Saturday, August 20, 2011

I saved over $500 today!

How did I save over $500 today you ask?  I stopped and thought about what I was about to do and didn't spend it :-)  Hey, for me that is a big deal.  My computer, the very one I'm writing this blog post on, is slowly dying, it's old and worn out, the "comma" key is broken, the "insert" key is broken, the battery is dead and it only works off of AC right now.  It's heavy and sort of clunky and slow.  When it had to be rebooted this morning when I was about to use it I said out loud "I should just go get me an iPad!"  So I checked my account and the cash is on hand to do that, and still, barely, pay the rent at the end of the month.  Of course I'd need to put off some debts I owe and I'd need to really scrape to manage rent and BART tickets the rest of the month after that... but I'd have a really cool new iPad!  Oooh.

So, after briefly considering getting a cheap netbook computer for around $200 I decided to jump into my car, yep there's plenty of gas, and drive to the mall to the Apple store and buy me an iPad.  I got to the end of the apartment parking lot when I realized it was not even 9:00 AM yet, the Apple Store doesn't open until 10:00 AM.  So I parked the car and came back to my room in frustration, thinking, I'll wait an hour and then go get it.

But the wait turned out to be a good thing.  As I calmed down I recalled that I do have an external keyboard I can use and I plugged that in.  Then I thought, well why don't I check out the cost of a replacement battery?  On Toshiba's site it was almost $100 but on an alternate site it was only $40 including shipping.  So I ordered the battery.  So my computer, sans commas and ins buttons, will be back to normal pretty soon.  I seldom really use it off the grid anyway, though if I get an RV that will be another story!

I'm going to hold out for the iPad 3 next year, that will be the ticket!  By then I'll be living in my customized RV with Solar panels and composting toilet and portable Bose sound system, I'll use my iPhone as a hot spot for wifi and life will be peachy :-)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Journeys with Autism » A Critique of the Empathy Quotient (EQ) Test: Conclusion

I think Rachel nails it in her conclusion of her series critiquing the EQ test.

The professor continues:

I have some sympathy for this view, because I have met many adults with Asperger Syndrome who can cope with one-to-one relationships and are very caring within these, and only find it difficult when they have to process information in fast-changing social groups. Equally, I have met many adults with Asperger Syndrome who can display their excellent empathy when they have the “luxury” of considering all the facts “off-line”, that is, when there is less time pressure creating demands to respond in real time.

Anyone else notice the sleight-of-hand here? Karla asked about people on the spectrum — not just people with Asperger’s. Personally, I don’t find it an appropriate emotional response to turn the conversation toward a subgroup of a subgroup, when the question was about all autistic people, and when Karla was expressing her concerns about the dehumanization of all autistic people.

As for his comment that people with Asperger’s Syndrome can “display their excellent empathy when they have the ‘luxury’ of considering all the facts ‘off-line,’” using the word “luxury” here, even in quotes, is highly prejudicial. It implies that we are asking for some sort of special treatment when we need the time and the space to understand the intensity of our experiences. It’s not a luxury to process the facts off-line; because of the rush of sensory and emotional stimuli, it is a physical necessity. For the professor to call it a “luxury” is like calling a wheelchair a luxury for someone who can’t walk. It derives from an inability to put himself in the shoes of autistic people and understand the ways in which we experience the world.

Read the full post here.

Friday, August 12, 2011

A Critique of the Empathy Quotient (EQ) Test: Part 3

A Critique of the Empathy Quotient (EQ) Test: Part 3

For an autistic person talking to another autistic person, blunt honesty is usually the most appropriate response. In fact, I have autistic friends who absolutely insist on my being blunt. When they ask me a question, they want an honest answer. By the same token, when I ask my non-autistic husband a question, I honestly want to know what he thinks, largely because I don’t intuitively know how non-autistic people see me, and I very much want to find out.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Critique of the Empathy Quotient (EQ) Test: Part 2

In Part 1 of this series, I outlined the basics of the EQ test, introduced the definition of cognitive empathy assumed by the authors of the test, and critiqued the statements on the EQ that speak to how well the respondent can read nonverbal cues. In this post, I will talk about the problematic nature of the statements that measure perspective taking.

Another great post, the double standard is very blatant and easy to see, if "they" fail to see it well... "
 Full post here.

Monday, August 8, 2011

I guess it's official then.

Well then, even though I have not yet gone to a shrink and been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, the general consensus of people I've spoken to who know me pretty well is "well duh!" :-)  I keep waiting for someone to say "Nah, you are not that odd Larry, you seem pretty normal to me, Aspergers?  Really?  I don't think so," but not one person has come out and said that :-/  So then, it's not just my own self image that says I'm weird but pretty much everyone else says the same thing.  Phoo.

