Sciencing the sh#t out of things….

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Eclipse at near maximum in San Jose, CA–photo credit John Wright Canon 7d thru eclipse glasses as filter, from the Fujitsu Planetarium DeAnza College.

After so many months of hype, we all finally got to experience the two minutes more talked about than the Kentucky Derby–the solar eclipse.

Little Miss and I began on the NASA broadcast from C-SPAN, watching as totality moved through Oregon and Idaho, Nebraska and Missouri, and finally went out when it began to darken outside here in Asheville.

But it was clouds!

Definitely dismayed, we moved around the yard until we could almost see it through our glasses. As clouds tend to do, however, these moved on, and we caught the first third disappearing. It was easy to understand how the ancients, not having the benefit of years of scientific study, felt like the sun was being devoured and might never come back.

Sitting back in a lawn chair, taking in the moment, I experienced so many sensations as the event transpired. The grass was freshly mowed, and it smelled wonderful. We charged my large rose quartz crystal. The quality of the light itself changed, taking on characteristics of bright moonlight, a grayish-blue tint to the scene around us. The temperature dropped, and it definitely darkened. (We were in the 99%, not 100% so we only saw the corona on television.  😦   )

But at the same time, even as that small fingernail crescent slid from the left, to the top, to the right, knowing 99 percent of the sun was blocked– it was still fairly light. It was warm, maybe 70 degrees. Even with that tiniest fraction of the sun. How powerful it must be.

What would happen if the sun really did disappear? Jonathan O’Callaghan has the answer for you here. Let’s not rush for that one.

Overall, it was an exciting experience, and just as exciting to know we were sharing the wonder with literally millions of others across our broad country. Finally something we could all share that didn’t come with a red or blue, black or white, male or female distinction.

Better yet, science predicted it, and we all believed.labkylie5

So if science can be right about this, can’t we give scientists back their funding? Can we support some of their other theories, like global warming and conservation and preservation?  To paraphrase Mark Watney–Let’s science the sh%t out of this world!

 

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Another new venture!

In preparation what what is likely coming, in terms of dealing with my diagnoses, I’m feeling out possibilities in the event I won’t be able to keep working full time. One of my decisions is to create an Etsy shop with my sister Dianna.

IMGP2258Both of us are “artsy,” me in the crafty sense and her in the art and photography sense, and this will allow us to both expand our reach a little and indulge our deep passion for working in art and hopefully, make some money from it as well.

100_3514Stop by Copper Moon Creatives some time and see what we’ve got–I can’t guarantee exactly what you might find, but I can promise it will be eclectic and wonderful!

 

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Summer of the game show

One thing we learn about kids on the spectrum is that they tend to think about things in a very black/white manner. What they see in front of them is what is; if it’s not there, then they don’t imagine it.

For years, Little Miss was this way, and it was a constant point of “push” on my part. Why did someone act in a certain way? What would happen if…? That intuition part was just absent. I always got an irritated “I don’t know,” or more often, just ignored.

But this year, that door has cracked open, slowly at first, and then the possibilities have expanded–thanks to American game shows.

I have mostly considered game shows kind of a waste of time. After all, I wasn’t winning anything. Other than bragging rights to answering Jeopardy questions faster than the contestants (not necessarily a grand feat safe on one’s couch), there wasn’t much point.

wheelBut then we discovered Wheel of Fortune. it was on one night and I noticed Little Miss picking out patterns. She could identify “the” from one letter. Or other combinations. So we started purposefully watching until she could use her intuition to guess the letters. Eureka! Something beyond black and white!

Simultaneously, her ability to explain other things not seen fleshed out as well. Why did that man on the commercial ask people to behave a certain way? What does that girl feel, just by reading her face? Continued progress.

So while other parents, I’m sure, are chasing their kids outside, I’m setting up game shows. We watch The Price is Right, to guesstimate LMADthe prices and how much things might be worth. We watch Let’s Make a Deal to learn how to make decisions about things that can’t be seen. Should you trade a small box for a large box? Is bigger always better? Is money in the hand better than something you can’t see? She nearly always chooses the sure thing. Can’t argue with that.

This month, she’s kept her tablet handy, and every time there’s a trip to somewhere, she looks up where it is, identifies the flag and the location, and shares some facts with me about the country or city. If it’s a place she’s been, it brings recall of fun trips together. Otherwise, it’s a painless geography lesson.

asseenOf course, she’s still focused on having all the “As Seen on TV” gadgets, or anything that’s marked “New”. We’re working on that. But watching how she’s developed this summer, thanks to these entertaining lessons, I think we’ll get there.

Now I just have to get her a passport so she can go to these islands in the Caribbean. She’s insistent….

 

The next day

Most often tragedies come as an event, a moment, after which things are never the same.

In my work life, I deal with these events all the time. Families that were once happy, functioning organisms come to a point where they no longer work. While the buildup may have taken days, months or years, the point where someone decides “No more” begins the end.

The same is true when someone receives a terminal diagnosis, or loses a much-needed job, or suffers the effects of a natural disaster, or loses a spouse, or parent, or child to an accident. Even that diagnosis of autism. From that day, life changes.

That day may be one that you relive again and again, trying to see where you could have done something differently, wanting desperately for life to return to the moment before it became too late.

But in my opinion, that’s not the most important day. The most important is the next day.

No matter what’s happened, or how devastating that is to you, the long-term impact depends on how you greet the morning after. If you wake up with the view that your life is now over, it very well may be.  I know people who, after their spouse died, followed them very soon thereafter, unable to forge a separate existence.

It takes a certain amount of heart, courage and determination to move past these difficult life changes. There are cancer patients who get six months to live and turn it into remission. Hurricane and flood survivors build a new life. Divorce ends one phase of your life and begins another. As the mother superior says in The Sound of Music, “When God closes a door, he opens a window.”

There is a morning after, and a new way to look at your life. Take that chance and fly out that window into what awaits.

Charles Darwin says:

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

Humans have proven over thousands of years that they can survive. Depends how you handle the next day, and the day after that. You can do it. Believe.

A trip around the world

When I was growing up, I knew I’d become a world traveler, my passport stamped with all sorts of exotic ink. I’d dine in capitals around the globe and have mad adventures from jungle to mountaintop to desert.

As life developed, of course, my mad adventures took a sharp turn toward the odd, and I’ve never embarked on that long-imagined journey. At least in real life. Instead, we reach for a taste of foreign flavor each night as we have dinner in a different country.

A large, detailed world map graces the door to the kitchen at kid-height, its bright colors appealing to the eye. Tour guide duty passes from one family member to the next. Our escort for the evening displays the location of the country, its flag, a map, and shares as much as he or she wants to about important country statistics such as capital, products exported, name of the leader, neighboring countries, and so on. We gather this information from books around the house or online sites such as Factmonster.com where information is kid-friendly, which suits our group. Other sites such as Wikipedia or the CIA’s page might be appropriate for older children and adults.

The magic we’ve discovered in this picaresque expedition is that Little Miss, despite her language drawbacks, has become a whiz at locating countries. In third grade, she knows half a dozen in Africa, a dozen throughout the Americas, and can still remember after months, details about the countries that she presented, right down to the roller coaster on the ocean in China and the weird and wacky animals of Australia. At a time when most American high school graduates can’t even find cities in their own country, I think that’s something pretty special.

As for the rest of you? Get a map, whether for your neighborhood, your world or the cosmos. Set your course. How does that saying go? “Second star to the right, and straight on till morning.” Bon voyage!