Freelance or Struggle

In the near future I'll be putting out more details on my services for freelance work. In the past, I've limited this to close friends and referrals as I was very busy with school. This semester, I only have two classes left to finish off my graduation requirements, and have A LOT of free time.

As a student I'm not allowed to work more than 25 hours a week so they don't have to offer me benefits. Since I'm already capped out at work, I need to supplement my income with freelance gigs. My current income pays all of my current bills, but there isn't any wiggle room for saving at the moment.

I've decided to move to Seattle at the beginning of next year! Exciting things are going to be happening in my life, and I can't wait for it all to start. However, I need some starting cash to pay for the move, get set up in an apartment, and pay for the little necessities. At the moment I'm still on the hunt for a job in Seattle, so if anyone knows a company over there looking for a software engineer, hit me up or share my resume with them ;)

Feel free to check out my resume for relevant experience and shoot me an email at with your software needs and I'll get back to you with a proposal. I'm most experienced with web development (html, css, javascript) and web applications (ruby on rails and some angular), as that's what I've been doing for the last 2.5 years, however I'm also open to projects in ruby, c/c++, and java.

Clarity Through Indulgence

Sept 15th marked the start of my 26th year of being alive. I spent the majority of my day in class and at work, a schedule which many who pay their own way through college experience. This sparked a thought process which I have been heavily concerned with over the last 5 or so years. Why am I here?

I don't mean that in the depressed sense of why am I alive, rather in the literal sense of why am I in my current position in life. I'm now 26 years old, I live in my parent's basement, and am still in college. To most people, I would be considered a failure, a bum, or a lazy millennial. This is why I rarely tell my story to other people, and often just keep my mouth shut when it comes to my situation.

Here's the rough breakdown of my college career
I moved from Wisconsin to Indiana and started attending college in the Fall of 2009. I double majored in photography and graphic design for a semester, and decided I wanted to keep those fields as hobbies, and the school wasn't a good fit for me. So I transferred back to a local college and went for marketing. Fall of 2011, I transferred to my current university, UW Eau Claire for Computer Science. I was always good with computers. However, after the first month, I had to leave school to stay at home taking care of my grandfather full time. I did this for around 2 years, after which the VA agreed to pay for him to go to day care, thus freeing up my time to go back to school. I decided to go to UW Stout to try my hand at Computer Engineering. I liked it for a little while, but only stayed there for 3 semesters and then transferred back to UW Eau Claire, for computer science. I've been here ever since, and am graduating in December, 3 short months from now.

The reasoning for my question, why am I here, stems from the fact that all of my friends who started college in 2009, graduated in 2013, or shortly thereafter, at the usual age of 21. They've been working in the real world, with thriving careers, for the better part of the last 5 years. Meanwhile, I'm still chugging along in this limbo path of non-traditional education. Why didn't I start with with computer science? Why didn't refuse to take care of my grandfather? Why didn't I give up on everything and work at mcdonalds for the rest of my life?

The answer to the first question is simple, I was a stupid kid who thought photography was the right choice, and when that fell through marketing would help me propel my photography studio business ahead. Poor choices for sure, but that creative dream is still part of me today.

The answer to the second one is rather complicated. To the outside observer I'm rather secluded from emotion. I don't display my emotions for others to see, or even to myself for that matter. I took care of my grandfather because it was the right thing to do. He was a major contributer in who I am today, and it was the least I could do to pay him back for the wisdom and experiences he provided me throughout my life. He's 94 now, has severe dementia, and is mostly wheelchair bound, so he needs help doing just about everything.

The third question is what really bothered me for a long time. Could I have given up and worked a minimum wage job the reset of my life? Yes, lot's of people do it, but they're called the working poor for a reason. They work full time and are still below the poverty line. I did not want to live a life of poverty, and definitely do not want my kids (if I ever have any - still up in the air on that decision) to grow up as I did, in a rather frugal household.

This internal threat of never retiring, due to not being able to afford to live, kept me going strong and staying in school. I didn't want to end up in a dead end job working forever just to keep the bills paid. I want to splurge every now and then and buy the things I want in addition to the necessities.

