Spotlight: Dave and Trish Whitinger

By Sharon Brown (Sharon) on March 29, 2010

It isn't often we get to take a peek into the minds of a young couple who have as many interests and as much passion about life as Dave and Trish Whitinger. Talking with them is as relaxing as it is informative, and is definitely worth sharing with you. Join us as we talk with Dave and Trish.

We all look to Dave as our computer guy, the one we turn to when our writings in Cubits turn into gibberish and disappear into oblivion. He is our magic man when he goes into cyberspace and captures that which we thought was lost forever. Behind the image we have of him, there's a very kind and knowledgeable young man, one I enjoy calling friend. The words that follow belong to Dave, in answer to the many questions we asked. 

Dave: "I became interested in computers very early. Living in Dallas in my early childhood, my dad would bring home equipment from his job at Texas Instruments. There were all kinds of machines in the house, and my earliest memories involve a 300 baud modem with cups that the phone receiver plugged into.

We always h2010-03-29/Sharran/df555dad gardens growing up, and I've always been keenly interested in growing things, especially from seed, and raising them to full size. When I bought my first house, I was excited to finally have some dirt that I could garden in, and it's just taken off from there.

Trish and I met in high school. She sat in front of me in one of our classes and we got to know each other. We married not long after we graduated from high school.

I started Dave's Garden to provide a software solution to my seed trading. Back then I was trading on gardenweb and was having some trouble keeping organized with all the seeds I had for trade, as well as my 'wish list' that I wanted. So I wrote software to help me track my stash, and I allowed other people to sign up an account and maintain their own list. It grew pretty quickly, although nothing like as fast as Cubits has grown!

It's not my first site, though. I guess my first site was a personal site I set up in the early to mid 90's. I created many successful web sites before Dave's Garden. Linux Today is one such site that is still going as strong as ever. I started that one two years before starting Dave's Garden. You can see a list of sites that I've built at whitinger.net."

We asked Dave then about his family life. Here's what he said:

Dave: "Plenty of people go out and work a job away from home all day. They wake up, do the farm chores, t2010-03-29/Sharran/2c29c6hen drive to work and stay gone all day, then come home, spend time with the family, do the evening chores, and then settle down for the evening.

In my opinion, being able to work from home is the ultimate in flexibility. I set whatever schedule I need, and handle things as they need handling."

And then we asked this question: 'We understand your children are homeschooled. Can you tell us how that's working out?'

Dave: "Homeschooling is the ultimate expression of freedom and liberty. There are two philosophies to raising children, that the parent knows best or that the state knows best. Those who homeschool (and there are around 2 million homeschooled children in this country) are doing it because they believe they can do a better job than the state.

Obviously, I agree. A hired government worker with 20+ students under his care is not going to be able to give the quality of education that a caring parent is going to give in a one on one situation like homeschooling. And the results show it: homeschooled children are famous for their academic achievements. 

The last thing I'll say about government schools: growing up in them felt like a prison to me, and made me hate learning. It wasn't until I was well into my twenties that I started to be interested in furthering my education. I think government schools are more for "control" than for education. You only need to compare the United States test scores to that of the rest of the western world to see how pitiful we are. It's time for a change and millions of families apparently agree. 2010-03-29/Sharran/47555a

As for computers, all of our children have accounts at cubits and our two oldest ones have setup their own (private) cubit where they write articles and chat in their forums with each other and with my dad. Will any of them become professional programmers? That's completely up in the air, it's too early to tell. But programming a computer is a skill that, like woodworking, gardening, or any other industry, is very useful, and I expect they'll all get a good exposure to the art."

And then we asked Dave: 'Providing you and Trish manage to find any spare time, what do you like to do for relaxation?'

Dave: "Well, we play a lot of chess, mostly against our 3 oldest children. We get a lot of relaxation from gardening, of course, and we read aloud most evenings. We also spend quite a bit of time on our front porch rocking chairs just chatting about whatever is interesting to us at the time. We talk a lot about religion, politics, family matters, and farming issues."

And about Cubits?

Dave: "When I learned that Dave's Garden had been sold and that the new owners did not want me to continue in my historical capacity, I started thinking about what my next project will be. I had a lot of fun doing Dave's Garden and I wanted to do something similar. I considered creating a new community site centered around some other topic, but I wasn't really passionate enough about anything else to successfully build a new community. 

I was on the porch with Trish and we were talking for a long time about this. We figured that what would be ideal would be to bring in someone else who was passionate about his subject, whatever that might be, and make a partnership with him where we provide the technology, and he managed the community. 

Well, from there, then the next logical step was to not limit ou2010-03-29/Sharran/84ec50rselves to one person and one community, but to be a bit more ambitious than that. So, the vision of the project would be that I would create software that would allow anyone to run his own DG-type community website, around whatever subject he wanted. 

The only question remained: what to call it? I have owned the domain cubits.org since 2004 and was actually about to just let it expire. While I was starting to develop the foundational framework of the site, I was using cubits.org as the temporary domain until we came up with a name.

We thought for several days on the name, and finally it hit us that we could just call it cubits.org. The concept of a collection of communities called "cubits" really resonated with me, so it stuck immediately. The concept for the logo came simultaneously to me. 

