quadruplify: Lin Bei Fong (from the Legend of Korra) looking shocked and/or surprised ([LoK] Lin - surprised)
So today my family -- on a complete whim, and without informing me ahead of time -- got a dog.

Obviously I'm really happy for them (and me, of course!) because we'd all been talking about doing this for I don't know how long now, and the dog -- a female 8-month-old black lab mix named Harper -- is abso-friggin'-lutely adorable.

But I'm also a.) slightly more than a bit peeved that I was out of town when they adopted her and my family didn't include me in the decision-making, and b.) freaking the fuck out because I want to be absolutely sure we're all as responsible as we can be as owners and not massively screw this up.

So for all of you out there who still use LJ and DW who own dogs -- could I have some advice please? Important things that might not cross the mind of a first-time dog owner, things you wish you didn't have to learn the hard way, what to look for in a good trainer (or training program) -- things like that. (We already have food, treats, a crate, at least one toy, and a few other necessities I can't think of right now. She peed on the floor a little while ago, so I don't think she's housebroken. She's whimpering right now, but she hardly barks, she's not terribly stressed, and otherwise has an excellent temperament.)

Thanks in advance for all your help!

(And yes, I know I haven't updated this journal since September. I'll do a proper RL update......eventually. A lot has happened over the past few months, and the more I end up putting it off, the more stuff happens to talk about. It's been on my mind a lot, though, so hopefully I'll get around to it soon.)
quadruplify: John Watson (from BBC's Sherlock) standing in Buckingham Palace ([Sherlock] John - standing)

I was supposed to write this back in April. WHOOPS.

Oh well, it's long overdue for an RL update from me anyway, so here we go. This'll focus more on personal things that have been going on, though I'll throw in some work stuff too because quite a bit happened in the past three and a half months.

••• There was quite a bit of drama at work this past spring, which sucked because it's such a small and usually drama-free place. :PPP It had to do with the employment pilot program I mentioned in my previous entry; a lot of the problems had to do with the man we hired to train/coach the autistic adults in the program, and act as the go-between between us and the data analytics company that contracted out to us. First of all, it seemed he was hired partly because he's the boyfriend of the president of our board of directors. >_>; And from what I've been told, while he's very good at the technical side of putting together programs such as ours, he's not so good at actually working with people. He was stressing out the autistic adults to no end -- taking away their phones, making them sit with their eyes glued to the screen and fingers on the keyboard at all times for hours on end, talking down to them, etc. Thankfully our executive director is not the kind of person who would let anyone get mistreated on her watch, so this issue was resolved relatively quickly. (It helped that one of the adults in the program was the bookkeeper's son, and she made her displeasure very much known.)

The thing was, most of us in the office weren't really being kept aware of what was going on with the pilot program. Which was understandable, since technically if we didn't have anything to do with it then it was none of our business. But what happened as a result was that rumors ended up flying around, which made the above situation (and a few others) sound worse than they actually were. One of the people who was sensitive to these rumors was our chief administrative officer, who was hired last year to a.) help run the office while our ED went into semi-retirement, and b.) research and write grants. The thing about her that's important to this story is that she was very passionate when it comes to disability rights issues. Like, the once-got-into-a-blowout-with-the-CEO-of-the-Hartford-chapter-of-Easter-Seals-because-they-still-run-sheltered-workshops kind of passionate. So naturally when those rumors reached her ears she was upset. Not to the point where she was talking about it constantly to anyone who would listen, but there were plenty of times where she told our IT guy, who got along really well with her and was the only other autistic person in the office besides myself, that he should "do something about it."

Now our IT guy was extremely smart -- he has a computer science degree, and could fix any computer problem in our office in a matter of minutes. Most companies would love to hire a guy with his skill set. He was also painfully sensitive and shy; you could be sitting next to him in a quiet room and still have trouble listening to him speak. He also had a friend in the employment program who told him stories about what was going on (said friend once got so stressed out he just took a nap on the floor right then and there, and he was let go early because the work was too tedious and complicated for him). So needless to say, with his friend in one ear and the CAO constantly in the other, IT Guy became very confused and stressed out.

In late May our CAO was laid off. She was let go because the board deemed her position no longer necessary, and they needed to be more cautious with how they spent their money. (Although from what I could gather, it was also partly because she was one of those people who wanted to "fix" how the office was run even though there was nothing that needed fixing, and because we didn't see a dime of new grant money during the time she was there.) IT Guy must have mistakenly assumed she was being laid off because she spoke up about the drama in the employment program....so he decided to quit. On the same day.

Naturally everyone in the office that day was trying to convince him to stay, but at one point while he was in the parking lot, packing his belongings in his car, he told one of them -- much more loudly than you'd expect of him -- "I'm afraid I'm going to do something to [the job coach]. I don't trust myself around him."

Yeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh. Given the choice between letting him go and having the police called to your office, it's a no-brainer.

Thankfully I wasn't there when this happened, and I'm just guessing as to the reason why he quit -- it's possible there were other factors involved, he's never given us a reason why, and I doubt he ever will. When the ED called me into her office the next day to tell me, she was on the verge of tears -- she worked with him for the better part of a decade, so to see him act like that was naturally hard for her to handle. And she had to wait two months for an apology on top of that. Even though it helps that it could've ended so much worse, and the fact that I didn't witness this myself, it was still upsetting.

(For the record, the pilot program ended last month; the bookkeeper's son quit the month before because he found a better job doing video/TV production work [which is what he wants to get into as a career], and because the job coach told him to lie to the data analysis firm about him being away on vacation. We sure picked a real winner right there, didn't we. XP In any case, we're supposed to run another pilot program sometime in the future, but before that we're supposed to be getting a report on how this one did, and I have absolutely no clue when that's going to come out.)

The good thing to come out of this mess is that I have more responsibilities now. In addition to what I've been doing before, I've taken over some of IT Guy's duties, like maintaining our website and Facebook page, editing the weekly e-mail newsletter, and a few other things. It's great because I've been picking up new skills and working more hours, which I've been wanting to do for a while now! Overall I'm feeling pretty confident about my abilities and good about how I fit into the office, and for the most part I look forward to going into work, so I should think that says something, no? XD

Also, the "Autism Job Club" I talked about in my last post is also definitely happening! I left it on the metaphorical back burner over the summer, but now I have a first meeting scheduled for the 19th and already I've had over 25 people sign up. Which doesn't help with my nerves at all, since I've never actually been in charge of anything before and I have absolutely no plan as to what I'm going to do beyond the first meeting right now and what if this doesn't work out or I royally screw up somehow? But I still think something like this is necessary and a creative idea, and I've been working on this for too long not to see this through. And I do have enough confidence that I'll do a good job facilitating the group anyway. Besides, as I've kept telling myself, when something scares you, that's all the more reason why you should do it, right? ^_^;

••• My work-at-home side gig has also been going well! Not only have I actually gotten paid so I know for a fact it's not a scam, but my picture and bio is on their website! Yep, I'm moving up in the world, no doubt about that. :D This summer was very quiet in terms of work; the woman in charge was struggling to acquire some documentaries that we would be responsible for distributing, but now that we've either picked up or are about to pick up a few I have some actual research assignments, the first one of which I finished up this weekend. So even though things have been moving slowly, it's been working out so far!

With the two jobs I have starting to pick up, this means that I've quit going to BRS. Not only did they have a hard time trying to figure out good jobs to place me in, but the counselor I had there essentially told me, "You'll be very lucky if the job we find for you pays more than $15 an hour." The main focus of an agency like BRS is to get people with disabilities out and working, full stop. They're not in the work of setting up long-term goals for a career; they just want to get their customers in a job, even if it's something they won't necessarily enjoy, and hope that it will be a sufficient "foot in the door" for other, better jobs in the future. This approach certainly works for many people, but it doesn't work for autistic adults, and it definitely doesn't work for someone like myself. The jobs we were thinking about having me do a working interview for weren't nearly as interesting or involved as what I'm doing right now, so I finally decided I was doing all right on my own, and that if I absolutely needed them in the future I'd call them. Oh well, one less thing to worry about.

••• Yet another shakeup at my therapist's office -- Last year I had to switch therapists and psychiatrists because the former had to leave due to budget constraints and the latter sucked. Now my current therapist is going to be leaving this month! Talk about not being able to catch a break. =_=; She had given birth to twins this past winter and was out on maternity leave until June, so even though she's been very good I haven't had a lot of time to really get comfortable working with her. And not only is she leaving because she wants to work closer to home to take care of her kids, but she also wasn't happy with the relatively new policy that all appointments have to be 25 minutes long -- even though they cost the same as full-hour appointments. (I never said the psychiatrist who runs the place wasn't an incompetent shitweasel.)

So once again I'm considering my options. The practice has hired two new social workers in the meantime, but I'm not sure if I want to start seeing another therapist, considering how I've gotten bounced around from person to person over the past four years. I'm not sure how much therapy I need at this point, anyway. I don't feel like I'm struggling with anything right now -- I'm working and taking on more responsibilities with my life, and I feel that's helped considerably. I've grown to accept that I'm an even-keeled person by nature, not prone to emotional extremes, and more often than not I was confusing that with depression. And I'm more comfortable in my own skin and more in touch with myself and those around me. There's a lot I still need to work on, obviously -- some executive functioning issues, moving out of the house, and making new friends -- but nothing I truly need a therapist for. I might even want to wean myself off the meds I've been taking; the less medical expenses I have to worry about, the better. All I know for sure is that when you go to therapy and think to yourself, "Wait, why am I here again?" then that's probably telling you something.

••• All throughout 2014, whenever I tried to get in touch with N. (the friend from college who's really into meteorology and climatology), he never got back to me. In January, I found out why:

He was in jail.

He got busted for heroin possession, which....yeah, I really should've seen that coming. I mean, I didn't really think it was going to happen, and I was hoping it wouldn't, but..... :/ Thankfully he got out with nothing worse than a broken foot and arm, and it was only a misdemeanor charge so he hasn't lost any of his substitute teaching gigs. And the last I heard he's doing outpatient rehab, so that's a good sign at least. It's still tough to hear about anyone you've been close to getting incarcerated, though.

