Friday, October 31, 2014

20 Questions Part 1

I wanted to experiment with a theme like this one because I know that there are questions that some people have either asked me in the past or there are questions that people are wanting to ask me in the future. This is loosely based off the game that is called 20 Questions where a group of people ask a randomly selected person 20 questions and then they have to guess what that person is doing, or who that person is, or where that person is going. This won't be a game, but I figure that it would help to answer questions such as the ones below. Here we go.

1) Did you ever feel out of place whenever you attended a special event? (i.e. county fair, sporting event, parade, entertainment show, etc.)

Yes, I have felt out of place many times. I have felt out of place in a number of places where I initially thought I would be okay being in, but then after a while I realized that I had no business being there. It's hard for someone on the Autism Spectrum to know for sure where exactly he or she belongs. It does come down to a matter of interest in some cases, and for others it's only a matter of being comfortable even if an autistic person isn't necessarily super interested in what he or she is seeing.

I know what my interests are and I try my best to go to places that relate to my interests in some way. I love sports, video games, writing, reading, art, a little bit of technology and a scoop of entertainment like movies and theatrics. If the place I go to contains anything similar to my interests, then most likely I'll try to give it a go. Whatever happens there happens.

2) Do you see yourself as different compared to other people, those who aren't autistic?

I see myself as different in the sense that I know I am processing information differently then others. I don't think that. I know that. The messages that I receive about certain issues register with me differently and obviously I deal with issues in ways that others wouldn't normally go about handling them. Not that my methods are wrong per say, but more like my methods need a little explaining first before I am able to either move on or be corrected. 

However, I don't see myself as different in the sense that I am functioning normally at least in physical actions. I walk just like everyone else. My form of speech is understandable. I have a sense of humor people not on the Autism Spectrum can easily relate to. I can have conversations with people when the times are appropriate. I can drive a car, and it wasn't too hard for me to obtain a driver's license. I have two answers for this question.

3) How often do people antagonize you and put you down?

Well, it's easy to answer this one. Even today people who don't know me well at all will look at me funny and think that I'm crazy for not answering certain questions the way that they expect a person to answer them. Some of the people who antagonize don't like the way that my eyes wander away from them, not making eye contact. As I have mentioned before, I have a habit of bumping into narcissists who think everything they do is so wonderful, and in return, they will instantly put down my actions and ideas and throw dirt on my interests.

Whether you are autistic or not, you will always have people who just won't like you no matter what you do. No matter how nice you are to your enemies, they will be mean and rude to you. All you can do when handling an enemy is to show your enemy that he or she doesn't bother you. Enemies want to get a rise out of you, a reaction that is. They want to break you and they want to celebrate when you are miserable. The true test of your character is to stand your ground and stay true to yourself.

4) Are some days harder than others?

A short but sweet question. There are some days when I feel like I can take on any writing assignments, be as creative as I possibly can be and express my talents in various forms. I will feel very good about myself and I will want to explore new creative territories. On good days I get the confirmation I'm looking for and I move forward. These are the days when I feel free, when I feel like myself and when I feel useful.

However, there have been some days when I have barely felt awake, as if I were in a daze. Some days I just felt like everything that could go wrong did go wrong, and it put me in the wrong mood. I put pressure on myself at times. I am a harsh critic of myself and I do underestimate myself. Some days I just feel like I don't have enough time to get done with the things I want to get done. I feel rushed and overwhelmed when things get out of hand. I don't take to bright lights and loud sounds well at all, especially in the early morning.

5)  What drives you to succeed in writing?

What drives me to succeed in writing is the fact that I know I have this gift. I believe I was born with this gift of writing materials such as this blog post, and every experience, positive or negative, that I go through in my life fuels me to write about those experiences in some shape or form. Letting the words flow in every blog entry and news article comes to me very naturally, and yes, sometimes finding specific structures to write those words down may take some careful planning, but the whole process relaxes me.

