Tuesday, October 18, 2011

And Then There Was One

Hello everyone. As I begin this doubtless long entry, it's monday morning. It's been an interesting and mainly pleasant last while. This is despite my decision to break off my relationship with Janet last night. That wasn't pleasant at all but could have gone far worse considering my complete inexperience in being the one to decide to end a relationship. It simply became more obvious as we continued to talk via Skype that she just wasn't the right match for me. I found that our conversations were getting shorter and shorter. I thought I could live with that in a partner but have come to realize that this is one area where I frankly can't compromise in as much as I thought I could. When you have more substantial conversations with even newly found friends than you do with a significant other, it's definitely a warning sign of dissatisfaction down the road. Over the past while, the glow of at last finding someone who was actually interested in me was increasingly overridden by doubts about our suitability for each other. Actually going to see each other would be prohibitively expensive given our similar financial situations. One of the real dangers of such long distance relationships is that over time, the chemistry just fades away. I've experienced all of that now. While I could have hung in there out of the thinking that I might never find a more ideal partner, this would have been dishonest of me. I no longer felt love for her above the esteem and affection I have for a good friend and had to set things right. I've been passed up by enough people to know precisely how painful it can be.

This is the first time that I've been the one to break off a relationship. Both Rebecca and Janene decided that they no longer wished to be with me. I can't say that it's a very enjoyable experience being a dumper. One has to face some pretty ugly truths about the limits of lasting worldly love. I thought myself capable of living happily with pretty much anybody who truly loved and respected me. That just isn't the case though. Whoever I end up with simply has to have good conversation and communication skills and also share some similar interests or there just isn't going to be enough common experience to keep things going. She took it remarkably well. I think she had the sense that things had changed. For all my intelligence, I had absolutely no inkling that Janene was about to ditch me like she did that Easter Monday which feels like forever ago now. It looks like Janet and I will remain friends while each of us looks for a relationship to pursue hopefully somewhat closer to home as well as to the kind of partner we're each best suited for. Because she's approached her life in much the same manner in terms of values, she has built up a real place for herself in her community much as I've at last begun to here. She has become a very welcome, reliable and needed friend to many people there. It just doesn't feel right asking her to step away from all that before life circumstances otherwise force her to move on. This is particularly true in the case of her best friend Lori. Janet adds tremendously to the scope and possibilities of her life. She's quite a bit more child-like than Janet in terms of mental capability and must also come to terms with losing her sight. In both her and Janet's case, I find it far too easy to take a kind of friendly stance which veered dangerously toward the more fatherly stance Gandalf had towards the hobbits. Perhaps, that's what Janet wants or even needs in a partner. That's for her to determine. For me, it's very important that I'm with a lady who doesn't evoke such feelings. We've got to be equals. Unfortunately, when it comes to intelligence, I'm faced with the reality that most women I'd take an interest in simply wouldn't be interested in me. Most of them anywhere near my age are already spoken for or are hooked too deeply into our society's need for material wealth to even give five minutes to a permanently unemployed guy on an overly ambitious creative quest. While I could now at least offer a safe and secure home to a life partner who's in a similar financial situation to mine, that's all I can bring to the table outside of my own reasonable outlook, optimism, patience, easygoing nature and good character. These assets have certainly gained me a number of good friends and despite everything, I still find myself hopeful of eventually finding someone who proves to be a better fit for me and wants to take things further. There are plenty of other circumstances which place people on ODSP or outside what passes for normal life. Certainly, I've met people with other mental deficiencies whose ability to converse and basic good cheer were unimpaired. However, especially if I'm going to do the long-distance relationship thing again, it's pretty vital that conversations be stimulating and that we have more common ground regarding interests than I did with Janet. Sadly, a similar moral outlook and religion just isn't enough. It sounds so damned shamefully elitist, but it is nonetheless true for me.

