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Planet Nilknarf

April 2009

Message from the Editor

Welcome back to Planet Nilknarf! This month's cover is based on one of our favorite inside jokes. Hydrangeas are Fluffy's favorite flower! Who is Fluffy? Inquiring minds want to know. He's Janette's favorite stuffed toy, a ladybird that she bought at the Oshawa Centre way back in 1973, and this month is his birthday. April 6th to be exact. Once when we were out walking we happened to be near this flower shop with these big, bountiful purple-blue hydrangeas. Janette had Fluffy with her and couldn't resist the urge to take him out of her bag and pretend that he was buzzing around these magnificent flowers. The shopkeeper came out and gave us a funny look! Fluffy has been through a lot with us over the years, many trips and many moves. He's also been refurbished and reupholstered many times but it sure doesn't take long for him to get that well-loved look. His original head was a pompom and his original filling was Styrofoam. Janette soon filled him with popcorn kernels to make him more substantial. I guess you could say he's a pretty corny bug! And there's a kernel of truth in that statement. Aw, shucks, I'm up to my ears in corny puns! I would also like to wish a very happy birthday to my good friend, Sharon Deleske, who along with myself and Janette, join the “45” club this year. Here's an exciting newsflash! I just found out that KIDEO HAS REUNITED!!!! KIDEO HAS REUNITED!! KIDEO HAS REUNITED!!! KIDEO HAS REUNITED!!! And they are starting their tour right here in Oshawa!!! APRIL FOOL!! PSYCHE!!! Got you there! KIDEO has reunited all right, but only in my dreams. Let them live their own lives happily from now on doing their own thing. Married life with my wonderful husband Dave is bigger and better than fawning over what could never be.

Living with Asperger's Syndrome
“Educate me! Why are you like this?” asked Nick on the phone at least a month or two after we broke up. He then continued to berate me about my unusual mannerisms, colloquial expressions and interests. Why do I talk funny and prefer watching kids cartoons? Like the song by Rod Stewart says “I wish that I knew what I know now...” All my life I'd always known I was different somehow. I just wished that I knew why. The answer finally came to me in a most unusual way, about a week before my 40th birthday. I was going through a major depression. My husband's aunt insisted I see her psychologist. I also had to go back on anti-depressants. I had a history of depression and had already been on and off various meds since the spring of 2001. I had always had trouble fitting in at school and I was always being bullied ,not just because I was fat either but because of my interests

and mannerisms. Psychologists and counselors were always trying to figure out what was wrong with me, and on a number of occasions I was frequently asked if I was hard of hearing because of my tendency to talk loud, especially when agitated. I spent my first two years of elementary school in special education. At the time, most techniques were experimental and my teachers were cruel. I felt like much of my experience there did me more harm than good. My kindergarten teacher had me sent there because she couldn't figure out why I cried all the time. HELLO?! I cried all the time because she was always yelling and screaming at me!! Looking back, I wouldn't be surprised if she had sensory issues herself. If you can't stand the sound of children crying, DON'T be a kindergarten teacher!! I kid you not, I doubt very much she would last 20 minutes in a typical kindergarten class nowadays. Autism and other sensory-related issues are on the increase. Sooner or later, quiet, content kids who aren't bothered by everything will eventually be a minority if they aren't already. Anyway, back to my diagnosis. Ironically, it was not at Marlene, the psychologist's office that I learned about Asperger's Syndrome, but through my friend Lisa in Staten Island. When I asked her what it was, she emailed me a couple links which I printed and saved. When I read these links I just KNEW it was myself that I was reading about. I was excited and relieved! At last a logical explanation for my quirks and social awkwardness, a reason why I've often had so much trouble fitting in in life and found so much comfort in my special interests. Right away I knew I wanted to learn anything and everything I could about this affliction. I scoured the Internet for all the information I could and went to the local bookstore to see what I could find. The only book I could find at that time was Lawrence Osborne's book “American Normal” which I read from cover-to-cover with great gusto! The only problem was that it was so full of so many big, unfamiliar words that I did not understand. So I went back to the bookstore and bought myself a dictionary. When I brought it home I ended up being throughly disgusted because most of those words weren't even in there! So I took it back and got a refund! I wasn't about to pay a hundred bucks or whatever for one of those big, fancy medical dictionaries, so armed with a pen and paper, I leafed through one such book and wrote down as many definitions as possible. I was like “Johnny 5” in the “Short Circuit” movies. Input! Input! I NEED MORE INPUT!!!! Some nights I hardly slept, doing as much research as I possibly could, trying to learn as much as possible. I figured God has made me this way for a reason and now that I know more about this thing, I want to educate as many people as possible and provide help and encouragement to those who are in my situation. Asperger's Syndrome explained that moment in my life when I kept hanging around, trying to be sociable when my college roommate, Suzanne had her parents visiting her and she would have really preferred to be alone with them. It also explained why I went through a phase, especially when I first joined Katimavik, when I pretended to be from another planet. It also explained why my friend Lisa wouldn't shut up and let me sleep when I was dead tired one night at the hotel during our trip to Denver. Sometimes we are quite clueless at understanding even the most obvious of social cues and unfortunately, don't handle criticism well. I didn't want to be rude and end up yelling at her so I started crying. She just kept talking and asking questions. “PLEASE LET ME SLEEP!!” But I forgive her because I know why she

