July 2012 Archives

July 30, 2012

San Diego: Week One

It’s been a week in San Diego, and I’m really liking my new job.  I took a job with the University of California, San Diego’s Medical Center as the lead trainer for the Information Systems’ Customer Service department.  To date I’ve learned where all the training rooms are, who I’m working with, and what the Information Systems management has in store for me. 

 

The campus is huge, or rather very spread out.  The University of Utah has campuses all over the Salt Lake Valley (and a couple of other locations in Utah), but nothing like UCSD.  Not that it’s a bad thing, but with UCSD, travel for training is definitely required.  I have one campus on in Hillcrest (between Seaworld and Old Town, roughly), and the main campus at La Jolla (which has a beautiful beach, by the way).  There are a couple of other locations as well, so being mobile is necessary.  Thank goodness for my motorcycle, is all I can say.  ^_^

 

The department handles all the computer questions and issues for the UCSD Medical Center and employees.  They hired me because, much like many other medical centers and doctor’s offices across the country, the University has seen more Macintosh computers creep in.  As such, they found that they are required to provide support for them (especially as many are senior executives).  Also, tablets are becoming more common, so things like iPads and Android devices are growing in popularity.  

 

So now I’m looking for houses, town homes, condos or apartments that are within my budget, and then I will start looking at schools.  After all, that’s why we looked into moving to San Diego in the first place: the opportunity for children with Autism. 

 

Well, that and the beach. ^_^

July 6, 2012

Autism's No Joke

Article first published as Autism's No Joke on Technorati. Boys with autism at Hogle Zoo playing with a stone water feature. Monday night, July 2nd, 2012, prominent rapper 50 Cent received a tweet from one of his 8 million + followers threatening his life if he didn't release a new album. It was a stupid tweet, and one that would have prompted an FBI investigation. But instead of taking an official method of dealing with this one follower, 50 Cent replied with the following:"yeah just saw your picture fool you look autistic." "I dont want no special ed kids on my time line follow some body else"Instead of taking the high road, he shot back by using a very vulnerable portion of the population as a weapon, much as the"R" word was used during the 80's and 90's. The comments were unbelievable, and prompted quite the outcry against the rapper. The best that I have seen was from < href="http://missjia.com/2012/07/05/holly-robinsonpeete-amused-50-cents-autism-jokes/">Holly Robinson Peete, where she called on 50 Cent to remove the offending comments, at the very least.I'm not a follower of rap music by any means. I have a very eclectic collection of music, but rap is one thing I never really got into. I don't own, or have I ever wanted to own any music by 50 Cent, and now I'm less inclined to make any such purchases in future.Why do I feel so strongly? Because while growing up my brother, who was never diagnosed with autism (they didn't do that sort of thing in the 70's and 80's) was often the outcast. He was even used as a punishment on the bus while going to Junior High (If you were a problem child, you had to sit next to my brother). It was frustrating, and I often got into disagreements with the bus driver (and did a lot of walking home) over this very thing.People with autism are just like everyone else. They have feelings, they care about what others think of them. They want to have friends, socialize, and be "normal". They don't need prominent celebrities alienating them in a public forum, even if it's in response to inappropriate behavior.Some have called on 50 Cent to apologize. Others have called for a boycott. Personally, a boycott for me wouldn't mean anything, as I never have and probably never will want to purchase his music anyway. But I do think something very powerful needs to be said here. Autism isn't a joke. I don't want it to be turned into another attack by kids. I don't want to see what happened to my brother happen to anyone. Ever.50 Cent, I'm sure you don't care about what the autism community is saying about you. I'm sure you think you are safe in your record deals, fame, and fortune. Sure, you didn't make a racial slur, or attack anyone because of their sexual preference. But you did attack my two sons. And that's just not cool. Perhaps you should have thought before you wrote anything.Addendum: Apparently, a lot of people have been video-taping themselves smashing 50 Cent CDs, which has caught the attention of CDSweep, a national fundraiser for Autism by using donated CDs and DVDs. They provide funds for the Autism Science Foundation (ASF), a 501(c)(3) public charity that provides funding directly to scientists and organizations conducting critical autism research. They would prefer that those who are outraged with 50 Cent's conduct instead donate their CDs to benefit autism and autism research. I can't think of anything more poetic then that.

