Thank You

03. December 2016 Uncategorized 1

Thank you to my dad, who always had a computer at home. Who was always willing to let me explore and experiment. Who wasn’t afraid I’d ruin something.

To John Osgood, who was a good friend that would help me build games. Even later, when you turned on me, you inadvertently solidified my inner strength. Because of you, I didn’t give in to peer pressure.

To my sister’s high school debate team, for letting me see how much fun you guys had together and encouraging me to join.

To my sister, even though we fought, you looked out for me. You’re career has shown me that not everyone has a “normal” career path, and it’s okay to go after things you’re passionate about.

To my high school debate team, for having that same amount of fun and family bonding that I saw with the years before.  Wes Langford & Troy Payne for being so awesome at debate you made me want to get better. For Matt Vega who stood beside me at tournaments for 3 years, and argued for the sake of arguing, making me better at expressing my thoughts and ideas.

To Wes, Troy, Matt, Brian, Chris Bigelow, and Wilt for not going to Rolla. Being on my own forced me to find who I really am, forced me to pursue things I wanted. Forced me to learn what it’s like to start over in a new town.

To my mom, who worried about me getting an electrical engineering degree because she thought I might want to do something else. Giving me the insight to know that it’s okay to change your mind. For telling me “If high school was the best time of my life, I would have killed myself.”  You taught me that everyone is just a person. I can respect them, but they’re no better than me. You also made sure I knew that there would almost always be someone better than me. Nevertheless you yelled your heart out from the sidelines.

To Richard Moore for being a great study partner at UMR. It wasn’t easy, but having you & Marc around made it more bearable.

To Dr. Bieniek for being so incredibly dogmatic about how you solve problems in Physics 23 that you taught me how to debug software.

To Jared Wigger, we barely knew each other, but we hung out in Omaha while doing internships. You took me to Westside Baptist Church where I met my wife.

To Larry Paris who pastored tiny little First Baptist Church of Newburg, MO. You asked me to speak once in a service. You later turned your pulpit over to me, a naive 21 year old.

To Dave Betts at Caterpillar for telling me that I didn’t have to join the software team if I didn’t find it interesting.

To Heinz Schlack who, a year later, brought me on to that same software team because it now seemed interesting.

To Roger Owdom who performed my first ever code review and left me with pages & pages & pages of code marked with a red pen.

To Bill Peterson who constantly asked me “What did you learn today?”

To Jim Otten who often provided me with what I learned today. I know the words hirsuit and defenestration because of you. But I also started to learn about what it mean to write quality software, and I definitely learned some of what it meant to live out my faith in my job.

To Rob Schulz who was always willing to help me, even when I did something stupid, like string concat 10 megs worth of strings and then wonder why it took so long for it to load.

To Darrin McKnight & the deacons of First Baptist Church – Washington, IL for allowing me the opportunity to preach multiple times.

To Bill Sadler who told me so many times “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” It took me another 10-15 years to realize how true that was.

To the central Illinois Baptist Association for opening your church doors to me in East Peoria, Peoria, Galva and Washington. After standing behind a pulpit discussing topics of eternal significance, such as sin and salvation, speaking at a conference isn’t intimidating.

To the entire OIP team who was willing to work with me while I went remote and attended seminary.

To Dr. Eric Johnson, one of the most Christ-like men I’ve ever met. For teaching me that faith is not easy. For showing me that there can be such a thing as “dark providence.”

To Michael LaBoone for encouraging me to write a flashcard application for our Koine Greek class.

To Dr. Robert Plummer for allowing me to sell that program in his class, and make my first few hundred dollars as an independent software developer, furthering the spark of continual learning.

To Chris Michl & Chris Zeroske for offering me a development job when I left seminary.

To Mike Altamore who taught me that customers are important, because they’re the ones that pay us. For teaching me how to navigate “IT” life. For challenging me to not be complacent when I wasn’t sure it was time to move on. For the random business idea discussions we’d have over tacos. For the monthly taco lunches that we still have. For teaching me the history of MMA, and encouraging me from time to time to start training BJJ. You also showed me an atheist who was open to me being a literal Bible believer, and that hasn’t caused us to not talk about topics.

To Bob Thune, who gave a sermon in which you talked about true humility and how it’s not denying skill but being appreciative of the skills you were given.

To Todd Fishback who, after knowing me for 1 hour, told me that I wasn’t like the other engineers, because I could hold a conversation. I was well spoken and still knew technical details. This was the first chance I had to put Bob’s sermon in to practical use.

To Curtis Stalnaker who knew I was looking for a job and connected me with Todd, even though at the time I didn’t know anything about Blackberry development.

To my wife, who encouraged me to find a new job. Often times I would argue against you and tell you the job I had was fine. But you were right and you saw it a year before I did.

To Jim Kidurka for offering me a job in which I grew leaps and bounds.

To Frode Rosand and Dave Reidl for bringing me into your group and letting me learn from you. To be a part of creating a ReST API in 2010, when most people in the Midwest didn’t know what that was.

To Eli Perelman for being an expert in JavaScript, and for taking the time to help me learn JavaScript. For answering all my dumb questions. We didn’t know it at the time but you were shaping the course of my career.

