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About Me

I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama. I have a cat that sometimes gets in the way of my typing. I am also a photographer. At 48 years of age, I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a high functioning form of autism. Recently I have become a self-advocate.

I graduated from Huntingdon College in 1981. I studied photography at night classes held at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. I got an MS degree in Journalism at Murray State University. Then I worked at newspapers and publications without much success before I went to Portfolio Center in Atlanta in 1994 to study Commercial Photography. After one year I left because I did not like the teachers or their teaching methods. Not having very much success finding commercial photography jobs I worked at several retail establishments in Atlanta until I decided to move back to Birmingham Alabama in 2002. I got a degree in Web Design in 2007 From Jefferson State Community College and once again couldn’t find work. I have found a new purpose in life since my diagnoses. I am a Governor appointee on the Alabama Interagency Autism Coordinating Council and the Regional Autism Network as well as volunteering for several activist organizations, all well being a caregiver for my Mother.

Growing up autistic I always had a different angle on things. That may be why my stories are so strange.

Publications: “The Blossom War,” 18th Wall’s anthology, The Dragon Lord’s Library.

“Gathering at the Bubble.” AntipodeanSF June 2018. http://pandora.nla.gov.au/pan/10063/20180620-0000/www.antisf.com.au/the-stories/gathering-at-the-bubble.html

“A day In Caaatahlona 1 City Beneath The Waves,” AntipodeanSF February 2018 issue.http://pandora.nla.gov.au/pan/10063/20180220-0000/www.antisf.com.au/the-stories/a-day-in-caaatahlona-1-city-beneath-the-waves.html

Audio version. https://2nvr.org.au/index.php/programs?the-antipodeansf-radio-show

“Abduction.Org” AntipodeanSF, September 2018. http://pandora.nla.gov.au/pan/10063/20180920-0215/www.antisf.com.au/the-stories/abduction-org.html

“Silver Image,” Daguerreian Annual 2015.

Islands in Dark Ocean https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07DH4GHB4

Short story collection The Other Side of Forever, https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MZCEVZO

The Civil War in Hurray, Calloway County Kentucky, Jackson Purchase Historical Society probably1988.

My Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/

Author’s page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01MZCVY74

Maya In Georgia Nonsense

I stopped watching the History Chanel when they started shows about space aliens and Big Foot and Atlantis. I happened to catch a few episodes which featured some nut, I don’t remember his name or the name of the show. He is a person not worth our time much less a series. In the opening, he says how he is trying to make sense of North American archaeology. His ideas are so bizarre that he is the only person who can make sense out of them.

In one episode he believed that a plot of land in a state park in Georgia was a Maya site. He never explains why he thought it was. The park service denied him access, probably because he is such a disagreeable person. He then made a long drive to return to his lab. I wondered why he needed a lab and what he did there. He met a man who had gone to the property and made a video. The video showed crude stonework of a terrace like what is done in some places to farm and didn’t look anything like a Mayan ruin. When this man made a comment about the crude stonework the man passed it off as degrading over time. Since he couldn’t go see the property he hired an airplane to fly over and take a topographic image of the property. He made a pontificating speech to the pilot, information that they both knew, it was for the benefit of the viewers. He criticized the institutions who don’t listen to him. That he knows the real facts and they are trying to suppress him. What that 3d map was supposed to prove was lost on me, but it was exhibit one of his proofs.

Another proof was a spiral mound about ten miles south of his dubious site that is identical to Maya spiral mounds. Another proof was words in native American languages that are the same as in the Maya language. These indicate cultural exchange and movement between the various nations but don’t specifically prove that his site is Mayan.

During the episode, he visited Chichen Itza and did not examine the construction of real Maya ruins. In another episode I saw part of, he believed that I think a Scottish Earl or an arch Bishop or someone, it doesn’t matter who had found the Holy Grail and brought it to America.

I saw most of one episode where he had someone go down in a well and remove one of the rocks and then poke a stick into the hole to see if there was a cavity. There was. I don’t know what he was looking for. After that he fug near the well with a backhoe, I think he should have removed more stones from inside of the well. He sent in a remote camera which found nothing. Two of his assistants sat watching the video from the remote and said, “It doesn’t get better than this.” A corny line and the digging effort found nothing yet they were excited.

The so-called archaeologist. discovered that dirt in the area had been dug up and put back. He said that some unknown person or entity had beat him to it. Drats! Foiled Again!

There are plenty of real Archeologists and sites to dig up that would be interesting. However, the History Channel producers think that they have to feature the extreme far-out people and ideas.

