Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Hitting Bottom and Starting Upward

Hello everyone. At long last, I seem to have well and truly left this latest bout of insomnia behind me. Last Saturday was utterly torturous. I woke up at a quarter past three and couldn't get back to sleep if my life had depended on it. Resigning myself to the inevitable, I got up at that ungodly hour and began puttering around. I finished Jurassic park for the second time in around seven or eight hours during the long and empty day. It had threatened to rain out and I was little more than a zombie of my usual self just trying to stave off silence and keep my brain occupied. It's on days like that when the disconnected nature of the sort of life society has tossed me into really hits home. The hours just seem to crawl past with nobody to talk to and not enough energy to initiate anything. I had truly hit bottom once again with insomnia. This time around, there were thankfully no nightmares. I still vividly remember fragments of the five-nightmare horror marathon I went through last time I hit bottom. Despite dozing off for chunks of Saturday, I still find it stupendous the kind of tricks time can play with you when you're down for the count. This made even those long anticipatory Christmas
eves seem like walks in the park. Just three or four dreamless dead hours of rest preceded the longest most boring day I can remember. There were a couple of gems. I heard an interesting show about Nostradamus on History Channel. Also, another hour was helped along with a BBC Radio documentary concerning highwaymen. I hadn't realized that in some old pubs over there, people could just open a hatch under the bar and relieve themselves into a "piss channel"[Who'd have thunk?] That was the actual name for the thing.

To my utter surprise, I had a fantastic sleep Saturday night and was brimming with energy on Sunday. Church was a much-needed bright spot in the morning. After that, I was determined that I would go out and at least attempt to find some company for more of the day. It felt like I had been cooped up in there for a century. I also wanted to take the Trekker Breeze with new maps finally installed for more of a spin. Things didn't go as planned. I was so used to taking everything it said with a healthy grain of salt that I ignored signs of its being truthful with me until it was latently obvious I had gone well off course. Rose happened to be riding out there on her bike and got me back on track. I'm beginning to think that I'll have to re-record all my routes now that I have the new maps and software. Lunch at Symposium Cafe was certainly not a disappointment food-wise. Also, I enjoyed the snippets of conversation that the serving staff have time for. There's just that damned empty space that a friend or better yet, a special lady should occupy. I got more fortunate on the way home. The GPS worked perfectly and I was going the right way when I happened to cross paths with Pastor Sam and most of his family. They invited me back to their place for a drink and chat. I spent a good chunk of the afternoon chatting with them. Sunday more than made up for Saturday's troubles.

Over the past few days, I've consistently gotten up at around seven, or eight in today's case. Monday was a little dull but I managed to keep occupied with some online chatting and descriptive movies on Samnet. Also, I purchased the full version of Time of Conflict from GMA Games. I'm still not great with it but it does pass the time trying various strategies against the computer's forces. Yesterday was more interesting. It started with a mobility lesson which went alright. My instructor is taking a week off so I won't have one next week. I will, however, be attending a building barbeque with a new acquaintance I've made while strolling around the lake. I've been doing that more lately. It's proving to be a great way to kill time, get exercise and meet people with a bit of time on their hands. I've gotten contact information from a couple of them now. Not certain if things will go beyond basic acquaintance level but at least more people are actually taking time to ask questions and not just walking past with no more than a greeting. I certainly plan to keep at it as long as the weather's nice and I'm awake enough to make a competent effort of it. Sooner or later, if I keep it up, I'll hopefully become more engaged with the people around me. Perhaps, someone will say something that inspires me out of my writer's block. I'm certainly not there yet but it's starting to feel like I might be headed in the right direction at long last. The trip to Lake Jo is likely the best hope but perhaps, something will turn my creative wheels sooner.

Yesterday ended with the launching of a great new talk show on
Jonathan and Julia are two very engaging hosts. I've always hoped they'd do a show that was mainly a talk show and not full of music. They chose "blind moments" as their first theme and had people skype in to tell the audience about those moments where blindness has led to embarrassment or funny outcomes. I shared a couple of stories including the hooded winter walk I took to English class one day while attending Erindale University. It's been quite a while before I've felt like committing to anything online but catching and participating in the Mosen and Minx show is something to look forward to each week. I introduced Sandy to Mushroom FM just before the show and haven't touched base with him yet to see what he thought. I'll be seeing him tomorrow evening to help him with his computer unless something changes that plan.

