Dancing Robots

Title relates to today’s Computing lesson- at the start, Simin (our lecturer) showed us a dancing robot (ASIMO). I also discovered that she watched Lost in Space as a child, and she loves Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Geek win.

Otherwise in that lesson, I was there but didn’t really take much in. This is a problem, as I have a test on the processor, machine code and fetch-execute cycles tomorrow. I’m hoping to read the book and gain some understanding tomorrow, as today I couldn’t concentrate, and still feel rotten.

Interface afterwards did not go well. Too much muchness. I asked Johan to pick me up early as I couldn’t concentrate and was just totally fed up. At least I’d finished panicking when he’d arrived. I’ve done nothing since I got home, and I think I’m going to have an early night. I need it.

Cooking with Microwaves

It’s not patch day, but I know them all too well 😛

Today I was in Interface all day, and I spent most of it not able to really concentrate, but that was okay as nothing was that difficult. In Tutorial we decided what we are going to do as a tutor group for Christmas, then researching places and prices and things. During study time, I started my work experience as ICT Support for Interface (turns out I’d agreed to this before half term, and had just forgotten). I managed to fix a problem, and worked out what another needed, and then half-heartedly did some research into printers and laptops until it was lunchtime. I was really tired and couldn’t concentrate at all, so I probably should have rested, but I didn’t. Instead I walked around a lot more than I should have, and kept my mind on hard tasks. Humm. For lunch my friend Scott took me to the Martec (okay, it’s the 1861 club now, but it’ll always be the Martec to me) and I got cheese on toast, a muffin and a can of Monster (I needed the caffeine). I didn’t rest during lunch either, instead spent the time chatting and reading.

After lunch, our lesson was meant to be Communication, but it ended up being a cookery lesson. Interface doesn’t exactly have much in the way of cooking facilities, but we managed to make shepherds pie using just a microwave and a kettle. I’ve had some of the mince part of it (vegetarian mince) and it was quite nice. Johan has a family-sized shepherds pie to eat in the kitchen, but he didn’t want any of it tonight.

The last lesson was Independence, where we were doing budgeting (again). Apart from my amusement that the benefit amounts in one of the scenarios were way off (the scenario had a family of four on Income Support being able to spend nearly £800 a month on food and household items alone… never mind everything else) it was a pretty easy lesson, because basic budgeting I’m pretty good at already. We got to finish early as we’d all finished our work and as Doreen the lecturer put it, it was getting dark 😛

On the way home I got soaked, along with getting shepherds pie on my jeans. I need to figure out a better way of carrying things. Overall today I’ve done far too much (both physically and mentally) and I’m slightly worried about the repercussions of this. I’m already rather ill and doing too much isn’t going to help.

Since I got home I haven’t done much, just pottered on the internet, and had a bath. Now it’s time to bed, and I guess I’ll blog tomorrow. I just hope I can get up in time for my 9am Computing lesson.

Autistics Speaking Day: Autism, Communication and the Internet

Red Shirt Guy- I salute you.

I have mentioned before that I am autistic. This is a part of who I am, the same way that being very pale, having blue eyes and liking shinies is a part of who I am. Today there is a “Communication Shutdown” day, where people taking part don’t use Facebook or Twitter for a day to try and understand the isolation and social difficulties that being autistic brings. The whole thing confuses me, as the social difficulties I have due to autism are much less apparent when I’m on the internet, and especially on social networking sites. I am not upset by the event, just think it’s missing the point a bit.

Before I discovered the internet (back in January 1997, so just around the massive boom in usage) I was very socially awkward, and found it very difficult to make friends. I spent most of my time reading, and playing in imaginary worlds in my head (mostly based off the books I’d been reading). By this point I was 10 years old, and had been aware that I was “different” for a couple of years… and so were everyone else in my class, which lead to bullying.

