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What I Do Here

If you are here for genealogy, try this: http://walkitout.livejournal.com/tag/genealogy

I write about whatever I am thinking about. It helps me think about it and remember it later. Because I live far away from many of my longest term friends, we don't always get to participate in each other's daily life; sharing my blog is a second-best.

My interests change over time, but at any given time, I am usually very intensely interested in a few things. This might look more organized and logical than it really is. I have two children with autism spectrum diagnoses, and they seem completely normal for my extended family; if I were a kid growing up today, I'd have a diagnosis, too. Try to keep that in mind, if you're trying to figure out what kind of person would write the kinds of things I write.
Because of the holiday, a lot of people were gone today that might ordinarily have been at the stables. So the woman who runs the stables compresses the lessons for the people who do come. It took me about four days to figure out _why_ T. didn't want to move his lesson from 1:45 p.m. to 12:15 p.m. It involved my regularly scheduled 11 a.m. phone call, our lunch at Applebee's after that and then the horse. Once he understood that I could have the call and end it a little early, go directly to the horse, and have lunch at Applebee's after, and then had a day or so to adjust to that difference, he was completely okay with the revised schedule. Best of all, the woman who runs the stables was okay with us taking the time to work this out with him before committing to him showing up for the lesson (we would have paid anyway, probably). It's nice when everyone can be a little bit patient. It's hard, but it's nice.

R. and A. joined us at Applebee's for lunch. Then we went home so R. could remove his bicycle from the van, then he went out to buy a tree. He got a slightly shorter one this year, which made it easier for A. to help me decorate it. It is very lovely. And we got to unpack all our new ornaments that we bought at WDW this year!
In this case, I refer to this:


I was looking at books by Linehan or where she was listed as an editor/co-author. Several comments referred to ACT, and I went, what the heck is that? Basically, if you take the Milton Erickson -> Bandler and Grinder -> wtfery, rip out Erickson's Let's Make Everyone a Member of a Heteronormative Family and, instead of leaving a total absence of values, insert a sort of Buddhist thing, you'd get ACT. Language oriented observation that a lot of people are busy avoiding/suppressing/trying to destroy their internal convo and that has bad effects. Their internal convo is quite painful, and they need help tolerating it. Unlike other CBT approaches, there is no assumption of underlying health, nor is there a goal of "control".

Seems pretty amazing. I am very excited to learn more! Anyone run across anyone involved in this as a clinician, patient, family member or friend assisted by the approach, etc.?


For people unfamiliar with the concept of refactoring, this is the one I'm thinking of:


"Refactoring is usually motivated by noticing a code smell.[2] For example the method at hand may be very long, or it may be a near duplicate of another nearby method. Once recognized, such problems can be addressed by refactoring the source code, or transforming it into a new form that behaves the same as before but that no longer "smells". For a long routine, one or more smaller subroutines can be extracted; or for duplicate routines, the duplication can be removed and replaced with one shared function. Failure to perform refactoring can result in accumulating technical debt; on the other hand, refactoring is one of the primary means of repaying technical debt."

The basic idea is simple. If a body of code contains basically the same functionality in more than one location, it is harder to maintain. If the same functionality must be changed, the change must be made in all the locations, rather than just one. Also, more code means more to remember and understand.

In the course of reading _Neurotribes_, I learned that one of the original perpetrators of the DSM, Adolf Meyer, wasn't really interested in resolving the disputes between then-extant forms of psychoanalysis, and thus the DSM was a sort of catholic (with a small c) document intending to capture multiple ways of thinking about a disorder, a handbook usable by all practitioners using one of the common modes of analysis.

Obviously, Meyer's approach helped validate and apply a first cut of consistency to diagnosis in a nascent field. However, Meyer's approach _also_ lent itself to an octopus-like field of competing theories of the same presenting cluster of symptoms, usually the result of focusing on different aspects of the Problem: is the presentation thought of from a relationship perspective, an individual perspective, a member of a family perspective, is it thought of as having a biological component, as a result of a developmental process, as an adaptation, etc.

