Wednesday, July 20, 2011


"Now I am become Oppenheimer, destroyer of snack foods..."

What's that old saying about science? "You can't make an omelette unless you first convince people velociraptors really existed?" Something like that.

Today, I had in mind to test the exterior strength of the Immortal Twinkie, and Control Group, using the Black Binder Clip Of SCIENCE, and the results were dramatic and a little saddening:

I can report that Control Group held up remarkably well: As the first to be SCIENCE clipped, it lasted nearly three seconds before the Black Binder Clip of SCIENCE broke it in two, and I can report that I then was stunned and shocked for about three seconds, as well. I had underestimated the emotional impact that breaking Control Group would have on me -- and the sadness I felt at Control Group's sacrifice was mitigated only by:

1. Fear for what would happen when I turned the Black Binder Clip of SCIENCE on Immortal Twinkie, and

2. Secretly wondering if Control Group would somehow regenerate and form two Control Groups, which would be just about the coolest thing I could imagine, until

3. Human society was conquered by sentient Control Group Peppermint Patties, which would not be cool at all, but at least would get everyone to stop talking about how robots will eventually enslave us, because

4. The threat never comes from where you think it's coming from. Do you really think the dinosaurs expected to be wiped out by an asteroid? No. They were concerned about cholesterol. Which is why

5. I get especially worried whenever my doctor starts harping on my cholesterol, because it makes me think an asteroid impact is imminent.

But I digress. After the shock of breaking apart Control Group wore off, and well into the time when I should have been doing something productive with my time, I put the Black Binder Clip of SCIENCE on Immortal Twinkie.

And I learned that even Immortals have their weaknesses:

You can kind of see the dark indentation, in the lower right there, where the Binder Clip bit into the Twinkie before I called a halt to this cruelty. But Immortal Twinkie held out longer than Control Group -- nearly a minute before the remorseless crunch of the Binder Clip got to it.

Day 35 is here.

Autism Works: My Autism Team, and "mismatched socks."

Autism Works is an across-the-board post I'm doing to help keep people informed of recent events affecting those who have autism and their families. The goal of Autism Works is to raise awareness of, and collect information for, people on the autism spectrum by providing news and information about autism-friendly businesses and developments in treatments and identification of this condition.

Today's business is My Autism Team, a website that promises to help with what these posts are intended to do, to: help people find autism-friendly businesses and identify service providers and other tips.

Signing up for My Autism Team is simple: a little bit of detail to set up a profile (and a chance to upload a picture) and you're ready to go, with an email verification that was simple. The profile didn't offer me a chance to enter information about more than one child, and the categories of information about the children were pretty limited (just four options about his or her behavior, rather than entering, say, a sentence or two), but it only took about 5 minutes to sign up.

Once signed up and verified, you can enter information in a format similar to Gather or Twitter -- blog posts with a button to click about whether you're having a "good" or "bad" day, and the chance to enter additional information. (I, for example, entered my first post as having a "good" day, and noted in the explanation that it was "like most days.")

That leads to a screen that looks like this:

Elsewhere, you can enter information about service providers and others -- the information is quick to enter and offers suggested tags. I put in Integrated Development Services, the people who provide the therapists for the boys 5 days a week. The information you're allowed to provide is supposed to be limited to 1 sentence about the provider; I question whether that's truly helpful.

I then went looking for other services to see what was there. The boys recently had to stop occupational therapy because we can't afford the co-pay (thanks, Republicans!) each week, so I went to see if there were occupational therapists in our area that I could contact who might have a lower (or no) co-pay.

The search itself is simple: type occupational therapy and your location and get a list of providers listed there -- but the six providers suggested for me had no information about them at all, beyond their office address. There wasn't even a way to click to contact them by email, on or off the site, making it somewhat less than useful.

I also looked for "sports leagues," as I've been trying to find a league that is autism-friendly so I could get the boys involved in soccer (I'm not a big fan of soccer, but it seems like it would be the easiest sport for them to play.) Under sports leagues I got these results within 20 miles of Middleton:

Again, there was almost no useful information under those tabs. I clicked on "Middleton Sport Bowl", which is only a few minutes from our house, because I thought an autism-friendly bowling league might be just as good as soccer, but found only an address and this review, from 18 months ago:

1/31/10 Middleton Sport Bowl is a classic neighborhood bar and bowling alley. They updated the Bowl a few years ago and it's a nice bowling alley. You can always run into a familiar face, having fun, and eating good bar food.

Frankly, that looks like it was posted on the Middleton Sports Bowl fan page, and isn't in any way helpful to someone with autism or a child with autism; what I was looking for was whether they have leagues, or "sensory friendly" days or times that it's less crowded (and therefore less noisy and easier to police children.)

I've only just found the site, so I'll keep checking in -- it's obvious to me that it works better as more people use it and provide information; that's how crowdsourcing helps, after all. But the fact that it's been around for over 18 months and hasn't developed a lot of information isn't encouraging for me.

Also discouraging: why aren't there sports leagues for kids with autism? Or mixed-leagues for spectrum- and non-spectrum kids? I can't do everything, here.

Today's Site is: "The World Of Mismatched Socks." Written by a woman with autism about her and her also-autistic brother's lives, this blog is a fascinating look at what life is like for someone on the spectrum. It's funny, interesting, at times a bit sad, and well-written.

The latest post begins like this:

What come to your mind when you think about Hell?? Most people think of fire, brimstone, gnashing of teeth, A Justin Bieber concert, algebra, etc...

Click here to read more

If you have information you think would be helpful for this feature, please
Click here to Email me;
include "autism works" in the subject line.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


Remember when I was going to post these every day? Turns out that there are two good reasons not to do that.

1. I work for a living, you know.

B. Also, I'm not in the office every day, and as I've previously mentioned, Sweetie would probably not want me letting a Twinkie rot around the house, whereas the people in my office are I assume not yet aware that there is SCIENCE going on amidst them. Or around them. Or at least down the hall from them.

iii. Not much changes in the Twinkie from day to day. I'm starting to think it is Immortal, as though this Twinkie has or one day will grace the halls of Valhalla, sharing a frosty mug of mead with Helgi Hundingsbane and flirting with Valkyries.

It was in the spirit of Twinkie The Immortal that I tried to pose the Twinkie with a Worthy Opponent of SCIENCE, using an action figure that I happened to have laying around in my office:

I actually tried, for about 10 minutes, to pose them in such a way as to make it look as though the luchador was grappling with Twinkie The Immortal, but that turned out to be beyond my artistic capabilities, so instead you get that picture, in which the luchador appears to be the Evil Master of both Twinkie The Immortal and Control Group, which also remains curiously unchanged.

In fact, as I looked at them today, I noted that there had really been no alteration in either, other than that Twinkie The Immortal is now rock hard. Then I wondered whether there was something about peppermint patties that would make them impervious to spoiling, and I thought that I'd heard once that peppermint inhibits spoiling.

So I googled "Does peppermint keep things from spoiling" and I found out that peppermint helps keep mice away, which means that if I had done this experiment at home, we would not only not have any mice, but probably also that bat wouldn't have gotten into our house, because if peppermint keeps mice away, then it follows that Immortal Twinkies help repel bats.

That's SCIENCE for you.

Day Twenty-Eight here, if you feel like going back and seeing what the Twinkie looked like a week ago. (Spoiler Alert! It looked like a Twinkie.)