Teaching Coding

For the first time, I will be teaching 2 sections of a class in the School of Business at Eastern Illinois University this spring. During my undergraduate and graduate years I had thought about continuing on to get my doctorate because teaching had always been a thought in my head.

I love collaborating.

I love getting excited about technology (mostly coding)

I love getting others excited

I love seeing a student or peer make progress and I know I was there to help them learn something that took me weeks of struggling.

Web development is such a growing industry that I am almost completely self-taught. Sure I learned my coding basics and database design basics in school - but 80% of what I know is self-taught. So I'm excited to hopefully give my students a helping hand and give the web development community some better web developers!

Its going to be a crazy semester because not only is it my first time teaching - but it's Jen's too! She is student teaching in a high school english classroom and is super excited to get started.

P.S. In the photo, I'm teaching our friend's kids some basic web coding

1 Year of Awesomeness

Hard to believe its already been a year since me and Jen were married. I still can't believe how lucky I am to have such a great partner in life and adventures.

Let's just talk about how awesome our wedding day was. So much of our family and friends came to support us - the day would not have been near as fun without everyone there to share our joy.

The wedding was great, but day-to-day life is my favorite. Why being married to Jen is awesome (a few reasons):

  • Waking up with the love of my life
  • tickle attacks (she is a rabid tickler)
  • being forced to tell stories
  • buying nerf guns and having wars in the house
  • She's really snuggly
  • I used to hate shopping - but somehow things get crazy when we shop together
  • I laugh more
  • Social activisim
  • Everyday activities somehow get a sense of adventure added to them
  • We help each other reach our own dreams
  • We reach dreams together too
  • I can make brownies better than her
  • She's super crafty
  • love letters (lots of them)!

Thats just a small list, she's pretty amazing (but you've probably gathered that if you read her blog). Lucky to be able to spend forever with this wonder woman! And I'm really looking forward to finding her in London  in 2 days and holding her for a long time!

Tomato-less handsome

July 4th, 2011

Ever since I "joined" the Hindes/Blough family (technically only a few weeks ago, but I feel like i've been a part since I met them about 2.5 years ago) - I've been coming to their Fourth of July weekend.  Its an awesome time, the entire extended family is there, and its a great weekend.

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Our "Name Tags" for the wedding


This year, we started our weekend up in Wisconsin for Coach Masanet's Wedding.  He is my former distance coach from the EIU Track and Field and Cross Country team.  We had Rooster riding with us, and we didn't quite make it for the wedding, but the reception was fantastic.  Good to see old faces, and have a good time!

Then we decided to drive through-the-night (left Wisconsin at 11:00pm) and get to Indiana, for a few reasons: Rooster wanted to get back to Springfield, we wanted to avoid Chicago traffic during the day (July 4th traffic is nuts!), and mostly - we wanted to get our new puppy!

We dropped Rooster off at Union Station in Chicago at 5am, and he took the 8am train to Springfield.  And we made it to Indiana by 6:30am, and found our fluff-bucket new puppy!

No time to rest, we took care of Indiana (our new puppy) and enjoy the weekend festivities.

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Our new puppy - Indiana

We didn't make a boat this year for the Cardboard Boat Regatta - just too darn tired, but we got to watch everyone else!  Here was the winning crew:

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Winning Boat


And on Sunday we had the auction - which raised $1700 for the Cottage, and $1700 for the Mount St. Mary's Abbey.  Jen and I got some cool things - like a picnic basket and some Roosters!

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Then we drove back to Charleston, with our new baby puppy, and started moving into our new apartment - another adventure all-together!

40 Mile Relay

Last weekend, I had some friends come down, and we ran (its what my friends and I do for fun). We ran in Charleston's first 40 Mile Relay, and we won it - beating the next team by a whole hour!  There were only 7 teams, but everyone there was in great spirits, and everyone had a lot of fun.  As soon as we walked into the elementary school cafeteria that morning (that's where the race started), we were jokingly boo-ed by the other teams.  We were the only all male team, and we were certainly the youngest.

