Category Archives: Joan biographical information

Week 12 at The Iron Yard…end of class, but not the end of learning

I have now completed week 12 at The Iron Yard and have the certificate to prove it! Week 12 was another week of intensive learning. I completed an online portfolio, and in the process learned more about CSS styling as well as responsive design (and media queries). I made more pages based on the Open Weather API: one page which gives current weather conditions when the user inputs a city name or zip code, and one page which gives a 7-day forecast when the user inputs a city name or zip code.

My demo project is now live on the web. This proved to be a more complex process than I had anticipated, and I learned that there is a significant difference between a web page that simply displays data and a web page that accesses storage on a server.

I have always thought that coding was fun, and this class was a lot of fun…and a lot of work (and I’d do it all again if it could!). I’d highly recommend The Iron Yard to anyone who wants to learn coding, and highly recommend Jim as a Front End instructor. I’ll miss seeing my classmates daily, though there will be opportunities to see them again, especially since our Demo Day is later this month.

My plans are to start a job search, and to work on even more projects. I particularly wish to find out more about jQuery and about CSS animation. I expect that my GitHub repository record will remain active.

I also hope to speak to future Iron Yard classes and meetups to share all the fun I’ve had!

Web Documentation: Week Five at the Iron Yard

This week we had guest speakers. On Monday, the speaker covered the work environment for a developer (writing code for the web). Tuesday and Wednesday the speakers covered features of es6 (a 2015 update of JavaScript). Thursday the speaker covered debugging JavaScript code.

This week, a particular challenge I had was to place the code for an input box in the html file (and thus on the web page), capture the value entered into it on the web page, and transfer that value into JavaScript for processing. I spent hours (literally) searching the web for a procedure that would do it. I would follow the instructions and get error messages. I would repeatedly see comments saying “just do this” or “this would do it,” but they didn’t work, and the meaning was not clear to me. After numerous failures, I finally tried some simple input and capture code, as best as I could understand it. With the help of a classmate, Hunter Hawes, I finally got it working.

Here’s the process in brief:

In the html file, the following code places an input box with a submit button next to it on the web page. After the user enters data in that box and the user clicks on the submit button, the data is placed in the variable “number” and the function GuessNumber in the JavaScript file is called and run:

Enter number: <input type=”text” name=”number”>
<input type=”button” onClick=”GuessNumber()” value=”Submit”>

..which shows on the web page as:

Enter number:


In the JavaScript file, document.querySelector puts the value entered in the box on the web page (stored in the variable “number” from “input’) into the variable mybutton:

var mybutton = document.querySelector(“input”).value

..and one can proceed from there. Why this concept was nowhere explained in clear and concise language in the sites I visited is a mystery to me. I’m finding a lot of the coding documentation on the web is not well-written or clearly explained. It appears that a number of contributors may be proficient at writing code, but less proficient in writing explanatory prose. This can become a problem when researching information.

P.S. A direct, one-line JavaScript capture code does exist:

var guess = prompt(“Input number between 1 and 100”);

where guess captures the data entered into a pop-up box on the web page which is labeled “Input number between 1 and 100.” However, most users prefer to avoid a pop-up box, and there are other disadvantages as well. It will get the job done, but may not be the most efficient way to gather information on a web page.


When I heard about the death of Phoebe Prince, the student at South Hadley High School, who was bullied to death, I experienced the same anger, frustration, and grief as I have at the reported death of all the others who have been bullied to death. At the same time, I identify strongly with these tragedies, since, I, too, was bullied from the day I started kindergarten at C.S. Elementary to the day I graduated from high school. I felt the same despair as they did, and seriously considered suicide myself on more than one occasion. (Why didn’t I commit suicide? In retrospect, it was probably due to 2 factors: first, committing suicide requires effort, and that was energy I didn’t want to expend; second, I clung to hope that one day things would get better.)

When I was in high school, I reviewed my record with a counselor. She said that my elementary school teachers recorded that I cried a lot. I did. I came into school naively believing that the other students held on to the same values as I did (that is, to follow the Golden Rule to the best of one’s ability). When they taunted me, I cried to show that they had hurt my feelings, because I innocently believed that once they saw they were hurting my feelings, they would stop.

I was completely bewildered as to why anyone would bully me. After all, I had done nothing to them. I didn’t taunt them. I didn’t try to make their lives miserable. In fact, when they did bully me, I did not retaliate.

A pattern emerged: when a new person came into school, that person would be friendly to me, and maybe we’d be friendly for a while. Then the rest of the group made it clear that I was not to be associated with, and that person would drift away. One particular sign that this was happening was that my peers addressed me by my last name, and always with a sneer. In our local school culture, you called your friends by their first name, you called those you had contempt for by their last name. New students more than once expressed surprise to me that my first name was “Joan” and not “Verba.”

