Saturday, February 25, 2012

A Busy Eventful Winter

Hello everyone. It's been too damned long since I've written one of these. Quite an interesting month in terms of thoughts and actions. Over the past couple of weeks, I experienced a slight illness and dealing with its aftereffects on my sleep. Nothing too serious compared to what I had last year. Just tiredness combined with a slight head ache and stuffed nose. Everything has returned to normal now with the exception of my sleep schedule. There have been some interesting food discoveries lately. In the realm of tea, I've become a staunch supporter and fan of the Stash brand. Stash Chai Spice Black Tea is remarkably good stuff. While contending with my insomnia, I came across a sealed box in the back of my tea shelf and thought I'd see what offered. As soon as I ripped open one of the packages, I knew I had struck gold. This stuff tastes absolutely splendid. The bags are very well stored in packets. I'll definitely be ordering more of this stuff.

Things have gone very well so far this year. The only real fly in the ointment is the lack of any real progress at the Dam. I've sat my hours having hardly said a word to the youths I'm supposed to be relating to. I've just got to keep showing up and hope for opportunities. It's just a very slow business.

A few Sundays ago, I attended both a former neighbour's 40th birthday celebration and my youngest niece's first birthday bash. Each event was excellent in its own way. Danni is someone I've known since my family first moved to Mississauga just before I began secondary school. She's a very interesting lady who just seemed to always move in different circles. We've probably exchanged more words on Twitter than in person. I tend to only see her at family gatherings. Once in a while, we've done stuff together with her friend Jacqui. They wanted to try a restaurant where you eat in the dark. That was certainly an interesting meal as they experienced something perfectly natural for me. Clearly, Danni had no idea what she was in for and was very moved by everyone in attendance of her celebration. We didn't get to chat much but it was still nice to be there, a part of the cast of people whose lives are somehow connected with her. She's certainly a terrific Twitter companion. It gave me cause to reflect on the impact I've had on people and how many are, in one way or another, an ongoing part of the life I lead. My own 40th birthday could very well occasion a similarly diverse gathering of family, friends, believers and non-believers who've been a part of my own journey. Despite all the time I've spent alone over the years, I've really got a lot to be proud of. Still more to be thankful for. I seem to have reached a kind of turning point which could mean that the next three years will see an abundance of new memories made from adventures with others.

Alleah thoroughly enjoyed her first birthday party. This included Felix the Fish, a stuffed toy I was rewarded from Bigfish Games after being a member for a continuous year. Mom has really enjoyed their games over the past few years I've been getting them for her as gifts. I wasn't really certain which of my nieces the fish would prove suitable for until I felt its sise. Apparently, the big mouth on the fish looks friendly enough for her. That was the only slight concern I had as I passed it to her. She seems to really like it though. By far, the biggest highlight was a toy car that she can sit in and beep the horn of. She just loved that thing. Ava and Amia were a tad under the weather but still full of beans. They love dad's iPAD. He's been getting some games for them to play on it. Even Amia's doing quite well because of how intuitive the interface is.

I don't have any memories at all from that early in life. Once in a while, as my old baby and toddler toys have been passed on, I've felt some that have seemed extra familiar to me. I remember some squeezable rubber dice I used to have. I also distinctly remember a ball of shapes where you put the shapes into the correct holes. However, I can't actually remember playing with these objects. Just what they felt like. It's hard to really sort out where in early life that curtain falls away and actual ordered memories commence. I remember my first day at W. Ross McDonald School for the Blind. Further back, I remember a day in kinder garden when a bulletin board fell on me. I don't remember anything else surrounding that point in time, just the instant of the board hitting me unexpectedly. I remember getting my toncels out and being in the hospital with a damnably sore throat. It seems like very soon after that came our family's trip to Disney World. I can't remember anything about the time in between those events. I wonder what Alleah will remember when she's my age. Does sight provide enough of an additional layer of experience that memory of the distant past remains less fragmented? I can't help but wonder how much of this time will remain coherent in my memory thirty years or so from now. This past year and a half in particular has been a very formative time. And then there's the sweep of exhilaration, of the canvasses of relationship and of work on Enchantment's Twilight. There's suddenly so much scope for meaningful exploration. Add to that the church community and the interesting places, both mental and physical, that it has taken me to. Without the aid of my blog and audio recordings, how much of what I feel now will I be able to recall later?