We are about 2 months in now, and it has been everything I envisioned. I knew we'd have a lot of gardening-related cubits created, since most people knew me from Dave's Garden, but I had been hoping from the beginning that we'd have a lot of non-gardening interest, too, and that has definitely happened. You only need look through the tag cloud on the finder to see what a diversity of cubits are on the site. 

Have I had to change my perspective? No. There is always the chance when you start a new project, that once people start using it, you realize that the direction you thought you were going in needs to be changed, but in this case, cubits was implemented exactly according to my plan and the concept is obviously resonating with a lot of people. 

As for growth, it took me a couple years to build DG to the same size that cubits.org is after only a couple months. I couldn't be happier with the growth, concept and direction of cubits."

We asked Dave if he'd had a mentor growing up. Here's his answer:

Dave: "The only mentor I ever had was my dad who was always bringing home expensive equipment and letting me play with it. As I got older we got more computers until IBM finally introduced the first real 'PC' (the IBM XT). That is when things got really fun and also serious. I got my own modum and 286 computer for my bedroom before I was a teenager, and I ran a BSS off that computer. The BSS became the most active and popular BBS in the entire region where we lived at the time. 

Dad spent a lot of time messing around on the computer with me, handling the problems that I couldn't deal with. There were some interesting times back then. He also wrote some custom software for me that I was then able to take and customize to my liking."

We then asked him about this first spring in his new home:

Dave: "Decorating and landscaping are both coming up nicely. We've been doing a lot to prepare the land around 2010-03-29/Sharran/5c79e7the house for the gardens, and of course the vegetable garden has been going here for a couple of years. We've been gardening here since we bought the land back in 2007. 

As for output on the farm, that really depends on what we devote our energies to. I've been surprised at how profitable it can be to raise cattle in this area. Cattle do very well for us and we made a good deal of income from selling black Angus cattle the last couple years. We'll continue doing that. 

As for real money, my first and highest priority is to be self-sufficient for our own needs. Once those are met we can turn our excess to the market for sale." 

I turned my attention to Trish then, the lovely woman behind an admirable man. These are her words:

Trish: "I am often asked how we 'do it all'. The answer is pretty simple, we don't. Everyone in our family is a hard worker. The children are taught from the time they can walk that working together is fun, and they love to work along side of Momma and Daddy. If we are doing a farm project, we are all working together, even if the little one's only job is to look cute and bring water. They are still helping, and we make sure they know it. 

As for my part, I do a tremendous amount of planning. I am a master list keeper, and I'm very good at multitasking. I never get everything done in a week that I would like, but it doesn't discourage me. I just move my list to the next week and keep on going. We've learned to be very flexible, working with unexpected things that happen almost 2010-03-28/Sharran/7a36c1on a daily basis. We just roll with the punches, and keep right on going. I'm sometimes asked, 'Don't the children get in the way of your work?' No, the children are my work. There are lots and lots of projects that I know I simply cannot do during this season of my life, and I'm perfectly fine with that. 

Dave and I have worked together for so long that we have our roles set and we don't change things around, with the exception of those unexpected things previously mentioned. He knows I'm going to feed him every day and he'll have clean socks. I know he's going to get all the bills paid and feed the pigs. Neither one of us worries about the other's job, so we have less to think about. 

One thing that is very important to us is to have quality time together. Even though we are all together all of the time, it would be very easy to simply live and work together but not give each other quality time. We eat all of our meals together discussing what is going on during the day, we have story time in the evenings, and we make time to just play."

Nancy and I would very much like to thank Dave and Trish for taking the time from their busy life to answer our questions. I admired them long before I wrote this article, and that admiration has grown considerably since the interview. Our best wishes to you, Dave and Trish. We are very happy to be a part of the growing Cubits community that you so graciously provided for us.  

Go here to see Dave's press release.



Related articles:
computers, cubits.org, daily life, Dave Whitinger, farming, home schooling, interview, programming, spotlight, websites, whitinger.net

About Sharon Brown
I am a retired Art and Humanities teacher living in western Kentucky. I love writing and art with equal measure, but I also have a passion for nature and plants.

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Comments and discussion:
Subject Thread Starter Last Reply Replies
Thank you everyone for the kind words! Trish Oct 22, 2012 2:49 PM 5
An inspiring couple! mollymistsmith Apr 23, 2010 6:23 PM 1
What's not to love about these two? drdon Apr 2, 2010 7:28 PM 4
Wonderful article! plantladylin Apr 1, 2010 5:09 PM 20
Great phicks Mar 29, 2010 8:04 PM 1
Great Article cliffhanger Mar 29, 2010 7:25 PM 16
Fantastic article starlight1153 Mar 29, 2010 6:32 PM 6
Very inspiring!! Dorothy Mar 29, 2010 2:28 PM 1
Nice job! dave Mar 29, 2010 1:35 PM 3
Beautiful insight and warmth... Katg Mar 29, 2010 10:41 AM 10
Thank you for the wonderful article PollyK Mar 28, 2010 9:26 PM 1
What a wonderful surprise! Boopaints Mar 28, 2010 9:24 PM 1

Who's Who Spotlight

Who's Who Spotlight articles feature personal interviews and photos of individual Cubits members, sharing with you their talents and expertise in a variety of areas and interests.

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