Gripping News

The coming-to-grips part post-diagnosis is a longish, interesting journey. There’s the initial relief (okay, I’m not lazy-stupid-crazy, I just have ADHD): UP!

Then you become aware of the Nomothetic Fallacy, realise that knowing what the issue is and naming it doesn’t resolve it. In some ways, things seem worse because you realise that no amount of “trying harder” will make it go away — it’s a “life sentence”: DOWN!

Then you decide to tackle things head-on, using your newly-found knowledge to circumvent problems and utilise your strengths: UP!

Giddy with all the improvements, you enter the proclaiming phase, now explaining to family and anyone else important — and then you find that there are some people who “don’t believe in it”, some don’t care, some don’t see the improvements, some of them don’t really understand, and a few refuse to change how they relate to you, et cetera: DOWN!

Faced with this realisation that you can’t change other people, and you can’t change your past, you then realise that what you can change is your views of how you relate to people and to your past.

This is the long-and-bumpy stage. It takes a while to sort out a gazillion hidden assumptions piled up over the years, and to re-examine events with the new understanding. This is the great part. You now have a better idea of who and what you are. UP!

Furthermore, you find you’re not alone. Welcome home.


Stuck. Off. Transfixed. Whatever you want to call it.

My attention was unexpectedly snagged by sight of something on the kitchen side table. The red cap to a Sharpie, a permanent marker with a pale ash grey barrel. Next to it was a black-capped Sharpie.

It was as though I was see RED for the first time again. Read the rest of this entry »

More than an uncomfortable trend

I shouldn’t read the news before breakfast — it’s bad for the happy digestion of my food. These Acts, Bills and Executive Orders keep piling up. It reminds me of the scene in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix when Professor Dolores Umbridge took over as Head Master, and the walls of Hogwarts were being smothered in edicts. The latest item is just one in many, which creates a more than uncomfortable trend. It’s now a disturbing reality. Let’s see, now we have: Read the rest of this entry »

This is a very short post

I can do it, but, what’s the point?

Buying Citizenship

I just got back from an “open house” hosted by my former uni. Happened to get some nice insect photos along the way, which pleased me. But I had an annoying experience talking to a researcher who’d recently been made a full professor. He told me about his students, and how they’d graduated and gone off and gotten jobs. I mentioned that over a year later, I was still looking for a job that reflected my post-graduate degree. What, he asked me, hadn’t I been applying for This job and That job? Yes, I had, I replied. Once again I had that bewildering sense, the vertigo of the psyche, where it seems like everyone else graduates and goes off to get gainful employment.

He couldn’t understand my dilemma. There were jobs out there (obviously, if his graduate students had been getting them). Unstated, but staining the tone of his questions, was the disdain of what was wrong with [me] that I couldn’t get a job? I ended up feeling like an unemployable idiot.

I’m not of course — actually, I have three different jobs. Put them together, and I have something almost like a full-time job. I get excellent employee reviews on my jobs. But it’s still patchwork employment at low pay. Jobs are not a given, under any economic circumstances. Sure his students got jobs — but for every person who does get the job for which they applied, there’s a score or more of other people who didn’t get that job. And despite my academic achievements (completed with great struggle against health issues), in the realm of employment I have “failed” to succeed at the appropriate performance levels expected for someone of my social station. I’m bidding too low in the marketplace for citizenship. Read the rest of this entry »

Dear Inspired,

You said you found me to be “such an inspiration” because I work with people who have special needs, and because I have to deal with so many things myself.

I’m not sure why you find me so damn “inspiring”, Read the rest of this entry »

Good design for the 21st century

Wow, talk about more functional design! A spacesuit that doesn’t look like you’re wearing horribly cumbersome elephant’s pyjamas or a really cheesy robot costume. The new BioSuit, designed by MIT astronautics professor Dava Newman, gives the wearer greater flexibility, mobility, and comfort, all very important factors when spending hours doing EVA (ExtraVehicular Activity = spacewalk) work building the International Space Station and other tasks. Less cumbersome also means that a person can move more naturally, which is simply good ergonomics; wearing the suit will be less fatiguing and straining to the body. (More information about the suit design at her lab’s Web site.) Personally, I would think all that snug pressure would be comforting as well. That it looks spiffy too is just the icing on the cake.