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Left to Right: Nic Atkinson, Nate Atkinson, Brad Runnion, Bryan Conger - Team SteepleWeb - winners of the first Charleston 40 Mile Relay

I'm not too in shape, but thank goodness the other guys are!  I was certainly our weak leg, but I still ran pretty well - so I was happy.  And I actually ran 11 miles when it was all said and done!

Before we start talking about the race though, I've got to share this great little "instruction manual" that was in the bathroom (keep in mind, we were at an elementary school).

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How to Pee

Alright, on to the race.  It was cold, and rainy out - it is November after all, so its expected.  We ran southwest of town - some of my favorite areas to run at.  Started off on a Woody's - Bryan started us off, ran about 3 miles, then handed-off to me, and I ran about 3.5 miles, then handed off to Rooster - who ran about 3.3 miles, and then Brad, who ran about 3.3 miles.  This continued until we ran 40 miles!

The route was great, I liked the weather (although i'm sure some didn't), and I enjoyed the company.  I hadn't seen Brad for a while, and Brad is someone I talk to nearly every day with SteepleWeb work.  Bryan is a freshman at EIU, and he is really a great guy - he joined the team well, a great addition.

Next year we hope to have 2 teams and hope to break 4 hours (we ran 4:06).  Enjoy the selected pictures below (the full album is here on Flickr )

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Working a Big-Boy Job - My Latest Adventure

I'm loving it - work that is.  I'd have to say I'm an extremely lucky man.  Not everyone gets to do what they love - and sometimes people just have trouble finding what they love to do.  I knew I loved working with computers, so maybe I could be a computer technician and help people with their computers.  Well, I do a lot of that now -but its not my job.  Jen says I should at least ask for people to bake me cookies for fixing their computer - but I still do it for nothing.

And throughout high school and college I did the whole desktop application development and programming with QBasic, C++, Visual Basic, Java, COBOL, etc.. and loved that.  I had some great teachers throughout the years who really taught me a lot - especially good ole Jim Egan - my high-school programming teacher and basketball coach.  Not a better man out there - or crazier.

Then I finally found some development for the web - I started coding PHP, and making basic websites.  Through the years, I spent the most time on that, and then I got a graduate assistantship  with one of the technology groups on-campus and did web development and database design for them for 2 years as a graduate student.  During those 2 years I had 2 internships - 1 summer at Caterpillar in Peoria, and another at State Farm in Bloomington.  I enjoyed both (especially the pay), but working at big companies like that just wasn't for me.  So I found what I like, and I found where I liked to do it - EIU.

EIU has been my home for 6 years now, and I've come to know so many great people (including my beautiful and wonderful fiancee) and be involved in so many great things.  So, getting a job here was a blessing - I couldn't ask for anything more.

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My office - in the basement of Old McAfee Gym on the campus of Eastern Illinois University!

As you can see from the pic above - I have 2 awesome canvas's hanging on my wall - both pictures I took.  It was a recent groupon - 70% off canvas printing.  I've got quite a bit more work though to really decorate the office well - but its a start.

Friends - They Paved Paradise and Put up a Parking Lot

Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you got till its gone?
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I'm done living with teammates and fellow college students.  It's exciting to be moving on, and for me, I'm a bit of a neat freak - so I enjoy having a place more of my own that's kept clean.  Even Jen was ready to get out of 2nd street, and the craziness of my roommates.  But now - we've moved on - Jen is living with 2 of her girlfriends, and I have an apartment - but I'm mostly at Jen's.  We both already miss the constant hum of scum and stupidity of 2nd street.  We both already miss someone always being an idiot and an asshole.  We both miss always having something crazy going on.

We both miss my scummy, piece of shit, lazy, shithead roommates.

Today we went and did some bridge jumping with some old teammates - and it was a blast!  First off, the bridge is baller, and its about 30 feet from the water.  The jump doesn't take long, and it doesn't look bad - but when you are standing on the edge of the bridge, ready to jump, it looks like the water is miles down.  Beautiful day though, cool, but warm sunshine.

It was just nice to see some of the crew again.  I've always been poor at keeping in touch - but I really think I'm going to do a better job of keeping in touch - because now I'm beginning to truly miss my friends.  I guess I'm blessed to have gained so many great friendships over my years - especially the friends and teammates from EIU - certainly some special people.