I Spoke at Autism Expo 2022

Abstract

Title: Diagnosed at forty-eight I lived unaware that I was on the spectrum

Name: Robert W. Caldwell

Affiliation: Autism Society of Alabama

INTRODUCTION:

When I joined the Regional Autism Network of Alabama The first program they had was on toilet training. Agencies seem to be so focused on children with autism, but those children are going to grow up. I have met parents who are concerned about how their grown-up children will get along after they are gone

 

AIM:

We need to be aware that people are different. I experienced discrimination aimed against me during my life because of my odd behavior. People didn’t know that it was autism, but I had a target on my head, something others could see but I couldn’t. People need to be taught that people can be wired differently, and people on the spectrum need to have opportunities to use their talents and be able to live independently when they get older

OBSERVATIONS:

As a child, I was like a little professor able to pronounce dinosaur names. I got picked on in elementary school. I had a teacher who said I was retarded and should be put in an institution. My mother refused. She fought for me moving me to three other elementary schools. I lead games of Let’s Pretend with two neighboring brothers until they discovered soccer and things weren’t the same after that. I didn’t date in high school and am virtually invisible in the yearbook except for the band. In college, I wasn’t in a clique. My attempts to date were disasters. I got a master’s degree in Journalism but walked into a disaster situation when I landed a job. After that, I could only find retail. Underemployed I was among people of a totally different background

TAKEAWAYS:

I grew up autistic without knowing it and was treated differently for reasons I did not understand. Other people are like me and need assistance as an adult such as help finding employment. Current efforts focus mostly on children, but these children will one day become adults

RECOMMENDATIONS:

People should realize that everyone is different and should treat everyone the same. People who grew up with Asperger’s Syndrome before this condition was understood need help to find gainful employment. A tailored approach rather than traditional techniques should be used. More focus should be directed toward adults on the spectrum.

KEYWORDS:

  1. Asperger’s 2. Employment 3. Adult issues

BIOGRAPHY:

Robert grew up in Birmingham, Alabama. He has a green thumb, is a handyman, caregiver, chef, science fiction writer, photographer, researcher, self-advocate, journalist, web designer, and artist, an all-around Renaissance man.

Green Thumb

Every one says that I have a green thumb. I really don’t what I do. I put them in the ground and they grow. I think maybe one reason is that I make sure the plants are watered everyday and by constantly paying attention to them. If I see anything wrong I fix it. If there are pest I’ll spray for the pest. If they aren’t growing much I’ll fertilize. I feel that I can read plants, get a sense if something isn’t right. If its a potted plant I’ll move it or hold back on water or give it water.

My Atheism

It took a long journey before I literally woke up one day and realized I was an atheist. I went to a Christian college. This is where maybe my belief started to get cracks. In my freshman year, I enthusiastically got involved with the Christian group. I was in the choir that the chaplain led and got to travel around performing concerts. I went each Sunday night to Fellowship where we sang, and people made inspirational talks. I even did a talk for the group with my roommate about the superficiality of many friendships.

But soon things didn’t fit right. One of the songs we sang had a line paraphrased as but for all the friends you sent I never have to be alone. Yet I looked at all the singing happy people and I felt alone.

Through my reading and study, I learned about how long humans have been around, and about the multitude of different religions. In the musical, “Jesus Christ Superstar” Judas ask why Jesus came in such a backward time and place. I wonder is why he did not come sooner. Australopithecus, Homohabilis, and Neanderthal all lived before he came. Neanderthal was around longer than we have been on Earth. They worshiped gods. Small statues of been found of rotund buxom women. It doesn’t look like they worshipped Jesus.

Ancient Egypt lasted 3000 years all before Jesus came part of that time predated the Jewish faith. When Jesus came, he walked around in Palestine spreading the message that you can only be save through him, but there were people living in Asia and the Americas who had no way of knowing about him.

There are so many different religions with such a diversity of different beliefs that have nothing in common. I would think either God would work all the religions to point to him, or he would message the followers telling them that they were on the wrong path.

I have also known people who read only Christian books, listen only to Christian music, and are highly involved in their church. Yet they openly express hatred of gays, immigrants, Muslims, and others. These people also hang out in an ivory tower with all their Christian friends isolated from contact with anyone else and are not involved in any hands-on activities helping other people.

I know a girl who I was friends with for a while who was in a small group, (A church-affiliated social group of women) and actively participated in Forty Days of Prayer. Yet none of that had any effect on her. She was still a self-centered drama queen who took life personally. If the spirit of Jesus Christ really does into a person when they seek h9im out then both those former friends should have been better people. One friend talked about having a personal relationship with Jesus. If so then why didn’t Jesus remind him to love his neighbor even if the neighbor is gay, an illegal immigrant, a Muslim, or other sinner?

