Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Reflections

Hello everyone. It's now early afternoon on New Year's Eve. The calm before tonight's gathering here at my apartment. In a way, I've keenly looked forward to such a gathering since I first went to a New Year's party held by a friend of mine from grade school. It was at that somewhat wild party where I met Ron. Hard to believe it's been close to fifteen years. Now, I'll be starting off this new decade hosting a gathering of my own. There'll be plenty to eat and drink. I believe I've got the whole transportation thing covered. This morning, I got a couple of parking passes for two cars which will be staying until after midnight. It would royally suck for someone to get ticketed. Another thing I made certain to do was inform Peal Housing about the guest who will be staying overnight. I still resent having to do that. I ought to be able to have people stay over without risk of violating my lease if I don't tell them or it's a last minute thing. It just seems like such a slap in the face when I've been as responsible and conscientious as I have over the years. I'm certainly not one to abuse my place by renting it to someone or anything like that.

This past year has certainly seen a lot of changes. It didn't take too long at all to get into the rhythm of living on my own when it comes to chores. I seem to have mastered as much cooking as I've ever know how to do. The place has remained intact and quite clean with the exception of when the old vacuum stopped working on me. The motor still worked and nobody who occasionally visited briefly ever said anything about stuff on the floor so how the hell was I supposed to know? At times, I've been overwhelmed by how hard it's been to find new friends interested in doing things together. Without a context like church, it's been a nearly completely futile exercise. I'm in a building chalk full of people living mere metres away and don't really know any of them well enough to have invited them to this New Year's gathering. Learning to get anywhere new on my own takes disproportionate effort on my part so it seems all the more ridiculous when your neighbours don't even come and introduce themselves. I can now see that it'll take years of small casual encounters in passing to chip away at the fortress mentality that goes along with apartment living. Shirley and I have gone for numerous enjoyable walks but that's all we've really done together. I met a whole bunch of people while walking around the lake and to the mall this Summer but none of them have ever really followed up on initially good meetings. I feel like I could offer a ton if I could somehow just break down the social barriers.

And yet, a few days ago, Jeanette, a lady who found me on an online dating site I had nearly given up on completely, came to actually visit me. Being two hours distant, I don't expect it'll ever go beyond hopefully long and stable friendship. However, having her come and actually want to be friends with me has lifted that utter sense of social dead end I've been living with and striving against for months. It's good to have some proof that virtues like honesty, optimism and depth of thinking actually still count for something in this world. I have some of my hope restored that there are some good people out there who still have time for friendship and perhaps even something more. Here's hoping one such lady lives a lot closer. While I've regained my ability to enjoy the single life I now lead, there'll just always be something missing without a special lady to share it with. Thanks in no small part to the friends I'll be seeing tonight, I've made what peace I can with the reality that it'll likely be a very long time before that need is met. Solitude won't be quite such a paralysing thing this year now that I've found my stride. Having some big changes to look forward to in the new year certainly helps. New technology, a new volunteering adventure, and a new niece not too many months from now. Mainly though, it's been more of an internal change; a coming to terms with how things are. God knows I need more life experience and interaction with people. Now that I've done damned near everything humanly possible to effect that change myself, I can more patiently wait for things to happen naturally.

Christmas was an absolute blast this year. We ended up celebrating at mom and dad's house. Ava and Amia were in fairly good spirits, at least until we sat down to dinner. They wanted to play with all their new stuff and leave eating delicious food to us silly idiots who knew no better than to waste time in such a foolish confined fashion. I got a splendid digital recording of us opening our presents. Definitely a keeper.

I've spent a good deal of time looking back at the past year over the last few days. If I had to sum up in a word what it's all been about, that word would be calibration. I had to come to terms with my new circumstances. Although much of my hope for making strong community connections didn't pan out, I've at least become a known figure around here. That's a start anyway. Volunteering at The Dam will hopefully also help in that regard. Even if it doesn't, I'll at least be out of the apartment and doing something with people once a week other than church. I'm also starting to regain a sense of the value of online contact. While I'll always seek out a more offline life and circle of friends, some of that sense of empty hollow futility has been removed by some key events and people. Not the least of which was being able to hear the Chilean miners being rescued live thanks to Twitter and an old friend from my days at Meadowvale secondary school. I even have room in my heart to hope that Facebook will prove that it's worth sticking with by bringing someone from my past or perhaps someone entirely new into my life here. I start this new year with a hope which is less fragile being based more on experience and less on wishful thinking.

Looking forward at the start of this new decade, I wonder what the next ten years will bring. Perhaps, someone will actually come along who's willing to go all the way and take a real chance with me. I'd like to think that this is still a possibility. At the same time, I feel better able to live and enjoy life even if this doesn't come to pass. Eventually, I'll accumulate more friends around here who will attend future gatherings like the one I'm having tonight. Joseph, the man who takes me to and from church most weeks, will be a new addition to my happy group of mainly guys. It didn't used to be so unbalanced. Poor Wendy will be the only woman, married or single, present with us. Other ladies all seem to be too busy, too distant, or otherwise not inclined to spend New Year's eve with us. One of my friends has never managed to find a steady woman. Another is gay. Another , like me, has been through that painful divorce process. He knows that fifth-wheel feeling that never quite leaves you once you've been married and are no longer attached. Adam is going to be there. I figured he'd be with his girlfriend but I guess that didn't quite work out as expected. It'll be an interesting evening. Joseph has never actually visited me and has no idea what he's in for. What delicious fun that'll be. It's always interesting bringing in someone new and seeing how they interact with people I've known for so many years. And then, after a day or so of recovery, 2011 will take us all in its clutches and proceed apace. My first full year in my own apartment in a community where I can at least get to a few places independently. Despite all my insomnia and writer's block, I seem to have found renewed hope of finding inspiration, or perhaps, merely the patience to wait for it while searching. Slowly, I am making progress in connecting with the good people around me who can help make my life more connected and meaningful. It'll just take lots and lots of time.

One of the last movies I've taken in this year was Inception. I don't think I've ever been more thankful for audio description. I would have been hopelessly lost amid the three levels of dream without it. The sound and acting were quite exquisite this time around. The story, though full of jumps, is solid enough and well put together. Two new games, well, one new game and a game with a major face lift, have occupied my spare moments over the holidays. Q9 has received a splendid update. You can now get monsters to fall into pits among other changes. A free offering called River Raiders is a fun little time-waster which I plan to have people try at tonight's party. It's both simple enough to control and short enough not to have one person take all evening to play. We'll see how everyone does. On that note, I believe I'll sign off here and get the last blog entry of 2010 up and posted. Happy New Year everyone.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Year Winding Down

Hello everyone. It's sunday morning. I've still got the cold which sunk its teeth into me early in the week. However, I believe it's on the retreat as I've been feeling much more energetic and less stuffed these past couple of days.

It's been a fairly uneventful week as I've rested and fought off the cold. I had my last mobility lesson for the next while on wednesday. There's too much snow around and it's too cold to learn much more. I knew we would reach that point eventually. Harpal has been a terrific instructor. The latest update to my Trekker Breeze seems to be a particularly helpful one. It took a while to lock onto me but then proceeded to call out landmarks quite well. I've backed up all my landmarks onto my pc and will copy them over to my external hard drive. Winter travel is still definitely to be avoided, but it's nice to feel a little less likely to end up disoriented and lost out there thanks to the Breeze. If I have to, I can get to the Meadowvale Town Centre or the Dam even through the snow provided I take it very slow and careful and leave lots of time.

The year really seems to be winding down now. Most of my Christmas preparations have been made. I guesss the cold has forced me to slow down. It actually came at perhaps the most proficious time it could have. I had just gotten my latest grocery order and so was very well stocked. While it's always disconcerting sleeping through odd chunks of the day, it's a real comfort to me to be able to know where everything is and take care of myself. My internal clock seems to have been reset by my illness. As a result, I was up and cheerful at around seven for the last few days just as I like to be. What's more, I've been able to stay up and alert through the entire day. I've got nothing at all planned for this coming week, but feel once again like life is full of possibilities. Seeking mark and Wendy yesterday for an excellent dinner certainly helps. They decided to bring a very tasty chicken and rice dish to go with my potatoes. Wendy made a delicious apple crisp. After dinner, we watched an episode of Life After People on History Channel. It provided fodder for some thoughtful conversation. Those two are always ready to sink their minds into something or other. I look forward to seeing them on New Year's Eve.

My two main goals for this next week are to pull out Enchantment's Twilight and perhaps make some small progress somewhere with it. I haven't managed any of that in quite a while. Also, I've got to make another attempt to start conversation in my Silver Smiles group. It has been absolutely silent over the past while. Amazingly, nobody has left the group. There has to be some way of really getting it going. I'm not remotely ready to walk away from the idea for the group yet. Other than that, ditching the rest of this cold would be very nice indeed.

Over the past while, I've been getting to know a friendly lady via email. We're pretty far apart for anything serious to start up but both find some comfort in exchanging email about our lives. She may even be able to stop by and seem me when she's in the area. I thought I'd be merely more frustrated at yet another lady being interested in knowing me but too far away to do much more than email. However, this hasn't been the case. I find that I'm at least a little more hopeful that at some point in the future, a woman who's closer at hand and available may possibly take an interest. Meanwhile, this lady seems sincerely keen to develop an actual friendship. It's a nice new addition to these solitary days.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Insomnia Strikes Again

Hello everyone. It has been an incredibly long day. It seems I'm contending once again with insomnia. I had a very good weekend. I went to see my family at my parents' house for a very good dinner and afternoon. Ava and Amia did their usual splendid job for being cutely chaotic. They seem to like the idea of camp fires and stories. I've kept a group of audio stories for kids handy on my netbook and it at last paid off that evening. Ava particularly got into the adventures of Cactus Capour from ZBS Audio. Sunday was another great day at church with a games night I had a blast at with a bunch of the kids who attended.

