Tuesday, July 28, 2015

LENS and life, week of 7/21

No map for LENS yet. 

This week I get to take care of a pair of cats, in addition to my usual work.  I used to pet-sit a lot when I was younger.  It was a nice side income and the same holds true now, though the money doesn't go as far as it used to. As jobs go it's pretty unstressful, though.  The couple prefers that I play with the cats as well as feed them, so I'll sit with a book and wave toys at the cats for awhile.  Sometimes they'll go for the toys.  Sometimes they'll ignore them in favor of flopping on my lap or at my feet.  Cats.  I wish my laser pointer still worked.  They went nuts over that, especially when my hand tremor was in evidence. 

I've been having issues with dehydration again.  I suspect I'm not drinking enough water at work, and then forgetting to drink much at home, so I've started doing the "fill a 32 ounce glass up, then drink it down" thing again.  This usually results in my needing to use the bathroom a lot, but recently it hasn't.  I did try drinking dandelion root tea again, but it didn't help as far as I can tell. 

Things at work have been about the same.  I'm not getting ahead.  I'm mostly not falling further behind.  I'm still irritating my boss' boss by not doing things as quickly or as flawlessly as would be ideal.  Thinking about it, I'm really tired of hearing about all the stuff I'm not doing perfectly.  I'm overworked and underpaid, and I'm trying my best.  My boss is good about being appreciative of my effort, but almost all I hear from my boss' boss at work is criticism.  And that really wears on me, when I already have an inner critic telling me that I need to work faster, be more efficient, etc.  I think my boss understands that, but I doubt his boss does.  And really, the problem isn't the criticism specifically, it's that it's the only thing I hear.  I don't hear that my work is appreciated, or basic concern about my wellbeing on any given day.  It makes for a pretty unapproachable situation. 

I'm getting tired thinking about it, really.  I'm sleeping better these days, at least.  I was having issues where I kept waking up at night, every hour or two.  My doctor suggested timed release melatonin, and so I snagged the only bottle I could find at a physical store.  It did help, and she tells me my system may correct itself once I've been on the melatonin enough.  I do like self-correcting medical issues, and that may in fact be the case here.  I finished off a three month supply of the store stuff, and had just shifted to a new brand that didn't have vitamin B in it.  (Vitamin B makes you more alert, so it's odd that it's included in something that's supposed to make you sleep).  After switching brands, I got side effects I associate with having too much melatonin, so I've been going without for a couple days.  I think I've woken up a bit, but like once or twice compared to four or five times per night.  I'll see how well rested I feel in a few days, I guess.  When I first started taking melatonin, I felt much better rested than I had in quite awhile.  Not flawlessly rested, unfortunately, but better.  It's progress.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

LENS and Life, week of 7/14

One site, but this is the last one in the map.  So I guess next week I'll get to see the statistics on this latest map.  It's sadly nonpictoral, or at least the last few weren't.  All bar graphs and jargon.  The jargon is occasionally exactly the opposite meaning of what I'd expect from the word, too.  That makes it difficult to learn and understand. 

I guess LENS isn't unique in that regard.  Programming languages, which I studied in college, are the same way.  Sometimes the terminology makes sense, but just as often it doesn't at all.  But it made sense to someone, when they wrote it that way.  For example, in Java programming, you can specify a number to be used in your code.  Let's call it X, harking back to algebra.  X is a number.  In code, you announce that X exists, and then give it a value.  But wait, there are half a dozen types of numbers!  There's "int," "double," "byte," "short," "long," and "float."  All of those are different types of numbers.  Now instead of just saying, "I have a number X," you have to say, "I have a <type> number X."  All of those types are used in code, and you need to know what each type is and what applications it's best for.  Can you tell by the words what each type is for?  I couldn't, when I was learning.  The only one that immediately made sense on explanation was "int," and that only because it's short for integer, which I already learned about in math class.  The rest I had to learn by rote, because they made no sense to me.  I assume whoever designed Java had a background in higher mathematics and science, and I don't. 

There's also legalese, as I've come to refer to the fine print on software agreements, legal papers, and other absurdly long and complicated documents.  As far as I can tell, the people who write those things exist in an entirely different dimension.  I try to read everything I sign, but I have limits.  I won't spend four hours reading a 50 page software license agreement when I have work to do.  I just don't have the time (or the interest, if I'm being honest).  But people do read those, and more than that, people write them.  I assume a lot of copy/pasting is involved, or at least fairly standardized language and sections, but I've never studied it.  Yet somehow the standards for legal papers, software agreements, and fine print came into being. 