I guess I've come away from this knowing more about my own real desires for a life partner as well as my own limitations when it comes to what I'd be willing to settle for. Good conversation is more of a must for me than I thought. Having been dumped twice, I've never really looked at that aspect of myself so clearly before. Like everyone else, I too have hopes and dreams that I'm unwilling to part with. It's an ugly truth to find that someone who you like, respect and admire lacks what your sustained worldly love requires. At last, I believe I can truly better forgive Janene for walking away from our engagement. Was it the prospect of having to earn all the income unless or until I came up with something creative which I could sell? Was it all the art she did which I would never see and could therefore not appreciate? I guess I'll never know. Whatever it was, I now have a greater understanding of the pain she went through even as she utterly devastated me to the point where I nearly attempted suicide. We took things too far to avoid that indescribable pain. Thankfully, due to that distance between Janet and I, neither of us were hurt badly. Both of our lives have been pleasantly added to. I needed and craved that sense of being wanted by a woman as more than a friend, of no longer being alone in life in that way. Through finding Janet, I've come to better appreciate the friends I have who now include her. Paradoxically, despite this experience clearly showing that my range of possibilities for stable life partnership is more constrained by my own requirements than I would have thought, I find that I have more hope of eventually finding a better match. I at least have the fortitude and sense to act if things don't feel right. Janet has proved to me that there actually are women out there who might find me worth exploring possibilities with. I'm not quite in a completely hopeless situation. Realistically though, I know my wait will most likely be a long one. Until a woman who meets my criteria comes along though, I simply have to keep hopeful, happy and patient. I'm also comforted that I haven't become so jaded that I'm completely beyond being swept into something. I'm still human after all. Exploring love's possibilities always comes with a cost. Compared to my last two serious relationships, I've gotten off remarkably lightly this time. I hope Janet eventually finds someone who has the resources and approach to give her a good and happy life companionship. I of all people know well the frustration of being overlooked due to a disability. The temptation to jump at any opportunity for love no matter how unsuitable or likely to last can probably only be understood by people in a similar situation.

For the record, here are my current known criteria for an ideal life partner:
1. She must be able to engage in deep and meaningful conversation. Words and ideas are at the very core of my life and my significant other needs to have the ability to communicate and explore such things at least as much as my friends do. She needs to be able to communicate her thoughts and argue her case well enough so I don't feel in danger of railroading her thinking. I don't care particularly that she have a formal education equivalent to my own. I've frankly met secondary school dropouts who have taught themselves as much or more than some of us with degrees have ever learned about the nature of real life. The desire and capability to explore ideas and discuss rationally are what I'm after here.

2. Over the years, my faith has become more a part of life. I don't think I could entertain the possibility of marrying someone who doesn't share at least a healthy respect for my religious convictions. I'd very much prefer to find someone who would enjoy going to church together as a couple. It's become an important enough part of my own life that I'd like to share it. It should be something which draws us closer rather than separates us. That blocks not only non-Christians who want no part of church, but also blocks the more extreme kinds of Christians who think poorly of all non-believers, reject modern life utterly, frown on anything not mentioned in the bible, jump to idiotic conclusions about modern culture/art, or think the world's nearly at an end and it's about damned time too. I try to find the good in games, movies, music, people, and life in general and want a lady who will enjoy these things with me. It's still not completely outside the realm of possibility that I would come to love and marry someone of a different faith or an agnostic. After all, had Rebecca not fallen in love with me despite my agnosticism at the time, I wouldn't likely be a Christian today. All things being equal though, I would far rather find someone of similar core beliefs.

3. She should fit in well with family and friends. A serious relationship is a package deal. There's no getting around that. I need to find someone who can partake in activities and get along with my family and friends. Someone who feels uncomfortable or begrudges having to go to family functions ought to look elsewhere for companionship. Mine have supported me through a lot of the worst times in my life. I simply won't hook up with someone who has no use or respect for them. While it's still possible that I might be convinced by a partner to move away to somewhere new, I'd really have to be sold on the idea. If we did, my friends would have to be welcome to visit and I'd expect us to go from time to time to visit them as economics and life reasonably permitted. People get into all kinds of trouble when they allow someone else to remove them from their support network and cut them off. I would never do that to a life partner and won't allow that to happen to me.

4. She must be able to respect how I've lived my life. Instead of banging my head on the brick wall barring job access for people with my disability and particular gifts, I've chosen to take advantage of the economic security and place society has offered me. Were the opportunity presented to me, I would cheerfully work for my living. However, despite sustained attempts supported by a government agency, I simply can't find my way into the labour force. I've therefore made my peace with that reality to the best of my ability and chosen to find alternate means for contributing to the good of others while still enjoying life and keeping cheerful. It hasn't been a short or easy journey. Should my circumstances change dramatically, I would absolutely be willing to work in order to support a married life, help keep a business run by a spouse afloat, etc. Under these rules and circumstances, however, I've figured out that I'll end up feeling far happier, contributing more, and feeling more productive doing what I'm doing. Should opportunities come up, I'd cheerfully volunteer three days a week just to be more a part of the community and feel more productive. Just get me there and back safely. If you can't get your head around that and respect my voluntary efforts to contribute to a society which can't see its way to rewarding me financially, you have no business getting serious with me. Respect has to be a two-way thing right from the start. I've got a hard-working family plus a lot of fully employed friends who have managed to make that leap. I'll stand for nothing less from a potential partner. Rebecca had no respect for what I did voluntarily and thought I should do nothing productive or contributive towards society if I wasn't going to get paid for it. I'll never stand for such a situation again. We're not going to last long if you can't see beyond the world of dollars and cents. Even if I at last find a way into the labour force through some miracle or other, I don't plan on turning away from the projects I've started.