There's no real rhyme or reason for not getting a stellar sleep. I have been feeling generally more up-beat about things this past while. There's no new stress in life and I believe I've finally begun to come to terms with accepting the life I have rather than spending so much time focussing on what that life lacked. This sense just grew inside me that things would indeed be getting better in their own time. Despite being very tired and having gone through a very unproductive day, I still have that new found level of hope and contentedness.

I went to sleep a little after ten on sunday night feeling quite tired enough to nod off at my ddesk. However, I found myself wide awake and restless at ten to four this morning. I got up and started poking around the Internet. My insomnia-driven search actually bore some interesting fruit. People looking for free sleep noise mp3 files should check out:
Look in the "fun projects" section. I also came across Dan Gibson's Solitudes and found a Canadian group called Dreamstate while scavenging on:
My balance on that site is geting pretty damned low but I came away with around 43 new tracks to add to my relaxation and writing music collection. Quite a good find if I do say so myself. Tonight, I'll be piping Mr. Bekcer's white noise loop through my Logitech USB speakers and netbook. I've already taken a couple of the only medication I trust not to be adictive, a cheap form of Graval. I've also been very careful to eat nothing very recently which might keep me awake. Tonight, I'm employing all the cards I have. Here's hoping I wake tomorrow a lot more combobulated at a reasonable hour.

Later this morning, I went to the Samnet virtual pub for a fairly regular chat with a group of bellow blind people. They're somewhat older and have had very different lives to what I'm experiencing but I find it breaks up the solitude. Talk drifted around sleep and then to dreams and nightmares. I'm always fascinated with other peoples' nightmares. One lady described having a dream where she asked her talking clock what time it was and was told that she would die in 1999. How creepy is that? With all the talking gadgets which have populated my own life, I'm amazed I didn't have something like that. I guess that's a common fear, learning rather more about one's fate than is desireable. I rcounted a couple of the more creapy shorter nightmares I can still remember having from back in my middle school days. During that part of the day, I experienced a kind of jittery ultra-wakefulness with a surreal off-kilter punchy tinge. Had someone grabbed me with burderous intent as I left the elevator, it almost would have felt expected in a warped kind of way. I was quite glad to actuallly have a load of laundry to do and get me out of the apartment a bit. It broke up that long stretch of morning running into afternoon nicely.

This week has a few items of interest ahead. I'll finally be hooking up with Minney again on thursday if nothing derails her plans this time. It'll be good to have her over. We'll go out for dinner also. I last got together with her a year and a half ago. Who would have thought that the only friend I would take with me from five years of attending the Clearview Christian Reform Church would be a fifty-something year old West Indian lady whose life experience is about as different from mine as you could get? Dad and I will try and catch another Martini wednesday at Symposium. Also, there's a church meeting I'll be attending tomorrow night. Nice to have a few things happening like that.

I learned this evening that Mark Dailey has died of cancer. He didn't even make it to sixty years old. I'm struck by how much I took his disembodied voice for granted. I knew absolutely nothing about him other than that he had once had a heart attack until I read the article on CBC news about him. He was a police officer before becoming a journalist and was born in Ohio. I have a sense that I ought to have known so much more about him while he was alive. His voice was such a fixture in my TV consciousness that it just seems preposterous that he's now truly never going to say anything new in that rich deep voice. It adds to the surreal quality of this whole day. I hope he's found peace.

Well folks, I believe I'd better give up the ghost and turn in for the night. I've done my rounds online for the day and really can't muster focus for much of anything. Time to put that white noise on and hope everything works. Until next time, reader; Have a good sleep and pleasant dreams.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Parties, Phones and Other Stuff of Life

Hello everyone. It's around nine o'clock on this monday morning. Amia's third birthday party was a lot of fun for the whole family. The trip to Chuck E. Cheese was a big success. Since we went in the middle of the afternoon on a weekday, it was actually not too noisy or crowded in there. I was almost even able to play a proper game of Airhockey but it wasn't quite quiet enough to hear the puck move over the table. Guided around by mom and dad, I followed my two little neaces and helped out where possible. It was lots of fun.

The next couple of days were pretty dull. It was very cold out so the expedition to the bank and to take care of a few other things will happen a little later this morning. It's apparently going up to seven today which is a heeping lot better than minus ten. Trust me on that one. All the more true when part of the plan involves putting a few more reminder landmarks into the gps on the various routes near the Meadowvale Town Centre. I can see my self getting confused next spring when I start using them more again. As much as I enjoy Harpal's company, I look forward to a spring and summer without these lessons when I can just live life knowing how to get around my immediate area. It's been a long year getting to this point.

I've been looking more thoroughly into this whole iPhone thing. In general, I've been impressed to a point where I believe I'll take steps to alter my spending so that I can acomodate one relatively soon. It looks like it'll make more sense to get one through Rogers and sign up for a contract. I can keep my phone number and save a lot on the actual iPhone at the same time. I've learned that it's somewhat important that I get a current iPhone rather than a 3GS one because of a difference in ram available which impacts users of Voiceover due to the extra demands speech output imposes on the phone's memory. Thankfully, I can go middle of the road when it comes to storage space and believe that a sixteen gb phone would do just fine for me rather than the more expensive thirty-two gb version. Of course, I have to plan for however much an extra battery pack costs. Especially when using Voiceover, battery charge gets chewed through more quickly. Each ap will also cost a small amount but I just have to prioritise and build my collection slowly and carefully. I'll have quite a bit of help finding out which aps are accessible with Voiceover as there's quite a community of users now. It's not like I'm going to be a pioneer at all here. Not this time. Given my finances, those days are likely behind me for good. I can't say I mind that overly much. When things are working fine, I'm a lot less tempted to jump off the cliff and try something totally new without having a backup plan.

While friday and saturday were two excruciatingly dull days, sunday was a different story. I had church in the morning which included a soup lunch. Finally got my container back from them so I'll be able to bring potatoes for the next soup lunch unless it's at a point in the Christmas holidays when I've got other plans. I always feel good doing that and people seem to enjoy them. Thought yesterday was games day also but was wrong on that by a week. However, I was able to enjoy another Mosen Explosion during the afternoon. Added to that was an unexpected gathering in the evening held by Doug and Nan. They've made a real point of including me in a good few events over the past while. They sort of ended up having more of an impromptu party than I believe they originally intended and it was damned good to get out and be with people. I figured most people would become fixated in a card game and brought my netbook along to be prepare for that eventuality. There were enough people present that I always had people interested in conversation and never really used it except to allow one of the kids there to see the version of Talisman I have on it. Also, other than brief periods, conversation continued among the card players. That doesn't seem to happen with sports. As soon as a game comes on tv, quality of conversation seems to suffer greatly. You'd think an active card game would have more of that effect. It often does in my experience but not this time. Conversation just kept on chugging along nicely. There's so much history in the church community. Also, there were enough people and things to update each other on that the dynamics just worked better for a pure conversationalist like me. It made me wonder how differently my life would have turned out had my family not moved around so much while I grew up. It's not like we changed cities every year or anything but each move would break off relationships I had started. I didn't know anybody going into my secondary school. Only a couple of people from those middle school days while we lived in North York have ever contacted me. If I'm ever going to find more in life than this apartment and too damned many solitary evenings, it'll be through friendship connection. I've all but given up on another wonderful lady finding me online. Same goes for the job front. I just have to hope that circumstance will provide opportunities for people to see enough of my capabilities and good character to think it worth-while making allowances for my disability in a context more life-changing.

Earlier that evening, I had a conversation with John Morgan. He's still doing well and was quite excited to hear about the iPhone's capabilities for blind people. He had seen them and hadn't given them much thought due to their flat screens just like I originally hadn't. It'll be good to be able to show him something new that he won't have had to pay for at least in my case. He does so much for so many people. Everything from helping them shop to taking them places to getting them equipment they can't afford for themselves. I wonder if anybody but himself and God has a real idea of the shere number of people he's helped over the years. He mensionned at least three people I hadn't heard of before.

It's the afternoon now. Dad and I went for quite a walk and put in the landmarks I wanted. They ought to keep me from too much confusion regarding which way the route to the bank from Symposium Cafe is, [to the right when facing away from the door to Symposium] and the route to the drug store and post office, [to the left past the front of the fitness centre when facing away from Symposium]. We also enjoyed a good brunch. I hadn't had a delux omelet in quite some time and the mango fruit smoothy was as refreshing as ever. There's also a cession of our church mens' group this evening which I'll be attending. A very sharp contrast indeed to friday and saturday's creeping empty dullness. This friday, there's a Christmas breakfast in our building put on for residents. I have a hard time picturing how that's going to work here indoors and how they'll set it up. I don't ever find many people gathered in the lobby at any time and haven't heard about any rooms in the building for that kind of occasion. My friend Shirley is going so I'll head down with her and find out. I don't think they could use a tent at this time of year. Warm days are getting few and far between.

This week will be pretty unusual. I don't often have things happen on three out of five week days. It helps keep me from feeling quite so cut off from the world and divides time up better. I guess this sunday is going to include a games night. Other than that, I have no other weekend plans as usual. Hopefully, a nice bit of inspiration will at last come my way regarding Enchantment's Twilight. A few additional special locations, perhaps an actual game character or two [Dare I hope?], or a chunk of overall story arc. It's such a complex large kind of thing that I guess it might well feel slow even if I were able to put in a solid forty-hour work week on it through some autonomic mental creative inferno. Haven't had one of those since I worked on the Personal Power guide. At least that burst of creativity went to a good cause. On the bright side, I'm getting enough sleep these days so writer's block and a thankfully punctured solitude are the only two demons I face currently. I hope to get through the rest of the year without my sleep being screwed up. That would be nice and might even be an attainable dream. We'll just have to see.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A New Cellphone

Hello everyone. Didn't think I'd be writing in here again for a while longer but I received an unexpected setback yesterday. That marvelous cellphone donated to me around a year and a half ago was suddenly rendered useless due to being unabled to charge. I'm not even certain whether the failure is with the charging port on the phone or with the charger itself but the product has been discontinued now and I can't get a replacement charger. I suddenly discovered this mid-morning yesterday and the battery died. Thankfully, my father and I had planned to go out to Symposium Cafe and it wasn't a big problem to add in an expedition to look into the possibilities of finding an alternative charger. This has sadly proved impossible and I ended up having to quickly decide on a new cellphone. The Doro 410GSM I ended up choosing has the advantage of being a very simple phone with a good tactile keyboard. Unfortunately, I can't make use of the phonebook or most of its other features since it has no built-in speech at all. I can't even check my battery level and won't know it's low until it starts vibrating. I'll have to take my netbook more places in case I need numbers I could formerly find in my cellphone. Because I didn't choose to go with a contract, I thankfully didn't lose out on the $60 balance I had in my acount and will be able to eventually upgrade to an Iphone when my finances aren't quite so tight.

