Friday, March 30, 2007

The copy edited manuscript for Look Me In The Eye came back to me yesterday. We're one step closer to a finished book.

Every day, I hear from people who have Aspergian kids or relatives. I wish that book was ready now!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Dead locomotive

When I got to the Warren Wright Road rail crossing, the way was blocked by a stalled train.

I like trains, so I parked and checked it out.

The train stalled on a hill. They had to split it to get it moving.

Here's a dead engine.

I like trains

Autism is everywhere

It seems like autism programs are everywhere you turn. On TV. On the radio. People are asking if there's an "autism epidemic." They are wondering if heavy metal poisoning causes autism. They are talking about prevention, and cures.

When I look at myself, I don't really identify with that kind of talk. Like many Aspergians, I think I am a natural product of creative and intelligent parents. I look at the spike in Asperger's and autism in communities around Microsoft and I see the same thing. Smart, creative, and eccentric people are concentrating in areas like that, and they are marrying and having kids. It's no surprise that more of those kids are Aspergian than elsewhere in the population.

While my Asperger's made it tough growing up, it also brought me significant advantages. I'm imaginative, and creative. I've done fairly well in life, and I'd attribute a lot to my Aspergian advantages.

The situation with severely autistic kids is very different. It's certainly possible that metal poisioning causes brain damage, and it may be that environmental factors are causing an increase in that sort of thing.

Since most mental health professionals describe a continuum with barely-functioning autistic people at one end and high-functioning Aspergians (like me) at the other, that's a cause for concern. Obviously, these are two very different situations, with different causes and different probable outcomes. I would not want to give false hope that a kid with severe brain damage from chemical exposure would end up like me or other high-functioning Aspergians just "because we did OK."

I hope that the increased public awareness of autism issues will lead to a better understanding of the various causes of autistic spectrum disorders. Knowing the causes, we may be able to group people whose similar cause may indicate similar outcomes. I hesitate to describe "treatments" for someone like me, because I don't need treatment. I benefit from increased awareness, but that's about it. There's no pill to make me normal, and none is needed.

The situation with a poisioned or brain damaged kid might well be different. I could certainly see that such a kid might benefit a great deal from some kind of medical treatment. If that's true, we need to find a way to separate people like that so they can be helped.

I think we're going to see many new discoveries in this field very soon.

Monday, March 12, 2007

My book is for sale, six months early

Look Me In The Eye is scheduled for release September 25 by the Crown.

It's been on the Random House web site for a little while, but the description and cover photo are not up yet.

To my great surprise, I discovered my book already on Amazon! And I have a sales ranking, so people must be placing pre-orders already:

It's exciting to see it starting to move so soon. We're still in the copy edit phase, and we just finished the legal review. It's kind of surprising to see people lined up to buy it already. But it's great!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Going home

Well, it's Saturday afternoon, 84 degrees, and I am getting ready to head back home. here I am on the beach at Pompano.

It's hot, sunny, and windy.

The first view shows me, dry, on the beach.
The second photo shows the view you see, floating out to sea on the undertow

Buying a Ferrari

When I left Springfield, it was fifteen degrees and dreary. The line was long, and the plane was full. Luckily, I found myself seated with the Greenbergs, a delightful family from West Hartford. They were on their way south to embark on a cruise with friends from school.

The long flight wasn't boring at all, with interesting people to talk to. The Greenberg family business is the overhaul of jet engines, something a machine aficianado like me can relate to.

The weather down here sure is different!

Even at night, it was seventy degrees and balmy. After eating at a nice place on the water in Boca, I walked to the end of the fish pier. Then I walked a few miles down the beach, returning to the hotel at 1AM, happy but with sore feet.

I awoke to an eighty-degree sunny morning, and I headed for the Ferrari dealer. I looked at the car, which was very nice, and poked and prodded. I looked at the finish on all the body panels, looked at the motor, and looked over the service photos. The engines in these cars need to be removed every 15,000 miles for timing belts - a $6,000 job. The proof was in the photos.

After admiring the car in the yard, we took a test drive up Route 1.

"You'd better let me drive the car first," the owner said. "These Formula 1 paddle shift cars are tricky unless you know how to drive them."

Well, he certainly knew how to drive it.

The Tubi exhaust gave a marvelous bark as the motor wound up to 6,000 between gearchanges. The sound and feel was that of a race car. I glanced over the the gauges from time to time, but I could never see the speedometer needle. The right side of the speedo was obscured by the dash, and the numbers above 100 weren't visible. This is one fast car. I'll bet we hit five times the posted speed limit on some of those sections of Route 1.

Even sitting still, this car looks fast. And at 150, with the top down, it'll pull your hair right out if you bounce up on a bump. The F355 was the first Ferrari I fit comfortably inside, and the best driving car they had ever created when it came out ten years ago.

Back in the yard, the car cracked and ticked as it cooled. I handed over the money, collected the books and title, and bounced and squeaked out of the yard in my rented Grand Am. Oh well.

The car will be picked up by our hauler next week.

This is a Ferrari I could actually enjoy owning myself. It's a shame I bought it for someone else. But I'm sure he'll have fun with it.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

We continue to move forward on the book. I looked at cover designs today.

Meanwhile, the legal people are reading it. I hope they don't find many problems.

Back at Robison Service, I have gotten into looking over the work in the shop, something I've been too busy to do for the past few weeks. We've got a number of interesting jobs in process right now.

We've got a Bentley Continental here that's getting a hotrodded engine and chassis, new paint, and new woodwork.

There are three Land Rover Defender projects here. One's a frame-off restoration of a red 1994 hardtop. It will emerge as a green soft top this summer.

We've got a 300TDI conversion that's getting 3-link off road suspension, lockers, under armor, the whole works.

Then there are the two Haflingers. These are really slick, golf-cart sized rigs developed for the Austrian Army by Steyr. Both are body-off restorations. There probably aren't five of these in the whole state, and we've got two.

An enthusiast in New Jersey sent us a wonderful beige 1963 Land Rover with a worn out engine. All original and rust free. A remarkable find.

We've just completed engine swaps in a Mercedes E430 and a BMW 528.

We'll be seeing the spring rush in a few more weeks.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Look Me In The Eye made it through editing today. We're done with reorganizing and rewriting. It's about the same length as what we started with, but there's quite a bit of ne wmaterial. Blank spots were filled in , rough edges were smoothed, and the book flows immesuarbly better.

Elapsed time for this step: 4 weeks.

Next steps: Copy editing, where they determine if a line should be encase in quotes, or italicized. They find duplicate periods and look for words like ensure when it should be insure.

It's also off to legal review, but I don't expect anything shocking there. It's not a story that makes readers think of court battles.

Meanwhile, off to the side, the artists are working on the cover, and the business folks are figuring out the marketing plan.

The process is moving remarkably rapidly and smoothly.