Saturday, January 30, 2010

Bought Beds and Bright Red Bulls

Hello everyone. Things are going fairly well. I bought my new bed and discovered that those things are rather more expensive than I had figured on. It used up the majority of my community startup fund as I suspected it might. It felt very comfortable and ought to suite me admirably better than the bed I've been sleeping in here at my parents' house. I'd love to believe that the bed here was a large part of my sleeping trouble. The hard boards and quite soft matress don't work out in my favour. However, I'll doubtless continue to go through periods of insomnia on this new springbox, matress and frame. Just as long as I never have to contend with bedbugs again. I've had quite enough of those horrid creatures to last a lifetime.

Yesterday was pretty interesting. Dad and I spent around an hour setting up the new router. I'm taking the older one with me so my parents needed one for themselves. Dad seemed to find the whole thing fairly stressful but thankfully, the diagrams in the router manual were quite good. It all seemed simple enough to me. During the evening, I went out with Adam for a scrumptious smokehouse burger at Turtle Jack's. Long-standing curiosity got the better of my good sense and I decided to finally see what a Red Bull energy drink tasted like. Not a good move while contending with insomnia. That drink actually does what it claims to do quite well. After being quite alert for around seven hours of gaming, I started to mentally fade as one AM approached. I spend most of last night, or rather, this damned early morning, tired but awake. I can't say the taste of Red Bull was particularly wonderful either. On the positive side, it certainly kept me alert during our lengthy gaming cession. It is rather nice not to commit some stupendous blunder due to losing focus. However, on the whole, the Red Bull was not one of my better beverage choices.

We decided to play something called Hinterland. It's one of these fantasy conquest games which is random every time you play. Quite an enjoyable game. I'd definitely play it again. You really have to weigh the advantages of taking along your followers on adventures where they might be killed against their usefullness to your town. This adds a rare level of attachment and consequence to your choices when it comes to hiring and developing different characters. There's a lot of depth and replay value.

I have nothing major planned today. At some point, I'll be helping dad export his email contacts from Outlook and import them into his new Gmail account. From what he's told me, it seems like it'll be simple enough. I've done my bit in Dragontavern. Things didn't go fantastically. I got poor Eldrex killed twice and once again have a high debt of experience points to repay. Fun city. Due to those unfortunate occurrances, I didn't do a whole lot for my character's available gold. Ah well. Tomorrow is another day.

The ATIA conference has yielded some very welcome news. Thanks to:
I've been able to follow some of the announcements of interest from that venue. More interviews and other coverage is apparently still forthcoming. That'll make for some very interesting reading. The new Blio software from Kurzweil is something I'm very much looking forward to digging into when it emerges some time in February. Also on the way is a long awaited update for my Trekker Breeze. I'll be able to pick out a point of interest in the database and actually have the Breeze calculate a route to get me there rather than just getting a rough direction and distance to it. A clearer voice will also be installed among other enhancements. Apparently, the reception of signal has also been improved. That little gadget is going to open a whole new world to me over this Spring and Summer.

Before that warmer weather makes the outdoors more agreeable, there's the building itself to become familiar with. I believe I can do that without the aid of a mobility instructor. I just have to take some careful notes in my digital recorder as my parents and/or friends show me where things are. The doors and elevators are pretty straight-forward. I'll need to learn and mark my mailbox's location as well as get to the laundry room and recycling area. It'll take a while to fille one of those bins. I don't go through all that many cans these days. However, I definitely plan to do my bit with recycling. Hard to believe that I'll be setting up shop in my new apartment in a week. It's all really coming together.

Monday, January 25, 2010

slowly winding down

Hello everyone. It's approaching eleven PM as I settle in for this blogging cession. Over the past while, my sleeping has steadily gotten worse. I hoped that I could stave off this insomnia with pure discipline, patience and perseverance. It's always such a boost to the ego when I manage to avoid having to use those Equate pills to nudge things back in the right direction. It would have been all the more a nifty ego boost now while I'm not getting much writing done. I would at least have conquered something. Sometimes though, that male machoism just sets us stubborn guys up for a rougher ride than if we let common sense prevail earlier. Thankfully, Equate isn't adictive or really all that powerful. It's a cheeper form of Gravol. I probably have that spellt wrong. Personally, I tend to want to deal with these things without resorting to pills out of some misplaced sense of fair play. This is one of those times when one must simply conceed the point and swallow both pills and pride. I need to be in as tip top mental shape as possible over the next chunk of time.

