About Mishkin

I’m a Baha’i, a father, a husband, an entrepreneur, a software developer, a math geek, an AFOL, a traveller, a languages geek, an architecture buff, and a swimmer/cyclist.  I don’t do nature due to severe allergies.

Baha’i Faith

I was raised in a Baha’i family and in my mid-teens I chose to remain a Baha’i.  I chose again in my early twenties after a personal crisis.  I have done various forms of service as a Baha’i.  Growing up as a Baha’i, I was part of an invisible minority.  Probably the two most challenging aspects of being a Baha’i were abstaining from alcohol and extra-marital sexual relations.  The avoidance of alcohol was hard because of how pervasive it is, but ultimately I am proud that I resisted societal and peer pressure.  Avoiding sex before marriage was hard because I’m human 🙂  As a Baha’i, I have been ridiculed, excluded, and manipulated to my detriment.  Although I cannot compare my struggles directly to those of other minorities, I have some empathy for what it is like to be oppressed.


I have four children.  The oldest is Justice who at the time of this writing has just turned 20.  He is an artist and a software developer with great talent.  Justice is also an avid gamer.  Next is Haifa who is also an artist with great talent.  She is young enough that her professional path is not yet clear.  Then comes Verity who is an incredible lover of animals with a bit of a scientific bent… and also a talented artist!  My youngest is Ocean who is just 8 at this time.  She is a sculptor and joker.  All of my children are beautiful human beings.  They probably don’t know this, but I worry about them all, and I worry about being a good father.


I was married in 1997 to Melanie.  I met Melanie through my brother Alexei on a short visit to Toronto.  Within two weeks of meeting her, we were discussing getting married, and less than six months after meeting, we were indeed married.  We’ve had a few ups and downs, but generally speaking we are fantastic complements to each other, and I look forward to many more years of deep partnership, growth, joy and struggle together.  Our most important understanding about how to interact was to understand that we can’t judge each other on how the other responds to life’s tests.  My tests are my own and her tests are her own.


I have attempted to start several businesses, most utter failures.  Only one has survived so far: Berteig Consulting, founded in 2004.  Initially, the vision was to connect users, programmers and business people to help create effective technical products and systems.  Now, we are an organizational development consulting and training company with 15 employees.  Earlier, I attempted a online educational system business and a individual software development contracting business.  I’ve managed to avoid bankruptcy (personal or business), but there have been a few really close calls!  I got interested at a very young age mostly due to the influence of Uncle Scrooge and Richie Rich comics.  My brother and I tried a few times to start businesses, but we never had enough money nor the discipline to actually execute.

Software Development

I love programming.  I started programming in grade three or four when I was inspired by my buddy Teddy Cooke who used “peek” and “poke” on an Apple II+ to do some cool things.  I didn’t own my own computer for quite some time.  But, along the way I played mostly with Apple computers, briefly had a Timex Sinclair ZX-81, and eventually after high school my dad got a PC with an 8087 co-processor and is fiddled around with ASM programming.  I got a Computer Science degree from the University of Saskatchewan (just a 3-year bachelors degree), and then started working as a programmer professionally in 1996.  I did that for several years working at startups and some big companies (Sun Microsystems and Charles Schwab) before getting to my consulting business.  I still do some hands-on professional work including a bunch of contributions to the berteig.com e-commerce system using Node.  I’ve played with all sorts of languages including JavaScript, Java, C#, Objective C, C++, Python, PHP, BASIC, Pascal, Miranda, Self, LISP, Prolog, x86 Assembler, 6502 Assembler, and probably a few that I’m forgetting.


Mathematics has been an intellectual passion of mine for many years.  In elementary school and high school I was talented enough that I accelerated through 5 years of math in just 2 years, attended some advanced university-level seminars with other talented math students, did reasonably well in some of the mathematics contests, and won my high-school mathematics award on graduating even though in my final year I didn’t take a single math course.  Recently, I’ve become deeply interested in number theory, analysis and abstract algebra.  I admit that my knowledge and skill is still only at an early undergraduate level.  I hope to resolve that lack through my sabbatical where I will be enrolled part-time in mathematics courses at the University of Western Ontario.


I still have a small number of Lego pieces that are from my very early childhood.  A big blue gear from an early version of Technic, a couple of heads from early Lego people, and a couple wheels with metal pins for axels.  As an adult, I can afford more Lego than I would have ever believed.  I played with Lego from 5-ish to 15-ish, from 25-ish to 30-ish, and from 40-ish (my brother bought me a used “Galaxy Explorer” set on my 40th birthday) to the present.  I tend to enjoy Technic, Architecture/Creator Expert, and some Star Wars sets.  I also build my own things, and probably the most impressive is my 2+ year project to build a giant Lego Millennium Falcon (larger than any official set).  I also build architectural style constructions too.


I’ve travelled quite a bit, actually, in rough chronological order:

  1. New York, NY
  2. various cities in Belize
  3. a brief visit to Guatemala and Mexico
  4. the Republic of the Marshall Islands
  5. a brief stop in Hawaii
  6. Many other cities in the United States
  7. Haifa, Israel
  8. Switzerland
  9. Bucharest and Cluj-Napoca, Romania
  10. Grenada
  11. Chennai, India
  12. Beijing, Nanjing, Shanghai, Guanzhou, Hong Kong, Chengdu, China
  13. Bahamas
  14. Paris, France
  15. Panama
  16. London, England


I love learning languages, although I’m not fluent in anything but English.  I also briefly studied linguistics.  Based on my abilities in (rapidly) declining order, I have studied:

  1. French
  2. Mandarin Chinese
  3. Spanish
  4. Latin (2 years in high school!  by choice!!!)
  5. Russian
  6. Arabic
  7. Farsi
  8. Hindi
  9. German

I’ve also tried making my own languages including grammars, phonology, morphology, and limited lexicons.


Swimming / Cycling