Monday, March 2, 2015

New Posts

I just got back from a week in California and I will have new posts coming up on a broad array of topics.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Me vs. Business Me: I Have an Alter Ego

My business, which is jewelry, is not for people who are mentally weak. I am a one man show and wear all the hats all the time. If I'm not on point then I lose money. This takes into account that I either overpaid or sold too cheap, either way it is money that is no longer available to me. People learn by watching as well as doing and I did more of the former, initially. I watched how the people moved about and what they were after. I saw they how interacted with others in the trade and how they put themselves in the best position possible. When I felt I was ready to swim into deeper water, not too deep yet as I am barely over my head and can still sink down and push off the bottom quite easily, I applied what I had learned. Let me tell you how I transformed into a scared kid to a juvenile great white shark.

There isn't much emotion in negotiating, which is great for me; the less the better. You have to be personable but also focused enough to get what you need and walk away when you don't. I used to be uncomfortable when settling on a price, but that has since passed. I've brokered diamonds for thousands of dollars and the higher price I get for the customer the bigger my commission. I realize there are some things you can haggle on and some you can't. On the buying end of things business me doesn't care if you need this money to pay your rent, but will meet you somewhere in the middle if its a great deal for me anyway. I have a much better poker face than when I started. Telling a sob story to someone who rarely ever cries won't get you very far. In the end it all comes down to money and I have started to choose more wisely how it is spent.

I always think, before spending for business, "Is there anything I else that I could do with this money that will make me more than this deal" and also "what other opportunities are in the near future that I may need this cash for?" A bigger question I used to fail to ask was "Is this worth it?" The latter came about after I spent money on small ticket items that I was only going to make $10 on anyway. And before you say think well if you pay $10 and get $10 back than that is totally worth it. It is if you can sell the item right away, not in three years. I could have done a lot with all those $10 mistakes, that are still sitting either in a box or in a display case I have to pay rent on. I've since learned to spend $10-20 on things I can sell for $60-100, sometimes much more, and quickly.

I like to buy things that have multiple uses. If I buy silver/gold even platinum scrap I know that I can make something out of it if it doesn't sell. This gives me a huge edge on the so called 'scrappers' who only buy precious metals for bullion. They don't know that some items worth only a few dollars are worth one hundred times more if they are made by a certain designer, and there are more of these, both people and the pieces they unknowingly scrap than you think. How did I get this edge? Hours upon hours of study, both at the jewelers bench and utilizing the computer. I have a lot of alone time, and I like to use it accordingly.

Business me isn't that much different than normal me. Except for the fact that He can walk away easily from a sour deal, negotiate like a pro, know when I need to give a little or when to stand strong and know all the procedures and tricks to make the most money possible. But the thing is, business me is an illusion, he only exists in the minds of the people I do business with. After the transaction is over I revert back to my old self an no one else is the wiser. If people knew who they were really dealing with I wouldn't be able to make another dime, but then again maybe that isn't true anymore. Evolve or die, or in this case, go broke. 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Battling the Man Cold (But it might as well be the damn plague)

I get sick once every four years or so. The episode usually comes to pass every presidential election or leap year, though not at those specific times. Usually it goes that everyone around me gets sick. I've dodged more bullets in this department then you would believe, some nasty stuff, too. When it hits, it hurts me big time because I am not used to it. For something to effect me it has to be damn near plague level, and if you ever see me sick, run; better yet put one of those suits they wear in a clean room environment. I could tough it out, but I'd rather relax and let it run its course. I use the word relax loosely. It's more of a 'sit there and suffer' cycle. I don't like medicines at all. I take a little vitamin C but that is more of a mental boost than anything. I drink lots more water, tea (which I always drink) and enough OJ to kill a small horse. I am patient, I just don't like being one. Slowly I feel myself go from bad to worse and then come out of it the same way. The thing that troubles me the most is afterward. I get sick so infrequently that I forget what it is like to feel normal afterwards. I always ask, "is this what I felt like before? I mean really, is this what normal is supposed to feel like?" That state of confusion doesn't last too long but its as awkward as an elevator ride. If I wake up and still feel normal/better than I am all set. I think I do this in case I think I am better but not quite, sort of like having a set back. I know I am not going to get sicker, I just need to make sure I am well and strong enough to go back to regular living.

