Update (2023-06-23)

I’ve created a page on the DevOps’ish site so that you’ll always have the latest access to what I’m sharing out to social media. The DevOps’ish Firehose is available for your regular consumption (Bonus: there’s an RSS feed)

In the last issue of DevOps’ish, I stated, “I’m under explicit doctor’s orders to cut stressors out and do things that bring me more joy… I need to stop doing so much.” For this post, “we” could be a combo of myself, my medical team, and my family. We’ve been monitoring many health metrics through many sensors. (Yes, I should put it all in Grafana, but time).

I have no days off from pain. None. Zero.

How did we get here

I tweeted the other day, “This country is not built for disabled people to thrive in. We’re supposed to just die, I guess?” Since leaving the Air Force, the injuries I sustained in 2003 have become harder to manage. My injuries affect every aspect of my life. My time in the service doesn’t define me. But my injuries define me as partially disabled (70% according to the US gov’t; yes, they have laws for that). I think the biggest thing to remember is that I have no days off from pain. None. Zero. I also have only so much control of it too.

Adding high blood pressure to the long list of ailments has pushed the number of medications and supplements I take into the 20+ range. Getting the meds into my body requires a full-blown system of alerting and reminders across many devices. There are over 17 interactions I have to be wary of (making the timing of taking everything critical). Yet, I forget to take medications from time to time, increasing the difficulty level of life.

Compounding things, some of my ailments impact other ailments. We have determined that sleep, pain, stress, blood pressure, and anxiety all affect each other. Decrease sleep, increase anxiety. Decrease anxiety, lower blood pressure, and so on. Balance is tough to achieve. But my two-mile walks are mandatory for a few of those factors. No matter how busy I am, I have to take that walk, no matter how cold, wet, or windy. It’s a health need at this point.

Why Shutter DevOps’ish

DevOps’ish will not return anytime soon.

I did a risk vs. reward assessment on the DevOps’ish newsletter. The determination is that it put an unrealized amount of stress on me. Increasing my susceptibility to anxiety and other issues manifesting in unusual ways. When seeking out balance, at face value, running an $80K/year information-sharing business sounds great. But, comparing that against the labors and stressors that running a small business brings. Also, Max was not even one when I started DevOps’ish. Now that he’s seven, our days and nights have changed significantly and my injuries have too.

I’m confident I’m making the right move. DevOps’ish hit the inflection point of “side project or full time operation” and that’s the most I could ever ask for.

Shutting down the newsletter is the biggest piece of my puzzle I have complete control over. Looking at all the puzzle pieces, this degree of control is rare. Given the doctor’s orders and my desire to simplify life, I’ve decided that DevOps’ish will not return anytime soon.

Going Forward

I’m not a breaking news source and don’t want to be.

I will maintain “Suggested Reads” across r/devopsish, Mastodon, LinkedIn, and Twitter. This can change at Elon Musk’s (plus Zapier’s and Buffer’s) whims. I never thought a self-absorbed tech CEO would be a dependency I took. Mastodon is going to be less popular than Twitter. It will be a sizable social network, but it’s not a drop-in Twitter replacement for the masses.

My reading habits have changed. I’ve learned I don’t have to work all my waking hours in some capacity. I now read because it interests me. I’m also reading and not sharing things too. You don’t need all my knowledge across a vast universe of interests, right?

One thing is for sure. I’m no longer reading to be ahead of everyone else out there. I’m keeping up on cloud native and Kubernetes topics (and many other interests). But I’m not a breaking news source and don’t want to be. I love and use Inoreader.

I read through what I have time to get through. Whenever I start to read again, I mark anything older than three days as read. If I have yet to read it in the 72 hours since its been out there, it isn’t going to bubble up to me via Inoreader. This behavior change has helped decrease a significant stressor.

Slowing down to smell the roses

“I didn’t do enough, then I did too much, then my mind broke, and now I’ve picked up the broken pieces and am trying to put them back together in a way that makes sense.”

During my years of therapy, we’ve honed in on this simplistic theory that eloquently quantifies my work ethic. My therapist often reminds me that I’ve done more than many people would over an entire lifetime before I was 40. I do too much because I feel like I didn’t do enough before in life. Now that we identified this, we can impact it (that sounds familiar in the “You can’t change what you don’t observe” sense).

I felt I had to do much more to compensate for when I perceived I didn’t do enough. There were signs I missed that, had I noticed, could have prevented terrible outcomes during my time in the military. This became evident to my therapist and me after working through many sessions of EMDR around one memory. I know I could have prevented inevitable deaths from happening across my 11 years over many assignments.

