Personal Opinion

The Day I Learned I Was Racist

Nobody is born racist. It is a learned behavior through family, friends, and media.

Today I am constantly frustrated that people don’t understand what “White Privilege” really is. I am a white male living in the United States who is a beneficiary of white privilege.

So let me start there. Having White Privilege itself doesn’t make you racist. It simply means that you most likely have been able to obtain more, do more, and be hassled less because of the color of your skin. People aren’t mad at you personally. So, if you are white, own the fact that you may have gotten something a little extra out of life that someone else hadn’t. This is the starting point, acknowledge that other people are less privileged. And now let’s figure out what we need to do to fix it.

Now back to my story. I’ve said and done some very stupid things because I didn’t know better. Now I do, and I regret them dearly. I had “friends” that would tell very racist jokes and I’d laugh. I said untrue things like “some of my best friends are black”. Sure, I had black acquaintances, but to say some of my best friends were was just to make me feel better when talking to other people.

The day I learned I was racist is still so ingrained in my brain. I can’t apologize to this woman enough. I worked with a white female friend at a grocery store. She was in an interracial relationship. I had the gall to tell her that “I don’t believe in interracial relationships”. WTF?!?!?!

Why did I say this to her? Goes back to my childhood where my mom would tell me how disappointed she’d be if I brought home a black woman. We are taught biases and beliefs that may not be true. Granted in the 90’s it could have just been my mom trying to protect me from society, but that doesn’t make it right.

Fast forward to my college years where I said those words to my friend and the devastation I saw in her face. How dare I?!?!?! I definitely learned something during that time. I was lucky to also meet my now wife who has the utmost respect for all people and has taught me so much about white privilege, it’s meaning, and is helping us raise two sons that know what racism is and what they should be doing to stop it. To hear my 3 and 5 years olds talking about George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Aubrey, and others makes me both happy and sad. The fact that they know what is going on and how wrong it is makes me happy. The fact that they know them for what happened to them makes me sad.

While I am not close with the friend I said those words to, I am happy to be friends on Facebook and see that she went on to marry that man, raise a great family and see that she is now a grandmother to a little baby with the same name as my son.

To my “friends/family” that are sharing posts like “All Lives Matter”, “Police Lives Matter”, etc… you are showing your ignorance about what is happening in this world. You are on the wrong side of history.

To my “friends/family” that believe monuments to confederate soldiers is history, why in the hell would you want to idolize the losers of the war. Those are statues of people that were fighting against the United States. You too are on the wrong side of history.

People can change. You can unlearn your biases. But you have to start with admitting that you have White Privilege. You have to start by realizing where our biases are. I am still not perfect, but I’d like to think I am WAY better off today then I was 30 years ago.


Extremely Interesting Vegan vs Meat Eater Conversation

I recently had a conversation with my best friend around the topic of Veganism. We often have small chats, but tend to keep them short to make sure we don’t damage our friendship as well. They are great at arguing (ahem… debating) in general.

Like most animal flesh eaters (Including my former self), they asked all the usual questions. Where will you get your protein? What do you want to see happen, billions of animals just set free? How do you plan to feed the people on earth without killing animals?

And like most, they don’t want to hear the answers. They let you say the answer, but don’t listen to it so that they can get to the next bullet point.

Anyway, on this day, I made the comment.

And then realize that we (humans) have the ability to avoid inflicting that unnecessary pain. There is no reason to kill and animal that has been proven to be as smart as a 3 year old child. So we can’t use intelligence to say they are inferior, otherwise we’d be ok killing infants. We know they are sentient and realize they are alive. We know that they avoid pain. We purposely end their lives while they themselves are very young.

We can also realize the damage we are doing to the environment because of it.

We have the ability to say it’s wrong to harm others people. As moral agents, we know right from wrong. We can come together as a society and say that mistreating any group (black, gay, female, mentally handicapped, animal, etc…) is wrong.

