There was an error in this gadget

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Moving... Journals.

For reasons unknown (okay, Tumblr is more modern and I can have a photo album.), I have moved this journal to http://autisticdolphin.tumblr.com/. Follow me there!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Thoughts, An Update, Etc.


I've really got nothing to say.

Some Updates about my life:

  • Back in college, full time - Taking BioII, College Algebra, Ghosts in Literature, and Humanities. I'm in my Humanities class right now, and I'm really not into it. All we've done is stare at pieces of art. I'm not an art person. Animal/Plant/Nature photography, yes, paintings, no.
  • I've got two ball pythons - one is a normal phase, and one is heterozygous for genetic stripe. My het. G-stripe is a baby boy that I have named Salazar, after the Slytherin House Founder, and the other one is a nearly full grown female that is named Kenya (her former owner named her). They bring so much joy into my life, and I'm so thankful for them! They're awesome animals.

  • Jason, my boyfriend, is going to teach in S. Korea for a year, starting in October. I guess it hasn't really hit me yet. I guess I'll survive.
I'm kinda freaking out about the student in front of me who keeps throwing his hair over my computer. Also, there's this gross Asian kid that sits next to me in my math class who smells and is just really gross. I don't like this Asian kid. And he fits every stereotype, down to the new shoes. Whatever.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Kids. I don't know how you guys do it.

I'm currently listening to the (not so) lovely sound of a bunch of little kids playing/screaming.

I don't know how you parents do it. Especially with kids with autism.

My mom and I... well, really my mom, had to babysit an autistic three year old on Tuesday. She said he was good, but I thought differently. He drooled, he smelled, and he chewed on EVERYTHING... plus he was sick. Thankfully, we didn't take him to MarineLand in my car, but we did take him in my mom's car... and he drooled all over me. It was disgusting.

In other news, I'm going down to hang out with a friend of mine in South Florida for my birthday. We're going herping, and then we might possibly go down to the Dolphin Research Center to say hi to a dolphin that I haven't seen since I swam with him at the age of three - A.J. I would really love to see him again and thank him for giving me the love and passion for dolphins that I have now...

So, here's my question for you guys: Why have kids? They're smelly, loud, and steal attention, and, to be frank, are a piece of flesh you throw your money at. But hey, I am an egocentric autistic who really doesn't want kids at this point in life, so don't listen to my opinion. But I do want to listen to yours!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Reading List!!!

Okay, I love reading. According to my mother, I taught myself how to read books when I was about two years old. The doctor diagnosed me as hyperlexic, which is the opposite of dyslexia. When I was a child, I didn't like to read fiction books until I discovered the Harry Potter series, which I fell in love with.

Anyway, I've been reading quite a few books over the past year or so. The first book I read, or should I say re-read, was the seventh installment of the Harry Potter series, entitled Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I basically locked myself up in my room and read straight through the 759 pages in two days flat. Like I said in my previous journal, I can't wait for WWoHP to open!

I also fell in love with a particular author, Neil Gaiman, particularly with his book American Gods. This book had me from the start, and it was very gripping, if not obsessively intriguing, until the very end, where there is a major plot twist that I never saw coming. I also read Neverwhere, which is also by Gaiman, but I didn't like it as much. I mean, it was a great book and all, and very well written, but it wasn't my type of book. I guess you could say that' I'm pretty particular on what kinds/subjects of books I read. Heck, I bought a third Neil Gaiman book, called Good Omens, and wound up leaving it unfinished becuase I wasn't entirely interested in the story plot (for the record, it took me about a month to get through the first chapter of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, when I was like ten years old).

I also kind of got into some of Stephen King's works. Although I find the basic plot of all of his books to be kind of redundant, they still kind of intrigue me. I originally read Pet Semetery when I was about thirteen years old or so, and I really liked it. However, my mother forbid me to read more of King's work because of the anxiety that I get at night (I've had this anxiety for my entire life, and still have it). But now that I'm an adult, I feel as if I can make my own choices as to what I can read or can't. So, I went out and purchased Insomnia, and blew through that in about a month or so. I'm pretty sure I read another one of King's books too, but the title has slipped my mind for the time being....

