Monday, May 30, 2011

Doomsday and Other Happennings

May 22:

Good incredibly early Monday morning. It's just after midnight but it's been a long while since I've felt such a sense of wholeness, hope and restoration. It'll be a while before I turn in despite yesterday's early morning intentional venture from bed. But I'll get to that in due course. There's so very much I ought to blog about.

When last I posted, I was about to go for a TV interview for a new show starting this Fall on the Accessible Channel. Nothing about it went as expected but it was still a very interesting experience. The transportation company hired to pick me up was over an hour late. For me, it was quite a pleasant hour waiting outside during a period of sunshine amid some gloomy days. I met and chatted with some folks outside my building. getting to the studio, the pace picked up as people tried to adjust their timeline to fit my late arrival. A lady put some dry powder on my forehead and didn't seem to worry about the rest of my exposed skin. I guess I had thoughts of being covered in some sort of goo so this was a pleasant surprise. Next, it was into what seemed an overly large studio with acoustics which made it hard to hear my interviewer at times. Presumably, it looked good though. As things turned out though, there wasn't much time to cover the subject at all. I had planned on demonstrating at least a couple of PC games followed by Stem stumper on the iPHONE. Things moved far too rapidly with too much time taken away by the introduction to show and studio. Pong is a great starting game but a very underwelming example of how advanced these games have become over the years. I just hope they provide the links people will need to find out more on their own initiative. There's so much story and fascinating history after nearly fifteen years of audio games but they simply don't offer much eye candy for the lumination dependent. A good radio documentary would do more for us I think. I rode back in a limousine they sent, presumably as a way of making amends for the late trip in. The driver was interesting to chat with. This impressed me far more than some fancy car ever could. And thus ended my first appearance on TV in a very long while.

As predicted, things sort of settled down after that. I say sort of because there was, of course, Mr. Camping's prediction that Judgement Day would fall on Saturday. This man and his organization has come from the fringes and somehow gotten an extraordinary amount of attention. His prediction is the first supernatural doomsday scenario which I've been old enough to consciously observe. I have no memory at all of his 1994 prediction invading my social surroundings at all. Things were very different this time. Everyone was talking about it as well as the people who went to such effort to tell the world that it was about to end.

I have somewhere around 120 followers on Twitter. They're either people I've come to know and respect due to their online efforts or people who seem to think I'm worthy of following for whatever reason. The rapture just kept coming up. None of them really bought it. Many saw it as a perfect example of why we'd be altogether better off without religion. There were endless snarky quips and questions. God won't be judging us on the 21st, Mr. Camping, but on the 22nd, we'll all be judging you. Would god remember to clean up his mess taking the bodies of those raptured up to heaven, or would the rest of us be stuck burying them while dealing with everything else? What time zone was God in again? I couldn't get through a day without someone who knew of my faith asking me weather I really thought the day of reckoning was upon us. I didn't for a moment, but it's strange how much these things unleash even in the sceptical.

It was all supposed to begin in New Zealand at precisely 2 AM Eastern time on Saturday morning or the dreaded 6 PM their time. And where was I when that very first hour of doom fell? I could have quite easily been asleep despite every intention not to be. Meaning to catch the start of Jonathan Mosen's Rapturous Explosion at 1 AM, I thought I'd snatch a couple hours of sleep first. I awoke at around 1:35 AM and was in full virtual attendance before 1:40. Cutting it somewhat closer than I intended but I made it to his virtual non-rapture party. Being agnostic, Mr. Mosen has got to be one of the most respectful people of the beliefs of others Who I've ever encountered. He's a family man who has let all of us follow his journey, come to know his wonderful second wife and children, and genuinely cares about others. He's one of the people in the world who help shape my belief in a kind, merciful and loving God who must surely have a better and more just judgement and end planned for us than what Mr. Camping predicted. I believe that I, as a believer, am saved and will live on in Heaven. If I'm to enjoy my eternal life, it's pretty much imperative that God deals with those good people who don't believe in him fairly. Should he fail to do that, people of conscience like me are going to have extreme difficulty deriving any enjoyment from existence. I don't for a moment believe that all good and deserving people will come to believe in Christ before they reach the end of their lives on Earth. If Doubting Thomas was able to touch him in order to believe, I have to think that God will provide similarly for those whose hearts are in the right place before passing judgement. Beyond the whole "no man shall know the hour" thing in Matthew which instantly gave me a gut level sense that Mr. Camping was just irretrievably off the mark, the utter lack of mercy during his envisioned sequence of world ending events struck me as preposterous. I knew that Mr. Mosen and company would have a fun time with this. Jonathan has been editing sounds, podcasts and shows for years now and the possibilities of what he might do for such an occasion as this were endless. I wanted to catch it all live and participate if I could. How far would he go in the interests of fun? Would fun win out over respectfulness? Might he pretend to be God, or when the time came, try to scare everyone via a well-executed audio mini disaster epic?