With all of that said. I will let you respond, but think we should end after that for now.

The response was again, what it typically comes down to.

If there were a 3 year old child and a cow in a field, and a pack of wolves eat both of them, you would mourn the loss of that cow of the same and equal level as you would the lost of that child?

This is interesting logic. When stated this way, it assumes that I either have to mourn only one of them, or both of them equally. For me, one of the easiest ways to look at these scenarios is to replace the non-human animal with a human animal. If the scenario were my kid and a stranger, I’d care about my kid WAY more. Doesn’t mean I feel no sadness for the stranger, but I would be overwhelmed with the loss of my child. A random 3 year old and a random adult, I’d probably mourn the 3 year old more when thinking about the loss of their potential future.

Back to the 3 year old human and the cow. I’d of course mourn the loss of the child more, but would also feel sad for the death of the cow.

Can you not tell me that when watching a lion chase down a gazelle on animal planet, you don’t feel a little sad for the gazelle. Yes, in the animal kingdom, that’s what happens and I accept that. Lions are not moral agents, and aren’t built to live life differently. Humans are… We don’t have to kill… In fact, most flesh eaters don’t feel like they are killing because they are so far removed from the reality. But their dollars are paying for the slaughter. Sure you pay the grocery store, who pays the butcher, who pays the slaughterhouse, but end of day, they are paying for an animal to die.


Eating With Meat Eaters

As my views have changed over the past year, I can’t begin to tell you how much regret I have. As I sit here with people tearing the flesh of what was an innocent chicken off their bones I am filled with sadness. I was this person not that long ago. If someone tried to talk to me about vegetarianism or veganism, I’d laugh it off as craziness. I distinctly remember a group date night where one woman was vegetarian and a few of us talked about loving veal (the flesh of a baby cow).

It’s amazing how much things change when you open your eyes. I’ve put myself in the place of the animals and realize how wrong I was.

It’s hard sitting here keeping my mouth shut. I’ve talked to them about my viewpoint in the past, so saying something now will only cause tension in relationships. But all I see is death and destruction in the act of consuming flesh. So sad…

Diet and Exercise

My Views On Fishing

Disclaimer: This is my personal blog where I share my personal thoughts and ideas. I share for anyone that wants to know me on a more personal basis. It can also be used as a conversation starter, I’m open to talking about this subject with anyone.

To me, fishing is not a sport, or a way to catch food. It’s simply animal cruelty.

That fish fighting at the end of the line is not playing with the fisherman and having a good time. They’re scared for their life, trying to get back to safety. Imagine a stranger walking up and grabbing your child, they will be fighting to get away from a being much larger than them. They’ll be scared, and just wanting to get back to their life and family.

How do you morally justify killing an animal that does not want to die?

Diet and Exercise

Compassion Is Important

In my previous post What Being Vegan Means To Me, I tried to layout how I got to this point.

I’d like to build upon that further, with the caveat that this again is my personal opinion and you should proceed reading only if you are open to learning new things.

I started down this road purely from a place of wanting to improve my health for my family. According to the CDC, Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. It accounts for almost 1 in 4 deaths in the US. There’s been a ton of research that shows that heart disease is not only reversible, it’s also preventable by diet alone. The China Study is one of the books that my wife read and helped motivate us both to make over our lives.

Beyond the health aspects, we started learning more. This is where things start getting murky and I want to introduce you to a UK YouTuber that goes by “Earthling Ed“. I personally love the way he talks and interacts with people, even people he completely disagrees with.

I believe most people are sad when they truly stop and think about the suffering that goes into putting food on their plate. It’s easy when you just pick up a pack of meat at the grocery or order it at a restaurant. But if a person is truly compassionate (which I believe we all are), then they can put themselves in the place of these animals. Dairy cows being forcibly impregnated (raped) just to provide milk. Male chicks are macerated right after birth because the industry has little use for them. Macerated is the easier way to say that they are thrown into a high speed grinder.

