From Punk Rock to Code Blocks


Doer | Maker | Thinker

Mihalis Fthenos - Web Developer

For me, everything changed when I stopped thinking about what I wanted to do, but instead started asking what people need to have done. With this mindset, you start providing value for others, instead of taking it for yourself. Sounds unselfish, but the rewards come in droves.


In the late 80s my father understood that owning a Personal Computer would be an invaluable asset and when he bought one for our home office, I began to probe it like a crashed UFO. Remember MS-DOS? It got the job done but when Windows 3 was released the PC gained a visual canvas and became a hub for our creativity. Then, in 1992 our family would go online with a dial-up modem and it seemed like the world had been cracked open. The internet was the second most powerful discovery of my childhood.


The first was Rock n’ Roll. I remember picking out the Queen II album from my mother’s tape collection and being moved by the religious imagery on the cover. What came out of my toy audio cassette player would change me forever. The sound belied a world beyond my own and the hot tone of Brain May's guitar solos would cut through to my very bone. In an instant, Donald Duck Sings the Blues became intolerable.

By the time adolescense hit, I had taken up the guitar and was riffing my way through the sounds of the 1970s from those tapes and records. Learning “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” by Led Zeppelin mark a milestone for me. You didn’t have to know music theory because the tablature for popular songs could be found online. Instead of writing notes on a staff, musicians transcibed finger positions onto bars representing strings and their tuning. Information was spreading in new and expedient ways.

   Bay  -  bay  -  bay  -  bay  -  bay  -  bay  -  baby,        I'm gonna -



There is a lot of joy that comes from sharing something you've created and getting positive feedback. As the frontman of a noisey surf-rock band, I wrote 3 albums with my bandmates and performed in and around Toronto. It was incredibly fun and we put on some exciting shows that audiences enjoyed.

band polaroid

But much like the rock legends I admired, I drifted into an unhealthy state. Truth be told, I thought living carelessly bought me some kind of authenticity as an artist. When I realized I was playing to lose, I put on the brakes and took to working late hours at a local shipyard where I would put some money aside. The west coast beckoned.

I arrived in Vancouver BC June 9th, 2012 and would go on to parlay my experience into a job as a deckhand, working aboard a Salmon Troller. It would be a challenging 4 months at sea for a "greenhorn" like myself.

The night before we left False Creek Harbour I had spent it sleeping onboard in my berth ( which leaked in the rain ). In the early morning I was awakened by the Skipper starting the engine. Moving quickly, I untied the lines and picked up a pike for the first time. Hooking us into a pile as we reversed out of from the dock, our aft swung shoreward and we came dangerously close to running aground! It was a rocky departure, but the 43ft wooden troller survived, and we made way out and into the Georgia Straight. The next 7 days we’d be travelling north and I'd get to see the majestry of the British Columbian coastline.

troller deck


"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."

Part of doing efficient work is recognizing and repeating working patterns. Finding them takes takes time and effort, which in turn makes them valuable. Once we’ve found a pattern that produces the results we want, it’s essential to make that into a routine. And once we have that routine we save our time and effort exponentially.

The Skipper had been honing his routine for over 40 years and it’s expediency was impressive. It was devised by adaptaions to methods used by the Norweigans. Over the summer I soaked up as much of his know-how as I could and learned how to process premium salmon for sale to competitive chefs who valued sustainable fishing.


Nature doesn’t abide by any laws but her own. If you want something from her, you really have to pay attention to how she operates, because there are rewards to be gained if you do, and consequences if you don't. My biggest takeaway from the experience working at sea was a humbling acceptance of the limits nature imposses upon us. With this insight, I find human enterprise all the more inspiring.


"I hated every minute of training, but I said, 'Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion."
Muhammad Ali

The proverb about finding yourself in the wilderness is true, but the the pith of it has less to do with a forest or an ocean and more to do with the absense of distraction. Our technology allows us to do things at a supreme pace and that's amazing. But when you allow time to reflect, you can pinpoint where you are on the map and where your charted course lay.

When the season closed, I knew my journey wasn’t over. The hardest challenge would be next. With deliberation, I would chart a new course. Now that I was not at the mercy of the sea, I would become my own obstacle and my own advocate.