Category Archives: About Me

Loud Parties, Playing the Bass

(Originally posted on 2016-05-29)

Author: Ethan Prater Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/eprater/4380249444/ CC License: Attribution 2.0 Generic
Author: Ethan Prater
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/eprater/4380249444/
CC License: Attribution 2.0 Generic

The guy below me (at 30 Larnard St, Potsdam NY, in the early 90s), had a loud party, and played metal and classic rock records, real loud. Did he invite me? No.

Kids: if you are going to have a loud party, then you always invite the neighbors. In most cases they won’t come, but they will appreciate it, and they won’t call the police. Here endeth the lesson.

So I invited myself by plugging in my bass amp, and playing along with all of the songs. He eventually turned it down.

Did that end it? Not exactly: this started to become a regular thing, but at least he turned it down much quicker.

So one day his girlfriend stops me in the store, and says, “Hey, you’re the guy that lives above us. Every time that we have people visit, my boyfriend turns up the stereo, and then lowers the volume so that he can show everyone how you play the bass!”

All righty then…

 

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Aspergian Prosopagnosian

(Originally posted on 2016-02-21 as /archives/10770)

At least I don't have that Aspergian glassy stare. Oh. No. There it is.
At least I don’t have that Aspergian glassy stare. Oh. No. There it is.

Naturally I have some reservations about sharing this information, because people have prejudices, and prejudices can keep you from getting jobs. Also: most social interaction makes me uncomfortable, and putting something like this on the Internet? That’s a big deal. That said, John Elder Robison did it, Temple Grandin did it, and Dan Aykroyd did it too. It’s not like my introvert-ed-ness is some kind of dark secret, but where does it come from?

I recently learned that I was born faceblind (congenital prosopagnosia). I also learned that I have Asperger Syndrome. These two facts explain a childhood of wondering why “complete strangers” insisted on talking to me.

I made a long list while reading John Elder Robison’s (JER) Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger’s. This was a list of “things that JER says are Aspergian, but are true of most introverts, computer programmers, engineers, and cats.”

A few years later I took one of those screening tests, and scored way into the you-are-autistic range. I was surprised, because I answered all of the list-making questions with the equivalent of I’m-not-Rain-Man, but as I later realized I actually do keep lots of lists.  From time-to-time, I wonder, “Who will maintain my lists when I die?” (The answer should be: who cares.)

The irony of keeping a list of all my attributes, that in my opinion at the time, were not actually related to autism, is not lost on me now.

This Asperger’s thing also explains why, in the past, female friends have asked me “why don’t you like me”, or told me, “you are not like other guys.” They could never tell me how I was not like other guys. Well, “It’s not you; it’s me,” is not a cliche in my case. I really am different from other guys, and no, there’s nothing wrong with you at all.

How about those Mets?

None of this stopped me from being successful, JER designed the first fire-spitting guitars for KISS, and that Dark Tower game, and shot a snake with a pistol… or something: you don’t get more successful than that.

But really the only thing keeping me down is the CFS/ME. It’s like being drunk and having influenza all the time. I have been sleeping 20 hours per day most days for a few weeks, and 16-20 for more than five years.

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My Coursera Accomplishments —and— thoughts about MOOCs

(Originally posted on 2016-06-09, 2016-06-19, and 2016-07-28.)

I recently participated in online non-credit courses (MOOCs), and I did well. This gave me a real sense of accomplishment. That’s something that I miss from my software development days.

I have a college degree, but my disability makes homework a real challenge. This format allows me to study, and attend lectures, when I am at my best, which is rare.

That flexibility makes online lectures better than live college lectures. Although, yes, you would also want access to your instructors.

The first course was Survey of Music Technology.

Dr. Jason A. Freeman taught the class. He is from the Georgia Institute of Technology. I completed it on June 1, 2016.

This was like a recording studio engineering course that I took at the Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam (back in 1990?). Back then we did the recording on tape, and when we needed to splice it? We used razor blades, and we walked uphill, both ways, and we liked it!

