Monday, November 29, 2010

Parties, Phones and Other Stuff of Life

Hello everyone. It's around nine o'clock on this monday morning. Amia's third birthday party was a lot of fun for the whole family. The trip to Chuck E. Cheese was a big success. Since we went in the middle of the afternoon on a weekday, it was actually not too noisy or crowded in there. I was almost even able to play a proper game of Airhockey but it wasn't quite quiet enough to hear the puck move over the table. Guided around by mom and dad, I followed my two little neaces and helped out where possible. It was lots of fun.

The next couple of days were pretty dull. It was very cold out so the expedition to the bank and to take care of a few other things will happen a little later this morning. It's apparently going up to seven today which is a heeping lot better than minus ten. Trust me on that one. All the more true when part of the plan involves putting a few more reminder landmarks into the gps on the various routes near the Meadowvale Town Centre. I can see my self getting confused next spring when I start using them more again. As much as I enjoy Harpal's company, I look forward to a spring and summer without these lessons when I can just live life knowing how to get around my immediate area. It's been a long year getting to this point.

I've been looking more thoroughly into this whole iPhone thing. In general, I've been impressed to a point where I believe I'll take steps to alter my spending so that I can acomodate one relatively soon. It looks like it'll make more sense to get one through Rogers and sign up for a contract. I can keep my phone number and save a lot on the actual iPhone at the same time. I've learned that it's somewhat important that I get a current iPhone rather than a 3GS one because of a difference in ram available which impacts users of Voiceover due to the extra demands speech output imposes on the phone's memory. Thankfully, I can go middle of the road when it comes to storage space and believe that a sixteen gb phone would do just fine for me rather than the more expensive thirty-two gb version. Of course, I have to plan for however much an extra battery pack costs. Especially when using Voiceover, battery charge gets chewed through more quickly. Each ap will also cost a small amount but I just have to prioritise and build my collection slowly and carefully. I'll have quite a bit of help finding out which aps are accessible with Voiceover as there's quite a community of users now. It's not like I'm going to be a pioneer at all here. Not this time. Given my finances, those days are likely behind me for good. I can't say I mind that overly much. When things are working fine, I'm a lot less tempted to jump off the cliff and try something totally new without having a backup plan.

While friday and saturday were two excruciatingly dull days, sunday was a different story. I had church in the morning which included a soup lunch. Finally got my container back from them so I'll be able to bring potatoes for the next soup lunch unless it's at a point in the Christmas holidays when I've got other plans. I always feel good doing that and people seem to enjoy them. Thought yesterday was games day also but was wrong on that by a week. However, I was able to enjoy another Mosen Explosion during the afternoon. Added to that was an unexpected gathering in the evening held by Doug and Nan. They've made a real point of including me in a good few events over the past while. They sort of ended up having more of an impromptu party than I believe they originally intended and it was damned good to get out and be with people. I figured most people would become fixated in a card game and brought my netbook along to be prepare for that eventuality. There were enough people present that I always had people interested in conversation and never really used it except to allow one of the kids there to see the version of Talisman I have on it. Also, other than brief periods, conversation continued among the card players. That doesn't seem to happen with sports. As soon as a game comes on tv, quality of conversation seems to suffer greatly. You'd think an active card game would have more of that effect. It often does in my experience but not this time. Conversation just kept on chugging along nicely. There's so much history in the church community. Also, there were enough people and things to update each other on that the dynamics just worked better for a pure conversationalist like me. It made me wonder how differently my life would have turned out had my family not moved around so much while I grew up. It's not like we changed cities every year or anything but each move would break off relationships I had started. I didn't know anybody going into my secondary school. Only a couple of people from those middle school days while we lived in North York have ever contacted me. If I'm ever going to find more in life than this apartment and too damned many solitary evenings, it'll be through friendship connection. I've all but given up on another wonderful lady finding me online. Same goes for the job front. I just have to hope that circumstance will provide opportunities for people to see enough of my capabilities and good character to think it worth-while making allowances for my disability in a context more life-changing.

Earlier that evening, I had a conversation with John Morgan. He's still doing well and was quite excited to hear about the iPhone's capabilities for blind people. He had seen them and hadn't given them much thought due to their flat screens just like I originally hadn't. It'll be good to be able to show him something new that he won't have had to pay for at least in my case. He does so much for so many people. Everything from helping them shop to taking them places to getting them equipment they can't afford for themselves. I wonder if anybody but himself and God has a real idea of the shere number of people he's helped over the years. He mensionned at least three people I hadn't heard of before.

