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Thursday, September 27, 2012

THE CHALLENGE



Okay, this is the moment you've been waiting for.....the challenge. This is a problem or invention I would like solved or invented if any of you out there are smarter than ME. Lets see what ya got!

Here's the problem:

I work for a man who's quadriplegic. He can use his arms, but not his hands. He happens to be a wine lover. But (here's the problem) he can't pick up a wine glass to feed himself. I've suggested straws but he says its just not the same. And he doesn't like drinking it from a glass if someone else has to put it to his mouth for him.

He can feed himself regular food with the help of a brace that has a pocket for utensils. But the utensils have to be bent by hand for it to work without making a mess. (Just an example of our efforts to make things easier for him)

So, here's the challenge:

Can you find a way for a man to feed himself a proper glass of wine WITHOUT using his hands?

Rules are:

No straws
Must be with a proper wine glass
Must be able to self feed without disaster
You are encouraged to invent something
Would be great if you simply solve the problem with a logical explanation
Award? I have no idea. What do you want? LOL! How about a free, autographed book of poetry written by ME? :) Or....I post a video of our efforts to TRY your idea. :)

So anyway, there it is. This is my challenge. Can you help us solve this problem? All suggestions are welcome. Lets see what ya got!

Tree Rats

Around here we call them tree rats. The pests of the trees! The destroyers of flowers! The dumpster scavengers!

Squirrels.

I hate squirrels. I know, most people think they are just SO CUTE! But here, we are not amused. They are so destructive that they typically cause the average Joe about $400 a year. Yup, that's right. $400.00. Don't believe me? Well, think about it. You drop a $20 here and there for some flowers in your outdoor pots or garden and the next day you find them pulled up and shredded on the lawn. Hmm.....you plant more. The next day? Destroyed.

Or lets say you are a farmer. Even a small time green thumb. You spend about $100-200 on seeds, plants, compost, soil and lets not forget all the back breaking work you did to set the rows and turn the dirt. Then next day you wake up and look out the window to admire your hard work only to find it ripped up and thrown about the yard.

*growls*

OR.....lets say your garden makes it! It has officially survived the abusive little monsters. It gets bigger and bigger. You nurture it and tend to it and feed it and you watch those beautiful little vegetables grow. And when its only say a week away from harvest......You suddenly find that the vege's are missing! OH NO!! Then you find it on the other side of the yard with bite marks in it. Or (my personal favorite) you see that big beautiful vege you've been tending to hanging in the crotch of the tree in the back yard.

*grumbles*

And if you're not a gardener, how about those days when you get up in the morning and go to take out the trash only to find that those little grey devils actually ATE a hole through the corner of all your trash cans. Yep, every single one.

I've grown accustomed to these things and am looking forward to living in the country again some day since they seem to be so rare in the woods. I guess the trash tastes better in the city.



Yesterday I had to throw out the trash at work and as I'm no stranger to these little bastards, I was weary when opening the lid. The trash was pretty full but no little skitters or scratching so I threw the bag inside and walked away.

There was trash thrown all over the yard.....YUCK....so I began picking it all up to put it back into the squirrels grab bag again. Just as I got right up to the trash can (the same one I had just used) a squirrel came flying out of that 'eaten corner' like an accomplished acrobat scaring a scream out of me!

My boss saw this whole thing go down and got himself a good laugh. While I was having palpitations, he was happy. I suppose it was worth it.

But I still say we need to have squirrel hunting season. I could use the furs. And the meat would make great dog food! >:)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Stupid Is As Stupid Does



I've been talking about how sick and tired I am of stupid people lately. Sometimes its funny....the things I see....but other times I just want to fill a sock with some nickles and swing high and fast.

Recently I've been having a little issue at work. The issue is my boss's vehicle. My boss is a quadriplegic man and he has his own special van that is handicap accessible. So any time he has to go somewhere I have to drive this vehicle.

Problem #1: The vehicle is not inspected.

