Autism and Religion

As most of you already know, I have high functioning autism. In some ways, this is a blessing, and in others, a curse. I see the world in black and white. There is no grey. There is no maybe. There is no “kinda sorta”. Things are, or they are not one way or the other. Logic is my guiding principle. If it makes no common sense, and has no logic, it is stupid and should be given no further thought. For this very reason, I’m often viewed as an asshole. I don’t pad the truth. I don’t engage in socially pandering methodology. It is, after all, illogical to be offended by the truth. I don’t make the truth, it simply exists. To get upset because I reveal it, is ridiculous. I have very few “feelings” or “emotions”. I am either content, or malcontent. I don’t “feel” love the way others seem to. I feel a close connection or bond for familial reasons, and defend what is mine, but it isn’t a deep seated emotion. It’s just a logical reaction of protecting what I have worked for. I have often wished that I could feel, mainly because the only real feeling I ever have, whether I am content or malcontent, is emptiness. I feel nothing. I am cognizant of that lack of feeling, and it makes me desire feeling.

With that being said, there is one area (yes only one) of my life and cognitive reasoning that troubles me, and that I DO consider to be a grey area. That area, is religion. There are a number of reasons why. Mainly, the idea that if there is a creation, there must be a creator. But the fact is that other than the creation itself, no sign of the creator exists. When I see a painting, I can meet the creator, or visit his/her grave. It’s tangible. But the idea of an unseen and unknown divinity being the creator of things that are seen and are known is difficult to grasp with any form of logic. Add to that all of the whackos that claim to have received a personal revelation from the Divine, and formed their own religions which to this day constantly go to war with one another and kill in the name of their god. And then look at all of the ancient inspired scriptures from the Torah, the Vedas,the Upanashads, the Bhagavad Ghita, the Sutras, the Tao Te Ching, the remnants of the Sumerian and Akkadian tablets, the Egyptian Book of the Dead, and more recently the Bible and the Quran. So many “truths” given to the hand of man by the “divine”. And yet, the adherents make great claims of belief, but don’t live by the words they claim to hold above all.

Of greatest importance however; of all of the reasons I can come up with, is that I have been legally dead multiple times, and each time, there was nothing. There was no tunnel with light. There were no family members greeting me. There was no angelic music. There was no demon trying to pull me down. There were no visions of heaven or of hell. There was just nothing. I ceased to exist. Until I was revived, my personhood was gone. My hopes, dreams, aspirations, my consciousness… all of it was completely gone. This was the absolute biggest blow to any faith I may have had. The faith that existed only because my father hammered it into my over and over as a child. The faith that was only going through the motions to begin with. The faith that had no roots because I cannot believe anything that isn’t based in logic – anything that isn’t tangible – anything that cannot be proven. To me, the experience was, if anything; proof that there was nothing after death whatsoever. As a result, I lost my faith. This isn’t to say that I became a bad person and “sinned” in every way imaginable. In fact, I didn’t change at all. I simply ceased praying and attending religious services.

Over the years I have drifted back and forth, unable to really find myself or faith or belief at all. I have prayed at great length asking for feeling. For something, anything that would allow my faith to increase. I have prayed for belief. I have prayed for trust. I have received none of those things. So I pray, I attend religious services. To what end, I don’t know. Maybe just to be a good example to my children. Perhaps because it’s the only time I am around other people. Perhaps because a part of me that is unknown to my mind believes, and takes me. What makes it worse, is that they tell me that just going through the actions is worthless. Without belief, and without love for G-d etc. I am just a phony that has no chance of redemption. But for me, actions are all I have. I simply cannot feel, I cannot love something that I have no knowledge of existing. It’s bad enough that I cannot feel, not even for my closest family. But add to that a requirement to LOVE an unknown divinity in order to merit the world to come, and I suppose I’m as good as lost. I’ve heard a lot of people say “I wish I didn’t feel” after they break up with their significant others… well I’m here to tell you, being without feeling isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