5. I've learned what happens when you put all your eggs in one basket. I did that too much with Janene thinking that we'd be starting life together in a new place and everything would therefore be different. I would have gone with her absolutely anywhere and had no reason at all not to fully trust her. My friends and family were ready and committed to supporting her also and were as shocked as I when she suddenly pulled my less lonely future out from beneath me. None of those people have a true sense of what that put me through despite their best intentions and efforts. I intend to make certain that from now on, there's always enough of life not dependent on a relationship that I never go through such a long vicious downward slide again. That was just too painful and doubtless more rough on those closest to me than I fully realize. In other words, there's going to be more to my life than our relationship. Deal with it or get lost.

6. She needs to have a basically optimistic and cheerful appreciation of life and of people in general. Five years is long enough to have spent walking on eggshells and doing damage control. One thing I really admire about Janet was such a positive attitude despite the rejection she has faced in life. It really hurts me to now have to count myself as part of that rejection. However, if she didn't have that basically cheerful good attitude, I never would have explored more serious possibilities with her in the first place. Especially when you live on something like disability support, the benefits of such a fair-minded, level, patient and positive approach to people are incalculable. People who focus all their energy on society's shortcomings and discount their blessings aren't doing any of us any favours. I'm no longer a member of the ODSP Fireside list. It has some very useful information and clear-headded considerate people on it. However, far too many of its members simply spend all their time bitching and complaining. I can't be part of a group stacked so heavily in that direction and refuse utterly to be with a partner who can't find reason for happiness in life. Don't get me wrong. There are days when I'm angry and plenty of reasons for anger and bitterness in this crazy world. However, spending all your time angry just pushes people away from you and eats you up inside. I've been as far down that particular road to destruction as I ever want to go. An ideal woman for me must be able to see the bright side of life most of the time.

7. She needs to enjoy touching and physical affection. That's certainly something I want to experience from a lover again in life at some point. I saved it for last because it's only really meaningful after the rest of my criteria have been established and we've built up the appropriate level of trust, respect and genuine love we can have confidence is going to last. I'd rather have no relationship at all than go through another one which simply can't last due to improper construction. I was quite willing to go through the rest of life without sex had the rest of Rebecca and my marriage been at all salvageable. I felt that this was a part of honouring the commitment I had made. Even in marriage, sex should never be considered an absolute right. That kind of intimacy is a precious gift. Personal space should always be respected. However, if you don't appreciate physical affection, you really ought not to fall in love with a blind man to begin with.

That covers the basics pretty well I think. There's certainly a little wiggle room on these but not a whole lot. Due to the happiness I've found here over the past while, I'm strong enough to get out of what isn't working for me. Hopefully, I'm also strong and kindly enough to do so without hurting anybody too badly. I'd really prefer it if my own happiness in a relationship didn't come at someone else's expense. It should be all about building up hope and possibility for each other and for those whose lives intersect ours. Perhaps, in this self-centred world, that makes me too much of an idealist. I've heard it all before. I just can't make myself believe that this is such a fallen world that quantity is the only way to go in the love department. Women are simply worth more respect than that. Even if that weren't the case, our consciences, our very souls are worth infinitely more respect than that. I dearly hope and wish to find a life partner who I can experience stable growing married love with. Not, however, at any cost. For me, there are things I won't stoop to and things I refuse to give up. If that condemns me to singledom from here on out, so be it. Thankfully, God has blessed me with the ability to patiently hope that this isn't the case. I'll keep open to realistic possibilities. I'm making new connections and new friends these days. There's a whole lot more cause for hope than before this Summer.

This Autumn hasn't been devoid of activity either. I've had a remarkable Thanksgiving weekend. On Saturday, I was contacted about a text book for game designers which I had bought and found to be largely inaccessible due to restrictions placed on the pdf file. To my surprise, the author himself contacted me. It was terrific to hear from him. He was very encouraging. Through his efforts, I obtained a copy of the book which I'm able to easily move through and read. Nothing forced him to go to bat for me, a complete stranger. However, he found enough kindness and faith in me to do so. I've plunged into his book a fair way since then and dearly wish it had been one of the first ones I came across. It's great in that it provides a good overall order in which to do things. I've never really had that and will benefit in many ways from his experience and thoughtfulness. Anybody who is seriously planning to design a game would do well to get Fundamentals of Game Design 2nd edition by Ernest Adams. It's geared towards computer and video games but what he says easily applies to other kinds of games including what I'm trying to create. The other very helpful book was one I found on www.audible.com called Reality is Broken Why Games Make us Better and How They can Change the World by Jane McGonigal. The psychological in sites she provides will serve my project quite well also. I have a whole lot to read, learn, and think about over this Winter. I also have a somewhat better sense of the scope of what I'm trying to do. Even the design document and process is going to take at least another year and possibly two. It's so important to get things nailed down before you go much further.

