Monday, August 12, 2013

A Very Good Summer

Hello everyone. It's a rainy Tuesday here at Lake Joseph. So far, my vacation has gone well. It got off to a bit of a crazy start what with everyone checking in around six or well after that as in my case. My friends Mark and Wendy were kind enough to drive me up to the facility and it has become a pleasant tradition that I treat them to dinner at a burger place. We all enjoy our hamburgers and it gives us time to get caught up with each other. I was therefore able to get organized in my room before the evening really got going. The staff were exhausted after having run a fundraiser just prior to our arrival. I have nothing but sympathy for those good folks.

It's Wednesday morning now. Somewhat overcast and rainy. I'm sitting in the lounge writing this blog entry on my laptop. It's gotten a few hours of use already due to an evening's worth of programming which failed to interest me. My iPHONE has seen a great deal of action. It serves as my pocket watch and only means of Internet access. The CNIB Internet has been down so nobody heard about the flooding in Toronto or other news until well after it happened. I got a call from Steve who thought to check if I was alright. He didn't know I was up here. I don't think I have much cause for concern. I imagine the power came back on pretty quickly in Mississauga so my freezer food ought to be fine. Not much else to worry about when you live on the seventh floor.

I lucked out and have a room and bathroom to myself this year. Very luxurious and peaceful. I've had far better sleep here than I had any reason to hope for. People-wise, I seem to have drawn a mostly good bunch of fellow campers. Only one of the people here is a long-standing completely unwitting annoyance. Another young lady with questionable marbles has proven at all irksome. I'm not the only one to find this. She's a case in point of why I don't volunteer here. She got fixated on another new camper who doesn't feel the same but she simply can't grasp how nerve-wracking she can be. I reached the point of telling her she was getting on my nerves yesterday. It takes quite a lot to push me to that point. Volunteers have to grease the wheels and can't attempt escape. Sadly, the poor soul who has proven to be my unwitting equivalent of a missile decoy has a kind of autism and finds this lady very hard to cope with. The staff are quite good with her and try to keep her happy while also keeping her from annoying anybody too much. I really feel for her. Perhaps, in previous years, I might have stepped up to be more helpful. Now though, I find I just don't have the same patience for that sort of thing. I have to choose my moments more. Perhaps, after some time doing different things, that patience will return. I can't say I really feel guilty for this loss of patience. Things have just changed for me. I guess a part of the source for that patience was a need for more company. That need has at last been more fully met in my life.

There's a young lady named Stacy who turns out to be a splendid piano player. I've just taken an audioboo with her music in the background. Hope it comes through clearly. As usual, the food has been excellent here. The bread is just splendid.

Thursday is here. This week is going past very quickly. Still, I'll be happy to be home again. I have lots to do in life these days. It'll be good to properly get online and catch up with everything. I've kept an eye on email thanks to my iPHONE and therefore am aware of a number of them which I should scrutinize in full once I'm back. Had I not been able to keep watch on it, I would likely have missed them in the deluge.

Tonight, I'll be going to the Legion. It's usually an entertaining trip and the beer is enjoyable. Provided the sun is out this afternoon, I'll go for another swim. Ariadne, the GPS app I use most often, was helpful when I went on a longer stroll around the camp. They lay everything out quite well but it's still possible for me to get disoriented. Thanks to my iPHONE, I was able to get back to the boardwalk without needing help. I thought I'd do more reading up here. Mostly though, I find I've been listening to music. Every once in a while, I still come across songs I wasn't aware I purchased. I tend to grab whole albums if I like a particular artist as well as the occasional compilation. Last night, they had Bingo and the laptop got a solid bit of good use. Another couple of people took an interest in an audio drama I listened to while sitting in the welcome centre. I don't anticipate using it much from this point on other than for brief blog work like I'm doing now. It's so much easier just to take the iPHONE with me and hang around people. The Aftershokz headphones are great for that.

Yesterday's panel discussion was poorly situated in the welcome centre. People were coming in and out. A good number of people lost patience and left. Having it on one of the porches or somewhere else more isolated from the comings and goings of others would have born better fruit I think. I advocated for a better stance on technology as well as more intellectually stimulating programming. Not certain how far that'll go given the majority of clients but one can hope.

I have Sara to thank in absentia for improving my stay. A couple of ladies who are mentally challenged briefly took a rather too serious interest in me until they learned that I was already spoken for. They may not be playing with full decks but some of them can really tell when people are being dishonest in order to gently get rid of them. It's like a sixth sense or something.