Knowing this does give me an opportunity to watch myself and try and figure out things I'm doing that may be inappropriate, before I do them if I'm really lucky!  I've had the same job for a very long time so they are pretty used to me, but I still worry that I'll say or do the wrong thing and wind up fired for it.  I did have a melt down at work once when one of the homeowners was on my case constantly... that didn't do me in so I suppose the chances are I'll survive my frequent faux pas in the future as well.  But knowing that I'm doing it, which believe it or not I was pretty well oblivious to until just recently when I started reading about AS, gives me a chance to work on changing those inappropriate behaviors!  Woo.  " 

I saw this non-emoticon on an aspie thing, not recalling where right now but I like it    "

Hey God! WTF?

I woke up at 3:00am this morning in the midst of a dream where I was pounding on the door of the "Control Room" of the universe.  God's command and control center if you will.  I was shouting at him through the door asking him, "What in the fuck do you think you are doing?"  Usually I don't say such things to God but I was asleep at the time so it just slipped out. 

I can't honestly say what the rest of the dream was about, it's just that one last scene that was in my mind when I woke up.  Back filling explanations using my way too vivid imagination, which I've done all my life when I found myself doing inexplicable things, involved coming to grips with the idea of Asperger's Syndrome and the very depressing thought that it's not a disorder than can be treated but just the way I'm wired.  I'm not going to stop being weird, ever :-)  I've always sort of embraced my weirdness, glorying in doing things that push the boundaries of normal behavior.  But somehow knowing that I really never had a choice in being this way sort of takes all the fun out of it! 

Anyway, not being able to get back to sleep I got up and lit some candles, I dislike bright lights when I'm trying to sleep, and scratched in my journal for a few minutes hoping to get sleepy again.  Didn't happen so I got up and showered, using actual soap and shampoo for the first time in many weeks.  I should explain about that I suppose.  I read somewhere, I don't recall where and don't feel like googling it at the moment, that soaps and shampoos are somehow "bad" for you because of the chemicals in them.   I also read that you didn't really need them anyway.  So I've been doing an extended experiment where I didn't use them but still took a nice hot shower every morning.  It worked pretty well I thought, though I noticed myself smelling a bit ripe from time to time.  :-)  Duh.  Then I read in several places that AS people tend to neglect personal Hi Gene!  I decided that maybe it would be better to risk chemical poisoning and not offend the people who had to be near me.  No one said anything about me smelling bad the whole time though so maybe I didn't, then again NT's don't always come out and say what they are thinking do they? 

As I was writing in my journal I was continuing to complain to God about this faulty wiring that has apparently been installed in my brain.  Now, I don't want it to be changed because then I wouldn't be who I am.  "I" would not exist then.  But really what is the point of being smart, and I know I am because the NT world gave me all sorts of tests over and over and told me I was, in school and in the Army where I was offered an appointment to West Point that I turned down, if I can't really use it?

I feel like I have a V8 engine in an old VW hippie van with broken suspension, wobbly steering, a burnt out clutch and no fucking breaks!   Whenever I run the engine (think) I fly off the road and crash, so I finally gave up trying to use it at it's full potential and just leave it in first gear and try not to get killed idling down the road of life day after day, because crashing hurts.  Sure I bounce up and say "I'm OK!" and pretend it doesn't matter but hell that's a lie and we all know it. 

I don't know where to go from here actually, I'm done writing but, unlike in sitcoms, I haven't solved all my problems in 30 minutes.  "

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Journeys with Autism » A Critique of the Empathy Quotient (EQ) Test: Introduction and Part 1

A Critique of the Empathy Quotient (EQ) Test: Introduction and Part 1

This post is the first in a series critiquing the Empathy Quotient (EQ) test. Please feel free to offer your thoughts, your suggestions, your constructive criticism, and your own personal responses to the test or to my analysis of it. Your comments will help me refine both my thinking on the issue and the quality of my critique.

The Empathy Quotient (EQ) test was designed by Simon Baron-Cohen and Sally Wheelwright, and is included in their 2004 paper The Empathy Quotient: An Investigation of Adults with Asperger’s Syndrome or High-Functioning Autism, and Normal Sex Differences. It is frequently used as one of the primary measures of empathy in autistic people, and is often brought forward to support the twin contentions that a) autistic people have below-average levels of empathy and that b) autism is, by definition, a low-empathy condition.
A very interesting post and worth reading the whole thing here. The test that is being critiqued is actually the very one that led me to believe that I am Aspie. My self diagnoses is not dependent upon that test however. Instead I have by this time read enough (6 books about AS and a multitude of online posts and emails) and now just today have met up with several aspies in San Francisco and my confidence in this diagnoses has gone from 99% to 99.9% :-)

She points out that NT people never pick up on our (my) distress in certain situations, noisy rooms full of chatter, overwhelming perfumes etc. In those situations I can be near tears or ready to howl in agony and NT people are utterly oblivious. So just who has a problem with empathy?!? I hadn’t considered that aspect of the thing before. I look forward to her next post!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Dance with Dragons - Spoiler Alert! Don't read this post unless you've read the book or don't intend to read it.

