Sunday, April 25, 2010

Friends, Fish and Past Days

Hello everyone. It's ben quite a good week. Steve's visit went quite well. It was fantastic to have such a good friend there to enjoy this place with. He got to meet my pastor as well as Sandy. Neither of us really had discovered anything of interest to the other in terms of software, music, etc. However, Steve enjoyed listening to A Study in Scarlet as dramatised by the BBC. He also enjoyed an interesting audio drama from the BBC called Alpha about a kind of assassin/priest who worked for the vaticon in the near future. He and I enjoy the kind of deep soul-searching questions raised by that excellent drama as well as by our lengthy and at times late conversations. One piece of software which interested him was Microsoft Security Essentials which I helped him obtain and install. It's a lot less troublesome than AVG has become when it comes to working with screen-readers.

Sandy also got to have his first experience with chatting on the Internet. That was a hoot. One flurtatious wild southerner mistook him for a lady. Sandy does have a high-pitched voice and has an unfortunately gender-nutral name to go with it. Put it through any kind of transmittion process and it's easy to make that mistake. Even still, it'll be a while before the jentleman lives that blunder down given his long-standing delight in sturring the pot where women are concerned. Hearing him get a kind of divinely engineered just desert was priceless.

Steve was divinely aided when he left for Toronto also. Pastor Sam had offered to drive Steve to the Go station when he came to visit us. Steve was originally just going to call a cab. However, I thought I'd check to see if Sam was actually available. It was a good thing he was. The ticket booth was closed and Sam was able to help Steve buy a ticket from one of those automatic machines in time to catch his train. HI found it interesting hearing those two have a good conversation; A new friend and one of my longest surviving friendships. They come at the world in such different ways. Steve's going to get images of windmills on his eye patches. That certainly sounds like it would look neat. Hope it turns out to suit him visually. Talk about meddling with what you don't understand.

Hopefully, when Steve next decides to stay a couple of days here, I'll be confident enough to take him around the lake or to Symposium Cafe. I'm gaining more confidence in doing that. Earlier this week, I went out on my own for the first time and managed to have a good walk from which I returned safely thanks to the Trekker Breeze. Dad and I just discovered that the route I recorded going to Symposium didn't record correctly so it'll have to be re-recorded next time we go there for lunch. I'm glad it was that specific instance of a route and not the software in general that was misbehaving. I'm still waiting for that update for the Breeze.

Friday was a big day. John Morgan came over and brought a terrific computer desk for Sandy. I basically spent the whole day in Sandy's appartment. John ended up assembling the desk all by himself despite many offers of assistance. I expected to be turning screws, holding boards in place, etc. That's how things usually happen with my father. I figured that with his experience with so many blind people, he would expect one or both of us to lend a hand and be able to explain what he needed done. Sandy and I ended up talking for most of that time which seemed to interest John while he worked. After the desk was all together, John had to leave. That was when my work began. I set up Sandy's computer in its new permanent home. Those speakers caused me some unexpected grief and I certainly gave myself a workout crawling and contorting under the desk connecting cables. Once things are permanently in place, they ought to be splendid though. The control puck makes adjusting the volume and base nice and easy. AFter things were set up, Sandy made dinner and we enjoyed some of the evening. I was quite tired and slept like a log last night. Haven't felt as productive and satisfied with what I got done in a day for quite some time. It's just one step at the start of a very long road. However, it's a pretty important step. Sandy has quite a bit to learn and I'm just beginning to discover how he likes to be taught.

Yesterday started with me going down to investigate a buzzing noise Sandy heard coming from his speakers. It turned out that he had jiggled the speaker cables and screwed up the contacts. Those jacks are pretty sensitive to that. Otherwise, he's got some superb speakers there. He's planning one more rearrangement which I anticipate might move those cables. After that, things ought to remain stationary and I'll likely never have to crawl under the desk and fiddle with those cables again. The only two pieces of hardware that I feel uncertain of my ability to help him set up are the monitor and printer. I've connected the monitor but have no way of knowing whether I got that right until somebody sighted takes a look at it. The printer is one of those combination jobs and I have no experience with them at all. I'd rather have someone who can see present when that gets set up. I still have reservations about how useful that contraption will end up being for him. It isn't immediately obvious where you'd put things like mail which needs to be scanned. Kurzweil1000 ought to be able to control pretty much any scanner but you have to be able to physically put stuff in and line it up.

