Founder, Designer, Developer, Surfer

How To Help Lahaina – Maui Fires

Until recently, I was a full-time resident of Lahaina. I called the town my home for 10 years. Although I left the island a few years ago to start a family, Lahaina and Maui will always remain a significant part of who I am. I have a deep love, respect, and connection to the ‘aina and ohana of West Maui. The loss of life and property from the devastating fires have left me shocked and heartbroken.

I was considering ways to help the community when my wife suggested that we buy our Christmas gifts from local Maui businesses. I thought it was a wonderful idea, and others may want to provide their support in a similar way.

The local community and businesses make Lahaina special, and I hope supporting these business will help them survive this difficult period.

The following list includes some of my favorite and most frequented businesses of the area. However, this isn’t a comprehensive list. Like any local, I had my particular haunts. I’m sure I’m missing several. Please provide any other local businesses and ways to support in the comments below. Also, please keep recommendations to local (not overly corporate) businesses of Lahaina that were impacted by the fires.

Choice Health Bar

Choice was a hotspot for locals and after-surf grindz. I’ve devoured many Buddha Bowls and Chronic Smoothies from Choice. I remember the founders starting their business after working at the Lahaina Farmer’s Market in Honokowai. Then, watching the business grow into a fixture of the town. They have great merchandise that would make an excellent gift for the hippies and health nuts in your family.


MauiGrown Smokestack Coffee

A little hidden treasure of Lahaina. MauiGrown coffee operated a charming coffee shop at the historic Pioneer Mill, just outside of town. My business partner and I would often grab a drink from their establishment before starting our work day. They provide excellent, locally grown coffee for the coffee lovers in your family.


Banana Wind

Banana Wind is my favorite gift shop in the Lahaina Cannery Mall — an old cannery that was converted into a mall. They’re essentially importers, but they don’t import cheap trinkets from China. Instead, they sell high-quality merchandise that has been hand-picked from craftsmen around the world. As a family owned operation, they travel to find the products that have distinct Hawaiiana charm.



I love Fleetwood Mac. I also love Fleetwood’s on Front Street. I’ve been lucky enough to see Mick Fleetwood drum here on multiple occasions. Although I consider Fleetwood’s a relatively new addition to Front Street, and even though it’s a celebrity owned restaurant, the atmosphere fit the Lahaina vibe perfectly. Fleetwood’s merch is a win for Lahaina and Fleetwood Mac fans.


Vintage European Posters

Lahaina is a town of arts. There were many special galleries along Front Street, and I’m sure countless original works were lost to the fires. Of all the galleries, the Vintage European Posters shop was among my favorites. They lost everything in the fire. You can provide support by donating to their GoFundMe.


Local Artists

As mentioned, I imagine countless works of art were lost to fire. However, finding information on “truly” local artists is not my area of expertise. However, if you know any local Lahaina artists impacted by the fire, please feel free to contribute, and provide their information in the comments below.

Sand People

Another local gift shop that provides great and unique gift items. This shop was a regular stop for me when purchasing gifts for my family or wife.


Sale Pepe

A great artisan pizza joint impacted by the fires. I enjoyed many pizzas from this local restaurant. I was unable to find any merch, but they do have a GoFundMe.


Old Lahaina Luau & Star Noodle

Old Lahaina Luau is a Lahaina landmark. As a Hawaii local, attending luau attractions was never high on my to-do list. However, I did have the pleasure of attending one event here. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience, and it’s a great loss to the community to lose such an establishment. On a side note, they are customer of Organic Themes, and use our Restaurant Theme for their website template.

Star Noodle was among my favorite local restaurants, and I ate there any chance I could. Both businesses have a joint GoFundMe to help aid their displaced employees.


Sophie DeLoria Foundation

Sophie DeLoria was my neighbor and friend. She passed away in a tragic event on Maui, and her parents founded an organization in her name in order to give back to the Lahaina community. The foundation holds an annual swim in Sophie’s honor, and proceeds from the organization support the local school and after school activities. I can’t say enough good things about the founders and the organization.



There are several other local establishments and people that are in need of support. As mentioned, this is not a comprehensive list. Please feel free to share more in the comments. Also, I will try to update this list when possible.

Maui and the Lahaina community need all the support we can provide. I hope in some small way this post will help. My thoughts are with all of those suffering. Aloha.

How A Plagiarized Logo Spawned The NumbSkulls NFT Collection

In the mid 2000’s, I worked as a freelance designer. I provided web design, flash animation, and logo design services for a variety of clients. The logo jobs were my favorite.

I thoroughly enjoy distilling the essence of an entire brand, business, personality, or project into a simple and iconic design. There’s a real art to it. But it’s easy to take great logos for granted because good design is invisible. A good logo provides clarity, and captures the soul of a brand on a subconscious level. At a glance, you should know if the logo represents a business that sells microchips or skateboards. You should know if it’s an exciting company — or a boring company. A great logo tells a story, even if you don’t realize it. At least, that’s what I aim to achieve in my designs.