Basically, this fucker is _ripe_ for refactoring.

I tend to dislike psychological diagnoses in general, because I think they are creaky, large and pointless structures that do not suggest a solution that a Real Life Person or their compadres in life might view as Helpful. In the interests of coming up with a small, identifiable and measurable Thing that can be adjusted, I think of our psychological makeup as being an assemblage of modules. But while I really want to get into that, I'm not going to do that right now, because I Noticed Something Interesting. See, I _want_ to refactor the whole DSM to reflect my theory of modules, mostly for my own personal interest and to get it all neatly organized in my brain.

Right at the moment, however, I cannot help but notice a startling similarity between Somatoform Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder. You may know the former as Munchausen's, and you may be more familiar with the much more Outrage Inducing Newsworthy cases of Munchausen's Syndrome by Proxy, in which someone gets lots of attention by making it look like their kid has a whole lot of stuff needing medical attention but it is all a big ole fake.

Backing up a ways, Somatoform is where all that psychological paralysis and psychological hearing loss, and a host of other things that showed up on "House" over the years wound up in a bin together: you _look_ like you have some Serious Thing and you're really freaked out about it, and you probably really _do_ feel those feelings (like thinking you are pregnant when you aren't), and for most purposes those seizures are real they just persistently refuse to show up on an EEG -- generally there's no medical evidence for what you have and this kind of thing has been happening on and off since before you were 30. Somatoform is difficult to treat.

The refactor I'm proposing is: Borderline Personality Disorder is Somatoform disorder, only it is focused on the medical health profession, specifically.

Now, before you go, like you know anything about any of this, check this out:


I am not the first person to think of this. (Conversion disorder is a subset of somatoform and DBT is the only evidence based treatment for BPD.)

Before that, on page 99 of: The Mind-Body Interface in Somatization: When Symptom Becomes Disease, by Lynn W. Smith, Patrick W. Conway, the authors note that there's a lot of personality disorder comorbidity with somatoform disorders, they share some developmental factors (history of physical and sexual abuse, presumably, but probably also chronically critical and hostile childhood environment and a lack of a safe caretaking relationship), and people with somatoform disorders have the same ego deficits (unstable and/or fragmented sense of self, identity subject to radical, rapid changes) that are targeted by the skill building of DBT. When that book was published (2009), they couldn't find anyone trying this, but they think it's worth a shot.


My mother-in-law came for a brief visit prior to attending the East Coast service for her son-in-law's father. R. went with her. After that, we all drove over to Albany to visit R.'s family for T-day. We arrived Wednesday night, stayed at the Homewood Suites in Albany for two nights, and then came home. We left R.'s mother there with his brother/her other son, and I believe she has since caught a flight home.

As a result of all this, there was a significant Lack of Posting for the last several days, and in the interests of extended family harmony, I'll just say this:

It was a lovely visit and a fantastic T-day. The food was wonderful. The cousins had a great time together. It was great to see everyone. And the turkey was done early enough so that even with a delayed dessert course, enough digestion had occurred before our early bedtime that we had no difficulty sleeping.

I mean, realistically, it was the Perfect T-day.

I figure if I start telling hilarious stories of what happened, I'll manage to screw up and offend someone, and since I appear to have escaped the visit without already having done that, I'm gonna see if I can maintain this streak.

Oh, and some of the brussel sprouts came out of my sister-in-law (the host)'s garden. Too cool!

(People reading this on FB may or may not be able to see a photo of one of my nephew's standing on a ledge and thus being a very bad example for my children by doing so. It is captioned by my brother-in-law -- the host -- as his son "getting high". That's the kind of hilarious story I'm trying very, very hard not to tell. So don't get me into trouble imagining something really bad.)

"Did you know we have a boost fan?"

My husband asked me a question about the very, very incompetent "electricians" who wired our house. Apparently, there is a boost fan on our dryer vent. The dryer is on the second floor; vent is out a basement wall, so makes sense there would need to be one. But the behavior of system led me to assert, "We don't have a boost fan." My husband says, well, it was acting as a second lint filter, and showed me a frightening amount of lint that had built up on the boost fan since we moved in over 6 years ago.

