Biography Page

Biographical Information

Hi there and thanks for showing an interest! Wander through this page for an overview of what makes me tick...

~Table of Contents for this page~

Where I am now
How I got there
Where I plan to go
Major Influences in my Life
The Bottom Line

Where I am now...

Man, it's sunny out here! Downtown San Diego Panorama I live in sunny Escondido, CA [ Yahoo! Maps ] - a suburb of San Diego. Southern California definitely lives up to its reputation! So much to see, do and enjoy. It is absolutely beautiful out here and I love it! Take a look at that downtown skyline to the right and just try to tell me that this is not the most gorgeous city on Earth! Like most southern Californians, I did not always live out here. Before May of 1995, I lived in even sunnier (and hotter) Tempe, Arizona [ Yahoo! Maps ]. I moved out west in the summer of '95 looking for adventure and opportunity and I believe I have found it! It certainly did not hurt that California's weather is much more temperate, too!

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How I got there...

Phoenix, Arizona USA Arizona State Flag I was born in May of 1971 in Phoenix, Arizona and grew up in the nearby suburb of Tempe. I lived in Tempe and Mesa (another suburb) until I took the big California plunge in 1995. My father is an electrical engineer and my mother is a registered nurse. My dad and I have pretty similar interests, as far as technological toys go, and we also share the same name (I'm actually a 3rd generation "Earl").

Sunset over Arizona Arizona State mascot (Sundevils) I graduated from Tempe High School in 1989 (Go Buffaloes!), and went straight to college (Arizona State University - logo to the right). I would not recommend this educational path for most people. If their experience is anything like mine, they will not be nearly mature enough to deal with college right out of high school. I must say college was pretty intense compared to high school. I mean, they actually expected you to study, pay attention, do the homework and crazy stuff like that! How dare they, right?!? At least it was a fun "party school" to go to!

I began working for Insight Computers in 1992 in its retail outlet. It was the job that I consider my first real experience with business (translation: "not fast food"). I eventually became the supervisor of the will call area which was a highly educational position for me.

I stayed at Insight until May '95, when I was asked by leaders of my church (International Church of Christ) to move to San Diego, along with my girlfriend at the time, to help with the congregation there (er....I mean HERE). There are some who say that this church is a terrible cult; accusing them of all sorts of crimes ranging from brainwashing to extortion. My experience was radically different. At my most vulnerable point, when I was asked to move, I did not feel taken advantage of, harassed, threatened or mistreated. I did feel some amount of pressure to move. However, in retrospect, I am eternally grateful for that pressure. Had I not received that pressure, there is absolutely no way I would have moved. Coming to San Diego has turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made. It forced me to grow up and expand my horizons in ways that I could never have imagined. I no longer attend this church, by the way, but I will get into that later.

Moving out on a limb! After much agonizing soul-searching, prayer and pulling my hair out, I decided to go ahead with the move. This was one of the most harrowing points of my life. Up until then, I had lived within a fairly small swath of town in East Phoenix and, unbeknownst to me, did not have much of a clue. Perhaps you remember that time in your life when you also knew everything, just like I used to back then (chuckle, chuckle). It is funny how growing older makes you wiser and, somehow, you seem to know "less" than when you were younger and "knew everything".

California State Flag That move sure was rough! Looking at it from the perspective of pros and cons, I suppose you would think I was absolutely nuts for moving out here. I had no real education to speak of, no firm plans for obtaining an education, no car or other reliable transportation, I was leaving a promising job that I had held for two and a half years (check out what Insight's stock has done over the past few years!), and no known job prospects in California (at a time when California's economy was shedding jobs rather than creating them). Additionally, one of the conditions of the whole thing was that I would need to move to California within two weeks of being asked!!! Barely enough time to give my employer proper notice of resignation.

When being asked to move, I was initially told that I would live in either Victorville, CA or San Diego. I found out that Escondido was to be the destination about 7 days before the scheduled move. Upon packing the moving truck to hit the road, I did not know where in Escondido my new household would be or with whom I would live (neither did my girlfriend of the time---who, I might add, was much braver about the whole thing than I was). I met my new roommates the day I arrived in Escondido, with all of my worldly possessions condensed into a truck. No joke. Oh, my, what an adventure though!!! Stepping out over the edge like that was what I imagine it is like for a parachutist to jump out of a plane for the first time (which I have not done... yet!). It seems like the dumbest thing in the world to anyone else observing, but WOW, what a rush! I spent about five weeks just trying to get settled in, before coming to Byte & Floppy Computers in August '95. I stayed there for four and a half years, picking up much sales, business and management experience along the way.