In fact, being without feeling is EXHAUSTING! To even be able to interact effectively with other humans, you need those feelings. I have to take my social cues from the actions, gestures and expressions of others. Sometimes I get it right, sometimes I don’t. Pretending to be interested in stories… pretending to find things humorous and faking laughs, making sure your expression is appropriate for the topic at hand, maintaining eye contact… it leaves me so drained that I can only handle an hour or two of any social interaction. I don’t know why G-d (assuming there is one) chose to make me like this, but I refuse to believe that someone referred to as “Compassionate and Gracious, Slow to anger and Abundant in Kindness and Truth, Preserver of kindness for thousands of generations, Forgiver of iniquity, willful sin, and error, and Who Cleanses” could hold it against me for not being able to do what He created me not to be able to do. This thought, and this thought alone is the only reason that I continue to pray and attend religious services.

WordPress Beginners

Coming soon to Theo’s Thoughts: WordPress for beginners. A lot of people have recently signed up with Who Inc. hosting, and their biggest questions seem to be related directly to WordPress. Many of them are coming over from SiteBuilder on other hosts, and just aren’t familiar with the flexibility and extendability of WordPress. As a result, I end up spending more support time explaining and helping with WordPress than assisting with other issues. To get around this, I’ll be doing a series at least once a week tagged #WordPressBeginners that will start from the beginning, installation, and work you through how to customize the template, add plugins, use frameworks to design, and start setting up pages or a blog. I’ll also be accepting questions, and taking a few older questions from support files to explain less common configurations that many may find useful. I’ll be doing it on YouTube for the most part and embedding the video here, but I’ll also be doing live series on Busker. So if apps are your thing, feel free to download Busker and subscribe to me, (Theophilus Floyd) and I will answer questions live while going through and explaining WordPress setup and customization.

Gwendelynne and her Bugles

My daughter has discovered the joy of Bugles and “witch fingers”. She gleefully played with them last night (06/27/2016) for around thirty minutes, and then passed out with one still on her finger.

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Attempting Minecraft on PocketC.H.I.P.

My first attempt at installing and running Minecraft on the PocketC.H.I.P. – Fairly successful, but not quite workable yet.

Related links of interest:

How to use Aptitude package tool on Debian, Ubuntu and Mint linux

How to Install JAVA 8 (JDK/JRE 8u77) on Debian 8 & 7 via PPA

 

PocketC.H.I.P. – First Impressions

PocketC.H.I.P.
The new PocketC.H.I.P. by “Next Thing Co.”

FEATURES

  • 4.3″ Resistive touch screen.
  • Full QWERTY keyboard.
  • Removable enclosure and bezel.
  • 3.7-volt LiPo Battery.
  • GPIO Access.
  • WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity.

APPLICATIONS

  • PICO-8 – Play games, change games, and make games with PICO-8!
  • SunVox – The SunVox tracker is a fully featured music production studio.
  • Linux Terminal – A place to type commands directly to the computer for execution and evaluation by the operating system.
  • Write – Write is a minimalist text editor.
  • File Browser – The File Browser provides a visual representation of the files on your PocketC.H.I.P. using icons.
  • Help – A copy of the documentation from the GetChip Website

I received my backer PocketC.H.I.P. today. My apologies, I was much too excited about it after having used my C.H.I.P. received late last year, to bother with any video of unboxing. Those of you that need unboxing therapy, look elsewhere.

It arrived in a beautifully illustrated cardboard box, shrinkwrapped with my VDA and HDMI adapters, as well as a spare battery. As you can see above, the final version is much nicer than beta versions (change not included, placement to illustrate scale only). As expected, it was running an ARM version of Debian. So naturally, I did the apt-get update & upgrade & dist-upgrade. Then I set about to playing with it.

It shipped with only six programmes (noticeable programmes, that is), and after being briefly entertained by them, I set out to creating the server remote that I intended it to be. I installed putty, filezilla and a few other select monitoring programmes for remoting in to my various servers for Who Inc. so that I could pretend that I had a necessary, real world application for this baby.

