Link Time

Yeah! Link time!

You know that’s not what I mean.


Cheer up, emo elf. I’ve got links to stuff! Good stuff!


Aspies Online, which I feel I ought to have plugged afore now. Anyway, it’s currently a very local thing and all, but yeah. That would be where I’m primarily involved, I guess.

This is one blog/article on Holmes and Asperger’s. It is not the first one I found, which I seem to have lost the link to, but in looking for it, I found that there are many. Which saves me the trouble of writing one, I suppose, though I have given it a lot of thought. If I find the first article, I’ll link to it in future, because it was really quite good.

Related to the above, TVTropes’ page on Ambiguously Autistic. The Internet comes together to index a bunch of fictional characters who may or may not have a place on the Autism spectrum. Under ‘Film’, mentions the restaurant scene from the recent Sherlock Holmes film, which I’ve told people is the closest any film could come to accurately portraying What I Experience In Restaurants. It could really only come closer if it piped into filmgoers’ nostrils the aroma of every dish and wine in the surrounding area. A word of warning, though– TV Tropes might ruin your life…


Echo Bazaar is a browser-based game I’ve recently become quite taken with (as anyone who knows me on Facebook or Twitter shall have to come to grips with). One signs on via either a Facebook or a Twitter account, though the game is otherwise unrelated to the two, aside from the ability to echo things on either. Anyway, it’s very Steampunk, rather clever, and just a bit Lovecraftian. I’m quite taken. I have two characters. In the game, you can catch cats and they whisper secrets to you! That’s what I do with my real cats!

Epbot is a blog (for which I have no cute image, my apologies!) by the same blogger who does Cake Wrecks (which I also recommend, though it occasionally causes me to laugh ’til I choke), about various things. Geeky things, Disney things, crafty things, Steampunk things… It’s been known to hit many of my interests, and it’s a fun read. And, it tipped me off to…


No, not kitty, Graphics Fairy, a wonderful land of Victorian clip art and such.


Hey, All!

Well, I’ve not blogged recently– I was under the weather for a while, and then once I was better, I spent more of my time doing housework and exercising instead of blogging.

I’m working on writing up a thing about managing depression, but that one’s going to take some work, so until I get that looking how I like, I will talk a bit about our recent trip to San Francisco.

On my mom’s birthday, we drove up to San Francisco and spent the day in the Japantown there– much quieter and less crowded then the tourist-attracting Chinatown!– to shop, eat some deliciousness, and of course, to see some cherry blossoms. (We missed the Sakurahanami festivities by, like, one day! Still, there were plenty of flowers left to see.)

So many blossoms!

I took a lot of pictures of the trees lining the Peace Plaza, as well as some other features.

This pigeon was also there to check out all the cherry blossoms.

Cherry trees around the tower

A slightly crooked view of the wall along the plaza, and the street beyond.

Peace Plaza

The tower in the Peace Plaza from below, as seen through a few stray boughs

One thing that was different in the Peace Plaza this time was this really nice tribute– a big clothesline with origami cranes and prayers for Japan hanging from it.

Cranes and prayers

I thought it was very nice. A lot of the slips hanging from it (and presumably a lot of the cranes as well) are from local youth groups, girl/boy scouts, Boys and Girls’ Club, etc. And it’s a little area where there are quite a few people who are second or even first generation Americans. Anyway, Dave had read that at least as much as donating to relief efforts, buying imports would help rebuild Japan’s economy in the long-term.

Inside the malls, I took some other photos, because there are a couple very cute areas indoors.

Cute sushiya, or cutest sushiya?

I really love that several of the restaurants in the mall had facades made up to look like they were on a street outside. This one here, and also row of little places across the plaza (which I did not get a picture of, because the conditions weren’t half so ideal). This one we didn’t eat at (I didn’t eat at any of the places in this particular mall myself, but I ate at a place in the other mall that happens to make the best croquettes!)

The Osaka Castle model

This is in the other mall, not far from a cute little food stall with dango that some of us enjoy. No idea what scale it’s in– can it possibly just be H80? That would be pretty standard, I guess. Anyway, the details were gorgeous.


