September 12, 2021:

I thought for a time that my colleague suffered from Long Covid.

He seemed unable to remember conversations. I'd brief him on something important, or seek him out for assistance with some project. He'd nod, agree, pledge support, and forget all about it. Next time we met I'd brief him again, from the top.

Eventually I came to realize — and eventually this insight was confirmed by colleagues who'd worked with him for decades — that he simply was not paying attention. He'd mime enthusiastic interest, while in his head he wrote poetry or organized his social calendar or did his taxes.

It never bothered me. I'd just brief him again.

He was loyal to the mission, ferociously loyal to his staff. He did a pretty good job, neither stellar nor incompetent, certainly credible. He was what he was, and it wasn't worth arguing.