Arrr Matey!

talk_like_a_pirate_dayToday is International Talk Like a Pirate Day! Launched in 1995 by John Baur (Ol’ Chumbucket) and Mark Summers (Cap’n Slappy), the pair proclaimed September 19 as the day when everyone should talk like a pirate.

It was initially an inside joke between the friends, but grew when American syndicated humor columnist Dave Barry promoted it in 2002.

But, beyond tales of pirates, it’s also the 9th anniversary of this blog. That’s right, September 19, 2007 was the first post here on Doctorious!  What is this blog about? To quote the “About” page:

This blog celebrates my adventures in academia while revealing my in-class, on-the-road, and at-home experiences; topics tackled include business, education, technology and a personal focus on Autism.

Some things haven’t changed since then, including the focus of this blog; I am even still using the Neat! theme (which has since retired by WordPress).

However, almost everything else in my life has changed, both personally and professionally.  Most notably, since September 8, 2014 this blog has primarily focused a on my experience as an expat in Dubai, UAE.

In addition, here are some fast facts about Doctorious in:

  • 142 Posts (including this one)
  • 14 Pages (static informational pages)
  • 245 Comments (mostly tags to posts)

I haven’t been as prolific as I planned to be, but I have been writing more in recent months. I appreciate those of you who have read this blog and hope you find it interesting, informative, and entertaining. Here’s to the next nine years, matey!

Facebook favors the bold. Okay, technically fortune favors the bold, but I was recently bold on Facebook and that risk paid a handsome reward. On the morning of Monday, October 19, 2015 I saw a Facebook post by Robert Scoble announcing his arrival in Dubai for Gitex Technology Week. Intrigued, I reached out to the noted blogger, technical evangelist, author, and futurist whom I have followed virtually for many years.

He replied to my comment quickly and then, via direct message, graciously invited me to a dinner that night hosted by Rackspace Hosting. As it turns out, this would be one of the most exceptional experiences of my life. I found myself mingling with more than two dozen technology industry insiders and thought leaders at the Exchange Grill in the Fairmont Hotel (near the Dubai World Trade Centre where Gitex was happening).

Ben Parr, Robert Scoble, and Matthew A. Gilbert, MBA.
Ben Parr, Robert Scoble, and Matthew A. Gilbert, MBA.

I had the pleasure of getting to know people from Afkar.me, Cazar, Middle East Global Advisors, Rackspace HostingRockefeller Innovation, SQREEM Technologies, uBeam, and other impressive organizations. I also chatted with Ben Parr, former Mashable editor and author of the book Captivology, along with Creative Content Agency founder and DJ Raj Kotecha, plus Dubai-based social media personality Literally Anika.

We talked about a range of topics including:

  • Behavioral Intelligence
  • Being an Expat Entrepreneur
  • Big Data
  • Burning Man
  • Fantasy Football
  • Future of Robotics
  • Internet of Things (IoT)
  • Mobile Phone Industry
  • Next Steps for Twitter
  • Predictive Analytics
  • Self-Driving Cars
  • Wireless Battery Charging
  • Venture Capital and Innovation
  • Why Facebook is “Where It’s At”

Having both grown up in the San Francisco Bay Area (with an interest in journalism and technology), Robert and I found ourselves sharing memories from the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. We also talked about being fathers to sons with an autism diagnosis. It was an enriching experience getting to know someone I knew much about and with whom I had much in common, but before that evening had never met in person.

As a lifelong learner it was an opportunity to immerse myself in an ocean of ideas to inspire my research and catalyze my creativity. As an educator it was a chance to connect with individuals who want to enrich my classroom as speakers and strengthen my students’ learning via internships, involvement with business incubators, and engagement in experiential education.

It was a night unlike any I have experienced before; it was definitely a moment when I was delighted to not be the smartest person in the room (as the popular saying goes). I look forward to what dreams may come from this transformational evening.

Thank you, Robert Scoble!

Yesterday was April Fool’s Day, but Autism is no laughing matter.

What is Autism? According to the National Institutes of Health, “Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a range of complex neurodevelopment disorders, characterized by social impairments, communication difficulties, and restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior.”

Autism often locks individuals in a world of their own, but on Monday, April 2, 2012, the planet will join together to “light it up blue” today for the fifth World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD). The inaugural WAAD was observed on Wednesday, April 2, 2008.

One of only three official health related United Nations Days, WAAD  “activities help to increase and develop world knowledge of the autism epidemic and impart information regarding the importance of early diagnosis and early intervention. Additionally, WAAD celebrates the unique talents and skills of persons with autism and is a day when individuals with autism are warmly welcomed and embraced in community events around the globe.”

The incidence of autism diagnosis has exploded in recent years: in 2000 1 in 150 children were diagnosed, whereas the most recent figures indicate that 1 in 88 children have received a diagnosis.

This is a 20% increase from the previously reported 1 in 110 children who received a diagnosis! More troublesome, according to noteworthy additional facts, Autism affects boys more commonly than girls — the incidence of diagnosis is now 1 in 54 boys! Previously, that number was 1 in 70.

As I have previously noted, I am personally touched by this increase in autism diagnosis:  my eight year son, Jacob, received his autism diagnosis just before his third birthday.

Since then he has made remarkable progress, most notably due to early intervention services such as Applied Behavior Analysis services provided by the Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD). Due in large part to CARD, Jacob’s inner light now shines brightly.

He has emerged into the thoughtful and intelligent little boy he always was.

He loves to tell bad jokes, do math, learn about the life, and he even recently tried out a batting cage!

He can now overcome his obstacles with eagerness and enthusiasm.

All this — and much more — from a sweet little boy who initially only spoke in 3 to 6 word sentences, lined up items, heavily stimmed and exhibited many obsessive compulsive behaviors.

Grateful is a word that barely communicates how I feel.

Despite the many challenges he has faced, Jacob continues to inspire and impress me. I am so proud of the progress he has made, and will continue to make. It is my hope that Jacob can always exist in his ebullient essence. By all accounts, Jacob is blooming!

I remain committed to Jacob’s enduring progress and will forever be his most ardent ally. I continue to make the most of my moments with him and my younger son, Max, and celebrate his achievements every day.

And so, even if you aren’t personally affected by Autism — although the chances of that are continue to decrease while the number of diagnoses increase — I encourage you to make an effort today to learn more about autism and understand the unique individuals who share that diagnosis.