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Autistic Widower’s Newsletter #9

29 April 2022

Alan (AJ) Autistic Widower
6 min readApr 29, 2022

Welcome to this week’s newsletter.


  1. Stories
  2. Recommended Writer
  3. Personal Notes

1. Stories

Remembering the Sinclair ZX Spectrum — Happy 40th Birthday

Personal memories of my first home computer

On Twitter last Friday night, I happened to notice the Sinclair ZX Spectrum was going to be 40 years old — and I regretted not having written about it.

How could I have forgotten about such a significant day?

Then I remembered I’d written about numerous home computers on a blog I eventually moved/deleted/closed a few years ago.

So I got out my backups, did some editing, and published this article on Saturday morning.

Do I Write on Medium for the Money?

The short answer is yes and no

Okay, I admit it — I was short of ideas.

I started thinking about Medium and writing, and I remembered something I keep noticing about my partner program earnings. Every month, things always get off to a slow start.

So I wrote about that.

The photo was as quick and dirty as it gets. I printed some axes I sketched using Google Slides. Then I placed a series of coins on the paper, to represent the change in daily earnings as the month progresses — from pennies to pounds.

My Programming Journey 2: Programmable Calculators

The time in the 80s just before I learned to program

With my Cereal Box and Knitting Needle Computer still fresh in my mind, the time felt right to continue with the next part of the story.

Writing about the Sinclair ZX Spectrum a few days earlier risked upsetting the timing of this series because I’m supposed to cover microcomputers in the next part. But hopefully, my Spectrum article can stand independently.

I combined a new photo of my Casio fx-3600P with an old picture of my TI-53. (I could not find my old TI calculator.)

Most of the People I Talk to Are Women

What does this mean? And does it matter?

This article is one of the more personal ones. The sort where you expose part of your soul in the hope that people will accept what you say, and not ridicule you for it.

I’m happy to say that the comments I’ve received so far are amazing.

I had no idea what photo to use, so I chose one from a holiday I went on with my late wife and children in 2011. It shows Newgale Beach, Pembrokeshire.

My Ideal Car Does Not Exist

The difficulties when dealing with widely conflicting requirements

I’ve been looking at cars on Autotrader for quite a few days. The search facilities are very limited, e.g. you can’t specify multiple manufacturers or a minimum boot size.

With my mind feeling like a muddled mess after spending too long on that site, I thought I’d have some fun by listing my ridiculous requirements.

The photo is from Truro, 2003. I took it during a holiday with my late wife. It doesn’t have much to do with the subject — although there are a few cars in the distance.

2. Recommended Writer

This is the part where I talk about another writer on Medium.

I’ve chosen Linda Ng this time.

Linda writes about topics such as travel, mental health, and self-improvement. She also has numerous stories listed under Linda’s Rambling Thoughts.

She publishes a lot of well-written articles and strikes me as a very hardworking and meticulous writer.

Here’s a selection of Linda’s articles on Medium:

3. Personal Notes

If you don’t want to hear me grumbling about minor problems, skip to the “Happier News” section towards the end.

Each week there seem to be a few minor problems that take longer than expected to resolve. Here are some examples:

Minor Problem 1

My son got new glasses recently. As soon as we got home (why is it always after we get home?), he said they seemed thicker than his previous ones.

Our kitchen scales agreed. The old ones were 25g, whereas the new ones were 29g.

This made no sense. We had identical frames, a weaker prescription, and had paid extra for thinner lenses as usual. If anything, the new ones should have been lighter, not heavier!

When we went back to see the optician, they wanted to send his glasses away to their lab for checking. But my son did not want to hand them back, so it looks like we’re stuck with them.

When the weather gets warmer, I have a feeling the extra weight will make them less comfortable.

Minor Problem 2

My youngest son wears a FreeStyle Libre for his type 1 diabetes.

In general, the system works quite well. However, the device fell off his arm during the night recently. Fitting a new one meant he would use up his stock of sensors before his next prescription. Fortunately, the customer support people kindly sent a replacement.

We’ve had replacements from time to time in the past. Unfortunately, when the package arrives, we always have the same problem.

They insist on addressing it to him rather than me. When nobody is home, we have to collect it from the post office — and they require him to take photo ID. Except that he doesn’t have any…

Last time, the people at the post office kindly bent the rules and let me take it. I don’t know if that will work again this time. (Yes — it arrived today when nobody was home.)

Minor Problem 3

My son is due for his diabetic foot screening appointment. But the two phone numbers I usually use are unobtainable. Why would they change the numbers for something like that? I’ve not got to the bottom of this one yet. (If only there was an online booking facility.)

Happier News

That’s enough grumbling!

I want to end on something happier.

This week marked the anniversary of when I got engaged to my fiancée, and we went out for a nice meal to celebrate.

Sadly, circumstances mean it’s turning out to be a very long engagement; we are still in a living apart together relationship.

Thank you to all my readers and subscribers. I appreciate you and hope you continue to find something that amuses or interests you.

Best wishes, and see you again next week.

Thank you for reading!

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Alan (AJ) Autistic Widower

Former electronics engineer & programmer in England, 50-something with a dry sense of humour. Sharing stories & opinions. Tip jar: