Questioning and Life Long Learning

Questions

“Question everything.” I am not to sure who the quote is attributed to, but they are wise words.

As young kids, this comes naturally, just ask any parent with young kids. I think some days I drove my parents crazy with all my questions. I think all kids are like this at one point or two in their lives.

When we get to high school and the take science and/or mathematics we are told to question everything, but I didn’t need a teacher to tell me this. I was naturally curious.

All my growth, whether it be educational, or spiritual, or emotional, was a result of my questions. Back when I was a kid, we used an encyclopedia, or the library, or asked adults (For you younger folks, there was no internet to make this easier 😉. The school of hard knocks was my “go to” source for answers.

I was one of those persons who tended to have to repeat the same (life) errors over and over again until I got it. The was mainly due to the fact that I was too pigheaded to change. I could give a bunch of life lessons here as examples, but to keep this blog post manageable, I will just use one.

One of the biggest, and difficult lessons for me, was asking for help. I believe this was because I have Cerebral Palsy and I felt I had to be independent. Another reason was that I felt I had to prove myself to others again because I had CP). The final reason is that I am proudly stubborn; once I make up my mind to do something, I had to do it. If this meant failing and try it again, then so be it.

The first time I sought help was when I suffered from depression and hit rock bottom. My family pushed me to seek help – government agencies and counselling. They helped and my life eventually improved. I have been unemployed two or three times in my life with almost a year, sometimes a bit longer, gaps in my employment record. I sought help each time, mainly though employment centers and later through friends (or friends of friends). I sought help, but it was only after I was successful on my own. It was never easy for me to seek help. I am too proud, too independent, and too stubborn. It’s who I am.

I love learning, and with learning, I have never stopped questioning why things are the way they are. The “big” questions, are ever present: Why am I here/why do we exist? What is my purpose? This is why I studied science, philosophy, and read a lot of (Catholic) theology books. I believe the answers to these two big questions cannot be found in any one field, but in the combination of each of these fields of education.

I will never stop learning, so I guess I will continue seeking answers to those questions.
—Robert Confiant 19 August 2018

How not to teach

In a previous post, I concluded that I can teach others computing. Yes, I can even if they have never seen or turned on a computer. This wasn’t always the case.

Teaching computers

My first computer was an IBM clone (This is what they called them back in the early 1980s). I had an i286 with 512Kb RAM and a 40Mb. It was a low-end computer when I purchased it in 1991, but for me a newbie. I thought it was fine. It took me awhile to clue in, but once I realized that they were empty machines without the software. I quickly caught on (Remember, these were the days of the DOS prompt and Windows running as a shell and not as an operating system).

After a few months of playing with the computer, my brother asked me to teach him some stuff. I agreed and I sat down and showed him. Since, I had been acquainted with the system I moved quickly and never fully explained what I was doing. THIS IS NOT HOW TO TEACH ANYONE. I am afraid I scared him off for good.

Since then, I have had to tutor classmates through mandatory courses of the programs we enrolled in. I did so and successfully too; I might add. The trick you see is to start at the beginning or consider the person ignorant to the topic you are trying to teach. Also, and this is the key to teaching computers/computing never sit in front of a computer to teach another person computing. Instead sit the. “student” (for want of a better word) down in front of the computer and state each step in the procedure to procure the desired results (complete the desire computing task) and repeat until they have mastered that skill, and then add on to what was learnt adding a new next associated task. For example: Turning off and on a computer, next creating a file, next working on the file, next saving the file, et cetera, et cetera. Now, I know people what you are thinking, “What if I already know the basics?” If that is the case, then teach them from where they are at. Ask questions to determine what they do and do not know, then start from there.

Come to think of it now, over the years, I dragged a few fellow students through my high school/college courses through mandatory credit courses with the promise never to take the course in question again. In some ways, I should have heeded my own advice and changed majors at university.

Live and learn.
—Robert Confiant 15 August 2018

The hardest task

The hardest task for me to do is fine motor skills, for example, working with tiny tools.

I love computers and computing. I found this out when I got my first computer (I was late to the game). It was a 286 IBM clone withe 512Kb of RAM and a 40Mb hard drive (a low end computer at the time, but it was good for me). I wasn’t getting the computer thing until it dawned on me that it was an idiot machine without its software (An obvious observation, but I was slow at first). I got it for university.

After I scraped by a degree (I picked the wrong major and I was too stubborn to change). In hindsight, I should have chosen social sciences or English literature (Either of these would have served me better). I digress, once I obtained my degree, I moved back home and worked, but I still wanted more, so I went to college and got a programming certificate, which lead to work in IT (A job for life, or so I thought). I loved working in IT.

repairing computer

My first computing job was “Presales.” I tested software while it was still in development stage and tested scenarios our clients were experiencing with previous editions of the software (reproduce the bugs they were experiencing). I loved it I would reconfigure computers to match their own machines by taking apart and rebuilding computer to closely match the test machine to reproduce the bug). It was fun, but for someone with Cerebral Palsy, it was tricky too. I got the shakes doing the finer aspects of the job and the more I would concentrate on doing the job, the worst my shaking got. I couldn’t help it was an aspect of my CP. I did it, but if the shaking got too bad I would need to step away until the shaking decreased, or ceased all together (This didn’t take much time. Sometimes all it took was the idea of getting away and a deep inhale and exhale). Overall, I was good at my job. I went on to just quality assurance (software testing with no taking apart and rebuilding machines), and eventually, I went on to work in a non-computing field; however, from time to time l still get IT request from friends, and the fine skills of working with small tools still cause me issues, but I manage. I love to dabble in computer stuff. It helps me keep my feet in it.