The inspection has been expired for over a year now. Living and driving in the city I'm shocked he hasn't gotten in trouble for this! I've mentioned it to him a time or two about how its important to get it done since I'm usually the one driving it. I don't want to get in trouble. Especially since I kind of have to drive it as its part of my job. (I know my boyfriend is reading this so I'll add that I know I don't have to drive it but being as it is part of my job, I could be compromising my job. I'm not okay with that. It's not easy to get employment these days.)

My boss says the reason for not getting the van inspected is because it simply wont pass. Apparently someone has stolen one of the licence plates and my boss never had it replaced. According to him, its not priority number one.

So there's that. But lately, there's been some issues with the van. Potentially dangerous issues.

Problem #2, 3 and 4:

For starters the muffler has been a bit loud lately. There's a heavy stink of gas every time I get out of the van. And now, its suddenly and without warning stalling while I'm driving! Like, literally stalling! No warning or anything! I'll be driving down the street and suddenly everything is off and the steering wheel locks!

Holy shit! If that's not scary I don't know what is.

He really is not taking this seriously at all. Even when I mentioned the fact that its not just HIS life and safety at stake here but mine too. He didn't seem to care. He blows it off like I'm over reacting. When that damn steering wheel locks up, I cant steer! It would be so easy to get into a head on collision! And YES, my foot is on the gas when it does this! Its not like we're stopped at a light and it just stalls. Its while I'm doing 45mph driving from one town to another! He even told me it happened when his son was driving on the highway at 60mph! Twice! WTF??

We've already had a couple of close calls since we drive mostly in a busy city with shitty streets and no emergency lanes...........Its been fun.......O_o...........But now its just too dangerous for me to be so willing to drive him around in it.

So I told my boss (rather forcefully, since he's really not taking this seriously at all) that I would no longer drive him anywhere until it was fixed. He eventually gave in and had it taken to the mechanic. The mechanic (who happens to be his brother in law) couldn't figure out what was wrong. The engine light never actually came on. It just shuts down. So there was nothing to read on the computer. So the mechanic decided to wing it! He changed a sensor and replaced the spark plugs.

Surprise, surprise. Its STILL stalling. Now I'm getting angry. My boss was in no hurry to return the van to the mechanic and insists its no big deal. Yesterday I gave him the look. "This isn't funny and like it or not, I will NOT drive you anywhere in a vehicle that keeps breaking down. "

In response to this he says he called the mechanic and told him that it was still breaking down. The mechanic supposedly said to drive it as much as possible......"WHAT??".... Since it was computer related it will take a few miles to reset the computer of the van.

Well that's ridiculous. Anyone who knows anything about vehicles knows that if the engine light never came on, not only was it not computer related, but it will not reset after driving it since there's NOTHING TO RESET! The light never came on! And when you FIX a car with computer related problems, it will NOT continue to break down until the computer resets. It will simply be FIXED! It may take some miles to get the engine light to turn off but that's it. The reset has nothing to do with the actual repair. Not that it mattered in the first place because the light was NEVER ON!

........*Takes a deep breath.....rubs temple.....sips water*.......

So today when I went to work, my boss told his wife to return the vehicle to the shop and have the whole thing fixed so KARA wont lose her friggen mind. She did as she was told. A few minutes later the phone rang. It was his wife who said that her brother (the mechanic) refused to do any of the work on the van. He told her to drive it around till the engine computer reset itself. He said he couldn't fix the muffler because it would take a long time as it would have to be specially made to fit a handicap accessible van. He said he had no idea why it smelled like gas. And then he said he could maybe get an inspection sticker put on (not that it would pass) but he didn't have time.

Stupid is as stupid does. Just because he's related to you doesn't make him right. Use common sense. Take the van somewhere else....where they CANT jerk you around knowing that since you're related you wont do anything about it.

Tomorrow my boss has an important DR's appointment and I'm very nervous. All his other errands I've been doing myself with my own car. Does anyone know what gas costs at the moment?

