Cometary Tales Aeromen Nation,Blog Aeromen Take the First Playoff Game, by Mike Green

Aeromen Take the First Playoff Game, by Mike Green

Here is some feedback from the game. I kept score of Layin’ Pipe when they batted. Susan, the acting manager, kept score of the Aeromen and has the batting stats. The game was played on Field 5 so we expected a low scoring affair. The Aeromen led the entire game for a efficient and satisfying 5-3 playoff victory. A blend of 7 veteran (i.e. older) Aeromen and 4 younger so-called “Other” players (Jose, Nick, Ulongo(?), and Mandy) provided the winning lineup. It was a fast paced win taking only 55 minutes.

Everyone contributed to the win. Alan (P) pitched a gem. He gave up only 2 earned runs. After the 4th hitter in the 1st inning, he retired the next 10 in a row. He only gave up 8 hits and only an one extra base hit, a double. Charlie (C) was his supporting battery mate. The defense was almost flawless. There were 14 fly outs and 7 ground outs. In the outfield, Antonio (LC) had 5 putouts, Ty (LF) 3, and Jim (RC) 1. In the infield, Jason (SS) was busy with 6 assists and 4 putouts, and Mike (3B) had an assist and a putout. He had the most creative play of the night when he dove to his left to snare a one-hop line drive, got to his knees, and shot put the ball to Ulongo for a force out at second base.

I asked our fans —OK, really our fan— to respond to such an artful win by the Aeromen. Vanessa stated matter-of-factly, “Isn’t that the way they’re suppose to play!”
That’s why we love the Aeromen Nation.

Next week we progress to Round 2 game, and with a win, to the Championship game. The Round 2 game is against New Market Mallers, who are 1st seed and had a bye.

Think: Aeromen are the Champions

The Scoop

 

 

(Note:  Detailed coverage of the Aeromen will occasionally appear in these pages.  Guest authors retain copyright.  Less-detailed game reports can be found on the team’s Facebook page.)

You might also like to read:

Rain(man), Rain(man), Go AwayRain(man), Rain(man), Go Away

This isn’t so much a blog post as a paper. There are footnotes and citations. Bear with me.

Have you had this experience? Someone in a group discussion notes that April is Autism Awareness Month. Then someone else says, “Oh, remember Rain Man? I watched it again recently! Isn’t that a great movie?” And then everyone has a lovely chat about movies. Unfortunately, this kind of response is what gamers call an Epic Fail. Let’s walk into April with some better awareness.[1]

So, what is autism? What isn’t it?


Photo Credit: Nina from Australia, Rain, Rain, Go Away (CC BY 2.0) via Wikimedia Commons

What it is

Autism is a set of neurological characteristics found in as many as 1 in 50 people [2,3] that can lead to difficulties with social interactions, repetitive behaviors, or intense engagement in special interests. Not necessarily all these things. (So, you know 100 people? Well, you likely know a couple of autistic people.)

Nobody knows what “causes” [4] autism, although probably there are combinations of genes that are more likely to yield autistic characteristics. (It may run in families, like other polygenic characteristics, such as height.) Autism presents on a spectrum, so its current designation is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)…though many autistic people will counter, “there’s nothing disordered about me!”

What it isn’t

Autism has absolutely nothing to do with vaccines—that absurd idea was generated by publication of fraudulent research, a real-world hoax that has harmed untold numbers of people [5,6,7]

Autism is not Rain Man. Dustin Hoffman did his best, and the film made a positive difference at the time, but that was over thirty years ago. The movie is now woefully out of date, and most autistic people find it discomfiting, stereotyping autism, families of autistics, and the way the world perceives them.

Autism is not sociopathy/psychopathy/other-mispercepathy. The number of mysteries or thrillers or police procedurals in which the murderer/terrorist/stalker is a shifty-eyed, unempathetic, twitchy weirdo whose speech patterns and movements and sometimes specific labelling code them as “autistic” make my hair curl. No, the autistic people of the world are not spying on you, plotting the perfect murder, or designing weapons of terror. Instead, as a class, they are the kindest people you know.

Autism is not the strange child. The vast majority of autistics are adults. Autism doesn’t go away when you grow up. Why don’t you notice? Those whose difficulties with the world are great still live in relative isolation. As for the rest, they’re “masking.” This isn’t a lighthearted improv exercise. It is a progressive modification of behavior—often unconscious, in ways learned over many years—to appear more like you, because they’re pretty sure you won’t accept them otherwise. (So, maybe this should be Autism Acceptance Month.)

