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All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome

Sometimes simple and straightforward are best.1cats1

All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome by Kathy Hoopmann (Jessica Kingsley Publishers) explains Asperger’s Syndrome perfectly. And it has adorable pictures of cats being adorable.

This delightful and deceptively minimal book is the first book you should read if someone you love is diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome (also called Aspergers Syndrome, or Asperger Syndrome, or Asperger’s, or Aspergers).sheldon6

The only downside? Like Sheldon Cooper (played so brilliantly by Jim Parsons) on The Big Bang Theory, it makes it sound much cuter than it usually is; for those who have it and those who love them. Or Sherlock Holmes (take your pick, the most recent, Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller) which makes it seem exciting…Or all the other examples of Aspergian or High-Functioning Autism on TV, in movies or books.

The truth, it’s difficult, frustrating, wonderful, sad, amazing, and confusing…for all concerned.

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IM000556.JPGThere are many great books I would recommend, but these are quite helpful, informative and above all, accessible.
Borrow them from a friend, library, or Autism association; or purchase them in store or online.

The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome – Dr. Tony Attwood; Inside Asperger’s Looking Out – Kathy Hoopmann; An Asperger Dictionary of Everyday Expressions – Ian Stuart-Hamilton; Kids in the Syndrome Mix – Martin L Kutscher, MD; The Autism Discussion Page on the Core Challenges of Autism – Bill Nason (Jessica Kingsley Publishers)1cats10The Everything Parent’s Guide to Children with Asperger’s Syndrome – William Stillman (Adams Media)
The Asperger’s Answer Book – Susan Ashley, Ph.D. (Sourcebooks, Inc.)
Empowered Autism Parenting – William Stillman (Jossey-Bass)
The Fabric of Autism – Judith Bluestone (Sapphire Enterprises, LLC)
How To Teach Life Skills to Kids with Autism or Asperger’s – Jennifer McIlwee Myers (Future Horizons)
Quirky, Yes Hopeless, No – Cynthia La Brie Norall, Ph.D w/ Beth Wagner Brust (St. Martin’s Griffin)1cats9

Thank goodness for Jessica Kingsley Publishers, I don’t know what I would have done without them.

If your child, spouse, friend, or yourself is diagnosed – don’t panic!

HHgttg don't panic
1cats3Media, doom and gloomers, people holding mock funerals for their children when they’re diagnosed, etc., even those who wish to help can intentionally or unintentionally scare you.
Don’t get caught up in the conflict people, people that love to make everything a drama.
Don’t hyper-focus on people ‘understanding’, including your family or friends, how could they understand? Just hope they’re supportive.
Focus on helping the person you love.
They’re still the same person, you just have a diagnosis that will aid you and others, to help them.
Helping the person you love find the skills and resources is taxing enough without adding fuss.

It’s also important to remember Autism isn’t a straight road, there are many, many twists and turns, ups and downs.

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” ~Confusius

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My son has Asperger’s and several medical conditions, but is doing better than anyone would have predicted.
Yet when a setback comes along, a medical procedure; other anxiety-provoking situations, people, challenges; illness, or something that is overwhelming I have to remember, it may seem like one step forward, two back, but he still took that one step forward.

But it’s still been a long few days.

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’” ~Mary Anne Radmacher

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Welcome to…Jurassic Park

1jur3Why so fascinated with bringing back dinosaurs?
Size? Curiousity? That they lived before the dawn of humans?

Or merely human nature, we want to do something, if we can.

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton is a big, stinky, carnivorous cautionary tale for abuse of technology and he makes no bones about it (yeah, I went for the cheap paleontology joke; sorry, it was the only thing I could dig up).

We need more cautionary tales.

We find we can manipulate genes, so as humans we think, then we should.
Clone…then we should.
Build bombs…we should.
Grow viruses…should.
Smartphones, Wi-Fi, internet…should, should, should!!!

Shouldn’t we find out the consequences first?
Everything has consequences.
Everything.