To be honest, the whole thing has made me reevaluate my friendship with him. Not because I feel uncomfortable associating with someone who's been in prison -- far from it! It really sucks that there's a stigma on former inmates in our society, and I don't want to help perpetuate that. Rather, it's just that we rarely speak to each other anymore (he always tries to contact me on Facebook, which I hardly use outside of work), and when we do I never know what to say to him, and our conversations are really boring in general. We both have different lifestyles and mindsets, and I feel like we've been drifting apart for a while now and there's nothing either of us can do about it. So just because I'm desperate for human connection doesn't mean I should hold on to a friendship that's fading away. Right? O_o;

(Speaking of friendships, let me take the time to say I'm really really sorry for not connecting with you guys more often! Work and personal stuff have taken up so much of my brainspace in general that I practically forget about everything else. Even though most of you have moved on to Tumblr, I had to drastically cut back on using that site because it was affecting my mental health. Plus, if I can be perfectly honest I don't think I can relate to a lot of you like I used to; it seems we all have different interests and priorities these days, and trying to make relationships work when so much has happened in our lives and there wasn't much connection to begin with might not be worth it. Still, if any of you would like to start talking with each other more often, I'm available on AIM, Skype, and Facebook, so let me know what you'd like to do. ~_^

In the meantime, I want to try to focus on joining more groups on Meetup, or starting over on Tumblr. Right now K. is the only IRL friend I have outside of work and family, and trying to meet new people and [hopefully] make new friends would do me some good. Except every time I seriously think about it, I freak out and get really self-conscious, and so I never get around to doing it. Ugh. :PPP)

Since this entry is (as usual) long enough already, some bullet points on other things I should mention:

  • Since last December I've been writing these entries on a new MacBook Pro! I had my old MacBook for four and a half years, and while it was still technically working it was also really slow and, due to a stupid SMART error, wouldn't let me upgrade to the latest OS. This one is much faster and more robust, which is great because I really want to start getting into a routine of playing video games. Except that over the past nine months of having this thing.....I haven't played a single one. Even though I own far too many as it is. Like I said, brainspace. >_<;

  • I have, however, been playing Two Dots on the iPhone 6 I also got as a Christmas gift to myself. I finally beat all 410 levels this weekend! Of course, I'm not sure if I'm supposed to feel proud of this, or utterly pathetic for having wasted so much time on it. ;_;

  • This summer my sister graduated high school, and just finished her first week at college. She's going to Wheaton College in Massachusetts to study history and Italian; my mom and I helped move her in to her dorm last weekend. Naturally she was crying when we had to leave her (even though we didn't see anyone else do the same -- I'm guessing it was because she gets emotional when she's tired, and she's a really flighty person to begin with), but from what I can gather she's settled in very well! And she's only a two-hour drive away, so she's far enough away so that she's in another state, but close enough so that we can reach her quickly in case the unforeseen happens. In any case, it's going to take some time getting used to not having her in the house. Not that I mind, obviously, but still. :DDDDDDDDDDDD

  • My cousin graduated college this past May as well, so my mom, sister, and I went up to Boston to visit her and her mother the Sunday before -- we didn't want to go the day of because practically every other college in Boston does their graduation on the same day, and the city would've been mobbed. We got to meet my aunt's new boyfriend (who from what I can tell seems like a keeper, finally!), and we spent the say on Newbury Street, where I bought a few CDs from Newbury Comics.

  • My psoriasis is all but gone! For almost a year now I've been on methotrexate, which was doing a good job maintaining the status quo without the soriatane's side effects, and I haven't had to go for phototherapy in who knows how long now. Really the only spot of psoriasis I had left was this stubborn patch on the right side of my forehead, but thanks to some ointment the dermatologist gave me a couple of weeks ago, that might just about be gone too. ^_^;

  • Lastly, I have a couple of concerts I'll be going to later this month that I'm really excited about! I'll be seeing Low (again!) on the 25th in Hamden, and then on the 30th I'm going to see The Jesus and Mary Chain at this new venue that opened up in New Haven called the College Street Music Hall. Can't wait! \o/

And I'm sure there are a few other things I'm forgetting, but I doubt they're all that important anyway. XD

quadruplify: Amon (from the Legend of Korra) speaking at an Equalist protest, fist raised in the air ([LoK] Amon - revolution)
So because it's been so long since my last entry, and since so much has happened between then and now, I'm splitting this update into three posts. This first one is going to be about work-related stuff.

••• The autism nonprofit where I work has been putting together an employment pilot program over the past few months now. What this program will do is train autistic adults with little to no work history in mid-level jobs, with the ultimate goal of getting them competitive employment in a workplace where disabled and non-disabled people work together. In that way it's sort of based off of places like Roses For Autism, the Walgreens distribution centers, and Specialisterne, which give autistic adults more fulfilling jobs where they can actually use their skills, instead of the kinds of menial entry-level jobs they get "stuck" in by adult day centers and state vocational rehab agencies (like BRS, who I've talked about before). Right now the pilot project has hired a data analytics firm that specializes in patent research to train three people to be research assistants; I really don't know much else as to what's been going on, but from what little I've heard it's doing fairly well, despite the mistakes and mismanagement you'd expect when a big thing like this is just starting out.

I was supposed to be a part of this program; I even had an interview last December with the president of our board of directors, who's also the lead principal of the headhunter agency that's coordinating this program with us (and whose office is just upstairs from ours). And I've heard absolutely nothing since then. XPPP Which makes me a little peeved, because even though patent research doesn't sound like a field I want to get into, I could really use something where I can gain job skills and experience, and make more money than I have been right now. I did get a chance to talk to her last week, though, and she said that not only does the training take longer than she thought (six months instead of three), but they can only train two people at any given time, and it might be a few more months before they find a place for me in the project. Obviously I don't like not knowing when I'll be starting, but in reality it doesn't bother me at all because, as you'll soon see, I've been busy with lots of other things. ^_^;

In the meantime, the project needs grant money in order for it to actually work, and I was told to research facts and statistics about adults with autism and employment so they'd be that much more likely to receive an award. And, well.....I should probably just leave the results of that research here, because I think it just says it all. I kinda figured the job situation for autistic adults was bad -- it is for people of all kinds of disabilities, after all -- but I didn't realize it was this bad. Like, there are some estimates out there saying the unemployment rate for autistic adults is 90%? WTF?! Many of them are perfectly capable of holding down good jobs, and in some cases their autism gives them skills and advantages over neurotypical people; all they need, in essence, is some support and accommodations, but employers too often treat them as if they don't even exist. >_< I could go on, especially about how full inclusion is good for both the employee and the employer, but I think the outline I linked above should help explain that. What really gets me, though, is how little this is being talked about right now -- sure, there are a few articles about it here and there, and NBC Dateline did do a report on autistic adults the weekend before last [autoplay], but with 50,000 autistic kids turning 18 in the U.S. each year (and with this number likely to increase as ASD diagnoses do), this is going to become a serious social policy problem before long. But not as many people care because it's not as charismatic or controversial as, say, rape on college campuses or police brutality against black people. >_>;

(Unfortunately, I've gathered that we haven't gotten much grant money thus far, and it seems that the bill in the state legislature that would help fund our program is stuck in limbo. I just really hope our luck changes soon enough. =_=;)

••• While I was doing research for the pilot program, I came across something in San Francisco called the "Autism Job Club." It's a group of autistic adults who are unemployed or underemployed, who meet once a month to go over things like networking, interview skills, how to dress appropriately, how to get along with coworkers, etc., as well as share job leads and moral support. From what I can tell, sometimes they also bring in guest speakers, employers, and headhunters who are looking to hire adults with autism, or who need a little convincing that it would be a good idea. I found this to be really intriguing, especially since I couldn't think of anything quite like it near where I live. I mean, I go to a support group for young men on the autism spectrum once a month, but it's very informal and deals with a wide range of topics, not just jobs; and between adult day services, vocational rehab, and projects like the ones I mentioned earlier, there are many programs out there to help get people employed. But something that functions as both a support and a networking group, where people are there specifically to talk about employment, which they can't attain despite it being probably the most important way to help them? Something that could be really helpful to lots of people? Nope, nothing.

So I thought to myself, well, what if I helped start one?

Fast forward to last Friday afternoon, and I'm at the Yale Child Study Center meeting with both this woman, who just started a program for young women with autism that would train and then place them in various jobs, and the director of student services at the UConn Law School, who is also a co-director for a consulting firm that helps autistic students be successful in college. They were really interested to hear my idea, and we bounced ideas off each other to see how well a "job club" like this would work. Long story short, I'm going to spearhead this project, the two people I met last week will be providing me with names and e-mail address so I can put together a mailing list, and the first meeting will likely be within the next couple of months, at the absolute latest.

Guys. You guys. I have never done anything like this before. I wouldn't have minded if I helped start something like this, but I didn't think I'd end up being, you know.....in charge or anything. O_o; Still, I'm very excited about all this! This has the potential to turn into something really big, with multiple groups throughout the state or even a foray into activism. But of course, things like this have to start small and slow in the beginning, and it all depends on the needs of the people who actually show up. Oh man, I just really hope this turns out well; after all, this has the potential of helping lots of people (including myself! XD) who otherwise wouldn't get it. Wish me luck! :D

(BTW, the guy who wrote the article I linked to above co-wrote a book called The Autism Job Club: The Neurodiverse Workforce in the New Normal of Employment, which came out just last month. I read it last week and I highly recommend it! It's a great introduction into the issues autistic adults face when it comes to employment, and even if you're not autistic yourself, it still has a lot of intriguing [if depressing] information about the changing nature of employment in the U.S. in general -- namely, how a single, full-time job is becoming a thing of the past, and how most young people today will have to work multiple, short-term jobs throughout their "career.")

••• As far as the BRS stuff goes, I finally managed to do a work evaluation! That's the good news. The bad news is that it didn't go as well as I hoped.

I worked at the Meigs Point Nature Center in Madison, on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays for the last three weeks in February, for a total of 40 hours. The job coach and I spent the first week learning about the animals that live there and how to take care of them -- feeding them, cleaning their cages, etc. It was actually quite interesting working with them, and by the end I was way more comfortable handling the snakes, but after it was all said and done I realized it wasn't something I wanted to spend my life doing. (I kinda already knew that beforehand, but it was nice to know with absolute certainty. ^_^;) Most of the rest of the time was spent on my main project, which involved the educational programs they put together for school groups, kids' birthday parties, etc. There have a variety of "scripts" the people who work there use when they give their presentations, with talking points about the animals (or the habitats they live in) and how to demonstrate certain things to the kids; my job was to turn these scripts into outline form so it'd be easier for volunteers to learn, and to flesh them out with information we'd gather from the Internet.

Sounds easy, right? Well, it was, but it wasn't without problems. Editing the "scripts" was one of those projects they'd been meaning to do for a long time now, but because there are only two paid employees there and they had their hands full actually running the place, it kept getting put off. Not that it was a big priority in the first place, if you think about it. And the director, who was otherwise very nice and helpful to us, wasn't clear at all about what it was exactly he wanted us to do or how to do it, which made me suspect he didn't know and couldn't be bothered to figure it out. After all, he had places to go and TV appearances to make, and he was so laid-back and scatterbrained that it wasn't unusual for him to go a week or more without returning my job coach's phone calls. Not to mention the Internet connection at the place sucked, and the only other computer in the building we were allowed to use had no Internet access at all, so I had to go to my job coach's house nearby for a day to work. Eventually we figured something out, but I was still immensely frustrated with the experience. It felt like I was just doing busy work rather than anything meaningful. Between that and the not-fun of working with the animals, it really soured me on having any sort of job at a nature center in general.

And that wasn't even the worst part of it all.

The Sunday after my first week there ended (the 15th), there was a big snowstorm that forced the center to close, and since they're normally closed on Mondays they were closed the next day too. That Sunday, a window in the main room blew out, causing the snow, wind, and cold to get inside and move tables, knock things over, etc. A pipe on the main floor also burst, which meant there was a little bit of flooding too. It wasn't until the director came in that Tuesday morning that anyone knew how bad things got.

24 animals died. 30 if you include the fish.

So not only did the director and his assistant have to deal with the fallout -- you could tell they were deeply affected by it because they had come to develop an affinity for those animals, and I can only imagine the responsibility they felt toward them -- but they also had to clean up as quickly as they could and pretend nothing ever happened. Most of the animals that died were rescues and rehabs with backstories, such as their unofficial mascot, a 46-year-old box turtle named Merlin who was hit by a car two decades ago. It certainly explains some of the director's scatterbrained-ness, at least, so I don't want to be too hard on the guy.