An Evening with the Hindes Family (And Taking in a Ball Game at Wrigley)

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Cruisin in the Silver Bullet up the quiet I-57

Jen's got a pretty cool brother, and he is getting ready to head to South America to backpack around the continent for a few months - pretty badass.  Anyway - before he makes his big trip (with his great girlfriend Sara (with an "h" ??)) they decided to take in Chicago a bit.  I took off of work a little early, and Jen and I made a b-line for Greektown for dinner - destination:  Santorini Greek Restuarant

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Beautiful day for driving... and a ball game!

It was a very nice place, and I stepped out of my bounds and got some sort of Greek Meatballs that were pretty solid.  Overall though, nobody was that impressed with their meal.  After that, we got back to our cars (with a little help from our valet flying in REVERSE!!).  And headed to Wrigley.  Jen and I lucked out and got a parking spot across the street from Wrigley - we got there in the 2nd inning.  It was a hot night, mid 90's during the day, so we were sweating just sitting in Wrigley ... sitting only about 15 rows behind the 3rd base dugout!  I was determined to catch a foul ball at some point throughout the game to prove my manliness.  There are few things more manly than catching a foul ball bare-handed - except maybe catching the ball bare-handed with a bear in the other hand.

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The game wasn't too great - the Cubs were getting slaughtered - they made a rally in the 8th inning - but they need a miracle to get back into it.  I hadn't been in a ballpark for a while - just a lot of fun to watch the people and the vendors especially.  The guys behind us were a racket too, so I enjoyed their commentary throughout the game.

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What a badass bunch

After the game, we got back in the car and took on Lakeview drive, Chicago, and the world!  We made it back to Charleston about 1:40am, so it was a late one, and a long drive.  Lots of fun though, its always a blast hanging with the Hindes' (sounds like a TV show title).  I'm looking forward to hearing about TJ and Sara's trip to the "Bottom Side" of the world.


Weekend in Indianpolis

A few months back, Jen got an awesome cooking class offer in her Groupon inbox - so we signed up for "Date Night: Italy!"  We both weren't sure when we would be able to take the class - but Groupon gave us a year to complete the fabulous offer.  Summer rolled in and finally we picked a date - but Jen being the anti-pirate she is - decided we should spend the weekend in Indianapolis.  I was hesitant at first because I like staying home and being a pirate and getting work done.  But, our weekend turned out Great!

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Look at how beautiful my hunny is!

This cooking class turned out to be amazing, and not quite what we thought it would be.  I thought the chef would be upfront teaching the group (which was about 10 couples) - but when we got there, each couple had to make part of the meal.  Jen and I got to make Tomato Bisque - and we rocked it.

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The Group (minus Jen, taking the picture)

The class was great, and all the staff and the chef at Kiss Z Cook were great.  But even better was the group of couple there that we got to meet.  Everyone was a fun loving bunch - and the couple from England was hilarious.

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Did I mention how lucky I am?

Rock Climbing @ Climb Time

After our stay at the Drury Inn - we headed over to Climb Time!  Jen had never climbed before, and I had done it once since my friends back home worked at a rock climbing place.  It was tons of fun, although killer on the upper arm/body strength.  We did this for about an hour, and were done.  They had lots of courses, and I had lots of fun try to go over ledges and at backwards angles.  Jen was a little nervous at first because she thought on the way down she had to hold my entire weight!  Luckily that's not hte case, or we would have been in trouble!

Looking "buff" in the climbing harness

Childrens Museum

Unknown before we went there, The Indianapolis Childrens Museum is the biggest in the world, and is awesome!  We spent almost 3 hours there looking at all the cool stuff they had.  The dinosaur exhibit was pretty baller, and my hunny decided to get into costume
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Scary, I know
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Beverage of Choice (Although food courts don't have the best food, fyi)

And here is this baller clock that is run by water!  We got there just before 1pm, so we got to see the clock make a big change, emptying almost all the containers!
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A crazy sculpture made out of blown glass:
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That's Us!
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"Keep Critters on your wrist!" - That is absurd!

Our adventure as spectacular spectacular!


