Features I’m Looking for in my Next Bike for Commuting

I’m planning on upgrading my bike so that it’s faster and has the benefits of a hybrid bike. According to forums, upgrading to a road bike from a mountain bike can improve the speed by up to 20%.

I currently ride a hybrid bike. My average speed seems too low based on forums. From my rides on Strava, their average speeds were around 17 km/h even if I pedalled hard.

 

I’m thinking of getting a used cyclocross or touring bike. Its features should include:

  • Drop bars for a more aerodynamic position.
  • Room for wider tires (at least 32c) which are more suitable when there’s poorer roads which are more common on side streets.
  • Room for fenders because it would be used in the rain.
  • Threaded holes for racks and baskets.

I’m considering adding custom made lights and electric horns to it for safety. To maximize the speed, they should be lightweight and aerodynamic.

I’ve never commuted or biked long distance with a bike similar to a road bike before. I’ll have to try one to find out whether my speed is similar to average.

It’s possible that stopping often reduces the average speed significantly. In Vancouver, the bike routes are mostly on side streets which means waiting at stop signs, slowing down, and stopping are required more frequently.

I think getting to your destination faster by 20% is worth the upgrade. It can encourage more cycling and reduce the need to drive.

5 Things That I Want My University to Know About Autism

An Aspie's view on Christianity, Aspergers, Bullying, and everything inbetween

Hello everyone,

I am very excited for this first installment of my new blog series titled “5 things that I want my…. to know about autism”. I have decided to begin with my university. I would like to include a small note before this post. Some of you probably know that I attend a Christian university. As a result, both the church installment of this series and this particular post will apply to my university. Therefore, I have decided to focus specifically on social and academic aspects in this post, since spiritual aspects will be covered in the post addressed to the church.

5 Things That I Want My University To Know About Autism:

Just because I don’t seem to have a disability, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist.

I hear this a lot at my university. I don’t always “appear” autistic to those around me at my university. I…

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Dual Protection Attenuation Values for Store Bought Hearing Protection Devices (Calculated)

Have you ever felt that even with hearing protection, it’s still too loud? A possible solution is to wear both ear plugs and earmuffs for extra protection.

For protecting your ears, some safety regulations recommend wearing dual protection when sound levels exceed 100 dB. Dual protection may be needed for gun shots too.

It’s also useful for studying, sleeping, and those who are sensitive to sounds such as those who get sensory overload.

Another situation where this is beneficial is low frequency noise sources because a single passive noise reduction device isn’t very effective against those noises. You may find this effective when you’re near traffic or inside a vehicle. This method can be much cheaper than using active noise reduction.

The combined attenuation values were calculated for 27 dB reusable ear plugs and 26 dB earmuffs. They were purchased from Home Hardware.

dual protection

The bone conduction values were estimated from an article about dual hearing protection.

The calculated attenuation values were higher than those in the dual hearing protection article. All of them were limited to bone conduction. I don’t know how effective they are in real life. I plan on trying dual protection on the bus.

It’s important to have a proper fit to achieve high attenuation values. You can have some idea of the attenuation values by using a tone generator with and without hearing protection. If the tone is perceived as half as loud, the attenuation is about 10 dB.

I’ve attached the packages for both hearing protection devices.

 

 

Subtle Signs of Sensory Overload in an Autistic Person and the Importance of Recognizing Them

In the past, I incorrectly assumed that my sensory overload was too mild to be concerned about it.

I learned more about the problem after reading articles and forums, and watching videos about it.

For some reason, the symptoms of sensory overload are more subtle for me and may look like I’m daydreaming or lacking interest. Maybe it’s because I’m not very expressive.

Since some of those symptoms are experienced by non-autistic people, can overlap with other causes, and may be subtle, they can be misinterpreted.

That’s an example of how two autistic people don’t always have the same symptoms.

This is a problem because instead of experimenting with a sensory friendly environment or other forms of accommodations, the conclusion that the field of work or study wasn’t suitable for the person might be drawn too early when a lack of interest or ability is suspected.

That’s one of the reasons why autism may need to be disclosed to employees even if socializing isn’t expected.

Another concern is the possibility of getting used to sensory overload and not be aware of it.

For example, if the work place is always loud, the autistic person may not have a work day without sensory overload. The person may think that the symptoms are normal or would improve over time, and not ask for accommodations.

The signs that I may have sensory overload include:

  • Staying in a store for too long when purchasing only a few items
  • Responding too slowly
  • Zoning out
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Losing interest
  • Not contributing much in group activities
  • Difficulties using learned skills
  • Forgetfulness
  • Fading of senses

Now I’m experimenting with preventing sensory overload. Hopefully my symptoms would be managed.

I’m trying ear plugs for different noise levels from as quiet as the hum from fluorescent lamps, to conversations and loudspeakers, to light and heavy traffic conditions, to louder environments. If there’s signs of improvements such as being able to stay focused longer, then it suggests that they should be used.

Preventing sensory overload before activities may be needed too because it takes time to recover. That could mean wearing ear plugs while waiting for the bus and riding it, and during lunch in a cafeteria, classroom, or a restaurant. According to Amythest Schaber, recovery can take at least four hours for every hour of shopping or socializing.

