On Memory, Thought, and Intelligence

Through my studies, I have found that one of the single biggest discrepancies between people with autism and NTs is memory.

Personally, I have excellent long Term Memory. Facts, pictures, conversations, diagrams, experiences, music, ideas, knowledge, I have no problem remembering it once it is in my LTM. Short Term Memory, not so much. My long term memory is almost exclusively in pictures. There may be a few exceptions (eg SOHCAHTOA and the Seabus announcement) are embedded with words, but my prime mode of memory is pictures. I have tried to remember Pi through reciting words to failure, but I do have long term memory of the first 35 digits of pi by simple recitation. My memory of pictures and speeches is also excellent, as I can recite entire speeches I gave months ago word for word with no review.
What makes me so smart is not only my LTI though. It is also my ability to manipulate and control my thoughts to think and "feel" literally. I like to call this "conductive analysis" because it sounds nice but is in fact just a nonsense term. An example would be my ability to "feel" literally what a football player would be feeling when it is 10 minutes from kickoff for the superbowl, I am actually feeling exactly what he is feeling, the nervousness, even though I am 900 km away. Another example is my ability to look out the window at the park, and make a gigantic shape that is located on the grass field, completely 3 dimensional, and I can "fly" over it with my mind and envision what it would look like from different angles.

Of course, I have just finished Temple Grandin's Thinking in Pictures and have only very recently (while reading her book) realized to the extent at which my "visual thinking" and "visual memory" and "ability to Connect" to others' feelings differs from so many of my peers, and is so similar to those that people with autism possess. No wonder the majority of my elementary friends possessed autism, because I was able to relate to them.

Like Temple, I can design facilities or systems in my head and mentally "run" them without actually operating the system. An example is one I use frequently, especially when designing transit networks, is to mentally be on the bus, to mentally see the sight that I would see on a regular trip (again, I think in pictures so I can actually reproduce images of the moving streetscape in my mind), reproduce the sounds and feeling and even smell and what I would be doing if I were on the bus mentally. This way, actually being on the bus, I would tell any errors in my schedule, the traffic on that route and estimate the time recovery should be, and count the traffic lights that would delay the trip.

Though I have to admit it, I can think in words, which is the main discrepancy between me and autistics, that they cannot in any way think in words, but what differs me from NT peers is that I can, again, I CAN think in pictures if it is easier.

So to clarify, I think in both words and pictures, but only remember in pictures and feelings. What is new, is that this has been my main language since... Forever. I, until reading her book thought that everyone thought that way (I had suspension last year but she verified it), that everyone could actually mentally "see" or visualize their bed in front of their mind at any time. But it is crude reality that they can't. Similarly  I encountered crude reality again here: I thought that people got C+ and lower grades because they weren't trying, but this was only partially correct. What I found is that people, even if they tried, couldn't get anything better than a C+; that they really were that stupid. The reason for this is, to repeat, they lacked visual thinking, visual memory, and with that, an adequate LTI. What has been my main mode of thinking for all my life, I thought existed in everybody, and it does, though just more naturally in me than almost all others.

Note that as I am typing this, I am not forming sentences before I type, I start typing what I am seeing in my mental picture, then typing each word as it fits the picture; I think in pictures and instantaneously translate it into words, I have no idea of the words in the sentence I am about to type before I start typing, but I already mentally with pictures or feelings know what I


Khan Academy Revolutionizes Education

 Above is the vision of Khan academy. That's how we can use it. Below is how real schools are using it.

 The full potential of this technology has yet been unleashed. I can't wait to see how this will reach a tipping point and suddenly flood into every district throughout the continent.


TO TRANSLINK: Ideas for Service Optimization

I love that you are opening the Service Optimization Discussion to the Public! I've got lots of ideas!

Last Week, I posted my remix of the Burnaby Transit Network! [Here]

This Week, I have a completely new round of Specific Ideas!!!

But first, I must commend you on actually listening to the public about this (ie. Starting Service Optimization Consultation)!

Personally, I think those changes (that you have come up with) are really, they are great.