New since we were last in Japantown, one of the malls now has a little gourmet cupcake place, and it being a Special Occasion and all, we got a couple cupcakes. The s’more cupcake at this place? It was the best cupcake I have ever had! And I like to think I make some pretty good cupcakes now and again, but these were just tres special. I should have taken a picture of the cupcakes, they were pretty attractive as well as being delicious. And there were some really interesting ones– like a matcha green tea one!

Mini zen garden

This is just under the stairs in the mall by the parking garage, can you believe that? The lantern lights up and everything, and it’s tucked under the stairs as you come in from the parking garage. That is a nice touch. The stairs themselves are half a moon bridge, too, so it’s a really nice area. At the top of the stairs, one can go to Ichiban Kan, which is an excellent little grocery and household goods shop, where things are inexpensive and adorable, but then at the bottom of the stairs, there was Daiso, a hundred-yen store! Technically, there was a hundred-yen store the last time we were in San Francisco, and maybe it was even the same one, but this time they had a much bigger space. Almost everything there was a buck fifty. I got pucca snacks for a dollar, which is close to a third of what I can expect to pay for that kind of thing most places, if I can find it.

We did some shopping, birthday and otherwise, had various foods we don’t always get to find, and enjoyed each others’ company.

And oh, yeah…

Seriously, I have five more pictures like this.

We saw some cherry blossoms.

Weekend Trip, Chapter Two

This is later than it ought to have been, as my computer was in the shop. Also, Chapter Two is a lot more about what kind of stuff I did and a lot less about the autism side, since I’m no longer on the road at this point.


We visited my grandmother (my dad’s mom) for a couple days and had a lovely time. Camera in hand, I got some pictures of her cats:




Max, a massive cat with big whorls of dark orange running down his sides. He’s a gorgeous boy, and despite being told he ‘doesn’t give kisses’, I got a couple. (I suspect one or two were more for the chicken I was eating than for me…)

The camera got a kiss, too...


… And Squeak.


Hello Thar!

Squeak is more beige than orange, but while his stripes are more normal and less swirly, he might win the prize for spottiest belly, which sadly I have no picture of.


Both cats got up to some mischief in the night, and since I was sleeping in ‘their room’ (read: on the couch), that sometimes meant keeping me up…


Nothing to see here, move along.


(I couldn’t resist darkening and tinting that one green on the computer afterward. I took it at one in the morning, and it felt like such a night vision safari shot, but when I uploaded my pictures, the flash made it look like it had been taken in broad daylight.)


Of course, Max found trouble to get into during the day, too…


It's the quenchiest!


We said it was ‘evidence gathering’ and not ‘praising his jumping up in the sink all the time’. Every load of dishes comes with the need to wipe pawprints off the enamel… But I can’t argue with cute– and I caught him mid-lick!


Okay, on the autism de-stressing side, I will say, for me, staying in a house with cats is way easier than staying in a house with no cats, but that’s because I love cats and having one or two on hand calms me down.


And on the ‘Interests=De-stressing’ note, the other thing we did while we were in the area was a trip to the Bowers Museum! There was a free Egyptology lecture, and since it’s a subject that the whole family is fair-to-middlin’ keen on, we were thrilled to go. Obviously I have no pictures of the lecture, or the indoors exhibits, but I got some lovely ones of the sculptures and fountain out front.


The front gate...

And the row of fountains once you enter!

Here's a fountain bowl head-on.


I really loved the fountains– they spread out to either side of the front gate, six to the left and six to the right. And the sound of the water was really soothing.

'Pass Through'

More statue-garden


The Buddha head stood alone (well, sat on a bench alone, at any rate), and I was able to get a shot of ‘Pass Through’ with the plaque readable, but the big stone chain sculpture I didn’t get a good view of the provenance for, nor can I remember what it was called. It was all lovely, though.


Between the Egyptology lecture, visiting some family, playing with some cats, and a little odd shopping on the trip, I’d rate the trip a success. Nobody had a full-out meltdown at any point, which is always a point in the favour of any excursion, and I really enjoyed seeing what I got to see of the Bowers museum.




Weekend Trip, Chapter One

Okay, so, for anyone following this blog because you know/love me and want to hear about what I’m up to, here ’tis. And for anyone following this blog in the increasingly remote-seeming hope that I might actually stick to my mission statement and blog more about autism spectrum issues, here ’tis as well.


Welcome to my road trip with autism.