Annoyed doesn't begin to express how I feel right now.

.......*grinds teeth*.......

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Common Sense

I hate to start out blogs with the word, 'I'. But here it is anyway.

I am a creature of habit. I often notice that other people are too. Unfortunately, other people's habits are of a....hmm....lets say unsavory sort.

For example, I always take the same route to work every morning. On that drive I always take this one specific residential street. On this street there are several 'No Parking' signs that the residents constantly ignore. Since the city officials have so much to deal with downtown they don't often venture out to the outskirts of the city to hand out parking tickets. So the residents feel confident that if they park on the street they'll go unnoticed.

Every morning for about a year now I've been grinding my teeth knowing with certainty I'll get stuck behind these parked cars since the road isn't big enough for us to fit by if there are any oncoming vehicles in the next lane. And every morning I have to leave the house early to make sure that this 'irritation' wont cause me to be late to work.

Yesterday morning I felt the most evil grin creep across my face as I turned onto this street to see one of the residents cars had been TOTALED by someone who OBVIOUSLY didn't realize they wouldn't fit by.

Even as I write this I cant help but giggle. Some slob in only his faded, tattered boxer shorts stood on the side walk with an angry expression and a beer belly hanging over his low hanging shorts. I laughed hysterically and pointed on my way by. I wanted to make sure of course that the lazy schmuck who'd ignored the 'No Parking' sign could see me, so I slowed down and waited for eye contact before speeding up again.

He obviously was not amused by this, but quite frankly, I don't give a damn.

This morning I was very pleased to see that there were absolutely no cars parked on the street. It was easy riding all the way to work.

I think 'stupid' has taken over for common sense these days. Judge Judy said it best the other night. She said, "Common sense isn't so common anymore." LOL!! She's absolutely right.

What do we have to do to get these dumb asses off the streets? I particularly like the 'shoot em up' option where you get to have beebee guns at all times and just pick em off as you see them. But who has time for that?

Perhaps this is where all our tax dollars are going. To the low life, inbred foreigners who only come to this country for the welfare and the food, then breed and teach their off spring to do the same.

Okay, I'm getting ahead of myself now. LOL! My point was simply to say that common sense and common decency go hand in hand. Have some respect for others so they wont DEMOLISH your SHIT.

Okay.....I'm done. :)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

There Is No Gray In Autism

I'd like to talk a little about what I'm going through as a parent right now. So all you men out there, grab a beer and go watch football.......Are you watching?......Okay. Ladies, please get cozy for a minute and allow me to vent. I promise that when I'm done, you can tell me your stories as well. :)

I happen to be the mother of an autistic child. In case you don't know anything about autism, its measured on a scale from high functioning to low functioning. High functioning is when the child is able to do most things and be as close to normal as a person with autism can be. The lower on the scale a person is, the less they are able to do (such as speech, movement, communication and so on).

My son Jake, is 11 and a half years old and has high functioning autism. I have been a single mother since his birth. I have no family and as busy as I am and as often as I've traveled in my life I have few friends. So I've basically been raising my son completely alone all along. I've only had one brief relationship with a man in my son's entire existence until recently so when I say alone, I mean that quite literally.

Its not easy raising a child with high functioning autism. Since he can do most things and act pretty much like all the other kids his age the untrained eye wouldn't recognize the symptoms. Instead, they'd assume he was just a 'goofy' or 'stupid' kid.

As his mother I'm typically very defensive, but at the same time I understand that other people simply don't know or understand. I do my best to ignore the looks and smirks that come when my son makes strange comments in public places. Or when he speaks quite frankly about things most people would never utter a word about (like constipation and all its wonderful symptoms and side affects, or like when he points at an unattractive person and says rather loudly, "What's wrong with his face?"). And I try not to take it too seriously when people stare or point when my son twitches his neck back and forth looking much like a chicken. (uncontrollable ticks and twitches are often a symptom of autism)

All the little things I do my best to brush off. Sometimes the unexpected happens and someone will whisper, "He has autism, doesn't he?" and I smile and sigh with relief. Its not often that people understand what its like for me to be his mom, or worse, what its like to be him growing up in a cruel, not so understanding world.

