Doni was full and fun, challenging and charming. He loved his family and we all loved him. For a teenage boy, he was quiet a cuddler. He shared regular hugs and kisses, always answering “love you” with “love you more!”
He loved to learn and spent hours a day listening to books and lectures, or watching videos and classes. He particularly enjoyed learning about science and computers. He watched the chemistry lectures from Oxford University, scientific raps like this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7tXFgx9Xh0 and he loved the Symphony of Science songs featuring some of his favorite scientists: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGK84Poeynk. He enjoyed TED talks and often shared them with me. It is through Doni that I learned about Kahn Academy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gM95HHI4gLk and began to think about how we could apply some of that to Jewish educational initiatives.
Doni also loved music from across the spectrum. He loved the Beatles and through learning more about them came to enjoy the music of Ravi Shankar as well: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4gWCiLexilY He liked classical, heavy metal and country music too. One of his favorite country artists was Brad Paisley: he liked his Cigar Song (very ironic), Whiskey Lullaby (very sad) and Ain’t Nothin’ Like http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n38hPHTsrDk
He also liked to sing karaoke and would often convince us to sing along with him. He liked to sing “A Whole New World” from Aladdin with me: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QIgOkaQBB6s . Even if we didn’t sound very good singing together (it’s hard to sing on key with karaoke!), we did have a good time and I often did feel like he showed me parts of whole new worlds.
Besides sharing with me the worlds of computers (I now use two screens, have a mechanical key board, run Cyanogen mod on my android phone, and am accustomed to an extremely speedy ad free [Yeah AdBlockPlus! http://adblockplus.org/en/firefox]) internet experience), he also introduced me to Dr. Who, Futurama, Thirty Rock and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. In case you are wondering, the answer is 42.
Doni enjoyed working with food. He made his own yogurt and specially adapted a fish tank heater to create a larger incubator out of a picnic cooler so he could make 4 quarts at once. He experimented with pickling and cheese making and he perfected sourdough bread making. He learned how to capture our local Colorado yeasts (https://stellaculinary.com/podcasts/video/how-to-make-a-sourdough-starter-video-recipe ) and would sometimes spend a whole week fermenting a dough to make the perfect loaf.
Lately he was on a jalapeno kick, often I’d have to go outside to breathe when he was busy chopping and cooking as there would be so much capsaicin in the air that it hurt to inhale. After frying several batches of Jalapeno Poppers, he learned to bake them to delicious effect: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/baked-jalapeno-poppers-recipe/index.html . He loved macaroni and cheese (from scratch of course!). He even made his own noodles upon occasion, and he loved to make it rich with way too much cheese and cream instead of milk.
Doni prided himself in being a geek, a science and computer whiz, and he founded a business Geeky Wizard (geekywizard.com) for computer assistance and repair. He was a strong proponent of open source software http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open-source_software and was very excited about how the open source concept might apply to other areas (http://www.ted.com/talks/marcin_jakubowski.html and http://www.ted.com/talks/jay_bradner_open_source_cancer_research.html).
He was also passionate about freedom of speech and freedom of access to information and supported the EFF, Electronic Frontier Foundation (https://www.eff.org/) . With some of his Geeky Wizard earnings, he bought a server and set up a special proxy site that would allow Chinese and Iranian dissidents a route to bypass government censorship and gain free access to the internet and the information therein. That made me nervous, especially after he turned 18… every time I’d see a police car slow down in front of our house, I’d worry that the Chinese police had finally caught up with him. But, he assured me that he routed it through Bulgaria, among other countries, and there was no way anyone could trace it to our address... so far, no one has.