Yesterday, I ended up finishing a very good psychological thriller called Equation For Evil. It was set in California. The subjects explored included why people commit acts of hate, racial identity, and the nature of society. The lead characters, a special agent and a psychologist, were both very well written. I felt bad when one of them didn't survive. The book leaves you hanging in the sense that you want to know how numerous characters get on with life after the story ends. I don't often turn to mysteries but that one passed a good bit of time very pleasantly.

I was going to try for a second walk around the lake yesterday afternoon. It was a nice day out there. Unfortunately, the Trekker Breeze didn't lock onto me even after ten minutes wandering out there. I didn't find the path around the lake but took a brief walk around a fenced area where there are benches and I suspect a pool in the centre of the area. I didn't want to lose my orientation so I headed back before that might have hapened. I spent a little time out on the balcony with my netbook. However, there's just no percentage, other than fresh air, of being out there by myself for any great length of time. That'll change once I get a balcony table set up out there. I'll then be able to set up my USB speakers and work far more comfortably. I can also position my Blue Snowflake microphone for some nice Summer time internet chats. Hopefully, I'll spend a good portion of this Summer with people who I come to know in person around here. I'd like to think that things are finally moving in that direction. However, just like yesterday turned out, I have to face the fact that people just won't always be around when I'm eagter to enjoy the outdoors or feel like companionship. To one extent, I'll always be forced to live more of an introvert's life than I'd like to. It just isn't easy finding people who are interested in sharing the kind of stimulating conversation, programs like DNTO on CBC Radio or From Our Own Corespondants on the BBC. I may never find a group of people my age who I can truly share life experience with in person rather than online despite all my efforts in that direction. I'm far from giving up hope but a little voice in my head is saying: "Be ready for that possibility." The only real way to do that is to make certain there are enough islands of companionship to break up the solitude. Easier said than done, but at least I have an actual shot at pulling that off here over the next five years or so.

Today is one such island. It's a soup lunch day at church. Another chance to get to know some good people a little better. Something which differenciates the weekend from the rest of the week. People who work all week must have no way to imagine how time can stretch out when there are no clear borders to break it up.

Soup lunch was great. I met some new people and touched base with some long-standing acquaintances. Sandra was one of them. Haven't run into her since a gathering at her place a number of weeks ago. She was unfortunately sick recently. However, because of that, she at last found time to enjoy Stranger Than Fiction. I had lent it to her a while ago thinking that it might appeal to her. I'm glad it was there when she wanted something to take her mind off being sick. It was there for me when I needed to distract myself from the failure of my marriage. I also got to see Julius, Angel, Shane, Sue, Carl, Rose, and a few other people. Coming back from this excellent outing, I called on Sandy and was in time to meet a couple of his good friends from Toronto. They come across as the kind of friends anyone would be fortunate to have and it's obvious how much they care for Sadny. It's no wonder he misses Toronto. He's fairly far from them here in Mississauga and a lot of them don't have cars. It was a pleasure meeting them. Apparently, more of Sandy's friends have recently contacted him again and may eventually make their presence more felt in his life. I can only hope so. It was certainly interesting meeting Tom and Liz.

It's after nine o'clock on sunday evening now. I've come back from the second-last of a series of evening programs our church had which concern how to make people who think and believe differently than us feel safe and welcome in church. The focus was on people who were gay and lesbian but a lot of things could well apply to any marginalised group. I hope that if and when an opportunity presents itself for me to make a positive difference for someone, I'm ready to put some of what I've learned into practice. As open-minded as I believe myself to be, there are doubtless people who would present challenges. I have very little natural patience for overly negative people. While I try to be patient with people for whoom verbal communication is difficult, I can doubtless use some exercise in that particular area also.

