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Life’s pains and joys

Fine Kineti readers, I’ve had a few life events in the past two weeks. I’m sitting back and introspecting the changes that have gone down.

Most of you know my mom was diagnosed with bone cancer 2 weeks ago. She had a bone marrow extraction this past week, and we’re waiting to hear a prognosis from the doctors.

It’s a scary thing, you know? I’ve never really considered life without one of my parents. I don’t suppose it’s something people think about often. I don’t consider my mom elderly, and the thought’s never crossed my mind about her or my dad passing away or what life would be like without them.

When I heard the news, I was actually in fear of losing my mom. I was at work when I got the news, about to head into a meeting. I stood up from my cubicle, walked down a hallway, I looked down at the phone in my hand, and my hand was shaking. I couldn’t even think straight. I remember going through my phone contacts, not sure who I was calling or why.

Since the news, I’ve been praying for her daily: that God would choose life and not death, that He wouldn’t allow this disease to bring her to the grave, even as temporary as the grave is for God’s loved ones. I think the psalmist’s old plea is still basically true:

What gain is in my destruction,
     in my going to the grave?
Will the dust give praise to you, Lord?
     And will it proclaim your faithfulness?
Hear, Lord, show me favor,
     be my help now.

I know that my mom will be praising God either way, yet I’ve been reminding God that choosing life will result in her glorifying God everywhere and to everyone. From my limited scope, this seems more beneficial to God than having my mom returned to sender.

And judging from the 110+ comments on the cancer post, many of you are praying too. Despite all the fighting that goes on in the Messianic blogosphere, life and death have a way of bringing Messiah’s sheep together. Folks from Hebrew Roots, Messianic Judaism, First Fruits of Zion, several congregational leaders in Minnesota, and everyone in between chimed and offered their prayers and support. Thank you. Please continue praying.

Working for an Israeli software company

On another front, I’m now working part-time for an Israeli software company, Hibernating Rhinos, based in Hadera, Israel. The founder of that company is the well-known Ayende (Oren Eini), easily the most well-known software developer & entrepreneur in Israel. Working with him will be a great experience, not to mention a feather in the resumé cap. It also gives me a connection to the land I’d like to permanently live in some day. I’m honored to work with him and his company.

I had the opportunity to go full-time employment with them, but for now I kept my day job while working some nights and weekends for Hibernating Rhinos. That could change if I enjoy the work or if my day job was not working out.

6 figure salary

Speaking of my day job, the folks at Avtex have treated me well. I’ve been on contract out to 3M for several years now, working on various science-y projects and it’s been good.

Last week I received a small raise from my day job company which put me over the 6 figure salary for the first time in my life. I’m thankful. God’s blessed me with talent, I’ve put it to good use, worked hard, and it’s paid off. Making 6 figures and I’m still in my 20s – that’s a blessing and I don’t take it for granted. I’m thankful.

Allow me to tie that back to my parents for a moment. My dad encouraged us kids to dabble in technology. I remember he even let us deconstruct the one family computer we had. Take it apart, rebuild it, add new parts to it.

I remember the fruit of this when I was a young teenager: we bought a new computer game, and the game was unbearably slow and choppy on our aging Pentium I 133mhz Windows ‘98 machine. Having previously disassembled our computer and futzed with the parts, I quickly deducted that we must not have sufficient video hardware on the motherboard. We ran to the store to pick up a new Voodoo FX card (if any of you remember those!), plopped it into the AGP slot in the motherboard, and off we went playing Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six with a smooth 60FPS framerate!

My dad encouraged us to play with technology, and my mom might be responsible for my career today. Back around 2001, I was attending junior college in Chicago when my family moved out of state, and I with them. I was at a fork in the road: I could go back to school and finish my degree, or I could get a job. Being the socialphobe that I am, I wasn’t too keen on cold calling employers or, you know, applying in person. Makes it kind of hard to get a job!

I had already worked a starter job as a grocery cashier. I didn’t like it, and knew that sort of work was not what I wanted to do. But here I was, moved into a new state, with no job and no plans where to go.

My mom prodded me to go apply to all kinds of places. I distinctly remember walking into a manufacturing plant in Hastings, Minnesota, walking up to the desk and saying, “Are you guys hiring?”, having no idea what the company actually did, ha!

I finally had an ‘in’ at another grocery place in a neighboring town. They were going to hire me. But my mom kept pressing for something better; she looked in the newspaper and circled a bunch of job ads and ordered told me to follow up and see if I could get a better job. One read, “C# programmer.” I called them up, got an interview, and a week later I had my first technology job.

The rest, as they say, is history.

I have no doubt that if it weren’t for my mom’s consistent encouragement and prodding to reach higher, I wouldn’t be where I’m at professionally today.

Thanks, mom.

Starting my own company

A third life event took place just yesterday: my new software company, BitShuva, is officially a real thing in the eyes of the US government:


This is the achievement I am most proud of, honestly.

A couple years ago, as documented right here on the Kineti blog, I built some software in service to the Lord and my Hebrew Roots religious community: Chavah Messianic Radio.

Chavah has been a great success in its own right – she’s the most popular Messianic radio on the web (and even has her own blog!) – but out of Chavah grew a business where I intended none. People saw Chavah, were impressed, and asked if I could build them radio stations for their niche communities.

After doing this repeatedly for a few clients, I realized this might be a viable business in its own right: building internet radio stations for niche communities, hosting their radio stations, and charging for new features and consulting work.

To date, my software is powering several radio stations across the web for all kinds of niche communities. Independent artists in Illinois, radio for French Portuguse music, another radio station for a broad set of independent musicians, radio for the Hmong community, radio for the Egyptian Coptic Christian community, one for Nigerian music, a large ambitious project for underground hip hop, and 2 more stations in the works.

What’s great is, these radio station clients pay me to build it, then pay me recurring revenue every month to host and maintain it. In short, my clients pay me every month; it’s money I don’t really have to work for.

Building a business from scratch (e.g. no “get rich quick call this number now…”) is hard, and the road to success is littered with the bones of failures. Many software companies build stuff they can’t sell. Or they build the wrong product. Or they build things people don’t need. Or things that don’t work as advertised. And it takes years and thousands of dollars to find out that you failed. Something like 90% of all technology startups are failures for these reasons.

But with BitShuva, my company is building something that fills a niche need, something people want and are willing to pay for. And I think if I grow it enough, there will be a day when I don’t have to work for money. I’m nowhere near that, yet, but it’s a start.

So just yesterday I received formal government approval of my LLC. While this is essentially legal triva, it’s a significant life milestone for me.

Yesterday I also deployed a starter page for my company,


The website isn’t done, in fact, it’s just a bare minimum introduction to my services. Where it needs to be is the assembly line: people can get radio stations right there through the website: create a station, edit the look & feel, upload music, deploy to custom domain name, and pay me. All automated. Assembly line. That’s where I’m headed. I’m not there yet, but I’m moving towards it.

Just need endurance as I balance a full-time job, a part-time job, and my own startup!

Passover is coming in a few weeks, which means a new biblical year. Season of change, this last year has been. What the next holds we don’t know, but here’s to more of life’s joys.


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