Friday evening has arrived all too quickly. I'm sitting alone on the porch of my cabin. Tonight, there's the talent show and the dance. Usually, I've attended the talent show weathering the deluge of horrid singing attempts, bad jokes and long-winded sundry items out of a kind of sense that one really ought to. Not this year. It seems that I must face the fact that my inclination to be that endlessly patient supportive camper who grins and bears it for the sake of the fragile eagoes of those less fortunate in the mental department has dried up considerably. The slight guilt I feel at not attending just isn't enough to propel me there. I've set much firmer boundaries around me and numerous campers who, unwittingly or not, fall into that annoying or vapid category. As a result of that, I feel much more well-rested than I have other years. The cost of this restored sense of well-being is a slight guilt that I haven't stepped up to the plate as much as I ought to or once did. I must face the fact that a capacity within me has dwindled with age or overextension. I don't believe I've become a taker exactly. I don't tend to need the staff here all that much and believe I've added to their quality of conversation. I just haven't been as willing to act as a buffer or peace-keeper when it comes to the mentally challenged. I've only really lost my patience completely in one situation so I still did alright this week. I think I just need a good span of time to pass where I go on more trips with sane and intelligent people. It feels horrid to write that, but I wouldn't be honest if I didn't. There's so much I'd like to experience even locally in Ontario like festivals and things. At last, I think I've reached a point in life where I actually have friends who'd enjoy doing some of that with me.

It turns out that one of the people who I had presumed to be a volunteer or staff member was actually just another camper with more capacity for empathy and patience than I had this year. While I ducked out of the way and avoided one particularly irksome lady with an unfortunate series of interconnected difficulties which frayed the patience of many of us , he has tirelessly stepped in shielding us from her and her from the hurt of being unwelcome in conversations. His voice sounds like someone shot his throat full of holes and I think that's the result of being constantly there for this lady. Trevor and I have exchanged emails and if I can ever be of help to this kind and conscientious soul, I'll certainly do so. He has set a very powerful example for me as I've fallen somewhat short of the mark I set habitually for myself. Hopefully, I'm correct in my thinking that a respite from coming up here year after year will restore a little of the poise, grace and patience I feel I've somehow lost. Certainly, I'm no longer in such desperate need for socialization as I have been. What with expeditions to downtown Toronto, visits with Sara, trips to Canada's Wonderland, and other outings, Lake Joe no longer has quite the same pull on me. There are other options for me now at long last. I guess it's time I explored them more fully. Much like giving things up for lent, it's time I shelved this place for a year or two and let the rest of life take its course. I know I'll eventually want to come back again. This place has always been just as much about growth for me as it has been about vacationing. It makes you stretch your definitions of friendship and good company. This week, I've met a young man who feels judged and criticized by most people due to Aspurger's combined with blindness among other factors. He's desperate to find somewhere he will be accepted for who he is. Another lady I got to know was ecstatic to be moving in with her mother leaving a less safe situation behind. You hear all kinds of different life stories. I know that my own stories have entertained and inspired both campers and staff. It feels good to have contributed even if not to my former standards in all respects.

It's now Monday, July 22. I've been taking it easy this past week. Thankfully, unlike other years, I haven't found myself stricken with any sort of illness. I feel pretty confident that what happened in prior years was in fact allergy related. Taking Reactin each day seems to have done the trick. I wasn't troubled at all. I was pretty successful when it comes to packing. Should have taken a pair less shorts and perhaps one or two more short-sleeved shirts but it's hard to be certain of good warm weather particularly during late nights and evenings. Didn't end up needing pants, sleeves or jacket at all. I'd rather be prepared than stuck without items though. My pack distributes weight very well. Sadly, my Gerber Dime multi tool broke while I was helping a somewhat befuddled lady close her pack. There was a tag which had a tendency to stick out through the zipper. She didn't have the coordination to push it back in while closing the zipper past it. The small scissors of my multi tool are perhaps its most frequently used feature and they chose that moment to break apart. I was able to pick the fragment of broken blade from the floor so nobody will be injured by it but it has proven to be impossible to fix the blade. The remainder of the scissors stick out slightly and form a snagging hazard on the multi tool rendering it unwise to carry in a pocket as I've done since purchasing it. Upon my return, I ordered a replacement multi tool. I don't often get confused when online shopping but sadly did in this case ordering the incorrect tool. To return the wrong tool and obtain the one I should have ordered requires getting a drive down to Mountain Equipment Co-op and making the exchange. A wallet I ordered which got good reviews online has also proved unsatisfactory and I'll have to return that as well. On the bright side, the Eton Boost Turbine2000 I ordered was an excellent purchase. It's somewhat more bulky than the external battery I got more than a year ago but the battery can be connected using the iPHONE's USB cable. That'll make it far easier to use and less prone to slightly unplug as happens frequently with the older battery. The hand crank turbine will allow me to charge the battery of both the unit as well as the iPHONE if need be. This would be a fairly lengthy arduous process and I'll likely use the internal battery cranking occasionally in spare moments which I'd certainly have during a protracted period without electricity.

