Friday, March 1, 2013

A Wonderful Week

Hello everyone. For much of the start of this year, I've been ill with the flu. It kept me exhausted, stuffed, and not hearing much properly for a good number of weeks. I had to cancel my New Year's party and I can't even remember the last time that happened. Despite everything, I finally managed to get my review of the USB speakers finished and posted. Nice to have at least one new project up there. Not the best timing to do that as I had to pick my moments when my hearing seemed nearly normal and stop when it often became markedly degraded. I don't want to hear a good number of things for a while. Most especially, the movie Tomorrow Never Dies. I used that one for battery drain testing and will probably go two years before wanting to hear that story. Other than that, I can't say I've gotten a whole lot done other than reading. Books have kept me sane. Books as well as tweeting with friends. I went through quite a stretch when those things were about all I could focus on beyond basic chores. There was also a week in between illnesses when I felt good enough to go visit Sara and her family in Brantford. I had a great weekend with them. Sara's family are every bit as supportive and caring as my own. They were very accommodating. I very much look forward to getting to know more about them as I continue to get to know Sara. I believe I made a reasonably good impression overall. Her uncle Steve is a splendid tease and makes an interesting doubtless very helpful balance to Sara's tendency towards seriousness at times. He's mastered the art of getting her goat wonderfully. Where my parents have both retired, her's haven't yet done so and live very busy lives. They're very conscientious about their work as well as their family life much as my parents were before they retired. I often found myself thinking how sociologically interesting it would be to observe how they'll handle that same transition. One similarity between families is a high degree of cohesiveness. They had a party to co inside with the big football game. I got to meet other family members who came to celebrate. I also dozed off while sitting on a card stool. I caught myself before falling but it did alarm people I think. That sort of thing has happened to me before when I become uninvolved or disinterested in conversation or just tired. This was the first time I've ever felt that it might be somewhat dangerous though. I've since seen my doctor who is now going to book me into a sleep study to determine what's going on. It's one of those things that doubtless should have been looked into earlier but which I presumed was solely due to my blindness. Between that and my apparently loud snoring which I presumed had abated long ago, I've finally gotten to the point where I'm motivated to see where all this leads. Now that I'm in a relationship and likely to sleep in close proximity to at least one other person more often, it's worth getting a handle on this aspect of life. We had a pretty relaxed time hanging around the house, talking and listening to things I had on my laptop. Rocky was such a relaxed calm dog. Their other dog Angel was more excitable but never seemed to rouse Rocky to any great lengths. We didn't end up going anywhere in Brantford this time but I think there'll be more of that in future visits. Our outing to Sara's church was cancelled so I have yet to see what an Orthodox service might be like. Sara came back with me to spend a week away. Part of that was spent in my apartment. We had a good relaxing day there before Steve joined us for another evening and half day. We went out for brunch with my parents who had yet to meet Sara and were also delighted to see how Steve was doing. That went very well indeed. Sara made a very good first impression on them. They're very happy for us. Of course, ?Steve has gotten to know my parents about as much as I've come to know his over the years. It's one of those friendships that has really stood the tests of time and periods of separation very well all around. There's that sense that he and his family will be there through thick and thin come what may. A comforting pillar in life. I hope I've proved the same for him over the years Proceeding from that delicious brunch, we went into Toronto. Meeting up with Ramla, Steve's special lady, we spent the afternoon going to a specialty tea shop called David's as well as a Tim Horton's. I felt much like a bull in a china shop standing there with my full pack and laptop case on. Sara was also carrying her travel gear. In future excursions, we'll probably drop that gear off first. However, I believe I've finally concluded that my larger backpack is far better suited to these trips even when they're relatively short. I can put everything in one well-balanced bag. We hooked up with our mutual friend Michelle Mcquigge for a very good dinner at a nice pub. The food and company were both excellent. Michelle certainly has a good knowledge of what's where in Toronto. She also remains perky and a great conversationalist even after a day of hard work. The next day was Thursday. Despite a somewhat unpredictable storm we knew was on the way later in the evening, we stuck with our plans and went out to meet Earle, Shane and Meko at McDonald's for the afternoon. We all had a great time despite being a bit