Role Models. My Frequency Illusion.

Role models. That is my frequency illusion of the moment. A frequency Illusion is that thing when you just learn or understand something then all of a sudden it seems like the world is filled with instances of your new found wisdom.

Well I know what a role model is, at least by definition. But within the last few days, there have been more frequent instances of role model, specifically minority based role models, understanding, and counter role model behavior for me. Let’s start with the seed. AfroTech.

I’m attending a conference called AfroTech right now and yup, you guessed it, it is built by and for the black technology community and it’s wonderful. I was in a session where the speaker, Clarence Wooten, was promoting his new app, STEAMrole. Clarence was on the stage for maybe 15 minutes but was able to connect with the audience. He had passion and was sharing his wisdom. The reason STEAMrole exists is because he believes having a role model is so very, very important to the success of children. Clarence believes you need to be open, humble and transparent in order to show your true self. He described growing up in Baltimore and by the time he hit high school, he was in 8 different schools. As someone who didn’t grow up “well off” by any stretch of the imagination, can’t even imagine having to go to 8 different schools in my elementary years. I was privileged to have only gone to one and a private one at that. Clarence talked about how a lot of black role models tended to be your superstars, your Drakes, LeBron James type people of the world. Well the music, film and sports road to success is far to narrow for some kid to soley lay their dreams and goals after. There need to be more accessible role models, with more accessible paths to success, especially for minority populations.

“You can’t be what you can’t see.” That is the motto of STEAMrole. To make these accessible role models visible. After researching that quote a bit, I found that it was coined by Marie C. Wilson. After a bit more research about Marie C. Wilson… wow. Role model indeed.

The White House Project was founded by Marie in 1998 and their mission “designed to engage women in the political process as voters, activists, and candidates through training, inspiration, and networking” (wikipedia) They wanted to have more representation of women in government and eventually as president. Why is this necessary? Because, especially at 1998, women interested in a political career were few and far between. There were not many role models for women to follow. Well after a little more digging, I found that the white house project went under in 2013, only to rise again as the VoteRunLead organization, again aimed at helping and training women to lead in politics.

I heard that there were a large number of women who won this last midterm election, resulting in a record number of women who will be serving congress in 2019. That’s awesome. Diversity and equal representation is important. However, in looking at the percentage, women will still only make up ~23% of congress. Not even a quarter yet. Still more work to do. I ran across a tweet recently talking about Iceland’s Woman’s Day Off protest. In 1975 90% of all females protested and didn’t go to work, do household work or take care of their kids. It reminded me of that movie in the 90s “A day without a Mexican.” Except this was real life and the Icelandic world DID come to a halt when women stopped. I’m sure there were people complaining about the protest, saying protests are stupid and never work. Well this one was so successful that Iceland elected their first woman president 5 years later, they have equal pay and represent 48% of Iceland’s parliament. The protest was so successful, they honor it and held the most recent one in 2016. While a success, there is still more work to be done for equal rights.

Back to the U.S. and specifically the midterm elections, look at the candidates winning! Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will be the youngest female of congress ever at 29. Agree or disagree with her politics, you cannot take away her being a HUGE role model for young women, especially latina women. She’s smart, self-driven, confident and a genuine good human being. And what about Ilhan Omar? She won her midterm as well as becoming the first Somali-American elected to congress. She was born in Somalia and fled during the civil war to live in refugee camps when she was 10 until 14. Can you imagine being 14 years old, moving to the U.S. after having lived through a civil war and a refugee camp for 4 years, AND not knowing english at all? THEN to turn it around within 13 years to gain U.S. citizenship and be democratically elected to the legislative branch? Holy crap! Role model city here! Guess what? She is also a product of the VoteRunLean organization. 

I was in a talk yesterday led by Mariam Braimah about A/B testing at netflix. She is a product designer there and had some really good insight A/B testing I never thought of. She was a great speaker. She connected with the audience and delivered her wisdom on point. She is from Nigeria and during the Q&A there was another Nigerian women in the audience who is aspiring to have a career in tech. You could hear her being choked up as she asked Mariam a question. She prefaced her question “Thank you. I don’t see many black, let alone black Nigerian women as tech leaders. My question is, how did you do it?” There was role model moment being played out live before our eyes. It was beautiful. Mariam didn’t hold back with her response either. She was real and said that it is hard and you will get rejected, you just have to persevere and keep moving forward.

Speaking of moving forward, the last talk I attended was a fireside chat with Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to President Barack Obama. She talked about her winding career as an aspiring lawyer and her move into politics and eventually the White House. I can’t express to you how authentic she is. I’m sure most people already know that, but it was inspiring to hear her speak live. She held her time at the White House sacred, respecting what an awesome power it was to have the ear of the President. What is most impressive is the she cared. It’s surprising how low the bar has become, but she cared. She still cares and is very active. She talked about working long hours, coming home to tuck her girl in only to work for a few more hours, THEN proceed to make home pre-cooked meals for her family and her daughter because she felt GUILTY for not being the best mom. There were a lot of confirming, nodding heads in the audience. Her advice? Be gentle on yourself. Don’t be too hard. Don’t feel guilty. It’s okay to not be “the best” mom. Good is good enough sometimes. She is talking about the next chapter in her career life. At age 62, she is re-inventing herself as a board member for a few tech companies. Companies that she resonates with. Companies that realize that a diverse workforce is a necessity, not just lip service and a nice to have. Companies whose mission it is to reach out to people where they are and inspire and help them along the way. She talked about her childhood and said “My parents raised me aspirationally, not as the world they knew but as the world they hoped it would be.” Role model.