Like I said, September 15th was my birthday. While I know my parents and family members can't afford to give gifts anymore, I wanted to celebrate it my way. I bought my own gifts. I indulged my desire for a new watch, and pre-ordered the new Series 3 Apple Watch. This purchase solidified my decision to continue going to school for a degree in which I wont have to worry about money going forward. The demand for software engineers is very high, and will remain high until artificial intelligence can creatively write software on its own.

I'm still in school, but I work a job which earns me enough money to pay for school and for little purchases like this every so often. I'm one of the lucky ones who chose a field which will allow me to pay off my student loans without accumulating thousands extra in interest.

Am I sad it took me 8 or so years to get a college degree? Of course, I could've started my adult life 4-5 years ago. But, I now have knowledge of what the world is like, and was able to gain that under the protection of living at home. When I finally move out early next year, I won't have the same worries most do their first time on their own. I know how to manage my money, how to pay bills, how to cook, and how to do everyday tasks you need to take care of to survive. I can skip the "fall flat on your face" steps most take when on their own for the first time.

I'm not sure any of this makes sense. But hopefully you got something out of these ramblings. Till next time, take 'r easy.

  • Jeremy

Perseverance Through Pride

Persevering Through Pride | TIPS FOR LONG DISTANCE CYCLING!

Last week I spent the majority of my Sunday sitting on a thin triangle whilst running in mid air. A primitive device designed for torture and strenuous activity, more commonly known as a bicycle. I set out on my ride with a single goal in mind, a destination to arrive to only with the intent to return to my starting point. I had attempted this distance a few weeks prior, only to fail due to poor timing with the sunset. This time, I knew better, and began my journey with ample time to spare, and an enthusiasm for victory.

I'm a cyclist at heart, however my physical body is still attempting to keep up with my ambitions. I've been working at regaining the appearance I once held several years ago. Over time I had became complacent with both what I ate and what I did. In the past, I had held positions which required both physical labor and walking the entire shift. This generally kept my weight in check, and gave me a sense of invincibility towards calories.

As of June 2015, I got my first desk job as a web app developer at the University of Wisconsin in Eau Claire (UWEC). This meant no more physical activity which caused me to gain 40 lbs on top of the 20 lbs I was already overweight with. It seems fitting that I started my weight-loss journey two years later in June of this year. I've mostly kept it under control through major diet changes. I went from eating everything in sight to eating a plant based diet overnight -- a feat many fail at. Over the following months I learned more about my decision and can comfortably call myself a full fledged vegan. More on that another time though.

I've now lost 35 lbs since June, and feel fantastic, I'm well on my way to my goal. As I began feeling better I started riding my bike again, which is something I've been missing the last couple years. With the extra weight, riding became a chore rather than an activity of reflection and meditation which it once was for me. Now, I can enjoy my time on the bike, and get something out of it other than leg cramps. I know it's rather late in the cycling season to get back into it semi-seriously, but I'm glad I did. Anyways, back to the ride.

My route was from Eau Claire to Durand, a 30 mile ride each way. Thankfully, it was mostly flat due to the path being a bike trail. I have yet to build the courage for a long distance ride along the hilly Wisconsin roads. However, on this sunny day I made a mistake which would would cost me a great deal later on. I forgot to turn on my cycling computer till a little past 5 miles into my ride.

Due to my addiction to showing off on social media, I would end up making up the difference so Strava would display 60 miles. Those extra 5 miles made the last leg of my trip a very painful experience. The previous longest ride I had completed was a meager 40 miles. Still something to be proud of, but the exhaustion had not yet set in at that distance. I was not prepared for 65 miles.

Along the way I posted periodic updates to the few people watching my Instagram story. The first 40 miles were painless and went very smoothly. The following 10 miles began to hurt, but the final 15 miles were agonizingly painful. My legs were fine, but my neck and arms that were completely dead. This leads me to believe there is an issue with how my bike is setup, causing unnecessary pain. I'll have to get it properly fitted one of these days.

In those last couple miles, there were three factors keeping me going. Yes, I could've easily called for someone to come pick me up, but that was unacceptable. Pride was the major factor which deterred me. The shiny 60 miles ridden on Strava to boast to my friends, the veggie pizza I told myself I could get as a reward, and the audio book, Ready Player One, kept me going.

As I pulled into my driveway, I sighed with relief and parked my bike in the garage. After kicking off my cycling shoes, I settled in with a phone call ordering my veggie pizza. A satisfying end to a long day on the pavement.