Tomorrow, I'll be heading down to do some work with Sandy on his keyboarding. I believe a worker from the CNIB is coming also and it might then be possible to take a crack at setting up that printer. At the very least, I'll find out whether the monitor is actually working. I'm almost positive it is, but there's that nagging little doubt. I should have thought of asking while Sandy's two sighted friends were present. oops. Hopefully, it won't take too long to get to a point where Sandy feels confident enough to start trying things on his own. It's looking more like he'll have to find some way of affording his own internet access. That's too expensive for me to take on. I've found a way for him to be able to listen to CNN over the Internet. However, he'll miss out on a lot of sports he likes. I don't know where he could find those online but haven't investigated that area much yet. I'm not interested in sports myself and am not the best person to do that. However, it would certainly make the prospect of giving up cable TV more bearable for Sandy. Sadly, it's going to come down to a hard choice like that for him. I believe the Internet will do him a tremendous lot of good. However, music and TV are pretty much all he's had to count on for quite some time now.

For supper tomorrow, I really ought to bite the bullet and grille the tilapia I've got in the fridge. I removed it from the freezer thinking I'd need more than I ended up using when Steve was visiting. There are four fillets. I thought I'd have had more guests over the past little while. The tilapia is very enjoyable. If one has to eat something a few times in a row, there are a great many worse things to be stuck eating. The fillets grilled quite nicely for Steve and I. There's no reason to think they won't come out delicious another time. Which spices to try out on the fish is something to consider. Garlic worked well and I would think oregano might. Not so certain about other spices like sage or rosemary. Sounds like a job for Google. Well, it's getting a tad late. I believe I'll post this and turn in for the night.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

An Eventful Weekend

Hello everyone. It's been an interesting past while. On saturday, I hooked up with Mark and Wendy for a very good burger and fries with copious delightful conversation as my main condiment. They're doing quite well and it was good to spend a couple of hours in their company. As has happened a little more frequently these days, I dozed off during a chunk of the afternoon. It seems to happen even when I think I've gotten a good night's sleep. Sandy thinks it has to do with the change of weather and I suppose there could be something to that. I hope it doesn't last too long. I find it a tad disconcerting. That evening, I went down to visit Sandy and our new friend Cesar. He lives in a house which is part of the complex that includes my building. He's had an interesting life. His conversational English is quite good. He wants me to help him with his writing which I'm very happy to do. He's been helpful to Sandy regarding furnature. Sandy did an excellent job, despite not getting full instructions, cooking the pizza and fries we enjoyed. Yes, it's been a particularly heavy potato weekend. Good thing I never get tired of them. Thank goodness he can now use his oven in addition to the elements. The CNIB is at last going to bat for him in fine style. He's also found some more friends willing to help when he needs it. We've heard from Mr. Morgan who's getting recombobulated after returning from England. He's got quite a bit on his plate but I'm hopeful he can come round to see Sandy and I soon. Sandy is eager to get his computer set up in a better safer location than where we chose and start digging into learning the keyboard. That's when I can start helping him in the way I had originally figured I would rather than in the surprising ways I've tried up until now.

God certainly likes to throw some interesting curveballs my way. A couple of nights ago, I was awakened once again from a dead sleep by a fairly loud knocking which I thought came from my door or the wall of my bedroom. This has happened on a number of occasions since I've gotten here but hasn't been consistant. Until now, I had chalked it up to my dreaming. However, last night's episode involved at least six loud knocks that I was conscious of. The last way I wanted to meat my neighbours was after having done something to cause them grief but I was at the stage where I had to try to figure out whether I had in fact done this or merely been hearing things. I went to the apartment directly above mine where I met a shift worker who wouldn't have been disturbed whatsoever had a bomb gone off down here. Right adjacent to my apartment where I figured would be the only other likely place where anything I did might be noticed, I met a nice man who hadn't heard anything either. I'm always happy to meet good people and pleased that I haven't inadvertently disturbed their slumber. However, Sherlock Holmes's saying about the impossible, however unlikely, having to be the truth once more likely alternatives have been eliminated does tend to point to the unsettling conclusion that I imagined all those knocks. Of course, there also could have been hammering or knocks somewhere else in the building which carried through it to me. Still, the more I think about it, the less certain of their reality I become. At least I've now introduced myself to my vertical neighbour as well as my immediately horrizontal one. It's nice to have at least a minimal sense of who's close at hand. Thanks a bunch, Mr. Holmes. GRRRRRR!!! Hopefully, I won't be needing the modern day equivalent of Dr. Watson any time soon.