On my way back to my hotel after that talk, I was thinking about my childhood and what it means to be Mexican-American. I mean, for all intensive purposes I’m American and considered “white” BUT, just because I don’t speak Spanish or know of every Mexican tradition, doesn’t mean I’m not Mexican. I am. My father and mother are both Mexican but we didn’t speak Spanish in the house when I was growing up. I’ve had a hard time TRYING to be Mexican-American, with an emphasis on the Mexican side. It’s hard to keep focused though and just like learning a new language, it’s hard unless your fully immersed. I am not fully immersed. I could go on and on on this thread but the one thing I can tell you for certain, Edward James Olmos as Selena’s father? Relatable. 100%. Best movie scene ever:   

I ran across a tweet thread a few months back when that “Crazy Rich Asians” movie first came out. Th tweet is from Kimberly Yam and it is quick journey of her struggles as an Asian-American with the punchline being #representationMatters. Read it all.  I can tell you, #relatableContent. Representation matters. Role Models. You can’t be what you cannot see. It matters.

Once I got to my room, I was going to logon to do a little work before bed. I opened up Facebook and there was an ad about John Leguizamos’s new netflix special, “Latin History for Morons” And you know what the premise is? Apparently inspired by real life, John’s son has a paper to write for school on some historical figure. Guess what? They can’t find any latino “heros” in the history books. So the quest is on. Role models. Representation. (I know, creepy that facebook knows me before I even wrote this but hey, I have something new to watch now. He also provided a reading list I want to dig into!)

You know who else are role models? April Ryan, Abby Phillip, and Yamiche Alcindor

So what’s the point of all this? Role models matter. Representation matters. My father was an inspiration for me when it came to work ethic. I like to think I embody his spirit with my work ethic, or at least it got me to where I am today. I consider myself successful and a lot of that success was due to a lot of hard work I put into it. I spent many sleepless nights pushing myself in education and career related activities. I acknowledge my hard work as a catalyst for my success. I also acknowledge I was given opportunities that others did not have. I had a commodore 64 at age 11 with books on programming and parents that encouraged my spending countless hours on the machine. That allowed me to easily learn BASIC before high school so much that I was helping teach the high school Pascal class during my Junior year of high school. The fact that I even had the opportunity to have a Pascal programming class in high school in 1990 was a privilege that many others didn’t have, let alone the opportunity to help teach it. It wasn’t that I was smarter than everyone else. I had the opportunity to learn and develop expertise and passion for programming (hacking) before other folks were even exposed. My role models? Other than my dad, I don’t know. I can’t remember distinctly thinking of one. BUT I can tell you this, I NEVER felt out of place for pursuing my career as a programmer. I was a “white” male and fit in with the mold. Well at least until recently, but that is a whole different story.

My point is, I don’t know what it’s like to be under-represented in a way that many of the other people I wrote about here. And maybe, just maybe we’re seeing the ushering in of a more diverse workforce in tech and hopefully other fields so that our younger generation have more equal opportunities, regardless of race, sexuality, gender or any other difference. Maybe just because they will be able to see, they can be. I hope so. There is strength in diversity. We are more alike than different. We need to be kind and build each other up, even if the person your helping looks nothing like you. Now, let’s see if my words can translate into action. Nothing specific yet, but I’m trying. First step, off to day 2 of the AfroTech conference.



Work-pride unbalance

I put a long day in today. A really long day. Like 14 hour type of long day. This type of day is very atypical for me. Now, because of where I work, some folks will condemn this as a bad work culture. I don't think it is but I could be totally blind and bias. Who knows. Either way, I accomplished a lot of stuff today. Nothing groundbreaking or even rudimentary cool for that matter. None of that. In fact, if I told you what I actually accomplished today you might look at me in bewilderment. "How did it take you that long to 'just' do that?" Well, I wonder that myself sometimes but today I finished a few things and I really liked the quality I put into it. It made me think of my dad.


My Dad was a workaholic. Not in the "I'm a big CTO / entrepreneur mansplaining fool" type of workaholic. He was a workaholic out of necessity and an incredibly strong, maybe even irrational sense of providing for his family in hope of giving them something he never had. He was blue-collar all the way and never took a job for granted, always was grateful for whatever work he could get. He took his work seriously and gave his 100% always. I remember attending his retirement party. It was 1991. I was about to graduate from high school and I was young, dumb and stupid. He got an award from Chrysler (where he retired from) for perfect attendance. 



