing my photos, impersonating me on social networks, stealing my Youtube videos, or stalking my friends/family/coworkers. Unfortunately there are some people in this world who just don't want to see you happy.
I really enjoy sharing content with my friends, family, and anyone who shares similar interests with me but in some cases, I have had to take a step back and focus on my safety and the safety of my friends. I understand there is a difference between being criticized versus being stalked/harassed. If you feel unsafe, that's harassment.
I hope some of these tips help you. Stay safe my friends.
Hi everyone! It's nearing Christmas! I hope you are having a great festive season. I am giving away 5 cool gifts to 5 lucky people. Enter today for your chance to win!
Gift C, D, E:
Life as a web developer is challenging and rewarding. I love my career, love solving problems and writing code.
When I was a little girl, personal computers were still "new" to the world. I grew up with the evolving technology. There were no cell phones, no internet, none of these these high tech devices. However, technology and electronics always amazed me. It also kept me curious about our ever changing world. When I graduated high school, I headed off to college thinking I would take the path of most girls to either go into education or nursing. I really didn't know what I wanted to do. I spent a lot of time in the computer lab and in the back of my mind I loved computers but I never knew if there would be a career path for me because it was a field of mostly men. My first inspiration to become a web developer was my sister Song Vang. She was self taught and we worked on some early web projects back in the late 1990s. I took my first leap of faith investing in education for myself and the rest was history.
What is a web developer?
A web developer is a programmer who specializes in, or is specifically engaged in, the development of World Wide Web applications, or distributed network applications that are run over HTTP from a web server to a web browser. [Definition from Wikipedia]
What is the difference between a web developer and a software engineer?
The title. Roles and responsibilties differ from organization to organization. In a nutshell, they all code.
What type of work do you do?
I code web applications for websites, tablets, and mobile phones. I also code native iOS applications and Android applications. I administrate a LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySql, PHP) stack. I've also made applications that integrate with social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
What training is required to become a developer?
Most employers require an Associates Degree in Web Development or Bachelors of Science in Computer Sciences. In this technology field, your education gets you the interview but your skills and experience gets you the job. Some of the best developers I've worked with never went to college.
What are some resources that I can learn to become a developer?
You are in luck! Google is your best friend. I also recommend learning from w3schools.com and reading books. There are many paid websites that you can subscribe to learn programming languages. Also, you have me! You can contact me using my contact form if you have any questions. I may not always have an answer but I'm here to support you.
What soft skills are required for being a developer?
Passion. Drive. Persistence. Problem solving. Patience. Analytical. Detailed. Think outside the box.
What programming languages do you know?
Describe a typical day on the job
First thing in the morning, we have our daily stand up meetings. In this meeting, we provide a quick overview of what we accomplished yesterday, what our goals are for the day, and if have any blockers. Then I work on the different projects that I am assigned to, attend meetings, and code on my Macbook Pro. A lot of the day is spent at a computer desk, typing, sitting down, and in meetings.
Who do we mostly work and collaborate with?
There are many team members including your manager, project manager, team lead, other developers, designers, business analysts, security architects, internal/external clients, director, business liasons, other people in the company, vendors, contractors, and most importantly customers!
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Creating apps! I love the challenge that I can create applications that people can interact with.
What do you like most about your job?
I like writing code, troubleshooting issues, debugging, and the fact that there's many ways to reach a solution.
What do you like least about your job?
I've worked with really great male developers and I've also worked with a handful of male developers with very high egos. Sometimes I get cut off before I finish speaking or making my points heard. At a former work place, I got talked down on. Hey, no one should ever be treated like that. Sometimes it's a boy's club and I'm not in it.
What is the most difficult challenge being a woman in a male dominated field?
Being a minority person of color and a woman. There's not that many of us so we are always the minority. Support in this area is improving and I'd like to change that to encourage more women and people of color to enter this field. It is a great field!
What advice would you give someone entering school for programming?
You can start at community college or a technical college. They give you hands on training that most universities don't. Universities teach you theory but most classes are taught in a lecture and you don't get the hands on training like you would in a smaller classroom. I've done both - community college and university. Most important fact is find a strong support structure. Align yourself with other students and people who can help you. Let go of the distractors and focus. If you live in Madison, visit Madison College! It is a great college and the instructors are phenominal.
Any tips for being successful in this industry?
Find a mentor. I believe strongly in a mentor/peer relationship because it will help guide you in the direction you are seeking. To stay competitive in this industry you must always be flexible and adapt to new technology. Learning is a continual process. Over the course of the last 15 years of my career, I continue to learn new programming languages and tools to make me a more efficient developer.
If you would like to ask me any question to make this blog entry more complete, please comment below!
Giveaway is Closed.
Hi everyone! It's been a while since I last did a food tutorial. Today I will be sharing my recipe how to make a mangonada.
Where can I find these ingredients?
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Contest is closed.
Congratulations to Samantha Vang of Oroville, CA for winning the main giveaway!
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Congratulations to Koobmong Kong from MN who won the powder food coloring.