* * *

C23/C21 PROPOSED CHANGE BY TRANSLINK: Extending C23 along Terminal (presumably to VCC) and C21 to Stanley Park (presumably to Second Beach) 

The Terminal Avenue Extension is Extremely Helpful and an extremely good idea, connecting Millennium Line to Yaletown! The Stanley Park extention is also a Great Idea, and would serve not only Second Beach and the Fish House, but also the apartments along Beach Avenue that currently have no service! Translink, you really are hitting all the points that people want! 


TO TRANSLINK: Completely Overhauling the Burnaby Transit Network.

During the Summer Months, I worked on this project to improve the Burnaby Transit Network.

Here is my conclusion:
[Click to Enlarge]
Black = 7.5 or higher Frequencies, Blue =15 or higher, Pink = 30 or higher.
The Current Network is top right, and My 3 proposals (because I couldn't decide on which one was better).

But the map, though detailed, gives in accurate information, and is too complicated. So I invented something called a BUS SKELETON.

This is what I call a Bus Skeleton. My invention, but hardly my idea. Transit Geeks, what do you think?
A Skeleton Diagram is an Oversimplification of the Transit Network of a region. This diagram ignores speed, but bases extreme emphasis on Frequency.

Anyways, the top 2 are the Current Network, and the bottom is my proposal. The Right ones are oversimplified Bus Skeletons. Their objective is to remove all distractions from the network, leaving only the skeleton (thus a bus skeleton).

[Click to Enlarge]

I also Provided the Business Case for my Proposal, analyzing the cost implications based on route length and bus type. [Here


In my proposal, I have determined that there are overlapping services, and many places with extremely lacking services. By removing bus routes, higher frequencies may be achieved. This though, will decrease the coverage level (eg: I have removed the 116). From my analysis, the higher frequencies and less routes in my proposal will save money, or at least cost less than the current system.

Comments Please! They are welcomed greatly.

PS: Translink, if you ever want me to volunteer on any part of the transit authority, I'd love to! Just shoot me an email!


Don't Follow this Blog. Please.

Just Don't.

If you do, follow this blog, you'll just waste your time. Let me Explain.

I am going to blog on all topics of my interest, and since my interests vary from day to day, if you follow this blog, you'll just be reading articles on completely random subjects.
It's like reading a book that changes its topic every chapter; imagine if a book talked about buses in chapter 1, Aspergers in Chapter 2, Sitting position in Chapter 3, Politics in Chapter 4...... a never ending book.

This is what this blog is. A never ending book on topics of completely different natures.

But when I tell you not to follow this blog, I don't mean that you shouldn't read posts about it. Many of my posts will be super interesting and eye opening. It is worth reading my recommended posts occasionally. But to read every post on every topic is a waste of time. Time is valuable.

By following this blog, what you are doing is following me, following my brain cycle, my thoughts, my schedule. You will see times of light blogging as I'm busy, times of random rants on the strangest and unexpected of issues.

But to follow this blog (or stock me) is useless, as you'll just be wasting your time. So instead of reading every single word on this blog, please just come here occasionally to view rants on your favourite subjects.


HIghway-Less: A Vision for Metro Vancouver

Here's a project I did 1 1/2 years ago. That was when I was just starting to dip my feet into being an urbanist. Wow, I can't believe I've made it that far in one year already!

Basically, I tried fixing burnaby's screwed up road network, mainly by removing the whole Hwy 1 in Vancouver, removing Hwy 99, and fixing the road network. It's extremely poorly done, and I thought (as a stupid ignorant amateur) that I would get 100 views in a day. I'm only up to 61 after a year and a half. :)

Anyways, it's here more to spread the idea and vision than to really change politicians.

View HighwayLess in a larger map


A Lifelong Discovery: Autism-Am I Autistic? and Why it Matters.

It started when I was 15 in June 2012. But of course, evidence can be found throughout my life. So I was searching through articles about INTJs, when I stumbled across one comparing the similarities between Aspergers and INTJs. An inquisitive child that I am, I searched up “Aspergers” on the Internet. VOILA! And it hit me-I have Aspergers!

Well, actually, not quite: here why. But lets continue the story first. Since Grade 9, I knew I was different. But the question was in what way. At least half of my elementary school friends were people possessing Autism; I could actually relate to them, see through their eyes. And to my surprise, and relief, Aspergers was supposedly a form of Autism.