(Is it just me, or does that also look like a great design for fencing gear? And is that a Henry Moore sculpture she’s perched on?)

Can you sue your fairy godmother for malpractice?

I always thought it would be cool to have a superpower. You know, be able to fly, be invisible, walk through walls, be utterly graceful … impossible things like those.

Turns out I have a bit of a superpower after all. Took me long enough to figure that out, though. As a child, I figured it would be pretty damn obvious to me that I could do something that other people couldn’t, right? Well, it would be if I could fly or turn invisible. Those things are apparent, so to speak.

Instead, I find that I can hear all kinds of obnoxious noises that most people cannot hear. The hell of it is, it’s a lousy superpower. Read the rest of this entry »

The pleasure of your company is requested

Zephyr’s getting the Disability Blog Carnival #19 set up over at Arthritic Young Thing, and it promises to be exciting because it’s about SEX!

So wow, I get to follow that. That’s about as great a slot as getting to do an hour-long presentation in a warm, dark auditorium right after lunch when the audience is stuffed full of turkey sandwiches (ooh, tryptophan, zzzz…) Hey, I’ve done that gig. And I tripped spectacularly en route to the lectern (tripping over nothing, because I’m just so talented that way). And then the AV equipment didn’t work at first. And I was coming down with the flu. But public speaking is still theatre of sorts, and I joke about my clumsiness and the malfunctioning equipment (“This stuff never happens to you all, right?”) and the show goes on, because this is What We Do. They even laughed at the jokes, bless them.

But it’s time to take a break from work! I selected “On Holiday” (on vacation) for my Disability Blog Carnival theme, Read the rest of this entry »


As blog manager, this morning I made an Executive Decision to use the More button to split posts. This does several things.

On your end, you will notice that you now have to click the coloured text that says, “Read the rest of this entry >>”. (Yes, I’m trying to intentionally pick “cliffhanger” points to insert those More links; they serve as a good check for the editor part of my brain.) My apologies to those on slower dial-up connections; I’m not doing it to be aggravating.

Rather, I am trying to tighten up the front page, so people can see more post headlines/topics. I’m a loquacious essayist, not doubt of that, and post lengths can obscure the headlines that would demonstrate the variety of subjects, to draw people’s interest in them. In this regard, it’s meant to be a browsing aid. Using the More button also allows readers to automatically see the comments posted at the end of the posts. I really, really encourage people to comment. Yes, YOU.

(By the way, if you include a hyperlink in your comment or use any one of a number of words flagged as potential spammage — WordPress’ filter is fairly sensible, as such go — your comment will get hung up in my Moderation queue for approval. Don’t panic; I check my email frequently during the day, and as long as your not hawking commercial links or being the worst sort of troll, I’ll let your comment through.)

Were I writing to just be writing or to be working out ideas in my head, I’d simply have an enormous word-processing file sitting in my computer. Were I just writing at the world, I would turn the comments off. But I’m not — I am writing to add to the public discourses about various topics. I blog to provoke thought, to express my opinions, to support people and causes, and yes, to have fun. I use the medium of blogging because I find it an easier medium for communication, and because it can be more accessible. Kindly let me know if there’s something I can do to make it more accessible.

Blogging is indeed an ego-driven phenomenon, and that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s narcissistic, but that people want to express thoughts about things that are important in their lives. But what makes blogging great is that it can be a substrate for dialogues between people all over the world. So, back to the blog.

Diabolical Dialogues

A big part of my frustrations with the social realm are the crazy bits that keep surfacing in dialogues, like rocks that keep surfacing from a nicely tilled field.

