I had a blessed childhood. I was effectively an only child. My dad worked the opposite hours of my mom, and then retired when I was 2, so I had constant parental attention. My mother was a highschool biology teacher and our house was always full of pets and animals. She often came home with birds she would find that were either orphaned babies or badly injured. I believe my earliest memory was releasing one into our backyard and watching it successfully fly away. I consider myself a huge animal lover and I'm sure her influence is the reason why.
Soccer was my main physical activity growing up. I played "parks-and-rec" for a team named the "Diplomats" and then graduated to a "select" soccer team named "The Sharks". All of my best childhood friends came from my soccer teams. Unfortunately, soccer became too competitive and stressful with each passing year, squeezing the fun out of it, until I finally decided to quit at age 12.
My father homeschooled me through the 4th grade, and besides learning to read and write, we basically spent the entire time studying math. The first photo was taken before my very first day of public school. By this point I was pretty good at algebra and geometry, but I was woefully behind on pretty much all other topics. I'm pretty sure this played a part in making me a math nerd for life.
My father was retired from the army, which meant we got to fly "space-available". In other words: we could ride along for free on any military flight with extra space. This resulted in epic trips every summer. During these years I got to visit Australia, Turkey, Iceland, London, The Azores, Paris, Alaska, and China, often for several months. Did I mention before that my childhood was blessed?
I majored in Computer Science from Va Tech. I enjoyed the social aspects of college, and I made great lifelong friends while there. But from a career perspective I'm not sure it was really worth the time and money. C'est la vie.
Somehow I got the idea it could be fun to share my passion for coding as a highschool Computer Science teacher. This is a photo of the students in my class. These are middle schoolers (I was waiting for a CS position to become available). Hopefully they went on to have much better teachers than me.
I found my first full time programming job from a listing in a newspaper! (Wow, I'm old...) It said it was a position writing game simulations, which sounded fun to me. After talking on the phone I learned they were looking for someone that could code in Flash (yeah, remember Flash?). So I spent the next week grinding to learn Actionscript, and I built a little physics demo of balls bouncing off each other in 3-dimensional space. I showed it off at my interview and it worked. I got the job. Thus began a multi-year journey of going down the unintended rabbit-hole of Flash and Actionscript mastery.
I grew up in Virginia, but I always wanted to move to the West Coast. So in 2006 I leveraged my Flash/Actionscript expertise to land a job with a small web development agency in Seattle called "EngineI". It had 7 employees and operated above a hip night club in an old brick building in the heart of Capitol Hill. It was a great introduction to Seattle and an excellent gateway to widen my knowledge of Web Development technologies.
As much as I loved the people and the vibe at EngineI, they were mostly a design focused studio. The Flash/Actionscript they wanted to build was relatively simple, from a coding perspective. I wanted to do actual software development, so I joined Cobalt to tackle more significant engineering challenges in the pursuit of building infrastructure for thousands of automobile dealerships.
I couldn't pass up the opportunity to make Video Games using my skills in Flash/Actionscript. What child-at-heart Software Engineer doesn't want to build games? I built "Gemdrop" which is still available on the web to this day. I also developed the very first officially licensed online version of Scrabble (designed to thwart a popular copy-cat named Scrabulous).
In 2010 I moved back to Seattle along with 2 coworkers to open Facebook's first expansion office. I loved Seattle and was super happy to return and help mold and grow the company's first remote office. By the time I left in late 2012 we had grown to more than 100 engineers. In my final year at FB I left the Platform team and built the first iteration of Facebook Messenger for Mac.
At a friends' birthday party I had the amazing fortune to meet Danielle Zipp. We've been inseparable ever since and I wouldn't have it any other way.
In late 2012 I quit FB and embarked on a year long journey of world travel. It will undoubtedly always remain one of the most memorable years of my life. Danielle and I often reminisce on it.
Our first addition to our family came in the form of an incredibly sweet and adorable Australian Shepherd we named "Belle". She's full of energy and love and makes all our hikes and adventures magnitudes more fun. We love her tremendously.
In late 2015 we bought an historic old house that was under so much disrepair the sellers assumed any buyer would tear it down. Instead we masochistically decided we would fix it up. 3 painful years later we finally moved into our dream home.
Certainly no event has changed my life as much as the birth of my first child, Franklin, in late 2016. I'm incredibly thankful to have been jobless so I could spend so much quality time with him during his first few years.
In late 2018 I had my second and final child. Whew! I now have 2 boys and daily life is, to put it mildly, rather chaotic. One thing I find most fascinating is how different they are! It becomes clear that one's parenting only has so much impact.
After nearly 7 years of mid-life retirement: I finally got another job. I put a lot of effort into choosing my first foray back into professional life. The perks and opportunities offered by Google were just too good to pass up, so in September of 2019 I officially became a Noogler. I began on the Core Maps team, focusing on the rendering platform for Maps on the Web, before joining an internal team named "Perfgate" that develops Google's primary performance-testing infrastructure. It is a fascinating place, with unique technical challenges.