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I’ve heard the argument that God gave us the ability to do these things so we should.
a) that’s presuming there’s a God;
b) we also have to ability to kill people, should we?
c) justifying much?

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In less than 25 years we’ve become internet junkies. We overshare worldwide. No worries about pulsating signals everywhere. More children plugged in like adorable little zombies. We’re more distracted, obsessed, exhausted, overwhelmed, and less connected than ever….

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I began readin1jur29g Jurassic Park and Philosophy (edited by Nicholas Michaud and Jessica Watkins) thinking I knew what they’re going to say.  To some extent I did; philosophers examining JP in detail, scrutinizing all connotations and consequences as well as providing provocative insights regarding: genetic engineering, cloning, technology, human nature, ethics, religion, drama, humour, and even dinosaurs. Also gave me a creepy ah-ha moment – we’re the dinosaurs, a species striding boldly, masters of the planet, all the while becoming extinct.
Yes, another tremendous book in the Popular Culture and Philosophy series from Open Court. I’m so hooked, I can’t wait for the next fix.

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Hammond, essentially a snake oil salesman, only cared about money, power, and his legacy, he couldn’t see he put his real legacy in danger by bringing his grandchildren to the park to figure out if it was safe, after someone was killed by a cloned dinosaur. Humans are so proud we can do, we forget to show respect for the real power, nature.

John Hammond: All major theme parks have delays. When they opened Disneyland in 1956, nothing worked.
Ian Malcolm: Yeah, but John, if the Pirates of the Caribbean breaks down, the pirates don’t eat the tourists.

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Any thoughts on the reboot of the Jurassic Park series?

Jurassic World  i1jur28s now a state-of-the-art dino theme park on Isla Nublar. 22 years after the events of the original Jurassic Park all is well; what a relief. But wait, frustrated with declining attendance, an exciting new attraction is opened, gee, I wonder what could go wrong?
The cast looks interesting, Chris Pratt, Jake Johnson, Vincent D’Onofrio, BD Wong, Irrfan Khan, Judy Greer, Bryce Dallas Howard, but I’ll miss Jeff Goldblum, Laura Dern, and Sam Neill.
Written by Colin Trevorrow (also directing) and Derek Connolly, both from Safety Not Guaranteed   http://yadadarcyyada.com/?s=safety+not+guaranteed , I’m hopeful this will be action-packed and funny. Also that it’ll continue to offer strong female characters, like Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), Lex (Ariana Richards), and well, the dinosaurs were all female, right?

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Ian Malcolm: God creates dinosaurs. God destroys dinosaurs. God creates man. Man destroys God. Man creates dinosaurs.
Ellie Sattler: Dinosaurs eat man … woman inherits the earth.

Any questions?

 

 


Word Crimes

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Numbers never seemed to make as much sense as letters. My brother’s a math guy. I actually had a math teacher ask which one of us was adopted.

I do love to learn. Love writing.

Learning isn’t just brick and mortar-centered; learning is everywhere, if you choose to find it, or let it find you.

Weird Al” Yankovic’s latest release, Mandatory Fun (RCA Records) gives us 12 hilarious, unforgettable spoofs, altering Royals by Lorde to Foil for all you conspiracy lovers; Inactive instead of Radioactive by Imagine Dragons,and mixing-up Pharrell Williams’ Happy, oops, now it’s Tacky; and
adjusts those Robin Thicke infamous Blurred Lines to Word Crimes, becoming the supreme grammar Nazi.

Wow, “Weird Al” sure turned into a big dic, um, tionary.

I adore “Weird Al”, even now I’m singing Amish Paradise and know from there I’ll move on to Jurassic Park, then Angry White Boy Polka followed closely by eBay, Spam, Like A Surgeon, First World Problems, Canadian Idiot, and more.