When we got the internet, I went into my first chatrooms, and suddenly I’d found an easy way to communicate. Text has always been easier for me to understand than speech (I was able to read before I was 2, and was never without a book), and here was a way for me to be on a level playing field with everyone else. I made friends with people from all over the world, of all different ages, and I could share with them my experiences, and talk about whatever I wanted to, without the worry that I’d be misunderstood or that I’d misunderstand what they were saying. I also found other people with my interests (books, science and maths at that point) and being able to discuss them without making people bored was amazing.

A few years later, I’d created my first websites (personal ones, and ones on Star Trek) and even started my own blog. I had lots of friends online that I spoke to through emails, chatrooms and instant messaging programs. I even had romantic relationships, based on common interests such as Star Trek (a massive obsession for about a decade, and still a big interest). It didn’t matter that I was awkward in real life, here I was able to talk, and relate to other people without the barriers that real life communication poses.

When it was first suggested that I could be on the autistic spectrum, I didn’t really believe it. I knew I was dyspraxic, but I was not like my sister Becca or my childhood friend D at all (the only people I knew in real life on the spectrum). I turned to the internet, and read the blogs and websites by autistic people, and discovered those who thought in a similar way to me, who had similar difficulties in reading people and not knowing the hidden social rules, who did things I did like repeating words over and over just because it felt and sounded good. I came to accept it, and finally was diagnosed when I was 21.

There are many good things that have come out of my diagnosis, a lot of them related to the internet. I discovered Second Life via the Autistics.org website, and met my husband on there (so much for “autistic people can’t marry”). I’ve made a lot of friends, both autistic and non-autistic. When I’m so overloaded I can’t speak, I use instant messenger programs and email to communicate. I have friends who are non-verbal, who use social networking sites in the same way that others do, to talk to other people.

There is the mistaken belief by some that autistic people (especially non-verbal autistics) cannot communicate. Everyone can communicate. The internet allows a large set of autistics to show that they can communicate, and have something to say. There are some autistics who cannot communicate by internet or speech, or other conventional methods, but even they can communicate in some way, though it may be hard for those around them to understand. When we speak, we want to be listened to.

As for the YouTube video? Apart from it being an excellent example of how autistic people can communicate (Red Shirt Guy has Asperger’s Syndrome- response video with that mentioned here), when I watched this during Blizzcon I thought this was the best question during the Quests and Lore Q&A (the audience liked it too). He’s now going to be in World of Warcraft itself, as the Wildhammer Fact Checker. Win.


I’ve not blogged properly this month. Bad Danni. Quite a bit has happened, and I hope to get most of it down here.

I’ve been diagnosed with ME. This isn’t a big surprise, as I’ve been ill now for 14 months and my blood tests and things are normal, while my symptoms match. The main symptom for me is muscle and joint pain that isn’t relieved by normal painkillers (ibuprofen and paracetamol), but I’m also exhausted, and often my legs won’t hold me so I can’t walk at all. I have to use the wheelchair all the time when I go out now, which sucks a bit but I guess it’s what it is there for. There have also been a couple of particularly bad days where I’ve had to use it in the flat as well, but luckily that’s not a common thing.

I also have quite a lot of the other symptoms (brain fog, word finding issues, post exercise fatigue that normally causes the leg failure mentioned above) that make life a bit more difficult. The brain fog and stuff makes college interesting, as I have a very poor short and medium term memory (worse than I already had from dyspraxia and stuff) so have to write everything down. It’s not going too badly though, and my Computing test results have been good so far (100% on both of them is good, yes?). I have had to miss a few lessons because of exhaustion, which isn’t great but I’m doing my best to go in.

In Interface, we’re meant to be looking for work experience. Unfortunately, the one I want to do I can’t because it’s upstairs and there is no lift. I’m also a bit worried about work experience in general, because right now I’m simply not well enough to do it. I’m managing college through stubbornness and because it’s familiar, and adding something extra isn’t going to help. I’m also rather ill at the moment (relative to the last year, so since I got ME) and dreading college, not because of the lessons but because I’m not sure how I’m going to stay awake and alert for at least 12 hours a day. This half term I’ve been taking naps during the day, of between 15 minutes and 3 hours. I’m also in a lot of pain, and because of the medication I’m on to keep my brain under control I can’t have any painkillers, so I’m also rather grumpy and grouchy. Realistically, I know I shouldn’t be going to college at all and should be staying home and resting, but I’m determined to get through this year, and so long as I can get dressed (even if I need help) I’m going in.