was like this. Janette and I experienced similar moments when we were roommates. I would be trying to take a nap and she would be trying to do a bit of tidying and she'd keep rushing back into the bedroom and saying “Where do you want me to put this? Where do you want me to put that?” I had to tell her “Just set it all in a pile and I'll deal with it later! I'm trying to take a nap!” When she'd get like this we called it her buzzy bee mode. Part of the reason that Janette and I have been such good friends all these years and understood each other so well is because she's also an Aspie. It explained why we didn't get along so well with other people we knew in college. Most other friendships we had would fizzle out fast. Then there were those catty girls from the Fashion Merchandising class who would always put me on the spot and try to get me to do embarassing things like sing for them. I would always be relieved when Janette showed up just at the right moment so I could take off with her. Both of us had experienced similar situations in school. We were always being picked on and the teachers and counselors were always picking on us. And we both had unusual interests. With me it was carousels, horses and unicorns. With Janette it was ladybirds and Petroliana. She also had a childhood fascination with manhole covers and when she was a kid she was always drawing sketches of them. We soon hit it off because we discovered so much common ground with our unusual interests, inside jokes and expressions. She told me about the time her class took a field trip to her teacher's farm. Everybody else went inside to watch TV while she stayed outside on her own, on the swings, looking at a favorite gas sign. My interest in carousels has been pretty much consistent since I was about six years old, but it has occasionally faded into the background to be replaced by other things; Donny Osmond, the Bay City Rollers, KISS, Wayne Gretzky, Boy George, etc. At one time my room was decorated with horse-racing clippings from the sports section of the newspaper because I was fascinated with so many of the funny names given to race horses. At least several of my interests were interests I shared with friends. Janette had a whole scrapbook of “fairground” pictures with rides, etc. that she eventually gave to me at one point and in college we both became interested in Boy George. It was during this time I did my impersonation act of him at the Lindsay Fair and I made a Boy George doll for her for Christmas, which she still cherishes to this day.