more spread out than I think any of us expected to be. Everyone got on well with each other. I had never before gotten to meet Shane despite chatting with him via electronic means and encountering his name often in emails. It's always fascinating when you get to put a voice and personal presence to the name you've heard read electronically and mentioned often by others. Like filling in the middle of a jigsaw puzzle. Sara fits in with my friends wonderfully so far. She's known some of them like Earle for stretches of life just as I have. Those stretches just didn't overlap as much. The blind community has that sort of small world property about it. It was great to see all of them. After we left McDonald's, Steve thought we should go for dinner at a Mexican place he knew. It was an excellent choice. Clearly, the friendly owner was familiar with my old friend. The special that night was some delicious beef stew. We all enjoyed our food and good conversation. Later, the storm was getting started in earnest. Steve wanted to get some drinks from the LCBO taking advantage of Sara and my "expertise" as he said. I suppose I have become somewhat widely experienced when it comes to beer. Sara knows more about wines and such. We certainly ended up enjoying what we chose. On the other hand, this last excursion meant that by the time we got to the point where we could walk back to Steve's parents' house, there was too much snow to do so safely. Thankfully, Mr. Murgaski was able to extricate us from that predicament. There was just no point in going anywhere on Friday. The full storm was still in progress and had dumped a lot of snow everywhere. This resulted in a very relaxing comfortable day hanging around the house. Rocky took centre stage getting plenty of pats and attention from Steve's nieces and pretty much all of us. He's just such a calm well-behaved and patient companion for Sara. I don't think I've ever encountered a more placid easy-going dog. She had to ration his food a bit to make it last an extra day and he took even that in perfect stride. I never really want to own or be responsible for a dog's well being but I already have a sense that I'll miss Rocky once he's retired at last. We stayed up quite late that last night with Steve. Ordering from proved to be a bit more of a lengthy process since the first place we chose had to reject our order. Their driver got into an accident due to the snowy conditions. Thankfully, our second choice worked out well. We enjoyed a dinner from a Canadian place which had everything from burgers to wings to pizza. We also enjoyed the alcohol Steve had bought the day before. Despite that day of rest and luxury, I was still somewhat tired when I reached home after we dropped off Sara in Brantford. So was Sara apparently. It was a marvellous week. I couldn't have asked for a better one to really start off our relationship in proper fashion. We had plenty of time to talk to each other and also plenty of time with other company to get to know how we might fit into each other's circles. I very much look forward to having Sara come down for another visit to my apartment. There are plenty more people for her to meet who are keen to make her acquaintance. I'm happy for that and will certainly oblige as circumstances permit. For me though, I'm still just revelling in having found someone with whom I can share some of my formerly solitary pursuits of reading, listening to audio dramas, and truly thinking about and discussing what we hear without fear that my partner will grow bored. It's not just some passing attraction. I think that's been well and truly established now. We really are a couple at the start of a journey of growing love, respect, trust and attraction. Life doesn't feel so on hold for me as it has in years past. The only down-side to the whole thing was that I seem to have caught a second flu or something right after I was certain of having gotten over the first one. That kept me from getting much done for another chunk of time. I drifted through the days and nights as insomnia also took a toll. However, by the time I actually got to see my doctor, I was pretty much getting over that second illness leaving just the sleep issues as an ongoing concern. Going for a sleep study will be interesting but I have a hard time picturing myself getting a lot of sleep with all sorts of stuff hooked up to me. Still, if they can figure out what's going on and steer me to ways of correcting the problem, I'm willing to try nearly anything. This seems to be one of those times in life where I'm being offered a chance at more engagement and interactivity with others. I've wanted such changes to take place for quite some time now but just couldn't seem to make it happen or hook up with people who were interested. I seem to have at last reached a kind of critical mass. After spending so much time alone in the apartment sick over the past while, I'd normally be feeling all sorts of cabin fever wishing I had more people to go places with or visit. However, there are enough people who'll do so when opportunity permits that I no longer have that disconnected sense. My time alone is less and less the prison it used to be because I know it won't normally stretch on for most of a month at a time. It's the first of March as I finally close in on the end of a blog entry that should