Saturday, May 30, 2009

an excellent day

Today has been absolutely splendid. It started off in the morning when I discovered that a couple of women from PlentyofFish are at least interested enough in me to bother contacting me. It's damned nice to finally have some real confirmation that there are people out there who care that much. It does wonders to lift away that hopeless sense of getting absolutely nowhere for all my troubles.

Things only got better from there. I went to Erindale University for what turned out to be an alumni festival. We ended up spending the majority of time in the beer tasting event at the new Blind Duck pub. The new pub is certainly a far better facility than the cozy portable I remember so fondly. The bar is topped with stone and the inside is far more spacious. We met some fellow graduates there but nobody we knew from our own time there. Having that happen would be a pretty awesome stroke of luck. Despite that, it was a very pleasant way to spend an afternoon.

The amount of change which has taken place on that campus during the eleven years since I've been on it is such that I don't have any sense of familiarity at all. The pub was where it first hit home for me. However, after an excellent five-dollar dinner, we went for an impromptu wander. Everything sounded different. Space that was once outdoors was now inside. There's a swimming pool right near the entrance to the south building. It's profoundly strange stepping into what I knew as a main building on campus and smelling clorine rather than food or that smell otherwise common to such buildings. I'd need to start from absolute scratch if I ever needed to re-orient myself with the place.

This trip was the first really different thing I've done with friends in quite some time and it felt wonderful. We went afterwards to a Country Style Donut shop where I covered our leisurely after-dinner treets. Both Mark and Wendy had been on separate trips. Those plus my own upcoming adventure south of the border plus life in general gave us plenty to talk about. Tomorrow is looking like another interesting day. There's a social barbecue after church. That should hopefully provide an opportunity to meet some more people. Perhaps, this week, I'll finally begin to make some real progress on at least one short story. I've got to really take advantage of these times when I'm feeling more connected and up-beet. Well, it's inching towards eleven o'clock. I'm going to catch up with email before turning in for the night.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

slow draggy day

Hello everyone. It's a slow rainy Thursday afternoon. I just can't seem to shake my writer's block at all. I must have written a hundred faulse starts this week. Nothing is worth keeping at all. There isn't much doing on the forums of Plentyoffish or on Twitter today. Yes, folks. I've finally decided to join the Twitter band-wagon. I'm having a hard time ajusting to the short limits placed upon one's tweets. No big surprise seeing as I tend to write notes during lectures in full sentences. There's definitely a place for Twitter. Things which aren't worth a blog posting are nonetheless still worth expressing as I experience them. For example, I heard an excellent essay called Wall on BBC Radio 4 about the situation between Israel and the Palestinians. It was quite thought-provoking if somewhat grim. That's the kind of thing you can just jot off briefly into Twitter. Figured I'd be obtuse and put that one in my blog though just for kicks. Should you want to be in receipt of my tweets, my url is:

I found another site for facilitating dating and community building among disabled people. Looks like they have forums and other accessible facilities on offer. Perhaps, I might find new friends and/or someone special there. Worth a shot. I figure if I can contribute meaningfully to ongoing conversations while I'm awaiting my muse, I'm still doing some good at least.

The next few weekends ought to do a lot to lift this stale feeling from life. I expect to get my passport this coming week. Yesterday, I got an email saying that I was officially registered at this conference in Chicago. Apparently, it can get quite hot down there. I wouldn't have figured on that seeing as I've often read of it as "the windy city". The church has found someone to guide me while I'm down there. Presuming there are no last-minute snags, I'm definitely in for quite a different experience.

I've gotten a bit bored with Wikinomics. When it becomes available, I definitely want to grab his book Growing Up Digital. That ought to be more up my alley. Wikinomics definitely has some nuggets of interest within it. However, it's ultimately a business book. Still well-written and useful but just not the angle I'm after. On the bright side, I've found another free book discussing what makes a game good. It's called Well Played and I learned of it on:

Dan, Allison and the two little ones are coming over tomorrow for a visit. That'll certainly add much-needed spice to life. It's been a little while since I've seen them. Catching up with them is always fun. Well, that pretty much covers things today. I'm off to watch Star Trek TNG on Spacecast presuming it's an episode I'm not bored with. With TNG, the chances are quite good that it'll be one I still find enjoyable. It was such a well-crafted show for the most part.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

changing creative direction

Hello everyone. It's another long lazy Sunday afternoon here. Applying for a passport wasn't nearly as complicated as I had thought it might be. Now that you don't need priests or doctors to act as references, family friends and neighbours who jenuinely know me are happy to do this. There were certainly a whole lot of places to sign and bits of information required. However, once we got to the passport offices with the already completed forms, things certainly went smoothly enough. In fact, the most challenging issue for me was when we got my photo taken. I would think I was looking perfectly serious as you're supposed to but the picture would show me smiling. It took several tries to get one where I apparently wasn't. That has to be the only time I've been at all annoyed at the thought that I'm most likely smiling most of the time. I truly couldn't make myself definitively not smile. I should have my passport within a couple of weeks.