To be a child with autism means you wont understand language all that well. Most people speak with slang or sarcasm and more times than not we have to read between the lines with euphemisms and metaphors. If you think about it, we don't often say what we mean. We sugar coat things for the sake of sounding intelligent or to make others smile. But an autistic child learns and thinks with a preciseness that is now fading in the world. Basically what that means is that they hear the words and take them at face value. They expect that you mean EXACTLY what you say. There is only black and white, no gray. They read whats written on the lines, not between them.

So when my son asks me if ghosts are real and I say, "Yes, Jacob. They're real." and I roll my eyes and laugh. He wonders why its funny that his worst nightmare just came true.

As a matter of fact, one of my son's biggest fears is getting shots at the Doctor's office. Not too long ago I brought him with me to a Doctor's office (as I often bring him to work with me since I have no baby sitter) where my boss was going to get a blood test. He began talking to me about what was going to happen to my boss with great concern.

I tried to make light of it as I often do and made jokes to get him in a better mood. But as the conversation progressed he began to over react a little bit. As we discussed what taking blood is for and how its done, I sarcastically said, "You'd better toughen up buddy, cuz you'll be going for a shot again soon." Well he instantly teared up and began to panic. Suddenly feeling like a real douche bag as everyone in the room was suddenly staring at me, I quickly told him I was just kidding. He sucked the tears right back into his face and dropped the issue.

Well, a couple days later it was still on his mind. I realized this as he made a snide remark about something he heard on TV and said, "I'd rather get a thousand shots than have to do that!" Rolling my eyes, I had to add my two cents. "Oh yeah?" I said. "Good, cuz you're ganna get one tomorrow." I again giggled and shook my head thinking he knew that I was just kidding. I was wrong.

Then next day I had to take my boss to the Doctor again. While Jake and I sat in the waiting room I just kind of glanced over at him and he was rubbing his arm. I noticed a deep red spot on his arm and I quickly grabbed his arm and lifted his tee sleeve to see that his arm was all marked up with red spots. "What's this?" I asked studying the marks. "Bug bites?"

He laughed for a second. "No. I've been practicing."

I sat back and looked at him trying to understand what he meant. "Practicing what?"

"Getting a shot." he said.

He must have noticed the shocked expression on my face because he felt the need to elaborate. "You said I was getting a shot but you didn't say when. So I'm practicing so it wont hurt so much." Then he proceeded to pinch his arm and show me.

I slapped his hand away and of course and whispered quite gruffly, "Stop that! Don't you do that again!" I then burst out laughing. I know that was inappropriate but it was funny as hell. Sad, but wicked funny. It was a true 'kid blooper' moment.

Now, even as this is kind of funny, something as simple as this would not be so easily understood by the average person. This kind of thing could get my son taken away from me.

I recently had a conversation with my boyfriend that sort of led to another conversation that hit a sore spot with me. (Don't worry dear, you didn't do anything wrong.) My boyfriend doesn't think that kind of stuff is enough to amount to anything. He doesn't think I could get in trouble for that. Well.....

When my son was 5 he started his first year in school. I'd been taking him to Doctors and Specialists about his symptoms for 3 years at this point. Right when he started school, he got diagnosed with High Functioning Autism, Tourette's Syndrome and ADHD. What a fire cracker he was.

Anyway, during the diagnosing his Doctor prescribed him a medication that unbeknownst to me had a nasty side affect of insomnia. Jake had been awake for days, and since HE was awake, I was awake. We were both fading. No sleep has horrible side affects on people, including sickness and death.

Jake had been up for days and so had I. I couldn't take anymore. I was working 3 jobs, taking care of him and dealing with the Doctors. I had nothing left. So I went storming into his room and started yelling. I forced him back into his bed and told him to go to sleep or else!