But the more I think of it, the more I think he acted somewhat irresponsibly by not doing enough to prevent it from happening. If you run a place where animals who can't fend for themselves live, and you need to close it down due to a snowstorm, the very least you could do is have someone check in on them regularly to see if they're okay, or prevent more animals from getting hurt or killed in case of an accident. Hell, at the animal shelter near me, sometimes people will volunteer to be snowed in so that they can keep the pets safe. Or have the windows wired to an alarm in case they break, not just the doors, even if you have a tight budget. If part of the purpose of a nature center is to protect wild animals, you should, you know, protect them. >:[

Oh well. I did get to see wild harbor seals for the first time, though, and I got paid minimum wage for my time, so it wasn't a complete wash.

••• I still look for other jobs now and again, and I've managed to get a side gig! Last November I applied for a work-from-home research assistant position at a place in New York called Outcast Films, which distributes documentaries to the educational market, with an emphasis on connecting audiences directly with filmmakers. When I didn't hear back from them at first, I thought the job had already been filled or they didn't think I was qualified enough, because that's usually what happens when you don't get a reply to your application. But a month later, out of the blue the executive director e-mailed me, saying she got my application and was reviewing it. After another month without hearing back from her, I e-mailed a follow-up -- I really did want this job because it seemed right up my alley, I could use the extra money, and it wasn't as if anyone told me no, right? XD I waited yet another month before the ED replied back.

Two phone interviews and a Skype call later, and she wants to hire me! All I'm waiting on is the contract I'll need to sign to make it official, although my parents want me to see an attorney to look it over before I do. The ED has been very busy; the company started off as a distributor of LGBT films until the Internet made it easier for filmmakers to distribute their work directly to their audiences, so lately they've been doing some restructuring to stay in business. Plus, they're working on acquiring two more films, and the ED wants to acquire six films within the next six months. Once they get some new documentaries, my job will be to look for teachers, professors, libraries, etc. that might be interested in screening them. I'd also be writing one-page outlines called SWOTs, which stand for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities (Where would be the best places to screen this move? Who should we market this to?), and Trends/Threats (How "hot" is this topic? What competition does this film have?); I've already done one, which the ED was actually quite impressed with. :D

Once I start getting some work, I'd be working about five hours a week on an independent contractor basis, making $15/hour, and if I enjoy the job and the ED sees what I'm capable of, it might go up to 20 hours per week. She's really looking for someone who'll "grow with the company" because it's extremely small right now; I don't know how well I'd fit that expectation since I'm looking to get more work at my current job, but there's not much I can do about that right now except wait and see. I really hope it goes well. ^_^;

••• I've had a couple of other interviews as well; some of them were for this place in New Haven called Next Step Living, which conducts assessments of people's homes to see how they can become more eco-friendly and cheaper to maintain, and then sells solar panels, windows, HVAC systems, and anything else that would help with that. I really liked their business model, and I got excited because they were the first to reply to my application. But then I realized I had applied to, well.....sales jobs. As in working on commission, long work weeks, weird hours, traveling long distances, and risking getting doors slammed in my face after showing up on people's doorsteps unannounced. Nope, I am not cut out to sell my soul for that line of work. I still had two phone interviews and one in-person interview because, hey, I could use the practice, but I was okay when they told me I was passed up for the job.

I also had a Skype interview for an internship at a place in Massachusetts called the Dare Institute, which does a lot of psychological research, especially involving autism. And that went somewhat.....bizarre, actually.

My interview was with the founder and co-director -- if by "interview" you mean him rambling off-topic, dropping names and concepts I had never heard of left and right, and me hardly getting a word in edgewise. My job would've been to help market what they called a "developmental task sequence" to autism schools and centers around the country, and then collect the data from those who use it to see how well it works, and if it can be used to detect autism in infants and toddlers. It sounded vaguely interest, and I admit the prospect of having my name attached to a published academic paper was tempting, but the guy had a lot of opinions that were stuck in the 1960s:

  • He's spent so much of his long career working with autistic kids with severe symptoms and serious behavior issues, that I can't help but think it's colored his idea of what autism actually is. I don't doubt that consciously he knows autism is a spectrum disorder (meaning it manifests differently in everyone who has it), but anytime he mentioned autism, in the same breath he would talk about headbanging, violent behavior, criminal activity, etc. It's almost as if he felt a person severely impacted with autism automatically meant they were extremely unstable time bombs with very low IQs. Some fit that profile, but many don't.

  • He thinks the term "developmentally disabled" is too "politically correct" and thinks "retarded," "slow," or "developmentally challenged" are more accurate descriptions. According to him, people with DD don't develop any differently than "normal" people, just slower than average, and it's ~~~very important~~~ to make sure they catch up. Because it's not like it's discriminatory to assume there's more than one "right" way for a person to develop or anything.

  • Worst of all, he has a lot of connections with people who work at the Judge Rotenberg Center, and has done a lot of work in conjunction with them. For those of you who don't know, the JRC is a school in Massachusetts that treats students with emotional issues and DDs like autism; they're one of the few schools in the U.S. that use aversives to condition students to stop behaving in certain ways, and the only one that uses electric shocks on a person's skin as a form of punishment. Yes, "treatments" like this are still being practiced in 2015, and many disability advocates have tried for years to shut it down. Dr. Commons, however, thinks that skin shocks are more humane and ethical than medication, because medication can have severe side effects. Never mind, of course, that using skin shocks will likely give the student PTSD, and in order to treat that they'll probably have to take medication anyway. Then again, he's a very strict behaviorist a la B.F. Skinner, and applied behavior analysis as a treatment for autism is fraught with many, many problems.

After all this, I wouldn't have taken the internship anyway, but the fact that a.) it was unpaid, and b.) it would require me to actually be in Cambridge while doing it, made my decision a hell of a lot easier.

••• Last but not least, since autism has come up so much in this entry, and because April is Autism Awareness Month (or Autism Acceptance Month, depending on who you talk to), I figured I might end this by sharing three articles about autism that I hope you'll find interesting:

President Obama’s World Autism Awareness Day Proclamation Is Right On
Autism Awareness Month – Autism is More than Autism Speaks and Temple Grandin
PayPal founder thinks people with Asperger’s have an advantage

And congratulations to all of you who made it this far. I told you I had a lot going on! XD
quadruplify: Matt Berninger (lead singer of The National) with forehead on microphone, eyes closed ([Music] The National - microphone)
It's been yet another four months or so since I last wrote one of these things -- sorry if you're one of the few people out there who still reads these things. :/ I know I've drifted away with most of the people I've met on here; some of that is my fault, obviously, but some of that is definitely for the best (read this thread if you want to have some idea of what I'm talking about). As much as I'd like the attention, though, the main reason why I do these posts is for myself -- because if I don't write about what I've done, if I don't document all the things that have happened to me that got me to this point, I'll forget. And I really, really don't want to forget. So here goes:

••• I had to switch therapists. Thankfully, it wasn't because there was anything wrong with him or anything like that.

And I switched psychiatrists as well. It gets a little....involved. )

••• An update to the BRS stuff I mentioned before: The work evaluation at the tea shop fell through. Read more... )

••• Speaking of jobs, I went to a job fair a few weeks ago that catered specifically to people with disabilities. Yet ANOTHER thing that didn't go so well. )

••• I decided to try out another social group for adults with autism a couple of weeks ago, this time at Yale's Child Study Center. Someone who started going to my support group at ASRC a few months ago apparently has lots of connections at Yale, and he was able to work with a psychiatrist there who specializes in autistic adults to get this group going, which is meant for autistic adults and CSC employees to socialize and get to know each other better. It only lasted about an hour, and after introductions much of that time was playing charades. Which, well.....it's charades, you know? ^_^; But I still managed to enjoy myself. Plus, it was way better organized than the ASRC one I was going to last year, and while some of the autistic adults had to have minders/caretakers with them, at least none of them threw a tantrum and started flipping tables. That was a good sign of things to come, I think. 8D

Unfortunately, it only meets once a month, and it's during rush hour in New Haven, which means the streets are packed. But I'll keep going to them, if only because my new therapist and I agreed I should go to quite a few more of these get-togethers before I judge them on their own merits. Plus, this group is on Meetup, and now that I've joined I've noticed other different kinds of social groups that look appealing. I should probably start joining and going to those as well, just to get myself out of the house more often.......James says as he keeps being a lazy butt and doesn't actually do it. XDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD

••• Onto better things, I finally got around to using Duolingo to brush up on my Italian! It's been at least six freakin' years since I was in any kind of Italian class, and with everything that's been going on the past couple of months I figure now is as good of a time as any to get back into learning languages, and Italian -- the one I started learning in middle school -- is a good place to start. It's amazing how much I've retained after all these years -- I tested out of the first 15 lessons and I'm already on Level 10 -- but I'm also surprised at how much I've forgotten, and how much I never really learned at all. But I try to do a little bit of practice each day (the gamification helps), and I really hope I get as good at it as I was back in college fairly soon.

••• I also have two concerts I'll be going to with K. this fall! I'll be seeing Thurston Moore on October 23rd and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart on November 18th, both at The Space in Hamden. I'm more looking forward to the November one as I'm more of a fan of that band (even though I still haven't listened to their latest album yet -- oops. ._., ); I suggested the other one to K. because she's a huge fan of Sonic Youth. I've dragged her to bands I like more than her before, so I figure she should have the chance to return the favor. XD

••• A bullet point list of some other things going on in my life right now:

Under a cut because some of it's a little personal... )

••• So not only did The Legend of Korra manage to start and finish Book 3 since the last time I wrote here, but they've started Book 4 too. I'm still surprised at how fast everything's moving. In a way, though, I'm glad we didn't have to wait long for Book 4, because although Book 3 was positively excellent, I think I've grown a bit apathetic to it -- mostly in the sense that I no longer feel an urge to watch it right when it comes out. Over the past two years I've been exposed to so much extreme emotion regarding this show, most of it on Tumblr -- from fans who absolutely hated the first season and swore it off to those who think it's perfect, that Korra is a goddess, etc. -- that I've burned out on seeing people talk about it and it's colored my view of the show.

But no, if you're one of those fans who swore it off after Book 1? I have an important message for you right now:


And you need to watch the rest of it because it's seriously gotten so much better. Book 3 is well-paced and suspenseful, everyone (even the villains) are much more well-rounded, the backstory with Lin's sister and her family is interesting, no love triangles -- basically, everything those "fans" wanted this show to be and more. (The only real problem I have is that some of the character development, especially Korra's, fell a little flat to me; we don't actually see her or the others grow and change as people, they just sorta do because the plot calls for it. Honestly, though, that's more of a nitpick than anything else.)

This io9 article should convince you to pick it up (again), or maybe what I wrote after Book 2 ended. It's worth your time, trust me. ;-)

••• I kinda know this is old news as well, but yay for Community getting un-cancelled and getting that sixth season after all! Though it does look like it'll be without Shirley; it's always a bummer when one of the characters leaves the show, and especially her because she was great. :(

••• Last but not least, I kinda really want this shirt. Normally I don't care for fandom T-shirts, but this is such a cool minimalist design that I just have to make an exception. (BTW, I finally got to see How to Train Your Dragon 2. Just as good as the first one, if not better. ~_^; )
quadruplify: John Watson (from BBC's Sherlock) standing in Buckingham Palace ([Sherlock] John - standing)
Update!! :D

••• Every year on the last weekend in March my workplace holds a regional conference on autism, and this year I got to go. The center's executive director encouraged me to go because I didn't go last year and she thought some of the talks and workshops would be relevant to me. My dad went with me that Friday and my mom the following day, and while both of them had to pay to get in, I didn't since I work at ASRC.