That means he never called off 1 day. Not 1 day. He was never late 1 day. NEVER LATE. NOT. ONE. DAY. 


That means he lived and worked through Ohio's blizzard of 1978 WITHOUT BEING LATE 1 DAY FOR WORK.

Think about that for a minute.

That's ludicrous. 

To give you some perspective on where I was at that time, I think I missed close to 1 quarter of school both my sophomore and junior year of high school. I was manager of a record store during my senior year but I was probably late 97% of the time. My friend Lynn was my assistant manager. She HATED when I opened on the weekend. That usually meant I would forget my keys or lock myself out of the store 50% of the time on the weekend because opening the store meant waking up "early." (9 am) She was the one that bailed me out all the time.

I remember seeing him get that award and having feelings of self deprecation mixed with "that man's crazy" thoughts. Either way it had an impact. It never changed anything mind you. I'm still late for, well, everything a good portion of the time. I rationalize it away as I'm "carefree" instead of driven by a stupid clock but whatever. That ship has sailed for me.

But that is how much my Dad appreciated work. The opportunity to have a job. Why? Because he knew what the alternative was. That is not a fun experience. I've experienced that, mind you in much less dyer situation than my dad. In fact, when I was in that boat, my Dad helped me get back on my feet. My whole family did. My friends did too. I love my friends. That's just what you do. Sometimes I wonder if I ever showed them all enough appreciation.

Anywho, back to my Dad.

Not only did he have PERFECT ATTENDANCE, he had pride in his work. He wanted to do a good job, whatever the job was. There was a time when my dad was laid-off from Chrysler so he was working three other odd jobs to earn enough. One of the jobs he had was with Kellermeyer. Kellermeyer was a contract cleaning company that would clean office buildings, department stores when those businesses were closed. He would work one or two jobs during the day and then work nights and weekends cleaning offices and department stores after they were closed to the public. (You might even say he was a DREAMER, but let's not go there today) He wasn't stupid either. He would take us kids to help him clean sometimes. I think I only had to help a handful of times and I probably "helped" in the same sense my 5 year old daughter Maya "helps" cook. Actually I was probably worse. I'm sure my siblings have some stories about that time.

But to bring us full circle, what I thought about today was this one time we were at the Franklin Park Mall in Toledo, Ohio. We were walking into the Lion Store. (became Dillards or some other department store) We walked in and my Dad about lost his shit. "Ahk! Look at this mess! This looks AWFUL. Ahk! SO ugly!" He was looking at the white linoleum floor. It was dirty according to him. Whoever was on the night shift at Kellermeyer did a bad job according to my Dad. It didn't meet his quality bar.

He took pride in his work.

I remember one time, him bragging. Pointing out how spectacular the floors looked. (he had obviously cleaned them the night before) He was smiling ear to ear, taking pride in what he did the night before and happy to share that with us. 

I was at work for 14 hours today and around 10 PM I ran into the cleaning staff. Some man of Asian decent. I felt bad for being there still. He came back three times to see if I had left so he could clean my area. He wanted to do a good job and I was detering him. 

But what made me think of my Dad and his Kellermeyer days was pride. Long hours and pride. I'm working on something right now were the subject area is as dull as hell. It. Is. So. Boring. But that doesn't matter. I'm happy I have the opportunity to work where I'm working and work in this area. It could be worse, way worse. I hope I never take any of this for granted. And tonight I took pride in my work. I put in the hours and delivered something I felt good about. I think my business is better for it. That is what made me think of my Dad. Dad, if you're listening, thank you. I'm here because of you and the rest of our family. (and friends!)

I'm going to finish my wine and go to bed now. I'll be at work in less than 6 hours from now to do it all over again. Hopefully I'm still proud of my work when I look at it with somewhat fresher eyes. They'll be lucky if they get 6 hours out of me tomorrow though. Sorry Dad, you didn't pass that whole crazy "PERECT" attendance thing on down. I still think that ludicrous. :)


Today I learned

Today I learned about Audri. Audri is a 50-60 year old Chinese woman. She has lived in the United States for over 20 years now and she self-describes her English as "Chinglish" at best. Audri shared her story about coming to Seattle. Audri is funny, speaks broken English and is full of life. She married an American and moved to this country not knowing the language, culture or anything. She said the most terrifying thing she thought she was going to encounter was learning to drive. She was used to commuting by bicycle everywhere but needed to get her license if she wanted to branch out. As she started to branch out she was treated so poorly by people she said she wouldn't have survived without her husband's care. Some days she would just cry all day long, afraid to go outside. She is now a volunteer at the neighborhood house, has a lot of friends and just beams with life. Since trump was elected, her once conquered fears have resurfaced. West Seattle is her home.