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1eng3Watching the video for Word Crimes by “Weird Al” reminded me of all the amazingly fun children’s literature out there, most of which teaches, even if it’s subtle, like adding veggies to mac’n’cheese or chicken nuggets.
If you’re trying to teach, make it fun. Authors like: Greg Tang, Lynne Truss, Cindy Neuschwander, Loreen Leedy, Amy Axelrod, Marilyn Burns, Ann McCallum, etc. explain math, grammar, and so much more in straightforward and amusing ways. For example, Don’t Dangle Your Participle by Vanita Oelschlager and Mike Desantis (Vanita Books; VanitaBooks.com) – turns out the title is a little misleading, but makes sense because it’s for children, it’s actually about grammar. A fun way to teach essential skills. If books like this had existed when I was in school I might have been tempted to pay more attention.
Maybe not, Charlie Brown’s teacher sounded exactly like mine, at least to me.

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The best thing about children’s literature?1eng10
It gives a child joy, hope, understanding, life information, lessons, compassion, empathy, and so much more while traveling to Oz, Neverland, mysterious islands, finding treasure, finding friendship, battling mythical creatures, fighting pirates, or learning to be a wizard.

They can visit the past or the future, go to space, into the corners of their own house, garden, barnyard, or imagination.

Visit a chocolate factory, have a series of unfortunate events, have a terrible horrible day while it rains meatballs and pancakes.

Travel down a river, land a plane, save the world, save the environment, save the universe, or save Christmas while finally trying green eggs and ham.

Be King of all the Wild Things then visit a magical kingdom. All the while, learning.

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“Weird Al” and all these authors clearly want to make money and write, but they have a point, when we learn something when we’re happy and having fun, it stays with us, in a positive way.

So have some mandatory fun; sometimes participles dangle, the world’s an imperfect place.


Charlie and The Chocolate Factory Turns 50

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I’m celebrating 50,000+ views on my blog (Thank you! Thank you!) and the 50th anniversary (published 1964) of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, published 1964.

Loved with this book, then I saw the movie, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory – my mind was forever altered.
A factory full of chocolate? It was one thing to read about it, another to see a river of chocolate

I still love the 1971 Gene Wilder version best (directed by David L. Wolper), maybe because it’s steeped in childhood memories or because for me, it’s Gene Wilder’s definitive performance.

This is where I fell in love. Gene Wilder and chocolate. Sign me up!

Wilder is the ultimate1ww7 Willy Wonka. He didn’t go over-the-top weird, instead opting for a subtle, damaged man-child who was trapped in his own reclusion, a Howard Hughes-like creative genius who couldn’t cope in a reality that wasn’t of his own making. Wilder’s transcendent blend of cordiality, callousness, awe, and animosity make you think he is Wonka, he just is.

Jack Albertson was delightful as Grandpa Joe, who apparently couldn’t get out of bed to get a job, but could dance a jig and spend the day at a chocolate factory.

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Charlie Bucket is the only child Dahl and Wonka even remotely like due to his meek and accommodating nature, but Charlie wasn’t as obedient as he seemed, he spent money on a chocolate bar that he wasn’t supposed to; so even in the most co-operative child Dahl found a fault.
The 1971 version was renamed Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory to cross-promote UK’s The Willy Wonka Candy Company who had bought the rights from Roald Dahl.

I never understood why Roald Dahl was classed as a children’s author, he clearly disliked children, at times rather intensely. His stories and books reflect this.
What he hated more than children were their parents, specifically parents who didn’t raise their children properly, at least from his point of view.

Imagine what Roald Dahl would think of children and their parents now?

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The Friday Project/ Harper Collins

I recently read A Brief History of Chocolate (Steve Berry and Phil Norman) which I must warn you will not only vastly entertain and inform, but make you crave chocolate.

Despite best intentions this book lacked something, what was it? Oh yes, chocolate. They should sell each copy with a chocolate bar or coupon for a free chocolate bar. There, a marketing idea, no charge…although I’d take a thank you in chocolate bars.

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I also loved the darker, creepier Tim Burton vision of Willy Wonka.

