Thursday, October 16, 2008

switching gears

In most respects, this past while has certainly gone smoothly enough. I've certainly been able to stave off boredom easily. There have been plenty of interesting things to listen to particularly from the BBC. They're getting close to concluding the Sherlok Holmes series of dramatisations. I'll very much miss hearing those. They've been absolutely splendid in all respects. I've also at last learned something of the whole Amnityville Horror business. I had never bothered to delve into that small nagging curiocity but a pretty good documentary happened to be on the Discovery channel last night. It certainly passed the time in a most satisfactory way. I can't say I've been at all convinced of the reality of hauntings and such. However, I suppose it's possible that such trama leaves some sort of residual impression in a place. That wouldn't surprise me too greatly if such energy were eventually scientifically proven. I'm somewhat more suspicious of claims of spirits and demons. I can't prove they don't exist but would need some major-league convincing to believe in them as they're often depicted. I believe the true demons are the ones we carry inside of us every day. Our selfish desires, dastardly impulses, short-term thinking and so-forth. I don't believe we'll ever be rid of them. However, we've got to do our best to turn as much of this as possible to the increase of good in the world.

The election certainly didn't go the way I had hoped. In fact, for all intents and purposes, it may as well never have happened at all. Nothing substantial has changed. Harper still has a minority government. It's just a smigeon stronger than it was. I hope that after this pointless schoolyard scrap over very little of real substance, our leaders are at last ready to start treating each other civilly and get some honest work done. That three hundred million, much of it wasted on negative ads, could have done a ton of good if it were spent on affordable housing, police officers, or any number of far more worth-while uses. I think we wouldn't get these embarrasingly low voter turn-outs if they just outlawed negative campaign ads altogether. Personally, I would have been very interested to see what a liberal government would have or could have done at this juncture. The NDP may also have proved interesting. However, we're in for another stretch with the rather dull status quo. Oh well.

A friend of Janene's has a podcast that I was briefly on last night. He was under the impression that I didn't like him. Had I not been so preoccupied with that documentary I was watching, I might have had some devilish good fun with that misperception on his part before setting him straight. Skype and/or his phone setup made it rather hard to understand him and presumeably a friend or guest who was also on the show. I could hear Janene perfectly though. He's a part of what is for some reason called "the scene". This seems to consist of a bunch of guys who are trying to become better at picking up women as far as I can determine. It smacks of being a club for those unfortunate souls damned forever to social hell. Their talk can be so crude that I'd think it would turn off most if not all women. It seems like the main objectives of these people are casual good times and/or sex rather than a more solid lasting commitment. Talk on the show alternately strikes me as juvenile, shallow, or outright crass. It frankly isn't something I'd normally listen to. However, Janene finds it quite entertaining especially when juxtaposed against her working day. I was asked whether I'd concent to having oral sex with a guy if I knew that it would solve Etheopia's hunger problem among other things. As crass as it was, it got me thinking about universal justice. There was a movie called Indecent Proposal which looked at this sort of thing. It's the same kind of simple shortcut to happiness that invariably bites one's ass in the end. You snatch a cookie from the cookie jar and enjoy it without anybody finding out. That's all well and good until the pimples pop out which cause you more social grief down the road. A moment's undeserved happiness brings a month's grief. Life just seems to always work like that given a long enough viewpoint. They aptly call it universal justice. That's why I try not to take such shortcuts particularly where relationships and people are concerned. I'd rather know for certain that I'd spend the rest of life single than have a relationship built on lies. True love does exist. It's the kind of love which is based on honesty right from the start. I'm profoundly glad that I've come across the jenuine article in Janene.