Yesterday, [monday], was grocery day again. I got pretty much everything I ordered this time. Only two minor substitutions of junkfood. Not bad at all. Everything's stowed nicely away. I know I dozed off during part of the day again. It would be damned annoying if I had anything I needed to get done. As it is, such short dozes are merely erksome to my sense of how a day ought to be lived. Rebellion against the effects of age? Perhaps. It just isn't what I'm used to. I wasn't awakened by any knocks in either sunday or last night. One acomplishment other than storing the groceries was editing Cesar's second essay. Doing that to a piece of writing about how happy he is to have met me certainly has a way of making yours truly acutely selfconscious. I'm very happy to have made a good and selfless man like him happy. He seems to be getting better with each attempt. I had to correct fewer sentence oddities and it was much easier to follow his train of thinking. Apparently, his wife wants some help with her English pronunciation. Doing things like that certainly makes me feel far more like I'm living a good and useful life. When days can go past without much consequence or interaction at all, it's easy to lose that sense of connectedness. I thank God for all the people I'm encountering here and through the church. I've felt so hung out to dry for so much of the time since Janene left me. That sense has retreated marvelously over my residency here. Over time as more people come to know me, I believe I'll have a more sustained positive impact.

Monday ended with an email from my friend Steve Murgaski. He's coming over to visit tomorrow and will be the very first guest to make use of the ability of my futon to turn into a bed rather than the couch that it normally is. It'll be damned good to spend some time with him again. I called my worker for Halton Housing to inform her of this as I've been instructed to in my leace. She sounds like a pretty conscientious woman. I think it's safe to say we'll get along well enough. It feels damned odd to have to do that before a friend stays over. Very unnatural. Presuming I ever get into a serious relationship again as I'd very much like to, it'll feel even more awkward meetting that condition. So much for spontenaity. They can't refuse me the right to have guests stay over but it almost feels like one is asking permittion rather than informing them of one's plans. I guess I'll get used to it over the years ahead. In all other respects, it's hard to imagine being in better circumstances as a single man. I can certainly deal with the odd sour note like that. I'm not going to have people stay overnight all that often in any case.

Things are as ready as they can be. I figured out how to transform the futon couch, tidied up, stocked the fridge with drinks and made damned certain there are icecubes aplenty. He couldn't have timed his visit better as I've just gotten my groceries. We'll have a couple days of excellent conversation, doubtless listen to some digital audio of interest from our respective collections, and very likely meet up with my parents for a meal out and to test my Trekker Breeze. No, dear reader. The update still hasn't arrived from the folks at Humanware. I figure that the longer they work on it, the better it'll be. I'm a patient man even if I'm dying of suspense to see what they've come up with for the little gadget. Until I kick the bucket, there's always tomorrow. My Snowflake microphone arrived today. It seems to be quite an excellent microphone. I still have to test it more with my netbook and may try doing a better audio tour of my apartment for Blindcooltech. I'd be able to record directly into mp3 using Goldwave. We'll see how that goes.

It's approaching eleven o'clock as I sit here at my desk. I have a nifty piece of instrumental music from the Lady in the Water soundtrack called Charades. It has a wonderful adventuresome feel and blends well with the forest soundscape generated by Aura. I feel tired and hope that tonight will be a restful one. Guess I'll post this entry and find out.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