Many of my expectations in life have never been realized. This is especially the case in the areas of friendship and love. I have a number of very good friends but most of them are too busy, far away, or both to do a whole lot of regular hanging out with or wouldn't be all that interested in, for instance, going to a festival or other events which I'd have liked to experience. I've remarked on more than one occasion that I don't have many guests at all in the apartment. Also, there's no real place to go where you can just spend time conversing with people without there being other expectations or activities attached. In short, I have yet to really find my in-crowd to live life to the fullest with. That process has certainly slowly begun to happen here. I have some real hope of being in the social position I thought I'd occupy by the time I turned thirty when I hit forty. However, for the present, the closest thing to such a hangout and in-crowd that I've managed to find is being on Twitter while tuned into a show on Mushroom FM. Through listening to shows on this wonderful internet radio station while tweeting with the hosts and other community members, you eventually build a surprising sense of connection. It's a slow process as trivial or funny observations, brief commentaries, and bits of their lives build up like dust in the mind. Eventually, you're surprised by just how much you've come to care about the authors of tweets you've read. Not nearly as vivid or constructive as what you have with people you get together with, it's nevertheless a whole lot more worth-while than one might expect. Agreeing to share brief thoughts over a continual expanse of time builds a different sort of friendship. A year ago, I would have felt utterly cheated once again passing through yet another historic moment entirely alone. However, at some point around last November, things changed. Somehow the self I once was who could find a level of contentment in his circumstances and the bright side in everything was restored to me. In a very real way, I wasn't alone this time around. My apartment might be as empty of people as ever, but I nevertheless had a very real sense of participation with others on my Twitter list who were tuned in and listening. Jonathan and company provided the ambience and event while all of us could tweet in and thereby be a part of it.

Meka, a long-time listener from the US and talented would-be singer, wrote in to say how much she'd miss Jonathan and Julia and how good it was to have known them. Peggy, another American, joked that she was listening to hear Jonathan "get what was coming to him" with a to show she meant it jokingly. Another believer, Ray, expressed the hope that there be beer in Heaven. With the poise and wit we all love him for, Jonathan quickly shot back that Jesus had made wine before so he might be in luck on that score. There were the song requests for REM's End of the World as We Know it, Final Countdown, and Tom Lehrer's We'll all go Together When We Go which spoke volumes of those requesting them. Jonathan's wife Julia was present for part of the show after she had finished preparing a dinner of roast duck. Jonathan remarked during the show that he wasn't certain whether or not Julia would be raptured but that at least dinner was in the oven. Not knowing him, one might easily take that for a dreadfully chauvinistic remark. However, anybody who had listened to either of them for any length of time could only laugh and marvel at the deep abiding love those two have found. The quips and jokes flew thick and fast. A fellow show host in Australia hoped that two believers weren't flying the same airplane because that could get rather dicey.
Considering the whole Noah thing, wouldn't pets get raptured? Where does 2012 come in? Wasn't the world supposed to end then?

One thing that was unleashed in a lot of my followers and I over the past days was a great deal of reflection on our lives. No matter how sceptical we were that they'd soon be over, there were countless tweeted or blogged about moments of that. People glad to have found love, to have lived well, etc. A whole lot of us, myself included, couldn't help but count our blessings publicly. If any good came out of the efforts of Mr. Camping and his followers, I think that kind of thankfulness for what we've had was at least something positive.