To be honest, it’s a bit clunkier than I would like. Though the website has various illustrations of the machine in use, nothing really prepares you for its size, or for its weight. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, mind you, it just is unexpected. It’s a kind of hybrid between a phone and a tablet, but with the benefit of being a full Linux operating system. All of the commands that you have come to know and love function. If you’re used to Debian, Ubuntu, Mint etc. you’ll feel right at home with one of these. One of the biggest downers is size of available space, but again, as this is full Linux, that’s a simple matter of sticking a low profile thumb drive into the available USB and creating /home2.

To do this:

  • /sbin/fdisk -l  This tells you your available storage devices with detailed info so you can determine which drive is which by /dev
  • sbin/fdisk /dev/sda This allows you to create a partition on /dev/sda (most likely the secondary thumb device as the primary drive appears to be hidden by the system) after which you will enter the following at the prompt: “n” for new partion, “p” for primary partition, “1” for the first partition (it may tell you that 1 is not available, and give you options beginning with 2), “Enter” for the first AND last cylinders (to make this partition use the entire disk) and finally “w” to save your changes. That has created and saved new partition and it will be called /dev/sda1 (first partition on /dev/sda). The next step is to format it.
  • ext4/4 /dev/sda1 – Choose either ext3 or ext4 – this does the basic format of your thumb drive.
  • Finally, to make it an extension of your /home that came installed on the C.H.I.P., mkdir /home2 followed by mount /dev/sda1 /home2. To make sure that this device will auto mount when you start up your PocketC.H.I.P., use mount -a.

Now that this step is complete, you are able to save files as large as your external storage can handle, as well as install a great deal more programmes, which for me, was an absolute necessity.

My biggest complaint about the PocketC.H.I.P. was not the large size or unexpected weight however; as they did a great job with the contour and counterbalance with the shape of the casing… no, my biggest complaint is the keyboard. I am operating, of course, with the understanding that this is essentially a baseline keyboard which is provided as a bonus for what is essentially a builder computer like the Raspberry Pi. But the keyboard, while nicely configured and familiar, lacked responsiveness. I found myself going back several times to press harder to get a letter to take, or backspacing for a letter that received multiple input though only pressed once. If you can live with that, and I can, then this will be an amazing and useful piece of tech for you to have.

Regardless of its size, it still fits comfortably into a standard back pocket. Its extra features such as a touch screen make it much more enjoyable to use. The screen is sharp and bright. All in all, I’m extremely satisfied with the outcome, and both happy and proud to have backed this fantastic innovation.

P.S. – If you do get one, it does NOT come with a web browser. This is simple to remedy. If you like text browsers, use sudo apt-get install lynx. If you prefer a modern browser, use sudo apt-get install iceweasel. Neither Firefox nor Chrome have a release that will install on this unit out of the box, and Chromium gives the “no release candidate available” reply. Iceweasel is clunky on this device to say the least, and you absolutely MUST use a stylus to get anything done with it. But for the power of a full Linux in the pocket, I’m not complaining. I also highly recommend installing aptitude (sudo apt-get install aptitude) and using it in place of apt-get for automatic resolution of dependencies when installing software.

The Road to Recovery

It’s been a total of a month now. Four days of which I spent writhing in absolutely excruciating pain. Standing up straight required all the effort I could muster, and felt as if I were simultaneously being ripped in half and burned. The more minor symptoms included the feeling of acid reflux, and chronic pain across my upper abdomen. Any pressure whatsoever on the right side just under my ribs was pure agony. After four days of this, I finally broke down, called the doctors office and begged for an immediate appointment. They were able to get me in, so I went. After a quick exam, the Nurse concluded that it was gallbladder related. So I was scheduled for a sonogram, and given a script for pills that alleviate the acid reflux symptoms. They actually helped.

I went in for the sonogram, and received a call the following day. All looked completely normal. That was very upsetting, because the pain that I was in, there HAD to be something wrong. I had actually gotten a prescription for pain pills, and I hate (read absolutely loathe and despise with an intense passion) to take medicine of any kind, especially pain medicine. But THIS was THAT BAD. So they scheduled me for a gallbladder function test. I went yesterday morning to take the test in which they gave me an IV injection of a radioactive tracer substance which they scanned at different points over an hour. Then, they flushed it with another substance that triggered the gallbladder to empty. Only… mine didn’t.