As you have already assumed I am sick at the moment, and feel as though I'm over the hump and getting better, but I am not sure. This could be just a period where I've plateaued and don't move up or down in terms of level of symptoms shown or felt. This physical limbo is what kills me mentally. I like to have control over all the things that I can ( I'm not messing with anyone else's free will) especially my own body, and when you don't know it is a horrible feeling. I feel helpless. I enjoy my naps but taking so many is annoying and I don't really get to decide when I'm taking them when I'm sick. I know what they feeling is when I need one, though, and I always oblige to what my body is telling me physically (luckily I've learned to block out a lot of the mental stuff as I've matured, but more on that in other posts).

The reason I'm up typing this, at around 1 am while I'm sick, is that I over-napped and can't sleep, but I want to. I guess I'll blow my nose a couple more times and try again. 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Andrew and Myself: Two Sides of the Same Coin

I thought about doing this post for a while but finally feel I have enough information to do so. I still have the bigger more interesting one that highlights one of my most awesome abilities to do, so stay tuned for that. This one is about a man named Andrew who I went to high school with. I didn't realize it for a while, but we have more in common than me or my friends ever thought.

If you drive around my hometown of Andover, MA you will sometimes see a heavy set gentleman walking around with headphones on. People who don't know anything about him would call him the village idiot, and they would be wrong. One thing is for sure, he's not a typical guy in the sense that you think. People are gifted in other areas besides those you might consider desirable. Andrew is one of these people. back in high school he was in SPED classes, and I guess I could have been in them but that may have been unnecessary. I know how to use most of the information I learned in school, how it applies to real life. Andrew, on the other hand, not so much. He could remember theorems and all sorts of high level stuff but simple life applications was where he would struggle. Street smarts are what he lacks. He generally walks around town with a camera and sees all the people he knows, but always asks, "what's your name?" just for a quick ice breaker. After you tell them who you are the flood gates open up and he suddenly knows more about your life than you do. Dates and facts and birthdays are what Andrew is great at. If I'm not mistaken, I think he works part time at a law firm where he does heaven knows what, but it is likely either simple work or very factual, highly detailed information. He has the mind of a super computer and it was rumored back in high school that he memorized the phone book, which if you've interacted with him you wouldn't bet against that fact.

I see Andrew around two or three times a week and sometimes give him rides where we talk about whatever. He is always polite but lacks a filter, not in a bad way, just says whats on his mind, but sometimes the situation calls for said information to be more discreet. I bet with his memory he would be good as a gossip columnist. With my own brain I feel I could do the same. Of course he tells people all the time, in person and online, "tell your dad/mom happy birthday for me" ALWAYS on the correct day. Being not shy at all, which is a wonder in itself, he knows thousands of people and he has them all stored in that brain of his, to a T. People like when you can remember their name. But do they like it more when you know everything else about them? The reason for this post is that I had my 10 year high school reunion over the weekend, and guess who was wondering around with his Fuji Film disposable cameras all night?

Andrew's MO was spot on, always is, just as I described before. He's always laughing and squealing without a care in the world. I did tell a couple of my friends who were in attendance that Andrew and I had a lot more in common than they think we do. I told them we were to sides of the same coin to which they just laughed it off like they didn't hear or couldn't believe it to be even remotely true. It was like I was saying I was a big shot dating a super model, and they weren't buying it. Oh, well, I tried. But how varied could his brain and mine be? What particular levels on the autism spectrum do we each rest upon, and why? Although I haven't flat out asked him if he was autistic, the evidence is pretty overwhelming. This is the one time its OK to assume. He's not overly trusting to the point where you could rob him, but Andrew is fearless around most people, especially friends, which as I already stated he has a lot of. He walks up to girls all the time and asks his usual questions which most know him and are polite enough to answer. Some of these girls are very attractive and I know many men, myself included, who would just cower in fear or stare if they walked into a bar. I give him props on that facet of his personality.

