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.