One of those crazy bits are the unstated, inferential messages with which neurotypical people fill their conversations. You ask a nice, straightforward question, and you get … ambiguity like a fog obscuring the field. You get hidden meanings to stub your toes upon.

The conversation is full of subtexts, like coded messages. But unlike real coded messages where “Grandma knitted me some socks,” really means “You’re in peril, leave the country immediately,” these subtexts are not codified. They do not have a specific meaning known to both parties. Instead the subtexts could be any number of meanings, and it’s up to the other party to guess what those true meanings might be and which one they might be! The subtexts don’t even remain consistent; the same phrase might be used to mean completely different things at different times.

I like cryptograms as an intellectual puzzle, but I don’t like them in everyday conversations like this one where I ask: Read the rest of this entry »

“That Kind”

Vivid illustrations of a horrifying problem: three stories from recent news. So what’s going on here? Not the obvious, surface situations, but what is going on in the social dynamics? And we can we do to change things?

(Click on headlines for links to full news stories.)

Autistic boy not welcome in music store

(New York City)
As an autistic savant, Ryan Morales has an extraordinary talent for music — he can play the piano by ear; he has an encyclopedic knowledge of Broadway trivia, and he loves to go to his local music store to look at the drums. But the owner of Lane Music Center blocked the 13-year-old boy and his caregiver from entering the New Dorp Lane shop this week because, the store owner said, Ryan’s behavior makes him feel uncomfortable.

“I’m sorry, I’m not going to let you in,” owner Alan Wilcov reportedly told Ryan’s caregiver, Oluwaseun Cole, whose job it is to take Ryan on walks through the community to familiarize him with the social rituals of everyday life. “I just can’t let him in,” Cole said Wilcov had told him on Wednesday afternoon. “I have a problem with his kind,” he allegedly told Ryan’s parents and caregiver later that night, when they went to the store to discuss what had happened; it was a heated conversation that left both parties fuming.

Woman Claims Abuse By Fellow Animal Control Officers

(Kansas City, Missouri)
Cindy Earnshaw said it was her dream job to work as an Overland Park, Kan., Animal Control officer. But after nine years of exemplary job evaluations, Earnshaw was deemed unfit for duty. Earnshaw said it is because of her disability. “I crawled my whole life to get there. When I got there, I was good and gave it 100 percent,” Earnshaw told KMBC’s Lara Moritz. Earnshaw said she felt most comfortable in her uniform, driving her Animal Control truck and taking care of animals in Overland Park.

“I so loved my job, and I was so passionate about it, and was able to serve my citizens and my animals, which kind of compensated,” Earnshaw said. Earnshaw said the job compensated her for what she claims was constant bullying by her fellow Animal Control officers. “I’m there to work, you know. All I got for that was torment and abuse and bullying. They articulated, ‘You are purposely trying to make us look bad,'” Earnshaw said.

Autistic Mum’s Baby Taken Into Care

The grandfather of a baby taken into care immediately after he was born is accusing social services of discriminating against his daughter because she has a form of autism. The baby’s 21-year-old mother has Asperger’s Syndrome, a condition associated with problems concerning social and communication skills.

The grandfather, who lives in South Wales but cannot be identified for legal reasons, said, “Within hours of the baby being born two weeks ago, social workers arrived at the hospital and served papers on my daughter saying they would be applying for an interim care order. She was beside herself. “Two weeks before what should have been the happiest day of her life, we as a family attended a case conference where Monmouthshire County Council placed the unborn baby on an ‘at risk’ register. Their argument was that because she has Asperger’s Syndrome, she is at risk of getting post-natal depression, and that there would therefore be the likelihood of her neglecting the baby. “In my view, all this stress sent my daughter into labour four weeks early.

These are three different stories about three different situations, in three different parts of the world. All three people have been discriminated against (howsoever the local courts may or may not rule), because they are autistic. None of them, as described in these news stories, ran afoul of civic laws because of what they did. Rather, they were harassed by others because they were different, or because of what they might do because they are perceived as being different.

It would be easy to say that these people, and millions of others with their own unpublished stories, were victims of bullying.