Hindsight is always 20/20. I did the best I could, given the circumstances. But these haunt me to this day. Anytime there’s a death near me, all those scenarios return to me in unhealthy ways. It’s getting better. But it will take time.

I picked up a lot of bad habits during my time in the service. I read intelligence reports voraciously. I intensely researched geopolitical situations affecting my taskings to achieve mission success. As the recent spat of spy balloons has shown, I can 100% accurately predict what happens in almost any national security situation. Bed-rocked on years of research, even after being removed from it for longer than I was a part of it.

When someone plants a scenario in my head in an area I have expertise, my brain defaults to running in overdrive through all the possible end states. It’s often like knowing what’s going to happen before it happens. That is less cool than you would think in these situations. Great for troubleshooting and fixing things. But, it’s bad when it’s a national security situation that will inevitably affect everyone you know eventually.

The Holidays of 2022

I had the best holiday season since I was a kid this past year. Sadly, Aubree wasn’t with us, but the joy Max brings nowadays is fantastic. In what is often a very stressful time for me, everything went well. I felt a mix of calm, harmony, pride, joy, and general happiness with almost everything. I felt delighted that I was enjoying the holidays again. I spent many years programming myself to be okay with being away for birthdays, holidays, etc. It’s the first time in a long time some folks saw me this happy.

I miss my dog

I still have a strong desire for knowledge. I also desire control of my surroundings. Plus, I have an unusual desire for superb situational awareness. My time helping ISR platforms has made me desire surveillance capabilities of my property. I have a lot of cameras magically, y’all. If someone sneaks into my perimeter without me knowing it, congrats! You have my permission to take me out.

I actually have another camera to cover a blind spot in my Amazon shopping cart as I’m writing this. It’s worth mentioning, I’m privacy conscious and do not share footage with local authorities. I also store as little as possible (the woodland creatures might get saved). I’m not the one to judge whether something is permissable in court, get a warrant. I want confirmation authorities aren’t overreaching.

But thinking like this is incredibly self-defeating/sabotaging. Things can get expensive, too, if you let them. But, with Sunny’s passing, I am alone in the house often. I didn’t think that would be challenging, but it is. I value my solitude and the peace it can bring. Not knowing what’s going on around me and allowing myself to to focus on things has been hard.

I also have a higher need for companionship than I realized because Sunny was always with me, working from home 24/7 since 2017. She has been with me for doctor’s appointments, therapy sessions, meetings, and so many pull requests. When I was with Red Hat, I joked that Sunny was the “Red Hat Commerce Township Employee of the Month 36 months in a row!” We thought about making her a special plaque and everything but passed on that creative idea.

Sad but lucky (Thank You, Friends)

I am very fortunate to be in the position I’m in right now. As I mentioned to Nirmal Mehta the other day, it’s very cool that I work with so many friends I interact with at AWS. Thankfully, work is being great through all this. I have achieved balance of sorts between my work and open source goals to enable sustainable open source contributions on the job. I’m in the best place I can be right now.

Since Sunny’s death, my friends, colleagues, and teammates have been amazing and graceful with their time. The work-life balance has been a critical component in my grieving process. Sunny’s passing is hitting every Short family member (even Max) in significant ways, often. Contacting them and having a way to feel like I’m not so alone helps. Thank y’all.

What does the future look like

We’ve entered an interesting period for news and information: the good stuff costs money, and the free stuff is often questionable. Only so many people are willing to pay for news and information. The US government spends $80 billion on intelligence every year. If you’re not ready to pay for news, you could find yourself in a knowledge gap before 2025. In other words, choose your news sources carefully. Good information is increasingly a paid model.

Still the DevOps’ish subreddit is alive and well. Very much free, curated by me, with help from community members. Could I build a paywalled information-sharing site? Yes! I could, and it might be a great business. But I have no burning desire to start a new business right now. I’ve worked hard to get where I am. But, doing the things I did to get here aren’t helpful now that I’m here. It’s not that I have to think bigger. I do have to be more judicious with my time though.

I have started broadening what I reading to more humanity and economics-focused reading. I’m trying not to be as interested in seeing ahead of the geoeconomics of the world. But I can get that data if I do need to assess something.

I’m on many social media networks that Facebook or Bytedance doesn’t own. You can connect with me via all the means listed at chrisshort.net.

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