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Habemus plus vis computatoris quam Deus

Ramblings of a Unix ronin

The Renaissance Man

"...And when you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."

-- Friedrich Nietzche

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I thought the future held a perfect place for us
That together we would learn to be the best that we could be
In my naiveté I ran, I fell and lost my way
Somehow I always end up falling over me

And one day I woke to find
The future had no place for me
I was unwanted in a world that with my hands I helped to build
Where once was honesty and pride, I now stand broken and alone
Just a shadow of what I was meant to be

They say that time will heal, the truth shall set us free
Well that depends on what it is that you choose to believe
In this prison made of lies we see what it is we want to see
And find comfort in this broken hall of dreams

Does anybody feel the way I do?
Is there anybody out there?
Are you hearing me?
I believe in you
Will you believe in me?
Or am I alone in this hall of dreams?
I believe in you
You believe in me
But I have no trust in anything
Somehow I'm always
Always falling over me
Somehow I'm always
I'm always falling over me

(VNV Nation, Holding On)

Renaissance man, Unix ronin, shadow warrior, mystic zen biker twigboy.  That's me.  Now with Enhanced Articulation!  (I shit you not!)  Occasional poet and artist, struggling writer, former seal wrestler, slave to cats, once-upon-a-time RAF Marksman, and lately but hopefully no longer, zoomer about in wheelchairs.  Most recently, I have learned that there is one other axis which is a significant part of this self-description:  Asperger's sufferer.

In the event you're not familiar with it, Asperger's Syndrome, first described in the 1940s, is a disorder on the autistic spectrum that primarily manifests as a difficulty or inability to comprehend social interactions.  You could think of it as a sort of social dyslexia.  It is not necessarily a disability in any other regard, and Asperger's sufferers often have the ability to focus very intensely on complex tasks.  We just feel like we're trying to translate the Rosetta Stone from scratch when we're standing by the office water cooler.

Wheelchairs?  Well, the capsule summary is that seven and a half years ago (as I make this update), a woman driving a full-size Mercury station wagon pulled an illegal left turn on a divided expressway, and T-boned me on my motorcycle, totalling the bike and damned near totalling my left leg.  The fact that I can walk at all is counter to all medical expectations at the time, but we've spent pretty much the last seven years dealing with complications and leftover issues.  (This process was not helped by CIGNA declaring further treatment medically unnecessary at a time when I couldn't put weight on my left foot without my toes breaking open and bleeding.  You heard it here first; CIGNA has the ass-nature, and not in a good way.)  I've frankly lost count of the total number of surgeries, but after a string of three or four unsuccessful attempts, the most recent surgery on my foot appears to have been largely successful (albeit not without complications).  I'm now walking fairly well as long as I have shoes on, and I can even run a little, although I run more or less like a three-legged horse and my knees give out after about 200 meters.  There's progress, but we're clearly not out of the woods yet.

According to some generator I stumbled across a while back, if I were a Viking, my name would be Ålrekr Ironhand -- which is not un-fitting, as when I'm flying air-combat sims I tend to have a propensity for flying Iron Hand strikes.  (For amusement, if you care, you can see here where other online quizzes etc. have placed me.)

What do I do for a living?  Well, when I am making a living, I do it by Unix system administration, general IS thuggery and the like, most recently for a DSP company in San Jose, California.  (I no longer work for them.  From what I hear, hardly anyone else in the US does any more, either.)  I'm also on the Board of Directors of the Peer Directed Projects Center (the best known public service of which is the Freenode IRC network for open-source developers, but that's not a paying position, so . . . no living-making going on there.    And honestly, sometimes I don't know if I'm accomplishing anything useful there.  In addition, I'm an intermittent developer on Bacula, an open-source multi-platform network backup tool; a co-maintainer of CICB, the most widely used ICB client; and author and sole maintainer of ICBM, a threaded ICB client written (and extensively scriptable) in Perl.  I'm currently in New Hamsterpshire, looking for work (again) and discovering (again) that nobody wants to hire a generalist (particularly a disabled one), and even the few outfits that do want to hire a generalist are looking for just the right generalist.  "You don't fit in the pigeonhole?  Well, fuck off, then."  Nobody wants to invest anything in letting someone who has almost the exact qualifications they're looking for fill in the remaining gaps on the job, so instead they far too often end up hiring people who lied on their resumes to get the job, and the paper-pushers in HR don't know the difference because it's all technobabble to them anyway.  Just to make things more fun, nobody wants to hire someone who's obviously in constant pain, but naturally, nobody wants to come right out and say that because they don't want to open themselves up to an ADA lawsuit.