I finished book five, now I'm waiting for all of my fellow fans to catch up so I can talk about it without spoiling it for them. 
Come on you lazy laggards!  Catch up already!  

I love this series, the HBO version of the first book, Game of Thrones, was awesome as well.  It's funny how, after having read 4 books of the series and then watching the HBO take, I now have the look of the characters that I saw on HBO in my mind instead of the, admittedly vague, appearance I gave them in my mind when I first read about them.   


So, now that I've warned everyone not to peek if they don't want to be "spoiled" in their reading I can say that what I loved about this latest book in the Ice and Fire series is the way several of my most "hated" characters got what was coming to them.  Note, this is not a plot summary but just a short list of some small bits of  A Dance with Dragons that I really enjoyed:

Most satisfying was Cersei's march, shaved bald and stripped naked, through King's Landing as penance for her sins.   A penalty imposed by the new "fundamentalist" High Septon after he had her arrested in the last book.  In the upcoming book, to be released in 50 or 60 years if Martin continues his blistering writing pace, there will be a trial by combat with Cersei's champion being some undead giant zombie dude. :-)

Second most satisfying was the fate of Theon Greyjoy who became "Reek, rhymes with weak and sneak"  Theon Turncloak, who betrayed the Starks, is tortured into gibbering insanity by Ramsey Snow/Bolton.  Sadly by the end of the book Theon has partly regained his mind and, at least temporarily, escaped from the Boltons.  

Less satisfying but still amusing is Tyrion Lannister's being captured by slavers and forced to ride the pig in jousts with one of the same dwarfs that had been at Joffrey's wedding.  By the end of the book he's escaped slavery, sort of, to join up with one of the "Free Companies"  

Jon Snow continued to bumble his way along as Lord Commander of the Wall until he finally pisses off the old timers too much by bringing the Wildlings through the wall and settling them in several of the ruined and abandoned castles.  The last we hear of Jon in this book he is falling to the ground having been stabbed in the gut and in the back by his own men, he may or may not be dead.  With Martin you never know.  :-)  Even being dead doesn't necessarily knock you out of this story though, as we discovered with Caytlyn in the last book.

Stannis may or may not be dead as well, Bolton claims to have wiped him and his army out but that was in a letter at the end of the book and there is no way to tell yet if he's telling the whole truth.

Arya is now a full acolyte of a cult of assassins, having killed a man on command and not for her own reasons.  She is one of the sadder characters at this point.

Daenerys Targaryen continued to hem and haw and dawdle in the slave city of Meereen because she didn't want to abandon her freedmen followers.   She marries the wrong guy in order to make peace with the Harppy and with Yunkai.  Her new husband then, we think maybe, tries to poison her, the big black dragon who had escaped shows up for the big celebration and fries a bunch of Yunkai  who were there to celebrate the end of the war and Dany jumps on his back, her hair on fire, and they fly off not to be seen again until the very end of the book where we finally find her barely alive wandering the Dothraki sea living on scraps from her dragon's kills.  

A new character is Aegon Targaryen who was Rhaegar's son and was supposedly killed during Robert's rebellion but was actually secreted away by Jon Connington and raised across the narrow sea and trained for kingship from birth.  For a while he was trying to get to Dany to join with her but in the end he heads for Westeros on his own with an army to claim the throne.  He hopes to marry Dany, who doesn't even know he exists at the end of the book.  

Quentyn from Dorne shows up wanting to marry Dany, but she's already committed to her Meereen noble who is going to try and kill her.  Quentyn decides that since he's part Targaryen he should be able to control a dragon, he breaks into the pit where the two captive dragons are held planning to steal them and gets himself charbroiled as a result.  The dragons escape and torch one pyramid in the city and set up housekeeping on two others.   

Whew, that's enough for now, it's a fast 1,000 page read!

So, really I enjoyed the book but nothing much really could happen in the way of moving the full story forward because this book is parallel to the previous book, A Feast for Crows, and not actually following it chronologically.  At the end we are almost in the same place in time as we were at then end of the previous book.  This is a little frustrating but I knew that was going to be the case going in.  

I really hope that George RR Martin gets the next book out in less time than it took to get this one out!  Six years between episodes is way too long!