I was born in Poland in 1981 before the imposition of marshal law. My family lived in a district of Warsaw called Ursynow. We traveled a bit, though all I remember is visiting the former Yugoslavia. It was a long drive in our Fiat, and the beaches were rocky but beautiful. I remember harassing the soliders near the campground.
In 1986 my father went on a post doc scholarship to the Max Planck Institute in Dortmund, West Germany. Dortmund was a great place to live– there were fields and woods literally in our backyard and exploring these took up my free time. In 1988 we rented a floor in a farm house. The sheep and chickens living there added more distractions. Germany also had far more Legos than Poland. This was good because I liked to build what I saw on TV out of Legos.
Rather than return to Communist Poland, in the summer of 1988 my father got a job in Redwood City, California, after failing to get a visa to move to the UK. We moved to Santa Clara, then Mountain View. My life in the US was completely different from my life in Europe. I found the peninsula’s suburbia quite claustraphobic.
Elementary school was uneventful. The public school system taught subjects at a glacial pace, so I day dreamed through classes until I got home and did something engaging. I filmed several claymation shorts on 8mm video and learned to program in qbasic. Middle school, at a Catholic private school, was much more interesting and rigorous. I did a lot of reading and gaming and also began to write intensely. I also picked up a few books on computer graphics and coded away. After middle school, I returned to the public school system at Woodside High School. I made some very good friends and had some interesting and unusual experiences. Highlights include two video production classes and English classes with the unforgettable Mr. Bramfitt. Moving on, UC Davis would have been better if it weren’t for all the work. To this day I’d like to punch the bastard who scheduled the EE labs on Friday and Saturday nights. But I got by, working on a few small projects (like MIDI drums), fixing my old white Acura more than I ever drove it, and by trying my hand at guitar, hockey and welding.
Graduating at the bottom of the post bubble period meant finding employment outside the computer industry. And that I did, working as a Zamboni driver and remodeling a house, among other things. One day I walked into the locker room and asked out loud if anyone needed an engineer. Two people raised their hands: the President of a small start up who needed someone to handle sales, and the director of referees, who needed a Zam’ driver. A year later the startup called me back and I was hired by Accelere Inc, where I worked worked to create software that is easy to use, easy to maintain, and functionally pretty (interestingly, I started the job by making cold calls until we got a sale, when the coding started!).
Accelere folded in 2008 and I’ve been consulting ever since. It’s been a bumpy road, but the odd hours have left my time to pursue travel, music, brewing, and all sorts of projects.
At 30, I took a road trip with my high school friends to Oregon for a week, exploring the wilderness and tasting some delicious beers. Here’s to the next 30 years! Na zdrowie!