This weekend was a pretty good one overall if a bit slow in places. Yesterday, our pool was opened up for the year. They didn't end up needing me to help this time. I took in DNTO on CBC Radio. It was all about first impressions. One guy the host interviewed was legally blind. He thought it was fantastic that he could add value to people's lives by not being able to judge them by their visual impression and having to take time to converse to get to know them. I certainly feel the same way. However, The host explained how her first impression of him was negative and how she thought he was aloof since he couldn't make eye contact. He had to look away from a person to follow their expressions and reactions visually using the perifferal vision he still had. Unfortunately, people would think he was disinterested since he seemed to be looking away. How many opportunities have I missed out on because people didn't realise how open to conversation and getting to know new people I am due to my inability to visually engage? So few people seem to take the time to go beyond their first impressions. Other than keeping myself presentable, I really can't convey much visually.

We then went out for dinner to Scores to celebrate my parents' 40th anniversary which is actually today. There was certainly an extra irony in that given what's just happened to me. A lot of things have that tinge of disappointment about them. I still enjoyed the dinner and evening. It's damned hard not to enjoy an excellent steak in the company of my parents and two very good neighbours. However, I couldn't help but wonder if I would ever find a woman who was willing to go that distance of commitment with me. Is there actually anybody out there who would truly value what I have to offer enough, or am I simply chasing a foolish hope? I know I can be a good husband other than the financial income perspective. I'm patient, faithful, fair-minded, reliable, and willing to apologise when I'm wrong. I'm absolutely willing to work if I'm given an actual opportunity to. The trouble is that nobody seems willing to let me in to the rest of life. Surely, somebody out there values what I can bring to the table enough to go beyond friendship with me. I've written greetings to so many women whose profiles say they're looking for these kind of qualities in a potential husband but have yet to hear back from anybody who isn't so far away that I'll likely never meet them. I wish there was some social group for singles I could meet up with but there doesn't seem to be anything like that around here. I may be able to put my best foot forward online but I crave more human interaction with people my own age. Has my path through life truly made me so different that I'll simply never find a life partner? Will I always be that single batchelor friend who has more impact on people half way around the world than in his own community? I damned well hope not.

Things are happening over the next while which ought to decrease my sense that life is standing still for me. There's the festival I'm going to with Mark and Wendy next Saturday. Next Sunday, the church is having a social barbecue. That'll hopefully let more people begin to know me as more than simply a blind attendee. Camping with Ron and his crew of friends happens the weekend after that. I always have a good time with them. We share quite a few common interests. However, there's just not that constant exposure for me to think of them as my close friends. I just don't hang out with them often enough. Perhaps, that will change over the years ahead as I slowly accumulate more time spent with them. That's really what it comes down to I think. Time and common interests. I just can't seem to connect with people who have time to get to know me, are close enough to meet up with, and have similar interests.

As I ate lunch this afternoon, I listened to a terrific lecture by Don Tapscott. It was the latest thing added to the Big Ideas podcast presented by TV Ontario. It's a series of lectures by various people. Not all of them interest me but I've found quite a number of them to be very thought-provoking. This one was about his observations of how the Internet has effected the current generation of people who have grown up with it. I guess I'm technically still a part of the last generation of TV kids. I spent most of my childhood listening to things. The current generation spends a lot of time interacting with their media online. His thinking on the differences this has made is absolutely sensible, has that ring of truth to it, and seems very worth-while discussing to me. I'd love to go to some restaurant, person's place, or coffee house and spend an afternoon or evening in meaningful conversation about things like that while they're still at least somewhat fresh in my mind. I take in so much information and it just has nowhere to go immediately other than into this blog and perhaps eventually into my writing. Adam's the only friend I have who is truly close enough to just go and do something like that spontaniously with. However, he would be utterly bored in no time flat. He just has different interests. I haven't exactly lost my interest in games. They'll always be a part of my life. Assuming I'm my normal self, they'll always be something we have in common and can relate to each other through. However, they're just not the centre of it and haven't been for some time. I spend far more time listening to podcasts, reading books and taking in information about all sorts of things. There's just nowhere for me to plug all that thought and time spent reflecting on it into other than online.

I keenly look forward to reading Mr. Tapscott's book Wikinomics which I've just obtained from the CNIB digital library. His observations are definitely going to have an impact on Enchantment's Twilight when I finally get back to it. I've decided, after experiencing a kind of creative stawl, that i need to turn away from Enchantment's Twilight for a while and try to start work on some short stories over the Summer. I got a little bit done over the past week but the flow just isn't there for me. It's truly time for a change in direction. Time to start using that Writesparks software I've got and whatever new experience life decides to throw my way over the next while.

