With just one more race to go at the end of the month, I am finally starting to break away from swim-bike-run exile and enjoy the fun cultural events DC has to offer. Case in point, Elliott and I attended not one but two Smithsonian Associates events this past week.
The first was on the Bayeux Tapestry. Not familiar with it? Neither was I, but Elliott is an English history buff, so there we were. Picture a huge cloth that depicts the Norman conquest of England in 1066. Now picture hearing about said cloth for two hours in a dark room while battling a raging ear infection. Even against those odds, I have to give the lecturer credit — he made the topic come alive, delving into the various mysteries and scandals surrounding this historical relic. But my favorite bit was this cartoon.
Wednesday was “Your Brain in the Digital Age,” in which we learned from a cognitive neuroscientist about how our brains work and how modern technology is basically going to kill us (distracted driving). One point that I found particularly relevant to today’s political climate is that when people have a stroke or another injury to part of their right half of the brain, they have an attentional blindspot to things on the left side of their vision. Their eyes work perfectly fine, but just like how we can’t see behind us (nor do we expect to), the same goes for people with this injury; they only pay attention to things on the right. In other words, science proves that people who see things on the far right have brain damage! Heyo!
To cap off the week of learning, I attended the Tech Lady Hackathon on Saturday. The event was a free, for-ladies-by-ladies training and networking bonanza. Sessions ranged from starting or improving coding skills in a variety of languages, to building a professional portfolio, to bridging the gap from designer to developer, to practicing paper prototyping. The atmosphere was welcoming and enthusiastic. At one point, I saw a group of people working on a coding project for the Washington Area Bicyclist Association. I fought back my nervousness and introduced myself. “Hi…I don’t know how to code but I am a cyclist. Can I help?” The group leader looked up from her laptop with so much enthusiasm, I was convinced she had misheard me. “Wonderful! Welcome! Join our Github group; you can find the link in the Hackpad.” Oh dear. Words. What are these words? But she was wonderfully patient, and before long, I was up and running. Since no one else in the group was familiar with bike infrastructure in Southeast DC, I looked through their draft maps and added “issues” (GitHub speak for “trouble tickets”) where the data was wrong. Success! If you think about it, cycling and coding are actually not all that different: male-dominated, intimidating for beginners, technical vocabulary, etc. But at least with coding, there’s no chance of getting hit by a car!
And since my last race is in a week, I will soon have several months of off-season to enjoy more events like this. How will this swim-run race go, considering I haven’t been in the pool in weeks and still have all kinds of weird ooze coming out of my ear? Stay tuned for next week’s installment! (And hopefully you’ll all be spared the biology lesson after this.)