It's now Tuesday morning. I've had an early rise at around four AM but went to bed at a little after ten last night. Hopefully, that's enough sleep for the whole day. I've been working on Land of Trivion. Progress is slow but I'll sure take that over a completely dry spell. It's a splendid day to work out here on the balcony. I'm therefore putting my new Thermo Cafe thermos bottle from Mountain Equipment Co-op to its first test. At seven this morning, I made a latte with my Tassimo machine and poured it as quickly as humanly possible into my thermos bottle using a small measuring jug. The drink doesn't really fill the thermos anywhere close to full. I didn't want to add any extra hot water beyond what the Tassimo permits for fear of wrecking the test. The Tassimo heats drinks to a good drinking temperature which doesn't scald you. In theory the thermos bottle ought to keep my latte drinkably hot for hours according to reviews I've read. Shortly now, it'll be precisely nine o'clock and I'll then pour out a small cup full and give it a try. Long before now, had I left the latte in a large cup as I've done in the past, it would be un drinkably tepid at best. In around half an hour, we'll see how good a solution the thermos actually is.

The Thermo Cafe bottle has passed the test with flying colours. I can pour a hot drink without spilling and both cup and bottle are cool to the touch. The drink has remained nice and hot despite the length of time it has resided in the bottle so far. A splendid and inexpensive solution to my previous problem of heat dissipation.

The cables I ordered from the Apple store arrived two days early. That's terrific because on Thursday, when they would have been expected, I'll be going to see Michelle and Gerry. I haven't visited those two in quite some time and will be interested to see what's new in their lives. Doubtless their computers will need some tender loving care. Speaking of that, yesterday was their seventh anniversary.

The visit went quite well. Michelle is getting very good at taking care of their computers. Jerry wants to get a copy of Qcast to make pod cast listening easier. To do that, he'll need a Pay pal account. He'll have to wait until deposits are made to his bank and he can verify it. I believe I can talk him through the procedure or attend to it myself if need be. This Summer is shaping up to be pretty busy. I'm hoping to see Sara for around four days starting August 1st. We'll see if that pans out or not. Later in the month, there's the cottage trip with Steve. That ought to be splendid. I find it hard to believe how much life has changed since last year when I went up there. I feel like I've really hit my stride in so many ways. Unfortunately, sleep can still be problematic. I've been up since a little after three this morning and I'm starting to flag. I guess it wouldn't really matter if I conked out for the afternoon but I've always hated to just capitulate. It's like when you're eating a crumbling taco and a little stuff falls out. You know the situation's nearly hopeless and that nobody would think any less of you as a person because of the mess other than yourself. Something in me just demands I try and finish the taco with as little mess as possible anyway. Giving in and hitting the sack before a reasonable hour sort of feels the same way. I do tend to get too focused on minute details at times. This is particularly true when it comes to game creation and other writing.

It's now Thursday, August 8. The rest of July was very pleasant but seems to have up and vanished on me. I've been seeing friends, acquiring more game development books, and attending to other projects having totally forgotten that I left my long overdue blog entry unfinished. I was very pleasantly surprised at Mountain Equipment Co-op. The return went very smoothly despite my not having my Mec membership number handy. They even took back my broken Gerber Dime and credited me for the items. That was enough to pay for the correct tool, a Leatherman Wingman, plus a replacement Gerber Dime and contribute towards turtle flashlights for my nieces. Sara is now enjoying the use of this unexpected replacement. Once I was able to feel how sturdy the Wingman and the tools it contained were, I realized that I was quite unlikely to need a backup tool. Sara can make far better use of it.