July 5, 2012

The Move

Last week I posted an article on why I was moving, but I didn't talk about the actual move.  The decision to move was a tough one.  We really liked the school our son was attending, and liked the path he had gone through so far.  We had some great memories in our home.  But we have been feeling a little cramped, and with an increasingly indifferent State Legislature when it comes to Autism coverage, it seems Utah, as much as we love it, is becoming a difficult place to live with a child with Autism.  So, I started looking for other places to live.  I had the following criteria I wanted fulfilled in a new place to live: 

  1. Great place for Autism coverage
  2. Moderate climate (my wife doesn't like the cold, and I can't stand heat)
  3. Close to autism-friendly attractions
  4. No hurricanes (my wife's rule)
  5. Small homes

The small homes section I chose because I wanted to more or less force our family to wittle down our collection of "stuff" so we would have a simpler feel to our home.  I managed to get rid of my jeeps (sold one, and gave the other away), culled out a lot of clothing that I didn't wear anymore, and cleaned out a lot of stuff from the garage that we just didn't use.  My wife has done the same thing with her stuff, and we have done the same with the boy's stuff.  We went from what would probably have been a 20 foot truck move to probably a 14 foot truck move (though we will probably go with a 17 footer, as it's the same price at uhaul.com).  Anyway, I started looking at different Countries about a year ago.  Autism is well supported in the UK, Ireland, and Germany (from what I had read), and I've always wanted to live in Scotland, and so I started applying for jobs.  The problem is immigration to the UK is difficult, particularly now.  While I would qualify with a sponsor from a company, none that I applied for were willing to make the leap for me.  It was a pitty, since there was one job in particular for which I was considered that would have been awesome.  So, with Scotland out, Ireland going through a very rough economic situation, and Germany being out since my wife isn't keen on learning the language, I started looking Stateside. So with that criteria, I looked at all the States that have great Autism coverage and programs.  While there were a lot of States on the East Coast, California managed to pick up all the criteria we had, provided we chose a large city.  That's problematic, because the Sunshine Tax is pretty high in San Diego, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Bay area.  But, I started to apply to several jobs and we crunched the numbers.  We started paying off debts, cards, and anything else we could, cleaning up our "stuff", and did a lot of praying.  It wasn't until after I had made the decision that we needed to move that I told my wife I was applying for jobs in California (she's from San Diego and has always wanted to move back there), so she had no bearing on my choice of location.  Though once I told her I wanted to move, and where I wanted that move to be, she told me I could have a motorcycle if I got her back to San Diego.  Good thing I came through, since I got my motorcycle two months ago.  ^_^ Anyway, it was a nerve-wracking decision, because of obligations here in Utah and my teaching schedule here at the University of Utah.  But it was a move that needed to happen, one that was a long time in coming, and one that took a lot of soul searching, planning, and prayer.  And after applying to 45 different companies (at least), and for about 50 or so positions, I landed a job at the University of California, San Diego.  This was the school that was my second choice for my PhD (the first was St. Andrews in Scotland).  Perhaps I will still be able to make it to that PhD goal, when the kids are a little older.  Anyway, it was a great journey looking for a new place to live, and I'm looking forward to the move in just over two weeks to San Diego.  Once I'm there, I'll post some of my experiences of Autism in San Diego, so don't worry about me going away.  But, just in case you were wondering why I was quiet on so many topics in the past few months, it was because I was a little busy.  ^_^

July 2, 2012

Moving Because of Autism

Article first published as Moving Because of Autism on Technorati.

Boys watching the sea lion at Hogle Zoo's new Rocky Shores exhibit.Lately, there was a news article by the Salt Lake Tribune about families that were leaving the State of Utah because of the lack of insurance coverage for autism. I've maintained that Utah has some stellar programs for children on the spectrum, provided you were in the right places. Those living within the Granite School District had some great support services through the school. But it's a narrow area in the State that has services. There are also special schools that provide autism services, but they are very expensive, and have such long waiting lists that getting into a school is a practice in patience. For this reason my wife and I made the decision that we needed to move to an area that has better and more available services for children on the spectrum. We started researching a lot of areas in the United States (and Great Britain, though they are not accepting immigrants currently) to find a place that would be best for us. Many of the States that tend to be autism-friendly are located in the Mid-West or on the East Coast. But as my wife grew up in San Diego California, moving to an area of extremes in both hot and cold like the Mid-West didn't go over well with her, and I don't handle the heat very well. And my wife categorically refuses to live in a State that could experience hurricanes. Luckily California tends to be very autism-friendly, while also having a mild climate that makes my wife and me happy. Services are very available in cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco (and the rest of the Bay area), and San Diego. So, I started looking for jobs, and found one at the University of California, San Diego. So, I'll be moving to San Diego later this month, and when I find a place to live more permanently, my wife and kids will be following.It was a wrench to move, because I'm happy in Utah. I've grown up here. I've defended Utah to those that had a lot of negative things to say about it, because I love my State. It's beautiful, diverse, and generally very welcoming. But the wall I keep running into when it comes to autism support is just too much for me and my family. I have to admit though, I can't wait to move to San Diego. My wife is looking forward to moving home and closer to her family down there, but quite frankly I'm looking forward to the ocean and the beach. I've always loved water, and if I had my way I would live on a sloop all the time (not very likely with the kids, but I can still dream!).

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