about "Penguin Pete"...
Name: Pete Trbovich
Date-of-Birth: September 22, 1969
Resides in: Des Moines, Iowa, USA
Occupation: You're looking at it.
I live with my wife of 19 years and my two children.
How did I get here?
I had a strong interest in technology all the way through childhood, but when I hit my teen years I came to the stupid and naive conclusion that because computers were so easy for me to figure out, they would be that easy for everybody and hence there was no future in technology-based careers. No, really! I thought programming, web design, and computer graphics would be like flipping burgers - something anybody could do!
My other ambition was writing. But 19-year-olds seldom get published. Instead, I launched on a number of checkered careers dabbling in this and that. Amongst my many pursuits were:
- A 2-year stint in the California Conservation Corps - a way to serve my country without being in a war. Also a leg up to a state job, which didn't pan out. I did, however, get forest-fire-fighter training and had lots of fun adventures. I also produced the center newsletter while I was there.
- Several years at a power plant - Yes, wearing a hard hat and getting dirty! Lots of big-scale engineering with nary a computer in sight.
- Construction - Driving the big bulldozers and seeing how the infrastructure fits together. Focus on utility work such as gas lines and electrical. To this day I still subconsciously look for the J-boxes and loop detectors at an intersection with traffic lights. Hacking streets has a lot in common with hacking networks.
- Nearly a decade in Banking - The central operations center in the back end; as opposed to the branch bank, I never met a customer - a good thing! Here, I was slinging millions of dollars worth of checks and electronic money around on all kinds of funky technology. This was my longest and best-loved career, getting back in touch with computing and tech. Equal parts cubicle work and hopping around mainframes in a "dinosaur pen" and working with transports, encoders, and other stuff that bore a resemblance to card-walloping and MICR/OCR reading as well as streaming international banking transactions, all at the headquarters of a major, multinational corporation.
And where am I now?
It is this last career that I semi-retired from. Thanks to some smart financing and some minor investments (not stocks! coin and currency collecting!) that paid off, I was able to coast for several years off of that nest egg while deciding what I *really* wanted to do. And then I realized that computers and writing would always call me back. No matter where I was or what I had been doing, even when I came home from a construction job I would sit down to a computer and practice C programming.
Starting a second life as an online freelancer, I today make most of my revenue from writing, graphics design, minor programming, minor web-design, the occasional consulting gig, and other Internet-related work. I have a website with ads, but that's not something I count on for much besides smoke money.
I am the happiest of all now, because I am doing exactly what I loved to do all along, and am my own boss.
Where might I be going?
Writing for the web is great, but I'd like to publish a book or two. I would also like to develop my graphics skills further into an artist's career of its own. Maybe start my own studio? Whatever else, I will always be following the development of technology and being close to the cutting edge of it, while taking any career that keeps me next to it. Being a geek is in my blood, anything that turns my geek interest into money is good for me!
What other interests do I have besides computers?
- Literature and other media, particularly the indie film scene.
- Numismatics - I do not deal in United States coins or currency any more. I bought low and sold high, right at the peak before the crash. I still play with the foreign stuff. Amongst my proudest acquisitions (now long sold off): Peace dollars (the complete series), Franklin halves (the complete series), my oldest piece of currency which was a THREE-DOLLAR BILL from the bank of Macon, Georgia circa 1863, star notes, and I specialized in freaks and errors (mis-struck coins, mis-printed or mis-cut notes, etc.), and silver (lots of it - in big meaty chunks!). Please, don't even ask me about state quarters - I'd rather collect rocks. That's right where the market died. Today's U.S. Mint practice of striking the coin-of-the-week for every denomination ensures that the numismatics market will never again be what it was. When every single coin is designed to be a special collector's edition, then none of them are.
- Origami - Actually, I like little artsy-craftsy things of all kinds. I'm not nearly good enough with pure origami to start showcasing my work.
- History - I attend Renaissance Faires in full costume.
- Music CDs - Yes, I actually buy music albums at the store - what an antiquated concept! My tastes run from classical to goth and grunge, with a focus on hard rock and jazz. Frank Zappa is the most-present artist. I think Frank Zappa was music's Albert Einstein. Don't judge him by the few silly songs that made it to the Top 40.
- Wine - The beverage, not the faux-Windows environment! I've recently become quite the wine geek, as a result of a lot of research and writing on the subject for one contract job I did. Wine may be the most complex beverage known to man. Its history goes back to the very dawn of civilization. There's so many variables - what variety of grape, how they're pressed, how they're fermented, how they're bottled, where the grapes grew, and what the weather was like that year - that it could be said that no two identical bottles of wine have ever existed, just like snowflakes!
What is going on with this blog of mine?
It is a huge mistake to take anything here too seriously, and a lesser, but sizable, mistake to not take it seriously enough. When I am at my most impassioned, I will play a few humorous notes, and when I am in full humor mode, there's a dot of seriousness in each joke. Just like there is a dot of Yin in the Yang and a dot of jelly in the peanut butter.
My first mission is to inform, a close second is to entertain. But look out, because my third mission is to shake you up. I like to turn your perception upside down, pull conventional wisdom inside out, and hold a fun-house mirror up to everything you think you know. I am a polemic and gadfly, out to ask the most troublesome questions and speak the most unpopular observations in service of the pragmatic truth. It is my duty, as a person blessed to have been born with thick skin, to do the job no one else wants. But on my fun side, if I charge off into the woods and discover a new waterfall, I'll come back for you and drag you to come see it.
I just happen to do this in the field of technology, because it is what I was born to do.
Back you go to the front page.