Masking isn’t perfect; you probably think of your autistic friends as ‘the little-bit odd one’ or the ‘cute, quirky one.’ You may not see them around as much as your other friends—because keeping up masking is hard work. The older an autistic person is, the better they can be at masking—but then, it’s harder for them to change that. Also, be aware that if you realize a friend is autistic, it doesn’t help to tell them to stop masking. It’s a difficult process, and they’ll let you know when they’re ready.

Photo Credit: Dietmar Rabbich (CC BY 4.0) via Wikimedia Commons

Unfortunately, old movies like Rain Man leave the impression that all autistic people are weird geniuses, can’t take care of themselves, and suffer extreme difficulties with life. Yes, some are in that boat (and a rare few are even geniuses). It’s important to be sure everyone’s properly supported in life—can we simply agree to support autistic people with needs just as we support neurotypical (NT) people with serious life issues?

A few thoughts to keep in mind, no matter what type of neurons you’re thinking with:

Autistic people are, as a group, extremely honest. This presents complications—because most autistic people don’t react in conversation in quite the exact way that neurotypicals expect. For instance, if someone doesn’t look you in the eye all the time—a favorite behavior of NT’s—they’re perceived as “dishonest”. That’s unfortunate…which is why ambitious autistic adults work hard to make eye contact, even though it may be enormously stressful to do so.

Autistic people are empathetic—and have all the same emotions you do. They may express their emotions a little differently, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have the exact same feelings you experience. Your autistic friends may even be more likely to notice how you’re feeling and to empathize with you, because they are observing you and working to figure you out, all the time. So they’re not just in possession of that deep, humanizing characteristic, they’re actively working at it, every day.

This doesn’t mean that autistic people are all perfect, wonderful, nice, diligent, hardworking, or what-have-you and are somehow better than neurotypical people. Everyone has shortcomings—and autistics don’t need to become the next perfectionist minority. It’s just that the stereotypes (weird, twitchy, untrustworthy) are contradictory.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably part of the reading/writing community. Here’s another thought for you.

Well. Ummmm. YOU might be autistic. Nobody wants to think of themselves as “different,” but writers—whether they’ve gone the publishing route or not—draw heavily from a well of “difference.” Lots of us grew up feeling like we were “on the fringe” or “the odd one out.” We dive deep into the special interests that drive our work. We can go on and on and on about a character or a situation or a plot point—whether in a story we wrote or in one of our favorites. Heck, some of us can sit down and hammer out 50,000, 100,000, a million words. That’s hardly what nonwriters would call “typical.”

If you’ve secretly, quietly wondered if there’s something you don’t know about yourself that maybe you should, here is one easily-accessible book to read: Cynthia Kim’s Nerdy, Shy, and Socially Inappropriate is a clever, affecting story of one woman’s journey of self-discovery. Some terminology it uses, unfortunately, became outdated the year after publication, with the elimination (for very good reasons) of the problematic term Asperger’s [8,9], but the self-realization content still holds up.

A cautionary note: take with gigantic doses of salt anything coming from the group Autism Speaks. They will be rather shouty during April and their old puzzle-piece logo will be cropping up all over, but this group is widely derided by autistic people as not speaking for them and, worse, actively spreading misperceptions about autism [10] and promoting [11] the application of abusive ‘therapy’ [12].  Many autistic people therefore consider Autism Speaks to be a hate group [13], but even without that label, their role in the politics of disability is subject to serious question [14].

Ready to raise awareness a little (or a lot) more?

Below are a couple of helpful, easy-to-access resources. You can find deeper reading by continuing to the Notes and Citations section.

Ask Autistic Adults is my current favorite website for quickly-accessed on-point information on what grown-up autistic people feel you should know:  labels, appropriate language, effective support, fake/abusive “therapies,” and more.

The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism is a web-based organization that provides a broad array of resources and connections to useful information for autistic people and their allies.

To catch up on the current zeitgeist in the autistic community, try the hashtag #actuallyautistic. To some extent, outsiders have tried to co-opt it, but the hashtag has withstood that pretty well so far.

Now, have a very happy Autism Awareness Month, everybody!

