I was born in the early months of 1975 to a small-town lawyer and his former-schoolteacher wife. My early years were spent on an Iowa farm, suffering from brutal hay fever and wishing I could get off the farm. I’m a farm kid at heart, but don’t mistake that for wanting to go back.
Dad went on to have a rather august career in law, which was both good and bad. It afforded me opportunities I’d otherwise never have had, but he also casts a very long shadow. Part of my life has been spent staking out a much different career path — computer science — so as to be out of that shadow. Now at age forty-four I find I’m in the weird place where I’m casting some shadow of my own. It’s strange the way things turn.
I graduated from Cornell College in 1998 with a degree in computer science. Cornell was an important, pivotal part of my growing up and I’d recommend it to anyone. You can get a genuinely first-class computer science education at a small liberal-arts college, if you have the grit to apply yourself and take advantage of opportunities. (And without those things you won’t get a first-class education anywhere, even if you’re attending MIT.)
I spent the next four years bouncing around the telecommunications sector and start-ups and Silicon Valley before returning to Iowa to pursue graduate school in computer science at the University of Iowa. Those were interesting years. I left UI after completing the coursework for a Ph.D. in computer science, but without completing a thesis. I have no regrets about that.
Since 2008 I’ve been living in the Washington D.C. metro area.
All in all, it’s a good life. I like it.