What I take away from interacting and trying to figure things out about Andrew is this: Everyone has their own unique gifts and challenges, and they use them how they please. Something may be very easy for you and others a nightmare. I have yet to see Andrew in a scary situation where he loses it or does something and someone yells at him, but I wonder what he does when such things arise. People don't always understand or play along and that's why I think I like where I am, and won't move anywhere else, and I think Andrew is in the same boat; although I don't know who cares for him and if he even has a say in the matter. While I may not be skilled at recalling a random phone number at a moments notice, there is one thing I can do really well, which is remember faces, but more on that later.

                                                 Me                                          Andrew

Questions or comments? Let me know.

Sunday, November 30, 2014


Sorry for the lack of posts folks. I'll be back with another one tomorrow night. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Tempering Your Brain: Making Changes for the Better

The reason I'm doing this post mainly because I asked a question to Winnie Dunn, PhD at the AANE annual conference yesterday in Boston. They way I used the term or thought she was using it was not the same, and she liked the brief story I told and what my own definition meant to me. People were surprised by my insight I guess, and I talked to a couple of them about it afterwards. I thought people knew of this method in one form or another, which is why I didn't post about it before. This is my own original idea. Although her answer helped me clarify what I was thinking, I like to think I enlightened Winnie and everyone else in attendance on a new way of thinking about an ongoing problem that people on the autism spectrum struggle with. Sorry, sometimes you have to be arrogant to avoid confusion. 

When I was a child I had problems that seem so distant to me now. I wonder who I was and what I was thinking back then, and why these things happened. I've talked about anxiety already but that is something I will always have in one form or another. This isn't like that. I'd like to discuss different problems and how I might have solved them, mostly without even knowing it. 

When I was very young, probably around three or four, I used to have tantrums. If my mom did something different than my normal routine or I couldn't have something I really wanted than I would start screaming. Sounds pretty typical, right? Well I would yell so hard that I would pass out. I'm sure it was quite the scene. The first time my mom thought I was dead or something, but our neighbor, and my godmother Dee knew what was going on. I'm sure this happened more than once. I don't know when it stopped, but it did, so we didn't have to worry about it anymore. I do wonder, even now, about when the last time I cried for no reason was. When was the last time someone told me 'no' and I felt unable to think of any way I could do anything other than cry? What did that even look like? Did I begin to conjure up some tears but stopped myself or did someone else say something to comfort me? Whatever the case, I didn't cry after that unless it really meant something. With age comes learning how to deal with your emotions properly, for everyone. Raw emotion is one thing, but trying to change the way you deal with things you cannot control is another matter entirely.

During my middle school years I would come home every day and then go upstairs to take a nap. I'd wake up after a couple hours and then do m school work (or not do my school work at all) and then have dinner with the family and watch TV and go to bed. Actually I would try to go to bed. Falling asleep was sometimes difficult due to the nap I had taken earlier in the day. I didn't know then what a problem this could be or even that it was one at all. Near the end of college I was commuting so rather than drive half an hour back home during my couple hour class break I would instead go (or simply stay there) to the library on south campus. The building went up about five levels and I liked to go up to the third or fourth floors to what I called the stacks. Thousands of books were arranged like any other library but there were also ancient cheap pleather couches that you could lay down on if you wanted to. I would use my bag as a pillow and close my eyes and think without falling asleep. I couldn't fall asleep because I had to be at class on time and didn't have a phone I could set an alarm on yet. I would stay and think about anything and everything. I'd work through problems I was having or think about things I wanted to do. It took me a little while to realize it, but I was refreshed upon leaving the stacks, and I didn't have the problem of falling asleep later that night. I use this method even today and it is a huge part of me being able to regulate and replenish how much mental energy I have during the day. It should be noted that mental energy and physical energy are two different things. I have strong muscles at most times because I work out, but if my brain has turned to mush after a long day then I won't be able to hold a conversation with anyone. The whole process of knowing how to deal with my mental energy opened a world of new possibilities for me in terms of what I could accomplish, if I so chose. But what does this have to do with tempering my brain, and what does that term I made up even mean?