I've had a major breakthrough with Enchantment's Twilight thanks to my friend Rose who attends the same church as I do. I was telling her about one of the better ideas for a special location on the island that I had come up with. That lead to a discussion which resulted in her giving me a foundational idea for a nifty magic system I can use in my game. Been stuck without such an idea for ages. It combines neatly with the geography of the island so I'm now working on both areas of the game simultaneously. There's a massive amount to be worked out and detailed. It's going to take months if not the rest of the year. This opens up a whole ton. My original thinking was that as the geography and other pieces like the magic system developed, they in turn would generate story, character and other ideas. As place and resource details emerged, they would give rise to thoughts on characters, cultures, how items both magic and mundane were crafted or found, etc. Eventually, a kind of creative critical mass would be reached and it would no longer be the losing battle it has previously been to make real progress. Over the past while of no real progress, I had begun to lose faith that this would ever happen. Thanks to what was essentially a five minute conversation, the way forward has been at least partially revealed to me. More importantly, my morale and faith in what fragments of my original thinking I can still lay hands on has been restored to me. No more writer's block for a good while. That's for certain. No sooner had I written an article for my church newsletter in which I entertained the suspicion that my friends would prove the salvation of Enchantment's Twilight when it has actually started to happen. All my reading, studying other game conceptions of magic, etc, and it's a five minute conversation that finally undoes the roadblock. Who'd have thunk? What a profound start to the year.

I've been helping Rose explore the online world with her new iPAD. So far, things have gone quite well. She's currently enjoying Twitter and has started following people including some of my friends and I. Quite quickly, she's finding her online voice and learning how conversation happens. I've no doubt that she'll soon have lots more followers as more of her interests are put forth online. Skype has been especially useful to Rose since she can't afford a good phone plan. Using it, she can make unlimited calls anywhere in North America for a flat rate of around $3.95 per month. I subscribe to this myself so as not to use up minutes during the days or in case I neat to make a long distance call. It's certainly a convenience and peace of mind for me. For her, it's been a lot more life-changing. It's very exciting to see how the same sort of connectivity society has afforded me is now at last benefiting her. She's very much enjoying Twitter and digs up all sorts of interesting science links among many others.

I'm very happy to be finding some female friends who'll always be just friends. It gives a greater balance and depth to one's life and perspective. Also, if I want to have a hope in hell of creating convincing female characters, I'd better have some actual examples in real life to work with. Age aside, there are a number of reasons why Rose and I just wouldn't make a good couple. We're on two different tracks in many ways. However, I think our lengthy conversations have certainly added to the richness of my life. She seems to feel the same way about me. Haven't gotten around to putting up my dating profiles again yet. As life continues here, I find that the kind of woman I'm after has somewhat narrowed down given recent experience and time to reflect. Therefore, I'm still working out precisely what I want my profile to focus on in greater and lesser detail. It feels like I've reached a point where further drastic change is unlikely over the short term so it's worth doing all the updating. Cut once and measure twice as they say. I always get a painfully self-conscious feeling when I work on my dating profiles. The longer I can leave them unchanged, the better I like it.

Cheerfulness, mental stability, and good conversational ability are things that I really can't compromise on. Increasingly, I'm coming to the conclusion that spirituality and faith similarity is another vital thing to have in common. Some people say that opposites are good for each other since they tend to balance each other's extremes. I agree entirely with this on the level of friendship. If you go beyond that, what happens is that the constant exposure grinds at both of you and wrecks even the friendship you've achieved. It's an endless power struggle. There's no just backing off and getting it done the way you think it ought to be when you've made the commitment to be a couple. If you're just friends, each of you still has sole control of your lives and convincing each other that you're right about things doesn't come with the same level of threat to one's identity. You still want to convince friends that you're right, or at least that your approach has merit. However, the stakes aren't nearly as high.

My faith is emphatically not just the equivalent of a hobby. It's a profound life journey whose implications reach deeper than I'm probably even aware of. It forces me to face truths which aren't always very flattering about myself and wrestle with hard questions. I've been fortunate enough to find a community church of people who understand that journey since they're on their own similarly directed ones. As a non-believer, I really couldn't understand why there was this prejudicial barrier up between romantic involvement of Christians with non-Christians. As I've settled into this community and grown in my faith, the reasons for such cautions have become less antagonistic and more clear. I understand where it comes from now. If you've never seriously looked into what being a Christian is all about, you just can't grasp the depth of interplay between belief and community belonging which takes place over time. It goes so much farther beyond whether one attends church regularly. One's relationship with God reaches into all other relationships and spheres of life. It has given my life purpose and meaning where no other community or part of secular society has. I'm respected and encouraged to be who I am. There's room for a great deal of diversity and difference in God's kingdom and communities provided that one agrees with some basic pennants.