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Where I plan to go...

Movin' on up... University of Phoenix In 2000, I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Phoenix (logo to the right), San Diego Campus (Bachelor of Science with dual majors in Business Management and Business Information Systems). I plan to pursue an MBA within the next few years and have been considering whether to specialize that MBA in a technical discipline or not. In order to keep my academic progress up-to-date, I completed a pre-MBA program in 2007 at Tulane University (online) and was awarded a Master Certificate in Business Marketing. I enjoy working with computers and in and around the computer industry (or at least something toward the cutting edges of technology). I also find great reward in working with people, especially in helping others to achieve goals and to find solutions (probably a lot of the reason that I have migrated into sales). I would like to work in this capacity managing information and people in order to accomplish meaningful results. Sales affords me many good opportunities to work with people, as well, so I may quite probably find myself continuing in this career path. However, I would also be open to moving in a more technical direction, such as something along the lines of a systems analyst, bridging the gap between techies and business types. I know, I know... that sounds vague and pie-in-the-sky, but we all want our work to have meaning outside of the work itself. Besides, how many people do you know who get along with both computers *AND* people? I certainly would love to help increase the number of people that can say they work well with computers and people!

I am also looking to foster an Internet community presence, alluded to throughout this site. It is my hope that these business activities will complement my personal interests and assemble a "web" of net-neighbors that are unrestricted by distances, time zones or languages. The website, Hackerdom.net, will seek to create a web-based community for computer aficionados of all skill levels. I would very much appreciate it, if you would visit the site and share any comments or suggestions you might have! I am always on the lookout for people who would like to help with this project. Drop me a line!

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Major Influences in my Life...

Of all the people, experiences, literature, etc. that I have encountered, there are a few that stand out as having an especially significant impact upon my outlook on life, as is the case for us all. Some of those influences for me are listed below (in no particular order of importance, except for the first one!). If you are particularly struck by any of these and would like to comment, I welcome email...

My parents: Yes, this is an obvious influence for nearly everyone. I must mention them because I feel an immense gratitude to my parents for my upbringing. We were never wealthy and I will not say that I did not know what it was like to live in want. Yet, I never felt deprived or spoiled (for long, anyway). My parents went through a civil divorce when I was in elementary school. My mother, Cheryl, raised my brother (Mark) and me through our most rebellious years. She made incredible sacrifices to provide for us. I am not talking about the Dust Bowl here, but I realize that raising kids, in any environment, is no picnic and is not for the faint of heart. She did a wonderful job, in my opinion. Looking back on those times, I am amazed to think of how unselfish she was. She kept any complaints she had to herself. She taught me the values of patience, perseverance, toughness, and tenacity (among many other virtues). I feel that I owe much of my optimistic attitude to the can-do spirit she constantly displayed. My father and my late stepmother, Barbara Langenberg, pushed and prodded me to pursue my education and to always strive to put forth my best effort. For quite some time, the last thing in the world that I wanted to hear was this message of responsibility. However, they both kept at it with dogged determination. That message, repeated many times over many years, has certainly hit home. They made it impossible for me to accept the thought that I might forego college and, for that, I am very grateful. My father taught me a solid work ethic, the importance of treating everyone I encounter with respect, and the benefits of maintaining a calm and collected decision-making ability. In short, most of the strengths that I list on my résumé are there as a direct result of my parents' influence.

