Into the Void Alexa Toolbar

April 17, 2009

I’ve been using the Alexa toolbar for several years because of the extra site information it provides. Click the picture to download your own copy.

PLUS they finally got with the program and made it Firefox-compatible.



The Neurology of Trauma

March 7, 2009

A few weeks ago there was a vehicle in front of me at the coffeeshop window with a phone number and link to The Evolutionary Brain. I called the number and got the guy in the truck, we waved at each other, and he gave me a DVD of the above video, Dr. Robert Scaer on Brain State Technologies and Trauma.

I had a theory about this 18 years ago when I worked for an EEG company and was getting into brainwave synchronization. Doesn’t it seem obvious that if you can “read” brainwaves, then you can also write them? It would be tricky. We’re not looking for ECT, which is more like an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) that wipes the whole thing clean. We just want to defrag the mind.

The main site for the technology, Brain State Technologies™ Brain State Conditioning™.

Imnsho, information like this is an absolute necessity if you don’t want to drown in your own drool. YMMV, of course.

Mind Manager: Non-Linear Thinking

November 23, 2008

MindManager: Linear Thinking takes you straight to the expected.”

Email about using mapping software to create linear procedures for engineering processes.

—– Original Message —–
From: Leslie
Sent: Thursday, October 30, 2008 7:21 PM
Subject: mindthingy

This application is for hierarchies. The design process is linear-sequential. What you need is a simple checklist.

1. Draw preti pixchrs
2. add part nubmers
3. etc

Mind Manager: Linear Thinking takes you straight to the expected.

“Say hello to free-form thinking. Your brain doesn’t process in a linear fashion. Neither does Mindjet. Now you can think visually with dynamic layers of information displayed in a limitless arrangement that lends clarity to any project.”

Ontology software maps interrelationships between objects and concepts in a given domain in ways that aren’t intuitive to a linear-sequential mind. I’m not sure how Mind Manager will help write a procedure because procedures are by definition linear and sequential.

If you want to bring in resources like test equipment or people then a scheduling program like Microsoft Project Standard 2007 is more in order.

I was evaluating different mind mapping software at home. I set it up so that as I ran through my Saturday morning web work it would remind me of related tasks in case I wanted to work by tool or by priority instead of running through them in sequence. As the weeks went on I found I was adding children and siblings and dropping files and links onto it, but the license ran out and I was too cheap to buy it.

Mind mapping software is easier to use from the start of a project. If you input an existing data set and impose a well-thought-out rational structure on it, you’re totally missing the point. The creative process doesn’t have a rational structure. If it did, it would be called engineering. Oh *snap!*

There is a Mind Manager viewer so that users can only view the mind map. Mind Manager also can export to pdf, html, word, ppt, etc.

There are lots of available Mind Manager maps. No matter what you need to do with a mind map, you can probalby adapt an existing map to do what you want.

Don’t forget Microsoft Office templates. I think this one, “To do list for projects,” will work just fine for a test procedure.

Are Autistics really UberGeeks?

June 4, 2008

The person to research is Dr. Temple Grandin. She is autistic and has a PhD in Animal Husbandry. She is probably the number one designer of humane slaughterhouses due in part to the fact that she thinks in pictures rather than in words. I draw the line before “because she thinks like an animal.” The powers-that-be love to say that autistics are like animals, a statement that is always used to dehumanize and to justify abuse.

Dr. Grandin has made some startling statements about how autistic children are being mishandled in our schools. The powers-that-be think they know better than her. After all, she thinks like an animal. 😦

Dr. Grandin has written a number of excellent book on the topic of educating autistics, including one called “Developing Talents: Careers for Individuals with Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism.”

Genius May Be an Abnormality: Educating Students with Asperger’s Syndrome, or High Functioning Autism

Center for the Study of Autism – Temple Grandin – Temple Grandin’s Hug Machine

THINKING IN PICTURES is Dr. Grandin’s autobiography and gives a great deal of insight into the mind of an autistic.