If I have some strange desire to be insulted, treated rudely, and condemned, I’ll talk to a group of Christians. If I want to have a pleasant intellectual conversation without judgement I”l talk to a group of atheists.

There are also the evangelist who live in mansions and fly around in private jets, which goes against Jesus’s teachings about the virtues of poverty.

I also find the idea of someone dying for me disturbing. I didn’t ask him to do that and it makes people feel guilty; “How can you not worship him after he did that for you?” Even though he was resurrected he still suffered death. He suffered for us for a crime done by my ancestor. I am guilty for no other reason than being born and am doomed to be punished because of that.

I also am disturbed by the all or nothing. Choose Jesus or go to Hell. What if the most beautiful Man/Woman approached you and said, “Mary me or I’ll kill you.” Would you be drawn to them? Would you truly be able to love them? It’s similar to the play “Annie” where Mrs. Marsh has the orphans say, “I love you Mrs. Marsh.” Why can’t a god say choose me, here is what I have to offer. If you don’t chose me that is fine. You’re loss.

I also don’t fathom the idea that humans only live 80 to 100 years. Why should we suffer for eternity for only 80 years of sin? I can understand Hell, but isn’t that punishment too severe? Even with the most heartless murderer wouldn’t a few hundred years be sufficient? And I knew a theological teacher who said that the aim of punishment is to reform. I like the notion that souls go to Hell and are punished according to their sin and it is worked out and they are refined and eventually make their way back to God.

I know Jewish people, Muslims, Hindu, even atheist who are good people very devout in their belief. If they are all going to Hell at least I know I’ll be in good company. I’ll also share the fate of Greeks, Romans Egyptians, Maya, and other cool people.

Quarantine is the Life for Me

read a book watch TV

Quarantine is the life for me

Make a great discovery

feed the cats that are pestering

Water plants work on my writing

Quarantine is the life for me

Make a meal do some cooking

Mow the grass do some gardening

Quarantine is the life for me

Social distance while out walking

Wave say Hi and do some talking

Quarantine is the life for me

Moon Cactuses






This is a photo of my moon cactuses, Gymnocalycium mihanovichii . This species is from South America
. The colored cap is a mutation which completely lacks chlorophyll, exposing the color pigment that is usually hidden. Because they are unable to photosynthesize, these plants are unable to survive on their own, but because growers see them as something special, these mutant strains get grafted onto another type of cactus called hylocereus . The result you see is the Moon Cactus.  Moon cacti are commonly grown as houseplants and are also known as Ruby Ball, Red Cap, Red Hibotan, or Hibotan cacti. People with developmental disabilities are like moon cacti, something that should be seen as beautiful and unique in the world and might need a little help in order to get along. Many people don’t see the beauty that people with disabilities bring to the world, nor do they see why it is necessary to give us the support that we need.

Photojournalism Encounter

Somewhere and someplace I talked to an editor who was cr1itised my work. Now that I think about it the memory it happened in 1989 or 1990 at a convention. When I showed him a photo I was particularly proud of and he immediately said that that no reputable newspaper would print that picture. This man had known Robert Capa. He was the man in charge of the Life darkroom during the D-day invasion.

He was the one who told the darkroom tech to turn up the temperature of the heater so that the negatives would dry out faster. This caused the film to melt ruining most of the pictures. That is why the images of D-day have a burred look.

So here was a man who had made the worst mistake in photojournalism history who had the audacity to criticize my work and be intolerant of mistakes. Capa risked his life to get those pictures only to have the best ones destroyed forever.

I read a biography about Capa. The young Capa was sent on an assignment at a place on a beach. He tried taking a camera underwater to take a picture and ruined the camera. He had a fun time at the company’s expense yet they still liked him kept him. Yet for some reason I got skinned alive anytime I made a mistake and got fired in a particularly sadistic way. Experts in the field who I talked to were stern with me and unkind.

In the Capa biography, that man who said he was an intimate friend wasn’t even mentioned in the book.

Doe Ray Mee

I remember sing the song in grade school. I didn’t understand that it was the list of note. I thought it told a story. “Doe a deer a female deer.” The mother.

“Ray, a drop of golden son.” The mother dear has a child.

“Me amay I combed myself!” The sun gets hurt. I never heard any say that combing they combed themselves when they got hurt and people comb their hair but my young mind was forcing the song to tell a story.

“Fa a long, long way to run.” The young deer has a long way to run to get back home to mother.

“La, a note to follow So.” didn’t make sense so I ignored it.

“Tea a drink of Gimmenbrez.” Whatever gimmenbrez is it is a substance that restores the hurt young deer’s strength so that he”l be able to make the journey that “brings him back to (his mother) Doe.”