My parents knew what was going on. When I complained about what was happening, my parents said, “just ignore them.” This didn’t work. Nothing did. In junior high, other students taunted me for carrying my books in a briefcase. I got rid of the briefcase, believing that they would stop bothering me. They didn’t. The girls in junior high taunted me because I didn’t wear nylons (I wore socks). I started wearing nylons. They found something else to find fault with. I was always “ugly” and (until I lost some weight in high school) “fat.”

Once, my father offered to move to another state, to escape the bullying. I strongly vetoed the idea and we remained where we were. My reasoning was that as long as I stayed in that school system, I could console myself with the idea that nothing was wrong with me; I was just in a school full of losers. If, however, I went to another school and was bullied again, that would be proof positive that something WAS wrong with me and I knew the idea that I was at fault would have destroyed me.

I did have a handful of friends. These were largely students from outside my school district, daughters of friends of my parents. Our family went to a church outside the school district. My peers in Sunday School didn’t bully me, but they weren’t friendly with me, either. I had the perpetual feeling that they just wished I would go away.

I did gain one friend in junior high, who remained friendly with me until high school, when we split because we had no classes in common. She told me that the other students thought I was stuck up. I was stunned. I remember blurting out, “I always thought it was because I was ugly!” She said she didn’t think I was stuck up, and I certainly didn’t think I was stuck up, and thereafter I desperately tried to figure out what it was I did that gave people that impression and what I might do differently. (No one would tell me, and whenever I asked others to explain what it was about me that annoyed them, I’d get answers such as, “You know.” No, I didn’t. What I know now that I didn’t know then is that I had Asperger’s, and I definitely did not know that non-Asperger’s people get upset if you don’t look them in the eye, and they also get upset if you don’t say “hello” or “how are you” to them—things that were not at all obvious to my Asperger’s brain.)

I gained a BEST friend when I was a junior in high school. She was new, and a senior, and popular, and therefore immune to the pressures of my fellow students in the junior class. Once I graduated from high school, and went to college, my freshman year was astonishing. People liked me, they really liked me! They liked me a whole lot! I had never, of course, been asked out on a date in junior high or high school, but wonder of wonders, I wasn’t far along in my freshman year when not one, but two, men asked me out! That confirmed to me that I was just fine, and the others in my high school graduating class were indeed a bunch of losers.

When I got a summer job after 1 year in college, I ran into one of those rare classmates who treated me decently. She sat me down and offered an apology for not doing anything while others of our classmates bullied me. I said there was nothing to forgive, because I fully understood that the bystanders feared (and probably rightly so) that they, too, would become targets for bullies if they interfered.

Those who did torment me were still a bunch of losers when I went to my 10 year high school reunion, full of love and forgiveness in my heart, believing that my peers had grown up in those 10 years and would welcome me with open arms. They didn’t. The handful of people who treated me decently in high school still treated me decently. However, when I went up to one of my former tormentors with a smile and extended hand, he took one look at my nametag, and, with a facial expression full of disgust, pivoted on his heel and walked away. After a few more minutes sitting alone, hearing exclamations of glee and welcome as OTHERS walked in, I left for a more productive afternoon with my current friends, which assured me that the tormentors among my former high school classmates were indeed a bunch of jerks. (I went to my 20 year high school reunion with similar results. By the time my 30 year high school reunion came, I sent my regrets to the committee.)

I tell this long story to get to this point: I am glad that the Massachusetts district attorney arrested the bullies who tormented Phoebe Prince. I hope that this will set a precedent: every bully needs to be held accountable for her or his actions, and if bullies commit misdemeanors or felonies, they need to come to the attention of law enforcement.

Bullying isn’t “just kids.” Making excuses for bullies and bullying must stop. Blaming the victim must stop. The “culture of cruelty” in grade school must stop. Bullying is criminal abuse, pure and simple, and needs to be addressed as such.

Posted by Joan Marie Verba at 4/5/2010 8:11 PM


I now have a personal Twitter account, @JoanMarieVerba, for posting comments and links that I find of interest.

That’s in addition to my Weight Loss Coach account @JoanWeightCoach

The publisher’s Twitter account is @ftlpublications

Feel free to follow!

Posted by Joan Marie Verba at 1/21/2010 9:07 PM 


I’m 56 years old. I have no problem giving out my age, and that ties in to what I call “my annual birthday story.”

When I was in my mid-20s, I went to a gathering of the Minnesota Science Fiction Society. The subject of telling one’s age came up. I said I was 26 (or whatever age I was at the time) and didn’t mind telling anyone that. K.F. said that I might not mind giving my age when I was in my 20s, but I would when I was in my 30s.

On my 30th birthday, I had this overwhelming urge to call K.F. and say, “I’m 30 years old!” However, I didn’t.

I did, however, tell the story to others. In the mid-1980s, when I told that story to M., she said that while I might not hesitate to tell people my age in my 30s, I would most certainly not be telling people my age when I was in my 40s. My reply was, “I have your phone number. Do you want me to call you on my 40th birthday?” She said no, that wouldn’t be necessary.