I’ve recently watched and shared this video with people. I hope that you will watch it with an open mind.

Diet and Exercise

Why We Must Stop Drinking Cow’s Milk

I share because I care. This information is important to me. These are my own thoughts and not those of anyone I do business with.

Diet and Exercise

What Being Vegan Means To Me

I recently had a conversation with a loved one that ended with the statement “I don’t like the fact that you are Vegan”. When I asked why, they said that they don’t think it’s healthy…

First off, I want to say that I appreciate the concern. I had the same feelings towards other people that were Vegan in the past. I had a negative view of their decision and thought it was something that I could NEVER do. (Spoiler: I was wrong)

Second, I’ve never been healthier in my life. Some people think I went on this diet to lose weight, that is not the case. I did it for health reasons and weight loss was a fantastic side effect. Recently, I’ve done things that I have never been able to do, such as doing 2 pull ups in one set. For most of my life I couldn’t even do 1. There have been times I’ve lost weight and could do barely 1. So while some will read 2 and think really?!?!?, I see and am amazed and so happy.

So after my heart attack, I made the decision to be healthier for my wife and kids. My wife is amazing and joined me on my journey to eat more of a plant based diet. At this point, I didn’t think I was going to be 100% vegetarian, let alone Vegan. I thought I would incorporate more plant based protein, and eat meat occasionally.

Then we started learning more. I won’t list all of my reasons here. My goal for this post is to really just let everyone know that I am healthy and happy.

I do want to say that I am not a perfect Vegan. Having a label is bad because it sets expectations that I can’t live up to. I am a work in progress, so if you see me eating eggs or cheese, or doing something else that goes against veganism, don’t look down upon me, don’t question me, don’t make comments. I only use the label (Vegan) in a way to quickly identify my preferred meal options, not to be held to any sort of standard.

On that note, if you are hosting a party, don’t necessarily go out of your way for me. Don’t get me wrong, I will appreciate being taken into consideration. But, talk to me about options first. For example: if you are ordering pizza, it’d be nice if there were veggie (non meat) options, but don’t order all of the pizza that way, as I don’t want to impact anyone else that hasn’t made the choice to change their eating habits. If it’s a pot luck type of gathering, then don’t worry my dietary concerns at all, I’ll bring something I know I can eat, and if there are other things there, GREAT.

I do plan on releasing other posts about my journey, my reasons, ups/downs, etc…

If you want to have a conversation with me, please do so in person. Any conversation of this sort online will not work.


A Life Changing Event

I wanted to share a recent event, without worrying anyone at the same time. It will be talked about at length on the PHPUgly Podcast, Episode #123, recorded 10/4/18. If you are reading this after about 10/9/18, go look for that episode.

TL;DR; I had a mild heart attack on Saturday 9/29/2018, but I am fine.

On Saturday evening, around 9:00pm, after the kids were in bed and my wife was out at book club with her friends, I noticed a weird discomfort in the middle of my chest, straight through my back. I thought it was odd, but I didn’t have any other symptoms like pain shooting down my left side, etc… The stuff we always hear about.

Earlier that day, we ran a 5K with the kids, pushing both of them in a stroller for a good portion of it. Then we went to a beach town, had lunch, and I ended up carrying both boys at the same time about 1/4 mile back to the car. So when this all happened Saturday night, I assumed that I had strained something. I really felt like I just needed to pop my back.

I had trouble falling asleep that night. My mind racing, feeling my heart beat… I was scared. I got up, did some reading and of course read everything from OMG Get To The Hospital NOW, to it could be inflammation. So I took some Advil, and finally got some sleep.

I woke up Sunday morning feeling 95% better. I lied to myself and others that I was 100% better. I had plans that day with the kids and nothing was going to stop me from being with them for that day. As I write this I realize the irony and am crying. I chose one day over possibly the rest of their lives. I had plans for the 3 of us to go get our haircuts together and then go to a baseball game. Nolan’s first, and we got to watch from a Suite.