Today has been less eventful but nevertheless enjoyable. I went out to Symposium Cafe with my father for a midday meal and martinis. There was no need for supper after that so I've simply enjoyed the rest of the afternoon and evening. It felt like it was going to rain so I only stayed a short while out on the balcony with my netbook. It was terrific with that nice breeze. I took in a TV show on History channel about Alcatraz. They were investigating paranormal activity as well as the only possibly successful escape attempt. The paranormal stuff is just bunk in my opinion but is nonetheless entertaining. Not much else on TV tonight but I still have a bunch of podcasts and convention coverage to get to over the next couple of days. On Friday, I may be off to a family gathering and swim if it ends up being warm enough. Seems like it will be. Well folks, I'm off to bed now. Until next we meet, let the good times roll.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Busy Tuesday

Hello everyone. Today is certainly off to a good start. Moshi performed beautifully waking me up at seven as I instructed the little gadget to do. She was a little less keen to silence the alarm. Selective hearing trouble perhaps? I'll have to get her some AAA batteries. I've already had a small power failure here long enough to force me to reset Moshi's sense of time.

Today is a nicely busier one. I've got a mobility lesson with Harpal this morning in less than half an hour. Getting over to the bank is slowly coming together. Later in the evening, I have a meeting with the men's group from church. I expect we'll be discussing the next thing to be looked into. Apparently, it's going to rain this afternoon but things should be fine for this morning's lesson. I've got a little tidying up to do around here. Haven't vacuumed in a while.

Every so often, a song emerges that just totally hits the spot of where one is in life. This Summer, that song is on Amy Grant's new album. It's called over night and deals with how hard it can be to wait for what one hopes for. Somehow, unlike when you hear it from parents or friends, the message that all will be well in time and be all the more meaningful because you had to wait singks in powerfully. That seems pretty counterintuitive particularly given my normal stance of avoiding most overtly Christian music. Amy grant seems to have a real nack for not bible-thumping you. One can imagine hearing many of her hits on an ordinary radio station without suspention of disbelief. Hats off to her for winning space for some mp3s on my hard drive.

Another aspect of that Malcolm Gladwell book which deserves mention is the part where it goes into just how detailed and varied facial expressions are and how much we voluntarally and unwittingly give away with our faces. Any idiot who still believes that "blindness is just a nuisance" after reading that had better think again. I learned more from that book than from all the drama classes I took in hopes of getting a sense of that sort of thing combined. I miss out on a whole ton of information about people around me. Perhaps more disturbingly, what might my face be telling them which is outright wrong or unintended? Well folks, I'd best be off.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Having a Ball

Hello everyone. It's around two in the afternoon. I just tried to go out for a walk and discovered what a dreary day it is weather-wise. Got all geared up in hat, water bottle, Trekker Breeze, cell phone and digital recorder only to walk out into a thankfully gentle but persist ant rain at the moment. In all other aspects, things are going alright with the exception of zero creative inspiration. Yesterday was an excellent end to the weekend. In many respects, it more than made up for my failure to get out during the evening on Canada Day. Not certain I blogged about that so perhaps a slight digression is in order here.

I had gone out to have a stroll around the lake and hopefully some interesting conversations on the way. Everything went well and I indeed met a number of folks. It got cold so I went in for a while. Changing into longer pants, I figured I'd spend a couple of hours catching up on stuff inside and then head out to hear the fireworks which I presumed would be in the area around the lake. At the very least, I figured there'd be people out there. With my trusty Trekker Breeze and cell phone, I headed out wearing my light jacket. Unfortunately, I got one small detail mixed up in my mind. At the beginning of the walk out towards the path around the lake, you need to pass a small building for underground parking on the left side. I somehow got it into my head that I absolutely had to pass it on the right. It's like when you're dead certain that you purchased something and look around in every conceivable place you imagine you may have put it when ultimately, you never bought the item at all. That's the closest analogy I can come up with. Passing it on the right leads you to a dead end and I couldn't for the life of me figure out why I wasn't coming to the turn leading down to the path round the lake as expected. A well-meaning lady saw me out there as I made repeated attempts to find my way onto the path. Like most sighted folks, she didn't comprehend how one very small detail can make so much difference. She thought I should just stay where I was and not get lost. I got the impression she left with one that I was a disaster waiting to happen rather than an intelligent single blind man just one crucial fact short of getting where I wanted to be. Knowing full well that it would be something dirt simple and damned obvious to my father when he came the next day to get me on the way to a family activity, I eventually gave up and went back inside where I heard plenty of fireworks and people from my balcony in utter solitude. I was literally steps away from a long-held dream of attending a cultural celebration taking place where I wouldn't have needed any help getting to or from the gathering if that one small detail hadn't lost its integrity in my head. It would have made for a splendid end to an otherwise great Canada Day even if I didn't end up encountering anyone particularly willing to converse. I would have been part of the celebration taking place in my community on my own terms for the first time in my life. At least I know that stuff happens there now. Next time, if I'm not somewhere else with friends or family, I'll damned well be out there. If I'm to have a less solitary life which positively impacts my community, I've got to give people as much of an opportunity to get to know me as possible. Nobody has yet come and knocked on my door. That just doesn't seem to be done around here. Shared purpose or shared events are the only avenues to building connections. The church has certainly provided that to a degree. However, I'm going to need more than that if I hope to make any permanent headway against long bouts of writer's block and times when I go two or more consecutive days without seeing anybody. This is particularly the case in the winter when it's a lot harder for me to get anywhere alone. Since there's no indoor social gathering spot in the building that I'm aware of, taking a walk around the lake is my best option for the present. I can do that without fear of getting too lost and can therefore meet people in a situation where I'm confident and competent.