On Wednesday I went to the Centre for Life with my friend Dean, who was at Interface with me a couple of years ago. We got to see the Doctor Who exhibition, and it was a lot of fun 🙂 It was nice seeing him, as since he lives quite far from me and he’s no longer at college we don’t have that much contact in real life (though we talk online sometimes).

Apart from sleeping (I do a lot of sleeping these days) I’ve been playing a bit of World of Warcraft. Got some of our guildies the Kingslayer title (I already had it from the first time our guild killed Arthas, back in June with the 20% buff), and managed to do some hard modes, including Saurfang, which we managed to 2 shot. I’m not sure if it’s the 4.0.1 changes that made it easier, or just that we had an awesome group, or both, but that was a brilliant moment for our raid. I honestly think that if we get a similar progression group together more often, we could get most of the hard modes in ICC down before Cataclysm comes out. It depends on what the guild wants, though.

As for Cataclysm, I’m really excited for it. I have the collector’s edition preordered from Amazon, which should arrive on the 7th December. I watched the Blizzcon stream which was awesome, and made me wish I could have been there. Maybe in a couple of years 🙂 The login screen and the cinematics are just amazing, and with the changes coming in 4.0.3 I’m really looking forward to it.

I’ve probably missed a lot of stuff, but that goes with the poor memory. Today is Hallowe’en, and so far we’ve had no trick or treaters, though we have got through a bag of Haribo Spooky Mix. Tomorrow is the 1st of November, which is the start of NaBloPoMo. This year, I’m going to try and post every day for the month, and as I liked it last year (on my previous blog) I will be posting a video everyday, on whatever takes my fancy. Hopefully I’ll also type a few words to go along with it.

Also tomorrow is Autistics Speaking Day. I will be blogging about something related to autism and communication, and I may be hosting a guest blog post for the day as well. More information on that tomorrow 🙂

GroupCamp @ SuperMondays, and Stuff

On Monday evening, after college, Johan and I went to GroupCamp at SuperMondays. This was the first time we’d been to SuperMondays for months, and it was very enjoyable. The GroupCamp format worked really well, and I went to discussions on the Tyneside Linux User Group (I likes Linux), about automatic learning of RSS feeds and Twitter for filtering purposes (I think), and one that ended up being about pretty much everything (the “kitchen sink”). The great thing about SuperMondays is although I’m not from the same group of people as the others (they’re mostly IT professionals or businessmen (and a couple of women), I’m a college student) I feel quite comfortable in the group, and normally have a good understanding of what they’re talking about.

The downside to SuperMondays is I stayed up past my bedtime (it finishes at around 9pm, we get home around 10pm), and the next morning I couldn’t wake up. This meant I missed my morning lessons at college, and finally got in just after 1pm.

The first thing I did was to sort out my personal emergency evacuation plan, as at the moment I’m having to use my chair a lot at college and I can’t manage stairs. Then we had Problem Solving, where we discovered a big problem- the 1861 Club (formerly the Martec), the student’s club/bar at the college, is going to be closed during the day to extend the evening hours for the Marine students. Most of the students in the college aren’t in on an evening, and use it as a common room/quiet eating place during the day. The Interface students use it quite a bit for dinner, as it’s a lot quieter than the refectory and doesn’t come with the 30 minute queues.

As a class, we are currently trying to protest the closure of the club during the day. We’ve got a petition going, we’ll be talking to people who can help us let the rest of the students know (none of us have been consulted or even told- we found out from Pat, who runs it) and basically letting the college know we’re not happy. This is the first time I’ve been involved in something like this for college, and it’s quite exciting. I’m already one of the class representatives for Interface, and I’m thinking of also getting involved in the student’s union.