I had an excellent chat this morning in the virtual pub on Samnet. A good group of regulars showed up and we discussed cellphones, American Thanksgiving plus the children in our lives. It passed the time very nicely indeed. I also talked to a young lady who was far from her family doing coledge while serving in the coastguard augzilliary. She doesn't believe she'll be able to see her family until next year due to economics and distance. That must be a pretty hard thing to face on American Thanksgiving and even harder on Christmas. Glad I was able to help her pass some time more cheerfully.

Speaking of cheerful, I'm sitting here in anticipation of the third birthday party for little Amia. It's apparently going to begin with a trip to Chuck E Cheese. I anticipate a great deal of noise and rampant running little feet. I have fond memories of that establishment from back when I was a youngster. After that, it's dinner at my parents' house. I'm going to try and touch base again with Sandy this evening once I return here. It's going to take some geting used to having to dial his number rather than scroll through for his name. For at least the next while though, that's just how things will be. I'll get used to it.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Puttering Through Potter and Passing Time

Hello everyone. I figured it was about time I wrote another update. Things have been pretty quiet over the past while. The weekend was pretty empty of people other than a dinner on saturday night with some long-standing family friends. The food was terrific and included some excellent beef tenderloin. I spent the majority of the weekend reading the final three Harry Potter books at long last. I wasn't ever going to bother having lost interest after the fourth book some years ago. However, seeing as I hope to be volunteering with The Dam soon, it occurred to me that I might as well find out what happened to the little rascal which has so captivated everyone else. I probably skipped as many chapters as I actually read. The books are very well-written and have some excellent morals within them. However, I learned all those lessons from other fantasies which came before. It just isn't quite my generation of fantasy heros. At least I know how it all ends now and have probably read enough to fake my way through a Harry Potter inquisition. I don't believe I'll look into Twilight. I overdosed on Ann Rice's vampire novels over a decade ago and it'll be a while longer before I look into that world again presuming I ever do. I guess I've learned over the past weekend that one can never say never.

This week is off to a good start. I had another mobility lesson yesterday. When we got to The Dam, a student who worked there was present and we got to go inside. I was glad of the opportunity to have Harpal, my instructor, go over the basic layout of the place with me. I don't believe I'll take long to become quite comfortable in there. Having a brief tour also gives me much more of a sense of the function of the facility and volunteer group. Clearly, the emphasis is about having safe clean fun and building mentoring relationships with the youth around that. They have an Air Hockey table in there. I haven't played that seriously for over a decade now. Presuming fairly quiet conditions, I can hear the puck travel over the table and used to be pretty good at it. Doubtless, I'm rusty as hell. There are still some formalities and details to finalise including that police check. I very much look forward to getting started there. If, God forbid, something stops me from working there, I don't really have a plan B. It's getting too cold out there to think about learning yet another route this year. I still have to go over the one to the church one more time with Harpal and make certain I have that down thoroughly.

Today has been a good one. The groceries came in this morning and are now all stowed away. I forgot to get some new granola bars but I'm sure I'll live without them for a spell. Everything else came. I got a couple of different kinds of tea among other things. My writer's block continues which is the only real downer other than not having friends near my own age around here who share interests other than computer games. Yes, folks. Those empty weekends and evenings are becoming well past tiresome. I'd give up a whole lot for a new love in life who was seriously in it for the long haul. The chances of that situation changing any time soon are ghost thin. The closest I'll likely come to having a bunch of friends to converse with are fellow listeners to the Mosen Explosion of Mushroom FM. Somehow, Jonathan and Julia manage to create a kind of community atmosphere which allows me to forget how far apart we all are and how empty the apartment is. It makes for a pleasant four hours on a sunday afternoon even if the music is often older than what I usually enjoy.

Thursday is Amia's third birthday. I haven't seen my two neaces in a little while what with all they've been doing. I hope she enjoys this birthday more than the last one. Dad and I picked out some Christmas gifts last week at the Dollar Store. Next year, I'll see where they're at mentally and whether to take another stab at something from the Discovery online shop. I jumpped the gun a bit with that talking globe but I'll get better at it as they get older and find more interests. Tomorrow, I'll be eating at the Symposium Cafe with my father. Wednesdays are Martini days there and it's been a while since we've managed to catch one. I haven't gone there on my own in quite some time. Lately, it's just seemed like a lot of bother to go there and then be made even more aware of the missing lover and friends who ought to be there with me but are absent from life. Financially, things have tightened up as well over the past while and I've had to re-evaluate a lot of things. I'd happily forego some of the junkfood and more expensive but excellent food I buy to eat here at home if I knew I was going to be eating out with people more often. However, there just aren't all that many activities and reasons to go out anywhere. For me, friends are what turn otherwise empty events into the stuff of good memories. Even a trip to an art gallery has the potential of being interesting if I'm with people who don't mind discussing what they see rather than just gawking at it.

This afternoon, I've been doing some listenning. Soundprint had a nifty documentary in their archives about life at McMurdo Station in Anarctica. It focussed on how people lived up there rather than being about all the science that goes on. It was pretty fascinating. After that, I started listenning to the November 21 episode of Spark. It started out with a neat segment on designing soundscapes for places and the effect of ound environment and noise polution of people. Julian Treasure, a soundscape designer, lived up to his last name for me. He tends to think of sound much as I do. He talks about how people invest so much in the appearance of places but not much at all into how they sound. I certainly choose favorite restaurants on the basis of their sonic ambience and ease of conversation with companions almost as much as the food served. It's nice to know that at least someone out there thinks about that sort of thing. I've paused the episode as I write this entry and soon will make my dinner. Chicken souvlaki plus vegies and dip and some bread seem about right. I'm going to get a burger and fries tomorrow so I'll leave my fresh bag of Yukon Gold potatoes to try another day tempting though they are. Aura, that nifty creation from a kind Russian soul, is up to its usual magnificence filling my apartment with quiet moving forest sounds. I'll hear the rest of the episode as I eat. I've fallen a bit behind with Spark and other podcasts.

I get the podcasts but often at a time when I can't listen to them right away. They'll sit around for days and sometimes weeks before I get to them. Mainly, that's happening because I've been so drained and bored due to how differently things have turned out for me socially than I had hoped. Also, being on that ODSP Fireside group had the same kind of effect that being with Rebecca was having towards the end of our marriage. She dwelled so often on the negative, on what we didn't have, on what was wrong, that I found that I began to do the same thing and ignore the blessings we had available to us. It's an awefully wasteful vicious cycle to get into. Thankfully, I seem to hit bottom and bounce out of it fairly quickly if nothing pulls me down. I don't look at ODSP Fireside trafic much at all these days but plan to keep looking in on things occasionally when I can stand the overarching negativity. Meanwhile, one of the things which has helped pull me up is that my own group, Silver Smiles, is showing some signs of life again. We're still only five members and need to grow a lot larger before anything like steady conversation develops. However, they seem fine with the settings I've come up with for our group as well as with the archives of messages being public. I've made it so that people need to be invited to join the group and can request an invitation. Also, messages from new members are moderated by me. This way, people can't just join up and start making other members miserable. I didn't really want a role of gate-keeper but it seems to have made my current members feel a bit safer so I suppose it's for the best. This isn't at all like the Audyssey community which grew quickly around my magazine. Siler Smiles is a small fragile thing which will need to be slowly coaxed into being. There's a kind of nagging dread of making some foolish mistake which will spoil everything before it really gets going. I feel partially responsible for everyone's well-being just as I did with the Audyssey community before I made the charter and turned it over to others. I take no small amount of pride and comfort from the fact that it's still going strong all these years later. Whether I manage to pull off something similar with Silver Smiles is anybody's guess at this early stage. I think it's a worthy concept and am once again hopeful thanks to today's activity.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Free From Heavy Time

Hello everyone. Didn't intend to leave everyone hanging quite so long after that Halloween stunt. I thought it might draw a lot more comment than it has. It was fun to do though. Just having a fresh piece of writing see digital daylight is a good thing.

Life continues apace although change seems to finally be afoot. I can go through solitary time here without it feeling quite so heavy as it has. Last weekend, the church had a games night. I hadn't been to one in quite some time. I brought my netbook and found a couple of bright kids to play a game of Talisman with. One of them really enjoyed the game while the other was chalk full of questions about what it was like to be blind. Between them and Joseph, I had an excellent time. It also seem that I might get another opportunity to speak to school children about life as a blind person. That's always a pleasure. At long last, I finally met the volunteer coordinator for The Dam. Tht's the place for trouble youth that I hope to volunteer at soon. She seemed very positive about my doing so. She sent five questions via email which I answered earlier this week. Hopefully, those answers will stand me in good stead.

Last weekend was another solitary one with the exception of sunday which was nicely packed with church and games night. I was dismayed to see yet another poor lady get taken to task by members of the ODSP Firesite group for daring to be greatful for what she got from ODSP. I've seen that happen around seven or eight times now since I joined the group. It seems they think that everyone ought to be utterly miserable 24-7 or at least be quiet about their gratitude just because the system isn't working as well for everyone else. They figure that the more miserable we depict ourselves, the more liely we are to receive much-needed change. I fully agree that change is needed to ODSP and the idiotic rules which we must live by. However, I strongly disagree that we shouldn't be publicly grateful for the help we get. I may not be living the live I would most wish to but I'm happy I have enough to live on and a good apartment. I'm also greatful for the friends I have, my supportive family, my church, and a whole lot besides. I don't think it proper at all that I or anybody else in need should feel that they ought to be utterly miserable. Therefore, I felt compelled to act.