Yesterday, after the church service, a whole bunch of us went out to watch the World Cup Soccer game at a Boston Pizza in Oakville. I figured I'd go along rather than spend yet another afternoon alone. The game itself struck me as somewhat dull. I hadn't heard a Soccer game since I was forced to go along when my brother Dan played with other kids. That has to be something over twenty years ago. I found myself far more interested in the human dynamics playing out in the restaurant. To my surprise, things were very civil despite there being two groups of fans supporting opposing teams. There were a lot more Holland supporters than those cheering for Spain but the Spaniards gave a very credible auditory account of themselves. Neither team actually seemed to get anywhere though. Each time I heard a cheer and felt certain that a goal had at last been scored, I was then told by Joseph that this hadn't happened. Tremendous cheers kept signifying that nothing or "nil"in Soccer parlance, had actually changed. A bunch of people got penalty cards but only one player was actually removed. One goal ultimately decided the outcome. By all measures a non-enthusiast has to work with, it seemed an incredibly poor spectacle. However, nobody really got out of hand or seemed to lose interest. Even the kids were very well behaved and less prone to antics than I would have thought. Neither group of fans put any effort into getting the goats of the opposing side. There were no verbal jousts or anything like that. Even at the end when Spain won the game, it simply provoked a cheerful but contained song from the Spain supporters which apparently wasn't their national anthem. It certainly proved to be an enjoyable time out. I met a few new people and there was lots of conversation to be had prior to the start of the game. When that began, people were understandably otherwise occupied.

Later that evening, I went for another stroll around the lake. Again, I met a number of different friendly people including a Jehovah's witness. I hadn't met up with one of those in ages but found that their message has remained pretty consistent. The end times are *close* at hand so everyone should prepare. I strongly disagree with the first part of that statement. Regarding the second part, I've always thought that the best way to prepare for an event over which we have absolutely no power was to do our utmost to be better people and build a better here and now for everyone. God will take care of the rest. I respectfully let her know where I stood and that while I'm very interested in friends, there had to be more to the relationships I'm after than arguing over theology. As part of a genuine friendship, I don't mind that at all. If, in the course of natural discussion, the subject of religion comes up, I'm happy to have at it. However, having people come over for that specific purpose alone isn't the sort of visitor I hope to have in my place. She seemed to understand well enough where I was coming from. I expect we'll have more discussions while I'm out for a stroll. Other residents also said hello. I couldn't count the number of dogs I met. Ironically enough the dog belonging to the Jehovah's Witness was the least friendly. Having suffered abuse from a prior owner, he was the least able to serve his owner in that crucial ice-breaking way that dogs seem to. If anybody needs a social edge like that, it would have been her. Jehovah's Witnesses labour under a dreadful social prejudice which, at times, I've sadly found was deserved. This lady, however, seemed quite reasonable to me despite our differing prioritization and focus. Usually, I tend to laugh at irony. Once in a while though, as in this lady's case, it's just irredeemably sad. A guy named Kevin was another interesting character who's been here for something like thirty years. He's apparently going deaf in one ear and blind in one eye. For a musician, that's gotta be a bit challenging. He plays at a local pub and says I should call him if I'd like to go there and hear him. That could make for an interesting outing. There were a whole lot of kids out there despite it being fairly late in the evening. They all sound friendly enough. I didn't hear any scraps going on in the playground.