I also found extreme intrest in Dr. Jan Garavaglia's book, entitled How Not to Die. I personally think that everybody should read this book, because it gives a lot of tips to prolong your life, and a lot of examples of how stupid decisions can lead to your early demise. It's a great book, but I kind of wish there were illustrations in there of the cadavers.

I'm reading a rather interesting series of books right now, by Mary Roach. The first, entitled Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, was recommended to me by both my english teacher and a very close personal friend. I simply adored this book! It kept me in stitches the entire time, and presented its highly researched and educational material in a comical way. It was simply stunning. I'm currently reading her second book "Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife", and so far it's great. I am also looking forward to reading her third book, "Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex". Aah, Mary Roach picks the most interesting topics... not to mention that I'm head over heels for her writing style and overall wit/snarkiness.

From there, I'm probably going to try to get a copy of Jessica Mitford's The American Way of Death to read. And, if you didn't figure it out by now, if I don't become a veternarian for some odd reason or another, I'm going to become a medical examiner for humans. I've had a morbid fascination with death (no pun intended) for years; my mother can recall me asking to witness an autopsy from my early childhood. I don't think death is "sick" or disgusting at all, I think that the subject is very fascinating. A lot of what we know now, as far as the medical community is concerned, has been learned through studying dead bodies and their organs/limbs/parts/etc. Personally, I'm going to donate my brain to the Harvard Brain Bank, where it can hopefully be used for autism research. I'd also might like to have myself plastinized with a tiger or a cetacean and be put on display somewhere, say in the American Museum of Natural History.... that is, if I get famous.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

WWoHP

For those of you who don't know what that is, the title acronym stands for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!


This is the solid most exciting thing in my life that will occur for the entire year. I only have bad grammar when I'm completely excited... like RIGHT NOW. Because the opening is only a MONTH AWAY. And I'm going to go with Magic City Mayhem and have them record my fangirl spasms! I will probably be going as Hermoine Granger, and will run around and use the Killing Curse a bunch of random people... I wonder if MoM will kick me out for it! :D

On a side note, has anybody noticed that the movie Voldemort and Satan from The Passion of the Christ look a lot alike? Is there something to this?

Voldemort

Satan

Oh, and I'm repeatedly watching this... I love PPP! <3




Sunday, May 2, 2010

What Love Has Taught Me....

Firstly, I'd like to say a hearty congratulations to my boyfriend for graduating college. He's such a fantastic guy, and he deserves the best. We've been dating for almost two years now, and I couldn't be happier. He has helped me to grow as a person and has taught me valuable life lessons. I've learned a lot about myself and about love through him. It's amazing, really, the kinds of things you sacrifice when you love somebody. I'm undoubtedly grateful for him, and I will continue to be. He's off to Europe for six weeks for his graduation present from his parents, so I will have to cope with not being able to see him. It will be hard, but I know I can do it.


WHAT LOVE HAS TAUGHT ME

  • Be yourself: Why? Because if you're "fake", and put on a different personality to attract the "popular" kids, or just because you want to be popular yourself, you will wind up with somebody who has nothing in common with you. If you're going to potentially wind up spending the rest of your life with someone, why should you be polar opposites?
  • Honesty is key: As depicted in last Monday's episode of "House", a relationship cannot go anywhere without complete and total honesty. Lies can lead to serious relationship problems, and can ruin it entirely.
  • Put him before yourself: love, true, selfless love, is self-sacrificing. Normally, I am like Dr. Gregory House - an egotistical, self-absorbed S.O.B., however when I'm with my significant other, I completely do a 180. I become completely selfless, ready to serve and please at the drop of a hat. His happiness comes before mine, as it always overjoys me to see him smile. And, I'm sure he appreciates all I do for him.
  • Your lover should also be your best friend: Well, in my case, he is. We get along as if we were siblings or were best friends since grade school. I feel as if I have known him for my entire life because we have (almost) everything in common.
I'd like to say thank you to my amazing beau for putting up with me, as he is a non-autistic. I'm sure he would like to give me a row sometimes.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The End of an Era, Schedules, and Transparency

So, the end of an era dawns on me. The ending of my spring term, my second full term in college, ends in a few weeks. I've been making good grades (I probably have the lowest grade in anthropology), and I can't complain. Now that I'm contemplating my summer schedule (in which I will take about three or four classes), I need to figure out not only what subjects I'm taking, but also which teachers I will be instructed by.