The "electricians" had never wired the boost fan. Stunningly, the electrical inspector and the home inspector we hired at the time we purchased the house also failed to notice this.

It is now wired.

I do not approve of the electricians who wired our house. The good news is, they are probably the kind of electricians who only get work during huge building booms, so they've been punished enough over the last several years.

_NeuroTribes_, Steve Silberman

Subtitled: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity
Published by Avery (yeah, I had no association with them either; before Penguin bought them they published crap like _Why Sharks Don't Get Cancer_, one of those things that as soon as you see the title and realize it isn't a humor book makes you go, d'oh, because of course sharks _do_ get cancer)

If you've been reading popular articles about autism over the last couple decades, you've probably read at least one by Silberman, likely this one:


In the years between when this was published and when Silberman's new book has come ought, Silberman's understanding of the history of the various names that autism has traveled under has evolved substantially. Most important of all Silberman now understands that the increase in diagnoses is not a cause for alarm. He said this, in 2001: "Rates of both classic autism and Asperger's syndrome are going up all over the world, which is certainly cause for alarm" -- but now he knows better. In _NeuroTribes_, he carefully maps out how the DSM editions over the years communicated different understandings of autism. He argues that Kanner not only set a ludicrously high diagnostic threshold for autism, creating enormous confusion, but he also points out that Bettelheim had a lot of help from Kanner in creating the myth of the refrigerator parent and creating a social environment that favored taking people with autism and autism like conditions out of their homes where they might have eventually thrived, and institutionalizing them, where they had an alarming tendency to regress and die.

Silberman also spends a lot of time exploring why Asperger's understanding of the autism spectrum (a beautiful term created by Lorna Wing) failed to transition to the United States from WW2 Vienna. He cogently argues that Kanner knew about Asperger's work (he employed some of Asperger's coworkers) and carefully made sure that no one else had any awareness of it. Kanner liked a good story, and a rare disorder made for a better story than a ludicrously common one.

Like many journalists, Silberman has written a book that reads more like a series of articles than something structured as a book. There's the section about WW2 Nazism. There's the stuff about movies about autism. There's all that awfulness around Lovaas (complete with the airport Rentboy fiasco with Rekers). There's a really incredible development of Rimland, who I had not previously known about. And if you are looking for a thesis, well, that subtitle does nothing to help you find one.

But it's a really good book and definitely worth the time. I was particularly happy to read Silberman's version of how Wrong Planet came into existence (I love Wrong Planet. I don't spend a ton of time on it, but whenever I'm feeling particularly alone and like no one understands me, I go over there and I remember, oh, yeah. Right. These Are My People.). While the idea that people diagnosed with autism tend to have parents and grandparents with significant technical acumen is ever present throughout the book, Silberman spent less time on the Are All Computer People Autistic question than I would have expected. It's hard to tell whether he's trying to stay away from a live wire or just figures it would be flagellating a deceased equine. He does spend a lot of time throughout the book showing how people who probably were on the spectrum invented large chunks of modern science and technology, and how networked mobile devices have made it the world a lot friendlier to many people with communication idiosyncrasies.

If your connection to autism involves comorbidity with Downs or Fragile X, you will be _severely_ disappointed by this book. Sorry! It's a bummer that Silberman spent zero time on that aspect of the spectrum.

There are much better book reviews of this book out there. Here is one:


(The link internally to the original publication on PLOS generated a 404 when I followed it.)

This book review is by someone who knows the author, and the second have of the review is an interview with Silberman. Some of that discussion really clarifies why, even in 2015, the coverage of women with autism in _NeuroTribes_ is so limited. (Honestly, hating on Clara is particularly ridiculous. "Hyper neurotypical"? How is that not a red flag right there?)