Chihuahua – Day 5 (3/18/10)

We were going to eat breakfast with the kids, but after staying up so late, we didn’t go. We had breakfast here, and then about 8:30 Emilio drove us into town to the centro. On our way there, we saw Paco – he was delivering tacos. Just crazy though – in a huge town like Chihuahua – we ran into Paco. Anyway, Emilio dropped us off at the Cathedral, and first we went to the bank to get some pesos.

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We loaded up and first I brought everyone down a street for shopping – but nobody was buying anything. So we stopped and asked everyone what they wanted – Doris wanted to go to the Museum “Casa Chihuahua”, so we did. It was 20 pesos per person and it was a very nice place. We spent a little over an hour there. Then we headed to the craft market, and spent an hour there. I really didn’t’ need to buy anything, so Jen and I bought 2 bowls, and she bought some large oversized silverware.

Then we went and grabbed some lunch at a small place just around the corner from the market. Oh, Jen also bought a backpack and we bought one for Doris too, she was very happy because she wanted it. Cameron bought a wrestlers mask, and most of the girls bought Mexican blankets.

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The restaurant we ate at was small and the pipe that was supposed to go from the stove to outside was not connected, so all the smoke stayed inside. A little kid came inside selling things and he kept rubbing his eyes and wanted to leave because the smoke was so bad. The food was very good, but I of course was still hungry. Everyone enjoyed the food and the good juice they had.

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After lunch – which took a while – we headed out back to the cathedral and then to the food market. We bought oranges and mangos and cheese. After that we bought candy for the kids. Then we headed back to the Cathredal to meet up with Emilio. We got there and shopped around. Doris bought some leaves to make tea! Then Emilio was there and we loaded up and left.

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Chihuahua – Day 4 (3/17/10)

Breakfast in the room, and we started working with Maria Del Mar at 8am. At 10am, the would be starting. So we did some last minute cleaning – we swept the entrance plaza outside the dorms – all the way down to the new laundry room.

After cleaning and before the ceremony started, we talked with Paco, and we went and did farm chores. We could not find rabbit food, but other than that it was fine. After that, we went back to our room, and ate food for about an hour. We made gaucomole – like 3-4 bowls, and lots of food. Then Raul came, and he wanted us to get all the crap we cleared into 1-2 big piles so the kids could pick it all up tomorrow. So, the group did that while Cameron and I went with Raul to get the 140 trees. We got a few different kinds, and it was good. On the drive back we talked a bit, so that was fun – it was about a 40 minute drive to the other side of town to the tree place. When we got back, Jen was at the gate, trying to get out of the farm because her skin hurt so bad from sunburn. I felt so bad for my honey bunny. We unloaded the trees, and then Cameron and I went back with our group and continued to clear the yard. In a few minutes, Raul came back and told us we did a great job! He talked to us for a while and was so happy that the place looked so beautiful. So we finished up out there and got back to our place and had lunch at like 4pm – because we didn’t have lunch earlier. Everyone was really tired and sunburned. But we went out and played with the kids. Paco organized a large game of soccer, and that was a lot of fun! We played 10 vs. 10 on the big field. I actually played really well – I scored like 3 or 4 of our 6 goals. It was fun for me to just run fast and kick-butt – especially against kids who are so good with their feet! My team won, it was good.

Then we had dinner, 6 crackers and an oatmeal+milk mix that I did not like. I remember the same meal last year. Gerardo introduced me to his brother, and he gave me a kiss after dinner. Then we went back to the room and washed clothes. We washed them in the sink cause we could not get the clothes washer in our room to work. Half the group went to Chapel with the kids. At 9pm, we went out with Paco and Sergio and Sara for diner – although it was sad because Doris was sick and did not come along. Dinner was good, I got a quesadilla. After dinner, Paco, Sergio, and Sara took us on a small driving tour of Chihuahua – which was kind of cool – but we were all so tired – it was kind of frustrating because we did not get back until 12:30. We did stop at this cool park – like a water park – but not for playing in the water, but just walking around it. Then a cop kicked us out because it was too late.

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Doris said she was sad because it is the first time she has ever gone to bed alone, and she had a super high fever.