B, as Janene seems to call him in her blog, is one of life's quirky characters. I think of him very much like my best friend Adam. They're the type of people who come up with that priceless joke that you desperately needed just then. They're fun-loving to what is at times a painful extreme. They're that class clown who comes up with some witty line or prank which makes a week's worth of hard work worth slogging through just to have been there for those precious ten seconds of merth. Behind all the crassness and seeming selfishness, there lies a sharp mind and caring heart that many people will likely never notice. I have no doubt many people have wondered what keeps us together as friends. Why would I hang out with somebody who once let a girlfriend pay for his speeding ticket simply because she had money to spare? That story certainly got a rise of moral indignation out of me as I'm certain he was delighted to see. He doubtless finds me amusingly victorian and somewhat self-defeating in my life outlook. He thought I should be less forthcoming in my online dating profile so that I'd at least hear from more women who wouldn't automatically pass me up due to my unemployment and/or blindness. The theory being that they'd get to know enough of me that they wouldn't then dismiss me so easily. In his outlook, quantity of experience is quality of life. Because I wasn't willing to hide any of my cards, I would therefore have no experience at all and be no further ahead. He, on the other hand, had a chance of eventually finding quality while having a far more exciting time of it over the short term. As things turned out, I did indeed go through quite a lonely stretch. However, when Janene came upon my profile, she found there all my cards laid out on the table. The rest has been very happy history. Our love was built on the best foundation possible.

I think Janene and I have been very fortunate to have foumd someone similarly predisposed to boundless fun in our lives. Both of us have found that one person who despite being completely different from our other friends, is just as valueable because of that difference. Even as I cringe to hear of Adam's latest exploits, I can't help but be fascinated at the same time. He goes places in that sphere of life which I wouldn't ever have thought to go. Both Adam and B are loose cannons. They're liable to say the completely unexpected or take some conversational tak which others will find shocking. There's a part of me that hopes Adam will eventually find that special person who really takes him to a whole new level and shows him on a gut level why I tried as hard as I did to keep a failing marriage going. There's an attraction to being a part of something larger than yourself and a stability in a serious loving relationship that adds so much meaning to life. Sometimes, you want to shake him and say "Wake up!". I have no doubt Janene has similar thoughts regarding B. However, unlike a whole lot of people on this earth, I think Janene and I have learned how to appreciate the goodness in people and like them just the way they are. I like to think I'm jently prauding Adam in the so-called "right" direction. Ultimately though, it doesn't matter. He's been a good friend long enough now that I can't see myself ever walking away. Short of him turning into a completely self-absorbed murderous ruffian, he'll be welcome as far as I'm concerned. B isn't someone I would naturally have been drawn to. However, I have no doubt we'll have some more fun times and interesting conversations over the years to come. He's been there for Janene at work and added much-needed spice to her often dull days. I'll always appreciate him in that light.

Unfortunately, this week has shown me that I'm just not cut out to be a gamebook author. The deadline for the Arborell Gamebook competition is just too close. Also, even small exparaments trying to keep numbered paragraphs straight showed me how daunting a task that would be even for a relatively small gamebook. Flowcharting just isn't something I'd be able to pull off very well. With my accessible game idea, I won't have to do that. I hate having to turn away from the competition but this just isn't going to fly. Tomorrow, it's back to the accessible game design document among other things. I'll also be going out to Hamilton with my parents to see my brother's family. The last visit went quite well. Being a good uncle is certainly something I aspire to be having had such good examples to follow in that regard. When Ava and Amia get a little older, I want them to have a sense that I'm there to help and to talk to if they need me. Building that relationship starts right now, even as they start learning to talk.

It's getting late so I'd best get this posted. Poor Janene has had a pretty long day of it and will be busy with school work this weekend. There are some online events I'll likely partake in. I'll also be reading Robert J. Sawyer's Iterations. I've just found that the CNIB library had that short story collection in electronic Braille. Kurzweil1000 can translate that back into plain text for me so I can at last read his forst short story collection. I hope they get his most recent one, Identity Theft and other stories as well as some other books of his that they're still missing soon. The more Robert J. Sawyer, the better. He's the best Canadian science fiction writer bar none.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

let's pounce on what we haven't seen, shal we?