This past week has been easily the highlight of my excellent Summer. Unfortunately, the cottage trip had to be cancelled and this was a sort of quickly improvised backup plan. Sara came over last Thursday and we also enjoyed Steve Murgaski's company for most of the time. Sara and I listened to a great many pod casts including the Overnightscape as well as a number of CBC Radio Summer programs. It's positively awesome to have someone who'll not only listen attentively but be inspired to talk about what we've heard together. I still find that an incredibly novel and thrilling experience. We really seem to be on the same page on a great many things. After a relaxing day or so here, we went to stay with Steve and visit friends in Toronto. We all had an excellent time and ate splendidly. Steve's parents and other family members were away so we had the house to ourselves. Mostly though, we were out and about seeing friends and visiting restaurants. I believe they call it a "staycation" these days. Nifty how these new terms bubble up and become fashionable. I have a now empty and cleaned out keepsake in the form of what's called a "growler" which once held some exquisitely refreshing Summer Ale from the Granite Brewery. . I spent a most enjoyable evening there with Michelle Mcquigge, a blind journalist who has become a very dear mutual friend to all of us. The food is great and so is the atmosphere. We were able to have a good conversation and truly relax. I felt so much more respected as an adult than at Lake Joseph.

How did I get here? The joyful amazement struck me full as I sipped at my Summer ale. There I was in the middle of precisely the kind of trip I had spent so many years wishing I could go on. I had somehow beaten the odds and found a talented and wonderful girlfriend to share this trip with. Instead of a one-off thing, this past week has built a memory which both of us will treasure as a foundation stone of something greater. We've been talking far more openly about eventual marriage. Given how well things are going, I begin to hope that "eventual" will be much sooner than I would have dared to hope even a few months ago. Add to that the amazing people who I can call friend. Such a collection of experience both on the margins of society and, in one case at least, from its more so-called successful core.

Both Sara and I marvelled at how quickly and pleasantly time had passed while sitting in a McDonald's with Meko, Earle, two adorable little kids, and company. Earle and Meko are both very intelligent and conscientious people who have taken on the responsibilities of parenthood to the best of their ability. In both cases, the relationships which resulted in the children have sadly foundered. Despite that, both remain absolutely committed to their children. It shows in the happiness and kindness displayed by the little ones. They've done incredibly well so far with quite thin resources. To my way of thinking, people who can do that as cheerfully as they can are worth their weight in gold. The school of hard knocks has taught them at least as much about what really counts as I ever learned in university. There's a kind of genuine earnest down-to-earth quality to them which I find very refreshing.

Having those two experiences so close together would, one might think, be quite the contrast. I didn't find that to be the case though. Both while sitting on a padded stool at McDonald's and while sitting on a comfortable chair at the Granite Brewery, I was in the company of friends who each shared and understood aspects of my peculiar life. Whoever thinks that blindness affects people the same way would only need to spend a day with each of us to see just how wrong that is. The same goes for people who experience a long period of unemployment very likely to be permanent due to factors and misperceptions beyond their control. So much of that depends on what gifts and character traits one brings to the table. Becoming chronically angry and bitter at people who are more fortunate is a very natural and, in some cases, a very justifiable response. It's pretty hard to argue that there are a whole lot of vastly overpaid undeserving people. Good hard honest work should absolutely be rewarded. Especially when jobs are more dangerous, there ought to be suitable compensation. You also want to reward people who stay honest despite strong temptation to do otherwise. However, I'm pretty hard-pressed to think of many cases where people truly deserve to be multi-millionaires.

For so many of us, there are no ways to even get into the work force on the bottom rung. There really doesn't seem to be a bottom rung anymore. For sighted people, there are service and delivery jobs. Even there though, the options seem to be less than they once were. My friends and I simply can't avail ourselves of these entry level jobs and therefore can't prove our worth to anyone. Soul-searching and attempting to keep a positive attitude in a world which doesn't seem to need us are the closest thing many of us have to a full time occupation.

I've long since concluded that it just isn't ultimately helpful to go the angry bitter route. I've seen what that's done to me even over short time spans and how self-destructive it has been for others over longer time spans. Thankfully, my family, friends and faith have also helped me to find a measure of contentment and purpose in life. A positive, honest, and responsible approach to life does indeed ultimately prove rewarding in many different ways. Not the least of which is having time and modest resources with which to pursue one's own interests. The only clock I'm on is God's. Seeing from the outside just how stressful life is in the working world, I've gradually come to see all that time as being very valuable indeed. Now, the real trick is to help my soul-searching friends and others in similar circumstances do the same.

I'm ever so glad that from now on, I need not call Peel Housing every time someone is staying overnight here unless it's going to be for a long time. I now feel free to keep someone here if they're too tired or, heaven for fend, too drunk to safely go elsewhere. I only need inform them in circumstances where someone is staying for ten days or so. That's a whole lot more reasonable an intrusion into one's private life.

