- 1 What kind of coding courses are you taking?
- 2 Are you planning to quit the construction management program?
- 3 What’s your favorite thing about being a Geeks Who Drink host?
- 4 What are you long term plans for programming? Are you planning to use what you’re learning in construction management and blend the two together?
- 5 How do you get a spouse on board with budgets?
- 6 What is the greatest sacrifice you have made to support your wife’s goals and what is the greatest sacrifice you think she has made to support yours?
- 7 How did the transition to the programmer career affect your debt destroying and financial independence plans?
- 8 What did you do as an Infantryman? My son’s godfather just deployed last week to Syria – he’s in the Tank Corps, but his unit got deployed as infantry without their tanks for some odd reason.
- 9 I loooooove the name Notorious D.E.B.T. How did you come up with it?
What kind of coding courses are you taking?
I’ve taken quite a few coding courses. On a friend’s recommendation, I
started looking into web design and UX design (user experience). I took a couple courses on Udemy. While I found those classes to be incredibly interesting, it turns out you need to have a certain amount of your own creativity. A designer, I am not. But these courses introduced me to HTML and CSS. That part I found very interesting!
I went to a different site called Team Treehouse and I started learning Python and SQL from there. Treehouse is similar to Udemy but they only offer courses on programming languages. Treehouse was great for what it was. Their videos were very concise and delivered clear instruction. They also have a good community of support. If you have a problem with a specific piece of the curriculum, someone would be able to help you with it in a short period of time.
The downsides? The cost of membership was $25 per month for their basic package. The price wasn’t so terrible for sheer amount of courses they offer. The biggest problem I had with their method of teaching: most all of the curriculum was a ‘code-along’. The instructor is writing programs and you are supposed to follow along. That was great for introducing topics, but as soon as I tried to implement it on my own, I was lost. I wasn’t retaining the knowledge.
Are you planning to quit the construction management program?
I am not. That’s not to say I haven’t thought about it. But right now I’m one semester away from a Bachelor’s degree. Despite the fact that I don’t enjoy construction management, I’m still going to finish it. Any degree is better than no degree. (At least, that’s what we’ve been led to believe.) I’ve been working in construction for the last 7 years. This program was (and is) the easiest path to a bachelor’s degree for me.
I looked into changing my major to computer science, but that would involve nearly three more years of school. That’s not something that I’m willing to do.
What’s your favorite thing about being a Geeks Who Drink host?
There are a few things that I really like about being a Geeks Who Drink host. First and foremost are the people that I’ve met.
There are 18-20 people that come out to see me EVERY WEEK. That is incredibly humbling. Especially when you consider: these people could spend their Saturday night doing literally anything, and they decided to go out to the same pizza joint and spend their money while listening to me mispronounce words and generally embarrass myself with terrible dancing.
They are, without question, some of my favorite people on the planet. (Right behind Lindsay, obviously. Most of the time. Usually.) In fact, I would say that nearly all my closest friends can be traced back to Geeks Who Drink.
There are some perks beyond the friendships made. I get a bar tab every night that gets me fed and ensures my pint glass is never empty. I get to drink while working. And, I get to say some ridiculous things on a microphone to a bar full of people. Not a bad way to spend an evening.
What are you long term plans for programming? Are you planning to use what you’re learning in construction management and blend the two together?
My long-term plans for programming is to keep learning as much as I can. Practice what I’m learning to make sure I retain the knowledge. And continue growing. As for my professional goals, I’m not really sure. There are a ton of distinct applications for programming: data security, web development, app development, infrastructure, database administrators, analytics, machine learning. To be honest, it’s a little overwhelming!
Thankfully, a lot of the professionals I’ve talked to have told me the same thing: Don’t worry about specifics like what language to learn or what specific field you go into. Learning how to think like a programmer is more important than specifics.
As for a construction management blend, I’m not specifically looking for something like that. Granted, if an opportunity like that happens to fall into my lap I wouldn’t say no.
How do you get a spouse on board with budgets?
That’s a tough question for me to answer. This is how Lindsay and I got on a budget. Lindsay said to me, “Hey. We’re broke. We’re broke a lot. I’m tired of being broke. We’re gonna follow this budget now.” (quote loosely paraphrased). I said ok, because I was also tired of being broke. That was basically it. It helps that I don’t spend money on a lot of things in general.
That probably didn’t help much. Sorry about that. It was a bit more complex then I let on, but not by much. Here’s how we did it: We sat down for a couple hours one evening and talked about our financial goals and worked on building a budget that we thought we could live within. We still kept money in the budget for things that we liked. We still go out to eat. We still buy beer. I still like bacon.
After the month was up we sat down again and reconciled the entire month. We paid special attention to the lines where we went over. Were our original budgeted amounts unreasonable? Was there a special reason something went over budget? Will those reasons continue next month? After we talked about everything, we made some adjustments to the budget and repeated the process for the next month.
