I grew up in a small, tightly knit family. The first house I lived in was a duplex with my uncle and aunt next door, my elementary school across the street, may paternal grandparents a few blocks away and my dad's office two blocks past them. Norman Rockwell-esque, ehhh?
Life was pretty uneventful, save for my little brother Michael dying when he was 2 and I was 4. Uneventful until the middle of first grade when we moved from Cleveland to Shaker Heights, integrating the neighborhood along the way. Life changing to say the least. Oh, did I say this was 1962 in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement?
I was brighter than I knew, smarter than I could understand. Let’s just say I never quite fit in. I was Black, wore glasses, stuttered, and into odd shit, not sports. STEM is what they call it now. My parents were hip enough to buy me a telescope, a microscope, chemistry sets (plural), and more. I took afterschool classes, classes at every museum in town, etc. (Hint: Mom was a school teacher.) I read to digest information, not for entertainment. A nerd before it was kewl. If I was a kid nowadays I would proudly wear the moniker neurodivergent.
If nothing else, I’ve had an interesting incarnation this time around. I’ve met both Tim Leary and Ram Das. I converted to Buddhism (Vajrayana, Geluk) with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. I started Aazalea Software on our kitchen table and it’s still alive 31 years later. Barcodes. Remember I just said I’m a nerdy, neurodivergent kinda guy. Azalea Software publishes barcode software. Can’t get much nerdier than that. Laugh all you want but a.) barcodes fed my family and b.) I made enough money to collect photography and historical memorabilia around the Civil Rights Movement with an emphasis on the Black Panther Party. As a result I transfered almost 250 items to the Smthsonian Museum of African American History & Culture. There’s more stories left untold but yer gonna hafta buy me a beer...
Speaking of pattern seeking, on the spectrum, collector/gatherer/hoarder I donated a number of hemp seeds to the USDA Hemp Germplasm Repository. Yep, the feds have a hemp seed bank. Our tax dollars at work. Rules and structure? Yep, I wrote The Cannabis Breeder’s Rights, a licensing schemea for hemp and cannabis genetics, used to write commercial contracts in Humboldt and beyond.