Where I’ve lived

For a lot of years when people would ask where I’m from, I’d say “anywhere and nowhere.”

I was born in Houston, Texas, but spent a lot of time moving: Five elementary schools and two junior highs in Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Illinois. I got to live in the suburbs, small towns, farming communities, and coal-mining communities.

After the college, during my enlistment, I trained in Kentucky, Georgia, and Alabama; and I was stationed in North Carolina and the Republic of Korea. I’ve also lived in Virginia and Wyoming.

I haven’t always been sure what to think of all that moving, but I’ve come to understand it was a gift that gave me the privilege of feeling at ease in all sorts of places among all sorts of people.

Jobs I’ve worked

I went to college for philosophy and journalism. My first job out of college was at a small-town newspaper in rural Indiana. I spent my days driving around the county covering local government and racing to any fires I heard about over the scanner. I had to take my own pictures and do my own darkroom work.

After a stint keeping a UNIX server up and running in a university print shop, I enlisted in the army and trained in communications. After basic and advanced training I went to jump school. I spent most of my enlistment running company operations and training for an airborne signal unit in Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, but I also got to spend a year in Korea as a radio operator and staff driver. I liked operations, and it was at Ft. Bragg that I first learned about database design to help me solve records problems, but I was also happy leading teams into the field now and then. My commander and I had an understanding with each other that I was happiest when I could get out of the office and get some time in the woods with my team.

After the army, I found my way back to journalism as the managing editor of a collection of open source and other technology-related websites, and I wrote a book about Linux. My time in online journalism gave me a deep appreciation for good analytics. During a period when lots of people considered performance a question of clicks and views, I learned that you had to engage with people more deeply than that.

Ultimately, I taught myself to code so I could write a web analytics framework. It was something I did to solve a problem for myself, but its use eventually extended to a team of a dozen editors and several dozen websites, and that led me to a role as the director of technology for a small social marketing company.

For the past ten years or so, I’ve worked at Puppet in a number of roles, leading engineering groups, tech writers, project managers, operations managers; and as the director of IT operations.