• Day 21: Routing

    Today we'll discuss routing as it pertains to computer networking and not woodworking. We can talk about the woodworking angle another day if desired.

    If you think of a computer as a house, then computer networks are like neighborhoods. If you want to visit your neighbor, you can just walk next door and knock. But let’s say you want to visit your cousin in a completely different neighborhood. Then it involves more…

  • Day 31 - Expecto Patronum

    "Mysterious thing, time. Powerful, and when meddled with, dangerous." —Albus Dumbledore

    As Leon’s December Writing Challenge co-editor, I’ve enjoyed reading all of this year’s submissions, a rich mixture of wishes not to disturb the lessons life teaches, a careful sprinkling of re-dos, a few winning lottery numbers, and a healthy set of Back to the Future references. But as much as Marty and the Professor may…

  • Day 30 - Worry Less, Live More

    My grandpa used to say that 99% of the things you worry about never happen… which just goes to show that all that worrying works.

    Unfortunately, sometimes it feels like that’s my life motto.

    My name is Alli, and I am a worrier.

    A little bit of worry is healthy. It’s what keeps you from being totally reckless and potentially in a bad spot. After all, like Grandpa said, worrying about bad things prevents them from happening…

  • Day 29 - What I Would Tell My Younger Self: Perspective From a Millennial

    For starters, I went back and forth on that subject line. Will people even want to read this after seeing “millennial” in the title? Ironically, that unconscious logic sets the tone almost too perfectly for this post.

    Having grown up in a culture that has so rapidly changed with my generation, I’ve struggled greatly with the stereotypes that come therein. If I’m being honest with myself, aside from my birth date, I don…

  • Day 28 - An Open Letter to Younger Me

    In all honesty, my immediate thought having sat down to write this is: should I even say anything to my younger self? At my current stage of life, I have an amazing family, a successful business, and enough close friends to be happy. What if something I said to my younger self changes all this?!

    Should we look back at actions and decisions we have taken in life and guide ourselves to do something differently? This, as…

  • Day 27 - Compare & Despair

    My advice to my younger self?

    To compare is to despair.

    I think about how much angst, stress, and time I would have saved had I appreciated this when I was younger. I also would have spared myself some seriously questionable fashion and style choices (say it with me, bangs are BAD on T Nels).

    And I didn’t grow up in the age of social media with its nearly endless stream of comparative fodder. Small blessings.

    To compare…

  • Day 26 - A List For My Younger Self

    Instead of boring you all with a lengthy essay, I compiled a list of ten items that I would tell my younger self, the final three of which are powerful quotes from two of my favorite thinkers of all time.

    Without further ado, here are the ten things I would tell my younger self:

    1) Find something you’re good at that you can’t live without, and do it at all cost. This is what you’re meant to give to this world and what will…

  • Day 25 - What Would I Tell My Younger Self?

    I am sitting here at my desk considering and reflecting about what I should tell my younger self.

    It is a big responsibility.

    If I influence myself to actively pursue or avoid something, then I could change who I am now.

    Every trigger action has a resulting consequence, good or bad. Cause and effect.

    So rather than advise myself, I choose to simply reassure myself.

    I would appear to myself as a ragged old man with a swirling…

  • Day 24 - Be Adventurous!

    Today, my friends, is December the 24th.

    In Germany, this would be the evening where young kids start a raid at the Christmas tree, and grown-ups invite their parents for dinner. Or, in case of no kids available, you make sure your friends with paws are having a good time with fresh tuna:


    So, everyone is busy, and no one is reading this blog post!

    But wait, surely some IT folks are working and minding those pesky servers…

  • Day 23 - It is OK to Push Yourself

    When I first read about the writing challenge topic, my mind flicked over several different moments in my past. At what point would the advice offered be the most practical? (Or most interesting for a post!) When I was in primary (elementary) school? High school? University? Various points of my career?

    One moment stuck out the most.

    This was way back in primary school (grade 5). There were two grade 5 classes, and the…

  • Day 22 - Quarter-Life Musings

    As an aged, wise 25-year-old, I’ve acquired such a wide breadth of knowledge, it’s hard to narrow down what I’d tell my younger self to just one, or even two, things (hopefully my sarcasm is noted). So here are some of the things that keep me moving through my 20s, that I wish my younger self might have had some foresight into. (Also, I hear your 30s are supposed to be better. If someone can confirm that, it’d be a big…

  • Day 21 - Learn Empathy, You Jerk

    Hi, Tom the Younger. It’s me, Tom the Elder. I’m writing you this note because there’s something you should know.

    You’re a jerk.

    Now, it’s not your fault you’re a jerk. But it is your problem. And the sooner you recognize you have this problem, the better.

    I could write pages of examples to demonstrate how you have been a jerk. Doing so won’t solve the issue. Instead, I’m going to give you one piece of advice to help you…

  • Day 20 - Don't Let Fear Stop You

    Dear Younger Self,

    It was difficult for me to decide which piece of wisdom I should give you. Not because I am so much wiser than you. In fact, it’s the opposite. Though I have had more time to learn, it turns out I am a slow learner. I continue to make the same mistakes and learn the same lessons. I am no wiser than you, I’ve just lived longer and am finally starting to notice the patterns in my life.