My personality and style were influenced by the surf, skate, and alternative music cultures. However, it’s not easy landing design projects within those industries. As a result, I created several personal designs for my portfolio that I felt would be attractive to the brands I wanted to work with.

Among my personal designs, I had a favorite. It was striking, bold, and iconic, yet so simple. I referred to it as the “X” skull design. It captured an aggressive and anarchist mood, and I imagined it representing an alternative lifestyle brand. I added the design to my online portfolio, and displayed it in online logo galleries and design communities that were popular at the time.

The origin logo of NumbSkulls.

The logo received a lot of attention. Designer friends expressed how much they liked the design, and the work was featured on several websites. I was proud of my stupidly simple skull design. I thought, maybe, I’ll use it for a business of my own someday.

Then, somebody plagiarized the design.

Taking The Red Pill, And Creating An NFT Collection

During both times my wife has been pregnant, I’ve become infused with an overwhelming sense of responsibility, and a desire to provide more for my family. I find myself looking for new projects and opportunities. In the case of my first son, it manifested within the development of a new plugin for my software company, Organic Themes. With my second son, it manifested in the form of creating an NFT collection and brand — NumbSkulls.

During this time, the purpose of NFTs, the importance of blockchain technology, and a brighter vision of the future all converged. My exploration into NFTs was like taking the red pill in The Matrix. It consumed me.

Jack’s Birth Story and Cystic Fibrosis

The Prologue

Jack is my second little boy, so I had an inkling of what to expect on his birthday — one of the most incredible days of my existence. An unparalleled, beautiful, disgusting, shocking, bloody, terrifying, euphoric, and exhausting day — and I’m just the Dad. It’s the most epic journey imaginable, packed into an unrelenting, yet brief moment in time. I’ve had some epic journeys in my life, but nothing compares. Not surfing the biggest wave or climbing the tallest mountain. It’s a moment that changes you and your life, forever.

Goodbye Old Friend

I met Taj at a Petland in Orlando, Florida. It was 15-years-ago. Not long after graduating from college, and shortly after marrying my ex-wife. It feels like a lifetime ago. He was a Shetland Sheepdog — like Lassie. But with a beautiful blue merle coat.

Taj was already 6-months-old when we met. Sadly, he spent those first months of his life confined to a small cage within the plaza pet store. After playing with him for a few minutes, I knew he was mine. I named him after my favorite surfer of the time, Taj Burrow, and he came home with us.

We lived in a small apartment. When I took out the trash, I would let Taj tow me to the dumpster on my skateboard. I thought it was fun, and good exercise for him. Little did I know, he must have thought I was chasing him with the skateboard. As a result, he developed a lifelong hatred for skateboards. It wasn’t the only thing Taj hated. He also hated lawn mowers, golf carts, delivery trucks, and vacuum cleaners. But nothing living. Taj loved every person, dog, and creature he ever met. There wasn’t an aggressive bone in his body. Once, I watched a butterfly land on the end of his long snout. He just stood still, and just watched the butterfly in appreciation.

Above all else, Taj loved food. I’ve never met a more food motivated dog. He ate entire loaves of bread, plastic bag and all. He ate pies wrapped in tinfoil. And he ate poop — poop of all kinds. If you turned away from your plate for a moment, he would snatch your entire meal away faster than you could blink. Of course, he got disciplined for this behavior, but the reward always outweighed the punishment.

In his early days, Taj spent a lot of time at the Lake Baldwin Dog Park in Winter Park. The moment he was unleashed, he would run like a bat out of hell across the 20+ acres of land, herding groups of dogs like they were cattle. Then, he would cool himself off at the edge of the lake with his buddies. It was his favorite place in Orlando.

I Quit Social Media — Kinda

In reality, I disabled all social media notifications on my phone. Along with marrying my wife and having a child, this is one of the best decisions I’ve made in recent history.

I just went to Settings > Notifications on my phone, and turned off the notifications for all social media apps. It was that simple. Then, social media faded away. And the craziness of the world faded with it. Social media no longer has any power over me, and my life is so much better without it.

Most my several hundred “friends” on social media are acquaintances. While I appreciate all the people I’ve met, I don’t want to share the intimate details of my life with all of them. And generally, I don’t want to hear their opinions, even if they’re the same as mine.

Social media is a relatively new experiment unleashed upon humanity. In the same way that COVID-19 is a new virus, we don’t know the long term effects social media will have on society. Sure, there are a few positive aspects. In the same way COVID-19 inspired me to exercise more and eat a little healthier, social media helps me stay in touch with long-distance friends. However, in the grand scheme of social media, like COVID-19, I’ve seen it do much more harm than good.

Social media went so wrong, in so many ways, it’s difficult to summarize. Maybe it started with the monetization of the platforms. Or the introduction of like buttons. Or the legions of bots and fake accounts. But for me, the final straw was the introduction of machine learning algorithms that use your own psychology against you.