A Happy Easter Weekend

Hello everyone. Compared to last Easter, this one is kicking some serious ass. My grandmother came over for a visit this weekend. It was fun to have her visit the apartment. She was impressed with all the gadgetry her financial gift allowed me to purchase as well as by the building in general. Now, she has some sense of what my living circumstances will be for the foreseeable future. Last year, right around now, I was enjoying another Easter weekend confident that I was well on my way to marrying Janene. I'll doubtless always think of her around Easter time. So much love, trust and respect built up over two years just tossed aside. So much opportunity for a future at least a little closer to the kind I had hoped for and still hope for eventually. I know I'll live an enjoyable life here. There'll be friends, social gatherings to go to, family close at hand, and provided I stay disciplined about it, no extreme financial worries. I definitely won't be starving any time soon. Once you've experienced love, however, even if it has ended in failure, there's just no going back. That sense of incompleteness and wasted potential for good just doesn't go away. It retretes for a while and then returns in force in all too frequent moments of silence and solitude. What does change for the better is one's ability to get past that and enjoy life's blessings. Tomorrow ought to be another excellent day. There's a lot going on at church including games night which I haven't attended in a while. Life does indeed move on. There are simply a lot of days where it does so all too slowly. But I get ahead of myself. I really meant to start with thursday.

On thursday, Dan came over with his family. Ava and Amia were getting into some nifty April Fools action. They had put toothpaste inside some Oreo cookies to fool Dan. I think he suspected something but went along anyhow. They brought a cake over for their grandfather who soon discovered that the cake was a cardboard box covered in icing and decorations. Everyone had a good laugh. Ava and Amia were as full of energy as ever. I think they overwelmed their great grandmother a tad. They got their Easter bunnies early as well as some rather different eggs. These were made of different colours of sidewalk chalk. They certainly got tried out on our driveway and seemed to please Ava and Amia. That night, we went to Score's for an excellent dinner.

Whenever my grandmother visits, you can bet there'll be at least one outing to a casino. This time, there were two. After an early rise and therefore quite relaxed morning, they came by the apartment to get me. I went in expecting to lose twenty dollars and this was precisely what transpired over a couple of hours. Chance favoured none of us that day. We went back to my parents' house for a rather ordinary lunch. I had been looking forward to a meal out either at the casino or perhaps a stop at Symposium when we walked there. As things turned out, neither of those occurred. Dad, my grandmother and I walked over there to show her my GPS in action and then simply turned right around heading back. Dad and I get along quite well but I find that I increasingly run into places like this where he just doesn't have the same view of what makes a day special. It would have been great to actually go in, have a drink and rest a bit. Dad just tends to always want to get home from things. In fairly short order, I should be able to get there myself and have at least one place where I can simply choose to stay if I like. One of the reasons I don't tend to gamble is so I have some spare money to enjoy hanging around a place like Symposium. It looks like it'll be a special spot for me for years to come. The first place I learned to get to safely where I made enough of a difference to be remembered by the staff there. It would have meant something to stop there so my grandmother could have gotten more of a sense of the place than just going up to the door. That just seems to be how things go though. It's one of the ways I feel increasingly divided from how my family does things. For most of my life, I've had to deal with the reality that I've nearly always been on someone else's schedule when travelling anywhere. I've had to leave an event when whoever took me there felt that it was time to go. That was one of the big reasons why New Year's Eeve parties with friends became so meaningful to me.

Mark and Wendy are two people who seem to have some sense of this sort of thing. I always enjoy visits and outings with them. They like to soke up whatever place we go to. I guess it's partly just that they're still in their thirties and my father isn't. Same with the church people I'm beginning to know. They're certainly a busy lot but still manage to truly enjoy a good time without there being an almost audible timer ticking down in their heads. A part of my sense of this has to be a product of the unusual circumstances society has seen fit to put me in where I have vastly more time at my disposal than most people but find it so hard to go to many places. I'm aware enough to have a sense of the kinds of experiences I could have but paradoxically can't enjoy alone.

At least in this immediate area, that will all start to change over the next while. I'm beginning to find new friends who seem interested in doing things with me who are astonishingly close enough to easily arrange this. It won't be an imposition to come and get me. Also, now that I've got a couple of the bus stops in my GPS, people can come to see me and I can get them safely back to my apartment. Admittedly, there will then be the bus schedule to contend with. Eventually, I may take yet another crack at getting better with bus routes. That's at least a couple of years off though. First comes everything within walking distance. Now that I'm here for what could be the rest of my life, it actually makes sense to put in the time.