My friend Steve has had a stroke of profound good luck. We talked for the first time in quite a long while via Skype yesterday morning. There's a restaurant opening up in Toronto called O.Noir. There's a similar place in Quebec. People come to eat meals in the dark and are served by blind waiters. Steve has always had very good physical coordination and balance. I can easily picture him being supremely good at this job. It suits his personality completely. You couldn't have fit him more neatly into the work force if you sat down and tried. It's quirky enough that it won't drag on him like an office job would. I just hope the place does well. It would be terrific to actually find someone willing to take me there for a meal together. That's the kind of thing I think Janene and I could have done together. It would have made a very interesting event for both of us. A place like that could literally do a lot to knock down peoples' prejudices towards us by rendering their sight and all of its power for first impressions temporarily useless just long enough to be forceably confronted with the fact that we blind people aren't. Best of luck to you, Steve. You're an absolutely deserving soul given a fantastic opportunity to shine in darkness for people who aren't used to being there.

This comming week, like the past ones recently, stretches ahead like an empty road. There's my mobility lesson on Wednesday. I'll also go out and practice what I feel comfortable travelling along tomorrow and Tuesday presuming good weather. Other than that, there's trying to get started writing short stories. I have a few podcasts awaiting my listening pleasure as well as Wikinomics. That ought to be a fascinating book given how much I enjoyed his lecture and the CBC Spark interview I heard from him a while ago. There ought to be enough there to keep me stimulated in my solitude. I've also been going online more these days to chat on For-The-People. Getting used to leaving Skype online most of the time is slowly coming along. I just have to get used to telling people when I'm busy but have accidentally forgot to set the status to indicate this. There's always the chance that the couple of women who have shown any interest in me at all will contact me via that means. It seems a pretty remote hope though. Even presuming they did, it's not like it would be any different from talking to other people online. I have a very hard time picturing myself falling in love with somebody who I couldn't actually get together with regularly. I guess it's possible. It just seems so very unlikely. Still, I've got to try to keep an open mind and open door.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

canes, crossings and opportunities

Hello everyone. I'm feeling pretty good today. Not fully rested by any means but not bad. It's going to be a pretty hot day apparently. Yesterday, I had another lesson with Ray. Things went more smoothly than I expected. This route involves a whole lot of straight travel right up until near the end. That'll make things easier than other routes I've tried. On the down side, a few of the crossings are of the awfully damned wide variety. It's going to take a while to get the nerve to just march quickly out there into the void. I cross far better when I do it that way as counter-intuitive as it sounds. Especially when you're in the middle of the crossing, there's a strong tendency to second-guess yourself. I'm slowly getting better at that though. We went through around eighty-five percent of the route and so far, the route seems to have been recorded correctly by the Trekkor Breeze. There are times when the Breeze loses track of my position. Ray doesn't really have the time to wait too much as it catches up. For the first months when I actually feel competent to do the route myself, I'll certainly be waiting after most crossings for that to hapen. There are a lot of fairly close turns in the final part of the route which I'll doubtless take longer to grow confident with. Still, I'm fairly positive that I should be able to make my way to Symposia's at some point this Summer. Ray also brought over a new cane which I asked him to order for me. It's good to have a spare one of those around again. My old grafite cane shows no sign of bending or waring down but if the elastic suddenly goes, I'd like to be ready.

In the meanwhile, God seems to be taking some action openning new doors for me. There's a church conference in Chicago which I've been offered a chance to attend. It would be the first trip of that kind I've ever taken. One thing which may get in the way is if I can't get a passport in time. I've never owned one of those and have no clue how long whatever processing which has to go on will take. Mom's going to take me out this afternoon to get a picture taken and help me apply for one. The workshops and schedule sound pretty stimulating. It's all about multiculturalism. Presuming things work out, I'll doubtless learn a ton and perhaps even be able to bring a fresh perspective. If not, at least I'll be more ready for the next opportunity to travel out of the country. Before that, I'm going on another camping trip with Ron and the gang. This time, I'll make damned certain my computer is left turned off. I'll also strive not to get as drunk as i got last time despite their likely efforts to the contrary. Good food, good fun and good conversation go a long way to making me feel connected to the world outside my family again.

I was happy to hear earlier this week from Ron. He seems to have turned a positive corner in life and is far more at peace with himself. A lot of people from his past who had lost touch during his ill-fated marriage to Sylve have gotten in touch with him again. As for me, I'm becoming more able to look forward instead of back at what Janene and I could have had together. There's a lot less anger and the sense of utter disappointment and anguish has lifted. I still don't really see myself becoming just friends with her. However, I can at least move on with things fairly contentedly again. I can't say I exactly enjoy being back in the trenches searching for another woman who might at least give me the ghost of a chance. I've had absolutely no luck on that front at all. I must have sent out at least sixty greeting messages to women who seemed like they might value what I have to offer and were actually close enough to perhaps meet with. However, not even one of them has even gone so far as to politely reject me. Back to the drawing board just doesn't do this justice. The excitement of having somewhere that actually lets me do the equivalent of looking back and responding to people who take time to look at me is quickly wearing off. It doesn't seem to make a damned bit of difference. I'll try to keep up my end and continue to look but I think God's just going to have to step in and somehow fudge the staggering odds against my success. It's starting to feel like I'm writing to thin air already. The only interest I've been shown is from women in other countries. None of them seem to be able to read and comprehend the simple fact that I can't see and never could. I've had three of them send me pictures and ask me to send some. I have to keep reminding myself that it's still early days yet. It already feels like forever.

