50 Random Thoughts On or About Turning Fifty

50

I turned 50 on January 28th. It was a pretty exciting birthday for me. For a person who didn’t think they would make it to eighteen, 50 years old feels like an achievement. 18 seemed like one too, but more like one that was achieved by luck. 50 took a lot more work.

In honor and remembrance of my 50th year on this planet, I would like to list 50 random thoughts that have been jumbling around in my head…

  1. 50 is the age that I consider to be “officially old™”. I am okay with that. Being 50 is a privilege and rite of passage.
  2. When I was younger, I was very unhappy, but also very lucky. I have a family who loves me and has always  taken care of me the best that they could. It is thanks to them and other kind souls that have befriended me over the years that I am still here to write this post.
  3. As I have got older, I’ve managed to make a few very close friends and to become closer to my family.
  4. Being with Karen has been an adventure in love and life that provides joy and hope even at the hardest times.
  5. Life has been extra challenging since we moved to Baltimore 6 years ago and I do not see an end to that any time soon.
  6. My day to day life is kind of lonely and I have not made many close friends here.
  7. I am not good at having friends, and not completely sure how I have managed to make such good ones over the years.
  8. It is hard for me to be with people and in crowds, and hard to concentrate well enough to keep up with conversations. It drains me until my brain completely shuts down.
  9. Running my business is a challenge and I work way too many hours for way too little pay.
  10. I am good at my job and I am bad at running a business. Still, I keep trying year after year and make enough money that it would be badly missed if I didn’t have it, but is barely above the poverty level and much less than it would be if I was working with or for somebody who knew how to manage a business.
  11. I am still hoping to find my “magic business partner”  or employer someday.
  12. Even with all the challenges, life has been good to me in so many ways and I am very thankful for that.
  13. I am glad we are here to help K’s parents.
  14. I love Baltimore and many of the people I have met here.
  15. I love being with Karen and Nikkyo and Buster (cats) and living in our awesome apartment (Thanks Lisa!).
  16. I love my karate school, and sometimes wish I could just do karate all the time.
  17. I wish Karen and I had enough time and money to get out of town once in a while.
  18. I wish we had enough money to not stress about it so much. Maybe money can’t buy happiness, but it can relieve stress and less stress can cause happiness.
  19. I miss Lake Merritt in Oakland and the San Francisco Bay.
  20. I wish I could work for AWN (Autism Women’s Network) full time.
  21. I wish I had more time to code for fun and not just for work. I have some ideas for projects that would teach me new skills, possibly lead to income, and/or would provide a helpful service to some people, but no time to work on them.
  22. I miss my family terribly. It is easier to see them now that we live on the same coast again, but still hard for me to travel, especially on airplanes. I wish we lived in driving distance of each other.
  23. I miss the Russian River and Armstrong Woods.
  24. I wish the world made sense and that people didn’t lie.
  25. I wish that people really cared about each other and helped each other.
  26. The only thing about turning fifty that has made it seem very old is writing this list and realizing how many items 50 actually is.
  27. I am pretty sure I spend more time than the average person thinking about dinosaurs.
  28. I like to spar.
  29. I wish my brain worked “right”, but am not completely sure I would want to be a RegularPerson™.
  30. I have been a vegetarian for 30 years and think that if I started eating meat again I would have more energy. Was going to try it when I was 50, but as of yet, have not.
  31. I think I would excel at being a cat.
  32. “Cutting the Cord” is much cheaper than cable TV, but I miss the ease of use and channel availability of Comcast.
  33. I wish the haters would always lose. I am not sure what that means for me if I hate the haters.
  34. I used to build and fix “WinTel” computers, and was amazed at the awesome quality, reliability, and ease of use when I switched to macs 13 years ago.
  35. I first learned to program on an Apple IIe that my dad had, and a Commodore 64 and VIC-20 that were at my high school.
  36. I rarely took part in extra-curricular activities when I was in school, but over the years spent some time as a member of the computer club, Mathletes, and the Spanish club.
  37. When I was younger, I understood Hebrew pretty well. I can still read it, but have a very limited vocabulary now.
  38. I love WordPress.
  39. I love Laravel more than I love WordPress, but see many advantages to using WordPress for the types of websites I most often build for my clients.
  40. I love Drupal, but have no reason to use it. Sometimes I go out of my way to look for a reason.
  41. If I had time, I would learn Python.
  42. Lisa baked me the best cake in the whole world for my 50th birthday. Thanks Lisa!
  43. I like cold weather when I have the appropriate outerwear.
  44. Hexagons make me feel peaceful.
  45. I am a cat person and a dog person, but prefer cats because they are easier to take care of.
  46. I occasionally contemplate what life would be like if I was a panda.
  47. I am a lot like my dad.
  48. I wish I was also a lot like my mom. She is a social and organizational genius.
  49. I like to play video games and currently play WoW. The Fallout series is probably my favorite of all time.
  50. I would like to learn how to play D&D or something similar with real people.

