Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Pleasant Times

Hello everyone. It's been a little while. I didn't have a training cession this week but am continuing the process of fine-tuning my new computer and speakers. I've been fiddling with some of the audio enhancements built into Windows7. It turns out that these speakers are not quite as suited to gaming as I had hoped although I still have hope that the newer games will perform better with them. I can play older games with headphones or even with the built-in speakers in the Mac itself. I have yet to dig into the Mac ap store and obtain any games for that side of things presuming there are ones I'd find interesting other than interactive fiction. When I'm a tad more confident with Voiceover and the Apple OS, we'll certainly find out about that. As things stand now, I'm growing very comfortable with Windows7. It's great to have things moving so quickly and easily. I've had to get used to a couple of key changes. For now, I'm doing email right from the gmail website rather than through a client. It's a tad more cumbersome but I can make certain that important messages get archived. As long as I keep up with things, it ought to be manageable for now. Eventually, when I'm more comfortable in the Mac OS, I'll doubtless use the Apple Mail program. I took it for a spin and very much like what I experienced. It just seems a bit silly to go into another operating system merely to do email. Once I get my music and stuff moved properly into Itunes, have Twitter and Skype running, and have figured out what word processing tool I prefer, it may not seem so strange to spend a day in a place with no Windows. Moving my music has been only a partial success so far. It looks like the easiest way to do what I want is to have two libraries in Itunes. One would have my pop songs and the other would be for my more instrumental stuff I use for writing and relaxation. I tried importing everything into one library mistakenly thinking it would be easy to sort out into playlists. Won't make that mistake again. On the Winamp side, I've had to get used to not having global hotkeys to do things like pause or move to the next or prior track. I may try coppying my configuration file from my netbook and see how that works. Otherwise, I'd have to disable a whole bunch of the hotkeys which conflict with Windows7 shortcuts. It hasn't all been smooth sailing. I'm still in awe of my scanner's speed though. It makes my older one look like a damned turtle in comparison. Going through a pile of junk mail can hardly be called a chore any longer. The laser printer is also very fast as my father and I found out today.

Things have also been going well at The Dam. A couple of the kids took an interest in me this week and I had some good initial conversations with them. There was also a meeting where I got to meet some more of the people who work and volunteer at The Dam. It's certainly an interesting way to pass an evening and I look forward to more of these going forward. Frankly, I very much doubt I'll come away from my volunteer term there with the kind of life-long friends other people have found through their efforts. Everyone's rapped up in their own busy lives. I doubt I'll run into any of them other than the couple who go to my church in any other context than while we're there for the youth or for meetings. Still, I believe I'm starting to reach some of the kids there. Even if I only make a meaningful difference for one, it's all worth it. I'm backed up by people who really know their stuff and I'll keep on absorbing as much knowledge from them as I can. At first glance, this sort of work doesn't show me to best advantage. I find it hard to know when I'd be welcome in conversation and when I'm merely getting in the way. Also, I can't engage in the games much where a lot of connections are made. Still, there are moments when curiocity and exhaustion give occasion for pause. They'll take a moment to get their breath or plunk down on a chair or couch to rest a while. That's when I can act meaningfully in their interest. I just have to keep ready and patient.

I feel renewed in a fundamental way these days. There's a lot to learn and explore. It also helps that the weather is slowly improving to suit the season we're now officially in. It won't be long before I start walking to the Dam and back. We'll finally see how much all the lessons, gps landmarks and practice over the past year pay off for me. There's also the rest of the training on my computer. It makes such a big difference to have movement in a few different directions in life. Last weekend, I was visited by Mark and Wendy. We went out to South Street Burgers for dinner and they also stopped in for a visit in the apartment for a while. I actually spent Earth Hour in conversation with people who were around my age and physically present. Finally, I have real reason to hope that it's the start of another trend which continues. Special days lose so much of their meaning and impact if they aren't shared with others. The next day, there was Soup Sunday at church followed by a visit to mom and dad's house to see Allison and my three little nieces. Dan had to work this time.

When you have this much going on in life, that painful sense of disconnection really fades away. Getting to this point has been a long slow cumulative journey. There's a growing sense that my hope for better things to come isn't just a desperate attempt to keep my head above water by denying reality. There really are possibilities. Being cheerful and sharing that good cheer has become much easier lately. Best of all, I don't have that sense that it all might evaporate on me. While I very much hope to find my special lady, I've reached a point where I can cheerfully wait and, for the most part, enjoy life as it is. It's a very good psychological place to find oneself.