There have been other good times also. I attended a Thanksgiving party held by members of my church. Despite difficulties hearing due to my illness, it was still very enjoyable and added greatly to an altogether spectacular Thanksgiving weekend. Seeing the family was also fun. Everyone was in good spirits and the dinner was just wonderful. Occasions like that have a way of sticking nicely in your head.

I was also very pleased to have Reverend Chong drop in for a visit one morning. He was a part of the group that I went down to Grand Rapids Michigan with during the Summer for the multiethnic conference. It was great just having him over for a friendly chat in here before heading off to the Dam later that day.

It's Tuesday morning now. I've had a broken but apparently sufficient sleep. Saw the doctor last week and he seems to have hit on something helpful. He suggested I try saline solution sprayed into the nose to clear my stuffiness. Who'd have thunk that salt-water would be as helpful as it's been? Later on this week, I'll be fasting and going in for standard blood work. Everyone says I should lose more than a few pounds. Guess this will be a start. There's also groceries to order and laundry to do. A nicely busy week to help life keep moving along after the breakup. King of Dragon Pass has proved to be every bit as marvellous as I could have hoped. I've already spent hours playing that game. What's more, they're still updating and adding to it. Once some of the rougher aspects of Voiceover access have been polished in the next update, I'll have to try doing a Blindcooltech episode about the game. Meanwhile, I can thoroughly enjoy playing it as I engage in other aspects of life. More blind people are hearing about the game which pleases me no end. I hope the developers are getting lots of feedback.

Doubtless, more has happened over the past while which I have neglected to blog about. It seems a lady who found me on Audioboo is interested in getting to know me further. She goes by the nickname buschic and it seems to be very well earned. She doesn't tend to fit in with the blind community often having different and at times unwelcome opinions. I had a couple of short conversations with her. She seems nice if a little rough around the edges. She seems to be quite interested in me and is thankfully a whole lot closer than Janet was. I could actually see us getting together without going bankrupt. She can certainly carry on a good conversation. Apparently, she considers me cute of all confounded things. The older I get, the less applicable that word seems to me. Given what I've just been through though, whatever happens will take its own time. I've made that pretty clear and she seems alright with that. She'll clearly make for an interesting friend with her radical opinions and justifiable anger considering even the fraction of her experience she has related to me. but whether she fits into the rest of life is a question to be explored slowly and with care. I tend to favour the patient diplomatic approach. She strikes me more as someone who'd charge into a situation and take no prisoners. Somewhat like my good friend Steve Murgaski in that respect. She's apparently spoken briefly to him on some occasions but doesn't know him that well. She makes no secret of her mental issues which at least speaks to her honesty. They're somewhat different than what I've had any experience with. While that at least means things would be different, it still tells me that caution is a good idea. Frankly though, it is damned refreshing to actually have a new lady to even contemplate getting to know. A pretty sharp change of pace from the usual months which stretch on and on between the occasional serious female interest I've experienced. Mustn't let it go to my head. Ah well. Life continues. I'll be off to the Dam pretty soon. Had a delicious brunch which turned out perfectly. No egg on the counter this time. I find that I very much look forward to finding out what the topic for the week's forum discussion after the dropin will be. So far, I've managed to contribute a little to the discussions. It at least makes me feel productive at the end of the day. Hopefully, the dropin will be more eventful for me than the last one was. More people seem to be coming which has raised the noise level considerably. Think I'll take my full set of gear including my portable speakers. If I'm going to be sitting around for hours, I may as well have the ghost of a chance of hearing what my netbook says in there. Who knows? Maybe, some of these new youngsters will have a bit of healthy curiosity. I can hope.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Drifting into Autumn

Hello everyone. I've been happily busy this past while. Lately, my sense of blogger's guilt is telling me that it's way past time for another entry. There's a lot to cover including a few events which could well have had their own blog entries had I gotten around to writing them. Summer is firmly behind now as I start writing this entry on the last day of September. The leaves are all over the ground now on the path around the lake. I know because I went to vote this morning with Shirley. She voted earlier but didn't mind taking me for a walk over. I hadn't realized that the advanced poling station was right in the community centre I walk past when going to the mall and the Dam. This time, I had my voting card and it was simplicity itself. No long lineups or anything. I've officially done my civic duty. Guess we'll see what befalls this fine province on Thursday evening, election day.

