Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Another Chunk of Time Gone By

Hello everyone. It's Thursday evening on May 22. I figured I'd do a blog entry since it's been a while. This week has been busy with work on my CNIB Braille conference presentation proposal as well as the newsletter which covers the CRC Disability Concerns conference I recently attended. Strange to think of the beginning of the month as recent but it really still has that yesterday feel. Work on the newsletter shouldn't have taken as long as it did. Contributions were slow to come in and there were far less of them than I had hoped for. Thanks to most workshops having handouts I was able to make ends meet. I only heard about the opportunity to speak at the CNIB Braille conference a week ago. The official deadline stated on their site had already long passed. Things collided today so it's been a long and busy one tackling what should have been more spread out. Tomorrow, I'll find out whether or not there's more work to do on the newsletter. They really liked what I gave them but it was too large to fit their usual pages. However, they liked what I did enough to not have me start cutting right away. If that isn't vindication, I don't know what is. They chose their keynote speaker and workshop discussion facilitators very well so there was loads of good information which seemed too potentially useful not to distribute widely to the disability advocates who couldn't attend.

This October, presuming my proposal is accepted, I'll have the opportunity to speak to participants of the CNIB Braille conference all about accessible games. I've blogged before about how every once in a while, our expertise actually comes in handy for people. Being unemployed pretty much makes it almost mandatory to jump at any such opportunity to demonstrate one's abilities or knowledge. I would be pretty much the best person in Canada to give a general introductory presentation about accessible games, their history and current events in that sphere. I've submitted my proposal, the first such formal document like that I've ever had to write. I've presented online and for smaller groups. This one would be to something like a hundred people.

It's now Monday, June 9th. This week could be pretty interesting all around. I have yet to hear anything from the conference organizers at the CNIB regarding my proposal. Apparently, the original deadline was April 31, a month before I even knew the damned conference even existed. There have been no updates to their conference web site at all. Before I do a bunch of work on a presentation suitable to such an opportunity, I'd really like to have some confirmation that I will in fact have the opportunity to present. There's plenty else I can do over the Summer. Not to mention the weekend of the conference coming right around my birthday and other family stuff such as Halloween. The CNIB really isn't putting any resources into helping potential blind speakers like me. Getting me there would have been a nice gesture. Centrally producing resources such as the right number of handouts for attendees once numbers were actually know would have been another big help. Instead, it looks like everyone has to do their own stuff. The only thing I'd feel confident in putting together on my own would be a two-page handout. Provided nothing happens to the web sites which serve as central points for accessible gaming, I could certainly take people on a quick tour of those resources if hooking my laptop into display facilities at the convention centre is doable. I really don't know the first thing about Power point or anything like that. One of the central sites was recently knocked out temporarily by hacker idiots. It took them at least a few weeks to get everything back up and running again. Thank God they managed it.

On the up-side, I'm now done with the newsletter for the conference I attended on behalf of my church. It wasn't a huge amount of work but dragged out until the start of last week mainly due to poor preparation ahead of the conference. By the time there was a sense of who was going, the organizers were just too busy to even catch my inquiries about pre-positioning people two write about the various workshops. The final result will be somewhat weighted in favour of the part of the conference which I attended, recorded and had handouts for. Given the circumstances, I'm pretty happy with what I managed to do. It seems as though the conference organizers are as well. The final draft will likely come out soon. Damned nice to have working on it behind me as this Summer gets underway.

That is going to happen quite quickly. Last week, I went to the Peel Multicultural Centre to speak to a group of seniors wanting to learn more about technology. On an earlier walk around the lake, I had encountered Maria, a lady who is trying to help with this program. After an extensive conversation, she asked me if I could come in. I was busy on the Thursday following our initial conversation but was free last Thursday. Apparently, people were impressed with me. So impressed that I was asked to come in on Thursdays from now on. It looks like I've finally found a way of really helping out in the community. They're happy to get me there and back. I've begun working on a sort of glossary of technology terms for them. I think I'll be able to help quite a bit. It's so damned good to have that kind of thing back in life again. After a couple of weeks, presuming things keep working out well, I'll add a new line to my slowly growing email signature turned unconventional resume.

Thursday is also the day Ontario goes to the poles to elect the next provincial government. I've taken the time to read each of the main party's platforms as I did last time. Unlike last time, which I guess was actually federal, I'm not very impressed with any of our choices. If you could pick and choose the best parts of each party's offerings, you might really achieve something. We've gotten ourselves into a very dismal political corner where scandal has hollowed out my once trusted Liberal party. I really can't vote for them in good conscience this time around. I've never trusted the Conservatives. If they win a majority, I'd be very concerned about them using cost-cutting approaches which put numbers ahead of people's lives. I absolutely agree that reducing the debt is necessary. We have to trim down our bureaucracy. I just worry that the frontline workers are going to be reduced in places where they really shouldn't be. The million jobs featured so prominently and apparently mistakenly in the Conservative plan would be created over the same timeframe with no drastic government cuts. Over the past while, I've heard reasonable objections to each of the party platforms. Nobody really has it right. The only questions is who might do the least societal damage. I'm leaning heavily towards the NDP, new democratic party, primarily because of their unenviable position. They've campaigned mainly on the premise that they couldn't support the Liberal government they had been previously propping up due to the weight of dishonesty and scandal having gotten too out of hand. Given that, they had better be squeaky clean should they win their first chance to govern in decades. I dimly remember Bob Ray in power back when I was a child. This would be a precious opportunity to shine for the NDP. It's been such a revolving door between the Liberals and Conservatives that I don't know that either party has nearly as much to lose by screwing up.