Below the blue umbrella: Notes and Citations

A bright blue umbrella floats upside-down

Photo Credit: Tom Mrazek, An Umbrella In the Dark, (CC BY 2.0) via Wikimedia Commons

Yes, lots of notes and cites. Because a blog post needs to be brief, but the topic is complex!

  1. No one person speaks for all people in any marginalized group. I make no claims that my perspective, or those of the autistic individuals I’ve cited here, is more worthy than that of any other member of the broadly-defined autism community. This essay cannot be perfect, but I will update it as necessary, and I welcome honest, fact-based critique.
  2. “U.S. Autism Rates Up 10 Percent in New CDC Report” Bloomberg School of Health. Johns Hopkins. 26 March 2020. (Accessed 29 March 2022) https://publichealth.jhu.edu/2020/us-autism-rates-up-10-percent-in-new-cdc-report#:~:text=Researchers%20at%20the%20Johns%20Hopkins,2016%20(or%201.85%20percent).
  3. “Rising rates” of autism do not reflect changes in the incidence of autism; rather, reports like the Johns Hopkins article reflect how wider application of diagnosis reveals that more people are autistic than was thought previously. This article in particular highlights a progression over time, as researchers began attending to this data and improving their diagnostic techniques. I linked to this article because it is quite readable and provides links to the academic papers and data, for those who are interested. The choice of a headline in a public-facing news presentation can be misleading—remember to read more than headlines.
  4. Autistic people, by and large, dislike using “cause” to describe the mechanisms underlying autism. It makes it sound like a disease, something you can “cure,” and that detracts from attending to what can truly help autistic people thrive in a largely non-autistic society, understanding what “therapies” are harmful bunk, and listening to what autistics think. However, it’s the term that’s easiest for a casual reader follow in the context of a (supposedly) brief article like this one. As a reminder, this is a note to a sentence stating clearly that the mechanics are still unknown.
  5. “Wakefield’s article linking MMR vaccine and autism was fraudulent” British Medical Journal (BMJ). 6 January 2011. BMJ 2011;342:c7452. https://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.c7452
  6. Wakefield’s horrific piece of hoaxery was published in the Lancet in January of 1998, and its awful effects have flowed into every corner of our medical landscape—even influencing vaccine resistance during the current pandemic. By the time the journal retracted the piece, the damage was done and the evil thought-virus of ‘vaccines are scary’ had spread too far to eradicate it.
  7. Eggerston, Laura. “Lancet retracts 12-year-old article linking autism to MMR vaccines” Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ). 9 March 2010. Accessed via National Institutes of Health, 29 March 2022. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2831678/
  8. Hans Asperger, the man after whom the so-called “high-functioning” side of the autism spectrum was (temporarily) named, is now known to have been a eugenicist, Nazi-assisting child-hurter, and all-around guy-you-wouldn’t-invite-round-to-dinner. The article below [9] is an accessible read and includes references.
  9. Juntti, Melaina. “It’s Time to Stop Calling Autism ‘Asperger’s’” Fatherly. 9 December 2021. https://www.fatherly.com/health-science/aspergers-vs-autism-and-hans-asperger/
  10. Lutterman, Sara. “The biggest autism advocacy group is still failing too many autistic people” Washington Post. 14 February 2020. https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2020/02/14/biggest-autism-advocacy-group-is-still-failing-too-many-autistic-people/
  11. I’m not going to glorify this page with a detailed citation. This cite is here to prove that the organization supports this kind of treatment. https://www.autismspeaks.org/applied-behavior-analysis/
  12. Ira. “Why ABA Therapy Is Harmful to Autistic People” Autistic Science Person. Accessed 29 March 2022. https://autisticscienceperson.com/why-aba-therapy-is-harmful-to-autistic-people/
  13. Sequenzia, Amy. “Is Autism Speaks a Hate Group?” Autistic Women and Nonbinary Network. 19 August 2014. https://awnnetwork.org/is-autism-speaks-a-hate-group/
  14. Ne’eman, Ari. “Autism and the Disability Community: The Politics of Neurodiversity, Causation, and Cure” 1 February 2017 (Initially presented at Emory University in 2013). Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN).  Accessed 29 March 2022. https://autisticadvocacy.org/2017/02/autism-and-the-disability-community-the-politics-of-neurodiversity-causation-and-cure/

My Instagram AdventureMy Instagram Adventure

I mentioned in my previous post that I’ve started a little Instagram project that allows me to play with my old books. This post essentially is an introduction to the content I’m putting into the Instagram series. Technically, these are supposed to help with promotion of my own book, but if I’m to work on a new platform several times a week, there has to be something in it for me–and renewing old acquaintances is as good a motivation as any.