International Churches of Christ: I have yet to find another group of people that genuinely strives to follow the Bible with a comparable level of effort and dedication, but I try to always keep an open eye out for such a special group. Unfortunately, I have found some of the ICoC's strongest assets to also be its most glaring weaknesses. You might ask, 'If you have such a positive outlook on this church, why do you not go any more?'. To which I would reply that I think the ICoC is, generally, a sincere group of people pursuing a relationship with God. My problem stems from some of the well-intentioned but ill-advised methods of doing so. Specifically, the practice of "discipling" which involves a more mature Christian shepherding one less mature and helping the latter to grow in their faith, in a sort of mentoring relationship. A concept that is both brilliant and Biblical (see Moses-Joshua, Elijah-Elisha, Samuel-David, Paul-Timothy, and many other examples). However, it seems to me that when this concept is put into practice nowadays, it lends itself to abuse far too easily. In the examples above (Moses-Joshua, etc), the "more mature" person was usually in some sort of direct communication with God Himself. In my experience in the church, the most tangible product of "discipling" was the standard practice of asking the more mature member for advice about how to live - not just on important life-changing decisions, but in many cases, for the more mundane choices that we all must make on a day-to-day basis. This practice started out innocently enough - just a manner of trying to help people with objective opinions and to think through problems from a Christian perspective - but it evolved into a situation where advice would often be given as though we were receiving direction from God to pass down to the discipled. Rather than being a kind of guidance or casual mentoring, in reality, it would more often develop into a kind of parenting or managing relationship. I believe it was all well-intentioned, but even good intentions can produce bad results. Also, my choice of wording above was intentional (a "group of people pursuing a relationship with God"). Many times, it seemed as though there were little room for individuality. I do not regret my experience, as I feel that this period of my life built a foundation that, in many ways, has allowed me to become who I am and vastly broadened my understanding and sensitivity to other people. It also steered me clear of a great deal of trouble in high school, college, and early adulthood. I will not go into detail on this page, but I will be posting more about this on my writings page at a later date. The best benefit from being such an active member in this group was making friendships that were profoundly deep. To this day, I can run into people who shared the experience with me and pick up the friendship right where we last spoke, even though it may have been months or many years since our last conversation. I met many, many good people there and my only true regret is that I did not maintain close contact with more of them through the passing years. It always brings a smile to my face to bump into someone who I knew from the old ICoC and I think of my buddies often. In the meantime, please feel free to contact me personally. I welcome questions, comments, and greetings from long-lost friends.

The Bible: Over the nine years or so that I was regularly involved in the church mentioned above, I was able to glean tons of insights from and knowledge about the Bible. Knowledge that I have found to be incredibly useful in so many areas of my life that I could not possibly count them! It really is a fascinating and extremely insightful Book. Such a wealth of wisdom and illumination in a single place! Even humor... For example, the intelligence, or lack thereof, of Samson (Judges). Samson fell for the same ruse from the same person over and over again (not just two or three---but several times!). His wife begged him for an answer to his wedding-feast riddle and betrayed his secret, costing Samson face in front of his new in-laws and a small fortune in textiles. On several later occasions, she begged for the secret of his immense strength. Each time, Samson would give her a false reason for his power. Each time, people would gang up on him and try to deprive him of his strength, using information provided by his wife. Despite the overwhelming evidence of her betrayals, Samson eventually confided the truth to her and, sure enough, it led to his demise. How about the thoughtful debate Moses engaged with God Almighty (Exodus)? Moses claimed he was incapable of speaking eloquently to common people, yet he was confident enough to directly challenge God's wisdom in selecting Moses to speak. He challenged an omnipotent God to His face (pretty brave, eh?). However, he somehow lacked the courage to speak to mere humans. The moaning of Elijah (I Kings) who, after pulling out an unprecedented public display of God's sovereignty and glory on Mount Carmel, whined that all of God's prophets were gone and that he was the only one left. Those are only some of the more prominent ones. I could easily go on about Gideon's testing God (Judges) to provide multiple proofs of His power (dew on the fleece, dew off the fleece, etc). Jonah's running away from God (Jonah) - imagine trying to run away from Someone who can see everything! - to a distant land in the opposite direction from where he was told to go, and the height-challenged tax collector, Zacchaeus (Matthew), who climbed a tree in a wild attempt to catch a glimpse of Jesus and ended up hosting a reception for Jesus in his home. The cool thing about all of these stories and more is that they are proof-positive that God must have infinite patience! We have so many shortcomings and do really silly (not to mention 'dumb') things sometimes. Yet, He still chooses to pay attention and care for us despite our faults and problems. In a nutshell, I think that's what the Bible is all about. If you get that, in my opinion, you understand a lot of what it was intended for.

