Monday, June 14, 2010

Seated Before Metal and Glass

Hello everyone. It has certainly been another interesting week. When last we met in Frankenstone, I was heading off to a birthday party. That was quite an interesting occasion. The food and company were both excellent. I've also taken a nice elderly lady named Geneva out for a trip to Symposium Cafe. Come to think of it, I've been there about three times this week not counting walking there with my mobility instructor. That first lesson went quite well. She thinks I've pretty much mastered the route and I only ended up adding one additional landmark to my Trekker Breeze.

Sadly, while my life is going quite well, Sandy has had a few unfortunate occurrences happen to him. These culminated in his apartment being robbed a couple of weeks ago. He lost quite a bit and it has absolutely shaken him. Whoever would rob an impoverished helpless older blind man like Sandy frankly deserves to burn alive. I'd certainly put my cane to some rather unorthodox use if I encountered whoever was responsible. Whenever I manage to get any joy at all into his life, something always seems to happen to counteract my efforts. At times, I feel like I've stepped into the book of Job. Thank God for people like John Morgan. He came over to lend a hand and we've at least managed to get him out of the utter depth of despair he was in. His whole collection of CDs, clothes, and even his blank tapes were stolen. I got him some more tapes today and he was able to record his first sets of instructions on how to do things with his computer, or "lessons" as he calls them. We'll finally start to get a sense of how effective a teacher I am soon. I have no idea why he seems to catch all the rotten luck like this. It really does make me wonder if there's such a thing as being cursed. Still, I'm far from ready to give up on him. He'll have at least a couple of friends who'll stand with him through all this crap.

This is the first of doubtless many blog entries written on my balcony table which I picked up and helped assemble today. It's a perfect fit leaving plenty of room on the balcony. Dad and I picked it up this morning. I spent quite a lot of the afternoon out on it. Slowly,it's beginning to chill this evening but I'm still comfortable in shorts and a T-shirt out here. You can hear birds thankfully in the distance, cars, and occasionally, some people. Hopefully, I'm not intruding on anyone else's peace. All my gear is working perfectly out here including the Internet connection.

Things have calmed down a little and should remain so for the week. I have a couple of outings including the last cession of the Truth Project group I've been participating in tomorrow evening. I also have my second mobility lesson on Friday. We'll be concentrating on getting around the mall this time. My profession of faith is this Sunday. I feel like I'm finally achieving some sort of equilibrium. I hope it lasts. In case of another blackout, I picked up one of those crank radios. It was on sale and I've been meaning to get one for a while. This way, I'll have something portable to listen to in an emergency which doesn't require me to wear headphones or need batteries.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Very Welcome Changes

Hello everyone. It's been quite a while since I've updated this blog of mine. I've started this entry on a somewhat cool feeling Sunday morning. You can smell rain in the air which must have fallen earlier. In a little over an hour, I'll be off to church. This evening, I have what I believe is the last of the membership classes I've been taking. The different perspectives on things and questions raised by my fellow attendees have been very welcome stimulation on these Sunday evenings. I'll be making what they call a profession of faith in church and will be a full member after that takes place. It's good to have found a community to belong to. That public ceremony will actually feel meaningful to me. It's a step along a path I've chosen and followed of my own accord. Unlike so many other milestones I've reached, I won't be alone this time. It's not the end of a journey and parting of ways like when I graduated from university. Nor do I have the sense of being utterly burnt out after finally finishing work on my Personal Power guide for blind owners of accessible computers. This time, it's about having reached an important point on a life-long path. I've found an actual physical community where it really matters to me how things turn out and what decisions are taken.

Recently, I attended a conference in London Ontario along with other interested church members concerning the adoption of a new confession of faith. The Belhar confession deals with the issue of racial diversity and discrimination. The conference was clearly organized by people strongly in favour of adopting this confession. I read the document after attending the multi-ethnic conference last year. Personally, I too would strongly support its adoption. It's a very well written document from the South African churches which originally arose out of the idiotic racial segregation taking place in that country. However, they certainly don't have a monopoly on such baseless discrimination. It didn't all vanish when Mr. Mandela was freed. Hiving it stated categorically in our articles of faith that we oppose segregation and injustice is a good thing. Drawing from my own experience as a former community leader, it just plain makes sense from another angle. There are clearly large segments of the church who feel that they haven't been taken as seriously and been given the respect afforded to the white originators of the denomination. Having this confession ratified would send a clear and long overdue signal to them that they are both listened to and valued members even if it is being adopted over twenty years too late to have done maximum good. I honestly can't see what harm it would do anybody to adopt this confession but I'm no theological expert. Whatever happens, I know that my own church certainly lives out the principle of inclusiveness.