This morning, I at last got around to finishing Malcolm Gladwell's "Blink: Don't Think". I also listened to a lecture he did on TV Ontario's Big Ideas podcast. He certainly sounds full of vital energy. I could listen to him all day. The most interesting part of the book for me was that shooting in New York which Malcolm reconstructs and analyzes near the end. Having read that section could eventually pay huge dividends for me with Enchantment's Twilight presuming I can eventually get that project moving again. The rest of the day has sort of drifted away on me. I got a little cleaning done, heard the news, answered and read a bunch of emails, tried a mildly amusing new free time waster from Blastbay Studios called Palace Punch out, and chatted online. Nothing all that remarkable really. It's approaching eleven as I finish this entry. I'll try and keep these coming out more often until I get one of my projects going or something unexpected comes along and absorbs more of my time. If nothing else, I can look back at these later in life. Who knows? Perhaps some historian will find these entries useful in an unexpected way. It's something at least.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

A Splendid saturday

Hello everyone. Today, the weather has finally permitted me to venture out of my comfortable lair. The heat wave wasn't fun last week but my air conditioner, cold drinks, the odd ice cream treat, and not having to venture out anywhere all conspired to stand me in good stead. I did go out to see my parents and Dan's family. Mom and dad's pool was actually warm enough for me for once. I had a good swim. Seeing Ava and Amia is always special. I'm hoping against hope that my insomnia has finally decided to leave for a while. Thursday was a very long day. I did two loads of laundry on what had to be the hottest day I could have picked. Stepping out into the corridor was like enterring ablast furnace. Still I god it done and had a couple brief chat with folks while I was down there.

I haven't gotten much done this week. Here's hoping once again that my writer's block also decides to back off soon. I'm managing to enjoy life for the most part but will only feel perfectly in balance when I start one of my projects moving forward again. Meanwhile, I keep looking for any opportunities to meet or talk to new people and listening to as much input as I can. One of the highlights took the form of a BBC radio drama about a family experiencing the events of July 7 2005. It was a very well done production and I hope they use it in their schools. It was the most moving thing I've heard in quite some time. Michael Walker always writes excellent radio dramas. His earlier work called Alpha looks at the intersection of religion and artificial intelligence and really provokes some interesting thoughts. Can't wait for his next one. Another highlight was the movie Unbreakable. I heard the described version of that and was quite impressed. All I need now is a girl friend to share this sort of thing with. I keep hearing this interesting stuff and then have nobody there to really talk about it with. So much just gets experienced and then lost. Everyone else is just too damned busy, too far away, or simply not interested. Were I some raving psychotic, I could understand. However, I think of myself is a pretty open-minded, level-headed, honest and fair sort of man. I don't have any hangups over appearances. You'd think there'd be a woman somewhere out there who was around my age, single, and would value what I bring to the table.

Today, I got up early again. Big surprise. I had a nifty chat with folks on Vipconduit. Gonna miss that community a little if I decide not to renew my membership in September. That hinges on what kind of a life I'm leading offline here. I'd much rather spend my money on people who I can actualy experience life with in person. Slowly, on days like today, I'm meeting more of my fellow physical community members. I walked twice around the lake today and ran into a lady who lives in my building. We had a good chat and exchanged contact information. That's a pretty rare occurance. She's a grandmother who lives in my building. Thankfully, she's got an English accent which she hasn't lost while living here so I actually have a halfway decent shot at recognising her voice from a distance or in a group. I've met so many people who sound too damned similar for easy identification but have no idea how tricky that is for me. Like a lot of folks, she certainly seems willing to help out. Hopefully, she'll be up for some interesting conversations. Just now, that kind of stimulation is what I need most. I'm taking pretty good care of myself in every other way. I feel like I've at least started that process of getting to know people. I met a number of other folks walking their dogs also. It's always fun to pat them but I'm just as glad as ever that I don't own one myself. Having grown up with a pet cat, I simply have no desire to be responsible for animals. That form of companionship just doesn't cut it for me. I need people who jenuinely care about me and who I in turn can care about and for. There are so many life experiences which are only enjoyed the most when they're shared ones.

