Temporarily Abled

    This blog post which reflects on Cindy Li’s pithy quotation that “we’re all just temporarily abled”. I’m recovering from a rib injury sustained on holiday, so I feel the author’s pain. Hopefully it won’t take me months to recover, but it’s impacting my exercise regime and mental outlook.

    It reminded me of a post on the Microsoft Design blog called Kill Your Personas which dives into temporarily disabilities. Definitely worth a read.

    June 6th I was on vacation at the beach with my family and tried something that, looking back now, maybe I’m too old for. And I injured my knee.


    That was almost three months ago now. I’m still limping. It’s getting better but it’s slow. The doctor told me, “Just be aware: this isn’t days or weeks recovery. This is months.”

    Since then, I’ve tried to make the best of summer while kids are out of school but my mobility has been limited.

    Through all of it, I’ve found myself noticing “accessibility” helpers more than ever before: that railing on the stairs, that ramp off to the side of the building, that elevator tucked away in the back.

    All things I rarely noticed before but have since become vital.

    And that phrase plays on repeat in my head — “we’re all just temporarily abled”.


    I suppose it’s easy to misunderstand ability as a binary thing. But now I’m understanding more how fluid it is, as it inevitably comes in and out of each of our lives — “100% of people” in their lifetimes.

    In classic human fashion, it’s one of those things you take for granted until it’s gone.

    Source: “We’re All Just Temporarily Abled” | Jim Nielsen’s Blog

    What does work look like? (redux)

    If you’re digging a hole or otherwise doing manual work, it’s obvious when you’re working and when you’re not. The same is true, to a great extent, when teaching (my former occupation).

    Doing what I do now, which is broadly under the banner of ‘knowledge work’, it can be difficult for others to see the difference between when I’m working and when I’m not. This is one of the reasons that working from home is so liberating.

    The funny thing is, sitting alone thinking doesn’t “look” like work. Even more so if it’s away from your computer.


    I recently had a conversation with a long-time colleague, someone I know and respect. I found it interesting that even he, who has worked in software since the 90’s, still felt odd when he wasn’t at his computer “working”. After decades of experience, he knew and understood that the most meaningful conceptual progress he made on problems was always away from his computer: on a run, in the shower, laying in bed at night. That’s where the insight came. And yet, even after all these years, he still felt a strange obligation to be at his computer because that’s too often our the metal image of “working”.

    Source: What “Work” Looks Like | Jim Nielsen’s Blog

    Image: Charles Deluvio