Cocoons

I managed to get through twenty years of my work life without cubicles. But then it had to happen. When my job was moved from Indiana to New Jersey in 1996 I went with it. I really didn’t have a choice as I needed four more years of a full pension, so off I went.

Our new facilities there used to be a large warehouse previously occupied by the Manhattan Bagel Company, (by the way I ❤️ Manhattan bagels). For us, the empty warehouse was filled with cubicles to make offices for about 250 engineers and all their toys. Before the day I was introduced to this type of office space I had heard quite a bit of negative comments, so I was prepared for the worst.

Oddly enough, I loved the configuration! With just a few feet of moving to make everything within reach of my chair. The cube walls were about five feet high with about 60 square feet of floor space. The lighting about fifteen feet above provided just the right amount of light. Since I was deaf, I was not affected by the noises around me as my hearing friends were. Since my Aspie traits allowed me to totally focus on the job in front of me, the isolation was a big plus.

Before my beloved cube I always shared office/lab with at least a couple of other engineers usually pretty close by. This was a radical change. Hours would go by without any interruptions. I was able to become totally immersed into my work.

When I retired and moved into a 1927 farmhouse, my office / man cave was an 8 x 12 foot room. It wouldn’t be long before it was fashioned into a cubicle like space I had left behind. I gave my wife the larger room for her hobbies and gladly took the smaller one.

I guess there is just something personally comforting to me having my space wrapped around me. If I could talk my wife into it I’m sure I would now be living in a 400 square foot “tiny house” instead of the 2500 square foot one I have inhabited for almost twenty years now.

Since I left the workplace I know the trend now is to just have one large open floorspace and a large table for everyone to work from. I can’t imagine working under those conditions. The distractions would be intolerable to me.

I guess this is just another part of my life where I am pretty different from most others. I feel as-snug-as-a-bug-in-a-rug when I am in my cocoon.

Taking Offense… Being Too Sensitive

I see where Elizabeth Warren has now apologized for saying that she has Native American roots? Her DNA test proved that she has ancestors who were Native American so what’s the problem?

Well, it seems that some Native American tribes take offense to her; they are saying a bloodline is not the same as tribal membership. I can understand that but I don’t think she ever claimed to be a tribal member. Does it means that I can’t be proud of my Native American roots because I personally am not a member of an established tribe, I think that takes away much more than it might contribute to the conversation. I think the critics are being too sensitive.

On a personal level, I don’t claim to be part of the Deaf Culture but I most assuredly claim to be deaf. It is true that I don’t have any exposure to deaf organizations and I certainly don’t claim that. Is it offensive for me to proclaim I am deaf but not be associated with Deaf Culture? Is it child abuse to do something to allow a deaf child to hear? Some in the Deaf Culture believe so. They say that we would be denying the child his deaf culture. I think the critics are being too sensitive.

I have Aspie traits but have never been officially diagnosed to have Asperger’s Syndrome. Is that offensive to those who have been clinically diagnosed? I hope not, but I can imagine that to be in at least some cases. It is estimated that more than ninety percent of people with Aspie traits have never sought treatment or diagnosis for those traits. In spite of the negative view of autism, I am proud to claim that I am a unique individual who copes pretty well and even deem my Aspie traits to be more positive than negative.

Getting back to the point of this post, I see where Kamala Harris is now apologizing for some of the things that made her a successful prosecutor. It seems she threatened a homeless person with jail time because of a truancy issue. Never mind that tactic is used thousands of times a day by prosecutors in order to get people to obey the law and therefore not have to move against them legally. She was doing it for the good for the person. I think the critics are being too sensitive.

And now there is the Virginia Governor who appeared “black face” in a drinking party almost forty years ago and was unfortunate enough to get his picture taken next to a guy in a KKK hood. Yes, that was a stupid thing to do but does it ameliorate everything he has accomplished since that day. What happened to the idea of forgiveness?

I think that we just might be destroying the Democratic party for the sake of sometimes over-sensitiveness. If one mistake, even if it was commonplace in the past, prevents you from becoming a public servant who is left to serve? We all live in glass houses.

Just because the Republican Party has become the party condoning lies, contempt, and seemingly without any moral values doesn’t mean that the Democrats have to go in the exact opposite direction. I think the critics are being too sensitive.

The History of Autism

I know the title above is rather ambitious for a single blog post, but I do want to give you an idea of how it came about and how some of the statistics might be deceiving. I have been studying this topic for a few weeks now and thought I knew enough to put out a continuous series of posts on the subject, but as my snippet on This N’ That Sunday mentioned I just didn’t know how much I didn’t know. So, I am going to put out bits and pieces of what I have been learning as I go along. After all, a blog is not supposed to be novel length but instead snippet of info.

To the layman, it seems that “Autism” just came on the scene in the late 1980s. Before that is was almost unknown by the general public. In reality, the term itself was coined in 1908  to describe a subset of schizophrenic patients who were especially withdrawn and self-absorbed.

Hans Asperger brought it to the forefront in the field of psychiatry in 1944 when he describes a “milder” form of autism now known as Asperger’s Syndrome. The cases he reported were all boys who were highly intelligent but had trouble with social interactions and sometimes specific obsessive interests.

After World War II there was a lot of psychoanalytic work done on autism where researchers looked solely at the negative impact on life experiences.  At that time Autism was not considered biological or genetic. In 1980 “Infantile autism” is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) for the first time; the condition is also officially separated from childhood schizophrenia.

It was not until 1988 when the movie Rain Man is released which stars Dustin Hoffman as an autistic savant that Autism became widely known to the general public. At that time Asperger’s Syndrome was not included in the DSM category.

Finally, in 2013, The DSM-5 folds all subcategories of the condition into one umbrella diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Asperger’s Syndrome is no longer considered a separate condition. I have some strong feelings about that but I will leave them to another post. ASD is defined by two categories: 1) Impaired social communication and/or interaction. 2) Restricted and/or repetitive behaviors.

Some say folding Asperger’s into the DSM category was a mistake since it is significantly different when it comes to life experiences from much of the rest of the autism spectrum. More on that in a near future post.

Footnote: The source for much of this history is from the Parents.com website.