Here is an article that suggests autism in the Curie family:


"As well as these three I believe there are other scientists who may have been Asperger people, including Marie Curie and her elder daughter the atomic physicist Irène Joliot-Curie, also the theoretical physicist Paul Dirac."

I would also offer up women like Jane Addams (altho it has been so ludicrously difficult to get people to even accept the obvious fact of her same-sex attraction and relationship, I have little hope that we're gonna get anyone on board with the she was on the spectrum proposition), Clara Barton, Maria Mitchell ... basically, if you can think of a woman who made an early and substantial dent in science or some other technical field, and that woman had a childhood characterized by extreme shyness/timidity and/or in later life wound up bucking enormous societal pressure to support an important and unpopular political change, I think you've got a woman on the spectrum with a spectacularly high IQ. And I don't quite understand why we can't see that.

But I'm increasingly optimistic that someday, we will.

ETA: I keep forgetting that my husband suggested I add Lise Meitner. He is, of course, entirely correct.
I have already noted in some trip reports that I got sort of screwed this year. We based our planning on crowd predictions that were revised upward the day we arrived in Florida, and then ultimately still undershot the reality. TouringPlans is not unaware of what happened.


"Again last week we saw record breaking wait times for this time of year. On Monday for example, At Magic Kingdom we saw a crowd level ‘9’. The same day last year was a crowd level ‘1’."

The Monday being discussed was November 9, 2015; the weather was in the 80s, with a low in the mid 80s and a high of 90.


The previous year's weather:


Solidly 60s, never breaking to 70 degrees.

While obvs the Florida unemployment rate for November is not yet available, the unemployment rate for September 2014 can be compared to the unemployment rate for September 2015: 6.2 vs. 53. (Have fun digging around in this! http://www.floridajobs.org/labor-market-information/data-center/statistical-programs/local-area-unemployment-statistics.)

A glance at the calendar says that in 2015, November 9 was on a MONDAY, whereas in 2014, it was on a SUNDAY.

To sum up: lower visitation on a cold weekend day with higher statewide unemployment; higher visitation on a warm to hot weekday with lower statewide unemployment. Both dates fell within Food and Wine. Both dates fell within the school year.

Factors increasing visitation: higher temperatures, lower unemployment in Florida.
Factors decreasing visitation: Monday vs. Sunday

You actually _can_ argue that Mondays are busier than Sundays at WDW -- people have -- but it always makes me chuckle when people make that argument, so, you know, I'm gonna laugh at you. (People have also tried to argue that Sundays are busier than Saturdays; again, ha ha ha ha ha.)

We've been going to WDW since Xmas week 2009 (I think). We've been going twice a year since 2012 (I think). While we don't always go at exactly the same time of year, we've been going during the first half of November for most of that time, and our spring trip is usually, but not always, during April vacation break. I feel like by this point, we have a pretty good "feel" for what the place feels like during the times that we are there. And this year, I feel like we turned a hockey stick corner.

It's time for the Fed to start raising rates. Not by much. Not very fast. Just 25 basis points at a time, to reassure everyone that, yes, the economy is healthy enough to start crawling off of Zero. Not only do I believe this won't in any way discourage lending to the consumers who could really benefit from easier access to credit. It think it will _encourage_ lending to those consumers, because we'll finally be able to convince ourselves there is a path forward.

ETA: Map of unemployment in the US by state.



I will note that discussing the current political debate about Syrian refugees is a whole lot more interesting when conducted in Dutch with someone who has a really solid understanding of the range of political opinion on the topic and the history of the region which led us to the current impasse.

I walked a mile with M. I walked a mile with my husband. And I did the 3 mile loop. As I am reading _NeuroTribes_, I am a little bummed to discover that _yet another thing_ I thought was just one of my idiosyncrasies and nothing to do with being spectrum-y turned out to be utterly characteristic of being on the spectrum. It is astonishing to realize how many people like me have settled on a long walk along the same path every day to be a satisfying part of life.