Temper:Verb. improve the hardness and elasticity of (steel or other metal) by reheating and then cooling it and that is according to what Google gave me when I did a search just now. The way I'm using it is basically the same, just replace 'steel or other metal' with 'mind'. Your mind does not have to stay the way you think it is. You can make changes. I'm not saying it is easy, but you can do so if you try hard enough. I like to use the comparison (and I like using them in general) so that people can relate someone they know to be true to what I'm trying to get them to learn. I mentioned earlier that I work out. The first few times you do a workout it is going to be hard. After that your body gets used to it and adapts to the unique stresses being put on it. Still more time passes and you realize you can do much more than when you started. This is what you have to try to do with your brain. If you get mentally tired or even stressed during the first couple exposures to what you are trying to get better at, let's say be more comfortable around large groups of people, than that is expected. What you can't do, and what I used to and a lot of other people on the autism spectrum do is give up when it gets to be too much. I am not talking about just backing off or taking a break for the day, I mean that they avoid the situation at all costs. How do they expect to change? Change (given that this is what they seek) can only come about by continually throwing yourself into the fire, so to speak, and tempering your mind. It is not easy to do but once you get over the initial hump and see some results does the whole thing snowball and you find yourself being able to do things you never thought possible. Going back to the parallel of working out to further this, you need to change it up once again.

If you continue to work out doing the same routine over and over again your body hits what is known as the plateau effect, where gains will not occur anymore. What you need to do is vary the workout and hit different groups of muscles or the same ones, just with different moves. Exercising new muscles or the same ones in a different manner will elicit change again. This relates back to the brain by moving onto a different mental block or problem, let's say for example learning to drive a car. All the stressors are different. There are still people, but they are in cars with horns and moving much faster than if they were a group on foot. What you would do in this case is to learn to drive in an empty parking lot first, like I did, and then take it out to the open road. Usually this is done with a driving instructor to guide you. Oncer you are comfortable on the back roads and around your own town the highway should be your final goal. Things happen fast and you cannot afford to make mistakes. I can understand why people on the spectrum don't like driving. I tempered my brain to deal with it and, from dealing with other things using the same process (which I wasn't aware I was doing until I spent time on that pleather couch thinking about it) learned to do it very well. Nothing on the road scares me. Even when my brain is toast from a day of dealing with people driving is something I don't even have to worry about. I like to think it is a basic survival instinct for me, something that I can do even on mental autopilot. I have been driving for over ten years (got my license at 18, which is later than most), feel I am in complete control and experience very little stress when I'm on the road. It took a while, though, but once you get the ball rolling and refuse to give up you will see the results, if you want them. And you have to want to change, if you don't you will only be setting yourself up to fail. You have to want it. You might not be ready for one thing, but once you get better at something else it may help you to finally break through the initial stumbling block. 

I can definitely say that sticking with things mentally has given me an edge over most people like myself. I feel as though I owe it to those who need help to give it to them, and why shouldn't I? Seeing people suffer inside their own minds is not easy for me to do. If I can help them I typically do, but some people are so resistant to change that it is out of the question. If you need advice how to get started then let me know. I think I can aid you in anything except how to pluck up the courage talk to women you don't know but are interested in more than just having a conversation with. If I take the training wheels off I'll be sure to help you with that once I have learned enough to really know what I'm talking about; just don't hold your breath on that particular subject with me.  

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Over Exaggeration and Yes or No Questions

As long as I can remember my dad has been one for embellishment. I think that is a signature of good story telling but it dilutes truth to a degree I don't like, especially when it is about me. Not that a father should be proud of his son, but stretching truth is something I don't like someone doing for me when I'm in the room. I can recall me either making or doing something for a party one time and then dad telling people about it afterwards as it being "the hit of the party!" This may seem trivial but I didn't like him saying that at all. It was like I assumed he fact checkers would come out of the woodwork en masse and do a thorough examination of what really transpired. Needless to say that has never happened but I still don't feel any less weird about the truth being built upon. The only real time that fact checking could have occurred was when I played college baseball. The hardest I ever threw that was verified was 88 MPH, which is fast, but dad was telling people I got it up to 90 MPH. I was 22 at the time and I stepped right into this one and told people it was only 88 MPH. For me this was a sense of pride and I didn't want to claim to throw harder than I did. I couldn't keep a straight face even to this day and tell people I threw that hard, it wouldn't feel right to do so either. I think I envision myself at a gathering spitting a whole bunch of BS and then some people who were actually present for the event in question calling me on it, out in the open. What am I supposed to do then, curse them out and call them liars or leave? If I do the first it could lead to a big argument which I never enjoy or leave and have everyone talk about me behind my back. I'd rather not have to deal with any of that crap and just give them the facts from the get go. Believe it or not, I think ahead about a lot of things, plan for scenarios so I don't panic and try to cover all my bases beforehand. Nothing is worse than a tainted legend, which is why all the steroids users in baseball will never be hall of famers. That actual leads me to the next portion of our program.