Here is a video that shows what we did in the Crane class. We also spent a lot of time doing wacky things with analog synthesizers. I was always able to figure out what the sound would be just by seeing how the modules were hooked up.

The course had one quiz each week, and two projects. The first project involved using the Reaper DAW as a virtual recording studio. For the second project we did something similar, but we used the EarSketch instead.

EarSketch allows us to write software in place of the DAW. It’s a Python API and runtime environment.

I earned 100% on all tests and assignments.

survey

The second course was The Blues: Understanding and Performing an American Art Form.

Dariusz Terefenko taught the class. He is from the Eastman School of Music, the University of Rochester. I completed it on June 8, 2016.

This was like a Jazz Improvisation course that I took at at SUNY Plattsburgh back in 1988. 

Dr. Terefenko’s version was much deeper with regards to composing and improvising on the piano. I suspect that he has covered everything. If you are a piano player, and you love the blues, then you need this course.

It’s pretty amazing how much information was in the lectures. This would have been difficult to do in a live classroom setting. The logistics of getting everyone into the class, out of the class, and on the same page, eats up way too much time in a traditional setting.

Blues

The third course was Programming for Everybody (Getting Started with Python)

This is a basic beginner’s programming course taught by Charles Severance from The University of Michigan. I would recommend it to any beginner. You really need to take all five courses in the Python for Everybody specialization, in order to get the full benefit though.

What’s “For Everybody” mean? For some reason, in academics, there’s a stigma attached to anyone using relational databases to create computer programs. Outside of academia? Everybody does this, but inside academia, there’s Computer Scientists, and then there’s “everybody” else.

I believe that this is a bad name for the course. It makes it look as though it’s not as serious, and the name itself undermines the accomplishment made.

I earned 100% on all tests and assignments.

python-for-everyone

Lastly there’s Python Data Structures.

This was about how to use the data structures built-in to Python’s standard API.

It was very different from my previous data structures courses which involved using pointers, and other techniques, to build our own data structures.

I earned 100% on all tests and assignments.

Python Data Structures

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The Kansas Speedway: Inadequate Parking for those with Disabilities

(Originally posted on 2015-11-22 as /archives/10609)

This image is from a 2014 Texas Speedway road race. © Paul Danger Kile, All Rights Reserved

I missed this year’s Hollywood Casino 400 NASCAR race at Kansas Speedway.

I do prefer road racing to NASCAR, but we didn’t have road racing this year. Heartland Park Topeka was on life support, and Kansas Speedway didn’t host the IMSA TUDOR roadracing series.

The thing about NASCAR is this: it is perfect for those who are at the track. TV shows the front runners most of the time, but spectators get to see cars battle for position everywhere: not just in the front. Most super speedways allow you to see all of track from any stadium seat. You can listen to team managers talk to their drivers via a scanner: that you rent or own. That rocks.

Here’s the thing: I bought the tickets, but I missed the race, because of my disability. Here is a quote from my email to Kansas Speedway. I haven’t heard back from them yet. Maybe the email went to the bitbucket?

  1. The Kansas Speedway parking lot is inadequate for those of us with disabilities.
  2. Disabled placards are unavailable to people that can walk this far:
  1. The walk from the end of Talledega Drive to Gate A is over 1.2 miles long (more than 6300 feet).
  2. Disabled parking at Kansas Speedway is only available to cars with disabled placards. (http://www.kansasspeedway.com/About-Us/FAQ.aspx)
  3. There is no tram service in the parking lots. (http://www.kansasspeedway.com/About-Us/FAQ.aspx)

I have documentation that proves that I have a disability, but most days I can walk 100 feet, so I don’t have a placard. I cannot walk more than half a mile 95% of the time. I suspect that many other people are in exactly the same situation.

A few days before the race I called Kansas Speedway, and I explained my situation. I was told, “You won’t have any problem, because we have a tram going to Gate A.”