I can even teach others about computing. This wasn’t always the case, but I got better at it, although this is another article for another blog post.
—Robert Confiant 14 August 2018

Why I let you go

We said, “Good-bye.”
Amiably.
It was no longer working out – for either of us.
Some days, I wish we could turn back the clock.
But, I know this will never be.
There was a reason, why we parted.
One of which was, we each had different goals.
You should know that our parting, broke that part of me that was you.

Life is like this for some.
It was fun at the start.
The sex was great.
Until it was not.
One of us wanted more than the other one could give…
…Or wanted to give,
I no longer know; I no longer care.
‘Cause our parting, broke that part of me that was you.

“Soulmates,” we once called each other.
Now, we’re just “mates.”
You are like family to me.
Like all my other exes,
fuck-buddies,
or friends.
You’re my friend, my family.
This is all you can ever be, to me.
‘Cause our parting, broke that part of me that was you.

Now you know, why I let you go.
—Robert Confiant 29 July 2018

Friendship

You just left and I already miss you.

Your support these past few years was very much appreciated. I didn’t tell you how much your encouragement and friendship meant to me as often as I should have. I hope I this was the same for you. Friendship should be a two way prospect.

I have had “friends” who have used me for what they can get from me. In my insecurity, at the time, I let them believing it was better to have a friend than not. Thankfully, I learnt that friendship should be a mutual affair (I learnt this the hard way).

By the time I met you, or you met me, since I was employed first, I learnt that friendship is a two way thing. This, I hope you received the support and encouragement from me as I had from you.

You have gone on to bigger and greater pathway (You’re taking a trip of a lifetime first – congratulations and bon voyage). I wish you all the best in your endeavors. Please know that if you need to chat, or vent, then I will always be here for you, although not always in person (Thank-you chat app).

I want you to know, as you pursue this new adventure, that you have made a friend in me, and I in you. If you need me just call.

Your friend,
Robert (Bob) Confiant
31 July 2018

Pivotal points, forks in the road

I had lunch with two co-workers last Thursday, one was leaving at the end of this week to pursue other avenues, and she wanted to get together before I left on vacation.

We got to discussing life, new beginnings and life choices. I told the two younger ladies what I have learned about life changes, which is this: There are pivotal points in one’s life where a decision is so important that it can change the course of one’s life dramatically. I explained that there are four, or five, points in my lifetime where a decision if made differently, would have altered my life completely.

fork in a road

One such choice would have been a co-worker I knew from my first full-time job at Ad-Scan. I believed, with hindsight, that he loved me and he wanted to be with me. If we had moved in together as roommates as he suggested, then I would have come out a lot sooner than I did. I would have built a life around us.

Another choice was to dropping out of college, the return to get my OAC/Grade 13 before attending university. If I had remained in college, I would have different friends and a career as a lab technician, and I would have built a life around this scenario.

About the same time as university, I met a certain co-worker. It was because of her that I moved to Vancouver. If we had never met at the bookstore those summer months, then I would never have thought of moving to Vancouver. I would have built a life in Toronto, I am not sure what that life could have been, but I guess I would be in IT somewhere living close to work, or still at home with my brother.

Another was when the co-worker mentioned previously (just above) passed away, I got pretty home sick once and I was tempted to give it all up, but my sister talked me out of it stating I had a good career with a pension and good benefits, I also built a life here and I had friends here. It would be a shame to just throw it all away and to have to restart all over again.

Lastly, if I had never met my partner online, or he did not answer my ad, then I would have had a different life than the one I currently have. Perhaps, I may have even moved back to the Toronto area.

We all have pivotal moments in our lives. Points so critical, these forks in the road, that a decision one way, or another, leads to an alternate life existence.

I have the advantage of age and hindsight. I know my pivotal life points, these forks in the road. There are only five, but they lead me to where I am today.
—Robert Confiant 23 July 2018

Everywhere you turn, turn, turn

old Vancouvervancouver

Everywhere you turn, turn, turn
There is a condo going in, in, in
Out with the majestic grand monuments of old
Up with the vile glass monstrosities of today.

Good-bye unique beautiful vibrant communities
Hello, humdrum stale lonely world
Where does one city end and another begin?
Give me a sign and tell me where I am.

Everywhere you turn, turn, turn
There is a condo going in, in, in
Out with the majestic, grand monuments of old
Up with the vile glass monstrosities of today.

Glass and steel versus lush and green.
Mediocrity versus beauty
Obscuring views of the ocean and the trees.
Hide the mountains between the monochrome towers.

Everywhere you turn, turn, turn
There is a condo going in, in, in
Out with the majestic, grand monuments of old
Up with the vile glass monstrosities of today.

No more space?
Who cares?
Tear it all down
Until what made this city great, is gone.

Everywhere you turn, turn, turn
There is a condo going in, in, in
Out with the majestic, grand monuments of old
Up with the vile glass monstrosities of today.

Alas, oh jewel of the west
You have become a bore.
And the glory of yesteryear
Is no more.
—Robert Confiant 19 July 2018