Yesterday, I spoke at my church about my journey to faith as a blind person and offered some observations and perspective as a blind person. All the feedback was quite positive. In fact, I may have an opportunity to speek at a Polish church later in the year. We had a guest worship team from there who apparently enjoyed my remarks. It's always a pleasure and an honour to do things like that. I certainly have a greater sense that I am indeed where God wants me to be. I'll be able to have some positive impact in the community over the years as people come to know me through opportunities like yesterday. It certainly seemed to cause some interesting people to pop out of the woodwork. I talked to one lady named Rose who is in the process of translating the new testament. Apparently, she'll be the first woman to actually do this. Other such efforts seem to have been performed by men. That surprised me greatly. You'd think that in this day and age, some woman or other would have crossed that gender boundary some time back in the fifties at the latest. She's also had some interesting experiences ministering to criminals. That might prove very useful when I begin working on orchestrating the evil forces in Enchantment's Twilight. Another lady who suffers from Parkinson's wants to start writing down her experiences for a possible blog or book. I'll be pleased to help her do this and determine how she wants to present her work online for people. Her name is Geneva. Thinking back, I can't recall having met anybody else named after a city.

PlentyofFish has also coughed up a very interesting lady. She's another teacher who doesn't seem nearly as prone to being scared off by too much information. We've exchanged a number of lengthy emails. So far, she doesn't seem interested in me commiting crimes for her. She does seem genuinely interested in my writing and in becoming friends. What's more, she lives close enough that it would be possible to actually go out somewhere together or have her come to visit me. That would certainly be a most welcome change.

Today has largely been a writeoff due to that lack of sleep I mentionned. I've swallowed my pills but am still feeling quite wide awake. I dozed off a number of times today so I'm rather glad I had no plans or deadlines just now. I watched U 571 on my computer for the first time with my Bose Companion3 speakers rather than my prior set of 5.1 surround sound ones. The main issue I had with those was that the sub-woofer fires sound downward into the floor. Moving into an apartment, I figured that because of this, those speakers might not be such a good idea. I've seen the movie Enemy Below and have no desire to inadvertently create the real thing. Fortunately, the Bose speakers have a subwoofer which fires forward rather than down. It ought to be less likely to wreck some poor soul's day. The virtual surround sound works quite well enough for me. Another item I took care of today was obtaining the manual for my grill. It took a while to track down the model on the site. However, they had a link to the pdf manual right there. Kurzweil1000 version 12 has just proved its worth by very quickly producing an accessible copy of the information for me. It took around ten minutes at most to recognise and present twenty-one pages. I don't think many of those pages were actually in English. However, I was quite happy to discover that even the tables with cooking times for food came through splendidly. Very nifty indeed. When I start scanning my regular mail in the new apartment, I don't anticipate any difficulties at all.

Over the weekend, I got together with Mark and Wendy. They have a table that I'll be borrowing for a while for the dining area until I get a better idea of what sise table will be suitable for the apartment. We had a very good dinner at the Lion Heart which I now have in my GPS. I have to remember to bring that along and keep adding landmarks of places when possible. Now that I'm going to be living here for the long term, it makes sense to do that. They'll be coming over on the saturday to help get me settled in. It's great to have such good friends as they are.