Today I learned about Asmeret. She came to the U.S. when she was five. She was through so many countries as a refugee before she was five she doesn't feel a sense of "I'm from here" anywhere else but the U.S. She didn't start any kind of education until she was 7 or so. Both of her parents have always been hard working and she learned structure and family from living in a 2 bedroom apartment with 10 other people. She graduated college and now works with the Seattle Housing Authority. She described family after family coming to her after trump signed his Muslim ban. They are scared. Some have stories of being isolated, stranded from families. There are stories of tension and prejudice happening. There are also U.S. born citizens living in the community that have come to her expressing concerns that they have Muslim neighbors and do not feel safe around them anymore. Asmeret is a community builder. He goal is to bring this community together.

Today I learned I can take awkward to a whole new level. Upon entering today's event as a volunteer, Maya and I started introducing ourselves. Maya found another kid right away so I left her with them as I continued my introductions. Determined to be friendly and meet people, I met this one woman who's name I couldn't pronounce and can't remember. She was taking care of all the food on the tables. We introduced ourselves to each other and I extended my hand for a handshake and looked her in the eye. She immediately closed her eyes, bowed and grasped her hands together... to which I instinctively awkwardly grabbed both of her hands and proceeded with my handshake. It was brief and at least I didn't do that ridiculous handshake of that trump character but sheesh, i'm an idiot sometimes. Then I met two native Seattle neighbors.

Me: "Hi, I'm Ed."

Dude: "Hi Ed. Nice to meet you. I'm Knox."

Girl: "Hi. I"m Amanda"

Me: (because I picked up a habit of trying to repeat people's names right after I meet them) "Great. So you're Amanda. Knox."

(awkward silence)

Me: (breaks awkward silence with awkward laugh) "Well. You know. This is a great community center and neighborhood. The food looks so yummy!" (more awkward laughing) "See you soon!" (Walks away)

Today I learned about one Vietnamese woman's journey to the U.S. as a refugee. Her story was told by one brave 5th grader who is from North Korea. He was very brave sharing her story and he was moved to tears retelling it. He described situations where she learned how to sleep standing because that was the only way to survive. She is now a teacher here in West Seattle. That fifth grader was the most confident fifth grader I've ever seen. 

Today I learned that Somalia just elected a new president and it's a pretty big deal. For the first time in a long time, people feel like "he's just a good guy" and is probably the least corrupt Somalian leader in a long time. There is a guarded optimism going on. I also learned what the Somalian national anthem sounds like performed by about 9 Somali women and it was beautiful. They also did a few "U.S.A", "Washington" and "Seattle" cheers too.

Today I learned that there is a community of Somalians that have been here since the 1990s that were refugees. Since then they have raised their kids here and when they think of home they think of the U.S. They think of Seattle. They no longer think of themselves as immigrants even though many of them are "just" green card holders. They were jolted back into a harsh reality that many people in the U.S. do not feel they belong here. The woman talking about it was brought to tears. She was hurt, visibly  hurt that the only home she knows is rejecting her. 

Today I learned about Peter. Peter's family immigrated to the U.S. in the 1790s. He has lived in West Seattle for over 30 years in the same neighborhood and has seen it change. Peter has done some genealogy research and shared some stories of his ancestors dying and being treated inhumanely due to discrimination against immigration at that time. Peter was also moved to tears talking about how much he loves his family, Seattle and the current demographics of his neighborhood. He was there because he doesn't want to see it torn apart by bigotry and lack of understanding. 

Today I learned about a woman's journey from Singapore. She was a confident, strong, vibrant woman. She shared her story and stated that since Singapore is a big city, the biggest transition she had was learning how to drive on the "wrong" side of the road. She has a daughter and once her and Maya found each other they were inseparable all day. We both agreed this was a good excuse to get a happy hour drink together at some point in time. 

Today I shared the story of my Dad coming to the United States from Mexico. I shared a story he used to tell us about him being a young kid, high on top of the hills in Juarez, Mexico looking over at El Paso thinking "Someday I'll be over there." It was the land of dreams and he was going to make his dreams happen no matter what. I shared stories of him being at rock bottom and of his faith in God and himself that led him out. I said if there had been a wall in place, it is very possible I wouldn't be here today. I told the story of when he met my mother and how, because of his sacrifices, I was able to live the privileged life I do today. I shared my story from East Toledo to West Seattle via Columbus and how Maya has changed our lives. When I was finished and my neighbors were smiling and clapping, Maya gave me the biggest hug ever. Later when she and I were just chatting over dinner I asked her what she thought about all those people's stories. Maya: "You're story was awesome Dada." I love that little beast. 

Today was a good day. Today was a long day. Today I learned a lot. The most important thing I learned, or reaffirmed really was that we are more alike than we are different. I couldn't tell you how many different languages I heard today. The handful of stories I shared above were only a small sample of the participants today. Do you want to know what we talked about while we ate, did crafts and just mingled together? We talked about food. About our kids being fussy. About school. About the neighborhood. I met some new neighbors and this is just the beginning. I hope to be able to catch a smile and greet some folks by name as we pass each other now. We will do this again and we will learn more. We will dive into deeper subjects and we will help each other. trump's hate will unify us and we will be stronger together. 

Today I learned, this is our America. WE shape our future together.