So I had autism... And taking a test on Aspergers resulted in it defining me as “Very likely an Aspie”. In fact, I scored 160 out of 200 for being an Aspie, and only 43/200 as an NT, the graph provided even shows me mostly on the Aspie side.

And being so demanding and arrogant, I continued to research. I view pages and opinions and essays regarding the definitions of Aspies, what classifies people as being one, traits of Neurotypicals, correlations between INTJs and Aspies. There are reasons why my first sites showed that I may possess aspergers: Similarities btwn me and Aspies, and there are a lot, include: Stimming, Lack of Eye contact, Thinking in Pictures (visual thinking), Possessing few friendships (in fact, I only carry one friendship from Primary to Secondary), extreme narrow interests, high intelligences in one specific subject (transit), sound sensitivity, most aspies not getting diagnosed until late teens, not participating in social situations, extreme stage frighteness, difficulty with verbal instructions, not understanding idioms and sarcasm and liking structure.

But many things in the world come in cycles, or circles, and here was one that I beared in mind throughout my investigation: I started out (for 15 years) thinking: No, I do not have autism, then suddenly believing yes, but again thinking no. Truth be told, I really wanted to be an Asperger. It was only right that I have autism after all the commotion I experienced in primary, my great differences from peers of my age.

Yet on second discovery, though all those similarities, there was something (or 2 things) that really contrasted me from true Aspies. First, here is what I concluded: No, I do not possess Aspergers, but I have “Autistic Traits”. Through reading more analyses on the comparisons between NT’s and Auties, how people may misdiagnose themselves as possessing Aspergers, there was the main difference between people who think they Aspergers, and true legitimate positives. Here it is: There are people who cannot make friendships, cannot communicate, cannot understand facial expressions; and the people who voluntarily, or by choice, choose to stay away from conversations, who have the ability to make friendships but procrastinate and don’t, who have structure because it looks good in front of others, act dumb as if I don’t know who Justin Bieber is. . At this stage, I was the 2nd type, the one that voluntarily acts like an Aspie, so therefore, I was not a true positive.

But as cycles come and go, I found yet more info and professional opinion, and after some soul searching, I concluded that the answer must be yes. The problem, as with all autistics, is that there is no proper diagnosis or prevailing symptom. My opinion, to make it clear, is that there is NO cause. Nothing can ‘make you’ autistic, similarly to how nothing can ‘make you’ as smart as Einstein, and like how there is no cause for extroverts. You are born with it. And with the vaguity in diagnosis, the fact that I fit much of the criteria must mean that I am an Aspie. At least I thought...

There is the notion that I have seemed to gotten more autistic as time has gone by, I seem to have removed myself from communication and attachment to other humans. Time will tell if I have actually become more autistic through my teenage years. I have finally settled on the final conclusion that I still hold to this day (3 ½ months later): NO, I do not possess Autistic Disorder. 

* * *

And that was a long buildup! But my rationale for writing this is not to advertise my discovery of whether not I am an Aspie, but to explain ability to see through the eyes of both Neurotypicals and Auties. I must first clarify the terminology: “having Autistic Spectrum Disorder” is different than “being Autistic”. Everyone is Autistic to some degree: everyone has Autism, but most are not severe enough to warrant it as Autistic Diagnosis. It’s just that the people with more, or higher severity of Autism will be diagnosed as having “Autistic Spectrum Disorder”.

Here’s an example:
1) There’s times when a sudden noise was too loud for your ears. You would want to cover your ears.
2) There’s times when you are deep in thought, (usually fixating your eyes down) and suddenly your friend says that he called you several times and you didn’t answer. This is called tuning out: to embed your mind in your thoughts, caring not for what’s being said and happening around you. People with autism tune out not because they don’t want to listen, but because they can’t help it. Many times they have thought of a long formula and don’t want to be distracted, focusing all their attention on their thoughts, and forgetting that they are hungry.
3) There have been times when you suddenly had a sensation of joy, possibly laughed out loud, maybe because you thought of a funny sentence, or saw a funny picture in your mind, with the surrounding people having no idea why you were smiling. Sometimes, these sensations come from nowhere, you suddenly feel happy and excited, and want to jump and yell “I’m happy! HAHAHA, GRR!”