It's the afternoon now. Dad and I went for quite a walk and put in the landmarks I wanted. They ought to keep me from too much confusion regarding which way the route to the bank from Symposium Cafe is, [to the right when facing away from the door to Symposium] and the route to the drug store and post office, [to the left past the front of the fitness centre when facing away from Symposium]. We also enjoyed a good brunch. I hadn't had a delux omelet in quite some time and the mango fruit smoothy was as refreshing as ever. There's also a cession of our church mens' group this evening which I'll be attending. A very sharp contrast indeed to friday and saturday's creeping empty dullness. This friday, there's a Christmas breakfast in our building put on for residents. I have a hard time picturing how that's going to work here indoors and how they'll set it up. I don't ever find many people gathered in the lobby at any time and haven't heard about any rooms in the building for that kind of occasion. My friend Shirley is going so I'll head down with her and find out. I don't think they could use a tent at this time of year. Warm days are getting few and far between.

This week will be pretty unusual. I don't often have things happen on three out of five week days. It helps keep me from feeling quite so cut off from the world and divides time up better. I guess this sunday is going to include a games night. Other than that, I have no other weekend plans as usual. Hopefully, a nice bit of inspiration will at last come my way regarding Enchantment's Twilight. A few additional special locations, perhaps an actual game character or two [Dare I hope?], or a chunk of overall story arc. It's such a complex large kind of thing that I guess it might well feel slow even if I were able to put in a solid forty-hour work week on it through some autonomic mental creative inferno. Haven't had one of those since I worked on the Personal Power guide. At least that burst of creativity went to a good cause. On the bright side, I'm getting enough sleep these days so writer's block and a thankfully punctured solitude are the only two demons I face currently. I hope to get through the rest of the year without my sleep being screwed up. That would be nice and might even be an attainable dream. We'll just have to see.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A New Cellphone

Hello everyone. Didn't think I'd be writing in here again for a while longer but I received an unexpected setback yesterday. That marvelous cellphone donated to me around a year and a half ago was suddenly rendered useless due to being unabled to charge. I'm not even certain whether the failure is with the charging port on the phone or with the charger itself but the product has been discontinued now and I can't get a replacement charger. I suddenly discovered this mid-morning yesterday and the battery died. Thankfully, my father and I had planned to go out to Symposium Cafe and it wasn't a big problem to add in an expedition to look into the possibilities of finding an alternative charger. This has sadly proved impossible and I ended up having to quickly decide on a new cellphone. The Doro 410GSM I ended up choosing has the advantage of being a very simple phone with a good tactile keyboard. Unfortunately, I can't make use of the phonebook or most of its other features since it has no built-in speech at all. I can't even check my battery level and won't know it's low until it starts vibrating. I'll have to take my netbook more places in case I need numbers I could formerly find in my cellphone. Because I didn't choose to go with a contract, I thankfully didn't lose out on the $60 balance I had in my acount and will be able to eventually upgrade to an Iphone when my finances aren't quite so tight.

I had an excellent chat this morning in the virtual pub on Samnet. A good group of regulars showed up and we discussed cellphones, American Thanksgiving plus the children in our lives. It passed the time very nicely indeed. I also talked to a young lady who was far from her family doing coledge while serving in the coastguard augzilliary. She doesn't believe she'll be able to see her family until next year due to economics and distance. That must be a pretty hard thing to face on American Thanksgiving and even harder on Christmas. Glad I was able to help her pass some time more cheerfully.

Speaking of cheerful, I'm sitting here in anticipation of the third birthday party for little Amia. It's apparently going to begin with a trip to Chuck E Cheese. I anticipate a great deal of noise and rampant running little feet. I have fond memories of that establishment from back when I was a youngster. After that, it's dinner at my parents' house. I'm going to try and touch base again with Sandy this evening once I return here. It's going to take some geting used to having to dial his number rather than scroll through for his name. For at least the next while though, that's just how things will be. I'll get used to it.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Puttering Through Potter and Passing Time

Hello everyone. I figured it was about time I wrote another update. Things have been pretty quiet over the past while. The weekend was pretty empty of people other than a dinner on saturday night with some long-standing family friends. The food was terrific and included some excellent beef tenderloin. I spent the majority of the weekend reading the final three Harry Potter books at long last. I wasn't ever going to bother having lost interest after the fourth book some years ago. However, seeing as I hope to be volunteering with The Dam soon, it occurred to me that I might as well find out what happened to the little rascal which has so captivated everyone else. I probably skipped as many chapters as I actually read. The books are very well-written and have some excellent morals within them. However, I learned all those lessons from other fantasies which came before. It just isn't quite my generation of fantasy heros. At least I know how it all ends now and have probably read enough to fake my way through a Harry Potter inquisition. I don't believe I'll look into Twilight. I overdosed on Ann Rice's vampire novels over a decade ago and it'll be a while longer before I look into that world again presuming I ever do. I guess I've learned over the past weekend that one can never say never.