Under a cut because this gets long... )

••• I had to go for jury duty last month, and...I actually had to serve on a jury. Read more... )

••• I might have to get my teeth straightened again in the near future, and I really don't want to. Read more... )

••• On the BRS front (which I talked about in my last entry): I met with my vocational counselor a couple of times since then; the past two times it was with a contact/job coach from a job agency I selected that works with BRS in helping find places for ASD people to get work evaluations and more permanent jobs. Read more... )

••• A couple of weekends ago I met up with K. again, and we both had a great time! Since the both of us like sushi, I had us go to Don Asian Cuisine, a place in town that opened up not that long ago; I heard of them because they replaced a Chinese restaurant my parents used to get takeout from, and I read good reviews about them on Yelp. The sushi was extremely good; I had the California, salmon cucumber, and shrimp tempura rolls, and they were all as delicious as I hoped they would! XD Then we went to Redscroll Records in Wallingford, because K. had never been there and she'd never set foot in a record store in three years. We both bought a few things (I finally scored a CD copy of My Bloody Valentine's mbv), and then we hung out in the parking lot for a while. We were talking about all kinds of stuff for a looooooooooong time -- I met her around 2:30 PM, and we parted ways around 8. Yeah. O_o; We promised to be in touch with each other more often, so time will tell if that works out, but obviously I hope it does. ^_^;

••• Good news on the fandom front: Durarara!! is finally getting it's second season! XDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD \o/

Bad news: Community got cancelled. =_=; That really sucks, especially since the last season was actually very good. I kinda figured it was going to happen eventually, just not now. But while it would be cool to have that sixth season and a movie, I'll leave that for the more hardcore fans to fight. It bummed me out, but now I think I've been able to let go. :P


Other than that, everything else has been going relatively well, even though I've really haven't been myself this past weekend (both the UCSB shooting and my grandmother getting worringly sick was a little too much for me). The job is still going very well, my psoriasis hasn't come back (I'm only going to phototherapy only once a week now, and I'm down to 10mg of soriatane a day! :D), my sleep schedule has improved (this weekend notwithstanding), the weather has gotten a helluva lot better....yeah, not bad, not bad. How's everyone else been doing?
quadruplify: Matt Berninger (lead singer of The National) with forehead on microphone, eyes closed ([Music] The National - microphone)
Well, it's been about three months since I last updated this thing, so I figured I might as well before it got to be rather embarrassing. XD Between then and now I was really in a rut mentally, so that's why I've been "absent" for so long. I'd like to do a proper RL update, but it would take me a while since a lot happened since September, and right now I'm not in the mood because a.) I'm just plain tired (which has to do with a fucked-up sleep schedule, but let's not go into that right now :P), b.) I have either an ingrown toenail, an infected hangnail, or a little bit of both, it hurts just as well as you'd expect, and I can't get it checked out until Thursday, and c.) I'm going out with my family to an early New Years' Eve dinner in a couple of hours. (Sadly, it's not at our all-time favorite restaurant in town, since that went out of business a couple of months ago. ;_;) I'll try to get around to it by the end of the week, though. ;-)

I can say, though, that my Christmas went rather well! It was quiet, mostly because we didn't have anyone over -- it was the first Christmas without my paternal grandmother, the uncle who lives the next town over tore the rotor cup in his shoulder in two places and won't be fully recovered until around late spring, and everyone else lives too far away to make it here. Fine with me, really; it wasn't nearly as stressful as it could've been, and I could actually spend a good portion of my time avoiding my family by being online. XDDDDDD Also, all I got as gifts were clothes, pretty much -- again, fine by me, since I don't really need anything right now other than new clothes, and as someone who's still out of a job I have a decent amount of money saved up, so if I really did want something cool I could just buy it. So yeah, not much to say about that. ^_^;

Anyway, that's about all I care to say at the moment, and I promise I'll update you all on Stuff That's Been Going On In My Life™ very soon. In the meantime, I hope everyone has a very happy new year, and that 2014 is a much better year for you than the last one. :D
quadruplify: Stuart Staples (lead singer of Tindersticks) surrounded by pigeons (Default)
First off, in case you missed it, my last RL update is here in case you're curious as to how I'm doing. ^_^;

Also, one of my cousins recently opened up a jewelry shop on Etsy! I think some of you on my f-list would be interested, so if you'd like to support her (which would be awesome! :D) or just see the kind of work she's doing, feel free to check out her store. ;-)

Because I haven't done a linkdump in a while, it's another REALLY REALLY long one, so it's under a cut. Obviously I don't expect you to read all of it -- or any of it, for that matter -- but I've bolded the ones I recommend the most for your convenience. Enjoy!

Read more... )
quadruplify: Matt Berninger (lead singer of The National) with forehead on microphone, eyes closed ([Music] The National - microphone)
••• First of all, THANK YOU SO MUCH for all the well wishes you sent my way since my last entry, both here and on Facebook. It was a tough time for all of us, so all your comments really helped, and I appreciate that.

Here's what's happened since then... )

••• The last month and a half has been rough on me, and not just because of the stuff I just mentioned. I've gotten into a habit of going to bed and getting up later than I feel comfortable doing, sometimes to the point I'm having "breakfast" at 3 in the afternoon. I know there are tons of people out there with worse sleeping schedules, but it's really thrown me off, to the point where I'm sorely tempted just to stay in bed all day for days on end. (I haven't actually done that, thankfully.)

In which wangst and self-loathing make a triumphant comeback! =_= )

••• And then there's the psoriasis as well, which hasn't been getting worse, but hasn't been getting better either. Last weekend I started taking soriatane, which should help the light treatments be more effective. It won't kick in for a couple of months, and I have to go for regular blood tests because oral medications for psoriasis are pretty strong and could do some damage if you're not careful, but here's hoping it works. :P

All right, enough depressing stuff. Here's some of the better news:

••• The Low concert was absolutely excellent! :D Unfortunately, K. had to cancel on me because she had to get really fucking sick that afternoon arrrrrrrggggghhh. >_<; Stupidly, I thought we could salvage this by having her come later, because I really really wanted her to show up (it's just no fun going to a concert all on your lonesome, no?), but right when I got there she texted me saying she had thrown up for the umpteenth time, so I told her it would be a good idea to stay at home and focus on getting better. So yeah, the concert would've been better if I wasn't alone, but I had a good time all the same. ^_^;

(Afterward K. told me she wanted to make it up to me by taking me to another concert; I suggested Explosions in the Sky playing at Toad's Place on August 9. I was hoping we'd get to talk about whether or not it'd be a good idea...but she went and already bought the tickets. So I guess that's a "yes," then! :D)

The opening act was Mike Doughty, who used to be the lead singer for a band called Soul Coughing back in the 90s. I've heard of him before, but I never really got into his music, and after seeing him perform I don't plan on it anytime soon. It's not like I didn't like his music, far from it actually -- he was pretty funny and had great stage presence (considering it was just him with a guitar and someone else with a drum kit), and his songs were well-written and catchy. It's just that it was pretty standard indie guitar rock, and nothing really stood out at me. I did like his performance of "Looking at the World From the Bottom of a Well," though, which was the song I listened to when I first heard of him.

I expected a phenomenal performance from Low because they're one of my all-time favorite bands, and they didn't disappoint. They played with the lights down very low, and against a backdrop of vintage film footage of airplanes, nature, cityscapes, acrobats, and the like, which somehow suited the music well no matter what kind it was. And Alan Sparhawk's guitar playing was really good, especially in how he incorporated feedback and reverb to make something beautiful. Just...wow. I'm pretty bad at explaining why it was so good without sounding awkward or like a weirdo, so I've linked some YouTube videos of the concert below to give you an idea. (And someone uploaded audio from two other concerts from the same mini-tour here, in case you really want to get an idea. ~_^)

After the concert I bought yet another tour poster (:3) and CD copies of The Great Destroyer and their latest album The Invisible Way (which was an album I enjoyed the first few times I listened to it but couldn't get too enthusiastic about, but after hearing a lot of the songs live I realized that they were actually very good, so I had to buy the album for myself). So yeah, as far as eventful nights go, I've had plenty worse. XD

Anyway, here's the setlist:

Read more... )

••• Apparently Tumblr has started censoring posts from certain blogs from showing up in tag searches as a way to crack down on porn? From what I've read (and here's an article with more information), the site has been flagging various blogs as either "NSFW" or "adult"; if your blog is flagged as "NSFW," your posts won't show up in tracked tags (other than the people already following you), and if it's flagged as "adult" they won't show up not only in any tag searches, but on outside search engines like Google as well. And as far as I know, this flagging is done without the blog owner's consent, and there's no way to undo it once it's done. The justification for this is to make the site more friendly to advertisers (after all, Yahoo bought out Tumblr precisely because they were having trouble making enough money to stay afloat), but the end result is that if you really want to look up porn on Tumblr (or just discover new content in general, if the blogs being flagged don't exclusively post porn), you have to be linked to it directly.

Now, I'm hardly the most pro-porn guy on the planet (I'm not a fan of how it the porn industry exploits women, or how it makes men less empathetic and more prone to Internet addiction and unrealistic expectations about sex), but I indulge in NSFW stuff just as much as anyone my age would, and I realize this would have a huge effect on fandom, not to mention other kinds of content that has nothing to do with porn. And, well, I'm really not a fan of it. :/ I'm curious what everyone else here thinks about it, though.

••• Two more months:

Guys, this looks fucking awesome, and I absolutely cannot wait for it. 8DDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD

quadruplify: ([LoK] Amon - mask)
So...stuff's been happening. On the minus side, seeing my dad's mother for the first time since she was admitted to the nursing home a couple of weeks ago -- rail thin, in a wheelchair, easily confused, hardly talking -- was rough. Cut for somewhat depressing details :( )

On the plus side, though, my birthday yesterday went well (I got two new shirts and an iTunes gift card, and we went out to eat -- it obviously wasn't much, but I don't need a lot of stuff and I don't like making a big deal of my birthday anyway), my psoriasis is slowly clearing up again, Dan Harmon is coming back to Community (which I honestly didn't see coming at all, but OMG YES SO EXCITED!!!!!!!! because now I can totally look forward to season 5 XDDDDDDDDDDDD), and overall my mood has been ever-so-slightly better than it has been. I was really disappointed with The National's new album Trouble Will Find Me -- I tried to like it, but all the songs sound pretty much the same, it seemed as if the band ended up refining their sound so much they sucked all the soul and life out of it, there's no lyrics that stand out or any other hooks to grab the listener's attention like all their other albums, and it's just plain boring -- but I've enjoyed the latest from Boards of Canada, Tomorrow's Harvest, a hell of a lot more, so that offsets the disappointment at least. ^_^;

Also, [livejournal.com profile] edge_chan was interviewed by a big art supply website (exciting!), and even though I don't collect vinyl LPs and hardly care for collecting them at all (unlike some music fans), this ultramarine-colored LP of Young Galaxy's latest album (which is also really good, BTW!) is so cool and I want one. *grabby hands*

[livejournal.com profile] kattidya, I got your birthday card in the mail a couple of days ago. Thank you very much!! :D

All right, on to the links, since they've piled up yet again and it'd be nice for my browser to work faster again:

--Does the NSA really need to spy on us?
--The tangled web of empire (more on the recent NSA spying controversy)
--Who Is Afraid of Big Brother? (a somewhat reasoned defense of PRISM)
--Why the NSA Needs Your Phone Calls
--Washington Is Trapped in Its Own Prism of Data-Mining Self-Defense
--Of Course Apple Avoids Billions in Taxes -- And It Should
--Connecticut Boy Scouts Chapter Defects, Welcomes Gay Members to Serve Openly (this includes adults, unlike the BSA's recent decision -- plus this was the council I was a part of when I was younger, so YAY!!!!!)
--The Impossibility of Being Barack Obama
--How the Obama Administration Talks to Black America
--Don't Hold Your Breath Waiting For Public Opinion to Turn Against Obama (this was published before the NSA scandal broke, but IMHO the article's central thesis is still relevant)
--Here's Why the Government Went Ballistic Over the AP Leak
--The EMPire Strikes Back (on why the "threat" of electromagnetic pulse is practically nonexistent)
--Top 10 warning signs of 'liberal imperialism'
--Fear Factor (a defense of drone strikes in foreign countries)

--We've Found the Molecule That Causes Itchiness
--The effect that explains why you regret posting in anger
--You Didn't Have Any Lions to Run From, So You Clicked on This
--Butterflies remember a mountain that hasn't existed for millennia
--We're Only Beginning to Understand How Our Brains Make Maps
--5 Reasons Cold Fusion Is Bunk
--Study: Science Can Change the Sexual Orientations of Mice
--No need to eat like a caveman -- just eat your damn veggies!
--Giant fluorescent pink slugs found on mountain
--Amnesia and the Self That Remains When Memory Is Lost
--How many people really went through with the Milgram Experiment?