Yet these 3 are normalities for people diagnosed with ASDs. When Imagine this happening every minute of everyday. They tune out because all the noise around them is too loud or distracting, and they cover their ears. While they cover their ears, a happy thought jumps into the mind, maybe they just saw a cake, and imagined a cake baking in the oven, and laughed at the time when cookie dough spilt all over their hands when they were baking. And with these 3 simple events, linking them is seeing what people with ASDs experience every minute. Yet these traits are not limited to people on the Spectrum, “normal” people, with the 3 descriptions above, also experience the Autistic Mind, just to a lesser degree and much less frequently.

Which is what I provide: A vivid look into the Autistic Mind by describing to “normal” people what they are feeling. This is why I can do it: I, through the long story above, am autistic. I’m just not diagnosed as possessing ASDs, but I can reproduce the Autistic Mind.

Disregarding the structure in this write up, but here’s a side note. I don’t consider myself being on the Spectrum because: I voluntarily act autistic. This means, if I pay attention to things that Autistics would (ie. annoying sounds, “dark” movie theatres, the rain) I can actually act very much like a person with PDD-NOS. I would have no problem living that way: I would be able to think about anything I wish to think about, move my hands freely (I love stimming), without needing to speak a word to anyone, and I am capable of doing just that (being Autistic). But I do not wish to live a life less than my ability: I have the ability to engage in conversation, detect facial expressions, filter out sound, act normal can calm in fire drills, and so it is my duty to be as normal as possible. But I bear in mind the fact that at any moment, I can switch off my normal behavior, and act Autistic at any time. It is for this reason that I engage in autistic behavior so often, because in unstructured, unjudging environments (eg: in the park alone), I will be autistic, you will not be able to speak to me, because I will be tuned out, stimming, thinking, jumping, screaming.

The fact that I can act autistic is something that all normal people can do. If they pay attention to what people with ASDs look at, normal people (like me) can act just like a person with ASD. It just comes more naturally to act like a person with ASD than most other normal people. It doesn’t take as much work compared to others to act like an ASD, I can see their minds at any instant. Through this ability, I can and will in many occasions, “look through the eyes of someone with Autism”. Because I have Autism, or at least more severe than most normal people. And when I feel what the autistics are feeling, I can just multiply the sensation that I get, recreating the exact feeling that the person with ASD is getting. Just that most people with ASDs aren’t able to describe to normal people what their feeling. So in conclusion, this is who I am: An (Autistic) “normal” person who can see through the eyes of someone with ASD, and describe what they are thinking and feeling to “normal” people.


British Columbia's Rob Ford: Derek Corrigan

For those who care for politics, those two pictures above are 2 different people. Toronto's Mayor Rob Ford, and Burnaby's Mayor Derek Corrigan. Similar? Yes, very.
I had to go for this one. Both are large sized and appear happy (at least in the photos).
Transit Beliefs:
Rob Ford ended 'Transit City' Light Rail, favoring a much more expensive Heavy Rail line. Mr. Corrigan gets 2 Lines, about 16km, of Skytrain, and complains about paying for light rail and bus improvements SOF.
Never Stops complaining about Translink and Taxes, yet his gets the 2nd most bus service in Metro Vancouver. Complains and outlaws petty transit wires that go for 2 km on the outer limit of his city.
Corrigan: "No money for transit, No money for Translink, No property taxes, No gas taxes, No studies, No we will not help you Translink, No more transit improvements needed, Not helping Translink because they are run by Kevin Falcon, Translink is definitely corrupt, No more promising costly service upgrades, No more progress."
No Nonsense and open government:
"Stop the Gravy Train!" But... the train has already left the station, and what is on the train is not gravy, rather it progress and city services.
Stop the Bike Lanes!
Enough Said.
Car Dependency:
Though Corrigan was vocally opposed to Gateway (like every other project by the Libs), within city control, the Mayor has created a city of cars and parks- parks that you drive to. Free parking can be found virtually everywhere in Burnaby, with the excess of cars the main reason for (in my opinion) the most congested city in Metro Vancouver.
There a need to explain R. Ford's (like all people with the name 'Ford') preference for the automobile.
So Burnaby, maybe it's time to reconsider your choice for Mayor. 


Our Current Education 1- A Minute by Minute Account of What Students do During Class.

