Monday, December 31, 2007

End of year Nightmare

I always lament that New Year of latter years seems to have become an extended holiday in itself like Christmas, that comes so soon after that one runs into the other making an effective period of stalemate for everything involving public offices being open, and public transport being reliably normal.

Once again it has frustrated me in that I entered the Christmas Holiday with matters unresolved that will await at least till Wednesday and probably sometime after that before they begin to get sorted.

First and foremost is the progress of my research. I have been awaiting ethical approval before I am allowed to recruit "vulnerable" volunteers, but if I don't get that soon, it means I miss various publication deadlines I was relying on to get the information out, which if missed could hold me up for months rather than weeks.

Not only that I have got to find some means to fund my next years research anyway, if I leave it much longer I will not have time to get decisions back in time to continue next year.

And then there is my Landie to sort out, It may have got me to Wales and back but seems to have blown a head gasket in the process, earliest I can even get it looked at is Wednesday, and I need that transport for getting to Birmingham and back at times when public transport cannot be relied upon.

Above all there is a huge uncertain in my life, and that is the possibility of building work, which several months ago was promised to start in January, but of which I have heard nothing since. This means like everything else with the housing association including my eventual demolition and move, it is behind schedule, or it could be imminent.

When it arrives it will be mightily inconvenient to everything else, and more so if it happens without sufficient notice to make some room in the rooms destined for work to be done.

In between that I have other things to fit in.

Autreach, Autscape, the NAS, and other autistic related stuff.

The worst of all is that since Christmas I have become indolent, overcome with general post Christmas malaise as my usual structure has disintegrated. Life is unpleasant for me at the moment and I don't feel at all well.

Prioritising the long list of things I now need to attend to is going to take some adjustment and there is so much that has got behind, that I have not been able to do simply because everyone else has been taking time off to be concerned with Christmas and New Year

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

I'm getting too old for this.

I'm getting too old for this.

Me and the landie both.

I got back from Wales (just) as it seems at the moment as if the landie has blown the head gasket. I came spluttering to a halt about ten miles from Coventry with serious misfiring problems. Well I did get back under my own power, but looking at things, it has all the symptoms of a blown gasket.

I am stiff all over too, perhaps it is time to call a halt to my Christmas jaunts this year and do something more normal in future. Never mind anything else my bank balance won't stand it.

So how did it go?

Well the weather up till Christmas Eve was freezing fog, which did not look very promising, but on Christmas Eve it changed to rain. Well at least it was raining in Wales a constant downpour which made my stay in the back of the landie somewhat damp. I was not able to enjoy the stars (it was a full moon anyway) on the lake shore as the lake was full to capacity and where I had sat out before was under water. I went for a walk though.

The following morning after a night which felt colder than the year before. All that rain falling on the landie effectively turns it into a refrigerator, I got up before dawn, and drove out in what was a rather unpromising morning of fog, however as the sun got up the mist was only in the high places and the combination of morning sun and mist made for some spectacular pictures.

So that's it really, my journeys are never without incident as the near breakdown on the way back proved once again.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Yes Virginia it does snow in Coventry

This photo was taken only about one quarter of an hour from where I live for despite the desolation of living on an ex Council Estate there is beauty to be found, and living on the edge of the City it is not far away.

To be fair this is not a recent photo but we did have brief snows only a fortnight ago.

So will I carry on my ritual visit to Lake Vyrnwy this year? Only God knows, but I am back on track.

Of course if the weather is particularly foul (we have been having freezing fog today) there is always the matter of common sense, and whether my Landie will start when I turn the key, is always, like a child unwrapping a Christmas present, all in the expectation but apt for disappointment.

I actually figure now I don't go to Wales for myself any longer, and last year I was not feeling well at all, but because it has to be done and it is all for you :)

To see the pictures when they are uploaded. Here you go.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Life's ups and downs.

Today has been a day of both disappointments and satisfaction.

To get the bad out of the way first. The door on my Landie has been damaged by a thief trying to get in.

It shows the thief's ignorance of the vehicle because there is no latch on the inside which will release the door, once locked from outside, and once in the thief would have had to remove the clutch claw and given the problems I have had starting would not be that amenable to hot wiring.

Everything inside is also locked down still, it was a major inconvenience and cost which has meant my landie being stored somewhere safe until I can get a replacement for the damaged door, not the best time of year for this to happen and I hope I can get it sorted in time for my annual excursion over Christmas, which has to be a little in doubt now.