I looked at your map on race day (10/18/2015) and I realized that the tram goes to Gate A, but doesn’t go to the parking lot, so it won’t help. I was unable to walk long distances on race day, so I had to miss the race.

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Hee Haw and Waterspouts

(Originally posted on 2016-01-27 as /archives/10705)

Punta Gorda waterspout

So here I am, this kid, in an IHOP, in the Keys, on a beach, (1980?), listening to some musicians that used to be on Hee Haw, (but were now busking for change at IHOP), and there are freaking tornadoes just out the window. “Shouldn’t we do something? What about those tornadoes out there?” “Oh. Those are just water spouts. They break up when they get to the beach, so they aren’t dangerous.” Sure enough, the moment that any of them got close to the building, they would stop spinning, and dump everything they picked up (mostly water) onto the beach, right next to the window.

Quadruple Waterspout Summerland Key June 5, 2009

Trombe

Three waterspouts Kijkduin

I asked my brother Michael about the musicians, and he had this to say: “I had silver dollar pancakes,” and “I remember it was a man and woman but no idea their names .”

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Wild Animals and Rough Living in the North Country

(Originally published on 2016-03-29 as /archives/7136)

1800s_House_2-512x364
The camera is level, but the house is falling into its cellar.

The Old Homestead

I used to live in the-middle-of-nowhere: no electricity, no running water, no phone, no mobile service, no sewer, etc. The house was built in the 1800s. We lived on the front porch, used unleaded-fuel in our Coleman lanterns, flushed the toilet by poring buckets-of-rainwater into the bowl, and showered on the back porch over a rattlesnake’s home. I showered fast.

I actually attempted to order phone service from the phone company. They told me that they would provide it, if I would pay them to install all of the telephone poles, from the closest street with phone service, to our house. Riiiight.

Some animals lived in the walls of the main house, we stayed on the porch, The critters in the walls of the main house were mostly mice, birds, and raccoons: although a black bear did hibernate in the basement the previous winter: Grizzly Trucking Adams.

Someone shot a raccoon near the house. It managed to climb into a second-story window, and drag its sorry-self all the way down to the first floor hallway with its intestines trailing behind. Where it died.

Our friends from college would spend the weekends out there at the house, and there was so-little light pollution, that we would lie on the cars and see man-made satellites with the naked eye.

What can I tell you about roughing it? Peanut butter does not need to be refrigerated.

Fun With Fuel

I would put our trash into a 55 gallon drum, and burn it to make it smaller (yeah, yeah, global warming). There was no trash collection service available. One time I was getting aggressive with the trash tamping, and there were some fuel-filled rags down low, and I was tamping some other trash on top and BOOOOOM! The damned-thing shot raining-fire all over the place! Like the Trash Cannon From Hell. Trash falling here: sidestep. Trash falling there: sidestep.

I had one coworker once, that misjudged the fuse-length on a home-made explosive that he and his buddy were shooting out of their cannon. They wanted it to explode in the sky. It blew a hole in the Post Office. The FBI came to visit, and it was a bad-scene all around.

…and the cow jumped over the fence

Heifer: a female bovine too-young to give birth.
Bullock: a male circumcised bovine, AKA, a steer.

We had heifers living on the land. Around half of the dairy farmers that visited said, “If one cow learns to jump the fence, then all the others will follow her,” and the others said, “Cows don’t jump fences.” I imagined the latter folks wasting a lot of time looking for holes in fences. The heifers at our house would jump, oh yes, and in the morning I would look out at the just-jumped bovines, and say, “Them’s some real heifers.” The heifer owning people? Their last name was – Remember the definitions up above? – Bullock.