Jonathan played All you Need is Love by the Beetles as his "last" song. The countdown came and seemed to fly past exceedingly quickly. As time was pulled out from under me like a magician's tablecloth, I experienced such a crowd of thoughts as to defy description. It couldn't be true, could it? I thought of all the friends I had known and briefly wondered whether any would make it into Mr. Camping's estimated 300 million lucky souls. I was thankful for all the wonderful podcasts, documentaries and shows which had given me so much food for thought over so many lonely days here. I may not have done as much in the world as I'd have liked to but there have been so many interesting trips of the mind. There was regret that I had been unable to find a special lady to have married and possibly shared the moment with. As usual, there was just furniture; The chair and desk which had served me quite well for years, the new Imac computer I was still just getting to know, the recently purchased keyboard my hands were poised on allowing me what human connection I had found at what just might be the end of everything. There were so many snippets of current history both personal and global sweeping through my mind. As I thought of my church, family, the events in space and on Earth, it just seemed so preposterous that it could all be swept away like garbage by any sort of loving God. Earlier in the week, Winamp had picked out Pop Goes the World by Men Without Hats. Hearing the song, I couldn't help but imagine Patrick Stuart, in his Captain Picard voice saying: "Oh the world won't end with a bang. Not even a whimper. Just a playful pop." As it had the first time, that thought forced me into a state of good cheer. And then, at last, the moment arrived. There was an awful stretch of time, a ghastly moment of inevitable dreadful uncertainty. We humans must be hard-wired to accept ideas as true at a subconscious primal level. I had dismissed all of Mr. Camping's thinking as bunk since I first heard of it, but for one brief moment, there was a gap in time where it all seemed plausible. I found myself bracing for some sort of impact and feeling surprisingly light and free of past regret. Even as I sadly contemplated all the good friends I'd never see again and hopes which would never be realized, there was a sense that I had given my best and gotten more than many for my troubles. Were things to actually wind down, I'd have felt robbed of whatever the future holds for me here on Earth. I wasn't the only one to experience that horrid moment of uncertainty. Many people tweeted in a similar sense of surprising relief that nothing had happened. Even Jonathan, as sceptical as he was, admitted to a moment's tention and surprising relief when it became evident that Mr. Camping was off the mark with his timing at the very least. Jonathan and company started to party in earnest now. "It looks like Judgement Day waits for another day. And what better cause for a global party is there? he said as Elton John's Still Standing came on the air.

Considering the sound editing skill this man had at his disposal, we Christians have been shown a good deal of grace by this man. He's a living example of why I'm so careful to keep a guard up when it comes to my religious beliefs. It can do a lot of good provided one doesn't go overboard and start trying to do God's judgement job for him. Sadly, even after such thoughts, that's easier said than done as I would learn not even two days later.

Saturday and Sunday were terrific. I enjoyed a wonderful brunch on my balcony sitting on one of my two new comfortable sling back chairs. The only slight downer was having run out of salsa for my scrambled eggs. I couldn't help thinking that had I been among the far too select group of Christians to have been raptured, I would have lessened the ability of looters who broke into my apartment to enjoy any of the eggs which had yet to go rotten. They'd have to do what I did and use garlic and spice instead. As they say these days, "Oops! My bad." Other than that, I believe I'd have left them in reasonably good shape food-wise. I enjoyed that days' Bear's Lair on Mushroom FM out on the balcony while slowly sipping at a margarita on ice. A cool gentle breeze blew in over the rail. I've spent many long excruciating hours wishing I weren't alone. However, the solitary life does have its sublime moments. One couldn't help but feel renewed living in time that, if only for a brief instance, had been uncertain. This was definitely one of them. After the show, I went out and walked around the lake a few times. I had several conversations and met a woman who was actually named Me. I'm not certain of the right spelling but that's how she said it. Never encountered someone with that name before. Hopefully, I can eventually get to know her further. As the dreaded hour of six o'clock arrived in Ontario, I was at home eating dinner with my parents. We had a good meal, caught some of the news, and then I went to work on dad's laptop. It uses XP Pro and when Microsoft Security Essentials refused to install on it, I thankfully found that Avast would work on his machine. It's a very slow old thing and I'm convinced there's stuff running on it that, being retired, he no longer needs. However, I have no idea what he could remove which would speed things up. He doesn't seem to mind at all. It took quite a while to get things sorted out.

