October 17th, 2008


Clumsy and/or Distracted

This afternoon I was startled to notice that my ankle hurt. I puzzled over it for a moment -- had I been sitting on it weird or something? Then I remembered: it's probably from falling down the stairs yesterday!

Let me correct that: I didn't so much fall down the stairs as walk off of them. There is a difference, although a subtle one. It happened like this. I was preparing to leave M's house yesterday. His main floor is about 10 steps up from the front entrance, and I was walking down these stairs. I had already put on my sunglasses, despite being indoors. I had a backpack slung over one shoulder, was pulling my keys from my purse, had a diet pepsi bottle tucked under my elbow, and I was carrying a glass vase that I was intending to bring to my house.

My mind was preoccupied with who knows what, one of the many things it's been occupying itself with recently, and I think I was also looking out the window. Or maybe at my keys. I certainly wasn't watching my feet. I reached the bottom of the stairs and started to step forward, but it turns out I was not actually at the bottom step yet. Oops.

I have to say that for only missing one step, it was a rather dramatic tumble. Probably because my hands were full and I didn't want to drop anything. I turned my ankle, hit the wall, and ended up sprawled in front of the door I'd been heading toward. I looked around in surprise and said a bad word.

On the plus side, although I spilled a little bit of my drink, I didn't drop or break anything! By "anything" I mean nothing I was carrying, and no part of my body. (Thank goodness for the second bit in particular -- the irony did not escape me that I'd managed to almost hurt myself on the day of my already-scheduled orthopedist visit...)

Anyway after a few minutes catching my breath, checking that my limbs were all still attached, and gathering myself back together, I drove on home. My ankle had been tingling initially, but even that had gone away by the time I made it to my house. I don't know why it's started hurting again today, but it's a fairly mild owie. I probably just pulled a muscle or something.

I consider the whole thing rather fortunate -- not to mention fairly amusing. I don't know why, but I find it funny. Maybe just the oddity of being walking down the stairs one minute, then sprawled at the bottom of them the next. I even put it on yesterday's "todo" list, and crossed it off as a job well-completed. (I've been making lots of lists for myself recently in order to stay productive.)
read two chapters
take practice exam
fall down stairs
drive home

Go Me

So upon learning I was being laid off, I decided that one useful thing I could do with my unanticipated extra time was to learn the fundamentals of Java 6. I hadn't studied it seriously since Java3, and although I'd been able to stumble my way through the new stuff I wasn't clear on how it all came together.

Because I know myself, I decided to force myself to learn by studying for an exam. I am a procrastinator at heart, so I do better if I have targets and deadlines (even self-imposed ones). Thus I ordered a big fat book online and started studying for the Sun-Certified Java 6 Programmer exam.

I mentally scheduled it for today, so I'd have it out of the way before I left for my conference. Of course last week I ended up finding no time for studying at all, then my sister was in town for a bit, so I got a bit nervous about my deadline. I was only two-thirds of the way through my book. Still I figured it was better to force myself to finish than to put it off longer.

This week I plowed the rest of the way through the book, including finishing three and a half chapters yesterday (before I fell asleep midway through the book's last chapter!). After each chapter, I would take their practice questions. I was nervous, because I was consistently getting around 66% correct. 66% is the lowest passing score, so when I say "around" I mean sometimes over but sometimes under. I was getting really frustrated too, because the book authors do their best to trick/trap you! The questions are not straightforward, and they usually have multiple correct answers. You have to get ALL correct to be right, and usually one possible answer is just "code does not compile."

I was working on one when M was nearby the other day. "Do you want to finish that before we go downstairs?"

"No, I think I've decided that the answer is 'H'," I said.

"H?! What kind of multiple-choice answer is H?"

"I know, crazy huh? But I'm pretty sure H is right." (We looked it up then, and it turns out I was right. Hooray!)

I had my exam today at 1:15. I went through practice questions all morning, along with a couple of telephone interviews and a lunchtime walk. Stressful morning! You have to take it at an exam center, and you're not allowed to have any of your possessions with you. Just a piece of paper and a marker that they give you. I got there and started the test with a lot of butterflies in my stomach!

Eventually I settled down and got to work. Some questions were easy, others I found myself agonizing over. I was always able to narrow it down to two answers, but sometimes I just wasn't sure which was correct! It's so frustrating because I could figure it out in seconds with an IDE or compiler in front of me, but of course that's not the idea.

Finally I completed my second pass through the questions and clicked "done". The good thing about an electronic test like this is you get your results right away.

I picked up my papers as I exited the center and found out: Ninety-three percent! Hooray!!! What a relief, and what a nice way to finish off the week. Go me!