Hopefully, I'll be better rested tomorrow. It'll be time to start working with the talking microwave and perhaps take care of some other things like that router. I'm actually starting to feel tired so I believe I'll sign off before I go and write anything too obtuse.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

pieces in motion

Hello everyone. Last week was fairly busy. The leace has been signed. You have to sign those things in many places. Something like five or six times. Until now, I had always thought that when people spoke of "initialling" a document, they put their first initial and then their whole last name. I didn't realise that you just had to put your first and last initial. You learn something new every day. The appointment with Peel Housing went well also. I'll have to report my income and have an inspection each year. Everything makes good sense given that the tax-payer's money is being spent on my behalf. The only thing I have any real objection to is having to call and let a rent worker know if anybody sleeps overnight at my apartment. That feels very intrusive as it seems to presume guilt. Apparently, this rule is in place because other people have abused their leaces in the past by having people live with them for extended time without reporting it. Some people have even rented out their subsidised apartments. The folks at the agency don't care why someone stays over but just want to make certain that I am the only one actually "living" at the apartment. I'm certainly allowed to have guests stay over as long as I let my worker know. The limit is two weeks at a time. Frankly, unless I were on the cusp of getting married again, I don't think anybody will be staying with me that long.

Mom drove both me and one of her friends who is actually correctly called "visually impaired" down to Vision Aids Canada. They certainly have a lot of stuff there and are willing to go out of their way to be helpful. Doubtless, over the years, I'll use them for other special items relating to blindness. I've obtained a talking microwave and talking meat thermometer. That ought to make cooking a good deal easier and safer over the long term. I just need to get a copy of the manual for my grill with all the correct temperatures for various food..

This week, the focus has been more about ODSP and making certain that this agency which provides my income has the information it needs. I just got a call from my case worker and that has now been taken care of. It's nice to have that all settled. I've applied for and got some extra funding to help cover the expenses of furnishing the apartment. I also found out what my new income level will be. Not as steep a drop as I thought might be the case. The moving process shouldn't completely bottom me out but it'll certainly lower my bank balance closer to the minimum than it has been for years. Given my projected fixed costs, I need to stay above $500 in order to be certain that the basics for a month are paid for without a problem. My rent and Rogers bill will both be paid automatically. That'll take a bit of getting used to. I always paid those bills via telephone banking during my marriage. However, provided there's no malfunction that slurps my acount dry, it ought to work out nicely. Keeping enough of a safety margin shouldn't be too problematic. In general, I've always tried to stay above $1000 in order to avoid banking fees and also to be ready for computer failure or some other disaster. If I'm right about how things work out, I'll carry a credit card balance for a month at the most and then have everything fairly nicely back in hand. I'm getting the first three months of TV and internet free which certainly helps marvelously. It shouldn't be too rough at all as long as nothing breaks down. That possibility is quite unlikely at present. Everything seems to be working quite well.

Once I'm all settled in, I'll try to get back to steady work on Enchantment's Twilight among other things. I still have yet to delve too deeply into the rpg books I purchased in hopes of finding fresh inspiration. There'll be plenty of podcasts, TV shows, the odd visit from friends hopefully both old and new, plus family visits and activities. etc. I ought to be able to largely stave off boredom and keep my spirits up. I'll feel at least a little more like I'm living what passes for a normal life for someone my age. Any way you slice it, things will be on a much better footing than they have been for quite some time.

It won't happen all at once. Learning to get to places within walking distance may well be a project spanning more than one year's effort particularly if I do the safe thing and avoid learning new routes during the winters. That's what I'll be focussing on first. I'd like to be able to get to and from as many places within reasonable walking distance as I can. At least then, I can competently be out among other people on my own terms. A lonely life spent mostly behind a keyboard isn't what I want and would waste a good part of my potential to help people. However, it's likely the sort of life I'm in for over the short term.