R. and I went to Rapscallions, where I had two chickpea fritters. They were yummy, similar to but not precisely the same as the Hoppin' John fritters you can (or could, at any rate) get at Cafe Flora in Seattle (or make based on the recipe in their cookbook). Alas, I'd already snacked on coleslaw and bean sprout salad.

We got to go on a walk and out to eat without kids because we had two babysitters. I sure like two babysitters. So do the kids. And the sitters seem happy with the situation. I'm sure something will come along to disrupt this domestic paradise, but right at the moment, I'm enjoying it.

[Multiple edits to correct spelling and grammatical errors. Maybe I should go take a nap.]
So if you're reading these via links from FB and finding things confusing, that's why.

We spent November 11-18 in Florida, visiting Universal, Disney, meeting family, etc. Things went well. Kids are back in school today. R. is back at work. And laundry is happening.

I read _Sweep in Peace_ while on vacay. (I also started and got a ways into _Neuro Tribes_, which I hope to finish in the next few days). The Innkeeper Chronicles have been posted progressively to the Ilona Andrews blog over time; I haven't been reading them there. I just read them when they come out in ebook form.

_Sweep in Peace_ is the second of the Innkeeper Chronicles, and functions also as a sort of sequel to the Edge series. It would _probably_ work okay as a standalone novel, or if you were only reading the Innkeeper Chronicles, or if you skipped book one of Innkeeper but had read Edge. But the backstory definitely adds a ton of depth.

SPOILERS! Especially if you read the Edge books. Altho at least you don't need to worry about being pursued by Spider.

The book starts with George Camarine finally offing Spider (woot!) and Being Bored, then being recruited by a mysterious representative of some Arbitration thingie. He can't tell anyone where he's going or what he's doing, but he does get to bring Jack and Gaston with him. We later learn that he attempted to bring Sophie/Lark along as well and she declined.

Dina, the Innkeeper, is missing Sean the Werewolf. And where Sean actually is turns out to be incredibly important to the plot of the story. Dina is asked to host a peace conference between the three factions fighting over a weird place called Nexus, where time ticks along at a different rate and no one wants to keep fighting but for a variety of nonsensical reasons they keep doing so. It's sort of fun watching Caldenia treat the interaction between Dina and George as a sort of tennis match: two control freaks who have the very best of intentions partly working together, partly in conflict over what to do next. It's Dina book so Dina wins, but George doesn't lose.

It's a fast, fun read, altho like certain comic book crossovers, not completely accessible to people who haven't already been participating in the fun.
For those of you paying attention to all the trip reports, you may have noticed that during the first 6 days of this trip, we did a different park every single day. Today was our first repeat: MK. And I'm really glad we went, even tho by this point, I just wanted to lie in bed until checkout, go to the airport and hangout in an airport restaurant playing on my iPad or reading on my kindle.

This was easily the best park day -- it was finally NOT insanely and unexpectedly crowded. It was supposed to be a 4 and wound up a 5, but this was a considerable improvement over Epcot the day before (predicted 3, got a 7). We started out doing Splash Mountain and Big Thunder (2x on both, and only one of those an FP). We got soaked and A. wanted a change of clothes (which I forgot to bring into the park). We went on Pirates, cause we were wet already then bought her a sundress (same as the one we bought at AK a few days earlier) at Agribah Bazaar. We did PeopleMover, then had lunch at Cosmic Ray's. We did Buzz 2x, once standby and once on our very last FP, before heading out to return the rental car.

We ran into my sister's family as we were headed to the monorail and did hugs. Then we ran into them again when we were all returning rental cars. Pretty cool for unplanned!

Flight was uneventful. Car service was prompt. It was chilly, but above freezing. Bags came out at baggage claim early in the process and clumped together.

All in all, an amazingly smooth trip. If I had it to do over, I would have set up the dinner with uncle H. earlier, gotten a babysitter, and told R. he didn't need to come to Chef Mickey's with us (the noise level in there is insane). Oh, and ordered a lot fewer groceries. But it was a great trip. I'm sure my husband would disagree, but I'm already looking forward to the next one.

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