Petting zoos

One night: SLAM!!! “WHEEEEEE! WHEEEE! WHEEEE!” SLAM!!! “WHEEEEEE! WHEEEE! WHEEEE!” I say to L.: “You open the door, and wait behind it. I’ll hit that thing over the head with this log splitter.” SLAM!!! “WHEEEEEE! WHEEEE! WHEEEE!” She opens the door, and there waits a pet racoon. It just kinda stands there for a minute, and then gets cosy in our bed. Great. OK. The racoon can stay for a little while: the alternative is door slamming, and racoon screaming. This did not last long. Raccoons like to rock-and-roll all night, and sleep every day, and you know what? I had a job to go-to.

There was only one solution; wrap “Rascal” in a blanket, and drive him far enough, that he can’t find his way back. I drove home imaging the little guy going to the very first door that he could find. SLAM!!! “WHEEEEEE! WHEEEE! WHEEEE!” BOOOM (shotgun blast)!: he then manages to climb into someone’s window, and drag his sorry-self all the way down to the first floor hallway with its intestines trailing behind him.

There goes the neighborhood

Let’s take a step back in this story. Our house had no neighbors since the beginning of time. What happens as soon as we move in? An 18-wheeler mother-trucking-flatbed pulls up with a huntin’ cabin on back, and drops said huntin’ cabin directly across the street, fucking-up my pristine view of our 100% Maple Syrup producing Maple trees. Why? Mr. Bullock got a two-for-one deal on used huntin’ cabins, and really only needed the one.

A few weeks later a family of three moves in. My new neighbor wants to provide for his family: in a place with zero jobs. So, he made a deal with Mr. Bullock: “I fix your fences. You let me live in your extra huntin’ cabin.”

Our neighbors also lacked the comforts-of-home. They did however have a Honda generator hooked-up to a TV.

So, the new neighbor tells me how racoon mommas yell bloody murder, but they won’t actually attack. He tells me how this momma racoon chose the huntin’ cabin for birthing her babies. So he removed each of the baby racoons one at a time, and then he removed the momma racoon, but he kept one baby there. This baby grew up to be Rascal. I believe that Rascal had a doggy-door that he, and the dog, could use to go in-and-out. He also had a buddy to play with: the dog.

We went camping for our summer vacation. The woman from across the street came to visit:
“Where did you go last week?”
“Camping.”
“Us too.”
“Our cabin had running water and electricity!”
“Us too.”

Momma neighbor gets sick of pretending that “our life is fun just like camping”, and says, “I am going to move in with my parents. You can stay, or you can come”, and that’s how Rascal ended up with no home.

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Total FAWDOT

(Originally written on 2015-05-08 as /archives/7136)

Here is an image of Eno L. Camino getting FAWDOT. I am in “good company”, apparently.

IMG_20150419_223856-Edit-512x384
Kay took a photo of me playing an exciting game of Destiny (online multiplayer). I fell asleep, and woke up, six times. I have no idea what the other players thought I was doing.

Last week I was totally FAWDOT (falling asleep while doing other things). I cannot drive when I get this way:

  • I fell asleep while sitting: repeatedly.
  • I fell asleep while standing.
  • I fell asleep while playing video games.

Gary gets totally FAWDOT here. Yes, I actually fell asleep there. (And yes, I realize that the comic is actually a restroom pun, but I find my humor where I find it.)

I have systemic exertion intolerance disorder/ myalgic encephalomyelitis / chronic fatigue syndrome (pick a name, pick an abbreviation: SEID/ME/CFS).

Kay again: what a joker.
Kay again: what a joker.

This is a rebuttal to some myths:

  • Please don’t say, “At least you get to sleep.” I am just as tired when I wake up. Do you want to know what I really want to do? I want to be a computer programmer. I did that for 20 years, but I can no longer do that.
  • Some people don’t believe that it exists, because they can’t see it. People can’t see headaches either, but they believe in them, because headaches are so common that most of us have had one. “I can’t see it, so it doesn’t exist” is a misuse of Occam’s Razor.
  • It is not only fatigue. Imagine having the flu, while being drunk, and staying awake for two days, and you will have an idea of what this is like. Yes, there are good days, and there are bad days, but my good days still require 16 hours of sleep. The bad days require twenty hours.
  • It is serious: “CDC studies show that CFS can be as disabling as multiple sclerosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, end-stage renal disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and similar chronic conditions.”
  • It is not, or not only, caused by mononucleosis. A person with ME/CFS can usually tell you exactly what viral infection preceded their condition. The answer is different for different people.
  • It is not depression. A person with ME will tell you what they would be doing (kayaking, photography, riding motorcycles) if they could. People that are depressed don’t have that “positive” (for lack of a better word) outlook. That said: a person can have both.
  • It is not only seen in women. 20% of people with ME/CFS are men.
  • There is no known cure.
  • It is not the “yuppie disease”. “This term was popularized in a November 1990 Newsweek cover story… It reflects a stereotype that CFS mainly affects yuppies, and implies that it is a form of burnout. The phrase is considered offensive by patients and clinicians.
  • It is not a new, made-up, diagnosis. It has also been known as (from here, here, and here.):
    • Neurasthenia (as early as 1829)
    • Chronic Epstein-Barr virus syndrome
    • Chronic mononucleosis
    • Low natural killer syndrome
    • Atypical poliomyelitis
    • Tapanui flu
    • Royal Free disease
    • Epidemic neuromyasthenia
    • Post-viral illness
    • Florence Nightingale disease
    • Chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction syndrome (CFIDS)
    • Neuroendocrineimmune disorder
    • Myalgic encephalopathy.

10384217_931931046853020_6188572755614860824_n

My spouse bought me a t-shirt that says, “Regrettably, all the good paying jobs start before I wake up.”

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Train Snow Bomb

(Originally posted on Jan 28, 2016 as /archives/10709)

I lived immediately next to the tracks in Potsdam NY (30 Larnard St. Potsdam NY). The driveway was next to the tracks. The end of the driveway was where the road and the tracks intersected. When the train came through the newly plowed street’s snow would explode. I made sure I was there when it did. It looked like this.

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I adopted Gershwin!

(Originally posted for date 2007-11-30 as /archives/124)
img_3057
I adopted my wonderful daughter Gershwin Rose Santo Kile (f/k/a Malahat Huseynova) on 2007-11-30.  Kay had adopted her from an Azerbaijani (Azeri) orphanage five years ago.  I would have legally remained Gershwin’s stepfather without this adoption. Our judge was Judge Frank J. Yeoman Junior.

I couldn’t adopt Gershwin when Kay and I married.  I had to wait a year (that’s Kansas Law), even though:

  1. There is no “real” father (Gershwin was abandoned).
  2. Kay was single when she adopted Gershwin, so there wasn’t even a “real” stepfather.

Ironically, the Azerbaijani bureaucracy demanded that a father’s name be put on the birth certificate, even though their government provided the proof that there was no father.  In the eyes of these post-Soviet bureaucrats — this isn’t lying — it’s filling out the form correctly.  Kay put “Santo Kile” in the blank.  I would have been tempted to write “Not Applicable”, because the clerks didn’t read English anyway.

In any case, Gershwin’s middle names became “Rose Santo”, and her last name became “Kile”, when Kay’s adoption was complete.

Thank you, attorney Kevin Cook!

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Too Much Stuff In A Car Story

(Originally posted on 2007-07-04  as /archives/38)

During my freshman year (1986) I lived in Hood Hall (under my old name: W. Paul Caligiuri). Some other guys that lived there would circle the place for hours in an old white convertible. I think it was a 1959 Cadillac deVille.  When it was time for a dorm picture, the driver drove the car over, and offered for us all to get in it, and on it, in the tradition of how-many-people-can-you-fit-in-a-phone-booth? Folks opened the doors afterwards, but they wouldn’t close.  For a few seconds people were trying to figure out what was wrong when I loudly said, “That thing is shaped like a ‘U’!”  Needless to say we never saw that car again.

Why this image? I like it. It’s a wrecked car. No, it’s not the one in the story. John Allan [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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