--So this is where all our greenhouse gases come from
--How Antarctica Would Look Completely Naked

--Can Space Tourism Save Earth?
--Could we find alien civilizations using infrared light?
--When it comes to exoplanets, science fiction lags way behind science
--How will space colonists access the Internet on Mars?
--Opportunity Finds More Hints of Mars Habitability

--The Video Game Helmet That Can Hack Your Brain (on the growth of brain-computer interfaces and its potential consequences)
--Gorgeous Floating Buildings Around the World

--An Open Letter to Science Students and Science Teachers (on how much needs to be done to improve science education in the U.S.)
--The 12 Most Controversial Facts in Mathematics, and its sequel 9 More Super-Controversial Math Facts That People Refuse to Believe Are True

--Masturbation Is at the Root of the Culture Wars (Hugo Schwyzer generally isn't someone worth listening to when it comes to feminist issues, but this is a good article nonetheless)
--If You Think Like an Imposter, You'll Be an Imposter (good advice for everyone to read)
--"You are all going to die": Joss Whedon's Wesleyan commencement speech (on making peace with contradictions, and the need to look at "both sides" of everything)
--When Men Experience Sexism (on finding a middle ground between militant feminists and MRAs)
--The Questions People Get Asked About Their Race
--Charles Ramsey and the Racial Language Barrier
--What Should I Do With My Life?
--Advice For College Grads From Two Sociologists
--What About the Guys Who Do Fit the 'Gay Stereotype'?
--Why Suicide Has Become an Epidemic -- and What We Can Do to Help
--Survivorship Bias (on the pitfalls of ignoring stories of failure)
--Sex After Dementia
--Why Is It So Hard to Understand What's Wrong With Rape Jokes?
--"The wonderful and frightening thing about Tumblr and Twitter..."
--On Horse Racing, "Break Downs," and Our Humanity
--Optimism Is Not Insane

--22 Maps That Show The Deepest Linguistic Conflicts in America

--Elementary Demonstrates the Right Way to Update a Classic Hero
--The Problem With Celebrating Straight Actors in Gay Roles
--New York PBS station criticizes reality TV with fake subway ads
--The Government Can't Stop Our Heterosexual Love: YA Dystopia From a Gay Perspective
--6 Ways to Survive an 'Internet Drubbing'
--You Won't Finish This Article (no, that's not a challenge)

--Belgian Man Made His Own Samurai Armor (and it's very impressive!)
--Short film "Captain T&T": Boy tries to become a superhero in the violence of Trinidad and Tobago
--Sweet Mother of Assassin's Creed III... (I know zilch about this franchise and fandom, but I'd totally wear something like that too :D)
--"So Dark": A short film that proves even noble vampires can be horrifying

quadruplify: Lin Bei Fong (from the Legend of Korra) looking shocked and/or surprised ([LoK] Lin - surprised)
So I just realized I haven't updated this thing in about a month, and I haven't written a proper RL update since February. Yeah. Sorry about that. D:

This year is moving by way faster than I expected; it's almost May already, and it feels like last week that there was still snow on the ground. I guess it's because not much has been going on with me over the past couple of months that I felt were worth mentioning here. Plus, I've been sick this past week -- it was just a cold, the worst of it is over, and I've had far worse, but it still didn't help things at all. And I'm supposed to get up early tomorrow to help my dad and his brother put up fencing around my grandmother's/their mother's house, which won't be hard at all, but still...bleh. ("It'll take no time at all!" Sorry Dad, but around 4 to 5 hours is NOT "no time at all." And if there's ever a day in which I absolutely need to sleep in and spend all day on the computer, it's tomorrow. XP)

So I'm going to do what I can to make this as short as possible:

••• The volunteering gig at the ASRC has been going really well! I work there Tuesday and Thursday mornings after my phototherapy treatments, and I've been there for about two months now. The work is the boring administrative stuff I'm used to -- making labels, putting labels on envelopes, stuffing inserts in flyers, writing letters for donation requests, making copies, looking over contact info for newspapers, etc. -- but it all needs to be done, and since I'm not working there all day it doesn't bother me as much. It certainly helps that everyone there is kind and considerate as well. ^_^; Right now they're busy with organizing for their "Walk For Autism" next weekend (their big yearly fundraising event), so that's what I've been focusing on, but once one of the employees comes back from medical leave I might just help work on their new website, which I gotta say I'm looking forward to. :3

••• I've been trying to take advantage of some of the other services the ASRC has for me, to mixed results. I've been attending monthly support group meetings, which have been going very well. But twice a month on Saturday evenings they host a "games night" as a way for adults "on the spectrum" to socialize, and those, well...haven't been as helpful. The games themselves are fine -- the ones I've played include poker, blackjack, Uno, Telestrations, and some video games -- but I haven't been able to click or connect with anyone else who's been going to these things. With some people it's because they have more pronounced symptoms (the first time I went, one girl had a serious chair-throwing temper tantrum because she didn't win a round of poker -- everyone else told me that sort of thing almost never happens there, but it was still really uncomfortable to watch), but with the others I haven't yet found anyone I think seems cool or interesting or otherwise someone I'd like to get to know more. Not that there isn't, I'm sure, and obviously you can't expect everyone there to have good social graces, but still. The guy who runs these events recently put together a "special" monthly games night for me and a few other guys he feels are on the same wavelength, but while it's been good to get out of the house more often, so far I don't feel I've gotten anything out of it yet. Of course, it's only been a few weeks, and I do want it to work, but I'm not very confident it will. :/

The center has also referred me to the CT Bureau of Rehab Services, which is supposed to help me find what jobs I'd be a good fit for and ultimately hook me up with one, so my parents and I are considering going down that route in the near future as well. You know, when we can find the time to go over my resume and all that. :P

••• My psoriasis has hardly improved, so now I'm back up to two light treatments a week. And I have a follow-up appointment with my dermatologist this week to go over my "progress." I'm not looking forward to that, gotta say.

••• Things with both of my grandmothers have been about the same. The only really notable thing that happened was that a few weeks ago, my dad's mom (the one who lives alone and has the hearing-voices issue) had a fall and bruised her ribs pretty badly. She was out of it and had a lot of difficulty walking around that whole week, and one time when my dad was visiting she had some very serious visual hallucinations right in front of him (e.g. thinking my sister and dead grandfather were in the house, or that my dad had spoken to someone outside the house earlier in the day). My dad got her one of those automatic reclining chairs to help her stand up and sit down more easily, and ever since she's started feeling better it's been a huge help. The good thing about all that happened, though, is that it finally made her realize that a.) there is absolutely no way in hell the voices in her head are real, and b.) she needs to move out of the house and start living in an assisted living community or a place like that. Her being alone in a house she can't take care of and is falling into disrepair isn't going to help her one bit, and I hope we can get that situation sorted ASAP.

That's about it for now; if I think of anything else, I'll probably add them to this post or make a separate entry, and I'll try to do another linkdump sometime this week as well. So yeah, I can't really complain with how things are right now, even though I get really frustrated it's coming up on two years since graduation and I still haven't found a job or kept myself busy doing other things and all that. I suspect I would've been doing all those things by now too, if the temptation to sleep in and do nothing wasn't so great. =_=; Oh well, I'm sure I'll manage to figure something out eventually. How is everyone else doing? (If you're still using this site, that is. ._.,)
quadruplify: Shizuo Heiwajima (from Durarara!!) yelling ([DRRR] Shizuo - angry)
--Sex in Space Could Be Deadly  (D:)
--Many Working-Class Women Are Already Leaning In  (on the growing activism of low-income and working-class women in the U.S.)
--The Political Dead-End of Christianism  (a Catholic philosophical perspective in support of same-sex marriage)
--Why New Zealand is officially, earnestly upset about Argo
--American teacher in Japan under fire for lessons on Japan's history of discrimination
--Babies like people who injure babies not like them  (on how some prejudice actually IS inherent and not just taught; the link also has information about the link between political turmoil and HIV treatment, the recent finding of habitable planets outside of our solar system, and how stereotypes hold women in science back)
--10 Superhero Traits Tech Will Bestow
--Ancient Mars Had Conditions Suitable for Life  (I was skeptical about this at first, but when Phil Plait says it's probably right, chances are it is)
--The Emotional Psychology of a Two-Party System
--Some Theories on Why Men Don't Do As Many Household Tasks
--Why Daylight Saving Time Is Pointless
--We're Screwed: 11,000 Years' Worth of Climate Data Prove It  (DDDDDDDDDDDDDDD:)
--What Teens Get About the Internet That Parents Don't  (a good article to share for parents or other adults in your life who ~don't get it~ XD)
--'Women Own 1% of World Property': The Feminist Myth That Won't Die  (on why it's important to fact-check EVERYTHING)
--How to Resurrect Lost Species
--Feminism needs to include men to obtain equality for all  (some might find this article ventures too far into "but what about teh menz?!" territory for their liking, but the central point about why the word "feminism" has such a negative connotation is legit)

quadruplify: Julian Minci (from Legend of the Galactic Heroes) sticking his tongue out in disgust ([LoGH] Julian - yuck)
--SimCity 5's Multiplayer Blues  (I ended up having a lot more feelings about the new SimCity than I expected. I loved playing SimCity 3000 back when it was a thing, and part of the appeal was that I DIDN'T have to work and cooperate with others to play the game; I could build a city on my own, with whatever vision I liked. I'd be interested in playing this new version, but the offline DIY ethos of the previous games was what made it interesting, so it'll take a while getting used to.

Plus, part of the reason why I've spent most of my life NOT playing video game [or Second Life, for that matter] is because of the interacting with complete strangers that tends to happen. I'm extremely shy and self-conscious, and it's hard enough for me to talk to new people in other contexts as it is -- and people can be REALLY immature when playing video games, which makes me uncomfortable. IDK, I'd much rather start playing with people I already know if I have to.