This week is off to a good start. I had another mobility lesson yesterday. When we got to The Dam, a student who worked there was present and we got to go inside. I was glad of the opportunity to have Harpal, my instructor, go over the basic layout of the place with me. I don't believe I'll take long to become quite comfortable in there. Having a brief tour also gives me much more of a sense of the function of the facility and volunteer group. Clearly, the emphasis is about having safe clean fun and building mentoring relationships with the youth around that. They have an Air Hockey table in there. I haven't played that seriously for over a decade now. Presuming fairly quiet conditions, I can hear the puck travel over the table and used to be pretty good at it. Doubtless, I'm rusty as hell. There are still some formalities and details to finalise including that police check. I very much look forward to getting started there. If, God forbid, something stops me from working there, I don't really have a plan B. It's getting too cold out there to think about learning yet another route this year. I still have to go over the one to the church one more time with Harpal and make certain I have that down thoroughly.

Today has been a good one. The groceries came in this morning and are now all stowed away. I forgot to get some new granola bars but I'm sure I'll live without them for a spell. Everything else came. I got a couple of different kinds of tea among other things. My writer's block continues which is the only real downer other than not having friends near my own age around here who share interests other than computer games. Yes, folks. Those empty weekends and evenings are becoming well past tiresome. I'd give up a whole lot for a new love in life who was seriously in it for the long haul. The chances of that situation changing any time soon are ghost thin. The closest I'll likely come to having a bunch of friends to converse with are fellow listeners to the Mosen Explosion of Mushroom FM. Somehow, Jonathan and Julia manage to create a kind of community atmosphere which allows me to forget how far apart we all are and how empty the apartment is. It makes for a pleasant four hours on a sunday afternoon even if the music is often older than what I usually enjoy.

Thursday is Amia's third birthday. I haven't seen my two neaces in a little while what with all they've been doing. I hope she enjoys this birthday more than the last one. Dad and I picked out some Christmas gifts last week at the Dollar Store. Next year, I'll see where they're at mentally and whether to take another stab at something from the Discovery online shop. I jumpped the gun a bit with that talking globe but I'll get better at it as they get older and find more interests. Tomorrow, I'll be eating at the Symposium Cafe with my father. Wednesdays are Martini days there and it's been a while since we've managed to catch one. I haven't gone there on my own in quite some time. Lately, it's just seemed like a lot of bother to go there and then be made even more aware of the missing lover and friends who ought to be there with me but are absent from life. Financially, things have tightened up as well over the past while and I've had to re-evaluate a lot of things. I'd happily forego some of the junkfood and more expensive but excellent food I buy to eat here at home if I knew I was going to be eating out with people more often. However, there just aren't all that many activities and reasons to go out anywhere. For me, friends are what turn otherwise empty events into the stuff of good memories. Even a trip to an art gallery has the potential of being interesting if I'm with people who don't mind discussing what they see rather than just gawking at it.

This afternoon, I've been doing some listenning. Soundprint had a nifty documentary in their archives about life at McMurdo Station in Anarctica. It focussed on how people lived up there rather than being about all the science that goes on. It was pretty fascinating. After that, I started listenning to the November 21 episode of Spark. It started out with a neat segment on designing soundscapes for places and the effect of ound environment and noise polution of people. Julian Treasure, a soundscape designer, lived up to his last name for me. He tends to think of sound much as I do. He talks about how people invest so much in the appearance of places but not much at all into how they sound. I certainly choose favorite restaurants on the basis of their sonic ambience and ease of conversation with companions almost as much as the food served. It's nice to know that at least someone out there thinks about that sort of thing. I've paused the episode as I write this entry and soon will make my dinner. Chicken souvlaki plus vegies and dip and some bread seem about right. I'm going to get a burger and fries tomorrow so I'll leave my fresh bag of Yukon Gold potatoes to try another day tempting though they are. Aura, that nifty creation from a kind Russian soul, is up to its usual magnificence filling my apartment with quiet moving forest sounds. I'll hear the rest of the episode as I eat. I've fallen a bit behind with Spark and other podcasts.