My "coming out" political post

I posted the following post on my facebook page yesterday. It was cathartic. Original? Probably not. Heart felt? You better fucking believe it was. I had forgot that I had this personal blogspot and figured "what the hell... why not post this to a wider audience." My whole point in posting this is to reach out to folks to have a conversation. I've received positive remarks from my fellow like minded friends. Not so much from the ones that probably think I'm off my rocker. Those are the people I want to talk to. Those are the people I want to engage in a discussion. Those are the people I want to find unity with. So here it is, my "coming out" post with all this dumbshit going on...

Hi, I’m Ed Castaneda. Most of you on Facebook know me. If you do know me, hopefully you see a happy go-lucky, likes to mosey-type guy. I don’t usually get too worked up over stuff. Mostly I just like to laugh. Well I’m afraid this post won’t be that Ed. I know the last thing some of you want to see is “another political” post. I get it. Do you know what I like most about Facebook? Sharing our life, pics of Maya, and keeping in some kind of contact with awesome people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing in my life. And funny shit. I like to post and read funny shit too.

Anywho, back to the “politicalness” of this post. I guess at this point my feelings are beyond political. My feelings affect my core humanity at this point. And… I lost some of you. I get it. I sound like just another hysterical “liberal.” Hear me out. Read my full post before you dismiss me. Maybe I am just another hysterical liberal. Hell, I HOPE I’m just another hysterical liberal at this point and I’m just being dramatic. I hope that’s the case. I’m afraid that’s probably not reality though. (Maybe an ALTERNATIVE reality? HA! Burn you Conway zombie!) Okay, anywho. I like to think I’m somewhat in the middle of the political spectrum, with a definite liberal lean, at least from a social aspect but what is happening right now… It’s not political for me anymore. It’s about being good human beings.


Okay, before I really get started, one of my purposes for writing this post is to engage in a dialogue. I firmly believe that no matter what differences of opinion we have, we are more alike than different. I want us to stand on that foundation of similarity and have a discussion to become more united than divided. So with that said, my intent is not to lecture. I see a lot of liberal media / posts out there that sound so damn condescending. The worst thing you can do to someone you’re trying to have a conversation with is to lecture them. Don’t tell them how dumb it is they voted or supported this person or that person or this stance or that stance, that doesn’t help your cause. That tone does nothing but create more division. If I come across this way, know it is not my intent. But I get it too. I’m frustrated beyond belief and in those same posts I just condemned, I see the same frustration and anger I’m feeling being poured out because they care and feel like “how in the hell is this happening?!?!?!”. And that is our first similarity, we care. We care about our family and want to keep them safe. We care our about our country and we want it to succeed and reflect our values. Our values seem as different as night and day right now, but they’re not. There’s differences for sure, but we can compromise. And finally, I hope our most important similarity is peace. No one wants WWIII or any senseless war. If all that’s true, let’s talk.


I know it’s ironic to say this but, social media is the last place we should be having our discussions. I’m so guilty of this but the sensational headlines, the 140 character limit messages, the memes… the good for nothing except maybe a small chuckle sometimes memes; they’re awful mediums for important discussion, and again, they create more division. So let’s not talk here. Speak your mind on in the comments if you must, but keep it civil please. Let’s take the actual discussion to a different medium. Let’s talk on the phone, meet for coffee, dinner, a beer or something. I absolutely hate talking on the phone but I want us to be united more than anything, let’s do it. Okay, enough setup? Let’s get to the heart of why I’m posting.


First off, that is what it is. I hate the fact that it is guised as this “America First” bullshit. It’s discriminatory and its treating humans like shit. I get that we’re in a scary time right now. Terrorism scares the bejesus out of me too. But this is not how we solve that. We are not in a holy war. Let’s not feed into that dialogue. Are there people out there that are barbaric and want to see the west burn? Yes. Are they identified as Islamic? Yes. Are all Muslims terrorists and barbaric? No. Not by a long shot. I’ve seen estimated ISIS numbers of around 100,000 people. How many muslims in the world? 1.6 BILLION. That’s a fraction of a percent. I couldn’t find any estimates on how many white supremacists there are in the U.S. but let’s say it’s between 50,000 and 100,000. Compare that to our 320 million population. Again a small percentage. My point is that we’re not in a religious war. None of us are terrorists. None of us are white supremacists. The U.S. is not at war with Islam. Pushing that kind of message is dangerous and feeding into the hands of the same people we want to stop. And this is my main “off the rails” reason I oppose trump and want him out of our Presidency and our lives. Sure, he can issue a statement stating it’s not a muslim ban and blame “the opposition party” (media) that they are blowing it out of proportion. That’s a boldface lie and you don’t need the “liberal media” to prove it. Look at how he ran his campaign. He said “maybe would should ban all muslims from entering the U.S. until we figure things out.” His donald trump website talks about the need to ban muslims. He tweeted just yesterday that “Christians in the Middle-East have been executed in large numbers. We cannot allow this horror to continue!”