For the past while, I've been plagued by an annoying cough/cold. I thought it was allergy-related for quite a while but no longer believe that to be the case. A lot of other people are coughing away too so I guess something's going round and my number came up. I'm just glad I got to enjoy the rest of the Summer this time. Such a splendid remarkable Summer. There are times in your life when you really turn a kind of corner and know that the past while has changed your outlook permanently for the better. This Summer has really shown me that I have far more reason to be thankful, scope for engagement with others in my community, and more hope for social satisfaction in this world of frightfully busy people than I could have imagined before. As I wrote in an article just published in my church's newsletter, I've at last truly found home.

It's Sunday morning now. I've been awake through a whole lot more of it than I would have preferred. However, I'm feeling very good just now other than the somewhat degraded hearing this illness now seems bent on throwing at me. Not nearly so bad as last Summer's illness. Breakfast went far more smoothly today than it did yesterday. A nice muffin and some fresh pineapple proved far less troublesome than the eggs I spilled yesterday. It ought to be a pretty good Sunday. There's church, the Mosen Explosion, and probably a visit with the family later on.

I guess there's a whole lot of past weeks to cover. I intended to do a blog entry a whole lot sooner than this. The first major thing I should write something about was my Aunt Kay's 90th birthday party. That already seems like ages ago. There was quite a bit of driving to Sea forth and then Stratford. We first had a pleasant afternoon with Kay's friends and relatives who attended. It was good to chat with some of Kay's friends who I hadn't met before, and it's always nice to see the folks who have been an intermittent but integral part of my life for about as long as I can remember. I wish we weren't all so spread out. Aunt Kay seemed to enjoy the afternoon thoroughly. There were something like sixty people in attendance. At times like that, you get a real sense of just how wide and positive the impact of a life well lived can be. We then proceeded to Stratford where we enjoyed a catered dinner at the Queen's Arms Inn. The food was terrific. After dinner, some of us gave short speeches. I took a stab at it and quit before I got too emotional. The core of what I said bares repeating here. If there's one thing I'll always treasure that I've learned from Aunt Kay, it's a deep appreciation for rarely encountered often old things. She probably still has that wonderful room in her house where a child of pretty much any age would find some quaint old toy or game which they'd never have come across anywhere else in life. You never got the sense that the possibilities of finding something else of interest on a future visit had been exhausted. Through my writing and other efforts, I hope to pass on that sense of appreciation and wonder that so much of this generation seems to have lost. Even costly video games are now mainly designed to be won and then disposed of rather than kept and cherished. Not so in Aunt Kay's day. Not so for me either. I want people to hang onto my creations be they writing or game. I owe no small part of that resistance to the use it and lose it consumerism plaguing modern life to Aunt Kay and that room of wonders.

It was great seeing Neil and Cathy again. They don't visit that often at all so spending time with them was a lot of fun. After they left, my next big trip was out to Canada's Wonderland with a few friends I hadn't seen in pretty much a year. It was great to be back in the park again. Perhaps, I'll get a season's pass next year. I seem to know enough people who go there often that it would easily pay for itself over a summer. Even better was just catching up with the happenings in the lives of Shane, Crissie and Angel. We just hit it off like we did when they lived nearby and had a very good day together. Sadly, Shane must now deal with the reality of Crones disease which my mother has. He's just starting to blog about what he's been going through. I hope he finds that to be as helpful and therapeutic an outlet as I've found blogging to be. Check it out at:

I've also reconnected with Angela and Tony. Angela came out a couple of times, once to have lunch with Michelle, Gerry and I. She came a second time a week later so that I could update her Trekker Breeze for her. It's all up to snuff now with the latest software and maps. Nobody ever told her she should register it with Humanware to be notified of updates. I cringe at idiocy like that. Same goes for how Jerry didn't get an SMA with his Jaws purchase. If anybody needs things to be easy and up to date, it's someone like him. He doesn't have the technical skill to deal with the adversity he's going to needlessly have to over the next four years until he can get an upgrade. That presumes those who deal with him don't take advantage of his ignorance as has clearly happened this time. He's stuck with version 11 and should have been able to upgrade to 13 like Michelle and I will be. Michelle has the ongoing problem of her visual capability not being understood by people who deal with her. She has to bend very close to the monitor to see it and often can't see things like buttons in the middle of the screen. She notices a lot with her sight around a room or outdoors but this doesn't mean she can when things are close up and small. It's not that she isn't trying. She simply often can't. I've been surprised by what she's able to notice at times so I have a dim understanding of how other people might reach the unfortunate conclusion that too many have for her. I couldn't help her as much as I would have hoped this week when I went to see them. All I could do was take her to the place where she could change colour and font. I just have no direct experience and only a dim theoretical grasp of what these things are. I can see both sides of the coin as usual. It's understandable if regrettable that trainers will lose patience trying to help her and Gerry. It takes them longer to grasp technical concepts and such. Poor Gerry actually ended up frustrated with the phone as he tried to call Swiss Chalet to order our dinner. He really seems caught in a world which has moved beyond him technologically but he's doing quite well considering his late introduction to computers. It's just going to take longer for him to really start grasping stuff well. Too long for trainers busy making a buck to do much more than write him off after a certain point. How much collective wisdom is forever lost to society through the impatience of others?

