Monday, 21 August 2017

Time to explore

Going on a six or eight mile walk at the weekend is all very well but I need to get back into the swing of a daily - or at least every-other-daily - fast walk (with a bit of running). I felt so much better for it when I got into the habit last year, and I was noticeably fitter when we were boating last summer. I has a nice little route mapped out from where I lived before - two  miles or so would take me out of the city, albeit still on a main road. I'd even got to the point where I could run a whole mile without stopping! And I would regularly fast walk six miles in an hour and a half, before breakfast. That's what I want to start doing again. It's hard to get started, but turns into time well spent.  I'd also bought myself a basic Garmin watch, so I could keep track of my times and distances. I lent that to Sebastian though, so as a substitute I've downloaded MapMyWalk. The downside is that I'll have to take my phone with me but as long as I'm walking and not running that won't be so bad. I've set myself a goal of twenty miles a week - which might be a bit tougher this week as I'm on leave from work, and a daily walk to work and back (by the more scenic route) adds up to twelve and a half miles a week. And we're off to Alvecote at the weekend (although I could get in some decent walking there).
Anyway, tomorrow I plan to get up early and set off to see where I get to.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Walkies again

This weekend my Ramblers group offered another suitable walk - actually on the short side, at six miles, but with some interesting terrain (and lots of mud) and lovely views over Ladybower reservoir from on high - and at lunchtime, from its shore.
The morning began surprisingly chilly, but the day warmed up, and it was mostly sunny and dry.
At lunchtime a flaw in Ricky's new harness revealed itself. All the time he's straining to get away - when passing sheep for example - it does a great job of keeping him under control. However, at lunchtime as he relaxed on the grass, I noticed just in time as his head slipped under the front of it and off it came! We accidentally hit on a good system in response to this though, with one end of the lead clipped to his collar and the other to the harness. In future the old (and cheaper!) x-shaped harness - which I think it is technically impossible to get out of without unclipping - will come out again!

Thursday, 17 August 2017

EE ba gum

The most stressful thing about moving is dealing with the utilities. I hate dealing with utilities. I hate using the phone, and I cannot stand dealing with call centres. I just can't do it.
I had EE broadband before I moved, and had been very happy with it. I went online and completed the requisite details for moving, which seemed pretty straightforward. OK, it took a fortnight, which I was a bit pissed off about - if I'd known that I'd have done it sooner. But still, confident that in two weeks my phone socket would magically come to life I sat back to wait, relying on Jim's mifi in the interim. Just before the two weeks was up, I got an email from EE. 'We would like to talk to you regarding your Broadband and Landline services', it said. 'Please call 0800 0790 283 as further information is required regarding your account with us.' Naturally I replied to the email, saying I don't use the phone, please can you ask your questions by email. That was five days ago, and naturally I have heard nothing since. Meanwhile, Jim's mifi data has run out (6 gb in a month; how?) until tomorrow so I am writing this at work.
That is as nothing however compared to my experience with Extra Energy, whose gas and electricity 'services' I inherited with the house. No, I had never heard of them either. I went online, set up an account, and sent them meter readings. I didn't get a bill, but I got a threatening letter saying I hadn't paid the bill. So I emailed them some more meter readings. The emailed back saying they couldn't deal with it as I had used a different email account from the one I had registered with them. OK, that sort of makes sense. But they said, could I phone them instead. So if someone pretending to be me had emailed from a different email account, that's something they are absolutely security conscious about; but anyone could phone pretending to be me and that would be fine. Also, as per my previous gripe about CRT, the only thing this imaginary imposter could do would be to pay my bill, so that doesn't seem such a massive security threat. I have now established some sort of email correspondence with them, albeit with massive time lags on their part, but that hasn't stopped them sending me another threatening letter yesterday. Now, I want to pay the bill (the sooner I can, the sooner I can find another supplier) - but I want to pay an actual bill, not their wild guesswork. I've given them the information - and updated it twice - but so far all I've had is one grossly over-estimated bill, in between the two threatening letters. Meanwhile the letter-sending-out machine seems to have no idea what the emailers are doing. 
Worst of all, the threatening letters only provide a phone number - no email; no postal address (just a tiny head office address hidden at the bottom). I told the email people that I don't use the phone because of a disability (!) and they fell over themselves to assure me how seriously they take this. Yeah, right.
On the other hand, a highly commended for Yorkshire Water, who have dealt with everything smoothly and by post, including a very nice, clear and friendly letter explaining why I couldn't pay quarterly like I did before (because I don't have a meter at the house! Baths all round!)

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

When does an adjective become an identity?

This is a Rivetcounter post really, and I will post it there too for what that's worth. It's too early to say whether Rivetcounter will finally take off but my thoughts have been turning to autism matters aagain lately.

Since getting my assessment over eighteen months ago now I've just been quietly getting on with being Aspie, not thinking about it a lot of the time; forgetting it sometimes. After all, I haven't changed; my life hasn't changed - I just acquired a label, a description, an explanation (of sorts) for what that life feels like. It's still the only one I know, and it still feels normal to me - because it is normal for me. The most interesting thing is getting an insight into how other people are different from me, which I never really appreciated before.