If all those steroid users had answered yes to the question "have you ever used steroids" or something along those lines right away their predicament would not have really changed. When you stop and think about it its like the guy at a party who lied and no one ever thought anyone would find out. There were obviously people on the inside who knew what was going on and it didn't take as long as they figured for them to either talk or find the truth. Nearly all of those suspected denied it first to try and save their own asses. It only prolonged their dwindling reputations and then the whole thing caved in. It was sad to watch some of my past heroes go down but everyone knew they were guilty. I know there were a lot of factors as to why they lied and this wasn't a case of tell us the truth and we will go easy on you, but rather this is everything I worked my entire life for and I want to hold onto it for a little bit longer before it goes away forever. Knowing the crap is going to hit the fan is a bad feeling, but trying to control when that happens is an even worse feeling. You have to try an manipulate so many things and people that its not even worth it.

I like to think of the time(s) back in sixth grade when I didn't do my Math Olympiad for Ms. Macnamee. Whenever she would come by for it I would open up and pretend to search in all my folders under my desk until she took a hint and walked away. I must have fumbled around under there for what seemed like hours, it was a constant happening. Eventually I had to make them up anyways, which wasn't fun. I was getting graded so to pass I had to do them at some point, there was no doubt in my mind. I just didn't want to do them (math has never been my strong subject) at that time. A lot of things in life are either pay me now or pay me later, there are no exceptions. If I had simply spoken to the teacher about not doing it I would have only succeeded in being made to do them sooner. I did create a lot of mental strain trying to lie about it, stuff no one ever needs.
If I had simply been asked the question "did you do your homework" there was no way I could try to hide it.

Yes or no questions are easy but people like to complicate them as best they can. In my mind something either happens or it doesn't. It doesn't sort of happen. When you get a problem that talks about flipping a coin 100 times and 'how many times will it be heads or tails' it is pretty simple. They never say 'how many times will it land on its side?' because that is not an option, but rather a gray area that does not pertain to the question at hand. The statement "I sort of got into Harvard" does not make sense because you are either going to Harvard or you are not, end of story. Using a more extreme example (and I know this could be a bit of an exaggeration but I'm taking a lesson from dad here) to prove my point, if you asked someone who recently climbed Mount Everest if everyone made it back safely you would expect them to say 'yes' or 'no'. You wouldn't expect them to say "well Pete didn't make it, but I'm sure he's fine up there" because we all know the truth; Pete is a Popsicle. I realize that this can be sort of cruel question because Pete is a person and that allows him to also be someones son, husband, father and best friend but that doesn't change the fact that he is now dead.

Why do we like to complicate things? Tell stories that capture the imagination but are outright lies? I'd rather people say to others 'he's just being modest' than 'he's full of it'. People are going to either find out you are full of it or never believe a word you say if you don't tell them the truth, and those are two great options. I only give credit where credit is due and I expect others do the same. If I tell someone that they have to check out a restaurant I'd rather they not be so excited that they have to do it right away and are disappointed, but have them wait and really have a good time without too much expectation. I like to be pleasantly surprised and make others feel the same way. If I tell you to do something or recommend a place to eat you should always take my advice, especially on food because nothing pissed me off more than a bad meal (and I can take forever to order and this is why I frequent places or do research beforehand). People have different tastes, but I know that if it was well worth my valuable time then I am willing to put my reputation on the line so that they can enjoy it, too.

This is a bit to think about before an upcoming post which deals with a yes or no question I have had about myself for years.