Back from church now. That was a great service as usual although my illness robbed me of my accustomed ability to hear easily. My article got published in the church newsletter and a few people commented favourably on it to me. I enjoyed a light lunch and am now awaiting the start of the Mosen Explosion on
I just read an article by my good friend Adam Taylor. He's studying to become a journalist and got published in his college's newspaper. Check out his article at:
Looks like he's started a nifty blog also for gamers. Have to keep an ear on that. Check that out at:

Life has somewhat settled down now for me. I don't expect any major outings over the next while. That'll be good for my bank balance. Even these more empty days seem to be going past at quite a clip. I've read some good books including The Rule of Nine which was a very well-written thriller. I've also re-read the Moon Maze Game which is just terrific and well worth the waiting for. I'm about due for another Audible credit and am debating which book to choose next. I may go for World War Z despite it being abridged in the spirit of Halloween. However, there are quite a number of titles on my wish list including Ready Player 1. That one sounds very interesting and comes highly recommended by Dani Hood, a former neighbour and current friend. There are also a couple of game development related books. Now that work on Enchantment's Twilight is on the move again, they also present some temptation. Robert J. Sawyer also tugs at my heartstrings as I'm sorely tempted to get the WWW trilogy over the next few months. So many choices. If there's a sale as there sometimes is, there's always a chance that a book I'm interested in will be included in it. However, I can't count on that and must make my monthly choice accordingly. As my budget improves and recovers from Summer, I'll have more freedom of action but that's how things are for now. Rather than being put out, I see it as only fair that things tighten up for a bit. It all comes down to perspective and I seem to have well and truly found my equilibrium.

Looks like I'll be joining my parents for dinner at Kim and Ernie's tonight. It's always good to catch up with them. Saw the three nieces last week. They're all doing alright despite dealing with colds. School is going well for both Ava and Amia. Little Alleah won't be ready to join the educational system for some time yet but she's a cute grabby spunky little one for all that. I'm glad Neil and Cathy got to see them while they were here.

As offline life slows down a tad, my online existence is becoming more interesting. One of my Twitter followers, Julie Einarson, participated in the Sears Run which raised funds for research into curing Cancer. Apparently, she did quite well and her team came in second. Tom Ward just announced that he's doing a small Halloween game as a kind of break from ongoing work on Mysteries of the Ancients. Thank God people have proved more understanding than past experience gave me any cause to hope they would. So far, no flame war or harsh backlash against Tom for daring to take a short creative break and switch gears for a bit. Hope it does him some real good to make something unhindered by the desires and hopes of the blind gaming community. He's been hemmed in for so very long by trying to do a good deed. Team FM has been very successful in its launch and I'm tuning into a couple of their shows. Mainly, I've thoroughly enjoyed the Bear's Lair on Saturdays. That in itself has been wonderful to have back. Lulu plays some terrific stuff and that whole community Twitter interactive thing just makes an otherwise empty Saturday feel special. It's nice to know that weekends this Winter will have two events, the Mosen Explosion on Mushroom FM plus the Bear's Lair on Team FM, which will be points of contact with communities of listeners. There's also Cathyanne's Soothing Sounds and Erin Edger's Melting Pot, shows I catch on a semi-regular basis. Pretty soon, King of Dragon Pass will at long last be accessible to me via the iPHONE. I have every confidence that this game will keep me spellbound for hours of stimulating story-driven play. That's a very good thing as I'll be saving any extra cash for the whole Christmas thing as well as any social opportunities which might come my way. Podcasts are going to become more welcome things in life. I have tons of Spark episodes to catch up on among a great many other things in that department. I have, however, enjoyed a number of From Our Own Correspondents episodes over the past while during less active times. It's positively delightful and unbelievable how far out of my digital world this past Summer has taken me. The whole tambour of life has well and truly changed.