It seems to take an inordinant amount of time as an adult to make the kinds of friends who you hang out with regularly and would trust enough to travel places with. Life seems to fragment us from each other as we get older. Rather than banding together as hard reality sets in, people seem to close themselves off. Online chats become the norm rather than actually getting together for a meal or coffee. If you don't circumstancially find yourself in someone else's work or other orbit of life, there's simply no room for us outsiders. Back a while ago, a question came up on PlentyofFish asking whether anybody thought they might have been more suited to an earlier time in history. I remember thinking that perhaps I would have had less of a sense of isolation had I been born a decade or two earlier. The fabric of society was somewhat more together than it seems now. That may well simply be history's illusion working its magic. I've often thought that people who pined for more simpler times were deluding themselves. For instance, is there really more disrespect, sexual crime, violent crime, etc these days? Or, as seems equally as likely to me, have we always been living with roughly the same amount of that with less of it being widely known about in the past? Here's another question: Had I been born a decade later than I was, would the friendships I have online with people who I'll in all likelyhood never physically meet still seem as shallow and etherial as they do to me? When you hear some of the concerns from educators and parents, you imagine that younger people today find digital life even more meaningful and real to them than life in the actual world. I don't buy that completely. Like so many extreme positions, the truth likely falls somewhat short of that. Kids and teens still get together as well as text each other to death. I strongly suspect that kids and teens have a better sense of which way is up, what's real and what's not, than most of the older people who are left fretting about them in their digital dust. It's simply a different era now.

Yesterday, I helped dad set up a Gmail acount. He then helped mom get a second one going for her since it proved impossible to remember or otherwise obtain the password for one Dan helped her set up earlier. They both seem to like Gmail better than their Rogers acounts. Mom has now finished two of the games I got her for Christmas. She defeated Return to Ravenhearst some time ago and has now also vanquished Murder She Wrote. Currently, she's starting Mystery Case Files: Dire Grove. I got her the collectors edition with all the hints and other bells and whistles built right into the game. That one ought to be a nice challenge for her. She's really enjoying having her own computer. Dad is beginning to ponder what sort of desktop computer he wants. He'll want my help choosing one and getting it going some time after I've moved into my apartment. That shouldn't be a problem at all. He'll be going on a golfing trip over the weekend. So far, church on Sunday is the only planned thing in my weekend. The soup lunches they have at Meadowvale CRC are always fun to attend and quite delicious. There's also a possibility of dinner with Mark and Wendy but that hasn't been firmed up just yet.

The Internet has been devoid of much new and interesting over this past week. The CSUN conference is going to start soon so that ought to deliver up some interesting developments in access technology. Over the next week, I'll be starting to use my talking microwave. I've heard the manual as well as a podcast demonstration of it on the Blind Geek Zone which was very helpful indeed. I ought to have it mastered pretty quickly. Dad also wants me to set up the new router in here. I'll be taking the one we currently use to my apartment. It's better to make certain the new router's going to behave itself before I go. Other than that, I believe the focus is going to be turning toward furniture. There's a bed to shop for among some other things.

Now that all the paperwork seems to be done, it's starting to really sink in. Very soon now, life as I've come to know it is truly going to change. I keenly look forward to this new chapter so long overdue. I wouldn't wish the wait I've gone through for afordable housing on anybody, but at last, it's nearly over for me.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Interesting Times

Hello everyone. I've had a most excellent time over the past while. Christmas was just as chaotic and fun as I thought it would be. Ava and Amia enjoyed the day and all their presents. They opened them in three shifts over the day starting off before we arrived there early in the afternoon. My parents and I spent a cheerful part of the morning with our neighbours Jim and Carol. We also opened our own presents. My presents included a new George Foreman grill and a coffee brewstation among others. Both of these will be very useful indeed in my new apartment. I've tried out the brewstation and it works quite well. I can also use it as a way of heeting water and getting it into a mug safely for hot chocolate or tea. I've never felt entirely comfortable pouring water from a kettle. I just tried making a cup of that Tezo Chai tea you get in tins as powder. It's supposed to be added to milk but I prefer making it and hot chocolate with water. The brewstation heets the water nicely and lets me get it safely back into the mug. It works far better than using the microwave. The powder disolved far better than it has ever done for me before. A thoroughly enjoyable cup. The grill ought to do very well with its removeable trays and only a single on/off switch to worry about. Very practical indeed. I'll be trying that out pretty soon and hopefully have it basically mastered by the time I move in.