    You’re likely thinking…

  • Day 19 - Learn How to Take a Compliment, Rockstar!

    Accepting a compliment seems like a small thing in the context of the many, many things I could have done better if I knew more when I was younger, but I’m a big believer of small changes reaping big rewards. It’s also a topic that’s front of mind for me as I work on modeling constructive behavior to my daughter, who pays closer attention to what I do than what I say.

    I know this isn’t only a female issue, but I’m going…

  • Day 18 - Stuck in the Friend Zone

    Discussing anything on THWACK even tangentially related to time-travel is tricky, because there are many members with both strong opinions on temporal mechanics, and passion to defend them. Add in the loose confederation of Back to the Future timeline wonks, and things get really interesting. But throwing caution to the wind, both for comments and unintended butterfly effects, I’ll state for the record I would go back…

  • Day 17 - What I Would Tell my Younger IT Professional Self

    If I were to choose one thing to tell my younger IT professional self, it would be “know your business.” That could mean many things, but what I’m talking about is make sure you have a solid understanding of the following:

    • Expectations – make sure that what you are doing is what is wanted/expected
    • Your role – in your team, your organization, and your company
    • Your value – what you bring to the table that others appreciat…
  • Day 16 - Reading & Writing

    Growing up, like most children, I did not have the perspective to fully comprehend my environment. My father owned a stake in the family companies started by his father. The South Texas companies included construction, cranes, and lumber businesses that started in 1927.

    Having a 4,000-acre company hunting lease in Frio County to go to every winter, or, if you were broken down on the road, a company tractor-trailer rig…

  • Day 15 - Proverbs, Quotes, and General Silliness

    Growing up in the Great State of Texas where every “old-timer” offers a wealth of knowledge, and then being blessed in my “adult” years to travel both the world and country extensively, I’ve collected a ridiculous amount of quotes/euphemisms/sayings/proverbs/what-have-you. While many can seem trite, and there are various opinions about their efficacy in teaching or inspiring [1][2], I do feel their pull and try to find…

  • Day 14 - Take Care of the Needs of Others Before One's Own

    What’s funny is, in writing this now, I’m on my fourth rewrite. Each time this ends up being several paragraphs too long, going on several tangents Family Guy-style and missing my own point. But if there was something I’d want to tell my younger self, it’s to take to heart a quote that I heard when I was younger. If you haven’t figured out by my handle, I’m a fan of anime, and one show that has stuck with me for the longest…

  • Day 13 - JOMO: The Joy of Missing Out

    When I looked at my calendar five years ago, every weekend was booked, occasionally double-booked, three months out – at minimum.

    As the kids would say, I am “hashtag blessed” to have a group of girlfriends with whom I’ve grown up with and despite new jobs, new cities, and new adventures, we’ve remained extremely close. With friendships spanning more than a decade, these ladies are my best friends, travel buddies, confidants…

  • Day 12 - What I Would Tell My Younger Self

    1. Finances:
      1. Set aside even more money, earlier on, so you can retire earlier. You’ll be financially safe, even if Social Security isn’t secure when we hit retirement age. We didn’t sacrifice comfort, but we might have been able to retire earlier if we’d done without a few luxuries and put aside an extra $25/week in our twenties.
      2. Get a second job and use it to fund that earlier retirement and affording the musical and photographic…
  • Day 11 - Yeah, You'll Never Do That...

    Looking back over my life is both exciting and HORRIFYING. Let me explain. I was 18 and graduating LPN school in a little town in Oklahoma. I thought I had life by the horns, let me tell you. I was going to quickly excel and run away in a medical career and never look back. Obviously, you all know me and understand that was not my future at all. However, if you would have told me then my future involved databases, networks…

  • Day 10 - Walk Before You Run

    I found it quite difficult to pass on just one piece of advice when there is so much I wanted to tell my younger self; to prepare her for and to protect her from. But then I realised that if she doesn’t go through it, then we wouldn’t become the person we are today. Instead, I decided to give advice relevant to what is to come but also allows younger me the freedom to make those mistakes, take the unpaved path, and live…

  • Day 9 - Don't Be Afraid to Fail

    In a 2013 interview with Smashing Magazine (https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2013/12/berlin-designer-interview-benjamin-dauer-npr/), NPR Senior Product Designer and Lead Product Designer at SoundCloud Benjamin Dauer said,

    “Don’t be afraid to fail. Challenge yourself at all times, and learn from every experience — good and bad.”

    Of all the advice that I've heard, of all the advice I could give, "Don't be afraid to fail…

  • Day 8 - Cherish the Small Things

    Dear younger me

    Where do I start

    If I could tell you everything that I have learned so far

    Then you could be

    One step ahead

    Of all the painful memories still running thru my head

    I wonder how much different things would be

    Dear younger me

    MercyMe. “Dear Younger Me.” Welcome to the New, Fair Trade/Columbia, 2014

    Kevin M. Sparenberg
    Edmondson Heights Elementary School
    Mrs. Sarnecki’s 4th Grade Class

    Dear Kevin,

    First things first, this…