A major accessibility conference just happened and I haven't even kept proper track of what went on there. In earlier years, I would have listenned to every single podcast which resulted from CSUN and other such conferences just to pass the damned endless time. Having more to engage with has also given me the perspective necessary to turn down a chance to become a governing elder at my church. I'm honoured that they recommended me but I just haven't been a member long enough to do the job justice. I need to know a lot more about how things work and how decisions effect the church before I put myself in a position to shape that process in such a substantial way. Perhaps, after another two or three years attending, I'll feel like I've gained enough perspective to do a good job of it. I'm simply too new a community member at this point. Also, my relationship with the church is too important to me to put short-term gain in front of the larger long-term picture. In all likelyhood, I'll be here for quite a long while. Over the shorter term, I hope to have more experiences with various aspects of the church. I may look into going on a short mission trip and get at least a modest look into that aspect of things. Also, if there's a need for more involvement in other areas like the classes on the Belhar confession, I'll be ready and willing to attend and do what I might.

It's just coming up to eleven PM here. Today has been a very good one. I listenned to some nifty podcasts. One of which was an episode of Ideas about what it's like to go into space. Grab that episode while you can. Dave Williams and his fellow astronaughts do a splendid job of sharing their experiences. A couple of recent episodes of Age of Pursuasion were also terrific. One looked at key women in marketting history. The other looked at people who took risks and thereby acomplished noteable success. Both episodes were fascinating as that show tends to almost always be. I spent a short while out on my balcony just taking in the soundscape as I stood at the railing. Haven't done that in quite a spell. Earlier, before I went out to lunch and drinks with dad, I had a bit of a scare with Rogers billing. I accidentally hadn't paid a good chunk of last month's bill. I hadn't realised that there were two separate acounts online for my iPHONE and for my internet plus cable TV. I had just paid the phone portion figuring I'd eventually see the rest of the balance owed pop up in that same acount. It never did and I never checked the acount selection part of the page. I know better now and can keep things more on the even keel I prefer my expenses to be. Automating payment isn't all that smart in my position since there could be times when it might very much matter when I pay such a big part of my expenses from my balance. Gotta make certain that the funds are actually there. Nice to have everything paid up again. Economics are getting somewhat tighter but are still quite manageable with proper discipline and patience. I very much enjoyed hearing Star Trek First Contact earlier this evening. That was one of the two best Star Trek films. It sounded splendid through my new speakers. So much depth of story, character development and ultimate hope for a better future packed in that one. Goodness! Winamp seems to be sending me a message. Of all songs, it picked Michael Gettel - The Storyteller Sleeps. Go figure. As I'm starting to lose focus, that strikes me as a good idea. Until next we meet, dear Reader, pleasant times.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

My New Digital Home

Hello everyone. I've been a little busy and insomnia prone the last while. This is my first blog entry from my new digital home, an apple iMAC computer. So far, I've been sticking with the Windows7 side of things and loved it. I expected a far steeper learning curve but so far, things have proved very intuitive. I've Essentially moved everything I want handy from my 400 gb external drive. Not everything's actually installed yet but it's all on the hard drive. The amount of space I have is fantastic. Each partitian has five hundred gb. There are certainly some differences regarding Windows7 but it's not the totally different beast I thought it might be. I also very much like the latest version of Jaws. Nice to have that all up to date again. I can at last get back into playing Nethack among other things. It ought to make a good way to get familiar with my Braille display. I was quite pleasantly surprised by how portable that thing is. It comes in its own carrying case and won't present any difficulties taking it where I need it along with my netbook or iPHONE. /

My new Bowse Companion5 speakers are terrific as well. It's not precisely like full 5.1 sound but it's probably the best one can get without actual speakers on the rear wall. Very impressive with mobies. I haven't installed any audio games yet other than Super Egg Hunt but it ought to be terrific for things like Super Deakout, Q9 or Alien Outback. There's still some fine-tuning with the woofer to get to. I've been experimenting with some of the audio enhancements offered through Windows7 but nothing's really sounded better than the speakers on their own.

I went to have dinner with the family yesterday afternoon and evening. Ava and Amia were in very high spirits and little Leah was very curious wanting to look at everything. Mom and dad are doing fine. Dinner was a delicious stew with home-made biscuits plus a torte for dessert. Earlier in the day, dad helped me get all my various computer dvds and stuff labelled and organised. There isn't nearly as much bloatware as I expected there might be.