But that would be wrong. Read the rest of this entry »

Lingering Around the Lingerie

SHOPPING. UGH. I hate shopping — once I find something that is comfy and fits, I stick with it. But you know, after a while the fave broken-in garments turn into broken-out garments, and it’s time to replace them. Plus, our 26th anniversary is coming around the corner, so I thought I’d see if there were any cute negligees.

I park my car and stride into the mall with that hyperalert / in a hurry walk, down to the same store where I have always bought bras. Omigawd, what am I thinking? It is Saturday in Suburbia and every freaking teenager, parent and small child, and ambling senior citizen is filling the hallways … I cannot even walk in a straight line! A cluster of tall guys strut down the hallway to imaginary rap music, holding up their over-large hip-hop pants. A giggle of black head-scarves suddenly breaks into a swarm of individual girls chattering at each other. A flotilla of perfumed saris wafts by. The mall is full of people-objects to avoid, too many smells, too much noise, too many things to visually sort out … and too big; it is a two-story American indoor shopping mall with no less than five major department stores.

Woah — where is the shop? It used to be here, on this corner. How can I totally lose an entire shop? Read the rest of this entry »

Garden Buzz: Green Man, Jumping Spider

(Note to pedants: yes, this post is tagged, “Insects” and spiders are arachnids, but they’re all arthropods and I don’t feel like changing my category tags)

This news bit in the morning paper caught my eye: a family was saved from a house fire because they noticed the spiders were on the move. One daughter was relieved of her arachnophobia from this.

See? Spiders are our friends! True, they are venomous, but only a few species actually have the capacity to harm humans. The rest are doing their best to keep insects from taking over the world.

I take that back — the insects are not trying to take over the world. It’s always been theirs. We’re out-numbered and always will be. So, get to know your neighbors! Because some people are still arachnophobic, I put the pix for the latest Garden Buzz here.


Okay, having created a mutant meme … I finally think of 8 things for the original one. And so it goes. See previous post for meme rules. I’m not going to do any extra tagging, tho’.

Odd things I like:

1. Spiders; I have a pet tarantula. Watch this space for Garden Buzzing about spiders (I’ll put a link here for the pictures that will be on another page, so arachnophobes won’t have to see them.)

2. Bees. (duh) Bees are fabulous, little golden-fuzzy honey machines, or metallic green wonders, or fat teddybear-ish bumbles, and essential to our food web.

3. Snakes. Alas, the cute one I was ogling at the pet shop got sold.

4. Heights. My son and I stood on the edge of the Grand Canyon and Read the rest of this entry »

Meme Mut8nt-R4

(Andrea pulls on her lab coat and disinfects the benchtop.)

Steve D at One Dad’s Opinion meme-tagged me. I don’t know what the official name for this is, so I’ll refer to it as the Random-8 meme. Random-8 has the following genes:

1. Let others know who tagged you.
2. Players start with 8 random facts about themselves.
3. Those who are tagged should post these rules and their 8 random facts.
4. Players should tag 8 other people and notify them they have been tagged.

While entertaining some insomnia during the wee hours of the morning, I realised that this list was going to be difficult, having already done the Five Weird Things meme. But then I had an idea — a wild idea — a wild, wee-hours idea that unlike most such, still sounded cool the next day. Read the rest of this entry »

Bridge Load Limit

“I try to take one day at a time, but sometimes several days attack me at once.”
~Jennifer Unlimited


Sometimes it’s hard to explain why things get overwhelming, or why something I could tolerate just find one day becomes overwhelming on another day. I look “normal”. I earned university degrees, hold jobs, have a family, converse like an intelligent person … and then I’m standing there dumbly like a deer in the headlights, or am staggering down the hallway flapping a hand, or am seated away from others and rocking in agitation. I’ve turned into a “not-normal” person, and transgressed that invisible boundary marking staff from students / clients, or have shifted from upstanding citizen to crazy-looking person on the street.