Wakeup Call To Action

Call to Action

The results of yesterday’s election truly saddened me. I am horrified that Donald Trump will be our next president. The amount of people that voted for him both frightens and angers me. He is the personification of so many things that are wrong with this country, this society, and humanity in general. I do not understand how any person who is decent and good could vote for him. He is a racist, misogynist, homophobic, petty, evil man, and I can see no good that will come from having voted for him.

I am afraid that my marriage will no longer be legal. I am afraid for the future of my health insurance. When I think about what today must be like for Muslim Americans, Mexican Americans, immigrants, all non-white Americans, non-Christian Americans, Disabled Americans, non-heterosexuals, non-gender-conforming individuals, and all women and girls, my heart breaks and I want to set the world on fire.

A Wakeup Call to Action

I understand why people want change. I think Hillary Clinton is an amazing woman in many ways, and I wish she was going to be our next president, but she really does represent the status quo. The status quo does not benefit everyone, and fighting to keep it intact is harmful to large groups of people. Progressive ideas and talk do not mean anything if there is no action to back them up. They make no improvements to the lives of people who are suffering.

The need for change is no excuse to elect a man like Donald Trump. It is also not an excuse to ignore glaring problems that exist within our own platforms and beliefs. We need to to examine the fact that much of what we accept as liberal and progressive ideas and values are not enough, and are sometimes built on the same racist, classist system that we are supposedly trying to change. If we ignore these things, we are lying to ourselves when we say that we want true equality and opportunity in this country.

I don’t know how to fix this. I don’t know what is needed. My faith in people has dropped considerably since yesterday. The only good that I can see coming from this is that it could be the wakeup call we have long needed. A call to action to the people who want to make this country a better place. An event that will force us to take a step back and think about what “a better place” means for everyone, and not just ourselves,  and organize around that. I don’t know if that is possible, but I have to hope that it is.

Font Rendering in Safari

Browser Logos

There’s definitely a difference between Chrome and Safari due to Safari’s font rendering. In Safari text tends to be a bit bolder due to the anti-aliasing algorithm and can sometimes take up a few extra pixels on the screen.

I was getting very frustrated earlier because of a menu bar that was wrapping in Safari and not in Chrome. The Safari window had to be 200px wider than the Chrome window for the menu not to wrap before switching to the mobile menu.

Making the menu font size .1em smaller fixed the problem. It doesn’t even really make sense mathematically, but it worked so I am not inclined to figure it out right now.

Thanks Stack Overflow!

chaos

chaos

chaos is in me
one step closer to the edge
trying not to fall

chaos confuses
wraps word order wrong and fails
to stop the echo

chaos surrounds me
closing in fog and laughing
when i disappear

I am an autistic person with autism

Autistics Speaking Day 2015

I call myself autistic but if you call me a person with autism, I don’t mind. If you compare me to a puzzle it is ok. I think you are like a puzzle too.

I don’t speak for all autistic people. I don’t think anyone can.

I understand the reasons why person-first language can be damaging, and the importance of letting people know why that is. If you don’t know, Google it. You will understand too. Better yet, read the article Identity-First Language by Lydia Brown. It contains a well written analysis of why it is harmful to use person-first language, as well as links to other articles about the pros and cons of its usage.