Pretty son now, it'll be off to church again. Insomnia has an odd way of stretching time out on me. Yesterday feeels like ages ago. Adding to that impression, there's the amount of progress I've made getting things set on this new computer. Didn't think I'd be nearly so far along after a couple of days. It looks like I'll be using my training time mostly on the Mac side of things. This Windows stuff is a sinch but I'll be thankful for the pair of eyes around as I start exploring how Apple does things. That's an entirely new kettle of fish. Tomorrow, I'll be getting my groceries and then going off to Future Shop to get a Windows keyboard and USB hub among other things. I'm using all my USB ports and could use more to have my Braille display and things all hooked in directly. Tuesday, there's the Dam in the afternoon. After that, things are pretty clear for my training cessions. It should all make for a nicely busy week.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Interesting Times

Hello everyone. It's been an interesting while since I've written an entry. I've met my newest niece Leah. She's a very cute and healthy baby. I forgot just how incredibly small they can be. We celebrated mom's birthday in fine style over a weekend with both friends and family. Ava and Amia were in their usual high spirits as well. I've eaten a lot of interesting and good food lately. We went to Lucy's Seafood place where I had my first experience with lobster in the shell as well as crab legs. I can understand lobster as there's enough meat to justify the effort of extraction. It tasted quite good in garlic butter. However, I fail to comprehend why crab legs are so expensive. They're thin spiny things which are difficult to crack open. Once you do this, the return is a sliver of meat no bigger than a thin french fry. I've also been to Jack Aster's with a family from church. I hadn't been there in at least a decade. Their burgers are very good indeed. Eating out has certainly helpped to stretch my groceries over the past while. I'm still tipically getting orders in the $200 range which last twenty or more days.

Normally, I would have gone to Games night last sunday. However, I had the opportunity to meet a family who goes to our church. They think of themselves as radical christians and definitely live up to that description. Had I come across them earlier in life, they very well might have scared me away from belief in God for keeps. They have some very strong oppinions about people which I simply can't agree to. I think they're going to be very interesting and challenging friends. We'll have to agree to disagree about quite a bit I fear. Despite disagreeing with them and having my overly litteral scriptural interpretation alert set jangling like no tomorrow, I thoroughly enjoyed my afternoon and meal with them. As Captain Robert April says in Diane Carey's Final Frontier, "It's exploration of a worthy kind." I feel sharpenned in my own faith and hope they feel the same having met me. It'll be fascinating to see how they get on in church over the years to come. It certainly doesn't seem like it would be the best fit for them.

This desktop PC continues to be more scarcely populated with software and data as I continue to ready it to be given to a new owner. In contrast, my netbook is very full while it serves as the home base for my iPHONE. That little device is slowly starting to feel more natural to use. I don't find myself having to consciously think about quite as much while I operate it. There's still a slight hesitancy as I answer calls and such but that's finally seeming to fade a bit. I just keep expecting buttons and there aren't any.

Today, I've learned what true musical torture is. Who would have thought that the Chipmunks would do a version of Achy Breaky Heart? It was the most repulsive combination I hope ever to hear. Two annoyances blending together to make something truly dastardly. I wanted to tune it out but the shere timpanic monstrocity held me transfixed in my anguish. Talk about a vicious earworm. I'm left longing for the damned smurfs theme or something equally vapit but pernitiously catching to get those chipmunks out of my poor head.

Tomorrow, I'll be doing lunch with dad at Symposium Caffe after hearing the Discovery landing for the last time. I've been thinking lately of how many times I've heard that ship launch and land over the years. Space activity has captivated me for as long as I can remember. It's such a clear reminder that we have so very much to learn about the place God made for us. I don't want to go there myself but can't wait to hear what people get up to out there.

I learned on sunday that I had been recommended by someone to fill a position of a governing elder in the church. I never would have expected that. I've only been going to the Meadowvale CRC for nearly a couple of years. I guess I presumed that people would have had to attend longer than that. From what I've heard so far, it sounds like something I might do well at. It's a three-year commitment but it's not like I have a ton else going on. I'll put my name in the hat and see what happens. God so far seems equivical on whether I do so or not so I ccan't exactly say I feel called to serve any more than I'd feel compelled to jump at any other opportunity to make a difference which presented itself. Perhaps, that's all the calling God deems necessary. I guess we'll see what happens there.