It's enough to make the idea of becoming a hermit on a mountaintop somewhere seem a relatively attractive proposition.  (So long as I can get a decently fat pipe up there... well, OK, that's optional.)

Yes, I still ride.  Very intermittently.  My vr00ming has been much interrupted by the ongoing saga of trying to get my foot back into properly usable condition.  Until March 1999, my preferred instrument of restrained hooliganism was a 1991 Honda VFR750F modified with 1997 CBR600F3 fork legs, a Fox remote-reservoir rear shock, Two Brothers Racing full exhaust system, H4 headlight conversion, European-style integrated turn signals, Corbin seat, and the rear bodywork 'glassed into a single unit.  (See it here.)  My most recent ride was a 2000 Honda CBR929RR, stock except for a bobbed rear fender, but on which I intended to put a Corbin seat and possibly a Translogic power shifter (because of my limited ankle motion) sometime when I could spare the money.  It steered almost by thought and was capable of attaining Ludicrous Speed with almost frightening ease, but between limited mobility, multiple surgeries, and being flat broke much of the time, I only managed to get about 2300 miles on it in six years, when I used to ride around 12,000 to 14,000 miles a year.  (Bloody pathetic, innit?)  It's gone now; we needed the money for other things.  We'll replace it when I'm better able to ride.  Maybe a nice white '93 VFR ... maybe a CBR1100XX Blackbird ... who knows?  We'll see.

alton brown, andrew wiggin, apoptygma berzerk, archery, art, asperger's syndrome, assemblage 23, astronomy, avro vulcan, ayreon, babylon 5, baen's bar, barrayar, bauhaus, big trees, bitmines, bladerunner, bofh, bok fu, bruichladdich, bushido, c. j. cherryh, cats, celtic culture, civilian space program, clay roast suckling damnbeast, computer security, computers, cosmology, covenant, crusade, dark city, david drake, david weber, destroying all fascists, discworld, dyson spheres, enhanced articulation, f/oss, farscape, firefly, firefox, flogging molly, flying, fnord, food, free state project, freedom, freenode, gaming, gourmet food, guns, h.g. wells, hawkwind, heimian physics, highlander, homeworld, honor harrington, icb, icbm, information society, japanese swordsmithing, john ringo, kayaking, kenjutsu, lambic ales, larry niven, linux, longbows, lord of the rings, m-theory, mead, middle-earth, miyamoto musashi, monty python, motorcycles, mountains, muscat wines, mussorgsky, mythic fantasy, naval history, neal stephenson, neil gaiman, network security, new model army, o'neill colonies, open source, pc games, philosophy, physics, pipe bands, progressive rock, puns, quantum gravity, ray bradbury, richard feynman, robert heinlein, rock climbing, roger zelazny, role playing games, saddlery, schlock mercenary, sci-fi, science, science fiction, serenity, shooting, sniper rifles, snow crash, solaris, space, space travel, spaceflight, spelunking, steampunk, strategy, sushi, swords, swordsmithing, tactics, tchaikovsky, technical thuggery, technology, telperion, terry pratchett, the apollo program, the long now foundation, the silmarillion, the who, tolkien, tsr.2, underworld, unix, video games, viking law, vnv nation, voltaire, vulcan to the sky, warbirds, weltschmerz, william gibson, world of warcraft, wwii aircraft, yes