Getting back to my apartment for the afternoon seemed like the best idea. Everyone else seemed ready to nap or rest anyhow. I figured I'd get a coke and go out onto my balcony for the afternoon. I brought out the netbook complete with lapdesk and speakers to test out how well it would all work while I didn't have an actual table out there. I went back to retrieve the full glass of coke classic I had poured and put ice in. That was where things took a turn for the worse. I misjudged where the glass was by a little and knocked it backwards on the corner of my desk where I had left it. The good fortune so conspiculusly absent at the casino stood me in miraculously good stead here. The torrent of coke was first thwarted by the paper towels I usually keep weighted down by the soapstone bear ready to deal with what are usually minor spills at my desk. These towels absorbed and slowed the coke in its headlong rush for the cable-rich area behind my desk. The Shamwow which I keep ready to hand also did an utterly astounding job here. Unless you face a circumstance like that, you'd just never believe how effective the things are. I spent around an hour I had looked forward to relaxing in cleaning up all that cola. Miraculously, I seem to have succeeded to the point where mom couldn't see any remaining for her to wipe up. Note to self; Next time, take the coke out first and stash it safely in a corner of the balcony out of the way. In dire need to relaxation at this point, I went out with a fresh coke and sat on a lawnchair. Sadly, I soon discovered that my lapdesk wouldn't work due to the arms of the lawnchair and the cable of my USB speakers was too short to have them rest on the balcony with the netbook on my lap. Before I spend any serious time out there, I'll need a set of patio furnature with enough weight so that wind won't blow it right off over the railing. I eventually got my small netbook case which doubles as a lapdesk. This doesn't allow for the speakers but at least rendered the netbook and WIFI adapter useable. The adapter worked splendidly in tandum with my new router giving me terrific Internet speed. I got CBC Radio1 streaming perfectly via Winamp and put up with the less than stellar sound of my netbook's built-in speakers while at last enjoying an ice cold Coke Classic. It'll be a great setup when I have a table to asemble everything on. As it was, I didn't stay out all that long. It's just a whole lot easier to enjoy oneself seeted in comfort in front of a desktop PC with Bose Companion3 speakers, plenty of room for a drink and nothing precariously pirched.

Later that evening, we went to Jim and Carol's for dinner. That was a very good meal. The cardboard cake made another levity-causing appearance. Before they started watching TV shows and playing cards, they brought me back to my apartment. I don't take an interest in either the particular shows they like or in card games. Both activities tend to somewhat inhibit conversation. My old friend Minney phoned so I spent some time out on the balcony while talking to her. She seems to be doing well but be very busy. I have some faint hope of her visiting within the year. I don't intend that to sound as crass as it might. She's just one of those people who never finds the time. Life sweeps her along as she tries hard to make ends meet. She's the only friend who I've kept in touch with from the Clearview church. Thank goodness I seem to be doing quite a lot better at the Meadowvale CRC in the friendship department. It makes a substantial difference.

Today was another very good day. I ended up breaking even at the casino so I effectively only lost twenty dollars. I'd have paid that to treet to a meal or go somewhere else on an outing with family so I don't mind that. We took my grandmother to Bright Ontario where she'll visit her sister Kay for a while. We had a good lunch there. She was happy to hear about my new apartment. Coming back to the apartment, I soon heard from Fernando. He had tried to call me from his balcony but another person on the ground was also talking to me so I didn't figure out that it was him and wasn't even certain until later that he spoke to me. However, I called him on the off chance that he had. That was fortuitous. He brought over some beef and chicken he had barbecued along with some salad. He's a splendid cook. I enjoyed an impromptu early dinner and treeted him to a couple of beers. It felt great to have him over for a good talk and a couple of drinks like that. Our conversation was pretty wide-ranging and most enjoyable. I look forward to many more such with him and his family. After Fernando left, I tidied up a little and then though to open my balcony door. It got quite windy this evening. Standing out there with so much air moving around was rather neat. I must confess to have been sorely tempted to get one of those Glad garbage bags and let it rore off propelled by one of the strong gusts. Of corse, such acts are sublime when contemplated but lose their lustour once perpetrated. I know I would have worried that the bag might have made someone else's day more difficult than necessary. Still, it doubtless would have sounded nifty.