Silver Smiles is a Google Group I started which is for anybody facing hardship but who still finds things to be happy about in their lives and wants a place to share with others of similar mind. It also welcomes anybody who wants to get to know us as friends rather than mere charity cases. I thought I was off to a pretty decent start getting five members in the first day. However, that seems to be where we're sitting for now. Also, despite my best efforts, the conversation seems to have gone dead. I also sent out a rough draft of a group flyer for their thoughts on it but nobody has sent anything in days now. It appears that I might just have to take the bull by the horns and lead more unilaterally than I thought. I'm not giving up on this idea. I think the group could eventually do a lot to reduce the barriers which stop people from approaching and getting to know us as people who are worthy of friendship and love who happen to be disabled. So much human capital is just being chucked aside by able-bodied society. I hope I can be of some help to the five people I've got at present but that's impossible if they aren't willing to open up a bit. Guess I just have to keep plugging away at it. To look at the group home page and join up, go to:

I finally took my good friend Adam out for the dinner I had wanted to treet him to. We each had a great meal at Turtle Jack's after a day of gaming. He's deep into his coledge courses now. So far, things seem to be going well for him. I've also been going for walks around the lake with Shirley, a friend I've made in the building here. It's a good chance to get out and talk to someone with a different life and perspective.

This weekend has filled up rather nicely. I'm off to a church gathering tomorrow about that Belhar confession. Aparrently, this event won't be as one-sided as the previous one I attended seemed to be. I've read the thing at least six times now and can't for the life of me see what harm might be done by accepting it. I'm just a novice at this sort of thing though so perhaps I'll get more of a sense of things tomorrow. On Sunday, it looks like I'll be getting together with Mark and Wendy for dinner. It'll be good to see those two again. It's been a little while and they're always fun to talk with.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Floating The Raven

Hello everyone. It's yet another Halloween night. As usual, I find myself with nothing to do. Dressing up in costume has never overly excited me. There hasn't been a truly engaging horror movie worthy of that descriptor in half a decade. Once you pass the age of Trick or Treat, Halloween loses a great deal of its lust our. Despite every attempt to the contrary, I've never been able to find my way into those social circles where Halloween lives on for adults in the form of parties and other events. Those connections have passed me by. I've done everything there is to do here. Despite pumping hours into the Haunted House pinball table in ESP Pinball Classic over the last month, the game refuses to yield up a high score greater than fifty million points. That particular table has always been a favourite. Check it out at:

Rather than let yet another special day pass in unremarkable fashion, I've decided to head out for a meal at a steakhouse I've recently discovered. Sambruno's Steakhouse is a small independent restaurant found at 2372 Sharp Street just off of GlenErrin. Instead of going under the street to get to the Meadowvale Town Centre, I just have to turn right and walk down Glenerrin a short way. I then come to Sharp Street and turn right. A stand of pine trees tells me when I've arrived at the steakhouse's driveway. The food is good and the music isn't too noisy. Mark and Wendy rather enjoyed the meal we ate there last weekend. Not too many people seem to have heard of the place yet. The prices are hard to beet though and the steak is just as good as one can imagine. They won't be hard up for customers very long I'd wager.

Navigating along the edge of the driveway and parking lot, I thankfully arrive at the door. There's always a danger of getting disoriented in parking lots. Sitting down at a small table near the door, I fold my cane and relax. The ambience is nice even if the choice of music is somewhat antiquated. It isn't too loud though. Just enough to render a long silence amid conversation more comfortable. The kitchen is situated towards the back of the place. It's door is flanked on either side by shelf-mounted stained glass statuary. Mainly, they're of various donkeys.

There's hardly anybody else here. I've just managed to settle myself when Gordo comes to my table. He's the only waiter in Sambruno's Steakhouse and is the sun of Mr. Geppetto, the chef of the establishment. I exchange pleasantries with the young man and order a beer. It's not like I'll be driving home after all. I ask if there are any specials on this evening. He informs me that I would do his father a great honour if I would try the filet immortalis. I'm always game for something new and agree to do so.

Gordo brings me a rich and foam-topped Bold Heart Bitter and leaves me to await my filet immortalis. I usually tend to drink rather slowly. However, I unaccountably find myself taking large gulps of this quite tasty brew. As I do, I'm filled with dark reflections about how life has turned out for me. All the effort gone unappreciated and leading nowhere. My creativity, once full of idealism and seemingly endless, now sputtering along in constant threat of vanishing for long stretches of time. Barring an outright miracle, I seem doomed never to find true and lasting love despite all my gifts and the best of intentions. A button just had to go and pop off my favourite pair of trousers this morning. The nerve! And then there was that formerly delicious orange that just had to turn bad the instant before I started to peel it. Why did I even come here? What was I expecting? I'm the only customer in this place. Even when I make an effort to go out, I seemed condemned to be alone! And what does the blasted sun think it's doing popping off for the evening so early? It's not like people get Halloween off! And then there's that ice cube that fell from the tray while I got a drink. Spent fifteen minutes chasing that thing around my kitchen floor as it melted away getting harder to find! Roar!!! I've somehow finished the whole drink already! What a rip off!

Showing a distinct measure of bravery, Mr. Geppetto brings me my steak dinner. My countenance must be a dreadful thing after such a fiercely negative line of thinking. That negativity quickly fades when I catch a proper sniff of my rather large dinner. It smells like the best steak one could possibly conceive of. The potato's, mushrooms and vegetables smell wonderful also, but they don't even rate consideration when compared to that delicious steak. There's a seemingly endless amount, more than I could ever hope to consume.

"I am most curious to know what you think of this steak. Other than myself and Gordo here, you are the first to try what I regard as my masterpiece." He eagerly stands watching as I cut off a piece and take my first bite. "What do you think of it?" He asks eagerly but not without trepidation.

"I've never tasted a steak this good before!" I answer truthfully as I dig in at full speed. "How did you prepare it?"

"That is a secret I will share with no one including my son Gordo. God willing, it will die with me. There is something profoundly precious about things or experiences which are only available for a short time. One strives for them all the harder if there comes a point beyond which one's desire cannot be satisfied. I made this steak in order to help others consider what it would be like to live forever. Hence, its name. You have eaten and enjoyed, but have some water and take a moment to consider." He hands me a glass of ice water and I do as he asks of me. "I have not always cooked in a steakhouse. We all take on so many roles in even a single lifetime. I was once known for my skill at carving wood. I have also been a fisherman, soldier, father, priest, and traitor to my beloved Italy when she fell to fascism under a greedy dictator who then allied with one of history's most evil men. This was when Gordo and I came to the new world. I have seen a great many marvels and have reinvented myself countless times. I grow very weary of that and believe I will remain in this steakhouse until I go to meet the one who made me."

As Mr. Geppetto talks, I can't help but hear that something swings slightly at his neck. Some sort of medal perhaps? He did say he was once a soldier. I ask him about it and he says that he has always worn this bronze medallion depicting a raven ever since it was given him many years ago.

"Call me superstitious, but I believe it keeps me in good health and alive. Let us not wander though. Think on what it truly means to live forever. You would know for certain that you would out-live any friends, lovers, or children you might raise. Everyone you know will eventually die and leave you to continue life's endless journey without them. You would live long enough to see anything you created crumble away and lie forgotten..."

He expounds further on this but my mind is otherwise engaged. I would be alive to know how absolutely everything turns out. I would experience all the marvels humanity devised. The future would be pretty much endless. I would also remain in the perfectly satisfactory healthy condition I currently enjoy. Mr. Geppetto was an old man when this gift was bestowed upon him. Of course he'd look at the glass as being half empty. The steak went down well enough but the burps I politely stifle are tasting like burnt shoe leather dipped in mud and dog turds. What's with that? Could immortality really be so unwelcome? Would it indeed lose its lust our? I ought to leave before I barf on the floor. While I'm on my way out, I believe I'll just snatch that medallion from his neck. He's told me enough to think there's something to that superstition. With my left hand, I successfully grab and yank hard on the medallion. He wasn't expecting that and bends forward so the chain comes off his neck easily. With my other hand, I pull out my cane which makes a formidable weapon at close range while folded and give him a thunderous thwack on the skull. Mr. Geppetto falls to the floor. Expecting a meaty thump, I instead hear a dusty clatter which confirms my hopeful suspicions. Without the medallion's magic to hold it at bay, time has at last caught up with this former wood-carver. I now hold perhaps the only key to immortality in my hands. Pocketing the medallion, I get out my duelling pistol anticipating trouble. How did a blind man get one of those? It pays to have interesting friends. Jape Watner and I attended the same Philosophy class in university where the whole issue of suicide came up for debate. Did we as human beings have the moral right to do ourselves in? He thought I should have an equal opportunity to blow my own head off as everyone else and so procured the seventeenth-century replica duelling pistol for me complete with powder and a single roundshot. Paradoxically, I now had the means to effect precisely the opposite of his intent and live forever. There's a cry of alarm and the distinct rasp of a large blade coming from behind me in the steakhouse kitchen. That spells trouble for me and the stakes will likely never be higher than right now. It's time to take my best shot and put this pistol to good use.

I turn and fire in the direction of the enraged yell and running feet. At last, I know what a genuine unrecorded honest to Got gunshot sounds like. Been curious about that for most of my thirty-six years. The shot misses Gordo and shatters one of the stained glass donkeys mounted on the shelf to the left of the kitchen. How utterly assinine! Shades! Such a shamefully shoddy shooting on Sharp Street! Poor Mr. Geppetto. I took his trinket, cracked his crown and nearly got his Gordo. As Gordo picks himself up off the floor from his headlong desperate tumble, I turn and run out the door. My talking GPS was never turned off but will take a bit to track in on me. Thankfully, the route back home is simple. I'm just not used to doing it at full tilt like this. At least there's no driving involved so I don't face the ignominious prospect of being T-boned after robbing a steakhouse. Didn't have to pay for my meal either. Flanks for nothing.