Needless to say, I'm very specific about my teachers. I either "click" with them, or I don't. If I do get along with the professor, I usually get good grades, participate in the subject matter/class, etc. However, if I don't get along with the teacher, my mind tends to wander, I get distracted, I fidget, I draw... you name it. Hence, I flunk out.

This semester, I have found two great teachers at my college. My math teacher, Mr. Flax, and my biology teacher, Mr. Mann. I have signed up for Mr. Mann's biology II course over the summer. Both teachers are very passionate about the subject and very thorough in their presentations and lectures. Now, I'm not a fan of math, but Mr. Flax is very aloof and carefree and makes the class very funny and relaxing. But, he's actually serious about math and gets his message across. Mr. Mann is also awesome, and it helps that I'm very interested in biology, as it is my college major.

--------------------

On another note, I've been thinking about my transparency lately. I would absolutely love to be a "translator" for autistic behavior, exposing things that "set me off", delight me, etc. Would this help any of my followers? I don't know how revealing I'll actually be, but I'll reveal as much as I feel appropriate.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Church is Bad for Autistics

I've been going with my mother to church for quite some time now. However, I really don't seem to be getting in "the jive" of it. Unlike my mother, who is "on fire" for the Lord, I guess I could say that I'm agnostic, at best. However, I go to church, and I'm not talking about just the once-a-week-on-Sunday-morning church either. I go on Sunday mornings, Wednesday evenings, and Friday evenings. Thankfully, on Friday, I am in the back, working a sound board, and I am left alone for the most part.

Why is church bad for Autistics? There are a number of reasons, well, there are for me.

  • People... strangers... who you don't even know... come up and touch you. I have two prime examples of this. The first, and most distressing one for me, is when people "lay hands" on you. It's one thing to have a close friend touch you on your arm, but when two or more people are touching you all over your body, it freaks me out. The second example of this was last Wednesday night. My mother told the church that I was autistic and didn't like to be touched by strangers. However, my mother's group leader, someone who I didn't know, came up and hugged me from behind when I was sitting, taking biology notes, and "in my zone". I about wanted to reach back and punch the daylights out of the potential predator, but my morals told me to resist temptations.
  • People smell funny. This may not seem like a big issue for most neurotypical people, but for me, it can arouse anxiety. On Easter weekend, I was at Sunday morning church, and I sat where I always sit, back in the upper booth corner, where I copy my biology notes (which is my "polite" way of saying "leave me alone, I don't want to be touched or talked to). It was a full house, so instead of me being alone up there, people had to sit next to me. The couple who sat next to me looked like they were straight out of a 1970's used car commercial, with the husband being the used car dealer. However, he smelled heavily of new carpet. Furthermore, they didn't take Communion, give an offering, or do anything that the church asked them to do. So, I have no clue why they even came to the congregation... maybe it was just to irk me. Upon telling my mother about this, she had quite a laughing fit, and didn't sympathize with me. The same goes for one of my church leaders.
  • Emotional gauge overload, to put it lightly. When people go up and get prayed for, they start crying, when they were perfectly happy a second ago. They don't look like they were crying out of joy, or even sadness for that matter. As an autistic, I have difficultly gauging people's emotions, so to see this put me in overdrive, and therefore stressed me out and gave me anxiety. This was also the same night that strangers had laid hands on me.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

On Genotypes, Schultz, Jobs, and Life

Why the title?