And then there's the fact that you have to be online in order to play it, which I don't like at all. Considering we've lost Internet access for days on end before, I'd like to be able to play games to pass the time in a situation like that, and with something like SimCity 5 it wouldn't be possible. That is,
if I could play it in the first place without EA fucking it up. Seriously, I think we all know by now how disastrous the rollout this week has been. :PPP)

--Neither Pro-Life Nor Pro-Choice Can Solve the Selective Abortion Crisis
--8 things the U.S. election system could learn from Mexico's
--Mars mission poses greater risk to human life than NASA would allow
--Soon they'll be able to 3D-print you a hybrid car
--Our brains, and how they're not as simple as we think
--No, Our Solar System Is NOT a "Vortex"  (debunking myths made by a popular viral video)
--A Supermassive Ice Age May Have Led to Complex Life on Earth
--Why U.S. Politicians Think Americans Are So Conservative When They're Not  (and yet I still see way too many Tea Partiers on Facebook :/)
--Are popular scientists becoming modern day preachers?
--Astronauts Traveling to Mars Could Be Protected By a Poop Shield
--The Mixed Results of Male Authors Writing Female Characters
--The Benefits of Optimism Are Real
--One of the best places to search for alien life is the last that you'd expect
--"South African Violence" Only Explains the Pistorius Case If He's Not Guilty
--Invasive species? This sushi chef rolls with it  (this is a profile of the sushi restaurant K. and I went to last summer)
--The Birth of a Planet, Observed From Earth
--We Aren't the World   (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED -- on how culture shapes our fundamental beliefs, perception, and ways of thinking more than anyone could have expected, and how dangerous it is that science ignores this fact)
--Why Do People Stay in Abusive Relationships?

And because I haven't done one of these in a while, a meme:

So I took a 'What Harry Potter character are you?' test. Does anyone familiar with the series think this is right? )

quadruplify: Julian Minci (from Legend of the Galactic Heroes) sticking his tongue out in disgust ([LoGH] Julian - yuck)
First of all, thanks a lot to whoever sent me a valentine on [personal profile] tf_valentines! I wasn't expecting it at all, but I appreciate it all the same, and it made my day. XD All right, now on to today's links:

--The Hard Lessons of Oscar Pistorius  (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED -- on how the factors that make certain people wildly successful and accomplished in what they do end up hurting them, and why highly successful people do stupid and horrible things more often than the rest of us)
--How to read like a writer
--Azealia Banks and the Other "F" Word in 2013  (as someone who's frequently heard that word used as a homophobic slur against me and other people, it makes me sick that some people think it no longer has a homophobic meaning just because they say so)
--Toward a Black Jesse James  (on why mass murderers like Christopher Dorner don't deserve to be praised -- "I don't really know how anyone, with any sort of coherence, adopts Christopher Dorner as a symbol in the fight against police brutality, given how he brutalized those two human beings. I cannot understand, except to say that sometimes our own anger, our pain, becomes so blinding that we fail to see the pain of others. This is the seed of inhumanity, and inhumanity is the seed of the very police brutality which we all deplore.")
--California highway dig reveals four new whale species
--What Food Desert Maps Get Wrong About How People Eat  (on how trying to determine where "food deserts" are is more complicated than you'd think)
--Fibonacci Flim-Flam  (on how attempts to make science cool and popular can lead to harmful misinformation)
--Did This New Hampshire Woman Take Part in the Rwandan Genocide?  (on why bringing people to justice is messy, difficult, and leads to bad outcomes)
--Sex on Mars: A Dangerous Love Story
--This Bionic Hand Will Let an Amputee Feel Again
--The Internet's Kevin Bacon Effect: Any Web Page Can Be Accessed From Any Other in Just 19 Clicks
--The Obama Administration's 10-Year Plan to Map the Entire Human Brain
--Do Colors Look the Same For All of Us?
--The 5 Most Frequently Misused Proverbs
--5 Groundbreaking Firsts That Your History Books Lied About
--Male as the Neutral Default
--The Tesla/NY Times fight is a sideshow  (on the complications electric cars still face in order to be taken seriously)
--The Art of Infinite War, Ctd.: The Administration's Drone Campaign
--Why We'll Probably Never Build a Space Elevator  (;_;)
--Sony Files Patent to Make TV Ads Into Video Games  (this is actually pretty scary if you think about it D:)
--What Would Happen If the 2012 DA14 Asteroid Actually Hit Earth?
--It's Time For Hollywood to Make a Same-Sex Romantic Comedy
--Teach For America's hidden curriculum
--Maybe dogs really can talk!
--Coming out to my wife  (on rethinking traditionally-held ideas about marriage, monogamy, and cheating)
--White Girl Privilege and the Problem of Blaming All Men  (a.k.a. why "misandry 4 lyfe" jokes on Tumblr are bad and why you should feel bad for making them)

quadruplify: Lin Bei Fong (from the Legend of Korra) looking shocked and/or surprised ([LoK] Lin - surprised)
Another one so soon? Well, yeah...I have way too many tabs open as usual, as I have to close out most of them before my computer crashes. :/

--Aziz Ansari gets candid about love: "Elusive and sadly ephemeral"  (a really enlightening interview on just how complicated it is to find and build relationships, especially romantic ones, which isn't as pessimistic as Ansari is afraid it is)
--Why finding love is like finding alien intelligence
--12 Rude Revelations About Sex  (I don't know why, but the more I read this the more tempted I was to be celibate for the rest of my life D:)
--The Last Time a Pope Resigned, Mass Media Was Called ... Mass
--Science Confirms the Obvious: Men and Women Aren't That Different
--The Human Race Will Come to an End. What's Next?
--Kids Are Still Drawing 1900s Idea of What Dinosaurs Looked Like
--No, An Asteroid Is NOT Going to Hit Earth in 2106
--The Only Problem With Your Argument Is You  (on the psychological underpinnings of why politics is so contentious, and why gridlock between political parties happens, and explains a LOT about political discourse on the Internet)
--$100 Million to Know Why NFLers Die Young? Here's Why, For Free
--The Art of Infinite War  (Ta-Nehisi Coates absolutely nails it as always :D)
--Former Political Scientist to Congress: Please Defund Political Science
--Don't Forget to Live  (on the ways pushing yourself and striving for success can go over the top)
--Robo-Eye to Enter US Market
--Thriving since 1960, a garden in a bottle: Seedling sealed in its own ecosystem and watered just once in 53 years
--The history of Pad Thai  (includes a recipe)
--The Only Black Guy At the Indie Rock Show  (a black man's experiences involving race and culture in a predominately white scene -- HIGHLY RECOMMENDED)
--Why You're So Afraid of Change (And What You Can Do About It)  (this connects a lot with the articles "The Human Race Will Come to an End...", "The Only Problem...", and "Don't Forget to Live")
--The Always Up-to-Date Guide to Streaming Blocked Content Overseas  (could be useful if you're trying to watch shows on BBC iPlayer outside the UK)
--Mogwai: A beginner's guide  (to one of my favorite bands ^_^;)
--DuckTales invented a new animated wonderland -- that quickly disappeared

quadruplify: Stuart Staples (lead singer of Tindersticks) surrounded by pigeons (Default)
We got a lot more snow around here than we thought we were going to get -- about 3 ft/1m of snow, to be exact. Which meant we were snowed in pretty much all day yesterday, and things aren't much better today since all 15 of the town's snowplows just had to get stuck. :P I just feel really bad for everyone who has to break their backs get rid of all the snow from the roads, driveways, parking lots, etc. -- I'm kinda glad I didn't have to do any of that, but I'm also a little guilty about it at the same time. :/ At least we didn't lose power or cable this time around, which helped things a lot.

So in lieu of an update in which Interesting Things™ have Happened™ -- another one of these posts. I'm glad many of you are liking them, though I worry if some of you are getting a bit tired of these by now. ^_^;

--How the Streetlight Effect keeps scientists in the dark
--Political failure modes and the beige dictatorship  (an attempt to explain general malaise, distrust, and cynicism in today's global politics -- lots of attempts toward a kind of political theory are used, and the comments actually do a good job of furthering the discussion)
--Why you're probably not as rational as you think you are -- and what you can do about it
--The Great Filter theory suggests humans have already conquered the threat of extinction
--Why do mirrors reverse left and right, but not top and bottom?
--Why Star Trek phasers don't exist yet  (a.k.a. "If you're wondering why we don't have cool things like jetpacks and laser weapons yet, there are very very good reasons why")
--Could an Explosion Really Knock You Over Like in the Movies?
--How NASA Prevents a Space Plague Outbreak
--University of British Columbia gives all female tenure-stream faculty a 2% raise
--Why science and technology need the social sciences and humanities
--Proving and Quantifying Sexism
--The Study That Could Upend Everything We Thought We Knew About Declining Urban Crime
--Visualizing How Poorly Amtrak's Route Network Serves Most of the U.S.
--And Now Let Us Praise, and Consider the Absurd Luck of, Famous Men  (on how much more "success" hinges on sheer chance than anyone could possibly dream of)
--First ever: UK scientists use 3D printer to print human stem cells
--Revolutionary grilled cheese sandwich replaces bread with more cheese  (at first I was like OMG MUST HAVE, but now I'm not so sure D:)

quadruplify: Matt Berninger (lead singer of The National) with forehead on microphone, eyes closed ([Music] The National - microphone)
I'm only doing another one of these so soon after the last one because my browser has quickly become cluttered with tabs and I need to close them out so my computer doesn't run as slowly. ^_^; I promise I'll have an RL update ready by the end of the week; I'm not feeling quite up to it just yet.

--Context: How Do You Play Football?  (on middle school trick plays and how it relates to sociology, of all things)
--Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Gun Violence in America
--How to save a public library: Make it a seed bank
--Why People Choose Cars, Even When Mass Transit Would Serve Them Better
--Why I play violent video games  (on how geek culture breeds sexism and misogyny, and the ways violent video games are nothing more than exercises in wish fulfillment for sad fantasists)
--I am an adult who likes kid stuff. And that's okay.  (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED)
--How to Cook on Mars
--How Owls Turn Their Heads
--For 40 Years, This Russian Family Was Cut Off From All Human Contact, Unaware of World War II
--The Assault-Weapons Ban Isn't Happening -- Get Over It
--How Netflix is turning viewers into puppets
--21 Signs You're From Connecticut  (a lot of it is hyperbole, of course, but some of it is so true D:)
--11 Reasons to Ditch Your Television  (something I'll probably do if/when I get my own place; I really don't get the appeal of most of the TV shows everyone keeps talking about, so while sometimes I feel like I'm missing out, it's not often. Plus, at least 90% of what I've seen on TV over the past few years has been shit anyway. :P)
--A photo of wolves being needlessly adorable
--Giphy, a search engine for GIFs  (finally!)

