Welcome to the Domain of the Girder Gibbon. A site dedicated to the life and times of a man who’s only true talent seems to be spreading himself too thin amongst his hobbies.
Catchy name… but what can I expect from you?
Good question. I am someone who can be best described as an Intellectual Engineer; this is someone who uses a predominantly practical approach to life, in aid of exploring the deeper questions of life, philosophy and the meaning of things. As an example, to answer the question “Does hardship make someone stronger?”, an answer I might give would be “Much as quenching a hot ferrous alloy (think Cro-Mo Steel) hardens the workpiece, while doing the same to a non-ferrous alloy will produce a softer material, it really depends upon the mental makeup, and personal talents, of the one involved; an introverted scholar may detest noisy environments which disrupt his concentration, while an extroverted diva may revel in the drama.”
My interests are mostly practical, too. I am deeply interested in Railway Technology, Aviation, PC Hardware, Cycling and generally just making things. As a result, just like a set of muscles that have been relentlessly trained, so is the left side of my brain.
However, it is only recently that I have taken any initiative in exploring right-brained thinking. Exploring art, philosophy and literature. Taking time out to ask the questions as to why things are the way they are. I think that says a lot about what I may have become had I not began to wake up as I approached my twenties!
Wait, didn’t you say you were an “Intellectual Engineer”, so you’re not quite “Intellectual” yet; what gives?
Well, this is a curious story about my upbringing, and of Anglo-Saxon Culture in general.
You see, in the UK at least, a lot of what is called an education is simply a lot of pressure to conform and perform, in order to secure the best grades and, as a consequence, the best career path. The cycle of education becomes:
- Study a subject over a period of, say, six months.
- Crash-memorize all that you’ve learned over that time in two months.
- Pray that you remember all, or at least enough, of the material that actually turns up in the test.
- Feel free to forget what you’ve just learned. After all, you’ve passed the test, right? At least, until next time…
While the description I have presented here sounds quite brutal and inhumane, which it is, it does result in a population with generally strong work ethics, a healthy sense of responsibility, and a lot of productivity to boot. People who apply the aforementioned process of crash-memorization towards their working lives can be expected to perform at their best and not leave a single stone unturned. This is why western countries generally have excellent services and infrastructure, along with stable governments, and a plethora of products to suit all needs. Mechanically, our society is very complete and functional.
But when it comes to playing, exploring the human condition, and generally cutting loose and having a good time, our culture gives a pretty poor showing on the world stage. You know how people are so often complaining that western movies, music, and increasingly video games, seem to come off conveyor belts packed with only the same old focus-tested tropes guaranteeing a sale? This is a direct result of our mentality; just like we avoid wasting study time on anything that won’t be on the test, we avoid risking our bottom line on tropes which don’t lead to optimal revenue.
As to how this relates to me, I spent the majority of my youth in left-brained mode, regardless of any right-brained proclivities I may have originally possessed. Aerospace Engineering is a demanding mistress, no less so during your education. The fact that I was diagnosed with Aspergers in my infanthood didn’t help matters.
Anyhow, deeper exploration of this topic is not for the front page! Trust me, it’s a rabbit hole like no other.