Rounding the corner onto GlenErin, I slow down as I listen for the underpass which will tell me to turn left and head towards home. It comes up quickly and I am now back on very familiar ground. My best defence is to try to appear as normal as possible. I therefore proceed leisurely along the path around the lake. I've really done it! Robbed a steakhouse blind and gotten away! Delicious, in more ways than one.

Slowing down gives me a chance to think about the evening's happenings. That steak tasted so good at first but so rotten after a while. Could immortality truly take on such a dismal lust our? It was hard to imagine. Could one really live so long that one got utterly tired of change? Behind all the glitz and gadgetry, was there really nothing new under the sun? Did I really want this for myself? So much to think about. Reaching a vacant park bench, I sit down to ponder further.

I had left quite a mess behind me. What would Gordo do? Going to the police seems out of the question. How would he explain his father's remains? How would he explain himself for that matter? He knows things only someone who had lived far longer than his apparent seventeen years would know. Clearly, Mr. Geppetto had somehow passed on some of his gift. How long had he been trapped at the threshold of manhood? How long ago had his mother died? I'm unlikely to be in any danger from that quarter. Despite the hefty hit on the head I gave him, Mr. Geppetto's last act had been to sigh in re leaf. This adds to my hesitation to put on the medallion. How did it work? If it could be willingly relinquished once put on, Surely Mr. Geppetto could have chosen his own hour of death. However, he had never done so. There always seems to be an additional price to pay for extraordinary abilities at least in folklore and such. Of course! It finally clicks. This medallion had been what animated Pinocchio before he became a boy. Everyone knows how Pinocchio ended his days; How he had once more become a wayward rascal and joined Bluebeard's crew of pirates; How he had tried to double-cross his captain due to an attack of conscience and been sentenced to hang from the yardarm [by the nose] until dead. Fate had other plans for the long-nosed liar. Before his sentence could be carried out, Bluebeard was attacked by a rival pirate. His ship and all aboard had been burned to ashes when the powder magazine exploded destroying the ship. Having lived as a human, Pinocchio nevertheless suffered a wood carving's fate. The man who, in death, wood boy be. However, no story explained how Pinocchio was originally animated. All those people who had seized Pinocchio for one misdeed or another had never realized what nestled deep in the hollow of his wooden heart. Once Pinocchio was a boy, he had no need of the medallion and the faerie had clearly chosen to give it to Mr. Geppetto.

Mr. Geppetto had been centuries old. Not only that, but he had been forced to live a life of complete honesty. The medallion couldn't prevent injury, but kept him in otherwise good health. However, had he lied to me about the medallion, his nose would have grown. No faerie remained to kiss it back to a proper length either. The world has moved on from those days. To live so long without ever even telling a white lie; An awesome achievement in and of itself. Not only that, but to find the strength to love again after outliving everyone he had ever known. Even without the gift or curse of immortality, Mr. Geppetto had clearly been a remarkable man.

Sitting by the lake, I hold the medallion and examine my desires. It's as if the world is holding its breath while I decide what to do with it. They say that time waits for no man. Am I the exception to that rule thanks to this stolen gift from a bygone age? If I decide wrongly, would it not only wait but also weep? That steak tasted so awful after it had gone down. Perhaps, more than anything else, this last work of art from a poor time-stretched soul is what ultimately compels me to stand once more. Facing the lake, I throw the medallion as far from me as I can. The last I hear of it is a quiet splash. I leave the length of my days to a wiser head than mine to decide. Heading towards home, I determine to float the raven nevermore.


I hope you've enjoyed this digital Halloween outing of mine. Did you catch all the wordplay? Presuming there's some interest, I may do another posting to go through all of that and how all the ideas occurred to me. For now though, I'll reveal one of the more sneaky ones. There was never a Jape Watner in my Philosophy classes. Jape, as some of you may know, is an old English word for a joke. The mind wants to hear and expect to hear Jake and I suspect the same would hold true visually. It goes without saying that I never have owned any firearms. However, I wanted a bad shot on Sharp Street and that angle was the best I could come up with. Rather than drive me at all towards suicide, my time in Philosophy class firmly convinced me of how all of our lives have value and should be treasured. Coming to believe in Christianity has only strengthenned that conviction. I hope eall my readers have a safe and happy Halloween.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Yet Another Interlude

Hello everyone. This has been yet another largely solitary period lately. There have been a few exceptions. I had the first meeting of our church mens' group. It'll be on mondays this year. The next one will be at my apartment. It looks like we'll be getting together every second week. It'll be good to have an actual group of people in here for once. I can't count the times I've heard or felt my couch and chairs reflecting on how utterly devoid of anyone but me they've largely remained since I've moved in here. For one evening at least, that will finally change. It'll be interesting to hear what they think and also get a sense of what my apartment actually sounds like when there are a good number of people present. Adam and his young partner in Journalism class showed up one morning last week to interview me for an assignment. I trust the writing went well for them. Hopefully, they got hold of a couple other game developers.

Another thing which happened this week was a meeting I went to with a few of my church elders. I took the time to explain to them the challenges I face when trying to find new friends and when looking for opportunities to volunteer in the community. Now that I've gotten my bearings at least when it comes to my building and immediate surroundings, it's time to take yet another crack at finding somewhere I can make some sort of positive difference which involves people rather than this keyboard. I absolutely need to find more opportunities for social interaction. I need to have at least the ghost of a chance for making new local friends for whom picking me up or coming round for a visit isn't such a damned big deal. I'm fed up with everyone else being too busy and yet not having anywhere other than this computer where I can share my gifts. If people are so damned overworked, then there should be a job somewhere for me that I don't have to search years and not find. I don't want to end up as alone and cynical as Sandy is but if nobody lets me into more of life's experience and company, I can see it happening. Creatively speaking, I'm already running on fumes here. I've gotten a few messages of interest on the online dating sites I belong to but in all cases, it has now been over a week since I've heard from any of them. I'd dearly love to have a new lady in life but without finding more to do in the community, my chances in that area are exceeding slim. I have just enough hope to keep me from closing my acounts and simply not bothering with it anymore. There have been so many brief flashes of hope followed by disappointment when you don't hear back and know that they've lost whatever brief spark of interest they once had. It's like I'm being stretched out on a rack nearly to the point of destruction. There's just so much empty solitary time. Perhaps, now that a few people who know something of my potential and realise my difficulty getting around are going to take a crack at helping me find somewhere, things may get better. I still find that I'm able to hope. God knows how long that's going to last. There are two places which they thought of and where they could put in a good word for me. The first and likely best one is the Dam. It's at the Meadowvale Town Centre so I could walk there and back myself. I was rejected two years ago when I applied there mainly because I couldn't walk there and back competently and wouldn't be able to commit to the required two years. Now, barring any outright miraculous or disasterous changes, both of these reasons no longer apply. The other idea would involve getting to and from Square One and wherever inside that large structure the Open Door centre is housed. I'd need someone to take me to and from that place. It's absurdly large and confusing even for sighted folks. However, if that were possible on a regular basis, I might also be able to volunteer there. In the former case, I'd be helping to mentor youth who are at risk. I believe I could do that well once whatever guidelines and such The Dam wants its volunteers to stick to are explained to me. My online leadership experience would possibly be useful there. My patience, ability to diplomatically solve desputes and calmness would, you'd think, be valued assets. The Open Door is a place which tries to help immigrants and other disadvantaged people. I would expect my language skills would be useful there. Here's hoping something works out. I don't fancy the mainly solitary Winter I'm in for otherwise. Nor do I relish the idea of next Summer being as damnably empty of company as this first one here turned out. I need to find a way of participating somehow.

Over the past week, I read an excellent book by the now dead author Michael Crichton called Pirate Lattitudes. It was a terrific story about a spectacular privateer raid on a Spanish fortress and treasure ship. The detail he went into was wonderful. He always did his research. Definitely a book I'll keep around for future reading. I believe I stil have a few sections left of Acquainted with the Night to finish off. It can slow down at times but has on the whole been a very interesting read. I just began a book of short stories about the Battle of Brittain called That Eternal Summer. The first story was about a man who came up with the bullets used by the Royal Air Force. Doubtless, the other stories in the volume will prove equally good reading. I also read the book The Taking of Palem123, and was somewhat disappointed. The recent remake of the movie with Denzel Washington was far better and more engaging than the book. I don't often come out with remarks like that being a life-long reader. However, it's true in this case. Hard to beet Denzel and John Trevolta squaring off. Dialogue and sound-wise, it was quite simply a fantastic film.

My free copy of Get Lamp, the documentary I was interviewed for a few years ago, arrived in timely fashion to brighten up the last weekend for me. It was quite good. I found it just as fascinating as I had hoped to hear the voices of the people who created the text games I've enjoyed throughout my life. A bunch of very smart and thoughtful folks. Jayson Scott has done a fantastic job with it. Thankfully, I didn't come off sounding as worn down as I was afraid I might given what I was going through at that time. It came with a collector's coin that feels pretty nifty. I got number 238. It feels a lot more substantial than what I expected.

The Mosen Explosion was on and filled my otherwise empty sunday afternoon quite nicely. I thoroughly enjoyed the half-year celebration of the station. It certainly doesn't feel like it's been part of my life for the past six month. The big surprise I was so curious about turned out to be some new professionally done jingles for broadcasters to use on the station. A very classy addition indeed. It really gives a whole new polish to how people come across on air and has certainly seemed to put a spring in everyone's step. I took a listen to their broadcasting tutorial. I simply don't know enough about music to do a regular show based on that. A talkshow might be possible for me. The last thing I need in life is yet another online commitment. However, if my current campaign to find somewhere around here to pitch in doesn't go anywhere, perhaps I'll reconsider as solitude takes its toll on me. One way or another, I can't let another year go past without doing something which will have a more immediate impact than my two long-term projects. I'd ever so much rather that impact be on people here in my neighbourhood.