All of us at some point in our lives have had to deal with a crossroads of sorts where we didn't exactly know what we were doing, why we were doing it, and where we were going with it. There were those moments when we just asked ourselves "Why am I even here?", "What's the big picture for all this?", and "How do I get to my desired destination?" There are some things that we really wanted to do, but for one reason or another we just weren't able to or we just weren't allowed to.

I have said this before but I will say it again. You gotta love what you do and you gotta have a passion for it. I know I have a passion for writing, no matter what form of writing it is. Writing is my niche that I carved out for myself. That's what I am good at. That's my calling. That's what I want to officially do for years to come. I feel that deep inside and I try to express these feelings with other people.

To Be Continued...

Monday, October 20, 2014

Autistic Definition: Pressure

This is true for just about everybody, but it escalates once you consider people who are on the Autism Spectrum are the ones who go through this. The act of dealing with pressure is what I am talking about and it's something that isn't dealt with so easily in the Autism community. To be honest, it can be challenging to understand how even the most subtle setbacks occurred and we think it through in our minds why we could allow certain things to happen. "If only I could've done this." "Maybe I should've done that instead." "Why didn't I understand what he or she was saying in the beginning?"

We ask ourselves such questions and we ask those questions often, and probably too often to the point where we drive ourselves crazy. Wherever you are on the Autism Spectrum, it's true that we all dwell on certain things that are otherwise seen as insignificant to other people, and that's just how we operate. Even though we are really good in certain areas of our lives, we can't forget that there are always learning experiences for us. There are always things that we need to better adjust towards and there are always things that we simply need to let go of.

What would you call the Autistic definition of the word Pressure? Well, I believe I could break it down to just a few points:

1) Pressure is an opposing force that isn't dealt with easily by autistic people.

2) Pressure is like an ongoing pox, something that spreads through the mental and emotional states of autistic people.

3) Pressure is the unnecessary kind of attention that is put onto an autistic person, a spotlight trap that clamps down on that person.

I had the pleasure of watching a movie on TV recently, a movie which specifically targets the demographics of the Autism Spectrum. I believe that this is a movie for any autistic person to watch because it provides plenty of good points for autistic people to pick up right away. This movie is called A Mile In His Shoes and it involves an 18-year-old young man who is initially seen working on his family's farm. One day a man gets lost trying to find his way to a larger community and he ends up in a small town with a population of 75 people. This man, a manager for a semi-pro baseball team, makes a discovery he wasn't expecting. This 18-year-old farmer happens to be on the Autism Spectrum, having Asperger's Syndrome, but he also happens to be really good at one thing. This young man threw apples at a bucket while feeding his pig Oscar, and this was the equivalent to throwing a baseball with great velocity.

Once you watch A Mile In His Shoes, you will see the ups and downs that this 18-year-old farmer from Indiana will go through and this will hopefully be put into proper perspective as to how we who make up the Autism community go through our triumphs and our struggles.There are things that we find alarming that other people wouldn't find alarming. There are things that easily distract us that wouldn't distract other people at all. Surprises surely contribute to how we have our struggles dealing with some actions.

Pressure comes in different forms. Depending on who you ask, people have different ideas on what pressure is. Atmospheres that include the vibes of "This could possibly be overwhelming, so watch your step" do tend to throw us off. I'm sure people can relate to what I am talking about and I'm sure they know what those vibes are when they see certain settings.

I freely admit that as someone with Asperger's Syndrome, there are times when I just don't feel comfortable. There are places that I go to where I feel I will be just fine in, but after some time I realize that those places just aren't where I need to be. After a while I get the feeling that I just don't belong in certain places, and not because I don't want to be interacting with other people, but rather it's the mentality that communities as a whole adopt when they are in certain places, and whatever they metaphorically shove into my face to basically tell me "This is what we care about, so we don't care about anything you're doing" really puts me off.

Pressure will exist no matter where you go and it's hard to adjust. It's hard to just deal with the fact that there will be some people out there who will pressure you into doing something you don't want to do, or they will put pressure on you just to see if you will crack, for their own corrupted fun and joy. I've dealt with this for the majority of my life and it does get on my nerves. I keep asking myself "Why are they doing this to me in that way?" and I can't help but keep asking questions similar to that.