In Computing, I think I did okay on the logic gates test we had on Monday. Wednesday our lecturer wasn’t in, so I got the work and did it back in Interface. It was binary and hexadecimal, and none of it was hard, just time consuming. Today we have a test on binary, and I’m not too worried about it. The one thing I am a little worried about is that I’ve not done the homework set on Monday yet, as I’ve been so tired. I will have to do it before I leave for college today.


I forgot to put my prescription in until Friday, and last night it wasn’t ready yet. I ran out of quetiapine on Sunday evening, which means I didn’t really sleep last night (I napped for a couple of hours, lay in bed for another few hours, then got up at 4.30am as I was bored of lying in bed). This morning I’m feeling nauseous, but slightly more energetic than normal (I can walk relatively well around the flat, though the stairs were still an issue). Today is going to be interesting at college, as when the meds from Sunday night completely wear off I’ll probably start experiencing all the troubling symptoms the quetiapine is meant to control.

The good news is I managed to watch the new episode of House before my alarm has gone off. It was good, and it’ll be interesting to see where the House/Cuddy relationship goes 🙂

Life is like a Video Game

My conversations have routines.
– Martin David Matzk

Yesterday was a very mixed day, which included my first panic attack of the academic year (woo). It also meant I missed my last lesson (it took 15 minutes from getting in the chill-out room for my heart-rate to get back to Danni-in-college-normal, then about another 15 minutes to calm down completely, and then I was exhausted). Hopefully today I’ll be able to sort out some of the problems that caused it with my lecturer. Louise the awesome made me feel a lot better though 🙂 My first lesson at Interface was yesterday morning, and it was good for something that was on a boring subject (the lesson is called Problem Solving, but since we’re doing Edexcel Workskills it was to do with problem solving in the workplace…). I also drew a purple penguin on Louise’s board, but I’m not sure if she’s noticed yet 😛

On the way home from college we accidentally met up with my brother Martin, and he decided to come home with us since he had nothing better to do. We had all sorts of random conversations, including one on life being like a video game (and if we had energy bars, how mine would be around 3 when Johan’s is around 100 :P). He played a lot on the Wii Fit, and I managed 3 minutes before having to sit down. It was nice seeing him, and while he was here my landlord brought us pizza and a bottle of wine. The pizza was demolished, and the bottle of wine will wait for a day where I fancy it.

On the subject of food, I’m currently on a diet. It’s the “record everything you eat so you don’t overeat” diet, which just involves noting down what I’m eating, and then the site I’m using calculates the calories. I also enter my exercise (or in my case, how long I spent sitting rather than lying down :P) and it works out roughly how many calories I’ve used. It appears to be inaccurate, but that may be because the medication I’m on slows down my metabolism a bit (along with making me tired and hungry…). I’m aiming for a very rough daily average of between 1200 and 2000 calories a day, but I don’t mind going over. Some days though I struggle to eat my minimum, which I’m a little concerned about because I don’t want my body to go into starvation mode. I’ll figure it out though.

2 Weeks

I could see it as you turned to stone
Still clearly I can hear you say
don’t, please don’t , give up on me
two weeks and you ran away
I remember don’t lie to me
you couldn’t see that it was not that way
swear I never gave up on you

It’s been two weeks since I started college. It’s going well. I’ve finally got what looks like my full timetable, and if Interface agree, I’ll be in college all day Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and for 90 minutes on a Thursday. Included in the timetable are places to do my homework that I get from my Computing course, so I shouldn’t fall behind on them.

Computing has been good so far. We’re doing binary and logic gates (binary I’d done before, logic gates aren’t difficult), and so far the only trouble I’ve had is copying things down from the board correctly, and missing something from the question. I’m expecting it to get a bit harder as the year goes on, but I’m confident I’ll do okay.

Interface has been fun, but hectic. There are a lot of new students this year, and since I never got to know most of the students from last year I’ve got a lot of new people to get to know. I’ve put myself up for class representative this year, which should be interesting. It has been induction the last two weeks, and so I’ll know better from next week what the lessons are going to be like. I’m not expecting any huge surprises. The first week I only went in Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, but I found that the day off on a Tuesday made it harder to get up on a Wednesday, so I’m going to go in that day as well. Luckily the new timetable shows that there are interesting lessons on a Tuesday, so should be okay.

