Saturday, February 9, 2013

Autism - it's not just for kids

On the radio this morning Kim Hill interviewed Graeme Simsion, the NZ-born Australian author of the successful novel The Rosie Project. The main protagonist in the book has Asperger's, although Simsion doesn't explicitly mention it. It sounds like a good read - I must look out for it. Simsion ran an IT business, earning good money, before (in his fifties) turning his hand to writing. I was intrigued by two things he had to say. First that to become an expert at something (to the point of making a living from it) requires 10,000 hours of practice, whether that's writing or painting or golf or whatever, and since most of us can't afford to give up our day jobs we need to find those 10,000 hours on top of our full-time employment. So if I could manage thirty hours a week, that's seven years! I'll be forty by then, and probably overweight, living alone in a complete pigsty. His other comment related to people with Asperger's: they can (1) choose to remain social outsiders, or (2) learn what to say at parties and, as he put it, what wine to serve with which cheese, and gradually "grow out of it". That's all a serious oversimplification. It's possible to do something in between (have social contact without being the life and soul of the party) and for some people on the spectrum, fitting in is extremely difficult if not impossible no matter how hard they work at it. As for the "grow out of it" bit, that's a great way to perpetuate the myth that autism is "something kids have".

Yesterday our work team went out for lunch. I had a rather yummy lamb shank. I've given some thought to how easy or hard it would be to give various things up for a year. Alcohol: pretty easy; I enjoy a glass of wine or beer but I could easily go without. Online poker: harder, but I've managed fine so far and never get the urge to play. Meat: now there's a toughie (typing that has got me thinking of steak). Meat-free days are extremely rare for me (I'm still thinking of steak). Mmm. To be honest I don't eat huge amounts of meat but that's more a financial decision than anything else.

On Wednesday we had the day off to celebrate Bob Marley Day. I spent some time on my puzzles - I'm submitting some to an Australian publishing company - and had fun and games with my printer. I decided to cut my losses and buy a new (cheap) one. I also bought some extra ink that cost more than the printer.

Last Saturday I went on a tramp to Belmont trig station. It was good walk through a very pretty part of the world, if a little on the warm side: my nineties Barkers track pants are great for winter but for that kind of weather I really need a decent pair of shorts. Part of the track was called Baked Beans Bend. By now I'm used to names like Dead Man's Creek and Skull Gully, but Baked Beans Bend? Did the pioneers experience flatulence problems along that stretch? Or maybe they had issues at both ends, hence the Puke bit.
Last weekend there was a seven-hour doubles match in the Davis Cup. It was the longest ever doubles match and second-longest tennis match of all time. Stanislas Wawrinka (who lost that marathon to Djokovic at the Australian Open last month) was again on the losing side as he partnered Marco Chiudinelli, playing for Switzerland against the Czech Republic. The Czechs won 24-22 in the final set on their 13th match point. The sheer number of match points might be a record in itself. Gustavo Kuerten needed eleven to get past Magnus Norman in the final of the 2000 French Open; I remember that match because I bet on Norman to win the tournament before it started - he was in amazing form but seemed to be battling stage fright and a partizan crowd in the final.

My parents are coming to stay on Thursday for four nights. My flat needs a serious clean before then.

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