Just a Theory

By David E. Wheeler

Posts about Graduate School

The 411 Since Graduating from College

I recently got back in touch with a friend from college via Facebook. She asked me, “So David give me the 411? Whats been up with you for oh? 15 years?” Facebook’s Wall doesn’t seem to care much for multi-paragraph posts, but it kind of makes sense to post it in my blog anyway.

Julie and I moved to Florida in January, 1994 for a few months, and to Virginia the following summer. I started in the graduate program in the UVa Department of Anthropology in the fall. I also got on the internet that year and started learning how to program. We got married in May, 1995, in Orange, Virginia.

Two years later, I got my MA. Even though I was at UVa doing Near Eastern archaeology, by masters paper was based on research in the American Southwest. That’s just the way things shook out. The paper was later rejected by an archaeology journal. The peer reviews were really offensive, one in particular; some of the old guard of Southwest archaeology were really threatened by it. Didn’t help that I’d dropped the research part of the article before submitting. I was advised to do so, but it was clearly a mistake. C’et la vie. I mostly found it humorous and typical that academics could be such dicks to a student submitting his first peer-reviewed paper.

I have a PDF of the paper I keep meaning to blog. I should do that one of these days.

I spent a summer on Cyprus excavating a medieval site and the summer of 98 with my advisor for four weeks in southeastern Turkey. Kurdistan, really. My focus was supposedly architecture and urbanization, but in truth I enjoyed creating a database app for the project much more than counting pottery sherds. I went into the Turkey trip thinking it would determine whether or not I stuck to archaeology. I’d by this time had a full-time job for about a year doing systems and integration programming for the UVa medical center. It was fun, engaging work, and although I enjoyed the academic side of graduate schools (seminars and such), the culture of academia held no interest for me at all.

So I quit the program when I got back from Turkey. In 1999 we moved back to SF. I worked for UCSF for 9 months, then went to work for Salon.com. I was there a year, then went on my own, working on an open-source content management system called Bricolage that I’d developed with my colleagues at Salon. Life was great for us in SF. We moved into a loft in 2002 and really made the best of our time in The City.

In 2003 we were visiting Portland for a weekend just after Christmas and decided to have a real estate agent show us some properties to get a feel for the place. We’d been thinking about moving to Portland since ’96, and were still thinking maybe we’d do it in a couple more years. Julie’s dad had moved to Eugene, 2 hours down the road, so that was also a factor. To our surprise, we found a house we fell in love with. So we bought it, sold the loft, and moved to Portland, arriving in April, 2004. Our daughter, Anna, was born in May 2005.

And the rest is history. I’ve done a bunch of technology-related work over the last 10 years, mostly Perl and PostgreSQL programming. These days, I do PostgreSQL consulting as an associate in PostgreSQL Experts, some Bricolage consulting via my company, Kineticode, and have recently started a new venture with a friend to develop iPad app.

Portland is a terrific place to live. We love it here. Not gritty like SF, but still with the elements of urban living. We have a house close to downtown and I get around mainly by bike. Anna is doing great; she’s so awesome. She’s in a Montessori school that we’ll likely keep her in through 8th grade.

Julie is doing well, too. At UVa she became Art Director for the University’s Capital Campaign, and started a business, Strongrrl, while in San Francisco, mainly focused on graphic design for universities and non-profits. Business has slowed in the last few years, alas, as print has been dying and budgets have become restricted. She still does a bit of work, but also has started sewing and an Etsy store (kind of empty at the moment, will be stocked in the next couple of weeks) and this year doing deep genealogical research. We both work at home, but she does the lion’s share of the domestic and child-rearing duties. After 18 years together our relationship has deepened tremendously. We’re very happy together.

Anyway, life is good. I suppose if I were to write this again tomorrow I’d focus on a bunch of other things. A lot happens in 17 years, as you no doubt know. This is just a thin slice, with more academic stuff than I usually go into, but the context seemed to warrant it.

So what’s your 411?

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