Why is it So Hard to Learn Programming?

I’ve been taking an introduction to programming class on Coursera, and it’s been going well so far. Recently, I wrote a small extra-credit essay for the class, which I’ve decided to recycle here. Why not?

feat-pyProgramming is often associated with a certain stigma of being archaic or overly complicated. I’ve certainly heard these references when I mention my enrollment in this Coursera Python class. And to a certain extent, I absolutely understand the sentiment. In my experience the complexity isn’t found in the process itself, but in the way familiar tools have different rules when programming. Continue reading “Why is it So Hard to Learn Programming?”

Table Mountain! Cape Town, South Africa

table7Apparently there was some decision made to declare a new Seven Natural Wonders of the World list. I had no idea. However, they seem to have done an okay job choosing their wonders, as Table Mountain is on the list. It’s definitely some sort of wonder.

It’s pretty much impossible to go anywhere in Cape Town and not see Table Mountain. So after a couple days in town, this visit to the top felt a bit like quenching a nagging curiosity. I’d been constantly loomed over by the mountain, and was going to finally get a chance to look down for a change. Continue reading “Table Mountain! Cape Town, South Africa”

Villiera Wine Tasting and Game Drive

It struck me as an unusual combination of activities, A game drive and wine tasting. Villiera was offering quite a deal though, so we gave it a whirl. Firstly, let me give you the spiel on Villiera,

Villiera is a family run winery in the Stellenbosch region of South Africa. We are a pioneering quality wine company committed to preserving the environment.

Their environmental angle was the lure for us. We figured their game reserve would likely be handled well and be friendly toward the animals if they were so environmentally conscientious. It turns out we weren’t far off the mark. Here are my thoughts on our experience, plus a few photos from the game drive. Continue reading “Villiera Wine Tasting and Game Drive”

Cape of Good Hope, South Africa

cape.point.thumbEasily one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been in the world is the Cape Point National Park in South Africa. Which of course encompasses the Cape of Good Hope.

It was an amazing experience to be standing on the very same rocky promontory I’ve heard about all my life. One can’t make it very far in any history lesson or tale of the high seas without imagining how it must have been to round the Cape. Our world’s history changed forever as Bartolomeu Dias first accidentally sailed around the Cape in 1488. Continue reading “Cape of Good Hope, South Africa”

Mongena Game Lodge, South Africa

Less than 2 hours after landing in Johannesburg, we were already spotting cool wildlife. Which is certainly sooner than I’d expected. Motivated by an enticing coupon, we’d opted to make Mongena Game Lodge our first stop in South Africa. I personally had never been anywhere in Africa before, so I was very excited to see some of the iconic wildlife.

Mongena is a very simple drive from the Johannesburg airport. 80-something km in a simple straight shot. In no time at all, we were inside the Dinokeng Game Reserve, and checking in. Continue reading “Mongena Game Lodge, South Africa”

Delta Airlines: Verdict

DeltaWell, now that I’m safely on the ground, I’d like to provide the opinion I mentioned in my previous post. The question was of course whether or not my full day of flying with Delta was going to be horrible or if they’d rally and improve my poor opinion of them as an airline. Obviously they didn’t drop me in the Atlantic, so I’m grateful for that.

The answer unfortunately is a bit of both good and bad. There is a decided difference between domestic Delta and trans-continental Delta.

Continue reading “Delta Airlines: Verdict”

Delta Airlines: Day of Reckoning?

In a few hours I have a full day (24 hours) worth of flights on Delta Airlines. In the past I’ve had very lame experiences on Delta. Which  have secured their status of being tied as my least favourite airline. Alongside US Airways. I’m sort of looking forward to this tie breaker round though. My expectations are rock bottom, so it’s only up from here. Ugh, I sure hope it can only be up from here. I have a low opinion of USA based airlines anyway. With their ghetto amenities and cattle car ambiance.

So come on, Delta, let’s rally the troops and pleasantly surprise a bitter old man who has been forced to fly through the USA. I believe in you! Sort of.


// Shawn

ps: In a month I again have to spend a full 24 hours on Delta, so really there will be two shots at redemption.

Upcoming Trip: South Africa!

saflagI was just sitting here relishing the joy of having an exciting trip coming up, when I figured I may as well type about it. In one month I’m headed to South Africa! I’ll be there for the entire month of March. This is the most exciting destination for me yet. Such a diverse, unique, and fascinating place! And so very picturesque. It’s going to be great! I’ve been curious about South Africa as long as I can remember. And I’ll be packing lighter than ever so I can fill my pack with vuvuzelas, of course.

I’m over budget for this trip before I even leave. So I’ll be playing my wallet very close to my chest the entire time. Which I don’t think is going to impede my enjoyment one bit. I hope to break from my usual routine though and actually do some posts about my trip. I’m horrible at that.

Ek tel die dae!


// Shawn


barcaDear future Barcelona visitor person. I have some unsolicited advice for you. No, not how to save 10% on your car rental (why would you rent a car in Barcelona?). Nor is it how to find the sangria with the most cherries in. This advice is for your feelings and stuff.

Barcelona is not your typical tourist destination. There’s a certain something going on underneath the surface there. Consider it my self appointed community service to give you the heads up. For your own good, of course.

Continue reading “Barcelona!”

Look Who’s Talking… in 10 Languages and Counting!

It’s tough to find any interesting person who doesn’t enjoy languages in some way or another. It’s also tough to find anyone who doesn’t complain about how impossible it is to learn a new language. Anyone except Benny Lewis (AKA the Irish Polyglot) that is. This fellow is so damn inspiring!

Odds are if you’ve spent much time online trying to learn a language you’ve come across Benny’s site (fluentin3months.com). Whether you have or not, you’ll find his Tedx talk cool and inspiring. I predict that 17 minutes from now you’ll be dusting off your dreams of learning a new language! I know he sure got me back on track.


// Shawn

Stuff I Learned Whilst Putzing Around The USA For A Month

feat-usaA couple years ago I had a great little road trip around the USA. Nothing epic, but we started in Fort Lauderdale, Florida after flying in from Haiti. I then puttered my way around: Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri (just St Louis), and finished in Illinois. I then later on hopped over to New York, New Jersey, and that one that starts with P that I always think is Philadelphia, but is actually Pennsylvania.

I had at the time considered trying to write up some nice play-by-play of the places I experienced, so I’d made some notes on my thoughts at the time. I left those notes untouched for a couple years. Then this morning I came across them and was about to delete them when I instead decided to put them up here. For posteriors, or the kiddies, or what have you. Sorry about all of this, but I love lists more than I love quality writing.

Continue reading “Stuff I Learned Whilst Putzing Around The USA For A Month”