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Showing posts from November, 2012

Holiday Decor (Scrapes and Bruises)

It's that time of year: Christmas trees, wreaths, lights, and stockings by the fireplace.

I enjoy the decorations, but also like the fact my wife and I get to sit at home with the cats on Christmas Day. I like a nice, quiet holiday together. This time of year, I avoid the malls, try not to stare at blinking lights, and generally sit at home and enjoy the warmth.

Holidays can be painful, apparently.

While stringing the lights above our garage, I managed to skin both knees. Shingles are rough. I wonder why, since there's really no need for them to be sandpaper. My wife wonders how I skinned my knees through jeans. I don't know. I'm also unsure how I bruised my legs in two places. At least I do know the origin of a bruise on my right am — I slammed into a doorway, missing the opening by two or three inches.

Despite the injuries, I am pondering buying and hanging another string of lights. Maybe some "icicle" lights would look nice over the garage door.

W…

Water Allergy?

For the last two weeks, I have turned red and "splotchy" after washing my face. Taking a bath is worse — red dots cover my body for an hour or so. My eyes swell, as does my throat.

I'm allergic to our water. It might be a child's dream to be allergic to bathing, but I sure don't like this situation.

What in the world could be causing such a strange reaction to the local water supply? I've never liked the smell or taste of our local water, but now my body is rebelling against it.

My wife is going to try to find out what the local water district is doing differently. Maybe we'll have to install a water filtration system for the house. I'm sorry, but water shouldn't make your skin tingle and eyes swell.

Has anyone else had a reaction like this? I'm wondering if it is a reaction to chlorine or another chemical.

At least we'll conserve water as my showers get shorter to spare me the rash-like splotches.

College Students with Autism: STEM Geeks?

A new study seems to support the stereotype that autistic students and scholars are drawn to the STEM disciplines. Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Participation Among College Students with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, by Wei, Yu, Shattuck, et al, indicates I am not alone in being drawn to the STEM fields.

While I love writing, and consider myself a "writer" before most other roles I might have in life, even my writing tends to embrace my "geekhood." I am a geek. When I'm not writing, I'm experimenting with programming tools, new hardware, and reading all I can on websites like Slashdot and Ars Technica. My bookcases reveal my split-personality: books on art theory sit above books on database programming. I tell myself that programming is simply a special form of writing, but few of my colleagues in English or communications would agree. The idea of a programming poet confounds people, especially in an academic world with traditional discipl…

Discovering the Right Path

As I've revealed on this blog, I'm back on the job market and find myself again wondering what the "right" path is for me. My students are half my age (okay, less than half) and are on the same journey of self-discovery and purpose-seeking.

The reality is that we are limited not only by our skills and knowledge, but also by our personalities and social abilities. It might be that the right path for me has more to do with my personality than my interests. How to balance the intellectual and the social aspects of a career is a question I've never been able to answer.

When you love people and love business, being in sales is a natural path. If you dislike social interactions, but love medicine, then being a pathologist or medical researcher is a good path. It's easier for me to consider hypothetical combinations and present those to my students than to come up with a good combination for myself.

I've met autistic adults with dreams of careers that aren&#…

Spectrum of Relationships 2.0 in Progress

Last night I returned to work on A Spectrum of Relationships. The first edition is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and I thank people for having purchased the book. Like most authors, though, I've never been satisfied with the text. It needs to be expanded and improved, so I have resumed revising what will be version 2.0 of the book. It won't be done for another six months or more, unfortunately.
If you have questions or suggestions that might be incorporated into the second edition, please let me know. Parents, students, educators, and caregivers have sent me some questions that will be addressed in the updated version. Of special interest to some readers were the sections on work and dating.
My university students are interested in these same topics: they want careers and families. These seem to be the two basic components of the "American Dream" — and probably the dreams of people everywhere. We want vocations that have meaning, while providing a livelih…

Less Stress Ahead

There was simply too much change in the last two years, and lots of stress. I changed jobs — and am on the job market again. We moved — twice. We lost our dear friends J.C. Kitty and Mimi, each passing while we were moving, not even a full year apart. We dealt with flooding and lots of tree branches. My health was its usual adventure, which added to my exhaustion and stress.

Finally, as 2012 nears an end, things are starting to feel a bit more organized and sane. Even looking for a new job is less stressful than the first post-graduate hunt because I know we are staying in our new house, in a little Western Pennsylvania township I like a lot. It's a nice place to live, reminding me of the foothills back in Central California — except these hills are green!

It appears my wife and I will be able to sell our first Pennsylvania house thanks to a decent market here. If the house sells before Christmas, as seems likely, it will be a huge relief to us.

Moving was stressful enough, a…

Communication Problems Among Others

People don't get along. Sometimes, their "communication styles" simply don't correspond well enough. Different personalities attempt to communicate in such varying ways that conflicts seem inevitable. Sometimes, these are cultural differences and I'm not sure how to help an adult realize he or she seems "aggressive" or "passive" because of a cultural difference.

This isn't an "autism" thing, either. I'm from California and was raised in a culture that doesn't seem as "aggressive" to me as the urban cultures I'm experiencing on the East Coast. My wife and I notice that some stereotypes seem to be grounded in reality. We were in a New York shopping mall and the people really do talk loudly, in short choppy sentences. They insult each other, even among friends and family. It is a different form of communication.

There are times when I completely miss communication problems. As a teacher, this can be frustra…