Speaking of which, said life has now somewhat returned to what passes for normal. It's Friday morning. I've been waking up early at around four thirty or five these past couple of days. I have a dentist appointment in less than two hours. While I can't say I've been a model client in terms of flossing every day, I have done it a good many times. I can only hope it makes some sort of tangible difference. I'm now back and out on my balcony. It appears I have indeed made a tangible difference. The cleaning was notably less painful and there were no comments on the wretched state of my gum ns. That's pretty much as good as dental appointments get.
I have a lot of reading ahead of me. This morning, I started Quicksilver, the first book in Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle. It seems I'm in for a very interesting series. I've also begun reading a number of books related to game development including The Lazy Dungeon Master by Michael E. Shea, Tome of Adventure Design by Matthew J. Finch, Eureka: 500 Plots

to Inspire Game Masters by Martin Ralya, and Uncertainty in Games; Playful Thinking by Greg Costikyan. These are just a few of the titles I've obtained and begun to explore over this past while thanks largely to the Amazon Kindle app. I believe I have put together a good collection of material to keep me moving forward steadily if not swiftly with Land of Trivion. I really don't want to go through another protracted creative dry spell. More for pleasure reading but possibly of benefit, I've acquired a few books on game history including Dungeons and Desktops by Matt Barton and Twisty Little Passages; An Approach To Interactive Fiction by Nick Montford. Soon, I hope to be able to purchase Dungeons and Dreamers when its second edition is released next month hopefully in an accessible format. There's also a Beginner's Guide to Inform7 which I hope will eventually be released in accessible format for iBOOKS or Kindle. I've been able to acquire so many books thanks largely to my grandmother's generous financial gift. They will be providing me with food for thought for years to come as I attempt to find and apply the wisdom of expert game designers to my own hopefully unique creation.

It's a pleasantly cool Saturday morning. I've decided to try one of my ice coffees from Tassimo. Making one of these requires quite a bit of ice since the heat melts so much of it as the coffee falls upon it. After brewing was finished, I added what few ice cubes I had left into the water bottle I thought I'd use. The resulting drink is refreshing and less watered down than I would have expected. Wish I thought to have this stuff handy prior to the heat wave. Very nice. I'll definitely keep some on hand for the next hot spell.

Saturday was very pleasant. I managed not to doze and stayed up until after ten. Rose came over for a brief visit. Things are looking much better for her in a few key areas at long last. A few things are still somewhat up in the air but I've never heard her sound so hopeful and positive about things before. I'm glad I was able to contribute in a small way to add a bit of practical positive fuel to what I very much hope is the beginning of a new chapter for her. That should become more clear over the next couple of months and quite possibly much more quickly.

Those kebobs from Longo's are wonderful. I grilled a few of them and cooked up some potatoes. That pretty much does two good meals. It was also nice to listen to the Bear's Lair and other online radio shows. I'm looking forward to the Mosen Explosion this afternoon as well as a few pod casts as the day progresses. Church, however, is next on the agenda. Back after a wonderful week away. I may also be seeing my parents for dinner later.

It's Monday afternoon now as my laundry is hopefully drying like it ought to. It didn't quite feel like it was vibrating as much as I expected but it's hard to tell when the one beside it is also being used. Every once in a while, one of these sort of nagging doubts will assail me. Usually, nothing is actually amiss. The next order of groceries has been entered and should arrive on Wednesday. My freezer is still quite well stocked so I could spend mostly on other things. It should last me at least a week into September. A new sale should start soon at Audible. Most likely, I won't purchase any more books this month but they do occasionally have good Summer sales that include books I'm interested in. I don't expect anything much to happen this week. It ought to be fairly normal and relaxing. Land of Trivion will get some much needed attention. I'll also get in some walking around the lake and time out on the balcony. I'm indoors today as there's work being done on the building's garage. Did a mission from Zombies Run on my elliptical machine a little while ago. Good to get back to that again.

This time, that nagging doubt about the dryer not functioning correctly was justified. Closer examination of the dryer revealed one of those out of order signs that I had neglected to check for this time. My fault entirely. My close were still quite wet so I've put them into another dryer which thankfully sounds as it should. I'll do my other load later this week. The good thing which came out of this dryer mishap was that I was able to hold the elevator door open while a lady got her groceries off more easily. She seemed so pleasantly surprised that I would do this simple thing for her. I'd think most people in the building would have done the same. They might not go out of their way to meet neighbours but all in all, I've found that people are quite nice here. As I've often tried to convince other cynical people, it really does ultimately pay to be a nice and helpful person whenever possible.