It's not that I think Christians are better than other people. We act poorly towards others, don't always practice what we preach, and have some horrific chapters in our history which rival those of any other societal group I've come across. However, I honestly believe that Christianity presents us with a life path which compels us to grow into better people if the bible is actively thought about and not just flatly accepted. It's not a one-sise-fits-all thing. Although I feel very comfortable within the denomination and church I've adopted, that doesn't mean that they're the only ones who really understand God's truth and sincerely try to follow what the bible teaches as they see it. My particular focus and interpretations seem very right to me. Right enough that I'll conduct my life in accordance with it and face whatever consequences there are for that both here and in the afterlife. In the here and now, one result is a limitation of scope when it comes to romantic possibilities. Church has become a real pillar of my life. It's something I never would have believed was possible in my agnostic days. That pillar ought not to be a wall between the life experiences of my hoped-for partner and I. It should be a major shared aspect of life. Not having this be the case is simply bound to lead to friction and a lessening of potential for both me and a would-be partner who didn't share my core beliefs. To be at my best, I need a high degree of overall stability at the core of my life. I'm after maximum depth with minimal needless drama. It behoves me to really be certain that we're enough on the same page that disagreements won't wreck how we live as a couple.

Last Saturday was terrific. I felt absolutely fantabulous and basically chose to enjoy the day rather than write. I had a couple of great chats on Skype, some excellent Twitter time with my followers, and also listened to a couple of great shows from CBC Radio1. I caught DNTO live. It was all about enemies and was, in my judgement, one of the more profound episodes they've ever done. There are some truly incredible people out there. I heard from a black author who decided he had to try and understand the Ku Klux Clan and ended up befriending some of its members. That took incredible guts. There were other people who've really looked out from their entrenched positions and found commonality. The big thing was to let things actually get personal and know each other as actual people. That's certainly in keeping with my own experience. I also heard Under the Influence. It was the first of a two-part look at Steve Jobs. Very fascinating. I can't wait for the second part to become available. Dinner with mom and dad was great as always.

Spending a day with Carine and Kevin recently was a very welcome break from the norm. It was good to catch up with them again. We had a splendid breakfast at Kora's and panzerotis for dinner. They had a very hi per but friendly guest dog with them in addition to Breeze, Carine's dog. We watched a show called The Voice. Can't say that one was a favourite but it was probably the most interesting choice on by that point. Prior to that, we all enjoyed a few episodes of Cash Cab on Discovery Channel. That makes for a nifty show to appreciate with others of a more intellectual bent. You see how the group in the cab handle the questions and choices available. I wish Myth busters had been on after that. Can't go wrong with that show.

At last, I've moved beyond my contract with Rogers and have modified the TV part to be more in line with what I actually enjoy. The extra channels have been nice to have over the past couple of years. However, I simply don't need all that. As long as I get my Discovery and History channels along with news and the occasional show of interest, I'm quite contented. I don't know that I'd be willing to ditch TV entirely. However, I have far better use for the $20 or so per month that this change frees up. Would have done it as much as a year ago had my contract permitted me to.

It's Saturday morning now. I've just heard the second episode of the Under the Influence look at Steve Jobs. Terry did an excellent job although I was hoping for more in site into the Apple re tale stores. It's a reasonable time in the morning for once. A little before eight versus the more lately typical well before five. I think I'm finally coming out of this round of illness-triggered insomnia. I hope to get together with Adam later today for a nice gaming cession. Would have gone yesterday had I been at all confident of not conking out. We've been playing more of Dokupon Kingdom which is a very intriguing combination rpg and board game. Thankfully, I took advantage of my voicememmo app on the iPHONE to record a brief outline of what we were up to so we can continue previously laid plans. It's yet another game I wish were fully accessible. As honest a guy as Adam is, there's just something unnatural about having an opponent handle the controls and describe one's options. There's so much randomness in the game that it rarely becomes at all an issue. It's something both of us can actually enjoy together.

I've really got to change my blogging style and try to make more timely shorter entries about specific events. Too much is starting to slip through the cracks now that more is actually happening to me on a continuous basis. I've tried to sign up to the new music service offered by CBC at
However, the audio captia isn't accepting what I type in as correct. Very frustrating. I've therefore fallen back to Radio Rivendell which makes for excellent accompaniment to my blogging. You can check them out at

One thing that went very well was a visit from my church youth group. I had them over to my apartment and things went quite well. I showed them Super Egg Hunt which a number of them tried. They did fairly well once they closed their eyes. We also had some very good discussion and I showed them the Amazing Drive through Singer video which they enjoyed. It was nice to feel like I contributed to the evening. The circumstances simply lent themselves to that so much more than at the Dam during drop in time.

We're celebrating mom's birthday on Sunday with friends and family. That'll certainly make for a nice full day when combined with church. Just finished acquiring her present this year. I think she'll enjoy what I've picked out. Looking ahead into March, I'm in for another interesting month. My grandmother is coming for a visit. I've also got a visit with Michelle and Gerry where I'll also meet Liz Lawson, a presenter on Mushroom FM whose musical selections I've found enjoyable for the most part. I would predict that things will slow down come mid March if I hadn't just lived through such a very active last couple of months. I have no reason to doubt that things will just keep popping up to make life interesting. I wouldn't have it any other way.