It is important to educate people about these things, but I have been noticing a trend lately of articles that claim to speak for all autistic people, saying that we prefer to be called autistic. Nobody can speak for all autistic people. Not even other autistic people.

I have been an outcast for much of my life. It feels horrible. Even worse is feeling like an outcast in the autistic community.

In the 10 years since I have accepted the fact that I am autistic, I have met so many amazing people both online and in person. I have worked with many of them over the years to help us connect and find each other online. Now, I feel like I don’t fit in to a community that I helped to build.

It is possible that I am missing a big piece of the puzzle. I am not trying to be an asshole and piss people off by writing these things, but as I try to express what I am thinking, I realize that I am scared of even posting this due to backlash from a lot of people who I like to think of as my friends. I actually questioned using the word “puzzle”. WTF?

Today is Autistics Speaking Day and today I am taking the time to speak to other autistic people. I am asking us to keep our minds open to other people’s thought processes and realities, just as we ask them to do the same thing for us.

Disclaimer: This post is partly about educating people with good intentions who are trying to do the right thing, and respecting their processes if they come to a different conclusion. It does not apply to those who believe that autistic people are “less than” neurotypical people, or organizations like Autism Speaks who are actively spreading lies and harming people.

Placeholder Text Generators

HodorIpsum---Hodor-hodor-hodor

I generate a lot of Lorem Ipsum text when I am laying out websites. Usually I use a keyboard shortcut or the old standby, lipsum.com. I also like Fillerati. Those are nice because they include the option to add different HTML tags, such as  <p> ,  <li> , and headings.

Today while I was being very distracted from work, I did a little googling to find some new placeholder text generators. Below are the ones I bookmarked for future use.

  • Whedon Ipsum – Quotes from Joss Whedon movies and TV shows. This one has a “hidden” link back to the website of the company that (I assume) runs it. The link is not hidden at all in the code but is inside a div styled with  display: none;. There are options to choose the number of paragraphs to generate and to add  <p> tags.
  • TV Ipsum – Generates text from TV theme songs mostly from shows that aired in the 70’s. Option to choose the number of paragraphs.
  • Picksum – Generates lines from the movies of these actors: Christopher Walken, Morgan Freeman, Johnny Depp, Michael Caine, Jim Carrey, and Clint Eastwood. Options for number of paragraphs and  <p> tags.
  • HodorIpsum – Generates Hodor text. I would probably only use this one for personal projects, but it is my favorite by far. Options for number of paragraphs and  <p> tags.

Favorite One-Trick Utility of the Year

Before I found this tool, I would open images in Photoshop to get proportional values for widths and heights. There are definitely easier ways to go about that, but Photoshop was always the first to come to mind. My new favorite tool for generating proportional image sizes is the Aspect Ratio Calculator.

For the Math inclined, it uses this formula:

original height / original width x new width = new height

Mother’s Day Wish

Wish I could take your pain away
Wish I could take you out in the sunny day

Wish I could make you stronger
So you could come home for longer

Wish I could hurt instead of you
I’d give anything to make that true

Wish I could hold you and make things right
Wish I was there with you tonight

Hope you are having a happy day
I’m there with you, in spirit anyway

You are the best mom, I know it’s true
Can’t wait ’til the next time that I see you

Favorite Codex Tip Of The Day

To remove meta boxes created by plugins, 'admin_menu' is fired too early, use 'do_meta_boxes' instead.

Such a simple thing, but I wasted at least 15 minutes by using the wrong action hook. The meta box in this case was not created by a plugin, but by the parent theme of a child theme that I am building.

2013

Craziest year ever. Not even sure what to write about it. 2014 looks to be more of the same.

So many things. K’s dad. I hope he has a better 2014 than 2013. Same with K and her mom and her sister, L. And me.

Too many things have been going on for so long, I can barely remember what is like to be able to think clearly. Tired of being so confused and tired all the time.

It is not all bad. There are breaks. Every now and again, K and I get a day, or part of a day, off. I get more breaks than K, but when she is not here, I tend to spend all my time working. This year, our definition of “a break” has changed. We were noting that having some time to scrape the ice off the car and shovel it out of the snow now feels like a break.