Johnny Depp played him weird and it worked. Also damaged, but in a deranged-metrosexual-game-show-host-who-moonlights-as-a-rock-star-on-acid-way.

Veruca Salt was a bad egg or nut in all versions, but really, her parents spoiled her. Also, Augustus Gloop, Mike Teevee, and Violet Beauregarde. All annoying children, but allowed, even encouraged to be so by their parents.

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 The first time I walked into the Hershey chocolate factory in Smith Falls, Ontario the smell was divine, like melted chocolate floating through clouds of more chocolate just before it rained chocolate.

I’ll never forget the look on my son’s face, the pure wonder as he watched row after row after row of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups racing happily along the conveyor belt.

I’m sure I had a similar look as I saw the giant vat of chocolate I wanted to swim in, not figuratively, literally.

No Oompa-Loompas, no chocolate waterfall, trees made of taffy, Everlasting Gobstoppers, no fizzy lifting drinks, or Wonka though, but lots of chocolate for sale and sample.

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Alas Hershey closed the factory after 45 years, losing a great tourist attraction, and hundred of jobs. Several other large employers closed, shipping more Canadian jobs overseas, 1ww10leaving 40% of the town unemployed.

Now a flame has been lit as Smith Falls rallies; the factory at 1 Hershey Drive now produces medical marijuana, which, in a great cosmic irony would have made more people buy chocolate.

There are still times, when I open a chocolate bar wrapper and think I see a flash of gold.


Big Brother

1bb16I bet you automatically thought, is watching you, after reading the title.

You were correct.

The slogan, “Big Brother is Watching You” from George Orwell’s creepy dystopian classic 1984 is ingrained in pop culture.

Big Brother is also a reality TV series in many countries.

And the bleak reality of our lives. We may have believed governments listening in on citizens and each other was Cold War stuff, that is was an unusual occurrence. Turns out, not so much.

Big Brother is actually watching and listening to you.

Now everyone is listening and watching.
We’re fascinated by what people are talking about, if only to shred it.

2+2=5

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Big Brother is one of the few reality shows I watch.

And yes, I’m aware it’s about as realistic as a politician telling the truth.

I watched it the first season, when my son was a baby. I wanted something relaxing and it seems harmless enough. Little did I know. Apparently watching people acting idiotic is 1bb15addictive, weirdly entertaining, and even engrossing.

These people know they’re being filmed. They know it.
Yet they say and do stuff I have to hope no one in their right mind would normally do and they justify their actions, saying it’s a game. Hmmm, the old the ends justify the means defense.

It’s a giant social experiment put on TV.
I would never be surprised to see researchers in lab coats attaching electrodes to their heads or other body parts.

2+2=5

People get in that house and they lie and cry, strategize and pulverize.
They dish and swish, become BFFs, mortal enemies, and frenemies within minutes.
They have showmances and bromances.
Whine, complain, laugh, manipulate, ingratiate…basically act like basket cases all for a brief shiny moment of fame and a slim chance to win some money.

To give them credit they’re also cut off from the world (although in some cases that might be a bonus).
They have no family, no friends, no support system, no news, no cell phones, no TV, no internet, no cars…they’re trapped with strangers who they would never pick as friends, yet now they’re counting on them for their very survival, figuratively speaking. And they’re being broadcast around the world.1bb5

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Bikini-wearing lab rats. Tattooed, muscle-bound guinea pigs. Scrawny laboratory whiners. And of course, the token gay and token old person.

2+2=5

Really, Orwell‘s Doublethink, “…the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them” works perfectly in so many situations, government, religion, technology, relationships, news, reality (such as it is). And of course politicians have mastered doublespeak.

Would I go in the #BigBrotherHouse? I don’t know, but never say never. Would you?

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So whether it’s the government watching its people, or other countries, or each other…
Or us watching total strangers on TV…
Or watching each other on the internet…

Remember one thing, just cause you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not surveilling you.