I like my interests and find that many of them have actually helped me meet new friends in different places over the years. I met other KISS fans when I was an extra on the set of “Detroit Rock City” and I've met other carousel enthusiasts at NCA conventions or even when I've recognized carousel art. That's how I met my friend, Lorraine, when I recognized her drawing of the Illions “American Beauty” rose horse. I enjoy reading about the varied and assorted interests of other people with Asperger's Syndrome too. Tony Attwood's sister-in-law, Penny feels the same way about Deltic Trains as I do about carousels and draws them with superb photo-realism! She was horrified when she heard that Britain might be discontinuing her beloved trains and in her effort to save them found other people who shared her interest and ended up becoming the secretary of their club! In “American Normal” I read about a young lad named Asa who collects vacuum cleaners. He knows everything there is to know about their history, different brands and how they work. For Christmas and birthdays his parents would always give him a new vacuum cleaner. To him, that was better than any toy you could imagine and it kept them happy too because his hobby also kept the floors clean! “Vacuum cleaners get bad devils out of the rug!” he would say. The bad news about Asperger's Syndrome, as with other autism-spectrum-related conditions, is the sensory issues. For some it's food-related. There are certain smells and/or textures they can't tolerate. For example, Janette can't stand chewing gum, peanut butter or plain milk. But then I have also read a book by a nine-year old boy with Asperger's Syndrome who's palate is even more limited. About all he can really eat is Red Leicester cheese and Pringle's chips. A frustrated mother on the Internet complains that her 5-year-old daughter literally hasn't touched a morsel in days because she won't eat anything but foods that are beige and have no smell. I don't really have food issues myself, except that I've always been something of a “lazy chewer.” I really don't like carrots or celery very much because they take so long to chew. I don't think I started eating salads until I was at least ten years old and as for the longest time I also wouldn't eat apples unless they were cut and peeled. When I was about ten years old I went through a phase when I wouldn't eat any other meat but hamburgers, hot dogs or bologna. But to this day whenever I eat a banana, I still have to remove the entire peel first and cut out any bruises. And I still don't like grapes or oranges that have seeds. Sometimes it's touch related. I can't stand scratchy sweaters! Nor can I stand socks with heavy seams that cut across my toes or bras with wires. A hole in my sock, strangling my toe drives me absolutely up the wall! And I hate pantyhose with a passion! Usually whenever I wear them, I put on an extra pair of underwear over top to keep them from crawling down on me! Temple Grandin was explaining in her lecture that she wears her underwear inside-out because the seams bother her. She also never shakes hands with anyone because to her it feels like grabbing a handful of nails. For me, it's audio sensory issues that are my worst enemy. They've gotten even worse over these past few years! Many people worry about going deaf as they get older. Lucky! I envy people who can take their hearing aids out when bombarded by unpleasant noises. For me, it's quite the opposite. My hearing has actually increased in sensitivity with age! It's probably been worse since I went through a time after quitting my job in 2003 where I pretty much

isolated myself at home for most of the time, thus causing the outside world to become even noisier once I got out into it. Especially when I started going back to school. Especially during that last class in Desktop publishing that started later in the day when there was more traffic around. “Boom cars” would crank their stereos. Ambulances and stereos would blare their sirens. It was that annoying time of year when it was too hot to close the windows, yet not hot enough to turn on the air conditioners. And I'd often have to leave the classroom and find a quiet place if I felt overwhelmed and/or too many people were talking at once. Smoke detectors that give off shrill, short random “blips” when they need new batteries drive me up the wall. Especially since nobody else seems to notice or be bothered by them!! Crying babies and toddlers are the worst! Not so long ago a well-meaning psychologist tried to “cure” me of my sensitivity to them by expecting me to listen to increased exposure of recordings of them, but I just couldn't do it. To me, that sound is like the audio equivalent of an Indian-burn. (Seriously, does anyone else out there know a more politically correct term for that painful sensation when someone twists the skin on your arms in opposite directions?) I simply had to tell her straight, I could NOT do this. It was TOO painful! Consider this an experiment that failed. I will just put on my Walkman when I see a mother with a baby stroller at the next bus stop and avoid the mall when it's busy. Often I've had times when I've just had to leave a place when a kid won't stop crying. The last day of the 2006 Geneva Autism Symposium was the worst! It was also the first day of the “Baby and Toddler Show” in the same building. Thousands of screamers! That's the problem with babies. When one starts crying they all start. Tony Attwood's sister-in-law, Penny feels the same way about dogs as I do about babies. She had to stop visiting a good friend of hers, who was also a famous reggae singer, because he and his wife got themselves a dog! I know the feeling. I have friends whom I keep waiting for their kids to grow up so I can visit them, but they just keep popping out more!! Penny often has to ask people to repeat what they are saying because she usually goes around with Kleenex in her ears. When I started going to my Desktop Publishing classes I had to wear earplugs on my way to school for the first couple weeks because traffic and construction were so loud. That doesn't bother me so much anymore, but nowadays when I am seated at my computer I sometimes have to put on my headphones when my husband is watching TV or the landlord is outside mowing the lawn. I also wear them when I'm using the blender. When asked if I would like to be cured I have mixed feelings. For the most part I would say no. Sure my sensory issues make my life a living hell sometimes, but on the other hand, I would not give up my gift of creativity and thirst for knowledge. I love learning and talking about my favorite things and I enjoy it even more when I can teach people to understand and help them discover their hidden talents and potential. Knowledge is power and ever since I've learned about having this condition I've wanted to teach everyone everything I know about it. I've been wanting to write a book, form a support group and do speaking engagements at various schools and meetings. So far, I have written a book, but it hasn't been published yet. I'm afraid too many other things have happened in my life since its completion. I've also done one speaking engagement so far at C.R Marchant Middle School in Etobicoke in November of 2004. I wrote to the Durham