On the social front, it looks like I've finally made at least a little progress. Rose has started coming over for walks and visits. She's a very talented woman. When she gets going about science, hang on for dear life. She knows her stuff and has come up with the best theory I've ever come across about how the supernatural is possible. Thank God I've always enjoyed science fiction and techno thrillers. That's the only reason I was able to follow her at all. She's unemployed and recovering from a back injury. That gives her the time to visit me. I seem to make a good sounding board for her. It'll never get beyond friendship. We disagree about quite a bit. However, she's an extremely interesting and engaging new friend.

To add to that, I've had my first group of four guests over. Shane, Chrissie, Angel and Sue were able to join me Friday evening for a wonderful dinner. They enjoyed my potatoes and brought some delicious hamburgers and potato salad. It felt terrific to actually have them over to talk to and hang out with for the evening. There wasn't any rush or agenda. Over the past while, I've gotten to know Shane a bit more. We've gone out a couple of time for drinks. Life has at last lost that lonely empty quality. It's wonderful to have finally broken that "see you next Sunday" barrier.

Mobility lessons are going to start again for me. Harp al is going to be my instructor this time. I had her before in Oakville. Hopefully, what I learn this time will stick better. Harp al did as good a job teaching me to get to Ron's in Oakville as anybody could have. However, I couldn't make use of that route soon or often enough once I had learned it. Within about three months, I couldn't have gone there to save my life. This time, I'll stick to places that I can walk to. One of the first things we'll do is go on the route I've almost mastered from my apartment to Symposium Cafe at the Meadowvale Town Centre. I want to see if she notices anything or has any comments which her training and experience predisposes her to which the people who have been helping me learn the route may not have. Other routes I hope to master include going to my parents' house, the church, the bank, and perhaps learning some of the interior of the town centre that would be easily reachable from the Symposium entrance. That may even be too ambitious an agenda for this first Summer here. I'm presuming I'll see her once per week unless I'm away or she's on vacation.

It's now Wednesday morning. Grocery Gateway has just delivered my groceries for the next while. Unfortunately, I neglected to order some minniolas this time and ordered a very small quantity of very small potatoes. Still having potatoes from the last order and plenty of rice, the mistake with potatoes may not even matter at all. I'll miss the oranges though. Timing is everything. I have lots of other fruit for now. There was only one substitution this time. I could actually recognize everything I ordered without needing my bar code scanner.

I don't usually take this damned long to update my blog. I actually meant to write an entry soon after I went to that conference. Writing hasn't gone well at all over the past while. I barely got an article for my church newsletter done on time and don't at all consider it on a par with my better writing. It seems to have gone over well from what I've heard from people so far though. That's something I guess. Heather seems to have boundless creative energy. She's already working on the second chapter of her part of the project. That's despite having a full time job. She's even entering a three-day novel writing contest. The thought of trying to write a whole damned novel in three days is something akin to downright painful even when writing is going well for me. She has a lot more faith in me than I do at the moment. Thankfully, it looks like I'll have plenty else happening this Summer. June is certainly pockmarked with reminders in Calendar Magic. That program is finally getting some regular use.

