Drawing Code

Cat photo: Buenosia Carol via Pexels

Does everyone doodle when they code? Maybe it’s because Ruby is object oriented, or because I’m a visual learner, but when I started to study Ruby and encountered something hard to understand, my first reaction was to draw.

I “drew” the problem, like it was a landscape made of logic. Like I could just see a solution if I put it on paper. When my brain’s rainbow wheel spun for longer than 10 minutes, scribbling shapes and words helped.

It was more rubber duck debugging than white board coding. I patterned quick descriptions of functions, connected with arrows and corralled in ovals. I jotted down more questions.

I’d be cool to say I was simplifying concepts until I abstracted words away in lieu of shapes. Like my inky mess was Ruby Hitsuzendō, coding Zen calligraphy. But really I think it helped me see the problem differently, and got me “out of my head” enough to stop freaking out completely.

Also, drawing word definitions, abstract thoughts and ideas can increase retention, according to a January 2019 article in the New York Times. It may be due to an “additional form of processing,” said a co-author of the study, Dr. Jeffrey Wammes, a postdoctoral fellow in the department of psychology at Yale.

Also, I’d have five or six pages open at once, my Learn.co lesson, previous lessons, ruby-doc.org, Stack Exchange, whatever programming blogs offered vital insights, so actual paper was a “non-screen” where I could think through the code. I never lost it among the screens.

Here’s a link, though, to the first few lessons of OO Ruby on Learn.co, which I simplified in my spiral notebook and then recopied using Illustator so anyone else could understand.

Scenes from a Brooklyn Sketchbook

I love productivity tricks, but I could never get into bullet journaling. I think it’s because I don’t like to draw lots of little boxes. However, I read a great article on Medium by Michael Korzonek that inspired me to try again.

I adapted his system, a topic for another post, and most consistently write down “what I want to remember from the day” (in a little box). It’s mostly New York City-style quirks.

This week, I illustrated what I wanted to remember. Here you go, a comic from Flatbush, Brooklyn, where I live with my wife and our senior Doberman, and toil away at a coding boot camp when I should be drawing.

I love that Bob’s Burgers doesn’t dog Bob for working in a restaurant and liking it. We just watched the episode where Bob gets his burnout, and makes out with the mustardy “I hate to see you brie-ve, but I love to see you go,” burger. His family makes him take a day off, but he just finds another little cafe to work. “I-I-I might be dying,” Bob says. “But this is worth it.” March 13

“Nothing makes me happier/than serving food to some guy.
It may seem so boring, it might get you snoring/but to me it’s the Fourth of July.” — Bob

A neighbor, scented faintly of happy hour, smiled fondly at our dog.
“How old is she?” he asked.
“Twelve,” I said. “An old girl.”
He got off the elevator and told her, “love you.” Like when you’re about to hang up the phone, but actually tell your boss you love them, except this was the neighbor’s Doberman pincher. March 14

The next day, I asked another neighbor where she bought the bouquet in her grocery bag. There’s a place off the Q Train 7th Avenue Stop, she said, “nothing says spring like tulips and irises.” Which was freaking adorable. March 15

Also, I’ve waited at a subway stop for 10 years, and never noticed one of the tiles was missing a 2.

We love Rockaway Brewing in Long Island City, Queens, but never visited their Rockaway Beach location. So, we took the bus, drank beer, ate bahn mi, played Scrabble and watched people.

Five folks in vintage military getup (I couldn’t identify it online) drank outside. “I have a sword on me right the #@$% now!” a cassocked bro declared to his friends, like, as a matter of conversation. I wish I had taken a photo when they sent him inside alone for five more pints.

Otherwise, the “end of the A Train” in March is a scrabbly landscape of warehouses and highways. It’s beachfront, but still the only place you’d want to wear flip flops is the beach. March 16

I was holding out for one more “C” to make “ceviche” in Scrabble, which the little bag never produced, and so I not only lost, but got trounced. My wife is killer at Scrabble, and everything else.

I did get “fellate” before the game ended. By definition, she me know, it’s an act specifically performed on a man. “Happy anniversary!” she joked. Happy anniversary to you, too, lady, who I want to remember most from all my best days. March 17