Board of Education to propose my idea of doing speaking engagements at more schools, as well as selling my merchandise. Unfortunately, they rejected my idea. Oh well, I guess it's their loss. I've just got to look at it that way. Maybe what I can do in lieu of that is sell at house parties, akin to Tupperware or Mary Kay. For a negotiable fee I would be willing to visit a group of people at somebody's house to talk about Asperger's Syndrome and sell my dolls, puppets, T-shirts and other merchandise. All I ask though is no babies, please. If I'm going to do a presentation at your place, please either leave them with a sitter or relative. Sometimes people who don't suffer from sensory issues the way I do have trouble understanding these things.

Ewetopia

This month's Top Ten List....

The Bucket List Top 10 Things I'd Like To Do Before I Die
1. Go to Wisconsin to see the World's Largest Carousel at “House on the Rock”. I don't care if my fellow enthusiast have described it as a “fiberglass monstrosity”. I still want to see it! 2. Go to the Musee Mechanique in San Fransisco 3. Go for a hot air balloon ride! A REAL journey, not just tethered in one place like I've done twice before. 4. Try some Durian Fruit! I hear it's supposed to taste wonderful despite the fact that its smell could knock a buzzard of a shitwagon! 5. Go to Blackpool in England and ride the Steeplechase. 6. Find a creative team to help me get my Autism Awareness carousel idea off the ground 7. See (and ride!)the carousel in North Bay 8. See (and ride!)the one in Guelph 9. Go to at least one Disney theme park. 10. Meet KISS and have my pictures actually turn out this time! (Okay, so I may not be alive to see these pictures for very long but they'll be left behind for others to enjoy after I'm gone...)

Yosef Mordechai Treitman

Welcome once again to this month's edition of Design Your Own Carousel Horse For information on how to order your own colouring book, check out my website at http://margaretfranklin.netfirms.com Also, feel free to share your artwork with me either by emailing it to nilknarf64@sympatico.ca or sharing it in my Planet Nilknarf group on Facebook.

You can also share your artwork with me at the Autism Awareness Carousel group on Facebook!