I’m still extremely tired, and so I’m using the wheelchair to get to and around college. It’s working well, as it means I can focus my energy on my lessons rather than on getting myself around. I’d much rather have the energy to walk, but there’s no point getting upset about something that at the moment I cannot change. On the good side, I’m still pretty happy, which is making everything much easier to cope with, even being in constant pain. I still have my off moments, but they’re bearable now.

Last Sunday I went to the Latin Mass in Gateshead with Vicky. It was interesting, though I couldn’t hear most of it so lost track of what was being said. Then we went to the MetroCentre to look for a swimsuit for Vicky, then for a meal at Wetherspoons. It was nice 🙂

On Wednesday I went bowling with Interface, and it was a lot of fun (plus a few people got a bit of exercise pushing me up the hill :P). After college, Johan and I went to the MetroCentre so I could get a new watch (mine had broken), and we met with Dean (he was at Interface until last year) and went with him. It was great meeting up with Dean, and I finally found a watch (though it is not what I wanted, it tells the time so it’ll do until I can find one that does what I want it to). We went to McDonalds and I had a Mint Chocolate Aero McFlurry, which was yummy 🙂

I’ve been on a diet since Tuesday, aiming to lose some of the weight that I’ve put on since going back on medication. It’s a very simple diet, just changing some of the stuff I eat to more healthy things and trying to keep the calorie intake down. I started monitoring my weight and food 10 days ago, and since then I’ve lost 3lbs. This is good for an initial start, as healthy weight loss is 1-2lbs a week. I’ve noticed that simply keeping track of what I’m eating has meant I’ve been eating less, and we’ve switched from white rice, pasta and bread to wholemeal so it’s meant I’ve been getting less hungry. I’m still eating everything I like (doughnuts, biscuits, chocolate, bananas, chicken), but in slightly smaller portions which is helping. I’m trying not to be overly fussy about it, just letting my weight guide a little how much I eat.

I’ve not been on my computer much the last couple of weeks, barely been in Second Life or World of Warcraft, or on social networking sites. This weekend I’m going to try and catch up a bit, as well as maybe going to Software Freedom Day tomorrow. Also, I have TV shows to catch up with before they all start up again next week.

It’s going to be busy, but I’m enjoying it.

A Quick Recap

I was going to write long posts about some of the below, but they’re not getting done so I’ll do a quick post with everything in.

I got married on 13th August to Johan. It was quiet and nice.

We went on our honeymoon to Durham for a couple of nights. It was quiet and nice.

I got enrolled at South Tyneside College to do AS Computing and Interface stuff. This was not quiet and nice (the enrolling process), as it involved arguments over funding, worrying about not being let onto the course, and similar. Luckily, my key worker Louise can work miracles, and it’s pretty much all sorted now. She argued to get me onto the course, to get the funding, she enrolled me so I didn’t have to travel to college for that, she’s sorting out my support, and she made me laugh lots while sorting things out today. Louise, thank you.

I start college on Monday. I’m in three times a week, probably Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. The days suit me, especially since Wednesday is morning and Thursday is afternoon/evening (4.45pm-6.15pm). It means I can do Enrichment with Interface, which is bowling on Wednesday 😀

I’m genuinely happy, and have been for several months. It’s been over a decade since I was last as happy as this for as long 😀 I’m still crazy anxious though, and some days I can’t walk I’m that exhausted, but I’m adapting. Johan’s going to get muscles from pushing me 😛

I’m playing in Second Life again. Danni Ohara is at school at Oceanside Elementary. It’s fun. She’s also on trial with an adoptive family, who are brilliant and I like a lot 🙂

I’m not really playing WoW much at the moment, but will be doing so again soon, once I’m settled at college. I’m still looking forward to Cataclysm, and have decided to buy an online Blizzcon ticket 🙂

I play a lot of Audiosurf. It fits with my lack of concentration at the moment 🙂 I also play a lot of Facebook games 😛