One of the things I've been doing is looking into setting up an autism network at work - and I'd particularly like to have a network for autistic women - partially because our experience is often different, and partly so as not to be totally outnumbered by men from the computing service... In the course of this I met up with the author of this blog, and then I read this post, and it got me thinking.

I've dipped into a few autism blogs, but (as you may know) I don't do Twitter or Facebook, and I'm not really that au fait with the world of autism activism - perhaps I have all that to come. But I've long been quite interested in the idea of identity politics, primarily because I don't really get it. So it seems to me ironic that autistic people should be arguing whether being autistic constitutes their identity, or is seen to, and whether this is a good or a bad thing.

From the start, I felt most comfortable saying that 'I am autistic' - even better, because I think (hope) it gives a more accurate impression, 'I am Aspie' - and wishing there was a more 'official' adjective for that. I much prefer this to saying 'I have autism', or 'I have Asperger's Syndrome', or 'I am a woman with autism' - or even worse 'I have an autism spectrum condition', or worst of all, 'I have an autism spectrum disorder'. Because having someting, even something as neutral-sounding as a 'condition', still - to me at least - implies a pathology.

But when I say 'I am autistic', or 'I am Aspie', I am not asserting an identity, or defining myself. I am not an autistic; I am not an Aspie. I am applying an adjective. It describes an aspect of me (the way my brain works) in the same way that other adjectives like brunette, right-handed, or ticklish, describe other aspects of me. But when I say I am female, white, heterosexual, to me those are still just adjectives. Feminist, liberal, atheist. Even English. To me these are all just adjectives. They describe me but they do not define me. But to many people at least some of these categories of description would constitute their identity, or at least an important part of it.

And I had the feeling that it was perhaps a particularly autistic perspective to see things like this; to not be happy with - or able to - adopt any identity other than 'I am me' - and not really knowing what that is, from day to day.  Which is why the idea of autistic identity politics feels contradictory.

However, as I think about it - and I'm going to start rambling now - I begin to see how an off-the-shelf identity could actually be especially attractive to someone who has always struggled to define themself and find their place in the world, and that the perspective I've set out above is that of a mature and relatively confident woman. The me of thirty years ago might well have felt - in a way she probably couldn't have articulated - quite different.

So the answer will no doubt be different for different people for all sorts of different reasons - but it's still an interesting question. When does an adjective become an identity?

Monday, 14 August 2017

Celebrating with relish

When I moved to Sheffield in the autumn of 2012, the crew of Warrior welcomed me with a bottle of the local delicacy, Henderson's Relish. I'd already experienced it, on a meat and potato pie (with peas) that Linda brought to Langley Mill a year previously, so I knew that it was both tasty and versatile - whether on chips (or peas) or in a stew - and also vegan. The bottle they bought me was a special commemorative one, celebrating local lass Jessica Ennis' 2012 Olympic gold medal.
So... ahem... Nearly five years later, in a lentil stew last night, I finished my first bottle of Hendos. It's top of the shopping list to replenish - but it is a little embarrassing that it's taken me that long.

I know there are at least two other Sheffield residents who read this blog... How long does a bottle of Hendo's last you?

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Day release

Work on the house has been pretty relentless, especially for Jim, so today we took advantage of the perfect weather for a walk in the Peak. It was an eight mile walk, with my Ramblers group, taking in Froggatt, Curbar and White Edges. I like the gritstone
of the Dark Peak a lot better than the limestone of the White - I like the dramatic and sometimes bleak scenery, and even more, I like the fact that it's not slippery! There was nothing bleak about it today though with the heather
in full flower and the distant hills all shades of purple,
and the quartz in the grit sparkling in the sun. It was a popular walk with 26 people signed up. Ricky came along and seemed to enjoy himself.
He has a new harness which we bought him yesterday, which has a sort of grab handle on the top. (Shown most clearly in the second photo.) We thought this would be useful when boating, if he were ever to fall in (perish the thought!) but it proved itself today as well for keeping him under close control when passing sheep and, especially, cows, of which there were quite a few, and some rather belligerent examples.
The weather was perfect, mainly sunny but not too hot.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Developments in the fireplace

You may recall that I was initially very pleased that the shape of the front room fireplace so neatly mirrored that of a Lily stove:
However. There's always a however, isn't there. Because the hearth isn't flat, indeed, isn't even all there - see that gap on the right?
You can see all the way down into the cellar... So Jim decided that the thing to do is to get a sheet of steel cut to fit into the fireplace and extend out to fill the space within the fender which has now come up from Sussex. But working out the angles and the measurements of the definitely asymmetrical trapezium-plus-oblong combo proved too much, so it was decided to take the wing walls (for so they appear to me) out after all. A few minutes work with the bolster and a nice clear rectangular space materialised.
To be fair, this probably does look nicer. I would like ultimately to tile the inside, to provide a light coloured but cleanable background to the purple stove. Next we're going to get someone to come and check out that the flue is as viable as it looks - if not, I'll just have the stove as an ornament, but if it is, it'll be worth going to the trouble of getting a pipe (and adapter) made and plumbing it in.
The presence of this liner protruding down the chimney (I thought I'd rotated that photo!) gives me hope...