Janet and I have been chatting on Skype most evenings. It's damned good to have someone to do that again with who really seems to love me. I can't help but be drawn in by her simplicity and obvious affection. However, when you get right down to it, all we've done is talk and email each other. The whole question of how well the chemistry will work outside of Lake Joseph's special environment still remains to be answered and doubtless will for some time. Having a friend like Carine to talk with is helpful. Like me, she's in a long-distance relationship and must deal with some of the same issues. This includes the same tendency to analyze things to death. Will we find each other to be stimulating when together on our own continuously or simply find that things run out of steam? We operate on two very different mental levels. Janet has a very simplistic way of approaching things including faith. God will provide. It's a foregone conclusion for her as reliable and all-encompassing as the sunrise. With intellect comes a knowledge of how things work which precludes such easy refuge. I'm forever weighing and pondering, wrestling with the very essence and consequences of what I believe. As with my faith, so too it is with the rest of life. Particularly when it comes to my hopes for life-long female companionship, I'm probably altogether too mindful of the consequence of choosing wrongly. I get a strong sense that we would both be useful additions to each other's social circles. However, while I was listening to some fantasy book or lecture, would she take an interest or simply be bored to death? Would we listen to radio shows or podcasts and have meaningful talks about them, or would that simply be an ideal I'd do better to let go of? I can sort of see myself getting into some of the mystery and crime shows which fascinate her but am never going to be enthralled by comedies, campfire singalongs or other things which amuse her. There would certainly be compensations in terms of the freedom of action her sight would provide us. Also, while I'm apt to get mired in detail and counter-argument, she's the type of kind soul who's apt to come up with one of those breath-taking "why didn't I think of that?"-style conclusions. She doesn't say what she doesn't mean. There's no ambiguity. I would always know precisely where I stood with her. Ability-wise, each of us can nicely fill a lack experienced by the other. That could either lead to a kind of stability or not. Eventually, we'll doubtless manage to visit each other and really find out where things might go. Until then, I take comfort in my new lovely lady at a distance and explore what ground Skype makes possible. Our road to togetherness will be a very long one. For me, it'll be full of weighty questions which only time together will answer but which I can't help but wrestle with anyhow. I don't ever want her to feel belittled or inferior to me if she can't immediately grasp things or can't get into things which interest me. She has, in many ways, surpassed me in how she has approached things and/or dealt with her limitations. It's not at all the same as having someone to go on dates and start experiencing life with. Hopefully, the distance between us will prove to be a means of building a solid foundation of understanding upon which love can grow. For the present, having Janet to talk with and write to is a whole lot better than the big zero relationship wise. It's so damned nice to finally have a possibility for long-term companionship to at least explore with someone who takes the possibility seriously.

It's Monday afternoon now. Dinner with the Perins was delicious and entertaining as always. Their computer needed quite a cleaning as they hadn't really known to attend to that over the past years they've owned it. I trust that they'll notice quite a speed boost now that a disc cleanup and defrag have been done. I seem to be doing a lot of basic computer maintenance for people these days who either don't have the time or inclination to learn to do it themselves. I can relate to that. There are certainly things, particularly fashion-related, that I could doubtless grasp more firmly but simply aren't worth my bother. There's that palpable sense that Fall has arrived and with it, a bustle of activity you never quite feel in Summer no matter how full of adventure it is.

Carine called unexpectedly this morning. She and Kevin have been pretty busy lately, as have I. It was good to go for a walk around the lake with her dog Breeze and my Trekker Breeze GPS. We went off to Symposium where I had the breakfast of champions. That'll pretty much be my meal for the day. Kevin and Carine want to take me tubing this Winter. Carine also seems to like hiking. Haven't had a whole lot of opportunity to do either of those things in quite a while. It's great to have people who think of me when they're considering doing something and have them be so close to where I live. It'll be fun including them in some of my gatherings also.

Apples have definitely made their way back into my list of liked fruits. They're a nice change from oranges this time of year. Dad says oranges are to his liking just now so I may get some with my next grocery order in a couple weeks or so. I have a Fall coupon book which I intend to get some use out of. The coupons are five dollars savings plus one for ten. That doesn't really justify doing an extra order what with the delivery fee but I'll still save at least fifteen or twenty just sticking to my natural schedule. They do a good job of reminding you when codes are about to expire. I appreciate thoughtfulness like that. When it comes to customer service, Grocery Gateway truly has its act together. Wouldn't mind if the bills were lower, but would mind extremely if they ever went out of business.

It's been a pleasant afternoon and is now well into evening. The wind has now passed well in to the realm of chilly. Time to close the balcony door for the night. People will be coming to check on and perhaps repair the balcony railing tomorrow so I've moved the table into a corner and the chairs inside. I've never gotten to meet and talk with the folks who do that kind of work. That could be interesting. I wonder what tools they might carry or whether they leave everything in a truck until they perceive an apartment which needs their attention. There are so many things like that which I guess are just obvious to sighted folk but that I've never gotten round to finding out. The railing certainly seems just as safe and solid to me as it ever has. Do they use some special equipment to examine them and how well they're set into the concrete of the balconies? Also, what possible insights might such a career lend itself to? They see the inner sanctums and visible possessions of so many people. What do they actually think of it all? What impact might it have on their sense of place and accomplishment in life? I think of people like Franc Snape, who I've always thought of as Uncle Franc despite our not being related. You can read a bit about him in the previous blog entry. There are so many different approaches to wisdom and depth of character.