Some days after my 50th birthday, I ran into K.F. again. I thought he would be amused at my story, so I told it to him, and, as I expected, he was entertained. His response was, “Call me when you’re 90!”
I think I shall.

P.S. Today (the day of posting) isn’t my birthday. I generally tell this story if the subject of age comes up, however.

Posted by Joan Marie Verba at 12/19/2009 6:45 PM 


Garage Sale Story

I completed my first garage sale last week. Of course, I observed my mother conduct garage sales when I was growing up and after I moved back home, so I was familiar with the essentials, but this is the first one I’ve run myself.

I held a four-day garage sale: Thursday through Sunday.

I knew that signs were essential, so I put out signs Wednesday night. Thursday morning, one of the signs was gone. I put out another one. In the afternoon, people coming to the garage sale reported it had fallen. I put it up again. Sunday, I found 3 more signs were gone, and replaced them in the morning. They were all still there when I brought them home late Sunday afternoon. In total, we lost 4 signs over the weekend. Why would people take garage sale signs?

Most people came Thursday. Even after putting up additional signs on Friday, not many people came. Saturday was slow as well. Sunday practically no one came.

A lot of people drove to the end of the driveway, and, without getting out of their cars, peered toward the garage, and then drove away. What’s that about?

Before the garage sale, I tried to sell my items to stores which buy and sell used items. They wouldn’t take my books…told me they were worthless. They wouldn’t take my VHS tapes…told me they were worthless. They wouldn’t take my records…told me they were worthless. They wouldn’t take my jigsaw puzzles…told me they were worthless. This was a primary reason for having a garage sale in the first place. All the VHS tapes sold. Nearly all of the books sold. A huge quantity of the jigsaw puzzles sold. All of the 45 rpm records sold (to 2 people) and about half the record albums (33-1/3 rpm) sold. So much for them being worthless. So much for the idea that no one would want any of them.
What people didn’t seem to want (i.e. I only sold a few of these items): they didn’t buy the handbags or tote bags. They didn’t buy the clothing. They didn’t buy the art prints (mostly nature prints). They didn’t buy the stuffed animals. They didn’t buy the doll clothes. I didn’t sell a single gift bag, though I had 3 bins.

Although I did sell a lot of items (Thursday, at least), I still have a lot of items remaining. I’ll probably have another garage sale later in the summer. Here’s what I think I’ll do:

1. Make sure I have plenty of extra signs, and check them every day.
2. Have a 2-day sale: Thursday and Friday.
3. Put some items out on a table on the driveway. 

Posted by Joan Marie Verba at 5/8/2009 10:13 AM


As a formerly overweight person, I find that I have moments of what I call “food nostalgia.” I had one of those moments today when I went grocery shopping. As I entered the store, there was a table, and on the table were about a dozen round cakes, cut in half, and promoted as “half cakes.” They looked delicious! This brought back all the memories of happy times when I would see such an item in the grocery store, buy it, and spend the afternoon happily eating it and enjoying every lucious bite.

On the other hand, in the time of my life when I was doing that, I was obese.

Therefore, I don’t do that anymore. I walked past the cakes without taking one and bought the groceries I had planned to buy, nothing else. But I still have these nostalgic feelings from time to time, remembering when I would happily eat all I wanted. Fortunately, memories can be enjoyed without adding pounds.

Bottom line: been there, done that,  moved on.

Posted by Joan Marie Verba at 1/27/2009 7:33 PM


1. I have had asthma, eczema, and allergies all my life. In particular, I have had food allergies (primarily nuts, peanuts, and coconut), since infancy.
2. I hate going to the gas station. Therefore, I only drive when necessary. I will be happy when someone makes an affordable electric car that I can just plug in…at home!
3. I love St. Paul, Minnesota. I lived in Ramsey county for a while in the 1980s, and would love to buy a home there someday.
4. I have been a DC Comics fan since the 1960s. I started on Superman and Batman, and they still interest me, but my favorite DC Superheroes are the Legion of Super-Heroes (and my favorite there was Ferro Lad).
6. I never wear makeup. Can’t stand the stuff.
7. I was an overweight child and teenager. However, I lost weight in 1979 and have kept it off since then.
8. I took organ lessons when I was in high school but haven’t played since my freshman year in college. I may go back to that someday.
9. I watch TV nearly all day. The first thing I do in the morning is turn it on and the last thing I do at night is turn it off. I watched TV while doing math homework in high school and that never prevented me from getting all A’s. I have a lot of favorite TV shows, including Thunderbirds and Star Trek.
10.  I have very little interest in fashion, or clothes, or the latest trends. I wear what I think looks good, but I pay little attention to “designer labels.”
11.  I hate being cold. I feel cold at any temperature below 70 F. I love 90 F days and I hate air conditioning! Why do I live in Minnesota when I hate the cold? Because I feel that the advantages of living in Minnesota outweigh the weather disadvantages.

Posted by Joan Marie Verba at 1/24/2009 3:21 PM