Learning about LENS, programming, and legalese seems to me to be kind of like perspective-taking.  Only instead of living, breathing human beings able to explain themselves, you have only textbooks and shrugs of "that's just how it is."  A good teacher for any subject can help, but even so.  Which reminds me in a short of roundabout way, that some professionals believe people on the autism spectrum can't do perspective-taking (and don't have theory of mind).  And I shake my head.  Ridiculous.  People on the autism spectrum might have a harder time with perspective-taking (because people can be way more complicated than any devised system), but we definitely can do it.  I wouldn't be here trying to bridge the gaps between people on the spectrum and people not on the spectrum if I couldn't see things from a perspective besides my own.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

LENS and Life, week of 7/7

One site yet again.  The doctor commented that she's mapping my brain again, so I guess that's part of why we're doing so few sites at a time.  I should explain.  When we first started meddling with my brainwaves, a baseline of my brain was taken over the first few weeks.  As time has passed, the doctor can compare that baseline with current and past maps.  So this will be the latest map, and hopefully there'll be some interesting trends and patterns to see in comparison.  It's always interesting to learn a bit about the software and theory behind LENS, so maybe in the next couple weeks I'll get to learn a bit more. 

Life is being stressful.  Nothing new, really, but my leisure isn't making up for it anymore.  The computer game I've been using for enjoyment and a sense of getting things done is starting to let me down.  I've run out of easy to understand, "just work hard and you'll definitely get _____" type things in the game.  Or at least, I've run out of the ones I was interested in doing.  I've been collecting mounts in the game, things like horses and gryphons and dragons and such.  It's been fun, but at this point I'm down to spending dozens of hours trying to get a single thing, as opposed to spending an hour or two per day each week and getting a set of them. 

There's also the immense frustration factor of waiting carefully at just the right place for a specific monster to appear, and then having some random person with a better internet connection and better abilities swoop in and swipe it, thus ensuring I've just wasted at least an hour of my free time.  That's life, obviously, but it really puts a damper on my enjoyment of the game. 

I've been offsetting the time spent by reading books.  I recently recommended a book series (Foundation, by Isaac Asimov) to a friend, and then realized that A) I hadn't read it myself in some time, and B) I really wanted to.  So I've been reading it.  It's interesting how much you can forget or entirely miss in your first, second, third, and etc. readings.  As I age, I have to smile at Asimov's visions of the future.  They're both impressively forward-thinking and adorably backwards-thinking.  The Foundation series is set thousands of years in the future, but it still has references to video players with actual handheld videos, and things like people smoking.  Along with the spaceships and faster-than-light technology. 

I can't really blame the esteemed writer for his lack of future-predictive powers.  When he died, the Internet had just started getting to be a big public thing.  When he wrote these books, ARPANET didn't even exist.  Let alone DVD players, mp3s, iPods, and all that.  It just goes to show that even the most brilliant minds aren't perfect. Which is of some comfort to me, given that I too am going to foist my visions of the future upon people.  My visions involve less spaceships and more equality, but if people like Asimov and Tolkien can miss incredibly simple and obvious things (in retrospect), then certainly I'm allowed to do so. 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

A link for a post


Having kind of a rough week/month because of work and other issues, so have someone else's brilliant concept of what it's like to live on the autism spectrum.  It's wall o'text, but I promise it's worth reading.  Sorry for the lack of a normal update.  I'll try to do better in the future. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

LENS and Life, week of 6/30

One site again today.  Most of the visit was me kvetching about work.  Things I can't change but definitely get my goat.  It's been kind of interesting because the doctor has a rather different perspective on salaried and minimum wage work than I absorbed, growing up.  She talks about setting boundaries for yourself- lines, basically.  If people cross them, you then know this is a situation that needs to be changed, avoided, or escaped. 

I'm... wary of that perspective.  Not because I don't think it has merit, or I wouldn't be considering it at all.  But because I am a creature of solid decisions, if I can get away with it.  If I decide I'm going to do a thing, I am darned well going to do that thing.  I don't abandon my decisions lightly or easily.  That's kind of inflexible of me, which is a problem with a society where things can be so incredibly subjective.  So I'm leery of drawing lines in the sand and then saying, "step over it, and you're dead to me."  If I make that line, and something changes while I'm focusing on the line, and then the line is crossed, I may not notice that change before I throw up my hands and walk away.  I can be rather single-minded.  So then I've burnt bridges I didn't need to burn.