Since this is my first try at an Instagram project, naturally, I’ve let myself start on a softer topic: ponies! yay, ponies! Below are my first two posts in that series:

Joanna’s Special Pony, by Hilda Boden, 1964 paperback edition

A friend put up a challenge on FB for us to tell about the first book we read on our own. I was stuck; I couldn’t remember. My mother used to say I learned to read “too early”, so that memory is, I suppose, lost to the fuzziness of preschool memory neurons.  But . . . I do vividly recall the first book I bought by myself, for myself, and read until it was so ragged with overreading. It was about this girl, Joanna, who was just awesome–she could tame a wild horse, she could take care of herself on a deserted island, she could stand up to bad guys. I wanted to BE that girl so very much–so much so that when I had to choose a saint’s name for my Catholic confirmation (and, yes, we did that at age 10 in those ancient times), I insisted on Joanna. My mother was dismayed–she had already picked out a name I was supposed to use–Ann. It wasn’t too far off, though, so maybe Mom just had slightly-off foresight.

Anyhow, while trying to explain the book to my friends, I found a copy for sale on ABE Books UK. It was the exact paperback edition I’d owned back then–so . . . now it’s mine. Again.  Joanna’s Special Pony is a classic “pony book”, with clever, courageous young teens up against adult malfeasance and bonded together by their love of horses and nature in general.  The characters are distinct, not cookie-cutter–even the villains of the piece have second thoughts about what they’re up to.  (Spoiler alert . . . When they connive to strand our heroine, one packs her a nice big picnic and the other insists she bring along a warm coat.) It’s set in Scotland, too, which for me is a nice bonus. (There are these little asides about “the English” that still ring true.)

I wish my mom had saved my pony books–but, then, they’re still out there to find.  You can explore this wonderful “lost” genre at https://janebadgerbooks.co.uk/ or snag the Kindle edition of Jane Badger’s comprehensive book on the topic, Heroines on Horseback at https://www.amazon.com/Heroines-Horseback-Pony-Childrens-Literature-ebook/dp/B07S2ZSKNN/.  

#formativebooks #whatimreading #mybookshelf #ponybooks #outofprintbooks #ilovebooks

Joanna Rides the Hills, by Hilda Boden, first edition, 1960

Once I found my first favorite book, it dawned on me there could be more out there. For one, my favorite book had a sequel . . . I actually found Book 2 while searching for Book 1. In the sequel, Joanna and her friends grow closer and become better friends. And they do a bunch of riding around on ponies.

It’s difficult to explain why finding the sequel to a kids’ book that I liked when I was 8, 9, and 10 got me so excited. Back when I was collecting pony books (in between the boarding-school books, the mystery books, and the cowboy books–no, cowboy books are not the same as pony books), I never managed to get my hands on the continuation of my absolute favorite book, to spend just a few more hours with the girl who was my childhood idol. Someday, I was sure, I’d find and rescue a wild pony and it would be my best friend and we would have people friends too, and we’d ride the wild hills all the time. Or at least until time for supper.

According to Jane Badger Books (The Source for all things pony-book, e.g., https://janebadgerbooks.co.uk/product/joanna-rides-the-hills/), this particular book is actually kind of rare. Some crazy has a “new” copy up on Amazon for nearly $1,000. Yeah, right, it’s “new”.  I hesitated only long enough to be sure my copy of Joanna’s Special Pony was paid for on ABE Books UK, before clicking back to the Other Bookseller for a properly-priced, accurately described copy of sequel. Other Bookseller actually happened to be on this side of the pond, so I received the two books in reverse order–but both of them in time for my birthday!  So, Quarantine Birthday came with lovely memories of wishing so very hard for my very own pony, while looking out the back door at . . . our family’s current pony-pet, Echo, as he whinnied for an extra round of supper.

