Category Archives: Opinion

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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You Too Can Train Your Cat

(Originally posted on Feb 12, 2016 as /archives/10756)

Kay trained our cat. The trick is simple; only pack animals respond to punishment. So? Don’t use punishment to train your cat. Use positive reinforcement instead.

When I describe how to do this, people get upset as if it’s manipulation, especially with regards to teaching children. The thing is: we are always using operant conditioning. You can’t not. The difference is: are you going to do it well, or haphazardly?

With regards to humans: over-permissiveness is wrong, but you can maintain control without hitting.

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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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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.

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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.

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

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I adopted Gershwin!

(Originally posted for date 2007-11-30 as /archives/124)
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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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Okie Noodling

(This was originally posted on 2008-01-07 as /archives/143)

Noodling is a traditional form of fishing where the fisher uses his own arm as bait, and risks being wounded, or risks being sucked down by the massive fish.  The movie (Okie Noodling) is fun.  I have a copy. I bought it on a hunch, because I dig The Flaming Lips (soundtrack), and I dig fish.

The practice is controversial, because the fish are pregnant females, so overfishing is risky to catfish populations.  Proud noodlers believe that their techniques are fair, and safe, and say “that’s not noodling” about other folks’ techniques.  The movie doesn’t really explain this, which is unfortunate.

Jeremy Bennett and his friends actually were noodling during the movie’s tournament, and that they actually caught the largest cat, but instead of entering their fish they had more beer, or something.  Yes, that tournament win would have gotten them into the movie, and like everyone in that movie, Jeremy would have said, “that’s not noodling”, but these guys don’t brag about getting the largest catfish, they just eat it.

I can’t make this stuff up.

Talking about Noodling forced me to find an old picture from the very first noodling contest held at Pauls Valley. The pic is in terrible shape; i had to scan it in and then play with colors just so you can view it. These guys were your real winners. Erick Strickland on the left (RIP friend) was the best noodler to ever walk the banks of the soggy Oklahoma rivers. Micheal Martin in the Middle is a [deleted] and a good noodler when he’s not scared. I don’t know the other guy in the picture. The one man missing from this picture is Kieth Lamb, and he is the only person that could ever go 1-on-1 with Erick in technique, finding fish….doing it all. These 2 individuals were the best……….They were your true but not technical winners that day from the okie noodlin video. The fish on the right bumps the scales at about 68 pounds, with the other 2 in the lower 60s. that’s 180 pounds of fish that would have smashed both the biggest stringer and largest single fish weighed in that day, into oblivion ——- Long story short —–these guys were about an hour late to the weigh in. (not to bad considering that the contest lasts for 24 straight hours)

And one more thing, Erick and Keith Noodled the correct way. (There is a correct way to do it). They taught me the correct way. No gloves, sleeves, shirts, hooks, stringers, shoes. Just you, the fish, and the fish’s hole or crevice that it decided to be in that day. You take your blood, cuts, breaks, and scars with the sport. No complainers.

One thing I learned is that beer helped me become a better noodler. It seemed to provide a bit of lubrication between the utter fear of inserting my arm under a rock and waiting for it to get bit – akin to the feeling you get by slamming your hand or forearm in a car door (repeatedly).

Above all……the caught fish get cleaned, and then eventually eaten. very, very little waste. – Jeremy Bennett

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Campy-est Credit Card Ever!

(Originally posted on 2008-11-19 as /archives/1513)

xprize

Yes, this was my credit card. Most of the available designs were very conservative, but then there was this one. I chose this design because I wanted to see the look on cashiers’ faces when I produced it. It mostly elicited no response at all. I mean LOOK AT THAT THING! The designer’s Mom, and myself, had to be the only two people that chose it. Using that card is like legally changing your middle name to “Danger”. Nobody would do it. Oh. Yeah. Right.

The credit card was meant to help fund the first X Prize project (Ansari).

The card came with a super-low interest rate, a free coffee table pictures-from-space book, and an entry into a sweepstakes every time that you used it.

I won lesser prizes in the sweepstakes many times; you would think that I had that thing rigged. I won a Seiko chronograph watch (3rd prize). I also won multiple ball caps (5th prize), multiple desk sets (5th prize), these Swiss-army-like credit card things that had knives and such in them (ironic, being that it was a credit card sweepstakes)(5th prize): weird stuff. Unfortunately I didn’t win the Big Kahuna Burger prize of $100,000.

The X Prize (I am no longer talking about the sweepstakes prizes here) was eventually won by the SpaceShipOne team. The spacecraft was designed by the famous aircraft engineer Burt Rutan’s Scaled Composites company, and funded by Paul Allen (the quieter Microsoft founder).

Here is the sweepstakes information for those that wanted to enter via the send-in-a-postcard route. I found this information here:

First USA X Prize Sweepstakes
prizes: Grand (1): A flight for one person to sub-orbital space, includes air for 2, lodging, meal allowance, ARV $100,000, if available at time of winner selection,or $100,000 cash alternative. Quarterly (1): A MIG 25 flight for one person, or a Zero G experience, or a trip for 2 to the Kennedy Space Center, or a Space Camp Adventure. 2nd (2): A 286X astronomical telescope, a “Starship Earth” 3D star atlas globe, a Konica digital still camera or a Casio hand-held personal computer, ARV $599. 3rd (5): Seiko chronograph watch, night scope binoculars, a Franklin Mint Columbia Shuttle replica in porcelain or a Grundig aluminum finish short wave radio, ARV $223. 4th (25): Apollo official patches, Nikon aviator frame sunglasses, a 200 x 50mm refractor telescope or an international Star Registry, ARV $70. 5th (200): Merchandise or a mug, ARV $19.
TO ENTER: On plain 3×5 paper, hand print NAZ, Phone, and the words: X PRIZE.
* Mail in envelope to:
      X PRIZE
P.O. Box 7290
Melville, NY 11775-7290
NOTE: Must be at least 18. Unlimited entries. Open in US. Entry also online at www.firstusa.com/xprize. F/E ineligible: Visa, First USA, Don Jagoda. J/A: National Judging Institute. W/L: Send SASE beginning after 9/30/98 to X PRIZE SWEEPSTAKES WINNERS, P.O. Box 7999, Melville, NY 11775-7999. The name of the Grand Prize winner will be made available as soon as possible after the drawing but in no event later than 8/30/07.

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