I get the podcasts but often at a time when I can't listen to them right away. They'll sit around for days and sometimes weeks before I get to them. Mainly, that's happening because I've been so drained and bored due to how differently things have turned out for me socially than I had hoped. Also, being on that ODSP Fireside group had the same kind of effect that being with Rebecca was having towards the end of our marriage. She dwelled so often on the negative, on what we didn't have, on what was wrong, that I found that I began to do the same thing and ignore the blessings we had available to us. It's an awefully wasteful vicious cycle to get into. Thankfully, I seem to hit bottom and bounce out of it fairly quickly if nothing pulls me down. I don't look at ODSP Fireside trafic much at all these days but plan to keep looking in on things occasionally when I can stand the overarching negativity. Meanwhile, one of the things which has helped pull me up is that my own group, Silver Smiles, is showing some signs of life again. We're still only five members and need to grow a lot larger before anything like steady conversation develops. However, they seem fine with the settings I've come up with for our group as well as with the archives of messages being public. I've made it so that people need to be invited to join the group and can request an invitation. Also, messages from new members are moderated by me. This way, people can't just join up and start making other members miserable. I didn't really want a role of gate-keeper but it seems to have made my current members feel a bit safer so I suppose it's for the best. This isn't at all like the Audyssey community which grew quickly around my magazine. Siler Smiles is a small fragile thing which will need to be slowly coaxed into being. There's a kind of nagging dread of making some foolish mistake which will spoil everything before it really gets going. I feel partially responsible for everyone's well-being just as I did with the Audyssey community before I made the charter and turned it over to others. I take no small amount of pride and comfort from the fact that it's still going strong all these years later. Whether I manage to pull off something similar with Silver Smiles is anybody's guess at this early stage. I think it's a worthy concept and am once again hopeful thanks to today's activity.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Free From Heavy Time

Hello everyone. Didn't intend to leave everyone hanging quite so long after that Halloween stunt. I thought it might draw a lot more comment than it has. It was fun to do though. Just having a fresh piece of writing see digital daylight is a good thing.

Life continues apace although change seems to finally be afoot. I can go through solitary time here without it feeling quite so heavy as it has. Last weekend, the church had a games night. I hadn't been to one in quite some time. I brought my netbook and found a couple of bright kids to play a game of Talisman with. One of them really enjoyed the game while the other was chalk full of questions about what it was like to be blind. Between them and Joseph, I had an excellent time. It also seem that I might get another opportunity to speak to school children about life as a blind person. That's always a pleasure. At long last, I finally met the volunteer coordinator for The Dam. Tht's the place for trouble youth that I hope to volunteer at soon. She seemed very positive about my doing so. She sent five questions via email which I answered earlier this week. Hopefully, those answers will stand me in good stead.

Last weekend was another solitary one with the exception of sunday which was nicely packed with church and games night. I was dismayed to see yet another poor lady get taken to task by members of the ODSP Firesite group for daring to be greatful for what she got from ODSP. I've seen that happen around seven or eight times now since I joined the group. It seems they think that everyone ought to be utterly miserable 24-7 or at least be quiet about their gratitude just because the system isn't working as well for everyone else. They figure that the more miserable we depict ourselves, the more liely we are to receive much-needed change. I fully agree that change is needed to ODSP and the idiotic rules which we must live by. However, I strongly disagree that we shouldn't be publicly grateful for the help we get. I may not be living the live I would most wish to but I'm happy I have enough to live on and a good apartment. I'm also greatful for the friends I have, my supportive family, my church, and a whole lot besides. I don't think it proper at all that I or anybody else in need should feel that they ought to be utterly miserable. Therefore, I felt compelled to act.

Silver Smiles is a Google Group I started which is for anybody facing hardship but who still finds things to be happy about in their lives and wants a place to share with others of similar mind. It also welcomes anybody who wants to get to know us as friends rather than mere charity cases. I thought I was off to a pretty decent start getting five members in the first day. However, that seems to be where we're sitting for now. Also, despite my best efforts, the conversation seems to have gone dead. I also sent out a rough draft of a group flyer for their thoughts on it but nobody has sent anything in days now. It appears that I might just have to take the bull by the horns and lead more unilaterally than I thought. I'm not giving up on this idea. I think the group could eventually do a lot to reduce the barriers which stop people from approaching and getting to know us as people who are worthy of friendship and love who happen to be disabled. So much human capital is just being chucked aside by able-bodied society. I hope I can be of some help to the five people I've got at present but that's impossible if they aren't willing to open up a bit. Guess I just have to keep plugging away at it. To look at the group home page and join up, go to:

I finally took my good friend Adam out for the dinner I had wanted to treet him to. We each had a great meal at Turtle Jack's after a day of gaming. He's deep into his coledge courses now. So far, things seem to be going well for him. I've also been going for walks around the lake with Shirley, a friend I've made in the building here. It's a good chance to get out and talk to someone with a different life and perspective.

This weekend has filled up rather nicely. I'm off to a church gathering tomorrow about that Belhar confession. Aparrently, this event won't be as one-sided as the previous one I attended seemed to be. I've read the thing at least six times now and can't for the life of me see what harm might be done by accepting it. I'm just a novice at this sort of thing though so perhaps I'll get more of a sense of things tomorrow. On Sunday, it looks like I'll be getting together with Mark and Wendy for dinner. It'll be good to see those two again. It's been a little while and they're always fun to talk with.