Though I’ll try to keep the blog and the Instagram distinct, please don’t imagine it’s only pony books. The theme is “formative books,” which offers a broad landscape to roam. I’ve just done a post on a recent fantasy landmark work by Leslie Ann Moore, Griffin’s Daughter, which does have horses in it, but they are by no means the focus of the story. And I’m currently re-reading Leonard Wibberly’s The Road From Toomi, which, though two characters do make a long trek on horseback, primarily offers insights on racism and colonialism that survive the over fifty years since its publication. The next one on my list, Missing Man, by Katherine MacLean, has no horses whatsoever, so the streak will break there.

It’s happening again…It’s happening again…

I can’t believe it myself.

So let me work up to it.

Long, long ago, when I was a horse-mad thirteen-year-old, we lived stranded in a one-street suburb of Montgomery, Alabama, where the only available equine companionship came in the form of a mare and foal pastured behind our house.  The mare was tolerant, not friendly, but not the type to pitch a fit when some kid squeezed through the barbed-wire fence to pamper her baby.  It helped that the colt wasn’t a baby anymore, to be sure.

Generally, I would manage to sneak out with an apple, which the young horse would snarf down with relish. Then he would snuffle at my pockets in hopes of seconds.  Horses are smarter than non-horsey people give them credit for.  Horses know what pockets are for. Pockets are containers for apples, carrots, crunchy horse treats, sometimes even a handful of grain, preferably sweet feed.  They do not care about the cries emanating from laundry rooms when mothers find pocket-loads of such goodies swirling in the wash.

One fine February day, I ventured out with only some small treat, nothing as appealing as an apple.  It was chilly, so I wore my new(ish) red coat.  And my pony friend bit me on the shoulder. Another thing non-horsey people may not know is that a horse can bite hard.  They fight with their teeth–stallions even have extra-sharp eye teeth for those battles that make the front covers of old cowboy paperbacks.

That bite hurt. It hurt bad. I was not so horse-crazy that I didn’t run home for help. I was lucky to be wearing that insulated jacket–all my friend gave me was an enormous bruise, as the coat distributed the impact nicely.  My mother was angry, scolding me for trespassing in the pasture but also clearly angry that the horse had hurt me.  I took his part, explaining–convincingly, I was sure–that he simply mistook the red, rounded curve of my shoulder for a big shiny apple.  It was my fault, I told her, for leading him to expect apples all the time and . . . most accurately, for turning my back on him.  I loved horses, but I’d been hanging around them since I was six, and I knew better.

Bear with me. I’m getting there.

We were living in Montgomery because my dad was attending the Air War College, an academic-style officer-training program. It’s very like a master’s degree program in strategy, analysis, all that sort of thing.  (My copy of Strunk and White is a discard from the library there, one my dad brought home for his aspiring-writer kid.) My mom grew up spending summers on “the farm”–her parent’s country get-away. My dad was a city boy through-and-through. Years later, I learned he was afraid of horses–that the thought of his kid galloping around on top of one of those monsters horrified him.

The War College program is only a year. One spring night, quite late, my parents stumbled into the house after some kind of semi-official party at the AWC.  They, or at least Dad, had had a really fun evening.  Really, really fun. My dad had received his next posting. As wing commander for a prestigious bomber wing. In North Dakota. We were moving to an air base where there was an on-base stable, in a state where horses were cheap to get and to keep.

“North Dakota is Rough Rider country, cowboy country,” my dad told me that night, his eyes bright and his grin much wider than usual. “So you can have a horse in North Dakota. Won’t that be great?”

When Dad sobered up, the next day, and recovered from his headache, the day after, Mom sat him down and told him what he’d promised me. And she held him to it. She wouldn’t let him back out of it.

So for the next four months, I thought to myself, over and over again, I’m getting a horse, I’m getting a horse, I’m getting a horse. 

It’s happening again. I may be ever so much older than twenty now, but I’m having all those same feelings  Though it’s not a horse this time.  It’s a book.  It’s my book. And it’s being published. For reals. For really reals.  In four months.

It’s about a couple of strangers who meet up and have some troubles understanding one another.

Cross-species friendships can be complicated.

The book is All That Was Asked.  It’s coming out from Paper Angel Press, a publisher based in San Jose, California. And it should be out in January of 2020.  In the meantime, check out all the other books that Paper Angel Press has available.

 

 

 

© 2012-2024 Vanessa MacLaren-Wray All Rights Reserved