Hello (again) world!

“Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start writing!”

That’s the message at the beginning of every post when you first begin a site on WordPress. Well, after a plugin security hack in February, my original site was wiped out along with 200,000 others. Thankfully, I was able to retrieve the HTML for my previous blog posts, which I plan to restore on here over the next few weeks (though comments won’t be recovered). This has given me the chance to think a bit about security; I still have work to do on that front. I got a website back in 2016, but didn’t figure out how to properly make use of it until this wipeout happened. Now I’m actually attempting to take these things a bit more seriously if I’m going to have a domain.

More than security, I’ve found myself just coming out of a “slacker” summer period with a pandemic and other pressing social issues raging. I felt somewhat disengaged and unmotivated after an initial March-April where I started picking up some new skills and kept up my fitness with strong runs. A few aspects didn’t help: my home office setup was not optimal for home work more than once per week, as I suffered a foot injury as a result; I found myself dealing with additional distractions from being home constantly. Like many others, it has been a struggle wondering what we should do and where we should go. Being a human became harder than it usually is, and I don’t think autism was the primary factor.

I keep having to remind myself that if I’m not okay, that’s not a bad thing. My only concern is that it becomes bad once it gets in the way of relationships with others and how I perform. When I’m not given reason to be passionate, and when I am not provided with validation, I regress. A lot of moments made me feel like I was an overgrown child due to my reactions to world events, whether they affected me and small circle, or indirectly affected an entire population. Even if Twitter didn’t always show it, I was disengaged and paralyzed mentally. I thought it was criminal any time I tried to find happiness…which sounds ridiculous, but is it really?

Then the wake up calls started coming in.

I made a switch within my company at the end of August, moving to a different department to help with some ETL efforts and a transition to Azure DevOps. The weird part is that my new team is still on…Team Foundation Services (I won’t use the new name), and even though stories are generally the same, the tracking is different. Some of it, however, is the difference in team dynamic that is taking some getting used to. I am at the same company, but using a brand new system, which is like being a new employee. Leaving the department that brought me into my company is never an easy transition, but the more straightforward focus of my new team and the chance to help get everyone ahead will play to my strengths while minimizing my weaknesses. Then I got a new office chair and new bookcase, set my standing desk on top of my current desk, leading to more efficiency and less aches. Plus, neither was difficult to assemble.

My foot injury has begun to subside after my stubbornness stopped. I’m beginning to pick up my mileage slightly, though it is still taking me some time to both run longer and run on consecutive days. However, I do feel decent strength; most of the credit goes to the home office setup adjustments and core exercises that target the lower back. I don’t think I’m going to go back to a coach yet, but I am starting to plan a mileage increase.

I had not spoken or wrote on a major subject all year, especially after the previous two, but I decided that addressing life on the autism spectrum as a person in IT, particularly someone who uses data platforms, would be helpful. I had the chance to join a local panel to discuss my experiences, and have a meetup in the works with a Triangle group that we had to postpone until the end of this year. Then I ended up throwing my hat in the ring on accident…and I got into the speaker circle for PASS Summit 2020 to get not just a panel spot, but a conference session on neurodiversity and the data platform. I still feel like I don’t belong with this accomplished group with name recognition, but that will probably change next month. In terms of skill development, I only recently learned that one of my work perks is a Pluralsight subscription, so I began using it to brush rust off some skill areas.

Finally, I did some small volunteer efforts from home to help ensure that people in North Carolina are able to vote in this upcoming election. Poll worker spots in Wake County are full, but other efforts to combat disinformation and to ensure voters of their rights still need help – efforts that transcend partisan leanings. My wife and I also did some volunteer efforts at the food bank, and started a regular cadence of blood donations (even during the malaise period). We even took some time, two years after buying our townhouse, to put up a lot of pictures, giving us a feeling of home.

It is safe to say that I am starting to feel renewed again. I hope those around me are too.

That was my (long) reintroduction. More posts will hopefully come semi-regularly for the first time in a long time.

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