Greetings and hallucinations…
I started following Nixie ages ago, but then life got a bit crazy, and about the only YouTube I did was listening to music while pounding away at the keyboard. But yesterday, I once again saw the “I’m alive” post when I was taking a break while reloading a database, and I decided to watch it instead…and so, as the expression goes… here I am.
So, my name is Douglas Needham, better not kill my computer, unless you are prepared to die! And to explain about the title and greeting… No… there is too much. Let me sum up. Yes, I am a Princess Bride fan, among other things. And, if I had to sum up my life in one word, that word would be “Survivor”… not the TV series, though when I was still at Bell Labs during its collapse, a number of us had adapted the logo and posted it, to indicate we had survived the latest in layoffs. No, more along the lines of “Juvenile Cancer Survivor”, “Survived near constant bullying in school”, “Survived feeling like I was alone on the wrong planet the vast majority of my life”, “Domestic Abuse Survivor”, “Survived the murder of a VBFF who I never got to meet in person, or to explore the potentials with”… yea, the list goes on. And outside of the first survival item, they all tie in with another item… I am what is now referred to as “High Functioning Autistic”, but has been referred to as Asperger’s for decades. It was not until 10 years ago, when trying to make sense of my life after losing my Dad, losing my VBFF, and realizing that my first marriage was abusive in so many ways beyond what everyone thinks of as abuse (e.g. hitting and other forms of physical assault), that I came to have confirmation of this. A few years before that, I had seen part of a program on TV about Asperger’s, remembered an article from Time or Newsweek years before, and wondered about it. And in chatting with a friend/supervisor, I mentioned it and he said “No…you are just an engineer…”, and I took it authoritatively and forgot about it. But there is something about having a partner ranting and raving at you about their latest peeve trigger, and when a question was asked, not being able to speak because she has made you go non-verbal/rocking. So, between trying to find out why that happened, trying to deal with the marital stress, and dealing with the depression of my VBFF Lisa having been murdered (very likely execution style) Christmas morning some 6 months before, and only then realizing that both of us had appeared to be fighting having our feelings grow in the forbidden dimension since that was all that was left… I saw a psych who also specialized in the spectrum, and got the diagnosis which unlocked the door with frosted glass that I could see things move behind at times. And with that diagnosis, in what is sometimes referred to as “typical Aspie fashion”, I immediately went to either Borders or B&N and spent about $350 on books about it.
(LOL… I just typed “init 0” here, thinking I was in a different window, where I have been rebuilding a VM from scratch…)
To say that bullying and (domestic) abuse are hot-button items is like calling Tsar Bomba a firecracker. Males on the spectrum are often victims, even if they are 6’ tall brawny types and their SO is 5’4" and not all that strong. So should I witness it, see someone play a card from the “You cannot be a tech geek, because you are a gal” deck, etc., there is a risk of me going from non-confrontational to drill instructor in about 0.5pS. (Oh… and I am also an USAF brat in a very USAF family, though Dad retired about the time I was born). Lisa (who worked for a small ISP in Missouri programming their web sites and doing tech support), my current BFF Jax (who from clear across the country was the one who kept me so that my then 12yo daughter could get me to eat), and most of my few female close friends are gamers/geeks.
Professionally, I have been doing computers and the Internet forever. I started learning to program in 75 with my Mom (who was an accountant who was also responsible for programming the computer where she worked), lucked out and got access to the server at a local college where I could learn Fortran 66, got my first computer in 77, helped get Ohio State onto what is now the Internet in the day when even after we got the connection up, there were less than 1000 machines total, and have been dealing with computers ever since. I studied astrophysics at OSU, but got run over by the freight train there, and a few years later, completed a degree in Electrical/Computer Engineering (think EE/CS dual major). Since then, I have been solely responsible for the UN*X OS which was used on 1000+ servers at CompuServe (as well as running the USENET cluster there), responsible for the OS used by one of the groups in the greater Bell Labs which was the foundation for systems like Audix, Conversant, and numerous other IVR systems at AT&T, as well as places like AWS and Verizon. I had my first web page up in 94, and presently work as a telecommute contractor on a system at a regional LEC/NSP which provisions many of their telephone and network circuits… though that contract is ending all too soon. That last fact is in part why I am building/re-building some virtual servers (moving from VirtualBox to KVM)… portfolio web sites… But odds are, you have interacted with a system running code I have written over the past several decades.