2+2=5

“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—forever.” ~George Orwell (Eric Blair)


Unfinished Song

1song4Some films scratch out a tiny piece of your heart, savage it, not too much, just enough to be memorable, then hand it back to you with a smile that you return automatically, just thankful you have that piece back.

Unfinished Song (released in the UK as Song For Marion) has the standard splendor of a film about love on many levels.

The love between Arthur, played by the ever intriguing and delightful Terence Stamp, just ever-so-slightly less scary than usual, and his dying wife Marion, played to perfection by the unparalleled Vanessa Redgrave.

The love between parents and children.1song5

The love of music and life, highlighted by a quirky choir of  feisty seniors performing songs like: Love Shack (B-52s), Ace of Spades (Motörhead), Let’s Talk About Sex (Salt-n-Pepa), True Colors (Cyndi Lauper), and Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel) (Billy Joel).

Stamp was reluctant to take the part until he saw his own father in the character, a mordant, psychologically jammed man who loves deeply, but shows it oddly. I’m sure most watch this film wanting to alternately hug and slug this cranky, sorrowful soul.

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The beauty of this film is in the impeccable casting, without the immeasurable talent and experience of Stamp and Redgrave this film could have easily come off as syrupy.

1song8Other brilliant note blended into this song is Christopher Eccleston (yes, the first Doctor in the uberpopular reboot of Doctor Who, also, 28 Days Later, Heroes, Lennon Naked, The Leftovers, Cracker, Thor: The Dark World, etc.), the son with a complicated relationship with his Dad; of course Arthur seems to have a complicated relationship wit1song6h everyone.

Add then next lovely note, Gemma Atherton (Lost in Austen, Quantum of Solace, etc.) as Elizabeth, a sweet, determined, but lonely choir mistress.

In a world obsessed with youth, films that portray seniors as people are important, but  there’s more to it. It’s about love, but more importantly, how love always changes.

So go at it then, smile, cry, smile, laugh, cry, smile, cry, laugh, cry, smile…yup, think that about sums it up.

Don’t let your song go unfinished.


Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander

1out5Och! I’m not surprised Outlander is finally making it onto a screen, premiering August 9, 2014 (Starz), just surprised it took this long.

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Diana Gabaldon’s genre-crossing time travel series is a marketing phenomenon.
It began as a blatant historical romance that throws in sci-fi, adventure, mystery, fantasy.
The next 7 books are harder to categorize, maybe historical fiction with fantasy, adventure, mystery, time travel, and some romance to boot.1out15

The first book in the series, Outlander (in the UK, Cross Stitch) was published in 1991, and was sort of inspired by a Doctor Who episode, The War Games; especially The Doctor’s Scottish companion, Jamie McCrimmion (Fraser Hines)...hmmm, Jamie Fraser. So when you think about it, if you like the Outlander series you owe it to Doctor Who, er, sort of.

The rest is history…

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The plot almost seems too simplistic, Claire, a WWII nurse gets transported back to Scotland, 1743, but it’s the characters and their interaction that are so engaging.
Love, betrayal, fighting, honour, hope, chaos, jealousy, anger, intrigue, raids, and of course, kilts.
It’s all a bit of a shock, and that’s just the hygiene.
Who could ask for more?

The main cast, Caitri1out2ona Balfe as Claire Randall/Fraser/Sassenach, Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser and Tobias Menzies as Frank/Jonathan Randall are joined by stalwart top-drawer actors such as: Simon Callow, Annette Badland, Graham McTavish, Bill Paterson, Gary Lewis, James Fleet, etc. So no worries on the cast.

Most of the filming done in Scotland, so no worries on the scenery.1out7

Adapted to TV by writers: Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek, Helix, Roswell, Carnivàle), Toni Graphia, Matthew B. Roberts, Ira Behr, and Anne Kenney. So absolutely no worries on the writing.

The Walking Dead music master, Bear McCreary gives us the music, so presume it’s cool and a tad spooky.

So it looks like Diana Gabaldon’s beloved Outlander series is in good hands. So watch it with confidence, whit’s fur ye’ll no go past ye.


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