Are the Doodlebops the New KIDEO?
My answer to that question is Yes, No and Absolutely NOT! I started watching the Doodlebops in October of 2006, (around the time I had my first manic episode, but that's another story!) when I was doing my first Geneva Autism Symposium. I noticed differences and similarities between both bands. For one, both KIDEO and the Doodlebops each have three members who each dress in their own colour. Both bands have a blue guitar player and a drummer with red/orange hair. At first I thought Moe reminded me of a younger version of P.J. Styles, minus the mask, of course, however P.J doesn't break dance. All three members of KIDEO are male and all three dress identical at the same time even though they have different costumes that they wear at other times. The Doodlebops have one female member and each member dresses differently yet they always wear the same costumes; DeeDee in her dress with piano keys around the hem, Rooney in his guitar overalls and Moe in his red velvet pants, striped shirt and fuzzy vest with buttons shaped like drums. KIDEO had already been around for years when they started their TV show. The band formed in 1986 and their show, “Kids Can Rock & Roll” premiered on Global in May of 1993. They had only 13 episodes that were shown in reruns over and over again for something like at least the next five years, first on Global and then on YTV. They finally disbanded and disappeared into KIDEOblivion sometime in 1999 or even 2000. But all this time they kept the same lineup of members. KIDEO went out of their way to keep their true identities a secret. The credits on their show simply just listed them as Ace manners, Buddy Goodfellow and P.J. Styles. (I had ways of finding out their true identities anyway!)The Doodlebops credits actually list the fact that DeeDee is played by Lisa Lennox, Moe is Jonathan Wexler and Rooney is played by Chad MacNamara. Whereas KIDEO had been together even before they had their own show, the Doodlebops were chosen from various hopefuls who auditioned. KIDEO wrote their own songs, whereas the Doodlebops songs are written by Carl Lennox. Are he and Lisa related or do they just happen to have the same last name? KIDEO also played their own instruments. The Doodlebops don't. In fact you will often see on their show the Doodlebops start to play a song on their instruments and the music is still playing as they leave their instruments on the couch to get up and dance. Tis is where it balances out. With the exception of, perhaps, “In the Future” choreography isn't really KIDEO's thing, but the Doodlebops can dance up a storm! They've all had classical training in tap, ballet , jazz, etc. I've got to appreciate all the time, effort, talent and co-ordination it takes to learn to dance like that because I've got two left feet myself. I can't learn to dance to save my life! If I'm involved in a theatre production and the scene involves dancing, they gradually phase me out of it because I can't keep up with the group and if I have to dance with a partner and his hand is on my waist I am EXTREMELY ticklish!

Both TV shows follow a specific format. KIDEO had three songs during each show: one that they supposedly do in the recording studio, one music video and one live in concert. They also had the “Puppetual World of Rock & Roll”, a segment hosted by three puppets of themselves with puppets performing various other songs, often old songs from their former band “But I'm Just a Kid”. Then there were the “Air-Robic” rock exercises , demonstrating various musicians' movements and the KIDEO eye-view movie, where each week a different member would show a film from his point of view, as if seen through his mask. The Doodlebops show had the following standard format: Opening theme, DeeDee and Rooney come in through the door with harmonious fanfare music for DeeDee, sour notes for Rooney and they ask each other “Where's Moe?” Moe is playing hide-and-seek and they go find him. Then they introduce themselves and, waving their flags do the Doodlebops Pledge. (“We promise to share, we promise to care, all together as a team...) Then Mazz, or in later seasons, Jazzmin appears from behind the wall, scat singing and they have a conversation with her. Then it's time for them to leave. In the first season they would go to the park or wherever. In the second and third season it would be to the recording studio to see Audio Murphy. But before they leave the clubhouse, Moe has to do just one thing....”DON'T PULL THE ROPE!” they shout to him. But he always does, and he always gets wet. Just once I would like to see something different happen when he pulls the rope. Maybe one day he might get showered with ping-pong balls. Another day it might be balloons, confetti and streamers. Another day a foghorn or gong might sound and last but not least, another time he'd get hit with a blob of green Jello. But no, it's always water. Then he'll shake himself out like a dog and be magically completely dry again. Then after they've been out in the park or at the studio, they'd hear the familiar little tune and exclaim “It's Bus Driver Bob!” and of course they would get on the bus and sing their “Let's Get on the Bus” song. In the first season, while they were on the bus, they would treat viewers to various multicultural or different styles dance numbers. One day it might be ballet, another might be a Chinese fan dance or Russian dance. Then they'd get to the concert hall and do their show for the kids. They usually had one particular song that would tie in with the theme of the day's show, but usually during the concert segment they'd play a couple extra. The Doodlebops' TV show lasted for three seasons with approximately 13 episodes per season. They would rerun the current season about three ties at the beginning of the season and then start showing reruns from the previous years. This season they're ALL reruns. No new shows have been made... Which brings me to the next subject: the new lineup. I was shocked, surprised, disappointed and yet curious to learn that DeeDee, Rooney and Moe would NOT be played by Lisa, Jonathan and Chad anymore! Their contract with CBC has expired so three new people will be playing their roles! I ask myself: How are they going to pull this off? Will the kids in the audience notice the difference? And how will they react if they do? At least I know that the new Doo have been taught, coached and trained by Chad McNamara. Go figure, it worked for KISS, although many fans are disgruntled with the fact that Ace Frehley and Peter Criss have been replaced by Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer. But at least