quadruplify: Stuart Staples (lead singer of Tindersticks) surrounded by pigeons ([Music] Tindersticks - pigeons)
--There's No Such Thing as Everlasting Love (According to Science)
--This Pod of Sperm Whales Would Like to Teach You a Lesson About Humanity
--At What Age Will You Stop Using Facebook?
--Rediscovered: "Revolver," long lost Carl Sandburg poem about guns and their evil power
--The Lonely Existence of Mel Feit, Men's Rights Advocate  (interesting and nuanced, and helps advance the discussion on what role men play in feminist movements, even though I couldn't help but go "lol MRAs" at the whole thing)
--The Party of John Calhoun  (on the GOP's latest attempt to divide electoral votes in each state by congressional district, which would rig future elections in their favor and is REALLY FUCKING DISTURBING and something every American needs to know about)
--Why you shouldn't abandon LJ for Tumblr  (a partial explanation of why I needed to take a break from Tumblr, perhaps permanently)
--Steep.it, an online timer for tea steeping
--Foxygen and the Diminishing Returns of '60s Revivalism  (on why it's misguided and dangerous to fetishize the past, especially the 1960s, and helps explain why I prefer new music to retreads of past trends)
--Asteroid-Mining Project Aims for Deep Space Colonies
--Are We Meant to Live on Mars?
--Earth May Have Been Hit By a Cosmic Blast 1200 Years Ago
--It might not get weirder than this  (a first-timer's trip to North Korea)
--The Tough New Obama Isn't So Tough -- And That's Why He's Winning
--Separate and Unequal in the U.S. Military  (on the struggles same-sex couples in the military still face)
--Wait, People Thought Vitaminwater Was Good for You?
--Would More Drivers Use Public Transit If It Mimicked Private Cars?
--Are Some Cities Doomed Never to Catch Up?
--Trickster and tricked: All gurus try to undermine their followers' egos and expectations, so does it matter if the teacher is a real fraud?  (This is partially a review of the movie Kumare, which I've mentioned on here before. It's a really good takedown of modern spiritual movements and their appeal, even if I don't really agree with the author that Kumare was as shallow as he says it is.)
--Could Human Enhancement Turn Soldiers Into Weapons That Violate International Law? Yes
--All the episodes of Avatar: the Last Airbender streaming online. I'm told these are going to be up for a "limited time"; I don't know how long that's going to be, but if you haven't seen this series yet, here's your chance. You have no excuse now. XD

quadruplify: Lin Bei Fong (from the Legend of Korra) looking shocked and/or surprised ([LoK] Lin - surprised)
--Tiny new (?) spider species creates large spider puppets to scare away predators
--24 places that look not normal, but are actually real  (I believe I shared some of these on Tumblr before, but I've never seen some of these before, and here they are, all in one place ~_^)
--AP Credit Will No Longer Be Accepted at Dartmouth  (I really don't know how I feel about this; on one hand, I get where they're coming from after reading this article and realizing it lined up really nicely with my experiences with AP classes in high school, but on the other hand, the issue is a lot more complicated, as the comments to this article prove. The only benefits I got from AP at college was that I was able to skip one of my required classes for my major, and I started off with 5 credits so I could take 3 classes some semesters instead of the usual 4. I really didn't feel like my AP classes prepared me that much for college at all, but a part of me is still glad I took them.)
--Glowing full moon credenza  (I'd like something like this too, even though it must be ridiculously expensive :PPP)
--How Forks Gave Us Overbites and Pots Saved the Toothless
--How Facebook affects your memory
--10 false facts most people think are true
--How Game Theory Explains Washington's Horrible Gridlock
--Kendrick Lamar's Forever War  (on hip-hop and the myth of "noble violence")
--The End of Labor: How to Protect Workers From the Rise of Robots
--Why You Can't Cry in Space
--Violence and Mental Illness in Middletown, Connecticut
--Amateur Astronomers Discover 42 Alien Planets
--Dr. Carin Bondar's "Wild Sex"  (NSFW obviously)
--Should science fiction and fantasy do more than entertain?
--Anonymous and encouraging message posted in university restroom
--Antarctica takes out its frustration on the children of the 1%  (I'm only sharing this for the comments, which [strangely enough] are far better than the article)

quadruplify: John Watson (from BBC's Sherlock) standing in Buckingham Palace ([Sherlock] John - standing)
I know most of the links this week are from The Atlantic; this is only because I follow the magazine on Twitter, and every day they have a ton of articles that catch my interest, and I end up clicking on them all, and pretty soon my browser is crammed with tabs from this one website. Which I find kinda embarrassing, even though it's not a big deal at all. I should go on a bigger variety of sites regardless. :P

--Yes, Money Does Buy Happiness: 6 Lessons From the Newest Research on Income and Well-Being
--The "Most Significant" Photo Recently Taken From Space
--Why We Get Prune Fingers
--Hollywood's Real Bias Is Conservative (But Not in the Way Liberals Often Say)
--The Fact-Free Political Alarmism of Naomi Wolf  (this does a good job of pinpointing what bothers me about left-wing activist writers like Wolf, Glenn Greenwald, Michael Moore, etc. -- they're too extreme and addicted to attention for most people to believe anything they have to say, and whatever good points they make are undermined by their poor research and lack of nuance)
--There's More to Life Than Being Happy
--A GIF Guide to the Most Bannable Semi-Automatic Weapons
--Russian test uncovers strain of space travel  (with all the buzz surrounding the Mars One project, this is important to keep in mind)
--Actually, Don't Write Like You're Dead  (on bad writing advice, and how it's impossible not to be a product of your times)
--Sympathy For the Nice Guys of OKCupid  (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED -- not because Nice Guys deserve that much pity [they don't], but it's an interesting perspective that's worth thinking about)
--Censoring Pirate Sites Doesn't Work, Researchers Find
--Astronomers Discover a Planet Almost Identical to Earth
--New battery converts physical motion to chemical energy in a single step
--Galaxy's center tastes of raspberries and smells of rum, say astronomers
--What If NASA Could Figure Out the Math of a Workable Warp Drive?  (I'm pretty sure I shared this on Twitter before, but it's worth sharing again)
--Winners of the National Geographic Photo Contest 2012
--A Stunning, Sparkling Beehive Caught By Accident  (on globular clusters and distant galaxies)
--Tongue and Tech: The Many Emotions For Which English Has No Words
--Pondering Our Cyborg Future in a Documentary About the Singularity
--Climate Change Doesn't Have to Mean the End of the World  (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED -- this partly explains why I've become so burned out on even thinking about environmentalism and climate change activism; at this point, adaptation is the only thing we can do about global warming)
--Short animated film: "R'ha" by Kaleb Lechowski  (I'm only sharing this because a.) the animation and CGI is AMAZING, and b.) the guy who made this is a year younger than me, and I feel woefully inadequate because of it D: )

quadruplify: Gay pride parade participant, dressed as astronaut, holding sign that reads: "Gay Astronaut Association Members: 1" ([Other] LGBTQ+ - gay astronaut)
Since I've been doing linkdumps around here for the past couple of weeks, and because I'm bored, I figure I might make this a semi-regular thing. Maybe? Basically it's a list of things I've found/read lately, and I thought at least some of you out there might be interested in some of them too. Hope you all enjoy it! ^_^; 

--Sandy Hook controversy: Is it wrong to sympathize with a killer?
--Meanwhile, in Canada, a Narwhal Tusk Smuggling Ring Has Been Busted  (first maple syrup, now this...O_o;)
--Captured in (Actual) Pictures: The Swirling Birth of Planets
--Finding the Positive  (on criticizing what other people do vs. doing something better yourself)
--A Martian Dream: Here's What the Red Planet Would Look LIke With Earth-Like Oceans and Life
--'Channeling spirits' shut down parts of the brain
--Can You Be Gay By Choice?  (the best article I've read yet re: whether or not the "born this way" defense of homosexuality is a good idea)
--The Appeal of "Bad Boys"  (on Nice Guys™, the psychology of what makes people attractive, and how men can attain it without being douches)
--Why It's Dangerous to Say "Only Bad Guys Commit Rape"  (CW: details of incidents of rape)
--America Has a Macho Problem

quadruplify: Gay pride parade participant, dressed as astronaut, holding sign that reads: "Gay Astronaut Association Members: 1" ([Other] LGBTQ+ - gay astronaut)

Happy New Year everyone!! :D
quadruplify: Lin Bei Fong (from the Legend of Korra) looking mildly pissed off ([LoK] Lin - pissed off)
Another entry because I'm bored and I feel up to it. ^_^;

••• So, Christmas went relatively well! It wasn't very eventful, and I've had far better Christmases, but it wasn't too bad, all things considered. Here's what I managed to get:

Under the cut: Loot, long-lost family, acting like an asshole, and illness... )

••• I'm still trying to think of what to do for New Year's resolutions; I know they rightfully get a bad rap because people hardly follow through on them, but I really need to get myself in gear in 2013 to prevent a repeat of 2012, which was ... a whole lotta nothing, really. Which is not to say awesome things didn't happen this year, or that I didn't grow as a person, but in a lot of ways I'm in the same position I was when I wrote this, and that's not good. The main difference is that I'm in a better position now to be more proactive when it comes to developing skills and achieving goals than I was two years ago -- or at least, I hope so. ._.,

Of course I need to work on the important things, like being more proactive in looking for jobs, volunteer work, and grad schools, cooking, taking better care of myself (including hopefully joining a gym), and driving. But I've also created a huge backlog of books I want to read, movies and TV shows and anime I'd like to watch, music I'd like to listen to, video games I'd like to play, etc. Far too often I put these things off to one side saying to myself, "I'll deal with this later," and I never do; instead, I end up constantly feeling bored, doing nothing, and wanting to do nothing. So maybe trying to get through that backlog should help? (Oh yeah, and fitting in some time to write while I'm at it. :P)

Anyway, I hope everyone reading this has a Happy New Year, and that if your 2012 was meh like mine, I hope 2013 will be better for you. ;-)

••• Finally, some more articles and links you might be interested in:

--This Tiny Gizmo Could Be a Very Big Deal in 2013 -- And Beyond (I know I already posted something about this on my Tumblr, but it seems so interesting enough it's worth bringing up again, especially since this article goes into greater detail, and it reveals it'll only cost around $70)
--27 Science Fictions That Became Science Facts in 2012
--Should Buddhist Meditation Make You Happy? (I don't think I've read a better explanation of what meditation is supposed to do before, or what benefits it's supposed to bring)
--Hacking the Human Brain: The Next Domain of Warfare (DDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD:)
--No Longer Vaporware: The Internet of Things Is Finally Talking
--Videogames Do Belong in the Museum of Modern Art
--'Brighter than a full moon': The biggest star of 2013 could be Ison, the comet of the century
--Amazing new house proves that green doesn't have to mean expensive

quadruplify: Stuart Staples (lead singer of Tindersticks) surrounded by pigeons ([Music] Tindersticks - pigeons)
A couple of days ago I received a Christmas card from [livejournal.com profile] kattidya, so thank you very much for that! :D

Speaking of Christmas cards, I'm sure it's become obvious I'm not doing them this year, what with it being three days away and all that. :P Sorry if any of you out there were expecting one, but if you'd really like one and don't mind it being horribly late, just let me know and I'll be more than happy to work something out. (And the same goes if you'd like sending something to me.)

Not much has been going on with me; I'm still in that big funk I mentioned the last time I updated, and this didn't help matters one bit. So ... a brief linkdump, because I haven't done one of these in a while, and I need to show myself I haven't entirely been wasting my time. These articles have made me think about or reevaluate a lot of things lately, and they might have the same impact on some of you.

