I got my start in programming when I was bored in math class one day and started fiddling with my TI-86 calculator's BASIC programming functions. Simple programs quickly morphed into graphic intensive games. My math teacher was not enthused, but I was HOOKED!
The next year I eagerly signed up for my first programming class, where I was introduced to C++. While others were busy joking around on AIM during class (remember AIM?), I tore through the work like a madman! I ended up finishing the year's work months ahead of schedule and spent the rest of the time working on a clone of the Legend of Zelda.
For me, programming has been a creative outlet. Having never been drawn to the arts, programming provided the most direct route to manifesting my ideas in the real world.
In college, I ramped up my programming skills. Most of the course work revolved around Java, although some work was done in C/C++ as well.
While there, I regularly joined my classmates to represent the school in regional programming competitions. While the code that I wrote there was a far cry from production-ready, those competitions did teach me to work under pressure and find creative solutions to problems.
By senior year, my skills had advanced to the point of being able to build solid software. I constructed a LAN-based poker client as my final project.
All my life, I was reasonably athletic, but was always held back by the fact that I was skinny. REAL skinny. 140 lbs @ 6ft skinny. On the eve of 2014, I resolved to change. I joined a gym and lifted weights there every other day consistently for the entire year. I counted every calorie I consumed (sometimes resorting to downing shots of olive oil if I fell short that day. Yuck!) By the end of 2014, I had gotten up to 160 lbs. I kept going. By the end of 2015, I was up to 170. Today, I'm heavier, leaner, and more physically active than ever.
I still lift weights three times a week, but I also enjoy tennis (which I've played most of my life, including four years in high school and one year in college), hiking, and more recently boxing. At my most recent employer my co-workers regularly walked into my office only to find me dancing around like Muhammad Ali, muttering something about how I "gotta get that Joe Frazier".
Up to 2017, I had lived in Detroit my entire life. Call it a quarter life crisis if you must, but that was the year that I woke up and realized just what a bubble I had been living in. Thanks to a frugal five years spent working for Plex Systems, I found myself with the desire and ability to venture outside of that bubble.
That fall, I worked out an arrangement with my manager to permit me to work remote for a month from Colombia. The trip was a life changer! I speak conversational Spanish, which helped me get around and make local friends, several of whom I still talk to daily.
When I got back home, I was already pondering my next travel adventure. Five months later, I left my job at Plex Systems, sold anything in my apartment that wouldn't fit in my car, and set off on what became 13,000 mile road trip through the US and Canada, a three-month tour of Mexico, and a five-month tour of South America.
All good things must come to an end. Though it might be hard to believe, traveling the world can get tiresome. After a little more than a year on the road, I found myself more interested in developing my Android apps than on seeing yet another 16th century cathedral.
Not wanting to give up completely on travel, I began looking for full-time remote development work in the summer of 2018. In July, I joined Novi AMS, a fully-distributed startup that makes association management software.
While the pace of my travels has slowed considerably, I've taken full advantage of the freedom that remote work offers, having now worked from various locations in Canada, the US, and increasingly, Mexico.