Archive for the ‘General’ Category.


My new job at Autistry Studios in San Rafael continues to be thrilling! We are working on so much with our students! What a great way to build independence!

All of these photos were taken last week!

Google Assistant Hotword Beep / Mic-Open Notification

When I upgraded from my Google Pixel 3 to a Pixel 5, the Google Assistant Open-Mic Notification, AKA the Google Assistant Hotword Beep stopped working. Moreso, the instructions to turn it on using Switch Access didn’t work! Here is the fix!

Watch the video or follow instructions below.

Go to your Pixel 5’s Settings and look for “Accessibility: Accessibility” (don’t tap on the “Accessibility: Google Assistant” screen… yet!). Go to Switch Access. Turn on “Use Switch Access”, click to “Allow” it to have control of your device, click “X” in the upper right corner when it asks about choosing a switch type. At this point, the Mic-Open Notification should work but it might not! That was my case.

Go to Settings and search for “Accessibility: Google Assistant” and tap on it. You’ll be at a screen that says “Accessibility, Mic-open notification, Mic-close notification”. Both will probably be turned on. Turn both options off. Then turn them on again. That was the magic! Now your phone should make a bell sound whenever you say “Ok Google” or “Hey Google”.


Never Combine Taskbar in Windows 11

OMG, why does Windows 11 insist on combining taskbar icons??! They effing removed the option to “never combine taskbar icons”. I’ve got lots of Chrome windows open but Windows just shows the one tiny icon unless I mouse-over it.

If you google the phrase “never combine taskbar icons Windows 11”, you’ll find tens of thousands of angry people and a few third-party apps ranging from free to $10. I’ll probably get one of them but messing with the Windows UI with a third party app can be trouble in the long term.

If you’re on Windows 10 and don’t have a need to upgrade, wait a year.


7-17-22 Update: I installed ExplorerPatcher and it happily set me back to a Windows 10-like interface (complete with Never Combining the Taskbar) very easily. I just ran the setup program and…. tada! I’ve got my taskbar back! Here’s hoping shit doesn’t go south at some point.


Digging This New Job

I’m digging this new job at Autistry! 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 I am at work this week with students 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.

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!