To Matt Medlock who saved up enough money for pursuing his startup dream that you were able to pay  us on the side. Which opened me up to an entirely different perspective. You put the idea in my head of working for small companies. I don’t ever want to go back.

To Brian Olson who showed me that conferences take “normal” folks as speakers. They’re not all Scott Hanselman or Uncle Bob.

To Joel Olsen for letting me speak at HDC, my first conference, and give a 4 hour course on OpenRasta.

To Adam Barney & Ken Versaw for running Nebraska Code Camp and taking everyone that submitted, including me. For having a speaker’s room, and having a conversation with me in the speaker’s room. You started breaking down the mental wall in my mind, and allowed me to see that people that run conferences and speak at conferences are still just people.

To Erin Hawkins, who, despite my serial-killer-like profile picture took a shot and gave me an interview at a startup.

To my wife who told me “Let them decide if you’re too senior” when thinking about applying to Splinterworks.

To Ryan Skarin who taught me at that same startup to enjoy Scotch. You also taught me the joy of deleting code (particularly yours.) Over the years you’ve been a great sounding board and coworker. That you disagree with me some helps me sharpen my thoughts.

To Jonathan Mills, Lee Brandt and Boone Lee for running KCDC. I still don’t know why you took my submissions the first year, but I’m glad that you did. That expanded my universe and has allowed me an opportunity to grow. And for having me back year after year. I’ve been able to meet great people. Your conference has changed the course of my career.

To Cory House for tweeting out about speaking at KCDC. I followed you because of your Clean Code talk you gave at HDC (2012?) and because of that, I learned about KCDC. You also challenged me to be a better speaker by watching you speak, and you gave me good advice on becoming a Pluralsight author.

To Curtis & Jodi Stalnakre for holding MC at your house.

To Will & Debbie Walker for not letting there ever be any cheap answers at MC.

To the rest of Jodi & Curtis’ MC (Wendy, Wayne, Brian, Chad & Rhonda) for helping me see that life is messy, but the Gospel is big enough for messy lives.

To Ryan Penney who reached out to me as a recruiter and was as interested in going to lunch to talk about MMA as you were talking about developer jobs. Because of that lunch, a few months later I was able to bounce back on my feet after Splinterworks closed down.

To my entire “Oh no!” list that I called in to action when Splinterworks closed down. Matt Ruwe for giving me a recommendation which made my interview essentially a formality.

To my wife for being so calm when I called you on October 9, 2012 to tell you that Splinterworks closed down and we didn’t have any income.

To Rhonda & Bobbie Bhetzold, Antonio & Shelly Perez and Mike & Gina Hostettler, for being real when discussing life in Christ. The good and the bad. For providing a safe space to open up and recognize that sometimes life doesn’t go the way you want, and that Christ is still big enough to not be afraid of the truth.

To Mark Griffs who started Aviture almost 10 years before I’d wind up finding a job there, and for creating a company where I can grow and shape my future.

To Jerry Koske for having that conversation over beers with Mark about changing up how Aviture worked. If you guys didn’t stop being a defense Java shop, I wouldn’t be there today.

To Darin King who emailed me after one of my KCDC talks and encouraged me to look in to Pluralsight.

To my wife, again, being open to the amount of time it would take to work a second job at Pluralsight.

To Jeffrey Strauss who, for some reason, accepted one of my talks at St. Louis Day of .Net, once again giving me the opportunity to talk to more developers and expand my network.

To Nik Molnar and Anthony Van der Hoon for being awesome developers that created Glimpse, and awesome people who invited me to hang out with them in St. Louis.

To Darrin Cuathon for consistently beating the drum of TDD and professionalism. Your consistency & dedication helped give me the confidence to pursue those same topics.

To Joe Colantonio who watched my Protractor course on Pluralsight and reached out to me for a podcast interview. Was a normal day to you, but it was the first time anyone ever sought me out to be on a podcast. It once again showed me that people on podcasts are just people.

To Shawn Rakowski for having me be one of the first few guests on My Life for the Code. We don’t exchange a ton of tweets or emails, but that podcast altered my career. It taught me to reach out to people if I’m interested in what they’re doing.

To Dave Rael who took me up on my offer of being on Developer on Fire. Because of your podcast I get to listen to a lot of great developers and learn about their history.

To my wife, yet again, for allowing me time to explore my interests such as BJJ and recording Pluralsight courses.

To my kids who have caused me to know what it means to love. For showing me that there are a lot of things I don’t know. For showing me that people are individuals.


For literally every single person that has come to a talk of mine, or watched one of my courses. I am constantly amazed that out of all the options you have, you give your attention to me.

This post was inspired by an artist of the name Propaganda. I have fallen in love with his work. He has a song called Crimson cord which he describes how there is a Crimson Cord running through our lives, the evidence of God’s working.

He has a second song called Tell Me Yours where he goes through his life and names the names of people that have helped shape him.

This blog post is a reaction to this song.  I firmly believe that every name in this blog post was someone who was placed in my life by God. There is definitely providence in my life as I look back over the past 39 years. Without the people that are in this blog post, I’m not who I am today.

We all have our crimson cord. This is mine. What’s yours?