… Okay, that sounds more dire/exciting than it actually was. Of course, we’ve had more experience than we knew doing the road-trip-with-autism shuffle, so we have some coping mechanisms long in place. On the drive between Merced and Buena Park, we stop a couple-few times at familiar places- stopping gives people the chance to stretch their legs and avoid major car cramping, and choosing familiar places minimizes stress. Plus, it gives us the chance to use bathrooms/buy coffee, always important.


For us, and on this particular route, it’s usually one stop at Swan Court/Spike N Rail in Selma. We usually don’t eat there, though there have been a couple times where we hit Selma at a meal time. But they have pleasant restrooms, a little gift shop, a koi-and-swan pond, and their own Starbucks. Upsetting sensory issues are at a minimum, and are offset by the interesting/comforting aspects.


Coffee is often a drive-through Starbucks, but to get out and walk around, we usually hit a Target– there may be slight differences in layout, but Targets are largely consistent. They have similar tiles, similar aisles, similar other-things-that-rhyme-not. One can pick up food or bottled water or a large Pepsi, and Targets tend to try to keep their bathrooms nice.


Denny’s is another place we tend to stop if we need to eat, because again, consistency. Most have the same menu, the same decor, they’re clean and often not too loud or crowded.


There are other places, and of course the same exact things wouldn’t work for every family– for one thing, unless you’re traveling past Selma, the Spike n Rail is a bit out of your way, but really, the important thing is that there’s some consistency, and because we plan our stops hoping for the minimum of sensory disturbances and potential upset.


Now for the less-autism-info, more-me-info take:


We started the drive down to Buena Park in the early afternoon so we could get over the Grapevine before it got dark (we did!) (bonus AS tip: if you have to drive over the Grapevine, take gum! I forgot this time, and my ears tend to pop with slight changes in altitude, so that wasn’t the best leg of the journey. When we make the drive again in the summer, I’ll also want to remember a small personal fan, since we turn the AC off for a bit going over the Grapevine… so personal fans and gum, good idea for mountain passes in general.)


I took a bunch of pictures in Selma, at the Swan Court/Spike n Rail. It was cold, and they had a fire pit out by the outdoor seating. No one was using said outdoor seating because of the chill, but it made for a nice picture.


Fire and Water

I really loved how the fountain looked past the flames. I took a bunch of shots of the whole little area, and it was a lot of fun out there despite the cold air and the smoke (not just from this little fire pit– there was also a big barbecue smoker not far from where I was standing to get this shot!).


The courtyard

Here’s a shot of the windmill on the restaurant, as well as the big clock that faces the pond. And as for the pond itself…


Waterfalls at the Swan Court

Waterfalls at the Swan Court

The pond is always really lovely to look at. Personally, I love water, so I find the sound from the waterfalls and fountain calming, and I always love watching the koi (you can make a couple out down by that waterfall!). They’ve also got a couple swans.


Look, there's one!


They weren’t doing their usual, well, swanning about while I was out with the camera. One was off at the far end where I couldn’t get a good shot, but this one was right up where I could photograph him (her?) taking a little bath at the pond’s edge.


When we hit Burbank, we stopped at Ikea. It had been years since we’d last been. Those of us not vegetarian had Swedish meatballs, and we bought some very inexpensive towels and had fun walking around. We also planned to stop on the drive back (which we did, but more on that later). A good time was had by all, and from there it wasn’t too long a drive to get to our actual destination.


I’ll try and blog soon about the actual visit and our trip to the Bowers Museum, as well as any aspie/Autism spectrum travel tips that my recollections of the return trip spur!

All Right!

Bought a new camera– actually, a used and refurbished camera– and it arrived today!


So of course, after hitting Target and getting a case for it (purple!) and an SD card (on sale!) (and groceries, but those have nothing to do with the camera…), I had to take pictures of my cat:



Yes Sir, that's my baby!

He was being very good– sometimes he really hams it up whenever a camera comes out and I can’t get a good natural shot of him (though I can often get a great shot of up-his-nose-as-he-attacks-the-lens-with-lovins). Stayed nice and mellow and sleepy-faced despite the flash as he lounged on the back of the chair next to me.


Mohinder close up

That face!

So yeah, he was very good about helping me try out the new camera. He purred quite a bit through the whole process, and I scratched behind his ears after to thank him.