they still have Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley. Those two are the heart and soul of KISS! KISS wouldn't be KISS without Gene and Paul. But ALL THREE Doodlebops???!!!! This I've got to see..... Actually, I've noticed,especially during the song “When the Lights Go Out”, what a beautiful singing voice Lisa Lennox has. Once she's quit the Doodlebops, I wouldn't be surprised if she has a successful solo career. She'd do very well as a Country singer. Well, my curiosity was finally settled on the night of Thursday, February 12th, when my friend Aliya and I went to see the Doodlebops at the GM Centre. I have to admit, it really was a terrific show and it really didn't make any difference to the kids who were watching. Half the fun was watching the kids having a blast. I was impressed with how happy and well-behaved they were.

One of my favorite sights that evening were the three adorable little kids sitting near us in the front row who were dressed up as Rooney, Moe and DeeDee:

Most of the time anyway. I noticed that they were getting a little worried during intermission. Some of them can't quite understand the concept of “We'll be right back” and it seemed like a very long 15 minutes for them. It was kind of funny hearing one of the parents explaining to the kids that this is when they have to go potty, get a drink of water, etc. It reminded me of a conversation I overheard at a KIDEO concert when a dad said to his kid “I wonder if Buddy's got green underwear too. Believe me, that's something I've wondered about myself. And I don't remember KIDEO having any intermission at their show. And it's a good thing the show ended when it did because some of them were getting kind of

cranky near the end, especially since they couldn't ALL be up on stage to be with DeeDee when she sang “When the Lights Go Out”. I still think the original players, Lisa Lennox, Chad MacNamara and Jonathan Wexler were the best Doodlebops, just like there will never be another Batman like Adam West. The names of the new people behind DeeDee, Rooney and Moe have not been revealed to the public, but they have some pretty big shoes to fill, so to speak. I must say I'm impressed at how they pulled it off and of the new lineup, Moe is still my favorite of the three even though the new Moe isn't quite as good a break-dancer as the old Moe. And the “Don't Pull The Rope” sequence was anti-climactic this time. Usually, during a live show, when Moe pulled the rope, the audience would be doused with colourful confetti. This time, all that happened was the image of red and orange flowers fluttering downward on the big movie screen behind the band. Still, all in all I would say it was a good show and a fun night for the family.

Upcoming Events:
North Shore Arc presents: Spotlight Program: Third Annual Comedy Night and Silent Auction Spinelli's in Lynnfield, MA Thursday, May 14th, 2009 The Spotlight program, offered by North Shore Arc is primarily a drama and theatre-based social pragmatics program for children and young adults, ages 6-22, who have been diagnosed on the autism spectrum, in addition to those with nonverbal learning disabilities, mood disorders and more. If you have any questions regarding sponsorship opportunities, or items, services or gift certificates to donate to the Silent Auction, please contact Stacey Cruwys at sloutreach@nsarc.org or (978) 634-2310 Boots & Bling: A one of a kind open house! Weekends in June on my friend Lorraine Thayer's farm in Bobcaygeon. Wear your glitziest attire and your rubber farm boots! You can see some of Lorraine's artwork at http://cowlady.deviantart.com More details to follow. Autism Awareness Day Thursday, April, 2nd, 2009 Live Benefit Concert for Museum of Childhood Featuring Coenraad Bloemendal, Cellist accompanied by Jennifer Griffith, Soprano Thursday, April 10th, 8:00 p.m

