Archive for 2022

Digging This New Job

I’m digging this new job! It’s got a hell of a lot of doing!

This week we are actively working on  designing and painting banners for the makerspace, putting student art on laser etched themed drink coaster seats, making bases and packaging so we can sell them in our store, making greeting cards (I think the most promising ones are “jump-scare” cards designed by a student that are sweet on the outside and have wonderfully horrible creature images inside), making friendship bracelet kits to sell in the store, setting up the lathe and workspace to turn pens to sell, making and painting a 6′ wingspan plane out of cardboard to decorate the space, prototyping 3d printed lithophanes, and…  Wow. That’s the past 2 weeks! What a place!

And mixed in there I attended a drama class where we covered enunciation, rhythm and dance, and ettiquite. I went on an excursion to Larkspur Landing and went geocaching, and a trip to the Santa Rosa mall.

I also did some engineering on the new “gear-wall” that will showcase donations made to the program. And I spoke with the managers of the cafe that will occupy the front 1/4 of our space; students will work as baristas and such alongside regular cafe employees.

My work as an OT is buried deep in the program in everything I do. My strengths as an organizer and maker are used all the time. The team gathered is really terrific, all caring, aware, and informed!

Wow, what a program!

Started Work at Autistry Studios

Last week I started working full-time as a mentor, shop lead, and OT at Autistry Studios in San Rafael, California! This is a big, beautiful change!

Autistry is an adult day program for autistics and people with similar challenges. I am the lead of their new Production group where we are helping our students design, build, manufacture, and sell their products in our store!

I’ve been working as a school-based OT since I started in 2018 but it was time for a change. For me, there wasn’t enough active collaboration with co-workers and, like most of the other special education providers I know, I worked well into the night on paperwork at least a few evenings a week, every week, for years. I’ve been working one day a week at Autistry since November but here in my first two weeks full time, I find myself working in a really tremendous group environment with a great staff and students!

Oh and here’s a photo of me at work this week with student on one of our larger excursions, surfing at Stinson Beach!

Repetitive Strain Injury and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

A friend recently asked what I thought about his recent diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome. Here’s my answer:

The key part of a repetitive strain injury like carpal tunnel syndrome is that you are likely causing *repetitive*strain* on your body. For long term recovery, change your routines over the long term. Stretching helps but you’ve got to eliminate the repetitive strain! Maybe change how you position your hands when you type, maybe hold the hammer differently, whatever is causing it. Use the splint as a reminder to change your routines; it makes it so that you physically can’t do the stressful motion but it’s up to you to not do them after the splint comes off!

It took months to get to having an irritated and inflamed carpal tunnel. It can take months to recover with conservative treatment. It might be too late to get to a normal state with a reasonable amount of conservative treatment. IE. barely using your hand for 6+ months might not be a practical option! But you might be able to do it! A cortisone shot, and changing how you use your hand might do it. An occupational therapy consultation with a hand specialist could be very helpful. (google “occupational therapist hand specialist near me”) Surgery doesn’t have a perfect success rate and that potential damage could be permanent so don’t jump straight to it! (remember that if you get diagnosed by a surgeon, they might want to jump straight to the cutting because… surgeon). I am a huge fan of using “It’s where the doctors go!” Their writeup about carpal tunnel is very good. Be warned that it’s written in doctor-ese: To sign up, you’ll have to tell them you’re a medical professional or something. Say “yes”. It’s a free and AWESOME site!

Disclaimer: I’m an occupational therapist but hand therapy isn’t a specialty of mine.

My First Surfing

I had asked FB friends to help me with a problem, here’s the original ask: I’ll be going to surfing camp in the balmy 50 degree waters of Northern California next month. I’m uncomfortable in cold water. Do you have any specific recommendations for how I can keep from failing? A particular type of wetsuit or equipment? Do I want booties? A particular seller? A website with lots of info? A heartwarming word? The camp has wetsuits but I want to be very very prepared!

I got a lot of good help including finding out that my high school friend Tom was in the wetsuit business, coolio! I responded:

TLDR; surfing was awesome! Thanks! Gonna surf next week, hopefully getting pix!

Thank you all for your comments! Just having this discussion helped calm me before the adventure. I knew that the surf camp ( was providing wet suits but I had heard maybe they didn’t have enough equipment (hoods and booties, etc). Since I was going to the surf camp for 4 days (2 days last week, 2 days this upcoming week!) I figured that if there was a big problem, I could go get the right equipment after a day of surfing. Everything worked out very well! On the first day, I got a nice Patagonia 4/3 suit and, amazingly, it was warm enough! My feet were a bit cold but tolerable! On the second day, the water temperature was a little warmer (maybe 57 instead of 53?) I got a suit that wasn’t as warm in the middle but had a hood; the hood kept me nicely warm! Though it was hard to hear people unless I pulled the hood off my ear a bit. And OMG it was hard to get into that second suit! It took like 20 minutes of me and 2 other mentors pulling and yanking and jimmying! It was a funny bonding experience with my new co-workers! Once in the suit, I could feel my body had been slightly rearranged: my legs skinnier, my shoulders pulled a little back high and wide, my center of gravity felt a little higher and toward my middle! Surfing with this suit was great!

On my first day, my first surfing ever, my first ride in tipped me left off the board. The second ride tipped me nose-down into the surf, third tipped me back, and I rode the fourth wave well balanced all the way to shore! Wee! The second day the surf wasn’t as good with lots of little choppy waves but it was great fun nonetheless!