And now “they” have deleted the tweet! What purpose does this serve? It’s such a hyperbole statement. What kind of truth does it hold? Does that even matter if it does? Just from those three things I mention (campaign statement, website and tweet) alone, it’s feeding the holy war dialogue! What the hell! That feeds right into the hands of ISIS or any group trying to promote a message of “American is at war with Islam.” Why give them the ammo? How is this making us great and safe? How is it not doing the exact opposite?


trump is nothing more than a thug that leans on a gang warfare mentality. When I say gang warfare, know that I know absolutely nothing about being in a gang. I’m just trying to make a metaphor here. The metaphor I’m trying to relate is the whole “they struck first so we must strike back harder” mentality. I get it. I was fired up after 9/11 and I felt that way too. Taking a step back, I really don’t get it. I don’t think that is a viable way to peace. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes the use of “force” is required. Like Richard Spencer for example, that dude should get punched in the face. A lot. I’m talking about not setting off more violence at a large scale to end the large scale violence. It’s cyclical at that point and if we play into it, we’re just another cog. We should fight ISIS and the radical people that are beyond reasoning. But our fight isn’t just with weapons. It’s with understanding, empathy and compassion.  It’s definitely not banning the very people that are fleeing from the atrocities that ISIS is committing against them. That’s just stupid. Imagine being a teenager from a war torn country. Angry at the world. Now imagine a place that promised you refuge and safety also turned its back on you. How easy would it be to manipulate that young mind? Couldn’t we help by showing love and support? Back to that trump thug dude, he just makes it a thousand times worse. He openly stated that we need to do more, maybe take out people’s families or something like that. What? Really? And most recently as a few days ago he pretty much said he was okay and he wanted to use torture techniques “if it worked” but he’d ultimately leave it up to his crew. He said that on national TV. Our president. W.T.F. Shouldn’t we hold ourselves up to a hire standard? Don’t we call ourselves leaders of the free world? If this is the persona of our President, maybe we should be stripped of that title. I. Can’t. Stand. It.


Okay, back to the ban and part of the motivation for writing this. So the refugees. Wow. I don’t even know what to say and to be honest, I’m probably a bit ignorant on how many countries have refugees in need right now. What I do know is this. There is a humanitarian crisis going on in our world and people, honest to goodness real live people, are dying. A lot. Dying. Fleeing their homes. Living in refugee camps that you or I will (hopefully if we kick trump out) never have to experience. Looking for a chance to live. And trump’s asshat son said during the campaign trail “If I gave you a bowl of skittles and said only three of these skittles will kill you, would you eat a handful? This is our refugee problem.” (What a dick) The reason I bring it up is a reply I read. It basically says “If eating a skittle would represent saving a human life, I would eat the skittles. I would GORGE on the skittles.” It’s a good response, check it out. At anyrate, the point is shouldn’t we, leaders of the free world be helping this humanitarian crisis? It’s hard, it’s scary but shouldn’t we help? And it’s not like they can just walk right in either. There is a vetting process. A long one at that to get assigned where you get to live and try to rebuild. If there are some ways we can improve the vetting process, great. Let’s do that. But don’t cut them off completely! That’s not who I want to be as a person or as a country! (also see earlier point about feeding into the hate filled propaganda)


Beyond the refugee issues, the ban is having more bad effects. (Is it affect or effect? I can never get that right) I live in a neighborhood that has a large population of “Horn of Africa” (East Africa: Somalia, Ethiopia, etc) folks. A lot of them were refugees when all hell was breaking loose in their country in the early 90s. Most of them are muslim. Most of them are good human beings, trying to raise their kids to be good adults. Just like you and I. How are they feeling now? I’ve talked to some of my neighbors over the past few years and hear a lot about them going home to visit sometimes. They can’t do that now. If they have family still in Somalia, they might never be able to see them again if they want to remain in the U.S. In their home for over 20 years. These are not isolated incidents.

I had to cancel meetings with my colleagues this week. They were supposed to come down from Canada to work on a project we’re working on together, as they’ve been coming to the U.S. for years. They are from Iran. No longer welcome. In trump camp’s idiotic words. “Not wanted here.” W.T.F. Admittedly, mine is a small window into this whole green card ban. A lot of U.S. companies work with a diverse group of people. At the least, this causes tension were there was none previously, at worse it breaks families and spreads hate. Even if the green card ban is lifted, damage done. Hate and mistrust are being spread in places that were previously safe.


So what. I’ve been ranting for a long time now. Some people might thank me. Some people might hate me. Some might ignore me. Whatever. If you’ve read this far, you might realize I’m fired up. I’m not going to sit by idly any longer. Don’t worry, I’ll still post pics of Mai and funny stuff but there will also be more fight. Fight against this administration and fight for what I think it means to be a good human being. It’s not ending in posts either. I’m testing the waters to see what else can I do. Do I protest? I already donated to the ACLU, something I thought I’d never do, hell something I never really thought about until all this. Can I do more? I’m starting to become active in my community. I want to help my ex-refugee neighbors feel comfortable in a place they’ve known as home. I want to help new refugees. I want to meet and understand more about all my neighbors and my community. I might even run for office. Can I influence more if I did that? Who knows, maybe 2020 is time for… #EdForPresident! I think I’m more qualified than that Steve Bannon puppet. Ugh. Bannon. That’s a whole other thread… Who want’s Bannon as their president? Ugh. FFS.