Lately, as I've turned to the online world more for some semblance of company, I've found some solis there. There are some folks who just don't appreciate how circumstancially fortunate they've been in life to have found jobs matching their gifts. Blind people who have found that sort of success just can't seem to fathom how things simply don't work out for their less fortunate fellows despite best efforts. We're just not all superstars. I'd cheerfully shovel shit for a living if someone provided an opportunity with some degree of security. Just pay me enough to afford my own place and save a bit extra. Even unrewarded, I'll put in my best efforts to be as helpful a member of society as I can be. That should damned well count for more than it often seems to. I'd do much much more if I had the opportunity to which actually compensated me for such effort. Money's nice, but when you get right down to it, steady companionship of friends and, dare I hope, a special lady in life would be my ultimate reward. They say all things come to those who wait. I'm being as patient as humanly possible and will continue to be.
I talked to Rose for the first time in a little wile. She's had a bit of a rough week. Apparently, some idiot has accused her of taking advantage of me. I wonder if whoever it was has any conception of how good it can feel to actually be able to help someone during a time when you're feeling supremely unproductive and useless. She's pretty much the only member of the church who has taken the time to get to know me to the point where I can actually do some good. She's been completely honest with me. I have no false hope of us being any more than platonic friends. I would have cheerfully treeted a complete stranger to what I've treeted her to just to get out somewhere with an actual female friend who, unlike the rest of them, has time and inclination to make use of my gifts and time. For once, someone is taking me up on my willingness to help where I can. It's not like there are a whole flock of other people waiting to become involved with me as anything more than a charity case or someone who chats with me briefly on sundays. Though I still believe there's real hope for that over the long run, it's going to take all sorts of unnecessary time while everyone kills themselves racing through overly packed lives and I spend whole days doing next to nothing. Society certainly has a way of wasting human capital and killing or maiming kindness and altruism.

It's been a fantastic afternoon. I may come out again later this evening but the sun has begun to shine in an annoying way at the position on my balcony where I have stuff set up.
that always happens in the evening. I don't mind so much but it heats up my netbook and I'm a little concerned about that. I'm also expecting a delivery fairly shortly. Time to get this posted, pack up and head in after a wonderful day outside. There's church tomorrow. I haven't been in a couple of weeks so I'm looking forward to that. Catch you all later.

Thought I'd keep on going now that my delivery has arrived. I had ordered a Moshi talking alarm clock as well as a new cane holder. My old one needed "mending", as Rose says. Apparently, "sewing" is altogether a different activity deserving a different word due to scale of operation I guess. I like the new cane holder. It's better designed than my old one and ought to hold up nicely indeed. I had to engage in a bit of a battle with little Ms. Moshi though. The clock had trouble understanding that it was "sssssseven" rather than eleven PM. After finally scoring that verbal victory, I next discovered that you couldn't set the date vocally and had to use buttons. Thought I might get away without having to read the manual but I ended up needing it after all to inform her that it was july 10 2010 and not jan 1 2008. Having gotten that matter resolved, all that stood between me and success was getting Ms. Moshi to use degrees C rather than F. That also required the use of a button. Having at last said all the right words and touched her in all the right places, Ms. Moshi is Now behaving properly and will be ready with the scant but crucial information at her disposal when I need it.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Canada Day

Hello everyone. Happy Canada Day. It's approaching five o'clock as I write this blog entry. I'm at last able to sit comfortably out on my balcony. No noisy construction wrecks the experience. Nore are too many jets flying over. It's very peaceful with a jentle wind blowing in over the rail. Last weekend, I went on a camping trip with Ron and his friends. Despite the rain, it was a splendid outing. I met some very interesting people and had an excellent time. As we all get older, things are losing that wild quality they once had. That suits me just fine but the down side is I can't rely on these trips to cure my insomnia. Last night, I enjoyed my first really good sleep in quite some time.

Things are going quite well lately. I've started my mobility lessons and am now concentrating on learning to reach the TD Bank which is near the Meadowvale Town Centre. It'll probably take four or five more lessons or so to really nail that down. The only area where things are going horridly is in my writing. Blog entries and emails are one thing but creatively, I'm in the middle of the longest droubt I've known and feel like it'll take a miracle to unlock things again. I've sat for hours trying to write anything creatively but have nothing to show for my efforts at all. The only thing left to do is to simply stop trying for the next while and try to simply enjoy things. With the nice weather, I've been doing more with people outdoors. That side of life is finally starting to shape up. This evening, I think I'll head down and see if people are celebrating around Lake Aquitain or perhaps at the community centre on the way to the mall. The rest of the weekend will be more family oriented. My grandmother is arriving some time tonight. We'll be doing various things over the next while with her. Poor Ava is ill at the moment so I don't know whether we'll be seeing Dan and his family or not. We'll also be seeing other friends of the family. It's nice not to have an empy long weekend staring me in the face. Think I'll get this posted and continue to enjoy it. Happy Canada Day everyone.