The Toronto Heleconian Hall 35 Hazelton Avenue, Toronto, ON (416) 922-3618 Refreshments will be provided. Seating is limited so please reserve early. $25 per ticket, $30 at the door. Reserve by calling Loet Vos at (416) 964-8255

T-Shirts For Sale:
“Ewetopia” T-shirts are available in just about any colour you can imagine:

“Autism Awareness Carousel” T-shirts are also available in your choice of black, white or beige with your choice of “Muller Stander” or “Looff Jumper” silhouettes:

All T-shirts sell for $25.00 each plus $4.00 postage. For further details contact nilknarf64@sympatico.ca

NEWSFLASH! JUST IN TIME FOR EASTER!!
I just found this in Facebook and I think this is very important news to pass on! I’m writing to inform you all of a boycott of the Lindt chocolate company. As you can see, I’ve also cc’d the Lindt customer service email (lindt@qualitycustomercare.com) and I’d advise you all to do the same when forwarding this information, in order to send a message to Lindt. As some of you may be aware, Lindt is partnering with Autism Speaks this year, an organisation dedicated to eliminating autism - which, unsurprisingly, is a goal that the autistic community is very much against. For those of you that don’t know much about them, here’s a few pointers: * Autism Speaks relies on pity propaganda and negative stereotyping to achieve their goals. In one famous example, the vice-president of Autism Speaks talks about wanting to drive herself and her daughter off a bridge, and only refraining from doing so because of her ‘normal’ daughter at home. The negative stereotyping produced by this devaluation of autistic lives creates barriers to employment and services (as these negative stereotypes will lead companies to underestimate the capabilities of autistic people), and can lead to many other forms of bullying and discrimination. * The money raised by Autism Speaks goes towards eliminating autism, rather than helping autistic people. Autism is a deeply ingrained part of autistic people, and the two cannot be meaningfully separated without altering the person - as such, the elimination of autism is not a goal supported by the majority of the autistic community. In addition, their research into prenatal testing for autism is considered by many autistic people to be a form of eugenics. * For more information, take a look at http://notautismspeaks.tk/. I’d therefore like to recommend a boycott of all Lindt products for the duration of this campaign - from now until the 15th of April. As stated at the top of this email, if you’re forwarding this on, please also cc the Lindt customer service email (lindt@qualitycustomercare.com). The more emails they receive, the less likely they are to support this unethical organisation again next year Ironically, Lindt has been a part of Easter and other holidays in my household for as long as I can remember, but after reading this, I never want their chocolates again, even if they were the only chocolate factory left on this planet!! Any company that promotes genocide against my people is truly evil!

Update on the Autism Awareness Carousel
I would like to thank the people at the Fort Edmonton and Missoula Montana carousels for being so helpful and sharing their information with me. I would also like to thank Dan

Horenberger of both Brass Ring Entertainment and Carousel News and Trader, as well as the people from carousel works of Mansfield, Ohio for their quotes on mechanism and trims. We will probably buy trim that is primed and ready to paint, but we are recruiting volunteers to carve the animals and we are still seeking financial assistance, property and workspace. My dream was to build a 5-row carousel but Dan advised against it. There's a reason you don't see many 5-row machines. Too heavy. Too many mechanical problems. It would cost over 2 million dollars for the engineering. A four-row machine is just under $400,000 minus the animals and trim but would take forever to populate. We'll probably just go with three rows. Here's a few more of the animals I've designed so far:

I will keep you posted as more details become available.