--The Sad, Beautiful Fact That We're All Going to Miss Almost Everything
--Physicists testing to see if universe is a computer simulation (a.k.a. "Scientists try to prove The Matrix is actually real")
--7 Reasons the 21st Century is Making You Miserable (this expresses pretty much how I feel re: the cynicism and jadedness many young people feel today, explaining why it bothers me so much better than I ever could)
--6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person (obviously there are parts that rub me the wrong way, namely the fact that some people will never achieve the kind of success David Wong talks about due to their lack of privilege, and that sometimes the idea of productivity can be detrimental to one's health and well-being, but his central message is worth considering, and has helped me put some things in perspective)
--5 Reasons Humanity Desperately Wants Monsters to Be Real (this explains SO MUCH about human nature like you wouldn't believe)
--5 Reasons Life Actually Does Get Better

I likely won't be posting anything until after Christmas, so to anyone reading this (especially those who celebrate), Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. ;-)

quadruplify: Amon (from the Legend of Korra) speaking at an Equalist protest, fist raised in the air ([LoK] Amon - revolution)
••• So my thoughts on the election can be summed up in these GIFs:

Let's see, we had Obama re-elected, a large number of women and progressives elected to Congress (including a Buddhist and a Hindu), Tea Partiers and rape apologists and anti-abortion freaks defeated, same-sex marriage passing by popular vote in three states (and marijuana legalized in two more), a hardcore video gamer getting elected to Maine's state senate, and overall at least half of Americans waking up and realizing this country needs to get out of the dark ages? Consider me impressed. :D

I might do a politics-related linkdump at some point, but for now I'm sure this will do. ^_^;

••• As for Hurricane Sandy, we got our TV and Internet back on Friday 11/2; my sister was ecstatic because during that whole week it was like living with a drug addict going through withdrawal. And it didn't help that she was out of school a total of four days, too. :PPP I managed to survive by starting to watch Ao no Exorcist (which I've actually been rather enjoying!), as well as a few movies I'll review later because it's 2:30 AM as I'm writing this and I'm hoping to get some sleep soon. XD

But it's long gone now -- no major damage around here, just a few tree limbs falling on power lines here and there (and Halloween getting cancelled, if that counts). I know the coast got hit really bad, though, as well as everywhere south of New York City; I don't know exactly how bad the damage was, and if we're going to be completely honest I kinda don't want to -- I feel like it'd depress me too much. But yes, we're all perfectly fine around here, as I've mentioned before, so no need to worry about us!

If you do want to read something interesting, though, there's this article about the skeleton that was unearthed when a tree toppled over in New Haven, if you're into that sort of thing. (The link contains pictures of the skeleton [though it's kinda hard to make out], in case you don't want to see it or you find such pictures disrespectful.)

••• I'm about 21,000 words into NaNoWriMo, which I'm really impressed by since I wasn't expecting to get that far by now at all. I've always seen myself as a slow writer; when I was writing papers in school and college, it took all the effort I could muster to stay focused and concentrate on what I needed to get done, which meant writing the damn things felt like pulling teeth. A lot of these hangups I developed about writing as a result have stuck around, which has definitely made it a struggle, so I guess being ahead of schedule is my way of compensating for that. :3 But whatever, even though those 21,000 words are total word vomit (as all first drafts are, I suppose), I'm using the advice of some famous writers to power through it, I'm proud of where I'm at right now, and I'm excited that I might actually make 50,000 before the end of the month, so yay! 8D

(And of course, you can add me over there if you haven't already.)

••• The Twilight Sad concert was Tuesday night, and it was as excellent and mind-blowing as I was hoping it was going to be.

Details under the cut... )

••• I've changed the layout of my LJ blog! ---> [livejournal.com profile] quadruplify The last one was more of a temporary thing because it was kinda ugly, so I hope y'all like this one more. ^_^;

Anyway, that's about it from me. How's everyone else doing?
quadruplify: Lin Bei Fong (from the Legend of Korra) looking shocked and/or surprised ([LoK] Lin - surprised)
So we have yet another huge storm bearing down on us. *sigh* The next two days are going to suck, for sure, but the only thing we can do is wait it out. Connecticut is under a state of emergency right now, my parents have already prepared for everything they could think of, and I can already hear the winds picking up outside. We're in a pretty safe area, but we're still anticipating a power outage -- or if the power doesn't go out, it just might be the TV and Internet that go out. We've been very lucky when Irene and the Halloween snowstorm last year hit (we lost TV and Internet for a few days with Irene, and we really lucked out with the snowstorm because we didn't lose anything at all), but I'm anticipating the worst. I can handle no TV and Internet, but no power....yeah, I admit I'm nervous about that. D: So if something does happen, you can still get in touch with me (I'll have my phone), but it might take me a little longer to get around to it.

(At least my sister is happy she got the next two days of school off. And that she's getting her braces off in January. But I guess that's neither here nor there. ^_^;)

In other news: I'm definitely doing NaNoWriMo this year! Feel free to add me over there if you like. :D I don't plan on getting too obsessed over it; the only goal for me is just to get back into the habit of writing because I haven't done it in so long, to see if it's something I still want to do. It seems to me the important thing about the challenge is getting the words down, and then editing and working with them later; if so, then that makes things a lot easier for me, because the main thing for me to do right now is getting over the hump and just doing it. The weird thing about depression is that sometimes, you can't wait until you're motivated and/or ready to do something; you have to start doing it so that the motivation and willpower follows. If that makes any sense. :P

This, of course, means I'm finally getting around to taking a much-needed hiatus from Tumblr. I've been planning on doing it for a while, and for other reasons than NaNo, but still...one less distraction, right?

And just today, another big website started following me on Twitter. I guess it's because I linked to one of their articles? Either way, it's still pretty cool, I guess. :3

I'm saving the best news for last: I'm going to see The Twilight Sad play in Hamden on Nov. 6th! I don't go to concerts nearly as often as I should (though it's mostly because I only have so much money, and I can't travel very far because the bands I really want to see generally don't stop by the area), and because it's one of my favorite bands I'm really looking forward to this. When I found out about it yesterday, I texted K because she's a fan as well; she bought tickets for the both of us, so it's definitely happening. It'll be the first time we meet up in the past couple of months too, so that's good. In any case, I'm excited. ^_^;

That's about it for me for now; for all of you out there waiting out the storm like I am, please stay safe! ;-)

quadruplify: John Watson (from BBC's Sherlock) standing in Buckingham Palace ([Sherlock] John - standing)
Bat For Lashes, "Marilyn"
Fuck Buttons, "Rough Steez"
Sky Ferreira, "Everything Is Embarrassing"
Yeasayer, "Fingers Never Bleed"
Yeasayer, "No Bones"

••• So, the trip to Vermont a little over a week ago went extremely well! We stayed at the Waybury Inn in a nicely decorated "rustic" room (I wish I took pictures of the place because I think some of you would've liked it), and had an excellent breakfast all three mornings we were there. We arrived Friday evening; I was feeling tired and a bit sick, we noticed the fall foliage was already past peak, and the weather was cold and raw (it even snowed at one point, though it didn't stick), but we managed to make the most of it. Dinner at Two Brothers was delicious as always, and afterward my mom wanted to see what was up with the Middlebury Art Walk -- an event once a month where stores stay open later on a Friday night and local businesses promote artists from the area -- so we walked around the center of town for a while. It turned out that there really wasn't much to see, though we did finally get around to visiting Otter Creek Used Books, the other "big" bookstore in town; it was anther one of those places that was filled to the brim with books, but it was loosely organized and you had to take the time to dig through tons of books to find anything that looked interesting.

More [including video and a picture] under the cut... )

••• Other than that, not much else has been going on. I finally got around to starting Richard O'Connor's Understanding Depression, which I got for Christmas after[personal profile] mmouse15 rec'd it to me, and I've been finding it very helpful; I even found parts of it connected a lot to parts of the Dalai Lama's talk regarding mindfulness and thinking of happiness as a skill rather than an emotion. Otherwise, ever since the trip to Vermont I've fallen back into the rut I've been in for the past few weeks now (partly because I was pretty wiped after doing so much). With my psoriasis trying to come back and the days getting shorter and colder as it is, all I've been doing is refreshing Tumblr/Twitter/LJ every five seconds, watching trash TV, and sleeping in. It's not as bad as it once was, and I certainly don't feel as guilty about my well-being right now, but it's still frustrating. Maybe I might actually do NaNoWriMo this year? I do feel more up to it than I was last year, so we'll have to wait and see. ^_^;

quadruplify: Stuart Staples (lead singer of Tindersticks) surrounded by pigeons ([Music] Tindersticks - pigeons)
1. I got myself an Instagram account recently, because a lot of you I follow on Tumblr and Twitter use it and I wanted to try it out. I'm the same username there as here; anyone else got accounts there, or know of accounts I ought to be following? Since I'll be in Vermont this weekend (leaving Friday 10/12, returning Monday 10/15), I'd like to start using it there; I'll try not to spam you guys, but we'll see how it goes. ^_^;

2. Can anyone recommend some good games available on Steam? Are there any well-known/popular games I really ought to be playing, or any indie games or diamonds in the rough I need to know about? I ask because it's something I'd like to get into soon, seeing as how I was one of those boring kids who never played video games while growing up (nope, never even owned a single console). I guess you can say I'm making up for lost time here. XD Anyway, I am limited by money, but I'm willing to take any recs regardless of how expensive they are. Thanks; I'd really appreciate it! :D (BTW, you can friend me on Steam as well if you haven't already; I have the same username there as here.)

quadruplify: Stuart Staples (lead singer of Tindersticks) surrounded by pigeons (Default)
The demise of a social media platform: Tracking LiveJournal's decline

Once universally praised for founder Brad Fitzpatrick’s open-source platform and commitment to a free userbase—he once vowed that LiveJournal would always have basic (non-paying or ad-supported) accounts—LiveJournal is known these days mostly for being popular in Russia (the Russian name for blogging is “LJ.”) and Singapore, and for housing gossip blog Oh No They Didn’t.

What happened?

I know I already posted this on Twitter and Plurk, but I'm sharing it here too in case you haven't seen it yet -- thanks to [personal profile] mmouse15 for pointing it out. It's a good summary of everything that's gone wrong with LJ over the past five years, and if nothing else, it makes me realize that the people who've abandoned the site are never coming back. Which is sad, because I've always used LJ as a way to keep in touch with people, and I'm too shy/anxious to contact them through other means, especially if we weren't that close. The thought of "reconnecting" with people I've never actually gotten close to to begin with is extremely awkward, and I never know how to go about it. :<

I guess it's just as well that so many people have abandoned LJ, because today embedded videos don't seem to be loading right. Typical, really. =_=

quadruplify: Stuart Staples (lead singer of Tindersticks) surrounded by pigeons (Default)
I've been planning on doing up another RL update soon, but...I just keep putting it off.  Ah well.  It's been one of those weeks, I guess.  :/

quadruplify: Gay pride parade participant, dressed as astronaut, holding sign that reads: "Gay Astronaut Association Members: 1" ([Other] LGBTQ+ - gay astronaut)
First off, a slightly belated welcome to [livejournal.com profile] thewindwarns! *waves* My intro post is here, but if you have any questions feel free to ask away. :D

Today, thanks to [personal profile] two_grey_rooms introducing me to the awesomeness that is Li-Young Lee, I ended up seeking out more of his poetry -- which turned into spending half the day reading and discovering lots of good poems. And since this month is National Poetry Month, and some people on my f-list like to celebrate it, I though I'd share some of what I've found with all of you. We'll start with some Lee:

Li-Young Lee -- Self-Help for Fellow Refugees )

Li-Young Lee -- A Hymn to Childhood )

Li-Young Lee -- Persimmons )

Li-Young Lee -- Praise Them )

Li-Young Lee -- Tethered/Making a Shelter of His Heart's and Mind's Agreement )

Tracy K. Smith -- Sci-Fi )

Tracy K. Smith -- The Universe: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack )

Tracy K. Smith -- The Universe as Primal Scream )

Yusef Komunyakaa -- We Never Know )

Yusef Komunyakaa -- Please )

Meghan O'Rourke -- Inventing a Horse )

Matthew Shenoda -- A Note Found in the Tomb of Tutankhamen )

**I hope y'all enjoyed this latest set of offerings; I found some of these from this website, if you're curious to find more poems, especially those from people outside of the West.


quadruplify: Stuart Staples (lead singer of Tindersticks) surrounded by pigeons (Default)

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