Thanks for letting me vent and share friends.


Hello World (the after codemash rush)

Well its been a long time since I've tried blogging but here I go again. (out on my own. going down the only road I've ever known. Like a drifter... you get the picture. I like 80s hair band metal. Sue Me.)

I just got back from codemash. This is my first year back in awhile. I attended the first three codemash events and they were life altering for me. They set my software development career on a journey that I'm still on. I truly believe that those events help push me to be more passionate about software and not just treating it as a job. Well fast-forward 8 years since the first codemash and I needed some career rejuvenation. I feel like my software skills have been stagnant for the past few years. In my defense, we did  have Castañeda 2.0 arrive recently so there's that. But beyond that I've been lacking the same passion and desire that I attacked the world with those 8+ years ago.

What I noticed this year is that codemash felt more like a "real" conference than before. Don't get me wrong, it was still a really amazing conference with great people and great content... it was just lacking that grass roots passion. I guess that is ok right? I mean that is what we want for the things we love right? We want them to be successful. Its just that feeling that you get when "your" favorite underground band goes viral and now the same kids that listen to Katy Perry or whatever the hell useless song is popular today are also listening to "your" band. Funny tangent: I love Red Fang. My daughter loves Red Fang. Most people don't even know who they are. They were just on Letterman a few days ago. I hope they break wide open. I really do. I'm just dreading the day they release their "black album," head into counselling and produce crap like entersandman 2.0. For now. Go Red Fang! Get all popular and stuff!

The first codemash felt like I was part of the beginning of something. Something bigger than me but just by my mere presence in attending I was helping build it. I miss that feeling and I think that is what I was looking for in codemash 2014. I didn't get that. That was impossible to recreate. That is like me going to Lalapalooza this year and expecting the same feeling I got out of that first when when Jane's Addiction headlined. Just impossible to recreate. 

BUT... all is not lost. 

Like I said, it was still a really good conference and one of the sessions I attended was "Becoming an Outlier: Career Reboot for the Developer Mind" by Cory House. While I think the majority of the content was either common sense or a little over the top it was great to hear. While I don't know Cory personally, I know him. He was me 8-9 years ago. I listened to a podcast a day while I did something else. I tried to maximize every minute of my time in learning more about... something. It was great to hear Cory talk about it. It rekindled a little bit in me to do more. Will it last? Will it work? Who knows. All I know is that the theme of "Produce more content than you consume" was present in his talk. A lot of my friends and other streams of input have also had this theme. In an effort to do that, I'm trying to reboot my blogging and here is my first of the year. There my first content creation done. Here's to another hundred or so more!

Brian Prince ended the conference asking us to do one new thing this Monday. I don't know if this counts as "new" but at least its something. Here you go Brian. I hope your happy. 

I also won my first thing ever at Codemash. Zombie Blaster!

Here we go 2014.


One likes to believe in the freedom of music

What a lyric huh?

Damn. I wish I wrote that.

I moved to Seattle in June of 2010. In the 3 years I've been here I've rediscovered music in a way that I couldn't have imagined 5 years ago.

I just got back from a local bar's acoustic night. It's been a long time since I've been in an open mic night type element but man, it feels good. It's a totally different vibe at this acoustic night from the open mic night's I used to play at the Thirsty Ear in Columbus Ohio. 

Ah, the Thirsty Ear. What a wonderful neighborhood bar that was.

I remember vividly when that placed first opened. The owners, Jerry and Margo loved music. You could hear that passion in talking to Jerry any night of the week. Open mic night started shortly after the bar opened. It was on Wednesday night. That first month it started was something else. Up until this point I had never played solo before. I was always with a band at live gigs and I certainly didn't sing by myself. I went there by myself the first open mic night and longed to play there. Most of the acts were top notch. There was something different about this place. Something that I hadn't noticed before. Two things in fact. 

(1) The people playing were humble. They would take the stage and just own the night. Just destroy a set. Walk off and be content with being just another body in the crowd. I wasn't used to this because I was used to big headed musicians (self included) that assumed everyone was just as jazzed listening to a 20 minute feedback solo as our band was. 

(2) The crowd showed up to listen to music. Actually listened. Most of the patrons stopped talking when an act was on and listened. They cheered when a song was over and were vocal about their applause. It was awesome. This changed after awhile and it just became another bar hangout but those first few months were something else. It really put a meaning behind the bar's name, The Thirsty Ear.

I think it took me about a month of practice and a few beers to get the courage up to play. I had met a few people by just hanging out there on Wednesday nights but really didn't know anyone. The encouragement I got at that first set was awesome. I probably sucked really bad but everyone gave me such great feedback that I soon became an acoustic night regular. I'd like to think I got half way decent when it was all said and done. 