Atlas Shrugged (by Ayn Rand): Deemed the second most influential book in American society, next to the Bible, Atlas Shrugged is a novel that entertains with dramatic suspense, while challenging the ideas and moral foundation of the most personal and firmly-held of convictions. The story line is about a man who vowed that he would stop the "motor of the world", and was able to fulfill that promise. I would not hesitate to say that this book forced me to deeply ponder my views on a multitude of issues. During my reading of it, I experienced a total attitude transformation. I began by feeling sympathy for the people who tried to keep the motor of the world running, and feeling contempt for those who, on the surface, appeared to be care-free and non-chalant about the deteriorating state of the country, its industries and everything else. As I read on, I began to understand the root motivations of the people in each of these two "camps" and where the real responsibility for the motor stopping was... Well, I will not say more about the details of the story, but I came to understand the view that Rand was trying to convey. My viewpoint had always been along those lines. However, before reading this book, I felt some measure of guilt for my conservatism, having a difficult time reconciling it to the esteemed social values of charity, self-sacrifice and "helping thy neighbor". Don't get me wrong, I believe each of these values to be highly noble, but I now understand them each to have a specific and directed goal, as well as their own appropriate places, times, and limits. In my opinion, Rand gets too high on the soapbox sometimes (translation: there are some fairly long and preachy "sermons" in there), but it is a stirring read. As a result of this book, I feel my eyes have been opened somewhat and I have no problem saying that I am an unapologetic capitalist. The quote that sums it all up for me, in the simplest terms, is, "Accept the fact that the achievement of your happiness is the only moral purpose of your life, and that happiness--not pain or mindless self-indulgence--is the proof of your moral integrity, since it is the proof and the result of your loyalty to the achievement of your values." (page 1059 of the 35th Anniversary Edition).

Objectivism: The key tenets of the Ayn Rand philosophy, known as "Objectivism", portrayed in Atlas Shrugged are largely based upon the ideas of Aristotle. First, that reason is the only real means of attaining knowledge. This tenet rejects the notion that truth is subjective to opinion, supernatural mysticism or skepticism. Opinion has no bearing on whether something is true. Mysticism is purely hocus-pocus. Rand essentially indicts all religion. That appears a bit extreme to me, but then, this is just my opinion (smirk). Skepticism would hold that it is impossible to certify anything as absolutely true; however, Objectivism holds that it is possible to know that something is certainly true using our senses and logic (observation and experimentation). Second, that a being cannot contradict itself - people must act primarily for their own welfare. This tenet rejects the idea that altruism (the betterment of others) is of the highest moral value. In fact, the philosophy is pretty much the polar opposite of this and indicates that altruism actually represents moral depravity. A strong case is made that altruism fosters an environment in which people become dependent upon others for their survival. An ironic side-effect of this is that, rather than being grateful for the help, the dependent people are likely to see the support they receive as some sort of an obligation that the "rich" have to take care of the "poor". Please realize, I am over-simplifying here as there are, obviously, exceptions to this rule. However, this side-effect is not far from the truth in many cases. Following the logic through, this "friction" between rich and poor is the basis for the inter-class resentment which makes the rich loathe the poor, while the poor demand assistance from the rich and, rather than offering gratitude, curse the very people who provide for their survival and make it more difficult for the rich to provide for their own survival. Finally, raw capitalism is the ideal social system. Freedom exists only when the individual is able to own their inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. A crucial point here is that it is not government's job to provide happiness, but only to foster an environment in which one is free to pursue happiness. Put another way: You don't have the right to be happy; you have the right to do the things that you believe will make you happy, so long as those things don't impugn someone else's rights to do the same. This philosophy holds that government's purpose is to strictly limit itself to being a referee; make sure that everyone follows the rules and enforce discipline if rules are broken by anyone. I do feel that Objectivism is much too simplistic to actually work in practice. It is very cut and dry and does not allow for some circumstances which, to me, seem to dictate a modified morality from the above. For instance, I believe that people who are physically unable to be self-sufficient are in an entirely different category from those who choose not to be self-sufficient, yet pure Objectivism treats each group of people the same without regard for the differences that may impact capability. Overall, though, I strongly believe that Atlas Shrugged is a must-read for anyone who feels that society has an irrefutable duty to support everyone or anyone who is troubled by the efforts that governments often will make in an attempt to fulfill everybody's needs. It contains an awakening portrait of what life might be like if everyone subscribed to the notion that rewards should be based upon "need" rather than "merit" and lived their lives accordingly. I think that many of the points that come out of the story are valid and some are eerily similar to headlines I sometimes see about what happens when governments try to tell businesses too much about how to run their business, all the while restricting their ability to do business. At any rate, my two cents are pretty well on the table. Read this book, if you have not already!

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The Bottom Line...

Nice weather in CA! Summing it all up... I am in my 40's and loving the California life. I consider myself to be a fairly well-rounded person with a good sense of humor, a highly positive attitude, and a laid-back demeanor. Before moving to San Diego and being forced to grow up a bit by being far from "home", I felt more high-strung, uptight, and generally stressed-out. California has certainly helped me to get mellow, calm, and happy. Is it the waves, weather, or just the change of scenery? I am not entirely sure, but I do know that San Diego is the place for me to be!

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