Mohinder naps

You didn't think I just had two of these, did you?

I guess you can expect more illustrative photos from me in future posts (although I’m  not sure how to photo-illustrate the more serious autism issues essays I’m working on… but the ‘fun’-type posts will have more pictures)


This weekend for sure I’ll be doing some heavy-duty photographing. Cat pictures, toy pictures, abstract shots, art photos…


OH! And while I’m here (here? On the couch? On the Internet? But you know what I mean…), thanks for everyone who’s read my ramblings/left nice li’l comments for me. I appreciate it every time, and if I was at all organized/more used to this whole blag thing, I’d actually reply to all of them… instead, for now, you get a blanket thank you.


Home From the Holidays…

Well, well, well and me-oh my-oh. I have not blogged at all whilst on Christmas holiday!


It was lovely. We took the train up to Hogwarts Oregon, and had Christmas with a couple of aunts and cousins.

Among the Wee Folk...

There are, in fact, fairies at the bottom of the garden.

Okay, so I took this picture back when it was warm and slightly sunny– Christmas in Oregon was quite wet and chilly. But it’s my youngest cousin, Robinson, posing with some faerie-esque dolls. It had come out poorly, so I did some cropping and editing, and I made the palette slightly more sepia and the lines slightly softer for faux old-timeyness.


Anyway, Der Binster is much bigger now, impressing us over Christmas with his having teeth, being mobile, and expanding his limited vocabulary.


Here is where I shall come clean about my being not a fan of children, in general. I never have been, and for the most part I never shall be. It just happens that the little tiny people in my family– and not just blood relations– are all more than tolerable. Infants and children who are clever, quiet, more-than-usually un-sticky, and, dare I say it… well, adorable.


So there you have it. As much as other people’s children usually terrify me, I do find myself bursting with love for the infants and children of my relatives and exceptionally close friends. No, I don’t know what to think, either. Christmas miracle?


Anyway, had an all-around wonderful Christmastime. Saw Inception (twice! And am planning on buying the Blu Ray for further repeat viewings, and for special features), ate copious amounts of delicious food, went to a bookstore and some Goodwills, had a tea party… and then the giving and receiving of gifts, the watching of ‘White Christmas’, New Years’ Eve (more delicious food! Watching Muppet Show and Smothers Brothers and fun things like that!)…


On the Goodwill trips: The Goodwill in Merced? No great shakes. The best stuff there is the stuff we donated. The Goodwills in Oregon? Magical. We had exceptional good luck. Found a miniature old-fashioned telephone (actually an ornament) for my sister, my brother found a gorgeous old-fashioned globe-with-stand, and some truly sweet records at ridiculously low prices.


We also went to the Uwajimaya grocery (with built in Kinokuniya Bookstore!)– fun stuff to look at, great place for last-minute stocking stuffers. Of course it made me wish I had money, but there’s always next time. They had giant bottles of Calpico as well.


On the tea party:


Cup of tea?

When I say 'Earl Grey', you say 'Yes Please!'

I can’t drink tea (mild allergy), but I love tea parties! Sadly, I left my new Tea Party Hat at home– vintage, dark blue velvet baskety thing with a net demi-veil. Le sigh! Got it for a song at the wrap-up of a lovely Methodist Ladies’ Bazaar. Happily, I received a doll-sized tea set for Christmas– white with blue roses, one of the cups features prominently in the above photo, taken by my sister, and featuring prominently also the hand of her ABJD Tatiana. Vince’s elbow is in the background there…


(Oh, right! So I haven’t blogged about Asian Ball-Jointed Dolls before! Anyway, my sister and I have gotten into this hobby together, it’s the last thing I would have expected from me because I was never much into dolls, but they’re very pretty, and completely customizable. Nice for creative types, you can paint their faces yourself, practice drapery and costume-making, change out eyes and wigs to represent any character… and they make excellent photography models.

Vince and Roy Batty


I got a boy, his name’s Vince. This pic’s a little blurry, and he doesn’t normally have blue hair, but it looked kind of cute and elfin with the Santa hat. His pyjama pants I made myself. I plan on working on making more costumes for him, it’s good sewing practice.)