As the owner of a software company, and a designer and developer, I’m not entirely ignorant of the technology and design techniques employed by social media companies to keep their users engaged.

I began noticing the negative effects social media was having on my mental health years ago. While I was never addicted, even a casual involvement was taking a toll. So, I started scaling back. After disabling all notifications, I felt so much better. Then, I began contemplating how social media went so wrong.

Now, I’ll take you on that journey.

Wyatt’s Birth Story – From The Perspective Of A New Father

My wife was scheduled for induction at 5 a.m. on July 15th, 2020. On the night of the 14th, we set our alarms for 4:15 a.m. We each went to bed around 9 p.m. that night, hoping to get a full night of sleep. That didn’t happen. We each laid awake all night, our minds racing with possibilities, fear, and excitement. It felt like Christmas Eve when I was 10-years-old, times a thousand.

4:15 a.m. came early. We had breakfast, made coffee, and packed our bags in the car. Fortunately, we live walking distance from Sarasota Memorial Hospital. So, the drive took all of 2 minutes. We dropped off the car with the valet, and stepped through the emergency room doors. The COVID-19 pandemic is still raging, and Florida is currently the epicenter. As a result, we were immediately greeted by security, and our temperatures were taken before entering the hospital. We passed the temperature test, and proceeded to the OB emergency room.

I stayed in the waiting room, while Emily was brought in and questioned separately. This theme persisted. It’s all about Momma on her big day. If you’re a Dad-to-be, be prepared to take a back seat. You’re not going to be answering many questions or signing many papers. Mostly, you’ll be ignored by staff. Sometimes, simply referred to as the sperm donor.

10 Years Ago I Founded A Tech Startup in Hawaii – This Is Our Story

Organic Themes is a software company. More specifically, we provide themes and plugins for WordPress websites. The business was founded by myself, David Morgan, and my friend, Jeff Milone. In early 2010, we launched our website in Lahaina, on the Hawaiian island of Maui.

Until recently, Jeff and I lived in the Hawaiian Islands. Maui is an incredible place to live. It’s truly paradise. However, it’s a difficult location to start and grow a software company.

In this article, I’ll share the unique story of what brought us to Maui. The personal and professional challenges we faced, and ultimately what led us away from the islands.

My Experience With Vestibular Neuritis

In November of 2019 I was suddenly stricken with Vestibular Neuritis, a rare condition in which the vestibular nerve within the inner ear becomes inflamed. Although it sounds innocent enough, it will turn your world upside down — literally.

I’m not a doctor, just an unlucky dude that contracted Vestibular Neuritis. I’m an active adult male in my late 30’s. This is an account of my experience in hopes that it will help others diagnose themselves, and know they’re not alone.

Camping In The Dry Tortugas – Florida Keys

In early 2019, one of my best friends and I embarked on a camping trip to the Dry Tortugas — a chain of tiny islands off the coast of Key West. We camped from January 6th through the 9th, the maximum number of days allowed for camping on the island. It’s primitive tent camping. There is no running water on the island. You must bring all your own gear, food, and water.

I’ve included a camping checklist, helpful information, and our expenses. Click the links to skip to those sections.

I kept a daily log of the journey. Here it is.

The Decision To Leave Hawaii And Move To The Mainland

Emily and I have sold our home on Maui, and we’re moving back to the mainland. I’m sad to be leaving, but excited for the next chapter of our lives. In the 10 years total I’ve lived in Hawaii, this is the 3rd time I’ve left. However, it isn’t any easier.

I’ve been extremely fortunate to live in these amazing islands for most of my adult life. It has shaped me as an individual. Hawaii is a part of me. It’s difficult to explain to somebody that hasn’t fully experienced this land, or ʻāina. A vacation could never do it justice. I know the rocks, trees, reefs, and crevices of this island. I’ve paddled its bays, swam with its inhabitants, and crawled through its veins. After several years of exploring the shores of Maui, I’ve gained a spiritual connection to this wonderful land. In terms of natural beauty, weather, and the ocean — Hawaii is heaven on earth. I will carry those experiences and memories with me for the rest of my life. I’m sure I will be back, even if it’s just to visit.

If you’re reading this article and it’s your dream to live in Hawaii, please don’t use our decision to leave as any justification for not moving to the islands. That would be like not going to a great college because it’s expensive and far away.

The responses I receive when telling people we are leaving Hawaii for Florida vary, but they usually don’t favor Florida. The most common response is, “Why would you ever leave Hawaii?” That’s a fair question. However, if everybody chose their home solely by its level of comfort, beauty, and perfect waves, Hawaii would be the most populated place in the world…

Free Is No Longer Appreciated

When I first began creating websites over 10 years ago, finding free resources for web design was very difficult.

The digital resources I was looking for included stuff like vector icon packs, stock photos, fonts, themes and any bit of code I could sink my teeth into. I scoured the web endlessly, usually to no avail. So, when I finally found a quality resource, I was super thankful. I appreciated the free work of others, and it led me to share my own.