April 07, 2015 - Nathan (an update)

April 07, 2015 - Nathan (an update)

I first met Nathan back on October 12th last year (*Day 285). We live in the same part of town, and as such, I see him around quite regularly. We often just say hello and keep going about our days. It’s a great feeling to see more and more people in the neighbourhood that I can say hello to. It lends itself to the feeling of community; exactly that which I was seeking out when I started all of this, unbeknownst to me at the time.


Occasionally Nathan and I will stop and have a chat. We’ve become friends on Facebook and throw random comments at each other from time to time as well. Today we had made a plan to meet and spend some time together. Nathan is working on a project that I offered to help him with. More on that later…


When I met Nathan last year, he had not long since had a serious injury. He had fallen asleep on his couch at home, and then woke up in hospital.

“I don’t have any memory of what actually happened. I had been having a few dizzy spells, you know when you get up too quickly and things spin. The only thing I can think of is I woke up and was heading to bed and I fell. I hit my head on the tiled floor,” he told me last year. When he came to, in the hospital, he had just had surgery on his brain. When he was telling me this the first time we met, I would never had imagined him to have so recently gone through such a major trauma.


At that time, Nathan wasn’t working, as he was at the tail end of physical recuperation. He told me he was considering getting a 3D printer and using the down time that he had, to experiment with some printing. I remember reading a post of his on Facebook shortly after we met, saying he was deciding between getting a (third) roommate or getting a 3D printer. He chose the printer.


Fast forward six months, and Nathan is still experimenting with his 3D printer. He’s almost making a full-time living, from his choice.

“I’ve made enough money to easily have paid for the printer three times over. I could use making a bit more money, but printing is what I do for a living now,” he told me today. 


Nathan makes 3D prints for business demonstrations, product launches and engineering students.

“I get a lot of work from the engineering students who are in university. It’s all been word of mouth and without any advertising. There’s a website that hosts information about 3D printing and I’ve gotten some work from there as well,” he said.

“The most unusual thing I’ve made? It would have to be for this business demonstration and the guy wanted a foot-and-a-half tall ice cream cone! I gave him a really good deal on it, just because it was so unusual,” he said laughing.


I asked Nathan where his interest in the printing was heading. Did he have, for example, any desire to further science by making replacement body parts?

“I’m interested in the aspect of 3D printing as an art form,” he said. I had seen another post of his that showed a pair of 3D ears that Nathan had printed.

“Those are for a binaural project I’ve been working on,” he told me. The best way I can describe ‘binaural’ sounds if you’ve not heard of it, is from an actual experience I had with a soundscape. A friend told me to put on a pair of headphones, and close my eyes. He then played a ‘binaural track’ which was the sound of someone shaking a box of wooden matches. It started in my right ear and then, with my eyes closed it was truly if someone was walking behind me shaking an actual box of matches. It went from my right ear, behind my head and over to the left side of my head. Binaural sound is like you're hearing something in three dimension. 


The idea for Nathan’s 3D printed ears is to create binaural soundscapes. He installed a microphone in each printed ear. The idea is to put them over his ears and walk around recording sounds, which will then become a binaural soundscape. I'm always listening to music, and am interested in sound and soundscapes. Nathan’s project with the 3D printed ears fascinates me. We talked somewhat excitedly about the potential use for binaural soundscapes. Geeks, geeking.


I wanted to know what Nathan’s thoughts on his injury were now, some seven or so months after it happened.

“A lot of the things that I’m left with are very similar to depression,” he said.

“Actually, it’s like a mini depression. I have difficulty getting out of bed most mornings. I just don’t want to. I have issues with my memory, like appointments and dates, that sort of thing.” 


When Nathan and I made plans to meet today, he had told me that I should send him a message this morning to remind him that we were meeting. I thought it was good that he knows himself well enough to ask for that support.

“I have to. It’s the only way I know I’ll get to something. I’ve had to adjust the way I live. Things that are common with respect to a brain injury.” I laughed saying that memory issues aren’t only related to brain injuries, and that he had more to look forward to over the coming years. I spent almost four minutes looking for my glasses the other day, before realizing I had them on. Yay for getting older.


“The other thing I’ve changed is how I do things now,” Nathan said.

“Before my injury, I had been thinking of getting a printer. My family didn’t think it was viable. I would never have given up my job or anything to do something like this. I was always concerned with having work, and paying my bills and being far more cautious about life. I remember one of the first things I decided when I woke up after surgery was that I was going to get a 3D printer and pursue doing this. I probably wouldn’t have gotten it yet, if it hadn’t been for the injury,” he told me. 


Nathan has also worked on his social life.

“It’s getting better now. I’ve found myself recently seeking out friends more, and making arrangements to hang out, that kind of thing. Spending time being social. And not just focussed on only working,” he said.

“I want to do things that I feel good about.” #notastranger

*Nathan October 12, 2014 Day 285 - http://on.fb.me/1IGS4s1