Jake had a terrible habit of scratching his face and neck during a temper tantrum. As soon as I raised my voice, he went nuts. He never could handle it when I yelled. He began to scratch, kick and scream. I quickly held him down until he was too tired to fight anymore then I went back to bed.

He must have stayed up after that and continued his fit because he looked like he'd had a meeting with Freddy Kruger in the morning. I took pictures to document his behavior for the Doctor and I sent him off to school.

Long story short, days later there was a social worker sitting in my kitchen asking me if I was an abusive mother. I told her everything and even gave her permission to read his medical report. He had a tendency to self mutilate during tantrums.

To make the story even shorter. She did, and she closed the case the same day. On a good note, the same day, I took him back to the Doctor who only then realized insomnia was a side affect and prescribed meds to counteract that.

So this kind of thing can be very scary. Especially when most people don't understand these kids. They say things they shouldn't say. They do things they shouldn't do. They have no idea what secrets are or what privacy is. They have no sense of sarcasm. They have no sense of safety. They are oblivious to things going on around them and are constantly misunderstood.

I've recently been feeling the heat with my son as he's getting older and certain habits and behaviors are no longer acceptable. Unfortunately, even as I'm expected to instantly correct all these 'flaws' I simply can't. I'm just an ordinary mom and I can't change my son. He is who he is.

So if he cant handle changing schools and bombs his first year, then he'll just have to repeat it next year. If he opens his mouth and yells out, "Look, I'm Jesus!" while seemingly making a balloon float in front of a very religious group of people, they'll just have to be more understanding. If he makes a snide remark to the wrong person and gets a black eye because of it, he'll learn quick to keep his mouth shut (and Punchee McPuncherson will be feeling the long arm of the law). And if he skips his meds and rides his bike out in the street without looking, I will be there to save him.......and then collapse from heart failure.

I cant stand the, "Kara, you gotta stop him from doing this, or saying that." Or, "You gotta stop him from walking on his toes or he's ganna get beat up in school." Or, "You gotta get him to stop being so sarcastic all the time." I cant help it! I cant change him! Its not my fault that he took all my minor bad habits and turned them into his everyday personality with a negative twist! He's drawn to strong emotions and uses them in his every day life because those are what stand out the most! Autistic kids are not 'Normal'. They will never be what you want them to be. Not because they're snotty or rude, but because they CANT. They don't know how. Simple as that. Their brains are incapable of learning and using knowledge the way we do. It doesn't mean they're hopeless or useless. Just different. In this day and age it shouldn't be so hard to understand that.

......*takes a moment to breathe and suck in some oncoming tears*......

I honestly don't know why I wanted to share any of this. I really didn't have a point. I just wanted to explain how difficult life is with an autistic child. The poor kid never understands why he's in trouble. And I never knows if I was right to punish him. Im constantly pulling my hair out with frustration and he's constantly trying to please me, but messes things up instead. Its a vicsious cycle.

These things have brought me to tears more than once. And I spend every single day wondering if anyone will ever understand.

Having a new boyfriend (well, not really new but not quite a year along) I cant help but wonder every day if he's able to cope with my son and all his embarrassing habits and behaviors. Most people can't or wont. So I never feel like I have two feet on the ground. I'm always running. Is it time to move on? Are we going to be accepted? Do they really understand the situation or are they rolling their eyes when I turn my back? Are my friends really my friends? When he/she nods and agrees, do they really get it? Will my boyfriend eventually throw his hands in the air and walk away because my son seems like a lost cause? Its all very possible and its always on my mind.

So I guess I just wanted to vent a little bit.

Oh....um....P.S.

I think I forgot to mention this before but we eventually ruled out Tourette's Syndrome. Apparently his 'ticks' are from the autism, thank god. Tourette's Syndrome can be fatal. Yep, try swallowing that one for a few years until you do the research yourself and learn to be your child's best Doctor.

Anyway, feel free to comment or share your own stories if you'd like. I always read with an open mind. :)