On Friday, the space shuttle is coming back down after a very successful mission. I'll definitely try to catch the landing live online. Other than church on Sunday, the rest of the weekend is clear as far as I know. I may go out on Saturday to practice some of the route. Perhaps, I'll meet some new people along the way. Probably just wishful thinking but sometimes, that's all we have to go with. My only realistic shot at expanding my social circle in the short term is through church.

Monday, May 18, 2009

a morning movie

Wouldn't you know it? My parents wanted to go see it in the morning. It's just two thirty now. We arrived at home at around quarter after two. Of course, when one has been conscious since around four AM and up since just shy of five, going to see a film after eleven doesn't seem quite so off-kilter. Don't worry though. Beer for breakfast is still simply not on for me. There are some damned limits. Sitting back here with the rest of the day stretching ahead of me when I'd normally be just settling in with some popcorn is definitely striking me as passing strange. I've already done some work on Enchantment's Twilight, listened to several podcasts, and eaten two lite meals in addition to taking in the two hour film.

I'm sadly forced to concede that those who think I can be too optimistic have yet another example to remind me of. They've completely changed the direction and overall tone of the franchise on us. Overall, I was certainly entertained. My parents both very much enjoyed themselves. However, everything just came across so lacking in weight. It was far too close to becoming Star Wars. The whole time travel thing was definitely handled poorly and used to give the writers carte blanch to do pretty much what they liked. Ultimately, I'll definitely make a point to see any sequels. There's still enough substance for that. However, it could have been far better. The actors were quite good. They just needed better writing and, while we're at it, better sound work to back them up. There's so much excellent source material around they could have used but didn't. I believe I'll go on the digital library and grab a Star Trek book or two to consume just to counterbalance the lack of gravity this long-anticipated film simply didn't muster. It certainly would have been an overall better experience seeing the film with a few fans my age or with a special lady. However, I still managed to enjoy the trip out overall. Movies still very much belong in the early afternoon through late evening in my book though. Eating popcorn that early would just have been absurd and it does leave the rest of the day somewhat lacklustour.

Only one of the six or seven previews we were exposed to before the movie began struck me as remotely promising. Most of them were more of the cartoonish variety. Pandorum might just be worth-while though. I'm just not a G.I. Jo fan and lost interest in Transformers ages ago. What ever happened to original thinking? Is that just a lost art in Hollywood these days?

I'm beginning to feel tired as we cruise past three o'clock. The rest of the day is going to stretch out on me it seems. Tonight, I'm going to try the netbook and Serene sound software again. That damned rhythm in the white noise of the sound machine was what pulled me from sleep this morning again. I wish I had the art of drifting back asleep once awakened but I just don't seem to be built that way. I ought to do fine as long as I remember to shut down speech after starting up the sound software.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

very long long weekend

Hello everyone. I'm feeling remarkably good this Sunday afternoon. My sleep is still somewhat broken up. The new sound machine seems to do alright at blocking out the damned birds but there's a kind of rhythmic element in its idea of white noise that my mind has a tendency to snag on. At least this one doesn't stop due to a non-optional timer. It also doesn't yell at me like my netbook did at around five one morning this week since I forgot to deactivate Jaws. Oh yes, folks. Sonically contending with the birds has certainly been an ongoing issue this week. The days have dragged quite a lot due to them waking me up and my inability to get a solid sleep. Last night was different though. I believe I'm finally moving in the right direction on that front.

None of my friends have been available to visit with this long weekend so far. However, I've heard from Mark and Wendy. They want me to come with them to a festival at Erindale University in a couple of weeks. It's good to have an excursion like that to look forward to at long last. Yesterday, I started reading Charles De Lint's Spirits In The Wires again. There's a surprising amount of hope and optimism packed into that book. I've only read it once before so I'm finding new things I missed the first time through it back when I was still married to Rebecca. De Lint invokes a tremendous sense of wholesome wonder which I hope I can fill my writing with. It's done a lot to dig me out of the sense of futility and lethargy the break-up with Janene threw me into. And then, there was that helpful soul on Plenty of Fish who thought to start a thread asking what our favourite thing which happened last week was. That got me to do something seriously which I hadn't thought to do in quite a while. It's important to stop and count one's blessings. As I started writing down all the positive things which were sprinkled through my week dominated by insomnia, it was like a dam broke which had held the majority of my optimism back.