Amanda wrote a pithy blogpost on 6th May, 2006, making the excellent point that what constitutes a sensory overload threshold for one (autistic) person may be quite different for another. This is relevant to all sorts of types of inner and outer functioning; as she points out, Read the rest of this entry »


Timing is everything, and I’m running late here mentioning this.  The current Disability Blog Carnival can be found at Retired Waif.  Go check it out and find out why timing is so important!

Social Captioning

Hubby & I were taking a walk down the neighborhood park pathway. After several “hundred-year-advent floods” that happened within the same decade, the diverse planning committees finally realised that the streamway areas will flood and that it’s easier to work with nature, therefore, they shouldn’t allow building permits in these zones. Instead, they created public use areas that can more-or-less withstand periodic flooding, turning them into neighborhood parks with extensive pathways connecting them like green arteries snaking across the county. The pathway is tarmacked, following the winding curves of the steam, and nicely shaded. Bicyclists, rollerbladers, pedestrians, children seeking adventure, and dog-walkers all use these trails.

Shade also means increased cover, so what one gains in relief from sun exposure one loses in breezes to cool the skin and disperse personal clouds of gnats. I keep forgetting how this obnoxious part of summer affects me personally. Unless most people, I don’t quite have that marching gait where I swing my arms when walking, but am more inclined to hold my free hand(s) near my chest. This means that the insides of my elbows get obnoxiously sweaty and uncomfortably sticky because the tee shirt sleeves don’t reach that far (perhaps I need to apply a couple extra dabs of antiperspirant). On the other hand, it’s easier to reach over and gently nab my husband’s elbow and pull him close to me, which I do a number of times.

The first time, he protests, “I’m on the right side of the middle!” Indeed, he is more capable of walking in a straight line than I am. Every now and then I trip over my feet, running into curbs or wobbling onto turf.

“On your left!” announces an approaching bicyclist behind us. Read the rest of this entry »

Waiting For GINA

This is one of those days when it feels like you’ve slid into some cheesy sci-fi flick on the late, late movie channel. I’m waiting for GINA to happen. For some people, “ignorance is bliss”. It’s easier to be somewhat fatalistic and decide that one’s fate is in divine hands. Que será será. (Whatever will be, will be.) However, many people would like to have some idea of what’s lurking around the corner, even if it’s only the possibility.

The possibility of what? And why are people waiting for GINA? Read the rest of this entry »

Operators Are Standing By

I heard a phrase the other month that summed up a lot of my operating abilities. I was listening to the Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe podcast #93, (from May 3rd, 2007). About 40 minutes into the show they had an interview with Bug Girl concerning Colony Collapse Disorder. One of the hosts (I believe it was Dr Steven Novella) summarized bee navigation abilities by stating, “They’re very precise, but they’re easily confused.”

Yeah, I get confused. The world is a confusing place, and bad design just makes it so much worse. I may at times be very precise in how I approach the things I need to do, but that doesn’t always help.

It’s not just me. Everyone has processing blips; some of us just have them a lot more often than others. But in any regard, this is why our tools, the machinery and electronics of our lives, needs to be better designed. Poor design just makes so much stress damn unnecessary! Crappy design takes a lot of things out of the realm of accessibility — people simply cannot use things, people cannot get to places, people cannot do the things they need to do.

When human beings cannot operate well (or at all) in human environments, it is not the fault of the people, it’s bad design. And bad design is just so damn unnecessary.

Possibly one of the most fabulous qualities of computers is not just that they can do so many different functions, that they can be configured to enable us in so many different ways, that they can aid in communication, but because Read the rest of this entry »


“So what do you want to do?” asks hubby.

I sigh. It’s summer, ergo obnoxiously hot and humid and buggy, so activities involving the outdoors would result in a lot of sticky sweating and itching from mosquito and chigger bites. (A chigger, in case you don’t have them in your part of the planet, is a minuscule mite whose feeding leaves ferociously itchy welts. I am apparently an absolute chigger magnet.) “I don’t know,” I reply, thinking aloud, “I’m not really in the mood for coffee or ice cream. Actually, what sounds good is going down to the pub for a pint of ale.”