For warmth, after the first day I considered getting booties but it didn’t feel absolutely necessary. On the warmer (ha! 57 degrees!?!) day I didn’t really need booties. All this coming from a guy who won’t get into the shower until it’s good and hot!

I’ve got 2 more days of surfing this coming week. Hoping to get some good pix. I’m totally hooked




The Oakland Buddha

Lock Down Your Accounts!

My mom’s Facebook account got hacked twice in 3 weeks. The second attack came after we turned on SMS-based 2FA and gave her a strong password. Apparently that’s not enough protection! We just enabled “real” 2FA authentication with You should do the same, with Authy or Google Authenticator on all of your important accounts!


Update 6-20-22: Oh my! There is apparently a secondary market for scammers! My post on Facebook about getting locked out of Facebook lured some 17 scammers to post on my Facebook feed telling me to call them so they can fix my account.

Thwarting Facebook Scammers: Use 2FA!

I wrote this on my mom’s Facebook account today:

Hi, this is Marlene’s son, Lee Sonko, writing on Marlene’s account. Someone broke into Marlene’s account a few weeks ago. If you got a friend request from “me”, please report that account as fraudulent and unfriend them!

They were amazingly sneaky. The only notice we got that something nefarious was happening was an email that Marlene’s password had changed. I’ve seen this before and the thieves plan was to let the account sit for 30 days with the new password and then lock Marlene out of her own account. A good friend of mine got completely locked out of her account forever with this scam!

Here’s what to do to make sure this doesn’t happen to you: Set up two-factor authentication for all your important apps. Just install the Authy app on your phone and then follow these instructions Now you’ll need your phone when logging in with a new device. It’s not a bother and it will save you!

Also, don’t ignore odd emails from Facebook, like if they say your password has changed.

Here’s another message I was using

This is Marlene’s son, Lee writing from her account.

Recently you got a friend request ostensibly from Marlene but it isn’t her! It is someone pretending to be her! Could you please do a few things:

First, please report and unfriend that new, Bad Marlene . Go to this page: , and in the upper right corner just below “Friends and “Messege” click the “…” and click “Find support or report”. Please report this account!

Second, please make sure that all of your accounts have 2 factor authentication using an authentication app like or Google Authenticator to secure your account! Here’s a pretty good video showing how to do this

My mom’s account got hacked even though we had just set up SMS-based 2-factor-authentication! It was a bother to set up the authentication app but it was WAY more of a bother to recover Marlene’s account from the bad people. Seriously.

Third, if you ever get an email from Facebook saying your password has changed, or you get locked out of Facebook for an unknown reason, don’t ignore the problem! You’ve got 30 days to undo problems or be locked out of your account FOREVER.

Sorry for such a long message. Best regards – Lee Sonko for my mom, Marlene.
PS Feel free to call my mom or me (I’m at xxx-xxx-xxxx) and verify all of this!


Here are some more details. I didn’t share all of this with all her friends on Facebook but it’s worth mentioning!

The thieves did a very elegant switch-a-roo! My mom only uses Facebook on her iphone. She reported that app had starting looking “weird”. We figured out that her login had been switched to a new, fake account! I didn’t have her phone in my hands but it was apparent that the thieves were able to log her in to the new, fake account that looked similar (maybe using the old login credentials, where they switched her legitimate account to using new credentials that we never had access to)

On this fake account, she could see her friends but not interact with them. Maybe what they did was something like this:

  • hack her legit account
  • create a fake account, Making friend requests to all of her Friends on her legit account
  • change the phone number and password on her legit account to something else
  • change the phone number and password on her fake account to her original credentials
  • (her iphone app magically switches to using the fake account)



Mi Casa Grill Restaurant Review

Our family went to Mi Casa Grill, a new Mexican restaurant place on the corner of San Pablo and Macdonald Ave in El Cerrito, CA.

Wow. Really good!

We sat outside where we enjoyed seeing people walk by and hear some street noise (and, you know sitting outside for COVID is a thing).

Beautiful plating, innovative use of flavors and textures. One example being: having avocados 3 ways in a taco: creamed, fresh and deep fried; you’d think it might be weird or boring but it wowed! In one bite, I felt I had been taught a beautiful lesson about the magical avocado! The Torta Cubana sandwich was absolutely sublime! They had some spendy items on the menu as well as less expensive; I now trust them enough to get a fancier item!

We will be back, with family and on adult date night!

Use Two Factor Authenticaion!

If you get a notice from Facebook saying that your password changed, look into it! If Facebook doesn’t hear from you for a month, they’ll assume the change was legit. If it was a bad person, they’ll then have free reign to do any nefarious thing they want in your account, including spamming your friends or locking you out of your account forever!

This problem has now happened to two loved ones! Today we caught the baddies before the countdown finished.

When you’re done, enable two-factor authentication on your account (and all of your accounts!). It’s a tiny bother to set up but VERY worthwhile! Here’s how to set it up on Facebook

Free Car Jack!

We found a free car jack under our Prius today! Yay! I’m sure the catalytic converter shield we installed on the car has nothing to do with this!


They left the car 1/2 jacked up on a fine hydraulic jack. But they took the bar you use to pump it up. They must have had to leave in a hurry.

Megan had the shield installed. I think it was around $400. The insurance deductible is $500 so it almost doesn’t make sense to get one until you factor in the week of waiting for the car repair and the fact that there’s nothing stopping them from stealing it a second time!
The mechanic who installed it (Steve’s Auto in El Cerrito) said that thieves sometimes cut through the shields so if you make them, make them sturdier than you think they should be, and that’ll be about right.