Because I'm bored, for one. I'm sitting in my biology class, and the teacher is going over genetic inheritance, something that I know a lot about. Because I have McCune-Albright Syndrome, I had to undergo multiple genetic testings and screenings. I've seen my chromosomes, my blood, my brain, my bones. After a million-and-one misdiagnoses, treatments (some of which did more harm than good), and a timespan of four years, the doctors finally came up with the correct diagnosis. Oddly enough, McCune-Albright syndrome is a genetic syndrome, but it isn't one that can be inherited (as far as doctors know). I should be on a [H]ouse episode.

Not to mention that Autism is a genetic condition, but that's a given...

I've applied for a summer job, yet again. The only other job that I have actually applied for was at the local Zoo, in which I never heard back from. This time, it's at the local dolphinarium, being a photographer. Even though I do technically get to get in the water with the dolphins, I don't get to touch them, or train them, or whatever. I simply get to take photos of the participating guests. But hey, I love photography, and I have been wanting this job for a while now. I've got an interview set up for this Saturday at 9am (that doesn't count the one hour drive I have each way).

I have fallen in love with the show "Wild Recon" and its host, Donald Schultz. I've been talking to him on and off, and he seems to really admire me and the work I do. Here's some of what he has written to me:

hey Sara, you rock hun! in another life I might be as good as you are, and I would love my life!! cheers! DS

Sara, I would love to meet you too! You are one of my heros! I will def let you know when I am coming to FL. I should be there soon, going to the Bahamas for sharks!!


So this means that I will probably have to skip a few days of school to have some fun. I hope my teachers don't mind, but I'm sure they will. Goodbye, perfect attendance record. Thankfully, my biology teacher is a herper, so I think he will be the one who will most likely give me a slide...

Monday, March 8, 2010

Uggh...

I can't believe Ric O'Barry won the Oscar for "The Cove" last night. Not that it doesn't focus on dolphin slaughter in Japan, which I'm totally against, but it blows the captivity industry WAY out of the water.

First of all, Ric has accused the Marine Mammal "abusement" parks of starving their animals. If this is the case, why then, pray tell, is there a huge concern about cetacean obesity? Here are a couple photos to prove my point:




Hug Me by ~vialtemptress on deviantART


Also, here's a video of Jack Hanna, Jane Velez-Mitchell, Ric O'Barry, and Thad Lacinak face off on "Larry King Live" to talk about cetacean captivity. Watch it here.

There are a million things I can lament upon about Ric O'barry and his false accusations, but I am going to stop, otherwise I'll be in a bad mood all day... scratch that, I'll be in an even worse mood all day!

I found an article on Facebook that talks about Mr. O'Barry's real past, and I will quote it here:
"There is no doubt, that if you work in any field on marine animal health care, you will hear of the name Ric O' Barry. He has become the staple of marine animal activity as George Lucas is for the Star Wars franchise. Trainers far and wide have heard about him. And now, even more people will, thanks to this recent documentary that he has put together called "the Cove". There are many who see this man's message as a reasonable explaination for breaking the law and setting exotic animals free into the ocean. And then, there are others who just see him as........ just a dumb retard who lost sight of reality. I am on the side of the latter end. I am a marine animal trainer, a conservationist, and an educator, and I've listened to many tales of Ric's attempts to "do the right thing" when it comes to dolphins. I've hated his guts for years because of his reckless, irresponsible, dumb, idiot ideas based on his personal beliefs. Of course this all of a bias approach... ;)
I actually worked with someone who knew Ric while he was on the Flipper TV show. Ric was NEVER an official trainer of dolphins. Let's just clear this up right now. Back then, there were no official trainers to hire for the production company. Ric was an underwater camera specialist. The reason he keeps bringing up the trainer part is cause they needed a production crew member to handle the dolphins while setting up for the next shots. Ric was eager to step in and do it, not having any previous experience, but then again who did in those days. Just because he got to feed them a couple of times a day along with the actual "non-studio contracted" training staff in the Keys, he decided to take it upon himself to be called a dolphin trainer. No one back then said otherwise. Who cared, right?
So, with this false title, he was able to glorify himself in the very small world of marine mammal trainers. He believed in this sudden realization that dolphins are not meant for human care or interference. So, as the story goes, he breaks into facilities, cuts open the gates, forces the animals out, lets them run free, get sick, then die. Yada-yada yada-yada. We all herad that part.
Now, all of his past targets have been aimed at entertainment facilities. Places like Sea World, Miami Seaquarium, Dolphin Research Center, Marineland and such have all gotten a verbal slap from this guy. But I don't want to address that stuff just yet. I want to get to this documentary about a small Japanese village that seek out these pods of dolphins to (lack of a better and more literal word) "waste" them.
Let me just say, that this is the first and probably the only time that I say an effort of O'Barry's that didn't cause me an immidiate reaction to want to shoot the fucker in the head (trust me, there have been times). As a critic, I believe he was thorough in keeping up with this story and and had a good effort to put a group of "renegade" activists together and expose this issue. NOW DON'T GET ME WRONG, the facts he was stating about Sea World obtaining some of those dolphins, the Flipper shows, dolphin releases and similar crap is still the biggest BULLSHIT INFO to me. BUT, for once, he didn't directly attack an aquarium or sea park. It was a coordinated effort to harass a high profited foreign government to show what is made by a bunch of heartless fishermen to irradicate these animals. I would have no problem sticking a speargun through any one of those fuckers through the eyeball, ESPECIALLY that "Private Space" motherfucker!! So all in all, for what it's worth, the effort to stop that yearly slaughter ceremony would be an effort I would get behind. I WOULD NOT get behind Ric O' Barry! Clear? Good."
SOURCE: http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=2245360654&topic=12932