Sunday started with a church service. When Pastor Sam asked us whether we had attended any rapture parties, I hesitantly started to raise my hand while thinking that "Sort of..." might have been the best answer there. Mark and Wendy came over to go out for dinner and Joseph was able to join us. I wanted these three to meet for some time now. As I thought would be the case, we all had a good time. Joseph knew of a burger place called Five Guys that the other three of us had yet to try so we'll hopefully do that eventually. Symposium Cafe got our business that evening. I should have done an audioboo while we were all there. Didn't have it ready to go like I should have. My three guests having left after a stroll around the lake, I decided to get my Trekker Breeze and go back out alone to do something I've waited to do all year.

Long-time readers of this blog may remember the keen sense of frustration I felt last year when I couldn't even find my way out onto the path around the lake near my building to join others during fireworks. I remember sitting on my balcony after at last giving up trying hearing how close the explosions and people enjoying them were but being completely unable to reach them. I've spent the majority of my life basically at the mercy of the willingness of others to attend such events with me. Although I prefer going to activities with people, the confinement of not being able to move around and go where I'd like to on my own terms has at times been very hard to live with. Unless you've been similarly limited in some way, I doubt you could comprehend the effect this has on one's life. This year, at long last, I succeeded in joining the people enjoying the fireworks set off near the lake by my building. It was absolutely wonderful to spend a couple of hours appreciating the sounds and warm weather, walking around in complete confidence of being able to return home, and most importantly, being with people with time and inclination to talk. There were a number of curious kids with questions I was happy to answer. I also met some adults who seemed around my age doing precisely what I was. It felt profoundly good to at last be in this position knowing that even if nothing else ever changed in my life here, there would at least be other such evenings to look forward to. I don't know if I'll encounter the people I met again, but there's at least a little hope on that score. I haven't felt such a sense of triumph, of being part of a community without owing my being present to another person's kindness before. I could hang out as long as I liked, drift around with the crowd, and head back without anybody's help. As things turned out, I did take a wrong turn and get briefly lost on the way back to my apartment. People had largely dispursed by this point so there wasn't anybody immediately there to ask directions of. I had brought my iPHONE on the off chance that I got into some sort of real trouble. However, using the new capability for the Trekker Breeze to route to landmarks, I was able to select one and so get directions back onto the proper pathway. I then set the Breeze to track in on the park entrance of my complex which lead up from the path around the lake. It was a simple matter to find my way back to the building with my wrong turn and recovery merely adding to my sense of long-awaited victory. Here's hoping it doesn't prove to be an overly wet summer this year. Wouldn't that just suck? FTo finally be somewhere I know how to get around only to be stuck indoors? Could happen that way I guess.

Upon getting home, I set up my netbook on the balcony for a while in order to start off this blog entry. However, I soon discovered that there seemed to be bugs out there and that it was starting to cool off. My netbook wasn't on all that long. However, a worm had managed to slip past my defences and access my email address information. It sent many spam messages without my being aware of the problem until I was alerted by people on my Twitter list. Thanks to them, I was able to quickly change my Gmail password preventing the worm from sending more emails. The next day, I set about eliminating the problem using Microsoft Security Essentials. I performed two full scans. They each took around three hours. I did the first one while the netbook was offline to prevent any possibility of spreading further harm. Thankfully, Security Essentials was able to detect and eliminate the problem. I then went online to get any unreceived updates for Windows in general and specifically for Microsoft Security Essentials. Once these were obtained, I took the computer back offline and did a second full scan. Six hours is a long time to wait and a long time for my netbook to be working at full throttle. I don't believe I've ever felt the thing while it was so hot. The fan inside truly got a workout. At last, the scan was done. No threats were detected this time. I've had no reports since of any further spam emails from my account being received by anybody. Remember when I said we should back away from being so willing to judge others? Well, I had a relapse on that score. Before I even really thought about what I was typing, I tweeted "If they rounded up all malware creators and spammers, they could make very good use of a low-yield nuke." In retrospect, this does strike me as perhaps a tad harsh and hasty. I've always tried to be as trust-worthy as possible particularly online. I treet my online identity as seriously as my offline one. They're the same thing and I try to take responsability for whatever is posted online in my name. People who undermine my identity by impersonating me in order to turn a profit will, I hope, get their punnishment. However, perhaps, a low-yield nuke would be a tad too drastic for God's liking. In some parts of the world, people are forced into criminal acts in order to survive or feed their children and one can sympathise after the initial anger of victimhood fades away. As Sandra, a church friend of mine said once, they're all victims too in one way or another. One has to let go and let God. Like I said before, that's a process easier recommended than followed. The human tendency is to lash out in defensiveness and vengefulness.

