I have two recurring “discussions” with my colleagues: whether you should put metadata in server names, and whether it’s better to be a generalist or a specialist.

I generally argue “no” and “generalist,” but I can form arguments for either side on demand.

At this point in my career, I can safely say I’m both a generalist and a specialist. I’ve spent the last nearly 10 years becoming a subject matter expert on large-scale MySQL and adjacent technologies. Before that, I developed expertise in other things, and I can talk to you about how to bootstrap a new restaurant, how and why you should adopt an agile mindset in all parts of your life, the relative benefits of APA style and why basic research matters, optimizing your website for search engines, socialist educational theory, building analytics into your business, and how to make a brilliant gin and tonic. Although I do have a degree from the best university in my state (Go Heels), I grew up in a trailer park and know what it means to hustle and be thankful for people offering a hand up.

I adopt beginner’s mind and constantly learn. Several days a week I get to prove that in ninjutsu class, where I generally smash my own face into the mat while enthusiastically doing flips. I will make it out of white belt.

If I’m not working or writing or learning, I’m probably volunteering with the marching band or Girl Scouts. The youth, they are our future. Or I’m just out basting in a community event in fine Durham, North Carolina.

Now, I’d love to hear about you. Write back soon! valerie (at) tortuga tech (dot) com.