I've heard quite a few very moving and interesting documentaries and podcasts over the past while. I really ought to get better at updating this blog more regularly so they get included. I love it even better if I had people to share this sort of thing with regularly. However, nobody seems to have the time or inclination to listen. In all good conscience, I should be at least tweeting about these audio gems as I come across them. I just can't get into Twitter and never know quite what to say in 140 characters or less. Hopefully, one day, I'll come across a special lady who actually values that important aspect of my life. You'd think there'd be someone suitable out there. I guess there are plenty of sports-loving men out there who dearly wish their wives would take an interest in watching their games of choice. One thing I heard was an episode of Babylon 5 which I somehow missed before. It was called Comes The Inquisitor. It was the twenty-first episode of the third season. It dealt with issues of how we can come to believe we're chosen and what can happen when that goes astray. How do we truly know we're the right people in the right place at the right time? In case anybody actually follows through and decides to take it in, I won't spoil the brilliant haunting ending. It's a perfect example of why there's still hope for humanity. There's so much depth in that series but it approaches key moral and life issues with such engaging style. Educators ought to use it in secondary school classes. For anybody contemplating political or leadership roles, it should be mandatory viewing. Another really moving story was a BBC Radio4 documentary called The Travelling Electric Chair. It featured the granddaughter of a black man called Willie McGee who was put to death for sexually assaulting a white woman. She talked to a number of people who either had memories of or were relatives to people involved in the tragic incident. The case stretched over six years and involved people in the early civil rights movement. Right up until the very end, Willie maintained that the sexual encounter he had with this white married woman was consensual. The prosecution claimed that he had threatened her with a knife he was carrying. Both of the participants are now dead so there's no way to actually know for certain. People in the area have put this divisive incident behind them and it was hard for Linda to find people willing to talk with her about her grandfather. I really felt for her. She wasn't out to hurt anybody. She just wanted to know the truth as far as that was possible. She had no malice toward anyone involved. You could hear that in her voice. She ended up talking to the son of the man who prosecuted Willie. He had to decide weather or not to share Willie's last words as told to him by his father. You could hear him weigh his thoughts about confidentiality against this young woman's simple desire to know something of her grandfather. I also found it interesting when she went to see the travelling electric chair which had killed Willie. She was surprised when it turned out to look like something you might sit in on your front porch and watch cars go by. Who would have thought?

As usual, From Our Own Correspondents was pretty nifty. There were a few episodes I hadn't gotten around to listening to. One reporter living in Germany told about how her little girl was afraid in their house and thought she saw ghosts. That's quite a problem over there. She was going to talk to a sculptor who was making stumbling blocks designed to remind people of all the Jews and other innocent people killed during the Nazi period. I guess they're also supposed to help the dead rest easier or something. Some day, all this input will result in more meaningful output into one of my projects. If I could find my in-crowd of people who were actually interested in more of the same stuff I was, that would certainly help in a number of ways. Stephen Hawking's special on the Discovery Channel was also quite a nifty show. In that instance, Rose had also seen it and I had the pleasure of having some discussion about it with someone who was actually interested in the same thing. Like I said before, Rose knows her science.

It's now Wednesday afternoon. Lunch has been eaten. Dishes have all been washed. The counter has been wiped clean. I'm enjoying a cup of chi tea as I resume writing this. During lunch, I listened to another BBC Radio podcast called Digital Planet. They're in South Africa during this world cup soccer thing. Soccer has always bored me to tears but technology and innovation certainly haven't. I just heard how cell phones, open source software and social media platforms are changing the lives of even poor and crime-ridden communities there. Pretty nifty stuff. Didn't think I'd hear from a guy who was just inches away from killing his mother only to be stopped by, as he says, the hand of God. Now, he's doing his part to help his community and is no longer paranoid. Another deep thread running through there is how important stories and narrative are to South Africans. Even people unable to type are becoming able to tell their stories online via You tube. I'm hoping for much the same thing initially for Sandy. I'll be working on teaching him to go to the voice chat rooms where he can start to get to know his fellow blind community members. He's growing more confident going to radio stations. That took a little longer than expected but I'm slowly learning what his pace is. In a couple of hours, I'll be going to Shane's birthday celebration. That ought to be interesting. I've only met one of his friends so far but he certainly seems like a thoughtful man. Tomorrow, I've got my mobility lesson in the afternoon. I'll probably try to get laundry done in the morning since there'll be some sort of repairs going on in the building Friday. Presuming the noise is confined mainly to the lobby and first floor, I may make yet another attempt at making progress with my writing and smashing through this damned writer's block. I'll also try and hook up with Sandy to hopefully get him to a point where he can go onto the chat rooms when he likes. My monthly cd of magazines has also arrived from the CNIB. I'll get to those over the next while.