This week ought to be less solitary. My grandmother is coming for a visit. My birthday is on friday so I'll be doing things with my family at least on thursday and friday. We'll doubtless pay a visit to the casino, this being my grandmother's favorite activity. Typically, we go out for a birthday dinner and have cake. Mom always makes a good cake. Baking one myself has never appealed to me. On saturday, I'll be seeing my Aunt Kay in Bright Ontario as we drop my grandmother off at her sister's.

Having a birthday draw close unfailingly makes me reflect on where I am in life. I had always pictured myself happily married at age 36. By now, I'd have a wife and a good group of friends close at hand to do stuff with. Didn't think I'd find myself a fairly new and still mostly isolated member of a community at the very beginning of the process of building a less solitary life. Yet, here I am. I kept myself well stocked over the whole summer hoping for guests I almost never had. These days, I've all but given up on the possibility of unexpected visitors. People just don't seem to drop in on each other anymore. I used to make certain I had my cellphone with me when away from my desk. These days, I'm just as likely to leave it plugged in on my desk and then have to race out and grab it when I win some cosmic lottery and the thing rings. Listenning for a knock at the door is also something I don't really do anymore. At times, I'll hear what I think is a knock only to open the door on an empty passageway. Wind and pressure differentials will at times cause my door to rattle in a manner which I can mistake for knocking especially as I usually have music or other sound coming from my computer speakers. Somehow, I have to change things this year. I thought finding friends would be so much easier than this in a building full of people and finally with a long-term place of my own. I'm blind, not extraterrestrial. There's a difference!

When visiting my parents last weekend, I got one of my birthday presents early. It was a much-needed new vacuum cleaner. At some undetermined point in the recent past, my old one had ceased to suck.[Not a good thin in this case.] Not knowing precisely when this happened, I'm very glad to have a brand new Dirt Devil. Now, I find I'm obsessed with making up for God knows how many useless cleanings. What crums might be lurking on my floor? This time, I'm feeding this paranoya somewhat. I'll do another round later this morning when I won't risk waking people up at this ungodly hour. I can say with absolute certainty that this vacuum cleaner absolutely sucks.[A very good thing.]

Surprisingly, despite a mix-up with my voter card, I ended up voting yesterday in our municipal elections. Hazel is our mayor once again. She still sounds pretty capable. I followed some of the election coverage on Rogers Cable last night. Hopefully, the new council will get stuff done. Now that this community has given me a place, I'll try to do my part and be more observant and use my voting power as conscientiously as I use any power given to me. One of the members of my church ran for school trustee but was unsuccessful. I think he could have made a good one. I meant to check up on who won the Toronto race for mayor but never got around to it. Doubtless, I'll hear the news at some point today and fill in that blank.

It's just approaching four thirty on tuesday morning. I fell asleep pretty quickly at eleven but woke up at a little past two. Got a bit of work done on a surprise I've been working on. You'll find out what that is pretty soon now, faithful reader. Finally got around to trying a new tin of hot chocolate I purchased quite a while ago. It certainly hit the spot. However, I'm starting to feel like it just might be possible to get some more sleep so I think I'll give it a go. I'd do a whole lot better at staving off insomnia if there were more to do in my days and some sort of routine in my weeks. Here's hoping more people let me into their lives so that can become a reality and not just a pipedream.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Hope Restored

Hello everyone. Happy Thanksgiving. The actual weekend was somewhat long, lonely and dull for me. When you can't get around and you're single, that happens quite a bit. Due to the busy schedules of family members, we're having our Thanksgiving dinner this evening. I did go out for dinner with my parents on monday evening. Dad's back from his Golf trip which apparently went quite well. It'll be good to catch up with everyone tonight.

Last night was yet another unexpectedly empty evening staring me in the face. There seems to be nothing else I can do to somehow start connecting more regularly and deeply with people around me beyond family. Despite a great deal of effort over the past half-year focussed on building more of a life offline, there just doesn't seem to be a way to punch through from casual acquaintance to more actual friendship. People know who I am here in the building but don't seem interested in anything beyond passing encounters. Everyone is so confounded busy. You'd think there would be somewhere I could volunteer or a lady out there who would value a patient, compassionate easygoing guy enough to show some interest beyond emails. As it gets colder out, I'll be less eager to head out for walks outdoors. Those walks and church are pretty much my only opportunities for socialisation that isn't digital. Unless you're engaged in some common purpose, nobody seems to have time to just get together let alone anything more. There are times when I feel like I might as well be on another planet.

People think that a life on social assistance is so easy. It's true in many ways. I have time that most people my age would kill for. I can sleep in, spend a day reading, put off chores, etc. However, I grew up with the idea that there would be a job, marriage, some way I could contribute to the community around me and be rewarded with companionship among other things. What I've learned over the years is that money talks and nothing else seems to count for much beyond best wishes. Virtues like honesty, patience, compassion, being able to appreciate more than one side of a story; Those things just don't seem to count. The days and weeks pass by and you can feel the weight pile up of what that time could have contained had the right people come along or the right opportunities presented themselves. You do everything you can withing reason to contribute positively and it just flat out gets you nowhere. It eats away at what I think of as the best of me. To add to that, I heard a very angry man yelling at a woman who i presume was a girlfriend. He yelled so loudly and with such fury that I heard him clearly from within the apartment despite music and my computer making noise at the same time. He sounded ready to rip her head off or smash her to bits. Stepping out onto my porch, I could hear the fear in the young woman's voice but not whatever she said. I grabbed my cellphone with the thought of calling 911 if I heard things get obviously violent. At least a couple of other residents were on their balconies also. One of them yelled down that she would call the cops. The woman seemed to move off while the man stayed there and yelled after her. He was there for quite a while cursing up a storm. I presume he was on a cellphone and not just fuming to himself. This incident was the very first intense encounter I've heard since I moved in here. It made my lack of female companionship feel all the more ludicrous. As my marriage fell apart, there were times when I was certainly angry with Rebecca but she never had to worry about her safety. I handled the separation and divorce with as much generocity and fairness as was humanly possible to the point where my parents felt I wasn't looking out for my own future interests. When Janene devastated me on the Easter monday before the last one, she was so relaxed that she even tried to joke with me. I don't think she had any sense at all of how my world had come apart so incredibly unfarely due to her sudden desire after all my patience as she completed her degree just to be free. People just don't seem to have any sense of consequence, of human capital being utterly squandered by their whims.

Yesterday was going to be busier. I had my mobility lesson in the morning. Harpal is always very patient and pleasant to work with. I'm getting closer to masterring the route to my church. It's getting cooler out there. I doubt I'll actually use the route to get to church until next spring. It's utterly impossible once there's snow on the ground and even excessive wind would make trying to get there or back very uncertain. Too many places to go off course in such circumstances. There's also a mid-block crossing with a stopsign that doesn't have any landmarks leading to it. I'd be relying completely on my Trekker Breeze which frankly isn't always so reliable. Later on, I was supposed to go for a church men's group. However, that had to be put off until likely next week.

The rest of the day and evening passed pleasantly enough but I had reached the point where there was litterally nothing else to do but turn in. I decided to check Twitter one last time first. Heather, a friend I knew back in secondary school, tweeted that the first miner was coming up. I had lost track of that whole situation and didn't know that a rescue was at all imminent. Thanks to Heather's announcement, I was able to tune into CP24 in time to hear the first miner be freed. Hearing that happen was nothing short of incredible. I stayed up late to hear the first few get pulled out. It's not like I'm paid to be up on time. One of the perks of my situation is that one has time to take things in as they happen. What a fantastic moment for the world. Proof positive of what good people are capable of when God lends a hand and their hearts are in the right place. I'm not ashamed to say that it moved me to tears. The world needs such moments of inspiration. I had been reflecting a lot on how disconnected and fragmented we were all becoming; wondering if there was really any hope for me finding a jenuine life partner at all, starting to doubt whether my projects would ultimately do anything other than pass lonely time and make me feel productive. The latest episode of Spark on CBC had gotten me thinking on how little people seem to watch in common other than perhaps sports. We all seem to be on our own little islands. And then, Twitter plus a friend I'll likely never physically meet again got me on the same page as the world. At times like that, you keenly feel the absence of someone to hold. The couch stretches out empty on either side. Thinking of those poor men, what they went through and the small capsule they're riding out of the shaft in even now, I was profoundly conscious of the space in my apartment around me. Such an incredible epic story made all the more remarkable because it's real.

Hearing the rescue was just what I needed to put things in perspective. For a while, at least, it has restored and recharged my sense of patience and hope. Those miners believed that God and people on Earth would come through for them despite tremendous obstacles and what had to be an excruciatingly long time even more devoid of markers of its progression than what I experience. It reminds me yet again that things could be a whole lot worse than they are. The fact that people were able to get together and pull this rescue off does a great deal to balance all the crap going on in the world lately. It shouldn't. God knows how many people die from starvation, cureable ilness, poverty and outright stupidity every hour. I guess just knowing that everyone was as glued to their screens as I was to my computer speakers while events unfolded tells me that there's still some connection. It's enough to keep me going and to restore my hope for a more included future. That's the power of Twitter and a really positive news story. I'll never be able to think of Twitter with quite the same sense of derrision as I've been known to in the past. Through it, I was profoundly moved yesterday and caught a moment of history as it happened rather than after the fact.