Attending church this morning was another extremely helpful thing which has rekindled my overall drive to continue work on Enchantment's Twilight. The sermon was all about God putting us in the right place at the right time. Pastor Cooper gave some very contemporary examples which put everything back into proper perspective for me. I had such a sense that it wouldn't ever matter enough to anybody how hard I tried to have a positive impact in life. Having a woman who I had earnestly come to love decide to suddenly jump ship profoundly hollowed me out. I was seriously starting to question, in my sleep-deprived frustrated state, whether all those blind folks who just gave up on pretty much the whole shooting match didn't have a good point after all. You know; The ones I plan to spend the next five years working on a game which shows them that we can have a meaningful impact even when it seems we're sidelined by life? My sense of hope, vision and drive just seemed to go completely out the window for a while. Thankfully, I have it back in large measure again. During the sermon, a frustrated woman felt compelled to disagree with a point she thought the pastor was making. I decided to follow that up and asked to be brought over to her. It felt a bit strange to take that step in a community of people I'm still just starting to find my feet in. However, my life experience and different perspective on race relations as a blind person seemed to have a particular bearing on things. She apparently doesn't usually speak up at all during sermons. We had quite a good and fairly lengthy conversation. Perhaps, my perspective did some good as I thought it might. Or, perhaps, she just needed a good listener. There's a slight chance I may be able to be of further help to someone she knows. If nothing else, I feel better for having stepped forward and making the effort. Starting to go to this church was clearly a good move on my part. Being in a community who sincerely try to make a positive difference helps a lot.

I thought I'd be going to see the Star Trek film with Adam today. It turns out that he's gone off with another friend to see another movie. Yes, I've been stood up, or more precisely, left sitting here by one of my best friends. It's hard to feel too bothered by such a small scratch after Janene's recent comparative artillery shell along those lines. He apparently often goes to movies in the morning. That strikes me as one of those things which are certainly doable but daft. Rather like having beer with one's breakfast. You're just asking for trouble having beer with breakfast. There's a proper time for stuff. For movies, it's early afternoon or evening. Beer seems proper to drink possibly as early as mid-afternoon in special circumstances but should typically be drunk after five o'clock at the earliest. Pretty much all my friends, Adam included, have seen the latest Star Trek film already. That's keenly frustrating since it's one of two movies that I would very much liked to have experienced either with Janene had she not dumped me or with friends my own age. You'd think that having a free pass for another person along with free popcorn and drink would have been enough of a draw. I guess not. Dealing with the fallout from breaking up, I haven't exactly been up to gaming cessions with Adam over the past while. Far be it from me to hold his feet to the fire therefore. I'd have made dreadful company being as prone to dozing as I've been over the past while. Presuming today's not just a fluke, I'm at last over that now. Still, it would suck if he's gone to see the latest Terminator film. That's the only other current movie I've heard about which has any appeal to me. It would suck, but the way things have been lately on that front, it wouldn't surprise me in the least. It would have been damned nice to see something like that with a small group of people who had time to hang out somewhere afterwards and talk about it. My family has never really done that. After a show, we just head back home and continue with life.

It looks like I'll be going to see it with mom and dad tomorrow. They both want to take it in and it's a long weekend so it all works out. Thankfully, my parents can understand where I'm coming from wanting first and foremost to do this kind of thing with friends. They get how frustrating it can be for me not to have been able to move on in life. They're off to see the Survivor finale tonight. I haven't taken an interest in that show for a couple of years now. Come to think of it, the year Rebecca and I separated, 2007, was the last season I paid any attention to Survivor.

Presuming I've actually ditched this insomnia as I believe I have, I think I'll take a stab at picking up work on Enchantment's Twilight again tomorrow. It'll be a few weeks yet before I'm ready to do more extensive practice on the new route by myself if prior experience is any indication. There doesn't seem as much point in putting all my eggs in the mobility basket anymore. I'll still do the three routes to Symposia's, Adam's and Ron's and put in more time than I have previously over these next warmer months. The audio documentary is also going to get priority whenever I come across useful source material for it. Given what I've learned about my condition and there being no need to rush, I'll take my time and put effort into writing again as well. Going six months without touching that really wouldn't be like me at all. If I continue to be single and nothing major changes socially for me, work on writing is going to go slowly. I've reached a point where I need more interaction with my peers and some new experiences to draw upon. I'll do my best to make do with second-hand sources like books and documentaries. One way or another, the world is going to get my best creative efforts. My hope that things will eventually change for the better is back in full force. If and when somebody new decides to give me a looking over, they'll find me firing on all cylinders. Dan was write a few days ago. I should put writer in the occupation field on my profiles. Just because I haven't been paid doesn't mean I haven't done the deed.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Walk of Discovery

Hello everyone. I have at last concluded my mobility activities for the day. We headed out to walk the complete route to Symposia's at around quarter to twelve this morning. Going there or back is certainly well within my physical capability. Walking there and then fairly rapidly back right away was somewhat taxing to put it mildly. I got back at a little before two o'clock. It's now just after three and my legs at last feel somewhat close to normal again.

