Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Turning 42

Hello everyone. Another very early rise for me. I had a sort of nightmare. I don't get a lot of those these days although the one which has haunted me most of my life still recurrs from time to time. This seemed more like the beginning of something. I was a passenger in a plane from the 1940's. The pilot and I were flying over an area of ocean where something dreadful was under the surface. I was supposed to investigate this somehow. The plane was attacked by two fighters. The pilot shot one of them down. I could hear everything happening as the planes roared in and attacked. The pilot shot one down but the other got in behind us and got us. I heard the plane break up around me and then I was falling through a storm. This was all very vivid. I fell until I hit the rough ocean. As that happened, I woke up but there was a lingering sense of dread about what was under the water. It was something man-made and frightenning. I couldn't go back to sleep after that so I got up. My last impression was that my character somehow survived the fall and would continue. I'm torn between being curious about what might be under the water and the desire for a good sleep. It's been a long time since I've had a series of continuing story dreams. That sense of world-changing aweful dread has faded thank goodness. Not the most pleasant way to begin my last day of being 41.

Tomorrow, I'll be turning 42 years old. I'm in such a different place than I was two years ago. Work on Personal Power: The iOS Edition is going very well. Ulysses is proving to be a marvelous app. I can't wait to find out what the first update to it will contain. They're a sponsor of the National Novel Writing Month. Sara has decided to obtain Ulysses on her iPHONE and try to write a novel. One of these years, I may very well take a crack at it. For now though, I'll try and do an equivalent amount of work on the guide. It's a massive project and will keep me busy for ages.

Meanwhile, thanks to a connection Sara had, it looks like I'll be a consultant on a show called Kelly and Company. It'll be on the audio stream of


and I'll be speaking about iOS and apps useful to blind people. Also, they want me to talk about audio entertainment like accessible games, podcasts and audio dramas. I deeply appreciate the opportunity. It goes nicely with my own large project and gives me a sense of contributing to the world while I hammer away at it. I haven't found any way to volunteer in the local community. I haven't totally given up on that score but the opportunity will have to come my way. I now have plenty to do that I know will have a real impact. Socially, I'm feeling pretty good these days. I'm not seeing tons of people but seem to be getting enough interaction to feel balanced.

This weekend will be a great one socially. My friend Steve is coming over to spend my birthday weekend with us. We'll be having dinner with my family at my parents' house this evening. Tomorrow, at least a couple more friends will come over for a visit. Beyond that, there are no special plans that I know of. There don't need to be. I'd certainly enjoy some sort of special birthday outing one of these years but when you get down to it, people are far more important than place. Good friends and family are where it's at.

My first presentation on AMI will be on November 3 at around 4:30 PM. I very much look forward to begining this new adventure. It'll earn me a bit of extra money which is within the limits of what ODSP rules let me keep. That'll certainly be helpful. More importantly, it'll inject some routine and structure into my life. That'll also be very helpful. It's too damned easy to just drift along. I'm glad I've had the preceding drift period though. It has let Sara and I start our marriage off well and learn about each other at our own pace. Not many couples have time to do that in this frantic world. We've been blessed in that way.

As I work on the guide and try to help people with iOS and apps, I keenly feel the frustration of not being able to physically be there with them and show them correct gestures and where to touch the screen. The lady I'm helping who was the tipping point to starting work on this guide is way up north. I can't just pop over and help her get past these beginning stages where nothing feels natural and everything seems like a struggle. It would be so helpful if there were a network of local people who could be competent with Voiceover and iOS who could help blind users reach a basic level of mastery. At best, my guide will put a healthy dent in the ignorance out there of what's possible. In an ideal world, there would be a centre somewhere that I could work in where people would come for a couple of weeks guided exploration and instruction in the use of their devices and more importantly, the apps and opportunities these devices offer to pursue one's own interests outside of employment. That mentality of job being the only way of earning society's respect has just got to go! They can't have it both ways making it super hard even for really honest and skillful blind people to find secure employment. Sooner or later, society really has to recognise the heavy price we're all paying for that kind of attitude. As much as I like our current prime minister, I was glad that young people are objecting to this new work world where nobody should expect secure employment. People are starting families and settling down in communities later in life and that means more stressed families living in fragmented ill-formed communities. Sooner or later, those who are driving this ajenda out of a sense of greed and profit will frankly get what's coming to them. Way too many people are being left out and that is already leading to trouble. I'm known for my optimistic view of things and consciously look for good news. However, even I can't escape the conclusion that things really need fixing.