If there’s still sensory overload, the protection can be increased by combining ear plugs with earmuffs. Notice that their combined noise reduction ratings are limited to bone conduction.

combine hearing protection.jpg

With hearing protection, it’s important to have the proper balance of removing the triggers while being able to hear the sounds needed for safety such as instructions.

Another way of reducing noise is installing a wind blocker on your helmet straps when biking. This would divert the wind from your ears without blocking important sounds.

I understand that those measures may seem extreme but for autistic people, it may be necessary because they have a hard time filtering sensory information. For those who need discrete hearing protection, they can be ordered online.

Other things that may be possible to try include using a dB meter to measure noise levels, hearing protection that allows hearing conversations, an organized work space, moving to a quieter work space, dividers, and active noise cancellation devices, and comfortable clothing, temperatures, and lighting.

Some articles recommend desensitization, which means getting used to the triggers. It may work for some people but unfortunately, I still suspect sensory overload even though I’ve been exposed to noisy enviroments for a long time.

I can’t guarantee that trying it out would decrease unemployment rates for autistic people or improve their grades because there’s other causes too.

I encourage trying to address sensory overload when the symptoms in autistic people worsen. With five dollars, you can buy a pair of reusable ear plugs, and with 20 to 30 dollars, you can buy a pair of earmuffs.

Update: I found out that NoiseBuster has earmuffs that combines both active and passive noise reduction for around $200. ANR is more effective for low frequency sounds but less effective for higher frequency sounds, making them suitable for engine noises. Since they’re quite expensive, I recommend combining both high NRR ear plugs with high NRR earmuffs, or borrowing it before purchasing it.

Importance of High Functioning Autism Awareness for Employment

The term “high functioning” autism may make the condition sound like it’s not so hard to for the person to get a job. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case and their skills are wasted.

It’s very easy to overlook the fact that they need help in finding a job when they’re good at acting non-autistic, they have the skills for the job, or they have good grades.

Even though I only have HFA, I still have areas that I struggle with. That’s why I think we need autism awareness whether we’re “high” or “low” functioning.

My struggles include:

  • Job interviews
  • Socializing
  • Sensory overload
  • Describing emotions
  • Expressing emotions
  • Using incorrect facial expressions
  • Processing social cues
  • Volume control and tone of voice
  • Not knowing what the written rules for socializing are
  • Taking things literally
  • Difficulty understanding sarcasm
  • Misunderstanding instructions especially if they’re spoken instead of written
  • Restricted interests
  • Recognizing faces

The national unemployment rate in Canada is only 6.6% as of February 2017. Here’s a chart of the unemployment rates in Canada by province and territory.

unemployment rate.png

Source: Wikipedia

Depending on which studies you read, for autistic people, their unemployment rates can be 85%! That’s not a typo. It’s 85% not 8.5%. Unfortunately, those with HFA are similarly affected. That’s why I think they need as much help. This article also lists other struggles besides employment, and has myths and facts about HFA.

From the symptoms mentioned above, you may have a better idea why it’s so hard for them to do well in job interviews or keep a job.

When a person partially shuts down from sensory overload, it can be mistaken for lacking interest if they become quiet or refuses to participate, or lacking the skills if they have difficulty performing. You can learn more about sensory overload from videos, forums, and other articles.

I think shutting down from sensory overload can also make us unaware of our condition and make it more difficult to avoid the situation. I tend to overestimate my ability to tolerate sensory overload. That’s why I think we should be aware of it and be prepared. I’m now bringing ear plugs more often when I go out.

Sources of excessive noise that can cause sensory overload at work include music, dining areas, crowds, appliances, vehicles, and phone calls.

Since autistic people may have a hard time sensing the volume of their voice, they might not notice the need to raise their volume when it gets louder. They might speak too loud in a quiet place or too quiet in a loud place.

Difficulties with the unwritten rules and expressing emotions can affect our first impressions. For example, if we want to share our interests, how do we know when it’s too much information. I feel the need to experiment.

Since it’s hard for autistic people to pass job interviews, I think we should share our skills and hobbies online, have networks, share autism awareness articles, and try to get support. It may benefit us if we pursue a diagnosis.

Thankfully, there’s employment services for people with disabilities. Some companies actually hire autistic people because of their strengths. I’m hoping that their employment rates would significantly increase in the future.

This article only focuses on employment. There’s other areas of concern as well.

Lamp Wired to the 78.125 kHz ATtiny 85 Boost LED Driver

The custom LED driver was wired to a string of 6 – 365 nm UV LEDs with a total of around 15 watts.

Here’s a video of the lamp being used. It’s not very bright because it emitted only a small amount of visible light.

Here are the pictures for the lamp construction. A fan wasn’t installed so the second switch wasn’t used.

This lamp was used to test for the UV protection of the goggles. If the highlighter ink doesn’t fluoresce, it means that UV is blocked. You can try sunscreens too.

When using a UV lamp, it’s important to wear UV protection goggles even though our eyes are insensitive to its wavelengths.