I don't know whether we'll do the whole route again next week or just start focussing on parts of it. Usually, the method of attack is to start small and build up a route step by step. I wondered whether it might help me absorb a route more quickly if I had first experienced walking it in its entirety. Guess I'll find out over the next while. I just hope the route actually recorded correctly. As far as I can tell without walking it again, it seems to have done so. It took another while to edit the landmarks I created while we went along. I had to delete a couple created by accident and re-record the names of others which weren't picked up properly by the microphone. I definitely prefer wearing the Trekker Breeze on my belt despite this minor extra chore.The next few lessons will be on Wednesdays starting at eleven thirty give or take a bit.

It feels good to have truly started this next project in life. There's not nearly the sense of purpose to it that I would have had if I still had Janene willing to marry me in a matter of months. Nonetheless, some of that aweful feeling of being cast completely adrift in life has left me. I can picture myself sitting there eating alone later this Summer. Going out is so much more enjoyable with one or more companions around your own age. I'll certainly enjoy the food. They've never let me down there in that department. I can go for brunches and leisurely dinners. The netbook ought to serve me well there. A new environment to observe the flow of life and write will also do me some good I think. Still, I've always keenly felt the pain of being in a crowded place but profoundly isolated and unknown to everyone there. I suppose I might occasionally hear a conversation I feel I can safely and politely join. That seemed to happen from time to time when Janene and I went there. The staff are also good about conversing with patrons so you don't feel like just another number to them. I guess they'll get to know me more when I start going fairly regularly. It'll also be good to have a place where I can go to should someone new actually find me worth serious consideration. It wouldn't be nearly as intimidating as having to meet my parents right on day one.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

draggy days and troubled sleeps

Hello everyone. It's apparently another fine day out there. I have at last gotten a fairly good night's sleep. Some damned birds have been waking me up at around four each morning for days now. Thanks to a free bit of software I found called Serene sound, I was able to use my netbook and speakers as a noise generating machine. Combining "pink" and "white" noise, I was able to completely block out the damned birds and wake up as naturally as one can after days of broken sleep. It was still somewhat earlier than I would have liked but I'll take it gladly after what I've been through. I feel like I could try going out and walking part of the new route today and not be effectively courting death due to tired distraction. The serene Sound software is completely free and quite accessible with Jaws. You use the up and down arrows to set the volume of the sound or sounds you want to have playing continuously. It doesn't get more intuitive than that. Check out the homepage at:

Last weekend was pretty dull for the most part. One of the things I spent quite a bit of time was whether other aspects of the brain might be commonly noted to have suffered as a result of retinopathy of prematurity. The whole idea of further unknown demons lurking in that department certainly gave me a chill or two. Were there other aspects of this which I simply never would have thought of? Other areas where my thinking was somehow altered by this? Thankfully, at least with a cursory look into it, the spacial intelligence/awareness part of the brain was the only thing that is apparently common. I read writing of a psychologist who suffered the same sort of problem and struggles with mobility which I have. I wish somebody had pointed me in that direction ages ago. The problem isn't going to go away. It'll always be an uphill battle learning to go places. At least now, I have a better grasp on why that is.

Adam and I will possibly go this week to see the new Star Trek movie. I wasn't in any kind of shape to go over and play games with him on Sunday. He didn't feel like going to see the film so we were at a nurd's impass. However, church was definitely a bright spot. I talked to some new people and generally feel like I'm making some headway on that front. Slowly, I'm geting more atuned to how the services go. There are at least a few voices I can recognise from week to week. Later in the afternoon, I was able to help Mom install the free Avast software and remove my old copy of AVG. Avast has certainly gotten some good press and it ought to be alright for her to use that. I just hope I'll be able to help if questions come up going forward. She also wanted some help with one of the casual games I found for her birthday. I showed her how to access forums and find threads where people discussed the game. That and give her a new thought which helped solve a puzzle she was stuck on. She's really enjoyed Madam Fate.

I'm still learning about the Eset Smart Security software I've chosen to use. It's doing quite well and I haven't had any issues over the past while. I used its learning mode to help more easily configure the firewall on both my netbook and desktop. Things are proceeding very smoothly on that front now. It almost never pops up to bother me. One of these days, I'll have to try controlling it with NVDA. It isn't as useable with Systemaccess as with Jaws. Not a big problem for now but I wouldn't mind making certain I have full control over it using a free screen-reader just in case. May as well check that out now. I've started reading Tapping the Dream Tree by Charles De Lint. Looks like it'll be an interesting collection of short stories. No news on the search for love other than having been contacted by a possible spammer. I'm not certain that's what she is yet but she's certainly not telling perspective guys much about herself. She just seems to expect them to somehow intuit that they're either interested in her or not. Very odd but figuring out whether or not she's genuine could provide some mild amusement. If she is a spammer, better she focuses on me than some poor totally despirate fool. It could also be some other situation such as a mental illness at work here. When I was a junior staff member at SCORE, Camp run by CNIB, the camp director told me that many of the essays they received were actually written by the parents of teens who weren't mentally capable of writing an essay themselves. They certainly couldn't get much out of the camp activities. The parents just wanted their child to be out of their hair for a week and perhaps have some different experiences. Understandable but very frustrating for the camp staff.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Profound Revelation

