Welcome to the Xenomind
This is the alien mind of Craig "Ichabod" O'Brien, instantiated as a wiki. I was going to add some blogs to it, but then I decided to try doing them as sequentially linked wiki posts. I may add a git instance later, but I haven't gotten to the point of needing a remote repository yet. (I actually have a git repository here, and a Trac instance, but they're locked down until the release is ready).
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- Training the Elephant
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- My Spiritual Journey
- Postal Museum
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Who Am I
A good question, one that the Zen masters say I should ask myself more often. I will give you the wrong answer:
I am a Zen Quaker living in Silver Spring Maryland. I currently work for the United States Federal Government at the Consumer Product Safety Commission in Bethesda. There I'm responsible for the Consumer Product Risk Management System, a product safety database that contains the agency's anecdotal data. Part of CPSRMS feeds into the agency's publicly searchable database on SaferProducts.gov. I got my first job at the CPSC because I have a master's degree in statistics. I got promoted to my current position because of my programming background, from teaching myself BASIC when I was ten to being the SAS guru at work and programming in Python for fun at home.
Where I'm Going
My job is periodically driving me insane. Okay, I'll admit the possibility that I'm already insane, but the stress from my job (and elsewhere) is making it worse. So, through a combination of savings, luck, and frugality, I managed to retire in the summer of 2017. I have a Bucket List of projects to keep me busy in my retirement, and the plan is to take it easy and work through the list.
Where I've Come From
I was born a rich white boy in Charlottesville, VA. I don't have a very good memory of my childhood. I've been told this is common among trauma victims. I think things were pretty normal until I grew my hair long after The Diary Incident. That pretty severely ostracised me, reducing my friends to the geeks who respected my intelligence. Going to Camp Greenbrier didn't help. Around that time I did learn programming, which has been a comforting hobby throughout my life.
Things got worse in Middle School. My friends from grade school were all in band, but I wasn't. The school had this "block system," with half the school in one block, and half the school in another block. The two blocks never saw each other. You couldn't even eat lunch together. All the kids in band were in one block, all the kids not in band were in another block. So I didn't see any of my grade school friends at school for three years. Eventually, I earned the nickname Psycho.
In high school, I got into Punk Rock, Breaking and Entering, and became a drug addict. Punk rock was a huge help. Drug addiction not so much. I eventually had to escape public school after The Gold Chain Incident, and ended up at Tandem School. If I had not gone to Tandem School, I firmly believe I would be lucky to be in jail right now.
The summer after high school I was diagnosed with Cancer. I spent a year in and out of the hospital, getting chemotherapy, radiation treatment, and two operations. The hair I grew long in high school fell out and never grew back. At one point my weight was down to 114 lbs. (I'm 6' 1").
After that I moved on to the University of Rochester, where I joined a fraternity, discovered my love of games, and became enthralled with the study of Cognitive Science. My desire of becoming a professor of cognitive science is what got me to quit drugs and get my studies in order. I was eventually accepted into a Take Five program for a fifth year tuition-free, and graduated with honors.
However, I screwed up my applications to grad school, and didn't get in anywhere. My Dad cut of the funds, and I ended up living with my Mom and failing to find a job. I took the crazy step of opening a game store, and eventually transitioned to Freelance Writing and then a job as an editor at Iron Crown Enterprises. I was living my dream, until ICE went bankrupt owing me several thousand dollars in back pay.
I ended up working various jobs I couldn't stand, until the fateful urging of my girlfriend Sherry Rivers, I went back to Graduate School. I got a degree in Statistics, which lead to my current job in Maryland.
This all leaves out My Spiritual Journey, but that's a long tale that goes along side the rest of my history.