While at the game, I noticed my chest more and more. I made the decision that I’d finish the game, get the kids home, fed, in bed and then I’d go have it checked out. I still really thought it was a strain, that I was just going to have it confirmed real quick that night. I got home, told Jacki my plans and she told me to go right away. She would take care of the kids. I had convinced her as well that it was nothing.

Geeze I’m balling as I write this… pull it together man… (Ok I was distracted by work which helped calm me down… where was I…)

Got to the ER, even the person checking me in asked if I did anything to strain the chest wall. Kind of confirming what I thought the issue was. So I was relieved. I went through the tests, EKG nurse said it looked ok, had blood drawn, etc…

Then the doctor saw me. He told me about an elevated protein in my blood called Troponin. Then he said, “I’m going to just be blunt, you had a mild heart attack, and may still be having it”. He went on to tell me the normal level is 0.2 or lower, and mine was a 6. I needed to be transferred to another hospital that had a cardiology unit. By the time I left the hospital, my Troponin level reached 10.2.

I went in for an Angiogram the next morning. Luckily all they found were 3 very small blockages. Unfortunately, they were in branches of blood vessels that couldn’t be opened up or stented.

So now I’m on a ton of medications, and need to change my lifestyle (luckily only a little).

Conclusion: I’m an idiot for waiting. But I will make a full recovery and will live a long happy life and be here for my kids.

Programmer's Mindset

Jenkin’s Build Pipeline

I watched a great video of a presentation by @adamculp about Jenkins. I have been setting up a Jenkin’s build server for a while, but this thing can be both easy and complicated at times. The video, while great, left me wanting more of the specifics of the setup, not just “look at what this can do”. I wanted, “This is how you do this”.

I reached out to Adam on the twittersphere and he told me which plugins I needed. The one I really wanted was the Build Pipeline Plugin, and when I finally took a second to scroll down on the plugins page, things started to click. Specifically “views”. I hadn’t used them before.

Even with the instructions, I missed the key point. It says to add a new build pipeline view, so I kept clicking on New Item and not finding it. I read a little closer and looked at the picture, and it was clear… Click the “+” to create a new view.


YNAB: You Need A Budget

I have been getting on a soap box a lot lately, and thought I would take a moment to put my words into a blog post. This will be a long post, but I have so much passion for this right now that I have to write it down.

I am terrible with money. I live well, but like most people, at the end of the month, the money is gone and I don’t know where it went.

My wife and I have been saying to each other that we need a budget. She or I would take the first step to start an excel document, load up a bunch of numbers, and then pretend we never saw it. Because we would get so overwhelmed, it just never got completed or looked at.

That is… until I found YNAB. Something in this program made the whole idea of managing money click for me. I don’t know why, or how, it just did. They have fantastic videos on their approach, and do it in a very personable manner.

Of course, you will still not have any money at the end of the month (at first), but I think if you stick with it… that will change.

So my challenge to you. If you are someone that knows me well enough (mostly family), and you want to try You Need A Budget, start your free trial now. You have 35 days to use it. If at the end of 35 days, you are convinced that this is for you, but you truly can not afford the $60, I will buy it for you. (Disclaimer: I have the right to turn down any request for any reason) đŸ˜€

Keep your categories simple. Track your major expenses, and if you have a bad habit you want to quit, create a category just for that. Track what you are spending and then make an honest assessment. You will be amazed that when you start budgeting and realize that to pay for that habit, you have to knowingly remove money from savings, that you may just want to stop that habit anyway.

And I like the idea of paying yourself first. Start with a small percentage, say 5%. When you get your check, let’s say it’s $100, first things first, put $5 into your savings category. Yes, you may need to use that, but do it anyway. Then when you are budgeting the rest of your money, you will have to knowingly take the money from that savings line, and put it somewhere else. Again, it’s that act of doing this that makes you aware of your money.