Ava and Amia got a plethora of toys. It was fun hearing them discover it all. Dinner was also quite good. Turkey, potatoes, and all the tried and true trappings; What's not to enjoy? After returning home, I ended the day by listening to the dramatisation of The Blue Carbunkle. If there's a better more relaxing thing to end Christmas day with than a well-done Sherlock Holmes case, I have yet to find it.

Mom seems to be enjoying my gift of games which I installed on her laptop. She plunged into The Return to Ravenhearst and conquered it in something around twenty hours over the past little while. She has something like seven or eight more games ahead of her. That was probably my most successful gift this year. The talking globe is just a little beyond where Ava and Amia are at but that likely won't last long. They're very clever and curious little ladies. It'll be interesting to see what they think of their Uncle Mike's new apartment once I'm all settled in. Apparently, Dan and Alison don't know anybody else in an apartment so Ava and Amia have never been in one before.

New Year's Eve didn't turn out like I expected. Only two people turned up. Next year, I hope there'll be at least four or five guests to share the first such gathering in my apartment. Having said that, I should point out here that it's pretty much impossible not to enjoy yourself when such good friends as Mark and Wendy are there. We always end up having a good time. The charger to my netbook broke down but even that didn't throw me out of sorts too much at all. We ended up playing some Trivial Pursuit and generally chatting for most of the time after a delicious dinner from Swiss Chalet. That place has never let me down yet. Their chicken is unfailingly good as are their fries.

This week is something of a calm before the storm. I await the arrival of the replacement charger I ordered for my netbook. Until I've gotten some paperwork all filled out, I won't want to start getting too much stuff ready. Our appointment with Halton Housing to complete their side of forms and such is next week. After that's done, I believe there'll just be the leace to sign. Once that's all more in hand and I'm certain nothing is going to snatch this away from me at the last minute, I can proceed with more. Also next week, we plan to go to Vision Canada in downtown Toronto where I'll acquire a talking microwave and anything else which might prove useful in my new situation. A friend of my mom's is also interested in checking this store out. It ought to be a pretty interesting expedition.

Meanwhile, I'm keeping myself amused. Yesterday, I was listening to The Retired Colourman. Sherlock certainly seems to have a lot of my attention these days. Those BBC radio dramas are absolutely first-rate. At the very end of that particular adventure, I was very pleased to hear a brief statement by Adrien Conan Doyle who shared a little about his father and how Sherlock Holmes came from his very life and character. How many owners of the collection will have taken the time to hear that little audio treasure? Quite an enjoyable easter egg to discover. Here's hoping there's more. I haven't listened to all of the stories yet. The death world of Q9 has certainly eaten up some time in what has so far been a fruitless quest for victory over the game with medium difficulty set. I'm inching slowly closer though. Regarding Dragon Tavern, I've decided that I'll no longer pay any money for perks in that strangely adictive game of sheer chance. If I buy any games from now on, they'll be accessible ones for me, gifts for others, or games which are paid for once only. Over the past year, I've probably spent something near a hundred dollars on credits so that I could buy advantages for my character Eldrex. That's all fine and good when there's nothing else doing in one's life and no prospect of that lonely idleness coming to an end. Now, that situation is at last drawing to a close. A whole new set of possibilities for friendships, community engagement, and perhaps another crack at a serious relationship lie ahead of me. Any spare cash I might have can at last be far better directed. I have a chance to set down roots. That changes damned near everything other than my phone number and email address. I'll still keep on playing Dragon Tavern but only as a free player. As things are now, I'm within the top eighty players in Canada and second within my section of the different horoscope grouping in the game. I don't care overly whether I maintain that or not. There are other accessible games being worked on and other things to spend money on of far greater importance. I'll have a lot more to do in the days ahead. This is true even if I find the building devoid of new friends and find no way to further engage with my community. There'll be meals to cook, dishes to do, and my own place to keep clean. Just getting used to that will take me some time. I very much look forward to that. Having theorised for years about how I'd manage as a single man on ODSP, I'll finally get to put all that thought to the test. Although I would have much preferred a second crack at married life, an actual stab at batchelorhood will make for an interesting consolation prize.