Helping my friend Joseph move into his new condo was unfortunately another exercise more in frustration than in heavy lifting. For most of the time, there were only three of us. One other man came forward to help when Joseph asked during the church service. However, he was only there for a brief time. Had there been even one more person from the beginning, things may have gone differently for me. As it was, I ended up spending most of the time standing around while the other two moved things. If people just take the twenty seconds needed to explain what they need me to do, I'm perfectly able to lift and even walk backwards while someone tells me where and when to turn. I felt exactly as I did when helping John and Sandy get his computer desk set up. Sandy and I were basically left to converse while John, a kindly octogenarian, put the desk together by himself. Words of explanation are all that are needed to make use of my brain and body. Sadly, it seems like sighted folks would rather spend time recovering from over-strained muscles or backs than take the much shorter time needed to make better use of me. To be ready, willing and able to help but rendered unable to safely do so for a lack of communication is exceedingly frustrating for me. I was eventually taken back home in time to go to the Dam as usual feeling like I could have done much more with the morning. There's nothing for it but to keep putting myself out there and hope that circumstances allow my gifts to be better recognised and put to use.

May 30:

It's now a week later. For a while there, nobody knew what Mr. Camping would do since his prediction had failed to happen. Speculation ranged from him having blown himself away rather than face his disappointed angry followers to all manner of other possibilities regarding what he might come out with next. Like it or not, he's still stuck on the planet with the rest of us. Eventually, Mr. Camping did what a lot of people likely expected him to do. I had held some faint hope that he would come to his senses and admit he was in error. Perhaps then, he would walk away from what the bible clearly says is an impossible task from the start and turn his long years of study to something more benneficial. No such luck though. We're now T minus 5 months and counting. The world will end, acording to Mr. Camping, on October 21. Couldn't he just wait until some time in November letting all the kids enjoy Haloween? There's also the matter of my birthday on October 29th. Come on, God. Hold those horsemen a while, will you? What happens when that date passes by with no drastic events whatsoever? I guess then, he could go for December 21, 2012 and grasp at the straws of the Mayans he has previously laughed at so much. Are there any doomsday predictions after that date? I don't believe I've heard of any at all past 2012. I guess there must be but they haven't caught on culturally at all.

It has certainly been fascinating to have experienced one of these supernaturally based predictions. The whole 2000 world-end stuff always struck me as being more about our ability to wipe ourselves out so I don't really count it as being a widely held supernatural doomsday scenario. The buildup to it had a very different feel than did Mr. Camping's date of reckonning. I pitty his followers who he managed to string along this far and are now prepared to follow him for yet another half-year. His prediction has completely ruined a whole lot of lives. I think of the children caught up in their parents' misplaced zeal. How many families have had their well-earned prosparity erased through a misguided attempt to do God's work? There are countless ramifications. For how many people will Mr. Camping's prediction prove to be the final nail in the coffin of former faith in a loving and merciful God? How many families have been needlessly divided by hurtful remarks and worse as people dealt with this sudden call of "Time's up!"? There's not much one can do to counter the effects of extremists among one's faith. I have an idea how the Muslims must feel as the actions of a very small number of Mohamed's followers get all the attention leaving moderate sensible people to be painted with the same harsh brush of damnation. For my part, I'll continue doing what I've always done; simply try to enjoy the good in God's world as much as I can while attempting to increase it for as many people as I can. In the final annalysis, that's all we can do; show the world through our own conduct, words and actions that we're not all like that. I have a lot of blessings in life. I have a comfortable apartment in an area that I'm finally starting to feel very familiar with. I still take the odd wrong turn but for the first time ever, I can actually imagine a day where I'll be so familiar with my surroundings as not to even have to think about them. Travelling around won't be the act of heavy concentration that it usually is for me. Starvation, freezing to death, and running completely out of money aren't concerns for me unless I did something incredibly foolish. I suppose anything is theoretically possible. It's hard to actually save up money especially with the odd unexpected expense or opportunity popping up. Grocery costs have gone up more than I expected. However, I can still hold my own fairly nicely. I've found a purpose and direction in life through my writing, recorrding events in this blog, and being where I can be of use to others. Unlike many families, my own is very supportive of me. Life on ODSP is so much harder for people without that advantage. I think of the kids at The Dam and hope that God sees fit to help them and their families maintain as healthy relationships as possible. When real life takes the stuffing out of you and crushes your hopes and dreams, it's been my family and some very good friends who have been there to help me pick up the pieces and cary on.

