1. I used to own an “HTML for Dummies” book
This was my very first introduction to anything related to web design. I must have been, oh, around 11 or 12 years old and was about as familiar with what the internet was around 1997 as I could get. As is the case with me, once I get familiar with something I want to understand how it actually works.
A Barnes & Noble had popped up in a somewhat nearby city called Tustin around this time—one of the very first in this area—and I begged my mom to take me there so I could get this book.
I had grand dreams of creating websites the likes of which had never been seen before. You’d better believe I was going to show Geocities a thing or two.
I got the book (complete with its own accompanying instructional CD) and immediately tried to absorb every bit of information I could from it. I got the structure of an HTML document. I learned what HTML tags were. I figured out how to make a table using just some code I myself had written.
I felt like an internet master. It. Was. Glorious.
I didn’t know about those advanced coding languages. Why should I have? I was interested in putting low-res gifs all over the place and having some sweet music autoplaying in the background.
I do believe I’m making websites that are more enjoyable to look at and have much more utility than those ancient ones had, but it’s always important to remember your roots.
I’ve been designing websites for the last 22 years, as of this writing, and it was HTML for Dummies that helped me get my start. I wouldn’t be where I am today without it.
2. I’m a black belt
A fourth degree black belt, in fact.
My parents wanted my brother and I to have something to do after school when we were younger. I suspect they also didn’t want to sit around a sportsball field under the hot summer sun while we ran around the grass.
With those stipulations in mind, karate became the obvious choice. We could learn how to defend ourselves and get some exercise all within the comfort of a mostly air-conditioned building. It was pretty ideal.
I started when I was 7 years old and earned my first degree black belt when I was around 15. It was a long process and wasn’t always easy, but my parents pushed me to stick with it. I’m glad they did.
Of course, quitting became less of an option when my parents started depending on my instructor to pick up my brother and I from school during the week. The schedule worked out better this way and it allowed our families to become closer.
Thanks a bunch, John. I’ve always appreciated the time you gave us when we were younger.
The cool thing about earning my black belt is that I tested for it along with my brother and my mom. It was a great thing to go through it together. Not only did it make the whole process a little easier, but it also gave me a great memory to go along with it.
3. I have a Bachelor of Science degree in filmmaking
There was a time when I didn’t pursue web design as the thing I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I’ve always loved the movies. They’ve been a constant source of fun and comfort for me. It’s no surprise that when I had the chance to learn how to make them I jumped at the opportunity.
I started at The Art Institute of California - Orange County in 2011 and graduated in 2014. I had a great time there, met lots of really lovely people, and got to make some films that I’m really proud of.
Unfortunately, that’s about all of the kind things I have to say about that place. It was a for-profit private institution that ended up being closed down, due in large part to its terribly shady business practices. There’s a decent breakdown of what went on there on its Wikipedia article.
To be frank, the school deserves every bad thing that happens to it. Its students deserve to have their loans forgiven.
However, some of the best friendships of my entire life were made because of the time I spent at that school. Occasionally, I’ll wonder if, given the chance to do it all over again, I would go to The Art Institute for an education. I have a hard time answering that question sometimes.
I don’t believe the education was worth the student loans, but the friendships were.
I have a Bachelor of Science in Digital Filmmaking and Video Production that I earned through hard work. I’m proud of myself for that…but I should have shaved for my graduation.
4. I’ve been to 8 countries and 5 states... so far
In 2010, I was seeing a girl from Lithuania. First, long distance relationships are tough, man. Anyone who’s reading this and is currently in one, I feel ya. It takes hard work and it sucks not being able to see the other person.
It did give me the opportunity to do the first serious traveling of my life, so for that I’m very grateful for the relationship. In fact, flying to Lithuania in 2010 was my very first time flying on an airplane. I was 24, had no idea what I was doing in an airport, and enjoyed every stinking minute of it.
Except for nearly getting stranded in Frankfurt because I was traveling during one of the worst winters Europe had ever had at that point. I mean, it was bad.
I wanted to get to my destination without any delay and the thought of being stuck in an airport for a night was very upsetting. I broke down in the airport while making a shaky call to my parents all the way back in California. Oh, the scene I caused.
But, now that I’ve traveled a bit more, I understand that airports appear to be designed to break a person’s spirit. I don’t feel quite as bad about my public reaction now.
Friends, if you ever end up at the Lufthansa guest services desk in the Frankfurt airport, please give them another “thank you” from me. They were absolutely amazing and got me to Lithuania on one of the last airBaltic flights of the night. I owe them a lot.
Since that ordeal, I’ve been to Lithuania, England, Latvia, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, and I’m going to include America. As for the states, I’ve been to California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, and Virginia (along with Washington, D.C.).
I can’t wait to travel again.
5. I’m allergic to peanuts, cashews, hazelnuts, and raw carrots
Man, they’re the bane of my existence. I would not mind it if every one of those nuts were to cease existing. I understand it would cause some major problems in the world, but they just suck.
Carrots are okay in my book. If they’re cooked in some way, then they’re one of my favorite foods in the whole world.
But those nuts. Those nuts…
I don’t have a life-threatening allergy to any of them, but they have the unique ability to take a day that was going just fine and ruin it in the most complete way possible.
What’s upsetting about those allergies, aside from my reaction to them, is I’m the only person in my family with any food allergies. I got lucky there, I guess. My dad had seasonal allergies (which I also inherited), but that was as far as anything went in my family.
My typical reaction to them is a feeling of throat swelling, the worst stomach cramps imaginable, and occasionally terrible hives all across my body. It’s not pleasant and I wouldn’t wish it on anybody.
Thankfully, we now live in a time where almond butter can be found at any market for a decent price. I’m not allergic to almonds, walnuts, or pecans, so the available alternatives out there make up for my inability to handle the problem foods.
It was tough going for most of my life, but now it’s easier than ever to live a life free of whatever I want.
(I don’t have a picture of me having an allergic reaction to any of them because why would I have that?)
I hope you’ve gotten some enjoyment out of learning more about the person writing these blog posts for you every week, my dear readers.
I’d love to learn more about you, as well. What are some of the qualities that make you uniquely you? What are some accomplishments you’ve had that you’re particularly proud of? What are some of your best memories?
You’re awesome, cats.