It's Tuesday afternoon. I'm on the couch with the air conditioning being used more to rid the apartment of stuffy humid air than to actually cool. Two days to go until the election. I made it twice around the lake this afternoon. It was just too dead and muggy feeling out there. I met with a good five or six people and gently inquired as to their election thoughts. None of them felt very happy or strongly about any of the choices. Here's hoping this next round leaves us in better shape leadership-wise.

Today has been a day of checking in with friends via the phone. I'm ever so thankful I have an unlimited talk and text plan. Nice not to have to worry about that at all. I got to chat with Adam, Steve, Wendy and Shirley at some length. Shirley's doing quite well and has guests from England who she wants me to meet later this week. That ought to be interesting. Mark and Wendy are also doing pretty well these days. It's been around three months since I spoke to those two. It'll be good seeing them during the Summer. Wendy hasn't been able to find employment but thanks to a funding shortfall, she finds her volunteer services in higher demand than usual this Summer. Having that level of commitment and activity in life is a comfort to her. I can totally relate to that. Getting involved with this seniors program gives me a much needed sense of community connection and purpose. I worry for Adam and Steve. A protracted fruitless job search has taken a heavier toll on them. Other than offer moral support and friendship, there's not a great deal I can do for either of them other than pray. Both of them deserve so much better than what they've been dealt. That's true of too damned many people these days. I got Adam talking politics for a bit. Under most circumstances, talking about things besides games with him is downright refreshing despite his deep and growing cynicism. Not so this time. He's pretty much at the point of absolutely no hope of things getting better on a societal level. Governments simply serve those with all the money leaving the rest of us with no real options or cause for hope in life. That pretty much sums up his take on things. I don't think that's altogether fair even about the Conservative party. However, it gets harder to argue with him when good friends are left hanging out to dry despite plenty of effort to the contrary. Reading lots of articles about how housing is increasingly out of reach for young adults, how people are waiting much longer to start families due to sustained financial insecurity, and how that North American dream of personal success is nothing but a pipe dream for the middle class, doesn't exactly give me a lot of ammunition with which to defend my dear old optimism.

Thankfully, I have reached a place in life where I have the luxury of not having to dig and scrape for my survival and have time to look out for my friends. I've been given a space in which optimism and hope are a reasonable approach to life. I can appreciate how a positive cheerful approach is rewarding me in many ways. It has made me more approachable as a person. I still fervently believe that a positive stance would reward the majority of people in some way. However, I also completely get where basically good people like my long-time friend become so frighteningly disenchanted. It's a perfectly reasonable if self-destructive response to what they're going through.

It's Friday afternoon. I'm on my balcony. We tried to get my cane repaired in the morning but weren't entirely successful. Mom and one of my favourite mobility instructors Harpal to a very good crack at it with the repair kit I bought along with the cane. The tip won't go on in a stable way. Other than that, it was a success much too hard fought for. Surely, there's a possible cane design which would give you a sturdy, reliable, but also easily repairable cane. It took so much effort getting the elastic cord through the segments and the handle. It seems such a shame to treat good graphite shafts as disposable just because the cord holding pieces together breaks but that's what I'll have to do.

A good family friend was celebrating her graduation from university today. I've known her since before she could walk. We had an excellent lunch at Milestones Grill. She was in very good spirits. Unlike me, she has had some good work experience opportunities during the time she got her degree so if anyone's ready to face this insane world where unemployment lurks around every corner, Alicia is. Mark, her younger brother, has had what you might called a stroke of luck. He'll be working at golf courses taking care of greens and doing other stuff. One of the perks seems to be cheep golf so that pleases him no end. I hope he makes the most of this opportunity.

Things are off to a fairly good start at the Peel Multicultural Centre where I'll be volunteering. I have begun to get to know these interesting folks and that'll help me focus on their interests technology-wise. Things seem pretty slow and relaxed. I don't have much of a sense of what the people funding this program are hoping for. I was given Internet access on my iPHONE and computer so I'll at least be able to demonstrate things more easily to people. Apparently, Jaws doesn't make it easy to see what I'm trying to explain so I'm going to se if either System Access or NVDA make things I'm doing more easy to follow.