You never know what an online conversation will lead to. Last night, I was in a chatroom with a few other blind people discussing life. I explained to them about the documentary and personal mobility quest I'm embarking on and my hopes for a breakthrough with my mobility difficulties. One of the guests in the room was an old acquaintance. Geoff Eden used to work in the technical aids department of the CNIB. I've been using technical aids of one sort or another since a very early age so he's known my parents and I off and on over most of my life. He therefore knew what caused my blindness. He grew up with the generation of blind people where the practice of giving premature infants too much oxygen was most prevalent. I had always believed that the only things possibly effected by this well-intensionned attempt to preserve my life were my eyes. In particular, the oxygen destroyed my retinas. Apparently though, it also changes how blood vessels grow in the brain. They don't grow as much when you have tons of oxygen and they don't need to. Then, when you're taken out of the incubater and deprived of that extra oxygen, they have to grow quickly to compensate.

Being smart enough to have attained a university degree, I never would have thought that my brain may have been effected in any way. Apparently though, it's quite common for people with retinopathy of prematurity to have the kind of profound difficulty with navigation and spacial concepts that I have over the years. All that struggle with geometry in Finite Math; That simple puzzle of only a few pieces which I couldn't solve for the life of me during my IQ testing which turned out to be a damned horse; And most profoundly, the endless trouble I have with learning routes and forming mental maps of large areas. There's an actual biological reason for that.

I've had a sense my whole life that I've always had far more difficulty with orientation than most of my fellow blind people. However, since most of them attributed it strictly to my lack of motivation and easy circumstances as they saw it, I've frankly taken a lot of undeserved crap from people over the years. That damned well stops today. I can't very well hold people's eronious judgements of me against them. They had even less reason to conceive why I might have so much difficulty and be as disinclined to try to learn routes to places. It's funny. I've read Braille all my life and would never have connected the dots between my condition and mobility difficulty in a million years. At least I can stop beeting myself up about that.

So what does knowing this ultimately change? Quite a lot on a psychological level. It helps tremendously to finally understand the source of so much frustration over the years. It really isn't all my fault and I can at last explain this to people. I can give them a reason. That could make a whole lot of difference going forward. At least I won't let peoples' misjudgements hurt as much as they have previously. Also, I won't go into this next while with the fool's hope I had dared to entertain that with enough sustained effort, I would have some sort of orientational epiphony. I'll do my best to learn the routes to Symposia's, Adam's house, and Ron's apartment over the next five or six months and see where I am with this at that point. It'll be enough to give me a solid idea of how much the Trekkor Breeze and digital recorder can improve things for me in general. That in turn will give me a proper perspective going ahead when it comes to deciding what is reasonable to invest so much time and effort into learning how to get to on my own.

Yesterday, I signed up to a dating site for people with disabilities. It takes quite a different approach than Plenty of Fish. Sadly, its chat client is absolutely inaccessible. Go figure. The email and searching work well though and it lets you post some audio files for people to listen to. We'll see how that goes over the next few months or so. Frankly, I have far more faith in Plenty of Fish. Between those two sites plus this new church, I've opened things up to finding a new special somebody as wide as I can. My digital recorder certainly makes it more comfortable to produce audio but I still have that nervous sense of talking to the inanimate. Perhaps, doing this documentary will eventually lessen that awkwardness. So damned frustrating starting over at square one again. The worst part of it is that there really isn't much I can fairly apply from my time in love with Janene to whoever comes along next persuming that anyone actually does. It doesn't seem right at all to rule out anybody who's going through particularly stressful times in life. I'm certainly not about to stop being open and honest about things from the word go. Also, I don't think it's right to go into a relationship with the assumption that it's just too good to be true and she'll suddenly decide she wants to be single somewhere down the road. You really have to be willing to risk the pain of love gone wrong in order to get anywhere. There were absolutely no deal-breakers on my end with Janene at all. Nothing I don't think I could have coped with over the long term. For the most part, I think my approach was correct overall. There were moments when I should have been more alert, thought farther ahead, been more patient, etc. However, I don't believe I did anything to deserve getting tossed aside. I know she didn't do it in order to punish me in any way but honestly, that's what it feels like. So much meaning is taken out of life. I've been pushed onto a long and lonely path. I'll certainly manage well enough with friends and family but things are just so much better when you have a companion who loves you who you've commited to share your life with.