Friday, February 26, 2010

On Working With Wild Animals

This is Telly. Courtesy Amazon.com


This is Tillikum, or "Tilly"


I hate how the media is portraying Tillikum as an awful murderous beast. He's definitely not that. He's a beautiful creature that deserves the utmost respect from his handlers and anybody who knows him.

But that's not what I'm here to talk about. I'm here to talk about my experience with working with wild animals, and how it's a risk of life.

Kiume, a male lion and I


J.D., a black leopard cub, and I

A very sleepy/lazy Montana (cougar) and I! He was NOT drugged in any way.

Me and a newborn sperm whale

What the average layperson doesn't realize is that what I do, even with all of the years of experience that I have, I can still get killed by these animals that I have devoted my entire life to. It doesn't matter if I have raised them from birth, I am still liable to be killed by them.

When working with a wild animal, it is, in my opinion, a priority to teach them what is "appropriate play" with humans. Us humans are so fragile, compared to the gnashing teeth, razor-sharp claws, toxic venom and poison, and brute strength of the majority of the animal kingdom. They don't realize that, compared to them, us humans are merely weak mortals, and will suffer from serious injury or death if they tried to play with us like they did their animal brethren.

When I interact with my "kitties" (okay, so they're not really Felis domesticus... they belong to the Panthera genus), I start teaching them "no bite", "no hooks", and "gentle" at a very young age. When they bite or use their claws, I usually bite them on the ear, and then yell "NO HOOKS" or "NO BITE" at them, and they clearly learn the message. Of course, they are usually a bit shocked that I scolded them like their mother would if they were in the wild, but with a few reassuring chuffs or other sort of vocalization, the cats and I are back in perfect harmony. If they continue to play rough, they go back in their enclousre for a "time out", just like your sons or daughters might if they behave badly. Let it be known that I only put the cats in "time out" for a very short time, usually only about a minute... I would NEVER punish an animal, regardless of what it has done to me.

Because let's face it, who can stay mad at an animal for long? I certainly can't... In fact, I don't remember ever getting mad at an animal for anything! On the contrary, they receive constant love, affection, and admiration from me.

I would also like to say that, if it ever happens, that it will not be the animal's fault if I succumb to it. It will be 100% my fault; I gladly take all the blame.


On another side note, I have fallen in love with the sport of curling. Gotta thank my friend Jennifer Stuber for that one! She's an amazing photographer, and you should check out her website! http://www.jenstuberphotography.com/

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Condolences.

From left to right: Malia, Taima, and Dawn Brancheau


My deepest condolences go out to Dawn Brancheau, her family and friends, the SeaWorld employees, the die-hard SeaWorld fans (and groupies), and most importantly the trainers who dedicate their lives to these beautiful, powerful, intelligent, majestic, and wild creatures. May she rest in peace.