At last, I learned today what Julie sounds like. She's the lady I mentioned earlier who's running in the Great Canadian Run for Cancer soon. I finally got to hear a Youtube clip of her speaking. For quite a while now, I've known what two thirds of the Twitter triangle[twiangle?] of Dani, Jacqui and Julie sound like. Dani was a neighbour of my parents and I and still comes over on some occasions. Jacqui is Dani's friend who I've also had the pleasure to meet and talk with over the years. The most memorable thing I've done with them so far was eat at O'Noir when they wanted to experience eating in the dark. That seems so damned long ago. So much has happened to me, them, and Stephen since that evening. Now, I can have some sense of how all three members of the twiangle would sound saying what they tweet to each other. It's one of those things, like putting that last dish back in the cupboard, which imparts a disproportionate degree of satisfaction. Sort of like having a matching set of stuff. My impression of Julie as an interesting and caring person hasn't changed at all for finally having heard her. We might never actually meet as is the case with so many of my online acquaintances. It's just a tiny bit of curiosity put to rest.

Tomorrow afternoon, I'm going to be leading the Forum discussion at the Dam. My previous experience explaining to students and others about life as a blind person will hopefully stand me in good stead for this. I hope I can keep them interested and pass something of what life has taught me on to them. This is a fantastic opportunity for me to make some real headway with whoever ends up staying around for the discussion and pizza. It's been on my mind most of the day. Thank God for Twitter and other seemingly trivial stuff of life. As the author says in Stranger Than Fiction, that seemingly trivial stuff does a whole lot to save our lives. It saves us from taking ourselves too seriously, from becoming too obsessed for our own good with what we're about. It can give us that small speck of distance we need to stumble across what our most intensely focused careful thinking can never find. Mostly though, it saves us from the crushing weight of time we cannot more profitably use. I was going to publish this entry today, but believe that I'll hold off. Tomorrow's forum is a pretty important first stab at youth leadership for me and you all deserve to know how it turns out.

It's now Tuesday evening. I'm back safe and sound. It's been a pretty good day. The balcony workers were extremely quick. They walked through, hammered a few times on the railing or something out there, and then left. Couldn't really chat with them but got to chat briefly with the building superintend ant. He seemed somewhat surprised that I was cooking despite it's being lunch time. The Apple press event was unfortunately less than informative regarding IOS5. The only real piece of info I learned before having to leave for the Dam was that IOS5 is going to come out on October 12. That ought to be interesting.

The Trekker performed beautifully today on the way to the Dam. My hearing, however, was somewhat problematic. This time, it was that lack of the clear crisp hearing of my surroundings which got me turned around heading accidentally back towards my apartment until the Breeze announced familiar landmarks which clued me in. That added five minutes to my otherwise excellent walk over there. Crossing the street was a tad more nerve-wracking. One car was quiet enough and moving slowly so I didn't realize it was anywhere near until it was very close indeed. The driver was obviously well aware of me. It seemed almost criminal after the forum to accept a lift back home but given that hearing difficulty, I figured discretion might be the better part of valour this evening.

My first forum was quite a success and turned out very differently than I had planned for. It ended up being about getting to know me. I shared some antic dotes and basic information about how I approach things as a blind person. I think it'll make it easier for them to approach me with their issues during the drop in. Robin seemed to think that it was quite a success and everyone was interested all the way through. They want me to lead another forum later on where I tackle the rest of what I planned to do in this forum.

The rest of this week will be pleasantly busy for me. I'll be going to Symposium Cafe on Thursday to have lunch with Michelle and Angela. Michelle's computer seems to be working better for her but I've no clear idea what happened to accomplish that. Face book is still a bit more difficult but seems to be manageable for her. It'll also be interesting to find out how Angela likes her Trekker now that it's all updated. I'll have to read up on entering addresses into the Breeze so I can explain that better. I haven't used that feature a whole lot but it would come in pretty handy for Angela. I guess tomorrow and Friday will be when I do laundry and other odds and ends. Thursday is also election day and I'll certainly be tuned into CBC Radio1 for their coverage that evening. At some point, I'll have to catch a full length news broadcast and get caught up with that. What with all the happenings and tech stuff, I guess I've let my grip on world events slip a tad. Rather than finding that annoying, I find it a welcome indicator of just how much things have changed for me over this past while. It's high time I got this entry published. I'll be Skyping Janet and her friend Lori fairly soon once I've gotten a nice cold drink. Until next time, my good readers all.