We stop to recall local establishments that fit the bill of “pub”, and remember one not more than a couple kilometers from home. Stepping out the front door, we were immediately “smacked upside the head” by the tropical effect, not unlike entering the Palm House at Kew Gardens. This cuts short his reverie about great pub-finding walks about Edinburgh and Ambleside, and his enthusiasm for an evening stroll wilts quicker than his linen shirt. Rather, he has the urge to hibernate until 1st October, when the weather ought to break. So we take the less-than-green option to drive through the eight-lane interchanges and tarmac oceans of parking lots. Read the rest of this entry »

Garden Buzz: Bee or Not A Bee?

Okay folks, this almost-weekly post is a quiz, in honour of the fact that for the first time this summer I saw some honeybees in my garden! (I’m so relieved — the first cucumbers aborted for lack of sufficient pollination.) But don’t worry, you get helpful hints.

The first insect up is the familiar honeybee. Of course, you may not be all that familiar with what honeybees look like close up, because you’re (A) unduly terrified of them and/or (B) haven’t seen many lately due to losses from mites and Colony Collapse Disorder. So here’s a refresher. Kindly note that in addition to being gold and black and flying around going “buzzz”, a real honeybee is (1) furry (insect hairs are called setae); (2) has two pairs of wings; (3) has plain antennae, not feathery ones or tiny ones that are nothing more than bristles; (4) has a little tongue, not a long proboscis like a butterfly.

Aren’t they just so cute?

Other kinds of bees and wasps may or may not be furry or gold and black, but their bodies are visibly divided into the head, thorax and abdominal regions (you know, “wasp-waisted”). Aside from the coloration or varying amounts of fluffiness, they still look like other bees and wasps, not like beetles, flies, moths or other insects.

This shiny green motorcycle-with-wings is a sweat bee (Hymenoptera: Halictidae Augochlora sp.)

This large shiny almost blue critter is the great black wasp (Hymenoptera: Sphecidae Sphex pennsylvanicus). Both of these are nectaring on the oregano flowers. I end up having far more oregano in my landscaping than I’ll ever use in the kitchen, just because the insects love it so.

Smashingly gorgeous, aren’t they?!

Ready for the quiz? Okay, let’s go to my new insect photo page

“You’re dismissed.”

“Oh, that happens to everyone,” she replied, totally fluffing off my explanations of why it was hard for me to follow just one speaker in a room full of talking people, and to understand what was being said.

“That happens to me sometimes, and I don’t have a problem with it,” he replied, and turned back to reading his journal. My explanation had been summarily dismissed as nothing more than an excuse, and my presence was likewise dismissed.

There are a number of ways that a majority can oppress a minority, beyond the more overt outright exploitation (uneven benefits from the result of work done by some) or violence (previously discussed with regards to hate groups, here). There are the more covert means by exclusion or marginalisation Read the rest of this entry »

Quelle horreur!

“Teh internets” at home finally got fixed late yesterday afternoon, after being out for two days. Woke up this morning with what feels like one of those “not-deadly-just-entrenched-for-two-or-three-days” migraines coming on. Will see if the meds help, soon as I feel like keeping something down so I can take the meds to make the migraine go away, so I don’t feel so nauseous and unsteady and unable to access so many of the “higher cognitive skills” widgets in my brain. Yeh, viscious circle, is it not?

First line of attack on the migraine is drinking some strong coffee (yay caffeine), and putting on my iTunes to drown out the louder-than-usual tinnitus that tops hearing aid feedback for dB and Hz obnoxiousness. (Okay okay, for you audiophiles I’m listening to “The tortoise and the hare” from Flook’s album Haven; it’s Celtic music. Now anyway), and began catching up on two days’ worth of blog reading.

At Planet of the Blind, Connie had posted a blog rating, which I find to be one of those humorous little asides. So I went and had mine done up: Read the rest of this entry »