2023-09-03 Your Parents Defined You

It was the hastiest of times, it was the slowest of times…

What I Did


For the first time ever, I present to you…my NotaGenius essays! I’m presenting them in absolutely no particular order, and they’re here for your consuming pleasure:


The last post was sentimentalist romanticized tripe, fit to be excellent kindling if anyone was foolish enough to print it and anyone who would actually read it still had a fireplace without a built-in gas burner.

I embellish the truth a bit, mostly because I felt poetic at that moment. However, I’ve gotten my head around the unknown thing I was attempting to meander into explaining. Maybe this time I’ll succeed at making the ideas more clear.

What I Learned

The journey of the mind is a fascinating one. We could be doing the same humdrum routine, and yet have a mental journey of dramatic discovery and exploration. Or we could have an adventure-filled whirlwind of constant change and drama, but be bored out of our minds.

Nothing in the physical zone is interesting to talk about today for me. I have children, and a wife, and an insurance job. It was that way last time, and I anticipate it’ll be that way soon as well.

The domain of my understanding, however, has shifted dramatically.

To start with, probably everyone since childhood (or at least everyone with obsessive personality characteristics) has a few lines that jangle around in their mind constantly, typically instilled by their guardians:

  • “You’re beautiful.”
  • “You’ll never amount to anything.”
  • “Nobody likes you.”
  • “If you want it, you have to work hard for it.”
  • “Never trust Mickey Rooney movies on Thursdays.”

These statements are usually vague, mostly because it was a spongy-headed 3-year-old who heard it, and that person didn’t update the mental framework once they learned to write words, join cliques, vote, drink alcohol, or run for public office, preferably in that order. Until we get lots of therapy or unpleasant life consequences, most of our lives are defined by these context-free one-liners.

For myself, I was infused and energized by 3 one-line statements:

  1. “You’re not good enough.”
  2. “If you pursue wisdom, you can accomplish anything.”
  3. “You’re destined for great things.”

Those three together have created a rather obsessive personality. Anyone who has been around me can testify that I’m both a generally easy person to get along with and the wrong person to cross. Working in my current job is teaching me patience, but I haven’t lost the ability to rip someone’s philosophical framework out of their mind, strike every load-bearing component of it, then cram that crumpled mess back into their skull with a well-worded deconstruction of everything that gives them confidence in themselves or hope in humanity.

I have gotten dramatically better than I was, but the body count is relatively high. I’m sure I left some lasting impression in the wake of my career and church connections, but they’re probably still glad I’m not there anymore.

The first one kicked me around for a while, until around my mid-20’s I responded with “No, I am good enough, and you can go to hell”, which I eventually mellowed out to “I’m as good as the measuring stick says I am, but it doesn’t define me personally.”

The second one laid me out cold. All it took was 1 unwise decision at the wrong time, and the whole “accomplish anything” bit has become much harder for exactly 5 years, 1 month, and 8 days. My pursuit of wisdom had nothing to do with it, since having wisdom is the only worthwhile thing, which is contingent on availability. This “internets” thing really has us spoiled, but we can never really have complete wisdom.

That third one, though, has been a sore point for me these past few years. My Honey Gummers recently indicated how “greatness” is pretty darn vague. It’s a great thing that you can read this person’s blog all the way across the world almost instantly after I’ve posted it, but that greatness is obscured by the additional 3 seconds it takes from a slow internet connection, so it really isn’t that great, right?

My Goober Nuggets also had a good replacement line: “I am uniquely qualified with specific talents.” In my situation, I’m very good at making big ideas fit into itty bitty words, have a freakish symbiosis with computers, possess almost no sense of shame, and can somehow make autism look cool. Call me if you need to fix your computer or estimate a future trend’s likelihood, but please look for someone else for the other 70% of things that other people would be better-suited for.

And, with that fact, everything moves around. I’ve been less twitchy these last few weeks in this new synthesis, and it’s affecting my public-facing hobbies:

  1. I really want to be done with the rest of my not-tech-related essays, so that’s what I’ll do first, and it doesn’t really matter if it takes me 6 more months or 2 years. I could learn software development, but I simply don’t wanna, and this current job-I-like-but-is-unremarkable will be sufficient to pay the bills.
  2. All of this obsession has left me working in Agile-style sprints, but without much consideration for the framework behind it (some people call it “the rest of life”). My self-realization of my mental state has made me realize I’m a hypocrite about maintaining good habits, so I’m going to focus on that as well.
  3. Doing what you “love” is a highly volatile thing. You may love it right now, but it’ll become boring or tedious at an approximately proportional speed to how fast you change. Since I still want to become a better person, I’m risking my job security if I want to love the work, so it makes more sense to do what I must and keep it separate from what I want.

What I’m Doing


  • Working in an insurance office right now.
  • Keeping a home together with a woman who hits the maximum capacity of the Crazy/Hot Matrix I can withstand.
  • Slowly succumbing to the madness symptomatic of trying to maintain two schoolchildren before they’re old enough to vote.


  • Tracking my time with TMetric to hold myself accountable to all my goal-based hobbies and to get some managerial data on myself.


Plodding through the last of my NotaGenius essays in a haphazard way:

  • The Management pages have several independent-but-related mechanisms:
    1. Management summarized, in general
    2. Specific management necessary for working with tech.
    3. Specific management necessary for running a church, which may diverge into quite a bit of Christian history.
  • The Entrepreneurship pages are less elaborate:
    • Entrepreneurship summarized, in general.
    • Specific entrepreneurship for the tech industry.
    • Possibly what it takes to plant a church or start a ministry.
  • Beyond that, trying to learn math in a way my formal education has failed me:
    • I’m aiming for breadth, not depth. I don’t need to perform combinatorics in my head, but I do need to explain in plain English what the heck each math “thing” is.
    • The trek is along a pseudo-path through the route of standard formalized education, starting with basic arithmetic, then upward into algebra and geometry/trigonometry, then into statistics and calculus alongside number theory, with a likely divergence into applied maths and game theory. Along the way, I’ll keep a jargon-resistant dictionary of the big math words.