I'm still optimistic enough to think that they can be repaired. This really doesn't have to be a one-way trip to doomsday as some people would have us believe. Frankly, it seems like some of us need things to go that way in order to derive meaning. All the bad news gives them lots of amo for unrelenting dismal judgemental apathy. Thankfully, there are more discussions happening about this. People are waking up to the dangers and I think we'll ultimately manage to find a healthy way forward. For one thing, more good news needs to be dug up and shoved in everyone's faces. People going that extra mile to help each other, agencies succeeding in actually improving things, etc.

From this place of relative safety, I plan to do all I can to help other people enjoy aspects of their lives and see the good that's out there. Western society isn't a lost cause. It just needs a healthy moral and spiritual boost. Opportunities to help in small ways seem to keep appearing in my life. I plan to keep taking them while enjoying the blessings in my own life as much as possible.

It's tuesday morning. My birthday was great this year. A couple of friends ended up not making it over but a long-time friend Steve Murgaski was there. Sara and I had a great weekend with him. He also joined us for our family gathering at my parents' house. That was a lot of fun. My four nieces were very energetic as usual. Dan gave me some Scotish beer which was gleefully consumed by Steve, Sara and I. So was a bottle of champaign Steve brought to the gathering. It was splendid to have so much great conversation over the weekend. I always make certain there's plenty to listen to if we run out of things to talk about but we almost never do.

I received quite a bit of iTUNES and Amazon gift money as I hoped I would. This let me round out my book and music collection. On the music side, I got a couple Passenger albums as well as Nora Jones. I also added some new age instrumental music from Tim Janus, John Adorney and a couple others. As to books, the Dark Tower and First Law series are all now on my Kindle app as well as some other books I've wanted for a while. I've gotten through the first Dark Tower book and have nearly finished the second. There's so much I completely forgot about from my first reading of the books.

I've rearanged my desk surface again. I think I'll be using my Braille display to read bullet notes while I've also looked at the Ferrite recording app a little more closely. I've discovered that I can record with it while that app is in the background and it doesn't cause Voiceover to go quiet. That's going to be very useful for recording demonstrations of how to do various things with iOS. I can then send the recordings into AMI for inclusion in my contributions for the show. It won't work while wearing a headset though. Voiceover gets real quiet in that circumstance.

Sara has started another attempt at NANOWRIMO. It's where you try and write a novel in a month. They deem 50000 words to be a complete novel whether the thing actually has an ending or not. Sara wants to actually bring this story to an end though. Guess we'll see how that goes. I'm going to be inspired by her efforts and try to do as much work on my guide as she does on her novel.

I'm a bit worried about the Dark Adventure Radio Theatre. They're either in the midst of a big web site change or else having larger financial trouble. I fervently hope it's just the former. There's a rather splendid sounding big drama which was supposedly coming out soon based on an rpg campaign. I'm keen to get a digital copy of this. I have no use for the props or CDs. They're really going to town in that department this time apparently. Sara and I heard The Thing at the Doorstep last night for Halloween and it was quite well done as these dramas usually are. Great fun. We also heard the first Massey Lecture. Those will be broadcast on the show called Ideas which is at 9:05 PM on CBC Radio1. They are then made available on iTUNES. I prefer to try and catch the lectures live and then get the book based on them which is usually available on iBOOKS. On the bright side, Big Finish just released the final series of Dorion Gray stories. That'll make for absolutely splendid listening when Sara and I find the time. We've enjoyed all of Dorion's supernatural adventures so far and these last four stories will each be an hour long. That'll be splendid. There's also an extra Behind the Scenes disk worth of materials. I get the mp3 downloads but things are still divided up by disk.

I heard the first episode of Kelly and Company, the show I'll be contributing to. It was quite a good start they managed. It shouldn't be much of a problem providing enough notes to help them keep conversation going in my segments. I'll catch their second show this afternoon at 3:00 PM. I use the OOTunes app to listen to AMI Audio on my iPHONE. It seems to work well but I got a warning that the app needs to be updated for iOS10. Hope the developer will do that. It's a fantastic app and I'd hate to see it go under. Over the past while, I've gotten a few of those warnings. I've had some apps for ages which haven't been updated for a long time. There's talk that Apple might remove apps which are no longer compatible or being updated. Hopefully, nothing still useful will be lost in such a purge.

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