As a blind person, I can't help but cringe at the stupidity of these organisations of the blind who presume they represent my point of view. They're up in arms over this Blindness movie. Surely, there are more constructive ways of dealing with it than telling people not to even see it! You'd think they'd have learned something after what happened when people protested The Exorcist among other things. Protesting a film with objectionable portrayals of us only serves to give the movy and these portrayals yet more publicity. In addition, it increases the fear many sighted people have about offending us by accidentally saying or asking the wrong thing. That fear of accidental offence is often more a cause of isolation and disengagement with the world than the actual disability. There are days when I'd pay real money for people to just relax around me and not be afraid to bring up whatever it is that they're curious about, makes them uncomfortable, etc. Thanks to folks like the NFB, those shields are going to go up more. It'll be harder to get people to see me as a whole person worthy of friendship rather than just a charity case or ticking timebomb ready to explode at the slightest provocation. These organisations would have done so much better if they had quickly organised an informational campaign addressing said negative portrayals. Art should never be stifle but should be engaged with reasonably. They did the same thing when Mr. Ma goo came out. All they really acomplish is demonstrate what a narrow-minded bunch of idiots they are. Would they recognise a metaphor if it kicked them where it counted? In my experience, movies such as these are very helpful in the long run as they at least get sighted people to start thinking about us and usually lead to their being more apt to ask questions rather than assume their preconceptions are correct. Yes, I went through some uncomfortable moments after Scent of a Woman came out. People figured I could recognise them via their perfume or were interested in what their faces felt like. Sadly, nobody arranged for me to drive their sports car. I'm very thankful that people didn't take Daredevil as anything but the fantasy it was. I'm just not capable of dodging bullets, knives, and other deadly flying objects or besting hardened criminals in combat particularly in unfamiliar environments. In general, my experience is that people's innate common sense tends to prevail when it comes to what they take away from a work of art. While I'm tired of hearing that poem about the blind men and the elephant, I recognise it for the metaphor that it is and am not offended by it. Nore do I flip out whenever people sing Amazing Grace. I'm more concerned with CNIB pamphlets which inform people that they should avoid seating us at round tables.[Good grief, King Arthur! Look what you've done!] The same pamphlet exhorts people to strap us in themselves as if we wouldn't have the intellect to know how to belt up.

I expect I'll see Blindness so to speak when it's available on DVD. I can then play it in my talking computer as it has speech output and most DVD players are harder to use with the same degree of control. The extras will doubtless be more interesting than the main feature. I've just begun reading the book which is available in mp3 format from the CNIB library. Thank goodness they get core services like that right. So far, I've encountered nothing all that unreasonable. Suddenly going blind is far more devastating than living that way one's whole life. The author has done justice to that as far as I can tell. I've heard that people are depicted as incapable of dressing themselves once they've gone blind in the movie. That certainly annoys me. However, so does hearing endlessly about Helen Keller, Louis Braille, and that sightless bane to all of us self-respecting couch potato's who decided to go and climb Mount Everest for a lark. Go figure. Most people are going to realise that they aren't suddenly going to forget how to physically dress themselves, eat, and so-forth just because they can no longer see. I'd much rather deal with that misconception when necessary than have people afraid to get rid of it by asking me. The whole objection about blind people portrayed as monsters is so outright stupid as to barely even be worth addressing. You're dealing with a whole city of freshly blinded folks. There are definitely going to be some bad apples. Also, you've got the complete breakdown of society to contend with in addition to a lot of human tragedy which would result if people just began suddenly and inexplicably losing their sight in the middle of normal activity. I tend to be pretty optimistic about people's motives. However, even I recognise that when times get desperate, people will take advantage of others and do terrible things when the general consequences of criminal actions have been removed.

This past week hasn't been a terrific one for writing. I seem to be going through another stretch of poor sleeping. I go to sleep quickly enough but then tend to awaken extremely early in the morning before I've had more than four or five hours at best. I finally caved in and had a sleeping pill last night and feel very well rested today. Hope that lasts into this week. I'm taking up orientation and mobility lessons after around five weeks and am also going to begin training a woman wanting to know more about how to use her computer. Thanks to having written my guide, I'll actually get to meet one of the people who it has helpped. That's quite a nice change from all the emails I've received although I certainly enjoy those. A new version of that Klango Player is going to be released this week as well. I look forward to examining the changes made. It's a good initiative with a lot of long-term potential. Yesterday's episode of DNTO on CBC Radio1 was very nifty. Their subject was night time and all of its surrounding psychological ramifications. Very interesting indeed. On the Discovery Channel, I also took in a show about exterminating vermin. Somewhat disgusting but nonetheless of interest. I wouldn't mind feeling what one of the T-Rex traps they talked about felt like, safely held open and preferably sans rat.

Tonight, I'll be having dinner out with Janene. We'll do our usual thing at Symposium. Hard to beet two deserttes for the price of one plus overall excelent food and friendly staff. It makes for a very nice end to a quiet weekend.