The good news is that I have had my paper accepted for the NAS International Conference in September though I am only a sideshow and will have to compete for attention with keynote speakers like Stephen Shore and our very own Rita Jordan from the Uni of Brum.

Still it will be a change from the obligatory Self Narrating Zoo spot as I shall be presenting as a bona fide researcher, my autisticity (now there's a new word for you) being effectively irrelevant and my elasticity paramount.

Well that's not bad considering my research is only one term in and there is nothing to report yet.

But there will be as this is part of my mission to put us at the centre of it all.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Something to blog about

At last there is something worthy for me to blog about.

I read this on a BBC site about the new educational diploma, something I am set against because of the way it will further disadvantage autistic people.

It is not hard to see why when you read statements like this.

"The head of the Enterprise Business Unit at Vodafone, Kyle Whitehill, probably spoke for many employers when he told a conference that "the two most important skills in the workplace are interpersonal skills and presentational skills".
He did not, please note, prioritise acquisition of academic knowledge or evidence of the ability to memorise large slabs of information. "

Now what I find particularly ironic, is the fact that Vodafone was until recently a major funding partner with the National Autistic Society. And that funding was essential in developing the campaigning services and preserving the prospects service.

In the light of the statement I have just repeated it almost seems like "blood money" or a salving of conscience.

Well to be fair I have to be critical of the NAS too in so far as a service like Prospects goes. Prospects has like Autism West Midlands Aspire and many other local job preparation services, suffered from a major flaw.

That is that these services (and I think it goes for other disabilities than autism too so I am not being picky) attempt to adapt the square peg to the round hole. They are not predicated on the social model of disability in which it is the attitudes of companies like Vodafone, that create the disabilities.

Returning to Mr Whitehill's statement. I do not disagree that there are some areas of employment where presentation and social skills are important, but not in all of them. Vodafone may be a company who promote an image that they are about communication, but behind that communication is a lot of technology. Where would the company be without surly engineers? Indeed where would the 21st century be if clean teeth and a broad smile were more important than technical competence. Golgafrincham perhaps?

I have witnessed over the years the way the society I live in is exacerbating the disability of Autism and all the other neuro diversities such as Tourettes and Dyslexia.

We are in for hard times, because whatever you do, you cannot expect a race horse to pull a brewers dray, you have to lighten the load, to adapt.

In a time when there will be a skills shortage Vodafone, by adopting attitudes like that are shooting themselves in the foot.

Peter Hain an erstwhile champion of seemingly impossible causes in my youth has now become an ossified mainstream politician complaining about workshy disabled people who have the capacity to work, but don't.

Well we autistics are well down in the league table of employment, and isn't it obvious why? It is not us but industry that needs to adapt, or return to good old fashioned common sense.

So as my contribution to most recent NAS campaign "Think differently about Autism" I am offering a challenge to Mr Whitehill if he is reading this. Are you prepared to meet with me and discuss this further? It is a challenge I mean to keep. And the word of this "Aspie" is his bond because I will be following this up.

Ps. for the record I am with Orange these days (not that I expect they are much different when it comes to their human relations department)

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Christmas is a coming and the Landies getting phat.

I have not blogged in an inordinately long time so it seems and a lot has changed since I last appeared here.

Whatever I am on course academically, and for the moment financially stable, so my gamble paid off in the short term.

Not everything is going smoothly though, for although I am probably well ahead of the game in terms of the majority of my post grad peers, what I lack is their gullibility, in that I have not been enamoured by a series of courses in research I was supposed to take. I have inevitably fallen foul of NT professors who do not expect the aspie inquisition.

I have had to withdraw from these taught courses for this year, perhaps permanently who knows.

I have realised that I am not best situated in the School of Education, and that my research is to a large degree a lot more psychologically oriented, and a hell of a lot more rigorous in my intentions than what passes for research amongst the jaded cognoscenti resting on their peer published laurels.

(but I would say that)

I intend to go about this in a somewhat new and innovative way in that I shall shortly be creating a new blog somewhere and a new list to allow the participants in my research some say in it.

But for now, Christmas is coming up, and I am hoping that two things will happen, that the weather will be good on Christmas day and my ever perilous landie won't let me down, because inevitably one of these years I will return with no pictures worth posting.

But for now, (no-one ever said we were not repetitive) I shall leave you with a link to my latest exploits on youtube incase you have not seen this so far.

Raising stimming to an art form. NAS the musical (well not quite)