This afternoon, my mother and I are off to Hamilton to have dinner with Dan, Ava and Amia. A sort of early Mother's Day dinner. Dad's going to be golfing and hopefully not rained on. It'll certainly be a good distraction from all this heavy thinking. Some time this weekend. Adam and I may be going to see the new Star Trek film. He's not as eager and hopeful as I am about how good the movie will be but there's nothing new about that. I haven't lost all my incurable optimism. God willing, I never will. We also have family friends coming over for a visit. Next Wednesday, I'll be going out on the route to Symposia's again with Ray. Hopefully, the Trekkor Breeze will perform a little better this time. If it takes ages to lock on to the satellites, I'll know to reset it rather than turn it on and off. The foam worked pretty well in the light wind conditions last week but I believe I'll turn on the low-cut filter again. That might improve things even more. If the foam ultimately doesn't work in high wind conditions, Geoff suggested an olympic sock as an alternative wind screen. That would be entirely too large for the small microphone I have but as with the foam, the material from one could be used to apparently good effect.

Well, that's pretty much where I'm at this Friday. I hope any readers who've made it this far have good weekends. You've earned them for trudging through all this self-examination.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

waiting for delivery

Hello everyone. I'm writing this entry while waiting for my external dvd/cd drive to be delivered. I've frequently found it hard to hear our doorbell from upstairs in my room. Until now, this has meant a sort of cruel choice of either waiting down here and risking missing phone calls or staying upstairs and missing the doorbell. Not that I have a cell phone and netbook, I canoperate down here in the family room without fear of missing either even with music playing at a reasonable volume. It also helps that I could check on the location of the shipment via the Internet and see that it's actually in Mississauga to be delivered today. Verry nice indeed.

Last night, dad and I went to The Source to see about purchasing a microphone wind screen. Unfortunately, they didn't have any there. I later found a site online which had pictures of themn and we had some foam similar to what used to come on the end of microphones. Mom was able to cut some out and glue together something that would fit over the small microphone for my Olympus DS 61 recorder. There wasn't a whole lot of wind for me to test its functionality out. I tried it with my fan thinking that would make a good substitute for wind but id didn't really work out so well. The genuine article is a lot more chaotic and seems to blot out more sound. Still, I have at least a degree of confidence that this will work. It seemed to make some difference. My first lesson on walking to Symposia's is this afternoon. It could very well be windy today so we'll likely see if I've conquered the wind sonically in short order. I recorded Ava's party on Sunday when they brought out the cake. The recorder picked up quite a bit but the wind did a nasty number on it. I don't know that it's ultimately worth hanging on to due to this. It was a good party and both Ava and Amia seemed to have a good time. Amia seemed a bit scared of the new dog they've recently acquired. A very cute little puppy not any bigger than our pet cat Tiger used to be. That will apparently change faiirly quickly though.

It's been a fairly restful while. Not a lot else has happened lately. The next Star Trek film is coming out. I'll either see that with Adam or dad. I still have somewhat lower expectations for it. I just can't imagine different actors doing the parts well. On the other hand, Robert J. Sawyer seems to have quite liked it. He's a big Star Trek fan so unlike manny reviewers, his take on the film carries some weight with me and gives me hope. My second visit to the Meadowvale CRC church went as well as the first one. It's definitely a place with some real possibility for me above and beyond good services and the usual Sunday friends. Between that and Plenty of Fish, i feel like at least I have my doors open for people. Whether anybody knocks is another matter. I hope somebody does. I'll probably feel better about things once I really get started on this audio documentary idea of mine. Until I have an idea of the kind of source material I'll get, it's hard to figure out whether I should do a series of podcasts or a single longer form encapsulating the whole experience over the next months. I certainly don't expect to get useful material from each trip so putting out something on a weekly or even monthly basis doesn't seem particularly likely. I also don't like leaving the game on hold. It feels like it resents me for tossing it aside. I just don't have a choice about that though. I need to dig deepter wells of experience with other people from which to draw such an epic multi-branching story as I've imagined. No man is an island even if he is trying to write about an enchanted one. I may be able to work further on game mechanics over the next while. We'll see how absorbing work on the audio documentary turns out to be.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Finally! A really good sleep!

Hello everyone. Yesterday was somewhat distracted. The window work interfered with what I had previously planned to do. The banging wasn't too terrible but when you throw in the smells and stuff all around the house, it seemed better to stay inside my room for the majority. I haven't heard the weather yet but I gather it's going to warm up over the weekend. At some point, I'll test out this low-cut filter idea for my digital recorder. Today and tomorrow, there's a Goalball tournament being broadcast. That'll certainly provide me some welcome interactive amusement over the weekend. DNTO on CBC Radio is doing an episode all about mistakes which ought to be interesting. Age of Persuasion usually doesn't disappoint either. Sunday, I'll be going to church in the morning and then to Ava's birthday party in the afternoon. That ought to be quite a good day.

My sleep was excellent last night. I feel quite good today. As a single person, I'll always have a sense of not living to my fullest potential. I could go so much farther, give, and get so much more with a partner in life. However, if I'm going to be single, the world will get the best person I'm capable of being given those condisions. I've been set on a different path than I would ever have entertained had I not encountered Janene. I have to believe God has something more in store for me and try to be as ready as possible for whatever presents itself.