Extreme Independence

Yes, it is.

It can manifest in ways considered by many to be inconsequential.

For example, I will often insist that I can do some_task and steadfastly never ask another for help or assistance or guidance or opinion… to the point that it’s becomes self-destructive.

“Yeah…”, people will say, “that’s just the way he is. He’s just really independent that way…”

That extreme independence is the result of the combination of my own narrow-mindedness that I now attribute primarily to a lifetime of shaming and negative criticism that I’d received from a young age. After awhile, I simply accepted that I would either be tormented endlessly, or that I’d simply stop asking for help and set to figuring out a way to achieve whatever some_task I was interested in.

Tack on an unsettling degree of, what I’d find out many years later that we all cope with to some extent, Imposter Syndrome and… well… here we are.

Yes, Extreme Independence is most certainly a trauma response.

TBI Thoughts

Somebody had posted this in a TBI group…

Hi everyone, how’s everyone doing? Quick question: what’s the recovery process like for Diffused Axonal shearing? Is there any coming back from this severe type of brain injury? 4 months in and my brother still doesn’t talk.

–Anonymous

And, because I can’t leave well enough alone, perhaps the world may stumble onto my thoughts and find some benefit from it:

Okay, here’s the thing: “DAI” and “Shearing” are the terms that are used medically to describe what’s occurred.

Can anyone come back from it? Well, maybe. It depends on… well… everything.

We’re talking about the one thing in the whole of the known universe that can, so far as we know, interpret the universe. And if one’s brain has been jarred from an impact, if it’s survivable, it may effectively scramble all of the memories and knowledge that person had.

Brain Injuries are as unique as a thumbprint. No two TBIs are the same. With two identical twins in the prime of their health and youth were to sustain identical trauma, they will absolutely have a completely different array of issues. One may feel a bit tired for a few days… and the other may be fatal. They’re that unique.

So, can somebody come back from it? That, like all things, depends.

My TBI was about three years: 4m fall, head first onto concrete, knocked unconscious instantly, coma, DAI, CNS shearing. I was 45 and generally in perfect health. I was in a coma for about two weeks and had to relearn absolutely everything (and I do mean everything) and have been frustrated now and again with proprioception and dexterity challenges.

Today, I’m still relearning and gaining more understanding of the various bumps and ridges of my own particular TBI.

Have I come back? Eh, it depends on one’s interpretation of “coming back”. And upon who one asks. I don’t think I have, yet. But in some ways, I can do more now that I did before. I still walk with a cane every now and again, but don’t like it — yet I can still run a 5K or more (I ran a 1/4 marathon a few months ago). I get mentally exhausted much sooner than some people. But I’m learning how to work around it… and work with it.

It’s been a long journey through a mental and emotional hell — and through it all, it was critically important that I had support and understanding of my wife and family.

Pondering, Still

Here we are in the midst of something of an unknown for the future of society, and yet I find that I’m pondering, again, buying another bicycle.

My list has evolved a bit from what it was. Previously, I had considered:

  • Salsa Journeyman Apex
  • Aventon Pace 500
  • Rad Runner

I’ve disregarded two of them because one was somewhat impractical for my current locale and lifestyle. I’d end up adding racks and baskets front and rear and likely go as far as to attach a pair of my ammo cans. Yes, it would look cool — but it’s just not going to be meaningful for me presently.

Another wasn’t quite what I’d prefer. Sure, I could swap out the Café bars for flat or drops, but the cost would become somewhat limiting. Off they’d go.

A straightforward and seemingly obvious answer: Salsa Journeyman Apex — to which I’d upgrade to tubeless, add pedals of choice and Bob’s your uncle.

Seemingly.

But I find that I rather like the idea of an eBike.

Why?

Because I’m not going to live forever. And having a bit of extra power for the lengthy uphill climbs seems like it could be quite helpful.

A gravel bike, yes. I mean, I already have a touring-class bike. Quite heavy for casual riding and rather purpose-made for carrying substantial loads long distances.

Right, so I removed two, then added two alternates. Both additions are eBikes. Of course, one holdover from the previous list. So, now it’s changed to:

*Why the holdover? Alternative question: won’t an eBike just make you lazy?

For my needs, a 650B is more agreeable — not “balloon” tires, so to speak, but certainly more comfortable.

On Burnout…

Never push loyal people to the point where they don’t give a damn.

Peter Drucker, 1909 – 2005

Thinking back, there were signs of a somewhat lessening interest in Pearson in particular and in Computer Science in general somewhere around about October, 2017. That was right about the time that one of the greatest champions of the team announced his departure.

People move on.

That year, after a business trip to Austin for KubeCon in early December, I was feeling quite burned out. We were planning another trip to Noida to transition a team in February, 2018, but I’d settled that after Christmas (of 2017), it’ll be time to start seeking in earnest opportunities elsewhere.

And The Universe said, “Oh, you have plans, do you? Here, try some gravity…” And the fall and TBI happened.

Strike one.

In the coming months, while struggling with rewiring my brain and body, the entirety of the team who’d pioneered the evolution within the company from the long-standing Mode 1 hardware model into a Mode 2 infrastructure model — which, by design, would slash spend dramatically across from the company — would disperse.

And The Universe said, “Ah, while you’re in the prolonged recovery, here’s some innocuous bacteria…” Then the infection.

Strike two.

Clearly, I’d end up being more dependent upon modern healthcare and needed to relocate to larger city. Moses Lake wasn’t nearly as connected to technologies as I’d have hoped. So, we’d planned on moving to Spokane — not only because it was a large city, but also because it wasn’t nearly as expensive as the Seattle metro area was.

And The Universe said, “Oh, you’re still coming up with ideas, are you? How about this…” Then the layoff and all of its psychological stressors.

Strike three.

My confidence in Computer Science at that moment was not only shaken… it was shattered. I doubted everything related to computer-anything. Programming, development, design, experimentation — I stopped caring about everything: the pursuit of work, life, self.

I would spend the next several months seeking desperately a reason to continue — a reason to do. What I needed most was sense of purpose.

Alright, Universe… what else you got?

Locusts? Ha!

Pandemic? Please.

Earthquakes? Hey, we all get a bit wobbly with age.

Riots? Amateurs.

Wildfires? Bah!

So, bring it on.

Achievement Unlocked

The first time I’d read Heinlein’s Time Enough for Love was in High School. About 30 years ago. One line from the book that seemed most meaningful that, in varying forms, stuck with me throughout the years was on specialization.

Rather, it wasn’t directly from the story itself, but it was a sub-story within the story — from the section, “Excerpts from the Notebooks of Lazarus Long”. Lazarus Long, is, of course, the’s book’s the kilt-clad protagonist.

His notebooks contained wise sayings, recommendations, cautions, realizations, what have you.

One of those excerpts from his fictitious notebooks was this:

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”

Heinlein, Time Enough for Love

For a long time, I had commented that somebody must learn of and actually do each one of those varied tasks throughout life.

Save one. That last.

Not very convenient — you won’t witness your own death.

But it wasn’t until quite recently that I realized that I had, in fact, achieved every single one of those diverse skills as of December nearly three years ago. In fairness, whether it was “gallant” is open to interpretation — so, die gallantly, provisionally.

I’ll take it.

Oh, also:

Yeah, I’ve always been the person who did things out of the natural order.