For those of you reading this, on the Autism Spectrum or not, I can tell you that I understand how pressure feels and I'm hanging in there. "Don't let it blow you out of the water" as a relative of mine always says.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

My Adventures In Online Courses

No matter what age you are, it's never too late to just take a step back and weigh out your options. When it comes to learning new things and developing a better understanding for certain topics that interest you, there is no harm at all in wanting to pursue some goals. I have had that feeling plenty of times when I just wanted to do something constructive even though I didn't necessarily know why I wanted to do that certain constructive thing. There are just those moments that come about when we really want to get the ball rolling in some direction, and what I'm going to talk about here is one example.

I am going on an adventure of sorts, an adventure where the learning process can possibly take many turns. I am taking an online college course to study Game Theory. Now what is this kind of Game Theory? Well, it isn't exactly the kind that features fun and exciting gameplay, such as the kind where you see people play video games and dissect those games for analysis. No, this isn't that kind of Game Theory at all. This is the kind of Game Theory where the emphasis is heavily placed on situational issues. While I am learning (or relearning) the concepts of a game in general and understanding the basic formulas that go into a game, I am also taking into account the habits that players will develop while they play these various games that are featured in this course.

I have gotten acquainted with terms such as Pure Strategy, Dominant Strategy, Paredo Dominant, Paredo Optimal, Nash Equilibrium, etc. and there have been a few things about this course that I have found to be challenging, but really, the general language of playing games and understanding the repetitions and habits of the players involved in games are things that my mind can get comfortable with. After all I love talking about various kinds of games whether it's video games, board games, card games, parlor games, sports, etc. There are a few things about the Game Theory language that I already know about in basic terms and it's just a matter of me needing to put the more technical things together.

I will provide a couple examples of the questions that I just tackled in the Week 1 Problem Set below.

Bertrand Duopoly

  • Two firms produce identical goods, with a production cost of c>0 per unit.
  • Each firm sets a nonnegative price (p1 and p2).
  • All consumers buy from the firm with the lower price, if pipj. Half of the consumers buy from each firm if pi=pj.
  • D is the total demand.
  • Profit of firm i is:
    • 0 if pi>pj (no one buys from firm i);
    • D(pic)/2 if pi=pj(Half of customers buy from firm i);
    • D(pic) if pi<pj (All customers buy from firm i);
Find the pure strategy Nash equilibrium:

1\ 2 x y z
a 1,2 2,2 5,1
b 4,1 3,5 3,3
c 5,2 4,4 7,0
d 2,3 0,4 3,0
Find all strategy profiles that form pure strategy Nash equilibria (there may be more than one, or none):

I won't provide any answers to these two questions out of fairness, but I just want the readers to get the gist of what it is I'm observing in this course. For those of you who are on the Autism Spectrum and you are not quite sure as to what you want to do with online college courses, I believe that it would be okay for you to consider taking a few courses if that is what you really want to do. Nobody should feel pressured to either do or not do something. I didn't feel pressured to take this Game Theory online course. After initially reviewing it, I felt like it would be an interesting challenge for me to take on a course like this one. I want to see if I can hang with the rest of the class for something that is being run by the University of Stanford (Yeah, that Stanford out in Santa Clara, California) and the University of British Columbia.

My best advice for taking an online course, no matter what it is, would be to just focus on the subject at hand. It really is that easy. You should find the time to just put your focus on the online course and put aside the other things that you would like to do for the day. You have to spend a decent amount of time studying, taking notes and gathering information on other parts of the internet about the subject. Whatever work you do and whatever answers you provide on tests, it has to be your own original work. I don't believe in cheating. Above all else, just do your best and do everything you can to understand what the lectures are teaching you.

There is no specific time when one needs to start learning. We all have our own clocks that we operate on. Feel free to challenge yourself and have fun with educational adventures.