The Man Behind the Antlers

Haven’t we all wondered about, NuclearMoose at some point or other? He’s all over the forums, he’s just done an incredible job with a preliminary table of contents for the wiki, and he’s created most of the great WordPress holiday logos seen in the header (among many other things). I mean, who IS this guy? And where does he find the time?

Well, a couple of weeks ago I set out to find the ‘real’ NuclearMoose. I emailed him a few questions, to which he promptly responded.

Here then, is Craig Hartel, otherwise known as NuclearMoose…kind of live and completely uncensored!

Tell us a little about yourself.

I was born in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, which should not come as a surprise. I moved to the wilds of central British Columbia when I was a brat, and grew up there. Uh, that is to say, I got older there. 😀 I now make my home in north-east BC, in a small city called Dawson Creek. No, it is NOTHING like the TV show. I am a GIS technician by trade, working for the BC Forest Service.

I have two sons, aged 13 and 8, and a black Labrador Retriever named Ruby. I have never been to Spain, but I have been to Humptulips, Washington. The stupidest thing I have ever done is cut my head open with a hunting knife which required stitches to close. If you ask me how I did it, I would tell you that I was defending myself from an attacking bear, but I would be lying. Actually, I was trying to kill a house fly but cutting it in half while it was perched on a shelf…I missed the fly, and stabbed myself in the head. [ed note: read the whole story here]. The smartest thing I ever did was have my two sons. While being a single Dad with two growing boys is a challenge, it is the best part of my life.

I have been using computers since CPM 86 was the OS of choice, and I remember the first time I upgraded to MS-DOS and the computer doubled in speed! Yep, an application only took two minutes to load instead of four! 😀

Computers are my hobby, and I have, in the past couple of years, started to try to figure out a way to support myself online rather than doing the 9-5 nonsense. Alas, it eludes me…

When did you first start using WP? What was your prior experience with blogging/blogware?

I lost my bloginity to Blogger in October of 2003. I’ve always wanted to set up and manage my own site, but never got around to it. Blogger had only recently been bought out by Google, so the support and development of Blogger had basically come to a halt. I got up and running quickly with Blogger, but the template system really sucked. I wanted more control, and more features. So, I started to look for others. I was actually a Beta-tester of TypePad, the gee-whiz post a site in no time child of the MovableType family. I liked it a lot, but again, I didn’t want to have a push-button solution. I wanted to learn more. Plus I didn’t want to pay the prices for the service. From there, I picked up on Greymatter, installed it, freaked out over the complexity of it and then decided to drop it as well.

One day, purely by luck, I was Googling, trying to find a publishing tool more to my liking. I came across WordPress, and SCHWING! I was hooked. I turfed my old web host, signed up with a new one, and had WP up and running in November of 2003 in one night. I was amazed at how easy it was to install, and I liked the support forum for the friendly people that were there. I will never look at another publishing program again. WP is my baby, now. I hope to learn more PHP, more DB stuff, and more CSS along the way.

How’d you first start designing the holiday header graphics for the site?

I love doing graphics. I bought Macromedia Studio MX a couple of years ago, and through my subscription to, I learned a great deal about web graphics. I’m a frustrated artist. I can’t draw a conclusion, let alone a nice 3D sphere, but Fireworks allows me to do this and a lot more. It’s not the same tool as Photoshop…it is made specifically for web graphics.

Anyway, I love the tools, and one night I was looking for something to do. I quiet frankly ripped off, uh, I mean, was inspired by Google and how they do fun things with their logo, so I decided to try a few out. I shipped a few of them off to Matt, and he liked them and started to use them. In all, I’ve sent probably a dozen or more to him. I don’t know if we will see all of them or not, but I will continue to do them for my own interest and enjoyment. I hope that the community enjoys them too!

You’re a coleader of the docs team. What are your future plans for docs? Are there other WP projects you’d like to work on?

Well, the WP Documentation project has been a real challenge. I think that the adoption of the Wiki has been a very positive thing for WordPress. Now we need to organise and document it better, so information is easy to find, and we need to promote it better on the support forums. As well, I am starting to work on tutorials for the WordPress site as well. That is to say that I am gathering them together from many sources, and I will be making them XHTML and CSS valid, and Matt will integrate them into the site. This is currently a work in progress, and I have already received some great help from Southern-Gal to start with. Thanks, Sara! You’re a doll!
I work with a great group of people on the documentation team, and I appreciate you all.

What are some benefits of using WP, in your opinion?

The strength of WP is in its design. Standards-compliance is not an easy task, but it makes things a lot easier to integrate and to work with the tools available. It allows the many talented WP community members to contribute their own ideas and solutions to meet the sophisticated demands of the WP users. Not only that, WP right out of the box is easy enough for someone with a modest level of computer knowledge to set up and use. It’s a great way to learn some valuable skills, and you get to meet a lot of fun people along the way. That and when I tell all the Moose-groupies that I’m into WP, they swoon over me like Winnie the Pooh drooling over a pot of honey.

What’s been the best part of the WP experience for you?

Being welcomed into the community and allowed to be an active participant in the development of WP has been great. I’ve made new friends, learned new things, and I get to have a tool set to publish all of my drivel whenever I so desire. What can be better than that?

Is that an antler in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?

Why don’t you look in my pocket and see for yourself? 😀 Hehe. Actually, as far as moose go, I am a very polite moose. I don’t get mad often, but I will try to trample the occasional troll. I’m here to have fun. If my blog works and looks okay, great, I’m satisfied. Getting to meet lots of cool people like you, Cena, is just a great side-benefit.

Thank you, Craig, for your amusing and enlightening responses. (Humptulip?)

If there’s another member of the WordPress community you’d like to see interviewed (including yourself), feel free to email me with suggestions and comments.

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