The doctor’s office called me the next day and advised that the tests reveal biliary dyskinesia (malfunction of the gallbladder which prevents it from properly emptying). The “normal” gallbladder will empty 35-40% during the function test, mine emptied only 13%. For that reason, I was referred to a surgeon (my neighbour in fact) for a consult on a laparoscopic cholecystectomy (gallbladder removal). He explained the procedure to me. It’s fairly straight forward. They make four small incisions in the abdomen (three are for their tools including the scope), fill the cavity with air/carbon dioxide, image for abnormalities, detach and remove the gallbladder, then they vacuum out as much of the air as they can  and finally, suture the wounds.

Today, I am less of a man. I checked in at 8:05 AM to have my malfunctioning part removed. I was miserable not only from the pain, but because I was not permitted to have any coffee prior. I was scheduled to have the offending part removed at 10:30 AM, but at 9:00 AM a call came to my nurse advising that they were ready for me. They wheeled me down the hall in the bed, past the previous victim and into the surgery section. The intern anesthesiologist was a pretty funny fellow, Micah Reece (University of Kansas Nurse Anesthesia Program), was pretty awesome as was the female anesthesiologist whose name escapes me. The surgical nurse (Laura M.) was very kind and patient with me, and described everything in detail. Doctor Morrissey poked his head in to say hi to me before they knocked me out. His smile was fairly reassuring. The intern anesthesiologist went to work on me, and the next thing I know, I am waking up sore. I try to roll to my right side, but they all instruct me to stay on my back. I pass out again. I wake up again, and once more try to roll over to my right side, only to be told not to once more. I pass out again. I wake up in my room, look around, and roll over onto my right side.

Hospital Recovery 2 Hospital Recovery 1

Once I was good and awake the nurse came in and asked how I was doing. She offered pain meds which I initially declined but which Natalie talked me in to. I wasted no time getting up to go to the water closet. After that, I ordered a meal consisting of a grilled chicken breast sandwich, mashed potatoes and cream gravy, a salad with ranch, and COFFEE. After eating, I finished getting dressed and Natalie walked me up and down the hall twice. I then got another cup of coffee on the way back to my room, and we waited for the nurse to arrive to discharge me. The nurse stated that I’m the best patient they’ve ever had for this procedure. To be honest, even prior to receiving the pain medicine, the pain was so much less than it has been in a month, that it almost felt good. I’m pretty sore now, but the soreness in no way compares to the pain over the last month. I feel great. It makes sense in the end, considering the surgeon having stated that my gallbladder was enlarged and couldn’t be removed, rather, it had to be drained first. Apparently we caught it in time, it wasn’t discharging at all.

Thank you all for your concern and for your prayers. You guys are great.

Tomorrow, I will be less of a man.

Tomorrow, I will be less of a man. No, not the way you think. I’ll be going in at 8:00 AM to have my malfunctioning part removed. I’m excited, because it marks the beginning of the end of this two plus week long period of agony. At the same time, I get weak at the sight of a needle going into my arm, so I’m terrified. And my surgeon, to whom I referred as “the Butcher” didn’t help at all when advising me that he would basically be stabbing me four times. I can’t tell you how many dreams I’ve had since then of an artery being nicked, and my never waking up again. At any rate, I look forward to what I assume will lead to relief.

For this reason, I will probably not be checking to any social media in in the morning. I have to be up bright and early to shower with anti bacterial body wash, particularly around where the surgery will be performed, and then  I get to go in and do mountains of paperwork, after which I’ll sit in a room for a couple of hours waiting in dread. I’ll try and report back after the operation is complete, if I’m feeling up to it. I’ve been told that the best thing I can do for recovery is to just get up and walk. “Walk it off” so to speak. And so I will. Just as soon as I am able! Any prayers are certainly most appreciated!