Monday, October 4, 2010

An Early October Weekend

So, reader, we meet yet again. It's yet another long solitary saturday. Minney came down with a cold or something so she didn't feel up to coming over. She works herself so hard that nobody in their right mind would take that for a polite way of backing out at the last minute. I've certainly had friends who have done that before. Not her though. She's just plain run out of fuel. Hence, I find a yawning chasm of time alone before me. What else is new? It also happens to be raining out there. I only found that out after fetching my coat and Trekker Breeze and heading out the door. Not at all a day for walking around the lake. Nobody down in the lobby to talk with either. Nowhere to go but tons to blog about and listen to. Tomorrow will be a much more social day thank goodness. Church has become a very bright light for me. I'll also be seeing Sandy and John Morgan in the afternoon. It's been quite a while since those two have gotten together and touched base. As we move forward with Sandy towards his assessment for the Assistive Devices Program, I want to make certain we're all on the same page. Also, it's invariably interesting when one runs into Mr. Morgan. Acording to my faith, good works can't get you into Heaven. John is one of those kind souls who really make one think twice about that. He'll be helping Sandy financially by making the Internet affordable during this especially tough time in his life. He helped me by donating my Trekker Breeze to me. That opened up more of the world within walking distance to me than I ever would have thought possible. I never would have gambled that much of my own money on that gadget. I just couldn't fully appreciate its value. It's precisely that way with Sandy and the Internet. John has made it feasible for Sandy to enter the digital world with my assistance. God knows how many people John has helped go farther and take more chances than they otherwise could have.

It has been a truly excellent week for listening material. I've actually kept most of the podcasts which have whiled away the hours. I'm only half way through Aquainted With The Night which is proving to be an utterly splendid read. The narrator is excellent and the book is covering all sorts of fascinating things about night. There have been so many splendid observations from the illusive "green flash" sometimes visible just after sunset for ten to fifteen seconds to details about many various festivals. As just one modest example, I never knew that our celebration of Christmas is more of a private family-centred affair due to the Nordic Yule Log festival. Russians apparently throw empty bottles into the air at New Year's in order to capture the old year and smash it on the ground. So many wonderful details. When I come to create sunssets and festivals for Enchantment's Twilight, those sections of the book will be very handy indeed. I've thoroughly enjoyed the first part of the section on dreams and have paused the book to leave delving into an exploration of nightmares for a little later. It was also nifty to finally get a detailed idea of what a sleep lab was like. I've always wondered about that.

There have been so many auditory treasures this week. I've decided to keep hold of at least five podcasts. As much as I'm greatful for the stimulation, there's always that sense of incompletion. I wish I had a group of friends or a love in life to share and discuss all this with. Once the audio stops, it's just me here in the apartment with nothing but the quiet swish of the CPU cooling fan and occasional noises from my kitchen appliances. I sit there and reflect on what I've just heard knowing that there's likely nobody nearby who has even heard one of the items I've found so captivating. There damned well should be someone else there! Empty friday nights and saturdays seem to drag out and make a mockery of all my attempts to fit in and find lasting love. In order to keep busy on this one, I'm going to set down my reflections on five interesting podcasts which have captivated me. I'm sick to the teeth of hearing this stuff and then having all my thinking vanish forever into my subconscious or disappear completely for lack of use. Before I get to that though, there's a show called Ontario Today on CBC Radio1. One day this week, I caught it for the first time in quite a while. It was pretty grim stuff. I heard from a lady who was a prostetute. She described how she got into the trade as a result of her drug habit. I got the impression it was a kind of creepy insidious process where you get to a stage where there's no longer any sense of what's wrong in life. I had the same feeling as when I've heard people describe how they got into credit card debt. She's concerned that changes to the laws forbidding prostetution would make things even worse for the women involved in it since their johns would be less fearful of consequences. Immediately following that was a discussion about how bad things are in northern Ontario for the Native people living on reserves up there. Some folks wonder where I get my patience and normal good cheer from. How can I be so forgiving and understanding with so much potential untapped and so many doors closed to me in life? A part of the answer is that I'm keenly aware and appreciative of the many blessings in life even on days like today when my need for companionship isn't met. I heard about a couple of kids whose parents had been so tired of life that they hung themselves not even caring whether their young children saw it happen. That just struck me to the core. Up north, it isn't so much the price of housing as it is the price of groceries which can make things incredibly hard. There's corruption, no jobs even for fully able folks. The water from one's tap isn't safe to drink until it's boiled. Apparently, these kids were re-inacting the tragedy discussing how the rope had been used while looking out a window eating breakfast. What circumstances would drive two young people to that utter extreme? It seems so unthinkable that this kind of thing can happen in the same province I'm in. One of my chief blessings is a very supportive caring family who would do pretty much anything they could for me. I also have safe running water and am in a well=built apartment. There's just no comparison to the cross of exclusion I bear and the true utter poverty faced by these people. I have hope of things eventually getting better at least on the social front and perhaps other areas. There's enough, for the most part, to keep me going in life. I would never seriously entertain the idea of killing myself. Leaving that sort of trauma in the lives of my family and friends is utterly unthinkable to me. It's up to God to determine when I am no longer of value here on Earth. The least I can do is experience and enjoy his gift of life to the best of my ability. Hearing about such horrific circumstances has stayed with me for most of the week. I wish I was in a position to do more than simply bear a kind of distant second-hand witness. You want to reach out and fix things but there's just nothing a man like me could offer which would make the slightest difference. I feel completely and utterly dwarfed by such large-scale blatently unjust situations. Thankfully, the podcasts below were more positive.

*Scifi Talk:

Last week's episode was about the upcoming sequel to the movie Tron. I've had a soft spot for that film since I was a kid. It was neat hearing Jeff Bridges and others involved in this new Tron Legasy speak their minds about what it all meant to them. I look forward to eventually seeing that one when it get onto DVD. The theatre is just getting too pricy. If I had a group of friends or special lady in life by the time it came out, perhaps then, it would be worth the expense if it were part of a larger outing. None of this "well that was good. Lets go home." crap. I'd like a chance to digest some food along with some actual time together talking about what we had just shelled out so much to see. It feels like nobody else seems to think like I do on that front anymore. I wish I had more to say about the actual story of the upcoming film but everyone was pretty secretive on that front.

*Big Ideas:

There were a couple of very noteworthy items here. I don't find all of the lectures interesting but I try to check for new items of interest every few weeks or so. A very thought-provoking lecture was given by a Muslim lady named Ayaan Hirsi Ali.[Thank God for cut and paste] She illustrated how sharply the philosophies of the western and Muslim worlds differed. I may try to get her book Nomad: From Islam to America, A Personal Journey Through the Clash of Civilizations. If her lecture is anything to go by, her perspective in greater depth would certainly while away some hours.

Her main point was that while the western world focussed on making life on Earth better for as many people as possible, Muslims invested in the life to come after this one. I wonder how many of the Muslim friends I've briefly had over the years would agree with what she thought? I presume she was presenting a far more fundamentalist view than what I've come across in life so far. I've had somewhat limited exposure to Muslims. For instance, it apparently is counted against you in the Muslim afterlife if you have non-Muslim friends. Even more so if they're Jewish. If that's the case, how can we expect there to be any progress at all with coming to terms with each other? I've lost contact with the Muslims I once knew. Does my friendship with them still count against their eternal happiness? Talk about an unfair double-whammy.

Muslims indeed have the ability to ask for forgiveness as we do. However, it must be sincere to the point where you no longer commit that sin. That seems square enough as long as the list of unpermitted things makes sense. After death, you're quizzed by an angel and asked three questions. One's answers determine how comfortable one's time in the grave actually is. That grave time lasts until the great tribunal. A bit more low-key than our Christian Heaven and Hell waiting areas. On the day of judgement, all parts of your body speak against you. What a treassonous bunch. If the book of misdeeds recorded by the angel on your lef in life is heavier than the positive book recorded by the one on the right, you're sent to Hell where you do time for your crimes. It isn't eternal though. Eventually, you can get to Heaven. Sounds better for men than for women. Is there no religion anywhere who treated men and women as true equals from day one? I'd like to think that some group somewhere was smart enough to realise what has been planely obvious to me for as long as I can remember.

Everything in our democratic society is geared toward improving and extending life here. Schools, recreation, hospitals, etc. Life here is precious. She thinks Christians don't really describe Heaven or dwell on it in detail. Never really stopped to think about how much more descriptive Muslims were about their Heaven. That kind of gets them into trouble with their women to my way of thinking. It's clearly depicted as better for men. In our Christian vagueness lies some safety there I think. She goes on to tell how Islamic law developed consistant with that investment in afterlife. Virtue is litterally enforced on the streets. Right and wrong are made very clear. Do what's right in gray areas. Cannot compare tribunals to western system. Corruption means staying away from the Koran depicts as moral and right. Indivisuals don't choose but must submit. Western institutions want to achieve maximum happiness for maximum number of people.

Her final point talks about how we in the west think that any conflict can be resolved through human reason. We think of states as secular and basically reasonable. However, the Muslim perspective is that reason simply ought to direct people to the Koran which spells out what's right and wrong pretty clearly already. The fundamentalists feel it their duty to try to get Muslims who have been tempted by modernity and/or sin to come back to investing in afterlife rather than this one. Rejecting the Koran's message makes you an enemy of Islam. Attempts to win enemies back begin with communicating the message to them and when that fails, war. Pretty bleak stuff. I'm glad God comes at things a tad differently when it comes to choices and obligations to others on his behalf. Philosophy behind western influence on other countries is one of life on Earth. We try to modernise and improve life. Islamic fundamentalists feel like Islam is under siege by innovation and people investing in this life. It's a stark conflict with no middle ground for them. Philosophy of death needs enemies. Anyone who tried to change Islam from within was suppressed and labelled as enemy so change is far harder in Islam. She believes Iran's leader is trying to acquire the bomb. Westerners should try to understand how the leader welcomes death rather than fears it. He wil be a hero in their afterlife. Wow. Wish I could have heard the questions cession. How does one negotiate with that kind of thinking? Is there any hope at all? Are we just doomed to ultimate conflict with these more fundamentalist believers or is there something, some avenue forward that isn't obvious? What about extreme Christians? What are the worse case dangers actually presented by fundamentalists of my faith to the Muslim world? Christians are certainly not immune from siege mentality.