Gene Simmons and 40-Pound Cabbages!!!
Well, I just got back from seeing Gene Simmons at Canadian Music Week at the Royal York. The highlight of my day was when we were all waiting in line and he walked by and shook hands with me and commented on my hat! “That's a good-looking guy on your hat.” he said

The media came and filmed and interviewed the bunch of us standing in line but when I watched the news later that evening it was as if they were going out of their way not to show me! And Gene's actual presentation was great. Very entertaining and informative. He started the show with a short film about all KISS' commercial success, plus a clip from “My Dad the Rock Star.” The strange thing was that even though I had all the time and opportunity in the world and my camera in my hands, ready to shoot, I just couldn't bring myself to take any pictures. It was as if something was stopping me! This put me in mind of a place I've been thinking about a lot lately. Findhorn is a garden in Scotland where fruits and vegetables absolutely thrive in barren soil! The dry, gritty sand yields veritable harvests of at least a dozen different kinds of tomatoes, eggplants, etc., but most fascinating of all, 40-lb cabbages! (Man, that's a lot of Sauerkraut!!!)I went on the Internet to Google “Findhorn” for pictures of these legendary cabbages but could find absolutely NONE! All I could find were pictures of boring wildflowers such as delphiniums! That got me thinking. Suppose people actually do travel all the way to Scotland to see this legendary garden, but when and if they actually do see real live 40-lb cabbages they're like me when I was around Gene and for some strange, unknown reason, something stops them from taking pictures of the cabbages!! Then people will just have to take their word that they were there even though all they've got to show for their journey are a few boring pictures of delphiniums. Mine's even worse! I took a picture of the graffiti on the bench in the Oshawa Go Shuttle bus stop. It said “PUMPERNICKEL!”

More Interesting Random Fun:
Have you ever received a five dollar bill like this?

This was in my weekly pay on Friday, March 13th, 2009. It says “Help track this billie www.whereswilly.com “ so I went online and registered. So far there's only one other entry about this particular bill. This note has traveled all the way from Waterloo, Ontario. I've registered it to find out where it goes next from here!!

NEWSFLASH!! More Upcoming Events!
Autism Awareness Carousel Craft Sale
Monday, April 13th, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, weather permitting 384 Elmgrove Avenue, Oshawa, ON T-shirts, bears, dolls and more!!! Spread the word! Invite your friends! Informative displays! Also I am seriously thinking of asking people to sponsor me to ride my bike from Oshawa to North Bay to raise funds for the Autism Awareness Carousel! I reckon it will take about a week and I will need a friend with time on his or her hands and a vehicle to keep an eye on me and tote the luggage along with a supply of T-shirts for sale. Am I glutton for punishment or what? Especially since I haven't ridden my bike in years. I just hope my butt doesn't hurt to much by the time I get there to enjoy a few rides on the North Bay carousel! At least then I'll be riding astride something I won't have to pedal anymore!!! I will discuss my ideas with Tiffany at our next meeting and we will look into more fund-raising possibilities. I know my T-shirt sales alone won't cut it! Everything is official for my trip to Sandusky for the NCA Technical Conference! They're even sending someone to pick me up at the bus terminal when I arrive on may 7th! Last time I went to Sandusky, Ohio was in September of 1991 and it only cost $125 dollars to fly there. Even so, the plane only goes as far as Cleveland. Back them there was a train that took passengers to the bus terminal and we took a bus to Sandusky. Now they advertise a limo service that costs $70 each way. And to add insult to injury, in this day and age it costs at least $500 to fly to Cleveland!!! OY GEVALT!!! So I checked out the bus!! The lady on the phone said it was $92.40 round trip. Can't beat a deal like that! So I went to the terminal and bought my ticket already! $88.00!!! Even better! Mind you, it's an ELEVEN HOUR journey, but hey, I don't mind. I actually have peace about the trip. Heck, I survived an 8-hour bus trip to Binghamton back in 2003, I can handle 11 as long as I've got plenty of batteries for my Walkman, my journal and Archie comics! I also have to change buses in Detroit and Toledo. The first chunk of the journey is the longest! Chart of my journey provides me with a more “Aspie-friendly” way to travel. Kind of reminds me of the time Janette and I drove from Lindsay to Petawawa! Time once again to say goodbye until next month...

Margaret Franklin