As we know, all work and no play make for an even more depressed Spacey. For nearly as long as I have been working with computers and such, I have been a ravenous reader of SciFi, first reading Heinlein’s Red Planet, quickly finding the old magazines from the 50s thanks to my language arts teacher, as well as Burroughs, E.E. “Doc” Smith, and others, to add to my numerous math/science books and books by one Rev. Charles Dodgson . If my allowance was not going towards electronics, it was going to books, or something for my telescope or bicycle (which by 8th grade, I was routinely riding at least one 100mi ride a week in the hills of Appalachian Ohio… can we say great stimming? I knew we could. ) But other things I do for fun (having any free time)… I program… or play games such as Unreal Tournament (which is how I met both Lisa and Jax) or Guild Wars… but it has been ages since I have been able to play either. I also love movies (SciFi or Action/Drama), music (EBM/Industrial, classical, pop/rock, Celtic, and the big artists I am listening to lately include Liz Phair, Lissie, Lindsey Stirling, David Garrett, Katy Perry, Taylor, and Weird Al). And my current top authors are C.J. Cherryh and David Webber (both mandatory hardbacks, and the ones from David are always signed). I also do some CosPlay, but not as much as I did years ago, mostly right now focusing around a Royal Manticoran Navy fan group, and have been a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism for most of my life. But, of late, Spacey has felt like there was a major hull breach, with no space suit at hand (e.g. life has been mostly the cycle of work, eat sleep). And I cannot remember the last time I played chess… I also am a trained weather spotter, and was a HazMat EMT years ago (and greatly embarrassed several reporting crews live on the air one day during training)…
On the “Spacey” bit… when I first started playing UT clear back in 99/2000… I used “stargazr” as my name… being my very first UN*X user name which reflects my love of astronomy. And we had a group at CB (Columbus Bell, the facility where I worked) which would play at lunch as well as after work every day. But one day, I had my back go out and I ended up on Vicodin 750/75, 2 every 4hrs, flexeril, and naproxin. And, as a result, when I would take my meds just before lunchtime, it was “Oooo. It’s Mr. Hand”. Given one of our guys was semi-pro, I was worse than a baby seal (and normally, I was one of the better players against this guy), and even when I would get someplace where you could not see me, he would see my tag over my head, and BANG!! After several days of this, the lightbulb came on over my head brighter than my tag, and I realized how he was seeing me, and I realized I needed to change my player name… and it went like this “Gotta come up with a new name… Oooo… Mr. Hand again… boy, I sure am spacey on these meds… spacey? Hmmm… " e” (without the quotes), which the game immediately made “_e”. And for 10+ years, it, plus a clan tag began a batch of joke/punny names as I would need different names for different persistent mods… but perfectly in fitting with my greetings such as “Greetings and Hallucinations” instead of Felicitations… or “What can I do to you?” when a co-worker would come to ask a question… yes, I love taking someone’s brain out and playing with it, to see how long it takes them to react.
Another set of nicknames come from my SCA persona… 11th C Welsh persona of the name Cinnion map Liuelin map Higuel (the first being pronounced Kenyon)… so folks will often call me Cinnion if they have known me in those circles… or on occasion, if they also knew a friend of mine who never had seen my name in writing before… Cinnamon.
Well, once again, I have squandered a perfectly good hour… I am seeing that my machine has finished updating, the current time and the fact that I have not eaten, need to take meds, etc. For someone who would do timed exposures on the telescopes in college and in my head, keep track of time to within a minute or so over 8hrs while chatting or doing other things with a lab partner or by myself… it is so easy to lose track of time, especially these days. But much like the squirrels which would routinely mob me on the OSU campus during the winter to see if I had nuts in my pockets for them (to the point where I had one pop out of my pocket just as the prof walked into the room, panic as much as the sorority gals that sat near me, but which thankfully retreated back into my coat pocket so I could take it back outside)… so easy to lose track of the time and space around me, as well as to not follow a remotely linear path.
So if you would like to learn more, let me know… and aren’t you glad I decided to summarize??? LOL