Work has been crazy for both of us. Pretty sure that my business will make more money than last year. Happens every year, but I still end up working very many hours for very little money. So little that it seems like madness to keep going year after year, but I am short on other options. It is very hard for me to work a “real job”.

I know my job is a real job. I know that I am good at what I do. I work very hard. My web development skills get better all the time. Having a screencast addiction helps.

But my business and organizational skills are almost non-existent. When you run a business, those skills are at least as important as being able to do your job. Maybe that is the difference between a hacker and an entrepreneur.

My gross income this year is about $5K over the 2013 poverty level. This is due to a combination of undercharging, not charging at all, and a near complete lack of project management skills.

At this point, after reading approximately a million articles about project management, business organization, and every other possible subject that may be of interest to freelancers and small business people, I am pretty sure that these are skills that I can not acquire. I need my ever elusive “Magic Business Partner” more than ever.

Some Highlights:

  • On 2/4/13, Karen and I got legally married, 13 years to the day after our first date!
  • In May, we had a great party with our families and friends at the Ottobar to celebrate our marriage. Special thanks to Chuck for making everything so awesome, to Colleen for making the best cake ever, and to everyone who came to join in the celebration, especially my parents who came all the way from Florida for the occasion.
  • Every time that Karen and I have gotten to spend time together relaxing and/or having fun. They are few and far between, but nothing is better.
  • Snow.
  • Another year with Nikkyo and Buster.
  • In July, I got a black belt after doing martial arts for 16.5 years.
  • K’s cousins came for a visit from Canada. Very nice to see them 🙂
  • Several social occasions with new and old friends. Special thanks to Kim, Tarun, Lisa, and Dave.
  • Co-working at Betamore for many months. Met some great people and got to go to the harbor almost every day when the weather was good.
  • Lease on my computer ended and started a new lease on a maxed 15″ Macbook Pro retina. It is awesome!
  • Learned Laravel. I have been learning Laravel for over a year. I will continue learning it, but I actually know what I am doing now.

Favorite Apps of the Year:

  • Once again, Komodo IDE tops the list.
  • iTerm2 – Terminal replacement for mac
  • QuizUp – Very fun mobile trivia app.
  • Bejeweled – Still an awesome distraction and mind-numbing tool.

Happy New Year everyone!

This is Autism

This is Autism

This is autism.

Sometimes I can’t talk, but I can think.
Sometimes I can’t think, but I can feel.
Sometimes I don’t fit in.
Sometimes I am just like you.

This is autism.

Thoughts crash.

Never-ending attempts to organize the world into separate parts.

The lines are blurred.

When all things are one, everything fits together.

When one thing is many, blurred lines clash, and overlap defies logic.

This is autism.

An explosion of color and light and sound and texture.

Every tiny detail is a universe I can get lost in forever.

I try to learn your ways and to teach you mine.

We all have something to learn and to share.

This is Autism
Check out the This is Autism Flashblog

Set Line Height in Komodo

Have I mentioned that I love Komodo IDE? Still, I occasionally come across an annoyance. One very annoying thing is that there is no way to change the line height in the editor other than changing the font size. I like to have a larger than average line height for better readability. I recently noticed that PhpStorm has a line height setting. I also love PhpStorm and think it has advantages over Komodo for certain tasks, but I still like Komodo better overall and use it more often. After some googling, I found this great tip on the ActiveState forums:

Add this Komodo JavaScript macro to the toolbox to increase the line height:

Change the 16 to any number you want (as long as it increases the line height – does not work for decreasing line height). I set mine to 21 because my font size is set to 14, and I like a line height of about 1.5em. Even though the setting is for the bracebad style only, it has the effect of changing the line height for everything else too.

How to add a macro:

  • Open the toolbox pane in Komodo
  • Right click and choose Add > Create new macro
  • In the Macro tab, name the macro, choose JavaScript as the language, and enter the code above into the main text area.
  • In the Triggers tab, check the box that says “Macro should trigger a Komodo event”.
  • Choose ‘After file open’ as the event and click ‘OK’.

These instructions are for the latest version of Komodo IDE (8.5.2 at this time) on mac. They may vary slightly in other situations.

To edit the macro, right click on it in the toolbox, and choose ‘Properties’.