I have spoken to a few marine mammal trainers (including some current/former SeaWorld whale trainers) about this incident, however I will not post our opinions at this time, out of respect for those involved.

As a frequent visitor of SeaWorld Orlando, I personally know Dawn, and the whale that was involved in the incident, Tillikum. Once again, I will not post my personal feelings towards this incident, out of respect for those involved. I apologize for any inconveniences regarding this matter.

For those concerned on Tillikum's fate, SeaWorld made an official statement on their Facebook, saying that they will keep him at their facility, and continue to work with him.

Tillikum, the whale that was involved in the incident

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Dolphin Skin


Chubby, a dolphin at the MarineLand Dolphin Conservation Center

I am often asked what a dolphin feels like, and the typical answer I give is "like a killer whale". However, killer whales are dolphins, and, like all of the different species of dolphins that I have been fortunate enough to touch, feel the same. I've heard many descriptions on what a dolphin feels like; a few are listed below:
  • Wet, peeled, hard-boiled egg
  • Vinyl disc
  • Wet rubber beach ball
  • An opened wet rain umbrella
  • A wet white-water raft
  • Wet rubber
Cetaceans have extremely smooth skin, which aids in their hydrodynamic locomotion. Unlike our skin, which is covered with extremely fine hair, whales and dolphins are virtually hairless (with a few exceptions, especially in mysticetes, aka baleen whales). When cetaceans are born, they have a few hairs along the upper "lip" of their rostrum, which fall off shortly after birth. If you've watched competitive swimming in humans, you may have noticed that most of the males shave their heads, arms, legs, etc. This is because hair creates drag, which slows them down in the water. Hence why cetaceans have virtually no hair.

To keep their skin extremely smooth, cetaceans undergo something called "sloughing". This is when the skin naturally sheds off of the body, to be replaced by a new skin layer. Oftentimes, cetaceans can be seen rubbing up against each other and/or their environment to aid in the sloughing process (a good example of this is the rock lagoons that some of the British Columbia orcas use for rubbing). The sloughing rate of cetaceans is about nine times faster than that of humans.

A sperm whale sloughing skin. Photo courtesy fotosearch.com (http://www.fotosearch.com/UNS022/u15855695/)

For me personally, being around cetacean is extremely therapeutic. I enjoy being around such an intelligent creature, who seems to "get" what I'm conveying to them. Cetacean blows are one of my favoruite sounds to hear; I love resting by a dolphin enclosure at night when the cetaceans are logging and just hearing their blows. I can't get enough of cetaceans, and I love talking about them. My main goal is to become a vet for cetaceans.

On a side note, I am rather irked at my anthropology book. It denotes cetaceans as being less intelligent than great apes; it also states that there is only one instance of cetacean tool use. Cetaceans are just as intelligent as the great apes, if not even moreso.

Introduction


Judy, an Asian elephant that I was so fortunate to work with for a day, and I.



I usually don't like to introduce myself, or rather, create a custom introduction for all of the websites that I frequent. I don't change my personality from website to website, as I am the same person every day. I don't like unexpected change, so I don't change that much.

I suppose I'll leave you with the self-description that is on my deviantArt page: "I'm an animal-loving Thespian who indulges in the pleasures of the great outdoors and the animals that live in it. My dad owns a wildlife sanctuary and I am fortunate to work with some of the world's fiercest predators such as lions, tigers, and leopards. I am actively enrolled in college, and am majoring in marine biology; from there I'm going to become a veterinarian. Finally, I have autism, and am a strong advocate for this "dis"ability."

I might also add that even though I have autism, I don't know a lot about it. I'm not super-obsessed with it, nor do I talk to a lot of people with it. Of course, I am happy to advocate for autistics, but I'm much more at ease talking about animals and their behavior. Please, treat me like a typically-functioning person, as I am one. I don't want to be bullied; this isn't the purpose of this blog. Thanks in advance.

Please also note that most of this blog will be animal-based.