have been done early in February after our wonderful week. I've had quite a lot to think about since then. A good many fascinating books I've read including the excellent Lost Fleet series. I've heard some great podcast, had nifty conversations with friends, and attended a couple of excellent church services. Mark Charles was our guest last Sunday and had a lot of really thought-provoking stuff to say. He's really walked the walk living in a traditional Native hogon with his family for years. One idea he had that really resonated with me was how the only reason we could relate to Jesus at all was because he did what most of us never do and didn't use the lifelines open to him. Instead, he completely and utterly chose God's will over his own and had the fortitude to see the messy business of earning our salvation through. He didn't have to, but he did. Mark pointed out that there's no value in our current consumeristic culture for not taking advantage of one's lifelines so as to better be able to relate to others less fortunate than ourselves and to deepen one's trust in God. I don't believe I could intentionally turn away from the blessings in my own life like that. I'm very glad that Jesus is an understanding fellow and forgives me my fears and worldly insecurities. My parents have given me a much appreciated early birthday present in the form of the money to purchase three sound effects collections from Sound Ideas. Thanks to this flexibility, I now have all the sounds I'll ever need to try my hand at podcasting as well as provide appropriately medieval sounds for both of the fantasy games I'm currently working on. The Boom Medieval Weapons library is a treasure trove of things like sword sounds, arrow flights, catapult shots, etc. None of the other sound effects collections I've acquired, the game-centric SFX Kit included, has enough of the medieval sounds to do a battle sequence or even personal weapons and armour real justice. At long last, my sound effects library seems very complete and suited to my needs as much as this is possible with these large multi-purpose royalty-free sound effects collections. At the moment, getting more seriously into sound editing is something I'm dreading a little. I know that things would go a lot better if I were able to master this skill though and not have to rely on another person who might not grasp how I want the game worlds to sound. Thankfully, Sara knows how to use Goldwave which is a reasonably powerful and accessible sound editor. She's offered to give me some lessons and I'll gladly take her up on that. God seems to keep moving the pieces I need into place. It's still hard to imagine even getting the design document fully worked out let alone having a finished functional game. However, that sense of utter impossibility is diminishing. One up-side of having been ill and insomniac for much of the last while is that there are these times of getting better. My sleep is more or less hap penning in the time slot I'd like it to. The flu or whatever it was has gone and my hearing is back to normal. I really should have gotten this blog entry out a week ago but I've been carried away by books and such. One of these was the Life of Pi. The film featured prominently in the early part of the Oscars that my family and company watched during my mom's birthday celebration at their house. I couldn't put the book down and read through it voraciously. I also got carried away with the Lost Fleet books. It's a well-realized possible far future universe with some excellent space battles. The characters could honestly do with some rounding out but they're not bad. I've just obtained the Hyperion series of books and look forward to beginning that apparently excellent journey. I've had numerous people recommend them to me. Over the past couple of days, I've finally read the last two books of the Hunger Games trilogy. I just couldn't put those down either. Hense, my hammering away here on Friday night. There's probably a whole lot more I should have blogged about. However, it's all sort of blurred into that zone called the foggy past. A whole lot of great moments of reflection, nifty conclusions, good points and thought-provoking stuff. My life abounds with such thank God. It's one of the many ways in which I'm truly fortunate; downright rich beyond measure. Increasingly, as I spend the days more awake and healthy, there's that drive to do something and give back somehow. I've begun going to the Dam again for movie nights now that I'm well enough not to conk out or something. Sparkle really needs my serious attention. That's going to be next week's big focus creativity-wise. That and being whatever help I can be to friends. The weekend beckons. There's church on Sunday and I may be getting together with Mark and Wendy tomorrow. Sara and I are beginning to think about when to get together this month. As things stand, she's likely to come my way. I love having her in the apartment here, and more of my friends want to meet her. That's always interesting for me to put people together and see what happens. We're both very prone to analyzing and thinking about people, language, religion, and all that stuff. Despite all the illness, this year's off to a very good start indeed. It's time to spell check and post this entry, kick back and let the weekend carry me along.