As a person in highschool, though I'm young and have less formal education than most, I do have lots of ideas and opinions and have good observational skills.
But I've got something that the majority of the population doesn't: The ability to enter highschools and get the inside scoop of our education. Jealous?
A parent asks a child: "What did you learn at school today?"
Child: "Nothing".
It costs taxpayers $8,472 a year to send a child to school to learn 'Nothing'.
What Actually Happens in HighSchool? 
Backrounder: Highschool Students in Metro Vancouver attend 180 days of School per year, each student taking 8 classes a year.
There are 4 classes a day on alternating days, with each class an average of 82 minutes.
A minute by minute diary of what I do at HighSchool since December 6th: Page 1234.
Rather than reading my messy handwriting, I have organized the data into neat charts below:
Exercises: Group Assignments eg. Labs, Group Discussion
Movie: Watching Movies or Videos
rk Time: Independent Quiet Work Time
Free Time/Wasted: Time spent off topic, Free Time on computer, or Free Time to do whatever we please (Socialize).
Lesson:  Teacher's Lesson eg. Reading and Explaining Textbook
Review: Teacher Reviews Prior Lessons, or Teacher Check/Reviews Homework
Exam: Quiz or Exam eg. Writing essays
Presentations: Presentations by Classmates

In Other Words...
An Essay/Exam every 5 classes
Free Time on the computer (or socialization time) every 3 classes
Presentations every 5 classes
A Movie every 25 classes
Average of 6 minutes of "Lesson", 7 minutes of "Group Exercises", and 6 minutes of "Review" Every Class.

In Other Words...
In the typical Class of 82 minutes, we spend...
53 minutes independently working (on math),
10 minutes "Wasted"
14 minutes going over previous Homework
5 minutes on today's Actual Lesson
There's an Exam every 7 classes.

In Other Words...
In the typical Class of 82 minutes, we spend...
31 minutes independently working (on work)
8 minutes "Wasted"
17 minutes on today's Lesson
14 minutes Reviewing Previous Assignments
12 minutes doing Mini Quizzes (or 24 minutes every 2nd Class)
There's an Exam every 10 classes,
a Lab every 4 classes

In Other Words...
In the typical Class of 82 minutes, we spend...
40 minutes independently working (on anything)
24 minutes doing what we please
12 minutes on today's Lesson
6 minutes Reviewing Previous Lessons
There's an Exam every 9 classes

In Other Words...
In the typical Class of 82 minutes, we spend...
7 minutes independently working (on work)
11 minutes socializing
24 minutes learning from reading the textbook
40 minutes watching movies
There's an exam every 20 classes

In Other Words...
In the typical Class of 82 minutes, we spend...
16 minutes independently working (on french worksheets)
21 minutes talking useless/random nonsense
14 minutes teaching francais, either through the whiteboard or textbook
14 minutes reviewing and marking worksheets
9 minutes doing a quiz
8 minutes doing group exercises
There are French Project Presentations every 8 classes

Physical Education and Band would skew the results if included.
In a way, when the child says that he learns 'nothing' at school is somewhat correct. The only times when a teacher is actually needed in a highschool (for the lesson and review) only accounts for 23% of the time spent at school.
The lesson only accounts for 13% of the school time, while free/wasted time is at 17%.
My Opinion, it is not correct for taxpayers to send students to schools where most of the time is used up with activities that can easily be completed at home.
(For example, if you knew what workbook pages or worksheets were to be done, then the 25% "Work Time" could be done at home.)
My Conclusion: 21st Century Education needs Reform. A dozen years into this century, and it has never been a better time to ask for an improved education system.
My Goal: To improve education circumstances in a way that would benefit current students (like myself), future students, teachers, and taxpayers.
Stay Tuned for Part 2 of this series, (I think will be called "What we learn at School")and Part 3 (I think it will be called "The Purpose of School"). 
AND REMEMBER: Those who we teach now, will teach others in the future. So we must teach our students well, and ensure that the education of our future workforce is of good quality.
PS. Sorry for the Spelling Errors in the Graphs (Exercise). Spelling's not my strong point.
Feel free to shoot me an email to ask me questions, or ask me to write about a topic, or contribute your education observations. Most people don't have the inside scoop to our education anymore.