It only took 2 or 3 months to get into a groove. But in those first few months, communication was really the key. Now we barely notice the effects of the budget limitations. We’re comfortable where we’re at. And we don’t meet as often to go over the budget because we’re better at managing our budget in our day to day lives.
What is the greatest sacrifice you have made to support your wife’s goals and what is the greatest sacrifice you think she has made to support yours?
Her biggest sacrifice is an easy one: moving away from Alaska. If there is only one thing for certain in this world, it’s that Lindsay loves Alaska. I suppose that should be obvious. No one packs up their entire life into a tiny pickup truck and moves 3500 miles for nothing. So, when I told her that I wanted to leave AK, you can imagine the magnitude of such a request.
Her sacrifice didn’t end there. She’s making a huge sacrifice for me right now too! She is working her ass off supporting me while I finish school and work on programming. My monthly income has dropped to nearly 0. She’s shouldered the burden of making up for that loss shortage by working long hours and picking up new writing clients.
My biggest sacrifice was similar to what Lindsay’s doing for me now. After we got married, Lindsay was still finishing school and I was the primary bread winner. We did alright for ourselves then. Granted, we were terrible at managing our money, so I’m sure in retrospect we could have done a lot better.
It’s hard to me to recognize that as a ‘sacrifice’. Sacrifice means you’ve had to give something more favorable up, and I don’t feel that way at all. I don’t know what is more favorable than Lindsay, so I haven’t given anything up. If anything, I feel that I haven’t sacrificed enough.
How did the transition to the programmer career affect your debt destroying and financial independence plans?
The transition to a programming career is still ongoing. Hopefully I’ll be able to answer this question better a few years from now. But, for now, I’m encouraged that the demand for programmers is so high. And the opportunity to get rid of our debt and become financially independent seems to be much more lucrative in the software development fields. Also, the programming industry seems to be much more stable than the construction world.
I started in construction in 2010 as an apprentice carpenter. The housing market was just starting to rebound from the 2008 market crash. That means I heard a lot of stories about how difficult it was for people in the construction industry to survive when there wasn’t work.
In fact, the industry is still feeling the effects from the market crash from a lack of skilled labor. Experienced tradesmen had to make a choice when the work dried up: do I try to wait it out, or do I do something else? A substantial portion of them were forced to switch careers. The ones that waited it out struggled, especially when they didn’t have a skillset beyond construction.
That’s a big reason why I’m excited about learning programming. Not only is it in demand, lucrative, and exciting, but it’s another skillset that I have to offer. Specialization is not always a good thing. Especially in this day in age and with this job market. Lots of skills makes you marketable to more people. The more marketable you are, the sooner you’re able to break free of debt and truly be independent.
What did you do as an Infantryman? My son’s godfather just deployed last week to Syria – he’s in the Tank Corps, but his unit got deployed as infantry without their tanks for some odd reason.
What I was trained to do as an infantryman and what I actually did were (unsurprisingly) two very different things. An Infantryman is trained to be a front-line fighter. The majority of the training time is spent on the firing range, patrol tactics (both on foot and from vehicles), conducting building/room clearing exercises, physical training, and lots of classroom time going over things like first aid, radio procedures, squad tactics, etc.
Leading up to my deployment to Iraq in September of 2008, I was assigned to my company’s sniper team. So most of my training was a bit more geared towards observation, positioning, cover and concealment, and tactics. The Army has a specialized sniper school that I was slotted to go to in March of 2008. Unfortunately, I got injured during training and needed surgery. The downside: I was unable to attend my sniper school class. The upside: my surgeon looked identical to Cleveland from Family Guy.
Ok, I’m not really sure how that’s an upside…but Lindsay insisted I mentioned this.
Because of the surgery, and the time frame before our deployment, I was replaced on the sniper team and moved into the company Training Room. The Training Room is a very misleading name. There really isn’t any training that goes on there. It’s the administrative section for a company. After a few months, I was made the NCOIC (Non-Commissioned Officer In Charge, basically…the boss) of the Training Room, and that’s where I deployed. It’s certainly not a glamorous position, but it’s where I was needed.
Please pass along my best wishes to your son’s godfather. When I deployed we had a Tanker squad with us. They also didn’t have tanks. There are a couple of reasons why Tankers generally don’t deploy with tanks. First – Tanks in urban environments are not very effective. Tanks are very large and most city streets are too small to accommodate them. And second – Tanks are very menacing and serve one purpose: blowing things up. The Army (at least in the capacity of my unit) does many more humanitarian aid type of missions. It’s hard to win hearts and minds and let the locals know you’re friendly when you come rolling up in a 60 ton behemoth. Plus…not a lot of trunk space.
I loooooove the name Notorious D.E.B.T. How did you come up with it?
How does one explain genius? But really I was just desperate to stop Lindsay from naming it Money Lab Debt Lab. NOT EVERYTHING NEEDS TO BE A LAB! And thanks! I kinda like it too.
(Note from Lindsay: EVERYTHING needs to be a lab! That’s why even our dog is a lab!)
Thanks for all your questions! Let me know if you have any more and I’ll address them in the comments below.