Anyway, back to the tea party- there were scones, many different jams, clotted cream, itty bitty sandwiches… Beautiful spread. I just had water instead of tea and enjoyed eating sweet little foods and hanging out with the refined ladies and gentlemen (erm, my relatives, some of us in our pyjamas… Hey, I still felt refined!)


Then when all was said and done, we took the train back home (our seats on the return were less comfy, but it was easier to get to the handicapped toilet, so… yay?). It was the Starlight Coastal Express. I got to see some glimpses of coast, though so much of the trip either way was overnight that most of the way you couldn’t see much. The times it was daylight, though, the view was beautiful. On the whole, I prefer train to plane. Airport security scared me enough before they started their latest Draconian crackdown, and you know what? Even without all that ‘security’, I felt so totally safe on the train. So. Yeah. Much less invasive, prettier scenery, some of the seats are quite comfy– even the least comfortable train seats are MILES better than the plane seats, but you have to stay in them longer. It’s a tradeoff I’m comfortable making, anyway.


Plus, it’s a train. I may not be the stereotypical fact-rattling trainspotter, but come on, how can you not like trains? Trains are awesome. It may or may not be, like, genetically coded into me to enjoy them… I couldn’t begin to explain why so many people on the spectrum are fans, I could only tell you why I like them. And even then, I would quickly be reduced to flailing motions and ‘but trains are AWESOME!’. From the old-timey-est of steam engines, to the sleekest Shinkansen. Just somethin’ about ’em.


And then we ate at a waffle house, and came home to get yelled at by the cats.Which is how I wish all my stories ended…


The Music Post

So it occurred to me, whilst watching SNL, that I really love songs that feel like something is growing inside my brain.


I wish there was a better way of describing it than that. Words fall short.


The cacophony towards the end of ‘A Day In The Life’ does it. In fact, that’s what gave me the moment o’ epiphany about the whole thing. The beginning of ‘Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien’ does it as well. There’s an instrumental break in ‘Baba O’Reilly’ that does the job, and swathes of Pink Floyd. Were it just the Floyd and the Who that did it, I’d make a blanket assumption that I was enjoying ‘drug music’ without the benefit of drugs.


Which is not untrue, but the fact that I get the exact same sensation from Piaf pokes holes in any theory that limits the brain feeling to your typical stoner fare.


Back to SNL for a moment, BONUS SONG-AGE! ‘Get Back’ is one of my favourites, though it’s not applicable to the main ‘this music does things in my brain that alter my perception of the world and my own dimensional occupation of it’ thrust of the blog. I just enjoy it. Of course, commercials cut it short, but I have it, so I could, conceivably, listen to it any old time.


Sometime I should make a comprehensive list of the songs that affect me like this. I’d be interested in knowing if other people get that, but since the sensation is so difficult to describe (oh sure, you can get metaphysical, wax poetic, but there aren’t sentences to frame the physical sensation. It’s dizzying and lovely.


Okay, putting on ‘Brain Damage’ right now, because that and ‘Eclipse’ provide an excellent double whammy. As far as I can tell, the best high-off-music songs are either in the Pink Floyd school, or churchy music, which makes sense, since churchy music by definition wants to bring a closeness to God, perhaps a euphoric spirituality. And then the Piaf, which doesn’t fit the pattern at all, but golly, if it ain’t just fast becoming one of my favourite songs anyway. And of course, anything you hear live.


I saw a live performance of Les Mis with the high school French Club. We were up near the back of the house, but the music still reverberated in our ribcages. It was the most stirring thing. People being brought to tears with half the numbers. Great stuff.


On a separate-but-musical note– oh gosh, no pun intended, but I can’t bear to take it out now that I can’t unsee it– anyway, I’m trying to think about which composers are my favourites and why, and really backing up those opinions with favourite pieces and movements, and the language and music theory to boot. Classical music, contemporary film scores, any/all of it, really, but I’d like to be more knowledgeable in general about my music tastes.


(ending note- after Floyd, ‘The Shadow of Your Smile’ by The Emperors of Swing came on, and listening to it makes me feel tres film noir. I might need to compose a sort of life-soundtrack around that so I can skulk around in trenchcoats in the rain, biting off jaded bon mots before retiring to an office where the only light comes from the streetlamps, through venetian blinds… It’s possible I put too much thought into that.)


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