The other Big Ideas episode to grab my attention was one about the workings of Jewish humour. Ruth Wisse gave a fascinating lecture. It began with a joke which I'll set down here probably not verbatim: Four men went hiking together in a woods. They became lost and ran out of water. "I must have tea!" said the Englishman. "I must have wine!" said the Frenchman. "I must have beer!" said the German hiker. "I must have diabetes!" said the Jew. It took me about a half-second after the audience started laughing before it clicked and I got it. When I told Sandy this joke earlier today, it took him about a second and a half before he got it. I had just begun thinking I'd have to explain it or apologise for it, [He does suffer from the illness.] when he got it. Ruth took that joke apart and examined it under a microscope explaining how it wasn't really antisemitic. It operates on the different use of the verb "to have" and on the unexpected completely different track the Jewish hiker's mind was on. That made me think of a book called The Terminal Experiment by Robert J. Sawyer. He's a favorite author of mine as regular readers will be aware. In the book, an artificial intelligence pontificates on what laughter and jokes are. He said that we laugh due to new and unexpected connections between things we previously thought unrelated. Jokes create new nural pathways which we respond to by laughter. An interesting kind of parallel there.

The other part of Ruth's lecture which truly made me pause in shere admiring awe was when she described a tense department meeting. A candidate was under consideration for being added to the membership. Most members approved of this person. However, one Jewish man strongly opposed. The candidate certainly seemed to have what was needed but he just wasn't happy with him. Eventually though, things had reached a crisis point. A decision was needed right then. Clearly, this candidate was the best one going with the most conscensus from the membership. The Jew who had opposed his acceptance ended up making a joke which did a number of things: It conceeded that perhaps he had been too stubborn and picky in a way which also gave everyone the right to laugh with him and at him. He used humour to gracefully withdraw his opposition in a way which restored good will in the department. There's a kind of heroism in that. A moment of God's grace made manifest which I wonder how many people who were even present truly appreciated. It was an exquisite demonstration of the power of the Jewish style of humour to overcome obstacles.


What with my illness and all, I had fallen behind when it comes to this nifty show exploring how faith weives itself through modern life. They started off this season with a show about hope. I wasn't certain how that would actually turn out. The show host, mary Hynes, was apparently concerned about profound sappiness also. However, I was delighted with the result. Joan Chittister put any fears of a wasted hour quickly to rest. She's another author I'll have to look into. It's a pretty safe bet that at least some of her over forty books would be available in the CNIB digital library. One title, Scarred by Struggle; Transformed By Hope, definitely warrants my hot pursuit. Here's hoping Blio gets its accessibility act together *soon!* Joan recognises right from the outset that hope is something people need to get them through this life. People want to know about hope when they don't have any themselves. Excellent quotes fell thick and fast from her and I'll try to capture the ones which truly struck me:

"Hope is the capacity to dance around corners while still smiling."

"My hope for the future comes from my experience of the past."

"Hope is God's grace today. It's not a buy-off about tomorrow."

"Hope is marble. Hope's not marce mallow. We construct the statue of ourselves one struggle at a time and God does not, life does not protect us from those struggles."

There was a whole lot more in the conversation, but it's starting to get late and I think I've given you a good feel for things. I'll take a different approach from here on as this is starting to feel too much like university. It turns what should be vibrant, living aural discussion into dead words nobody is all that likely to read anyhow. Her words stuck a strong chord with me. It and humour have been what gets me, an extravert, through lonely days. Laughter is just as valueable and vital. I couldn't help think of that poor Native family up north. I've been pretty distressed and down at times but I've never gotten to the point where my drive to live on, at the very least, has left me. Is there any way I can share that basic optimism with people like they were? Joan spoke of how her struggle dealing with her mother's Alshimers made her look at other sick people differently. I can relate to that. People who have been more successful following what would still I think be seen as a normal path through life, [job, marriage, etc], can be very quick to judge and dismiss those of us who haven't ben able to as worthless and lazy. They don't take th time and don't have the time to really investigate and find out differently. It's just easier to lump everyone in a similar situation into one category. I'm not immune from the same thing. My past experience married to a woman who had depression would make me very wary of getting involved with other women who suffer that. I know there are doubtless women who either have a different level or type of depression. Also, people cope with and manifest their illness in different ways. My experience of and approach to blindness is, to some extent at least, uniquely my own. There are very likely women out there with depression who I with my optimistic nature might make a splendid companion for. Should one actually prove interested in me, I would gladly invest the time into seeing whether things would work out for us. I have tons of that after all. However, I would approach the situation with far more reservation and caution than I would a relationship with a woman with almost any other disability. Once bitten, twice shy they say.

The next guest was Neil Pasricha. He had the bright idea of starting a blog about all the little awesome things in life. Everyone should check that out. Go to:

People like him who reach out from their own private pain and put some soul back into the world always deserve a second look. I include myself in that pronouncement, feminine sighted world. God! I hate these empty saturdays. Neil has written a book based on his blog called The Book of Awesome. I'll want that as soon as it's made accessible. Neil's main thrust is something I've always found helpful. We tend to forget about the smaller pleasures in life which make going through all the disappointments not only possible but worth-while. You can just plough through a bunch of entries on everything from blowing your nose in the shower to smacking an electronic device and having it start working again. To a man like me, such a mass of positive cheerful reflections are better than music. It doesn't take much to make me feel a sense of appreciation for life. He carries the loss of a good friend who was inspirational in getting the blog going. You can hear the heaviness of that in his voice but he's found a way to memorialise him in the bestselling book which grew from his blog. Perhaps, one day, I too will have a truly catching good idea for another glog. That kind of thinking is part of what keeps me reaching out and keeps me sane. I would prefer starting more of an offline real-world conversation. That's more what I've been hoping for ever since my marriage fell apart. However, I'm coming to realise that no matter how hard I push nor how much I try to explain to people what I'm after, there's just no tipping the scales. I'm likely to be alone more often than not for the foreseeable future. Perhaps, I should turn my mind toward starting a brand new more immediately visible creative venture. Neither of my larger projects will be ready for years anyhow. Wny not add something new and interactive into the mix? Neil, You've got my creative wheels turning again.

Teri Degler also stepped up to the plate with some observations which have stuck with me. One of them was that merely having hope was actually a virtue. I had never thought of my hopeful nature as anything beyond fortunate given my circumstances. Scoring eternal brownie points while I'm at it? That's just cool. Thanks God. Hope hasn't failed just because a hoped for outcome doesn't ocur. Hope keeps us trying and keeps us facing our circumstances with greater positivity than could otherwise be done. I can certainly relate to that. Without that small spark of hope, there are plenty of times in my life when I may have gone more off the rails and given into destructive impulses.

You know what folks? I've done enough for today. You can hear the other two episodes of Tappestry if you've a mind to. I feel like I've been to a university class taking notes on these and I can't say I've missed that. It takes what was initially such a better more richly satisfying experience and salvages a fraction of my initial reflections. I can't say I've found the fulfillment I had hoped for when I started this. I wanted to set down something of my inner self; something of my world for people if only as a record of the kind of thoughtful man I am. What has emerged is just a faint flicker. I want to scream at more of the nareby real world to give me the ghost of a chance! Know me! I'll add as much of my gifts and talents to the community as I possibly can if I'm just given a pathway in and help getting started! Nights like this make me feel like I've been locked away in an admittedly comfortable cage and left to live out my days. Digital just doesn't do it for me. Give me honest to God in the flesh *people* in life! It's been a long day. I believe I'll turn in for the night.

It's monday evening now. Yesterday was wonderful. I guess you could say that I indeed spent it with honest to God people. The church community had a couple of surprises. One of which was a ceremony for Naythan who's just turned thirteen. It was a kind of Christian barmitsfa. He clearly takes his faith quite seriously. At his age, I was much more rebellious when it comes to belief. I wasn't yet an agnostic but had certainly started finding things to doubt and question. All four of his grandparents were there. That in itself was pretty awesome. They actually all sounded quite healthy too. I ought to be seeing my one remaining grandparent near the end of the month.

I got home just in time to meet up with John Morgan and go to Sandy's apartment. The meeting went quite well. Provided Sandy's computer keeps behaving until our assessments, we ought to be in pretty good shape. John was able to help Sandy with his internet costs. You could feel Sandy's happiness. I have no doubt at all that John could see it plain as day. If he's available, he'll be the one to drive us both down for our assessments provided they occur at the same time as we hope. Meanwhile, it's up to me and Mrs. Allison to bring him more up to speed with his computer. John didn't stay very long. He never does unless he's actualy doing something to help. I think Sandy has a harder time with that. It isn't easy accepting generocity when you can't return it even when it's clearly called for. People say I'm always gracious about that. I certainly try to be.

I spent sunday evening at a church service with a fairly siseable contingent from the Meadowvale CRC present. It was a celebration of the multinational heretage of the church. The two hour service didn't seem to drag at all even for the kids present. It was most encouraging to hear about all the efforts being directed at inclusiveness. Quite the contrast from how I spent saturday night. If I can just inject more into my weeks, I might not have to start yet another online project. That would be nice.

This morning started with me heading down to Sandy's apartment. He wanted to hear these Commonwealth games which are going to be streamed live on the Internet. On my computer, the Flash plugin gave me no end of grief until I finally managed to reinstall it. I hadn't realised for a few weeks that this was why IE8 would simply seem to disappear sometimes. For once, things worked perfectly on his computer without any fussing around at all. I figured I might be fighting that thing for a good half hour. It took perhaps ten minutes. Sandy's a pretty happy man. He'll just have to remind me when more of these games are covered and have me start up the live stream on his machine. Did a bunch of tidying up today. I also listened to a BBC documentary about aural history. Other than that, things have been pretty uneventful. I've worked some on this blog entry and kept up to date with news.

Tomorrow, I have a mobility lesson and may join mom and Dan's family for dinner depending on how things go. Mom seems to be doing fine. Dad's away on a Golf trip for the week. She wanted me to help move a heavy bookcase upstairs for dad's computer. I didn't think he'd want stuff rearranged like that while he was away. Mom wants things to look neat but I know how disconcerting I've found it when people have moved my things in my absence. I don't know if I quite convinced her to just wait until he returns. It looks like I'll be out with mom again on thursday evening. Kim and presumeably Mark will be joining us for dinner. Other than that, I have no other plans at present. However, I live in hope.