Geek Syndrome

The Invisible Plague

April 26, 2008

I’m not doing so well. I had a steroid-induced hypomania for about two weeks, and a subsequent crash. I was able to continue working through it, but I’m going to need a few days off to completely level out. Unfortunately I work for a company with only 5 people, and I do the testing so that we can ship product and bill the customers for all our hard work. It’s hard to get even one day off. I took off on Friday and had to take calls all day long. I might as well have gone in.

I really enjoy my work. Engineering is just as creative as any of the humanities. The main difference is that it attracts linear-sequential people and reductionists. That trait and that philosophy can be real creativity-killers.

Hypomania, or mild mania, can be socially and financially devastating. It’s the reason I sought treatment for the bipolar disorder. “Why do I get so stupid and unreasonably optimistic over and over again?” “Why do I keep making the same mistakes?” Hypomania by definition doesn’t include psychosis, so the impairment is completely due to over-optimism. As an engineer I have Mad Skilz at reality testing.

I usually avoid steroids for that reason, but my back is a mess from the accident last year and I got an epidural to have some relief from the pain. I also avoid painkillers because opioids are a guaranteed depression. There is a DSM-IV code for opioid-induced mood disorder.

Hypomania is exhilarating. Without an occasional hypomania, life is in shades of grey. Dorothy in Kansas. All bipolars have to accept that the price of avoiding hell is to give up heaven.

No meds stop mood swings completely but they make them tolerable and easier to manage. It takes a bit of effort to avoid triggers like lack of sleep, stress, etc. I do ok. A lot of folks on the list and the forum will never do ok. There but for the grace of God go I, eh?

I saw a book online while maintaining the forums this morning. I think you know the researcher EF Torrey? He has a new book called “The Invisible Plague: The Rise of Mental Illness from 1750 to the Present.”

I don’t feel like a deadly bacillus. Mental illness isn’t contagious! You can read everything I write, you can shake my hand and even drink from my glass, but you won’t catch get bipolar disorder from me. So why call it a plague? Why not focus on the triggers that cause a simple genetic propensity to become full-blown mental illness? Is that the point, to avoid implicating societal forces like the switch to strict industrial time constraints in the time frame Torrey’s book covers? Which, incidentally, was fueled by the shortage of workers in post-Plague Europe, but that’s another story. I’m a history buff and I really get into anthropology.

Refer to Edward T. Hall’s “The Dance of Life: The Other Side of Time” for a fascinating exploration of the perception of time as defined by our cultures.

And if you like rock, listen to Dire Straits “Industrial Disease.”

How does Torrey plan to eliminate mental illness? Does he want to go back to forced sterilization? Take biopsies of unborn children to identify and abort diseased DNA, thereby destroying even the unaffected siblings? Or is he content to make a good living calling us names? “Plague” indeed!


March 5, 2007

The [tag]StressEraser[/tag] is a handheld [tag]biofeedback[/tag] unit. Unlike my favorite computer game, [tag]Journey to Wild Divine[/tag], The StressEraser is small enough that I can carry it around in the laptop bag that is too full of other [tag]gadgets[/tag] to hold my laptop.

The StressEraser has a simple, no-nonsense user interface. It is really easy to use. You put your finger in the sensor, hit the “on” button, and the unit starts graphing. Once it figures you out, it starts printing pointers near the end of each inhalation. All you do is synchronize your breathing to the pointers. It helps you breathe deeply and evenly, and this, my [tag]caffeine[/tag]-guzzling [tag]geek[/tag] friend, is [tag]relaxation[/tag].

How Stigma Works

November 12, 2006

Some of the folks on Pendulum and The Bipolar Planet may remember back in 1999/2000 when my employer gaslighted me. Things like writing me up for being unable to get to work during a flood. Refusing to provide reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that would have improved my productivity.