The regular crew was awesome. There were probably about 6 of us that would play every week and after the bar closed Jerry locked the doors, shut the blinds and we jammed until 4 or 5 in the morning. Work on Thursdays were rough back then. It was a very cool time.

Now back at the Feedback Lounge here in Seattle, it wasn't open mic night. These acts were booked and were ready to play. I was expecting to get blown away by their superior talents. Nope. Instead I was wishing Jerry was up next covering the Stones' "Dead Flowers." At least that was how the first night went. Tonight it was different. Tonight the talent was pretty awesome. It was polished. It wasn't out of my league. It left me with itchy fingers wanting to break out the acoustic when I got home.

BUT, the cool thing was that the audience was there to listen to music. There was a lot of respect given to the musicians and a decent applause after songs. 

In retrospect, there are some good similarities between the Feedback and the Thirsty Ear. I just wish the Feedback would gain some of the Ear's humility. Who knows. Maybe I'll learn more about it if I start playing again. Until then, I'm gonna listen to some old Stones' tunes. Probably Rush too. I wonder how Spirit of the Radio would sound stripped down for acoustic night?

Life lessons from people I can't even connect with on Facebook

It is 11:38 PM on a Friday night. I just got home after running a few errands including grabbing some stuff for breakfast for the family tomorrow at the local grocery. They must have been getting ready to close because their aisles were filled with pallets and pallets of consumable goods. There were more than a few patrons still left in the store but they were by no means busy. I always like hitting the store at that time. You get to try to put together pieces of these people's lives. Why are they at the store at this moment? I think I'm fairly good at the game and it's fairly obvious why they are there.

As I'm leaving I walk past this one guy as he's walking in. He has this old portable "boombox" stereo that he is bringing in with him. Ah, the cleaner. And suddenly I'm hit with a wave of memories I haven't thought about in a long, long time.

I used to work at that very Burger King when I was 16 years old. I started out working as a crew member doing a bit of everything. When the summer hit I started working the late night shift. It was until close which was probably sometime between 11 PM and 1 PM depending on the night. I think my shift usually started around 8 PM. With just under an hour or a half hour before we closed Steve would start his shift.

Steve was probably in his early thirties at the time. Maybe younger. He was a bit of a loaner but probably the nicest person I had met in my life at that point outside of my family and my circle of friends. He was quiet but always made an effort to smile and genuinely seem interested in "How are you?" He had big red scars up and down his face and on one side of his body. That probably explained the loaner part. Luckily I was naive enough to not totally alienate him at the time because of it. At least I hope I didn't.

Steve worked when Burger King was closed. At age 16 that blew my mind. What is it like? What do you do? Can I do it? I was enthralled. We developed a friendship over the summer and there were a few nights I stayed past my shift, off the clock to just talk to Steve and have him show me the ropes. In fact it was late that summer and Steve had to take some time off. I convinced my manager to let me take on those duties for the week or so while Steve was out. I worked from 11 PM until 7 AM. Unsupervised. By myself. Taking apart the BK broiler, soaking it in this awful dye and scrubbing everything to the best of my ability. I'm pretty sure some labor laws were broken there. I loved it. There is something about walking in with your boombox knowing that you'll own the store in a few moments while you work solo.

And that wasn't even my first job.

I started working at Casa de Oro when I was 15 years old. (yes, yes it is pretty much across the street from Burger King) I washed dishes. My sister had a friend working there that helped get me a job. Believe it or not I think I was trying to help save money for a computer. That was a crazy first job. I think I was too young and dumb to be nervous. But just thinking of what my first day must have been like makes me nervous now.

Mike was also a dishwasher. Like Steve, I'm remembering him as kind of a loaner type and probably early thirties as well. Maybe mid to late twenties. Like Steve, Mike always had a smile on his face. Mike's smile was infectious. Ear to ear infectious. Mike was deaf and wore hearing aides. His speech was affected by this. And like Steve, I think and hope I was naive enough to not alienate him. Mike also taught me the ropes.

Mike taught be how to work fast. Always work hard but fast. He was crazy speedy. And he was funny as hell. I had a blast working with Mike. It was probably my second week in and him and I were a team. He would pick me up on Saturday's to go to work before the place opened and drop me off well after the last drunk person left the restaurant. We worked tirelessly on Saturday's and it was a blast.

I have no way of contacting these two men to tell them thanks.

I think they helped me learn how to work hard but still have fun. How to be friendly and genuinely enjoy people different than you. They obviously weren't the only ones who taught me these values.

My father was a living breathing example of what a strong work ethic looked like every day of his life.

But tonight. Tonight I wonder about Mike and Steve. I hope they are over-the-top happy. I want them to know what a positive role they played in my life, even if it was such a short amount of time our paths crossed.

I'm glad I worked at Casa de Oro. I'm glad I worked at Burger King. I'm glad I worked at all those jobs before I landed "THE" job at the record store. Ah the record store. THAT was an entirely different lifetime ago also...