Kimberlee Johnson

👋🏻 Getting to know git, HTML, and CSS too

I learned how and why to use semantic HTML and CSS flexbox, what the box model means for website styling, and how to use git to save my projects and Github to store them remotely.

A former MIT president once likened getting an education at MIT to taking a drink from a fire hose. I did not go to or even apply to MIT. But a high school boyfriend was obsessed with getting in, and quoted folklore like this to me constantly. When MIT mailed me and thousands of other students who scored above a certain SAT score fat recruiting pamphlets he told me, “I can’t imagine why they’d be reaching out to you.”

Fast forward a decade and I’m at my laptop at 8am on a Monday, reviewing materials covering HTML and CSS, programming languages web developers use to build and style websites (respectively). I learn what it means to give meaning to HTML tags, or to make our code “semantic,” and when we move on to CSS specificity, how certain styling attributes cascade down elements of a web page, I think about how I’d explain the concept using a map of the Mean Girls cafeteria.

I’m still working on it. But, before I have time to go back to North Shore I’m applying what we learned in lecture in a Codepen project, restyling a bakery website. It feels approachable, and all eight students in my small study group feel good when we sync up at the end of the day.

We continue with CSS the next day, learning about the box model and how to manipulate an element’s space on a web page, and we cover the attribute display: inline-block to get those elements to display in a row. But, this time, by the end of the day none of us feels great about the website we had to restyle using those tools. We hop off our daily standup and I head to the library, where I get kicked out at 10pm, after finishing at 9:56.

Learning the CSS flexbox module the next day, and how it adds a whole bunch of helpful styling properties to elements like defaulting them to display in a row, almost feels cruel. I’m nervous enough from the night before to raise my hand to guinea pig pair programming for the next project. I meet A. His five cats skitter back and forth across the head of his chair as we bounce around about the differences between justify-content: space-around vs. space-between to solve this challenge. Working together feels satisfying and immediately collaborative in a way few of my other work experiences have.

Confidence somewhat restored, Thursday we cover git, a track changes tool for developers, and how to push projects to Github. I introduced myself to fellow students to practice the school’s unique git + Github flow, but I’m still trying to come up with a Good Place + Github crossover joke about forks and forking.

How I’ll apply what I learned to my blog

  • I'll sort out some local repository issues I'm having.

Learnings for other students

  • Get access to your materials as soon as possible. Some technical difficulties kept me out of mine for a day, and I felt behind.
  • Don’t be afraid to pair program! I was intimidated to do it, but it wound up being the best thing I did all week.
  • Play around with Github in advance of any curriculum. The Hello World guide is great. I’d also recommend getting familiar with Codepen.

Life outside of learning

  • I’m slowly but surely training for the San Francisco half marathon. It feels good to be back on the road after 3.5 years.
  • My intro to writing fiction class at CCSF is still a delight. This week my group gave constructive feedback to one student’s experimental piece and another’s allegory.
  • Am reading: and am obsessed with The audacity of Inez Burns. In my spare time, I'm writing a musical about her life.
  • I walked out of a musical at intermission for the first time. We went home to watch Into the Spiderverse instead, and that was one of the best decisions I made all week, second only to pair programming.
  • I made it out to the Bayview Opera House to see The Hate U Give. It’s as good as everyone says, and something I personally needed to shut up and listen to.