It's a tad chilly out on the balcony. I think it'll be cooler for the next couple days and then warm again on Sunday. I can roll with that. It's still good walking weather unless it rains. I'm indoors for now. Last night while listening to the election coverage, I was out on the balcony enjoying a beer. The Liberals won a completely unexpected victory and now have a majority government. I was certain they were going to get the axe this time. An NDP minority was the best I had any hope for. The next four years are going to be interesting ones politically. The scandals of the past eight years are still out there and being investigated. On the plus side, Kathleen Wynne comes into power not owing anybody any favours. She can pick her cabinet without compromise. With such a clear mandate to govern, we'll finally see what an un threatened Liberal vision of Ontario is like. I've always preferred the Liberal message and ideals. They just need to get their moral fibre back and really deal with all these hover ring ghosts of mistakes past. I've always thought that would be more easily accomplished outside of power. Instead, the Conservatives find themselves needing to rebuild themselves and find new direction. It's not at all the result I had hoped for, but perhaps the Liberals can really rise to the challenge and make me really want them to stick around come next election. Anything's possible I guess.

It's Sunday morning. Very damned early. I guess I've had a little over five hours sleep. This included a strange dream of playing Poker with a deck of iPADS instead of cards. They would say strange things when you touched them. I don't remember any of the words. The preposterous notion of shuffling and sliding iPADS across a large Poker table has stuck with me into wakefulness. I've already done the dishes, wiped the countertop and table, answered a couple emails and fiddled with some different Real tech sound settings I've just discovered while wearing headphones at my desk here. It was fun to fiddle but I didn't find anything I'd use on a permanent basis. None of the various daily book deals interested me in the slightest. That's been mainly the case for a while now. So far, I've only had one book I purchased at full price become a daily deal.

Any time now, I'm expecting to hear that I have a fourth niece. I don't believe her name has been settled on. Dan and Allie have done really well at dealing with life's various demands. I'm amazed they're not more stressed out and impatient. Instead, they mainly seem to handle everything with good grace. No doubt, they'll fill this Summer with exciting trips and excursions for the kids and themselves. I don't know how they do it all. Perhaps, I'll see them today. Church will be first on the agenda in around five hours. It's been cooler these past couple of days. I've been comfortable in slacks. I hear we may be in for a cooler Summer over all this year but I'm not sure I believe it. Some ice coffee and tea from Tassimo would likely be a good thing to get hold of sooner or later. In all likely hood, the hot humid weather will put in a sustained appearance.

Sara and I will be going to the W. Ross McDonald school reunion next weekend. I've never been to one of those before. It'll make for an interesting shared experience to add to our year and a half as an engaged couple. She's actually involved in organizing the occasion. While I certainly have memories of the place, I wasn't really there to form any sort of lasting attachment to it. Sara will also be giving a speech at the graduation happening just prior to that. I never attended my own secondary school graduation. I just didn't feel connected enough to the place that I should bother. Here's hoping these very young adults feel differently and enjoy the moment. Such milestones are far to infrequently reached in life. University was a different story. I attended that graduation and was frankly expecting more of a celebration with friends and former classmates. There really should have been, but we all just went our separate ways. I didn't even say goodbye to anyone, staff or student. At least when I next reach a milestone like finishing one of my endless projects, Sara will be there to share in my triumph.

It's now Tuesday afternoon. I believe that makes a week that I've been working on this entry. My fourth niece has arrived in fine style. Her name will be Ailsa but the current thinking is that people will call her Dani. Guess we'll see. Everyone's doing well. My parents have been over in Hamilton helping out where they can. I've just finished doing a second load of laundry getting all the sheets and towels clean. Nice to have all that ready for action. Once I'm back, I'll have to stock up on groceries. I'll be packing this evening. It's always tempting to try one of these trips with just my iPHONE and a few accessories for it. I'd just dread the thought of writing anything longer than a few sentences on the iPHONE. Perhaps, now that Siri can take dictation, it wouldn't be so bad. I certainly have enough storage on the iPHONE to take all the reading I want. I may just do that this time around.

Other than this weekend, the only thing now firmly planned for Sara and I is a Canada Day celebration with Jim and Carol. They always throw a good party and it has become something of a family tradition to attend. I don't know whether we'll go on any major expeditions to see friends in Toronto or where ever hers might live but that's a possibility and I'm going to be ready for that. It's so damned good to have someone so special in life. Even with recent sleeping troubles, I'm still a very happy man these days.

Apparently, we could be in for some rough weather this afternoon. Sitting out here on my balcony, there aren't too many signs of this. The wind is picking up a bit and it feels like perhaps clouds are getting in the way of the sun. Harder to tell given the direction my balcony faces. It's pleasant enough just now but I'm using my sound bar speakers which attach to my laptop so I can get inside very quickly if need be. With that thought, I believe I'll say goodbye to you, my intrepid loyal readers, until next entry.