No, really, what I asked for was a little cubicle at one end of the very noisy computer lab to cut down some of the fan noise and block the visual stimulation of people wandering in and out of the room all day. And that instructions be sent via email instead of verbally, and that stated task priority be filtered through my supervisor to assist my then-lithium-impaired memory. And that I be allowed some leeway in the time I start my day because of a co-morbid, or perhaps drug-induced, sleep disorder. All told it may have cost about $1000 for a couple of cubicle walls. Not a hardship for them. Perhaps it would occasionally inconvenience an engineer who wanted some soldering done first thing in the morning, but in the main I worked alone in the lab – nothing but me and ten or so distractingly noisy desktops and servers.

One engineer gaslighted me a number of times – telling another department that I would do a task for them, but not bothering to actually ask me to do the task. Or giving me incorrect instructions that led to two or three days worth of worthless measurements. He would assign the task last thing before he took a couple of days off, so I couldn’t even ask for clarifications. You can guess how bad this made me look. The negative effect on my self-esteem was incalculable.

There were two other handicapped women working there – they got us really cheap, I suppose. This fellow engaged in the same sort of behavior with them. I thought it was rather odd that he often talked about his kid, but never about his wife. At some point I caught on – the gentleman was a truly wretched misogynist.

It got to me. I began to think that maybe it was me, not discrimination and stigma. Maybe I really was incompetent. Maybe the bipolar disorder was really progressing toward total disability. My self-esteem plummeted. I was about to quit my job when one of the other victims suggested that I go on disability for a bit to get my head back together. So I did.

When I came back, the company refused to give me internet access. That meant no searching for component datasheets, no on-line parts orders, no package tracking. I literally could not do my job without it.

It was the worst kind of nightmare, the kind that follows you home at the end of the day, the kind that intrudes into your dreams, the kind that wakes up with you in the morning, the kind that makes your entire world lose its color and taste.

Eventually, the Director of Human Resources called me into her office and forced me to accept a “mutually agreed-to separation.” The woman even told me that I’m not suited to work in the electronics industry.

I want to know one reason why it is good for society to prevent the mentally ill from working.

The victimized co-worker that I mentioned later helped me put together letters to HR, took me along when she went down to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to file a complaint, and took me to her lawyer. I wouldn’t have done these things on my own.

For the record, the EEOC gave me a “right to sue” document, but I had another episode and so was unable to follow through.

Since my self-esteem was so shot, I was unable to find another job. Instead I went back to school and finished up my BS in Engineering Science – with a minor in Mathematics.

It’s been on my mind because I have been cleaning out old files including all my records about my complaint with the EEOC. Folks, if someone discriminates, report them – after you are terminated, of course. Even if you don’t profit from it – and you probably won’t – it lays a groundwork for future employees who experience the same thing you did. Three different women called and asked for my EEOC case number within the next six months after I left.

Yesterday, just out of curiousity, I looked up the Director of HR on the ‘net. She now heads up a local National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) chapter. If that’s what NAMI is all about, teaching HR people how to use our illnesses against us at work, I will never give them another cent.


I went to a local meeting one time. It was frightening.

This fellow brought his college-age daughter and talked about her in the third person throughout the meeting. He kept his arm around her as if she might jump up and run away. As if she might open her mouth and express her own opinion. As if she were his property. No wonder she was sick.

Another couple complained why can’t the doctors medicate their son against his wishes. The son is crazy, he can’t make a rational decision! Well, their son’s wishes are not irrational just because they differ from the parents’. When there are drugs that really work and don’t have debilitating side effects, the seriously mentally ill may feel better about taking them.

The NAMI facilitator glanced at me and then carefully said, “Forced medication is against the law. It violates the patient’s rights.” I know damned well that if I weren’t there the conversation would have gone differently.

I can’t imagine being wrestled to the ground and forcibly injected with intoxicants. I can tell you this – if you tried to do that to me right now I’d fight you until I ran out of strength. Of course, you would then be able to say, “See, see, she’s irrational, she’s being violent.” This is so much more than an issue of the patient’s rights – it is a violation of their person on the order of rape.

My opinions and my wishes are not irrational just because they differ from my family’s – or from NAMI’s.