I've gotten up much later than intended after taking my sleeping aid of choice in the small hours being unable to drift off. I believe I'm skirting the edge of insomnia again and will take appropriate defensive measures. Thankfully, there's a lot going on this week. That tends to help. Also, June seems to be shaping up as a busy month overall. I have Minney coming over on thursday for computer assistance and a visit. It'll be good to see her again. There's the Dam tomorrow afternoon. The multiethnic conference covers the tenth through twelfth. The weekend after that, it appears I'll be camping with Ron and his crew of friends. That takes me right past the middle of the month and leaves me looking forward to Canada Day and my week away at Lake Jo. I'm very appreciative of how time just isn't dragging slowly along any more in my life. One or two days in a row with absolutely nothing happening can still be tougher to slog through especially on weekends. Periods where it rains often are becoming more oppressive for me. There have been a number of rainy days and I've noticed that they make me feel more gloomy than they did in earlier years. Whether it's an age-related thing or simply a reaction to having found more freedom outdoors and having that freedom eliminated by rain, or just being more sensitive to dampness in the air, I don't know.

Yesterday, I went to my youngest niece Alleah's christenning. She was very good during the service but people applauded after the baptism and I think that scared her a bit. The service stirred some old memories as it was very similar in ritual and form to what I remember growing up in an Anglican church. I don't believe I could ever go back to attending that kind of services again regularly. Too ritualistic, one was left with the feeling that if one didn't jump through X, Y, and Z hoops, you weren't a proper part of God's kingdom. My faith and innate sense of what's right tells me that the ongoing friendship between oneself and God is far more important. All that ritualistic back-and-forth just doesn't square with what worship is all about for me. Given my own period of wandering and then returning to faith in God, I trust that this will guard and keep her until she's truly ready to decide for herself, as I have, what she believes.

Staring someone's doomsday prediction in the teeth truly makes one conscious of God's gift to us of time. We still have time to wander, explore, live life as fully as our circumstances permit, and find our best potential. There's thankfully still time for us to enjoy what we have and to hope for still more opportunities to add to the richness and scope of our lives. One of these has come upon me this week. I had an excellent conversation with a man named Ryan Strunk. He's a programmer and long-time admirer of an old project I haven't thought much of in damned near a decade. It was a game called Sparkle. He believes he can program it into an audio arcade game, the very thing I had originally envisionned it as. It'll be a very long slow project. Both of us have other things on our plate. Having a game idea of mine actually programmed and playable has been a dream since childhood. It also gives me motivation to start tinkering with Goldwave and my large sound effects collection again. The experience I gain in sound combining and editing will serve me well years down the road when Enchantment's Twilight reaches a point in its development.One way or another, this Summer isn't going to be nearly as much of a creativity washout that last summer was. There's a whole lot more scope for hope on the social front. There'll be a lot more casual conversations with different people as I take greater advantage of the lake environment and perhaps the odd stop in Symposium Cafe for a meal or refreshing fruit smoothey or perhaps something stronger. Ideas are starting to emerge for Enchantment's Twilight. Nothing huge yet, but I'm just grateful it's moving at all at this stage. It adds to the sense that there are possibilities.

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