The problem is that hard boundaries do seem to be rather necessary in the adult world.  Humans, in my experience, can be amazingly selfless, but as a rule, aren't.  Take Walmart, for instance.  Because it's cheaper and easier, Walmart hires everyone part time, pays them next to nothing, and then encourages them to apply for food stamps.  Food stamps, which conveniently can be used at Walmart.  In this way, they avoid paying for healthcare and the benefits a worker needs to support a household, get the cheapest labor they can wrangle by law, and profiteer off their employees while they're at it. 

While most companies (and people) aren't as terrible as Walmart, some of the same tendencies apply.  Hiring part time, and pushing those people to work as close to full time as possible.  Avoiding overtime pay.  Allowing only minimal paid time off, or vacation days.  Skimping on benefits.  All in the name of profits, or being competitive, or whatever the going excuse is. 

This is rampant in US culture.  And it's making a lot of people miserable.  Myself included.  Which is why it's important to set those hard limits, because otherwise you get into the "oh, it's just another 5 hours a week," "oh, it's just another day a week," "oh, it's just an extra duty or two," mentality, and suddenly you're doing two more jobs on top of the one you were hired for, and for no additional compensation. 

This isn't to say everyone can just throw up their hands and leave.  But you can't just stay there and rot, says my doctor.  You have to look for ways out, and work towards a different job.  She says people assume they're supposed to be miserable at work or get stuck thinking there's nothing else out there, and give up.  Content to rot slowly to death in a place that destroys their souls. 

This is a particularly troubling phenomenon for my generation, because the vast majority of us are saddled with tens of thousands of debt.  In addition to that debt, we have diplomas that were supposed to land us jobs we loved but instead make us look overqualified for the only jobs we can get: minimum wage at restaurants and retail.  But an income we must have, because the loans must be paid, so those are the jobs we take.  What was once the purview of teenagers is now our lives. 

It's very easy to get jaded, assume this will be our lives forever, and give up. 

There's actually an entire oppressive system going on, but my tongue tastes extra bitter today, so I probably shouldn't go on about it right now.  I'm likely to be cruel, rather than objective, to all participating parties in the system.  Another day!

Friday, July 3, 2015


So as of a couple weeks ago, I am officially an aunt.  I really don't know what to make of that.  I'm banking on having a couple years to figure it out and mess it up before my nephew will actually remember it.  That's due to the fact that memories are stored differently at that age than they are at ~3 and onward.  So I have some breathing room, yay.

At the moment I'm trying not to be overhelpful to my brother and sister-in-law, because they have a physician friend who is also having a baby, and their friend certainly knows more about childcare and babies than I do.  Nor, really, do I have any useful advice they haven't heard already.  I don't have kids of my own and probably won't for awhile, which means anything I have to say is really... not... helpful. 

If my nephew turns out to be on the spectrum, then I may have something useful to offer them.  There's some evidence that autism runs in families, so it's always possible.  I really hope he doesn't have it, though.  It's made my life rather miserable.  It's certainly not all bad, and some people might be displeased to hear me say it, but I really think life is difficult enough without having the addition of "no social intuition" and other potential issues that come with autism. 

My brother and sister-in-law are doing well, as far as I can tell.  They're moving to a house and getting settled with their son.  I'm fairly certain my parents are happy, and my grandparents.  I'm happy for them, but I'm also kind of perplexed.  I have no idea how to be an aunt. 

My aunts and uncles, growing up, were people I saw once a year at Christmas.  They got me presents, which was nice, but mostly ignored me otherwise.  Which is perhaps not entirely their fault- I wasn't very approachable growing up, and with only seeing them once a year, it's not like there was time for any bond to develop. 

Still, I'd like something better for my nephew.  I'm still not very approachable and to be honest, I don't really like kids that much.  I didn't get kids when I was a kid.  I was one of those kids that talked with adults instead.  I can hope that being in proximity with them at my job is helping, but I really have no idea. 

I don't remember which family's turn it is to have my brother and sister-in-law over for Christmas, but I hope it's my side.  My nephew will already have grown a ton by then, but at least I'll be able to see him and get a better sense of how they're adjusting to raising a kid.  I follow the blog they have going on their lives, and have seen baby pictures and all that, but it's not really the same as being there in person.  With my job and the distance, I'm unlikely to make it the 8 or so hours' drive. 

So for now I guess I'll watch quietly from afar, and do my best by them.