Friday, September 16, 2016

A Splendid Summer

Hello everyone. It has been a truly enjoyable if somewhat unproductive Summer. Sara and I have gone on a couple of trips and caught up with friends. The weather became extremely hot at times forcing us to stay indoors. Thankfully, the air conditioner has stood us in good stead for yet another year. Aside from the hot weather, we've had some construction take place in our local area. This should largely be out of our way now as the community centre is now finished and ready for use. I actually went over there around a week ago. It's a pretty big facility. The echo of voices off the walls makes it harder to keep oriented. Still, if some interesting organisation takes root in there, I may well volunteer. It doesn't get much easier in terms of walking there. I think I could do it even in Winter time. I think it'll be a good place for the community. Hearing has been quite an issue for me these past months. I had my very first ear infection just as Sara and I were going to the W. Ross Mcdonald School reunion. I had no idea how painful ear infections could get and was within a hair's breadth of refusing pain medication the doctor I saw prescribed for me. I just couldn't conceive of an ear infection being anything like as painful as it would have been had I not taken it. That kept me from using my left hearing aid for quite a while. Doing everything with one ear was damned difficult and frustrating. Still, I had a most enjoyable time despite that. While Sara was busy helping with the event, I was able to catch up with a number of people I had never thought to speak with again. It was most enjoyable. We stayed for a visit with Sara's family afterwards and I was able to relax and read while my ear slowly got better. Later, we went to a cottage for a week with Sara's family. It was a fun and mostly relaxing getaway. I went in the lake for swims a couple of times. It was good to spend a longer stretch of time with them while they were able to relax. Lots of time for reading, games of digital dice on our smart devices, fresh air and good food. Thankfully, I had gotten over my infection and had two working ears for that. I enjoyed the soundscape of the area and there was plenty of good conversation. My travel geer served me well. I didn't really miss my laptop at all. Increasingly, I'm using my iPHONE for damned near everything these days. One experience which is still far superior on the laptop and speakers is listening to radio dramas. Sara and I have had a splendid time in that regard. We enjoyed Big Finish's production of Dracula. There was also Spiteful Puppet's Robin of Sherwood and some of their altogether different Hood series. Very different takes on the same British outlaw and company. There were other treasures too. I thoroughly enjoyed Dark Shadows Bloodlust. Both of us have been rather engaged in reading quite a lot of books. Our reading interests differ somewhat. However, there are points of overlap such as Steven King's Bazaar of Bad Dreams. That turned out to be absolutely splendid. Forty of his best short stories plus all sorts of nuggets of writer's wisdom and experience. One unfortunate casualty of this Summer was my right hearing aid. I was playing with Aladdin and he managed to accidentally knock the thing right out of my ear. You really only have a few fractions of a second to recover something like that from his jaws. It took longer than that for me to realise it was gone. I had to go without my right ear for longer than I thought I would. Thank goodness the first replacements turned out to be free of charge. After that, it's a pretty stiff replacement fee. Needless to say, I'm a heeping a lot more conscious and careful when I'm near Aladdin and bent over for any reason. Between the hot weather and construction blocking the path around the lake, we didn't end up walking as much as I thought we would. I've spent a good amount of time on the balcony which spends much of the day sheltered from the sun. Alas, the wasps are making that a less attractive place to be these days. My desk has long since lost that fresh wooden smell and witnessed many failed starts. As Summer draws slowly to a close, things are changing. Both of us are immersed in creative projects. Sara has become a broadcaster on Mushroom FM. She has a Celtic music show called Come By The Hills. She prepares it ahead of time but participates in live discussion taking place on Twitter and via email with listeners. Things are going quite well so far. They've had her do more as time has progressed. She does quite a bit in our bedroom which has proved the better recording environment. I try to be as careful as possible not to disturb her. The door is good at keeping noise out as long as it's not too drastic. Meanwhile, I've started work on Personal Power, the iOS edition. I really didn't see the need to do so until a volunteer happened to read comments I made about KNFB Reader. He thought I could possibly help a blind lady he helps and hikes with in northern Ontario. The CNIB worker they talked to had no idea about that marvelous app. Other people had inquired every so often whether I would consider writing a guide for iOS devices but I really thought people were aware of the resources out there. Spending time on Vorail, a social network with an accessible iOS app, showed me that lots of people really didn't know the half of what they could be doing with their devices besides talking to each other. It became clear to me that the most useful thing I can do over the next year or more is work on this guide. Similar to the original Personal Power, it will strive to provide a personal human experience-driven introduction to iOS and impart a sense of how it can make a personal difference in blind people's lives. I'll also be contributing regularly to a show on AMI Audio. I'll be doing segments on iOS which dovetails nicely with my work on the guide. I'll also do segments on entertainment including audio dramas, podcasts and books. I might even get a bit of financial compensation for my troubles. That would certainly be welcome. It would help with holiday expenses for shure. These two projects will certainly add routine and interest to life. It feels good to be valued by wider society. Apple has just released iOS10 plus their latest iPHONE. That always livens things up. iOS10 is so far proving to be downright marvelous. There are plenty of updates. Everyone is scrambling to update their apps in order to take advantage of the new capabilities. Things ought to settle down in a week or two. I'm glad this has happened so early in the process of working on Personal Power: the iOS Edition. I only have to change a few chunks of what I've written already to accommodate the changes. For writing, I'm very fond of an app called Ulysses. It won an Apple award and has been made accessible for blind people using Voiceover. It's specifically designed for writing longer projects like books. I like it even better than Jarte and can't wait to see what they add to it over the next while. They seem very responsive to user feedback. I've also begun to use an app from Agile Tortoise called Terminology. It's a dictionary/thesaurus app with online extensions that seems to work a bit more smoothly with Voiceover these days. Unfortunately, Wordweb isn't working quite as smoothly as it once did. Other good dictionary/thesaurus apps include the Merriam Webster dictionary, Wordbook and Wordvault. I don't find the premium app very easy to navigate. The Wikipedia app is still performing quite wonderfully. Now that iOS10 makes moving apps so easy, I've been organising my homescreens quite a bit. I'm far less averse to the idea of having apps in folders and may eventually do that. However, for now, they're on their proper pages. It's another friday morning. I'll be participating in a trivia quiz on AMI Audio pretty soon now. Been up since around four. Fortunately, other than this quiz, there are no major plans. Just plenty of good listening. A lot is happening this weekend including my father's birthday, a meal out with Sara's parents, a church picknick and possibly more. Sara and I look forward to hearing Jonathan Mosen unbox his brand new iPHONE7+. I'm particularly curious how wel the lightning dock and adapter help him cope with Apple's decision to remove the headphone jac. Personally, I don't think it'll be a major problem for me. I'm not upgrading for hopefully a year and possibly longer. Still very pleased with my iPHONE6. I'm happy with pretty much all my tech gear at the moment. It's all about having the right apps. I've made some very good investments and discoveries in that area. I had fun but did not prevail in this morning's quiz. I think that rules me out from the upcoming championship game in a couple of weeks. I'll have to listen to that day's Live from Studio 5 show to hear how it turns out. There's actually quite a lot of good programming on AMI Audio. I've tuned in every now and then and will do so more now that I'll be participating. Who would have imagined that a school reunion I never would have thought of going to were I not married to a board member would lead to this sort of opportunity? I know a lot but have found it hard to actually put it to use beyond enriching my personal life and hopefully my family and friends. Every now and then, something like this happens and what I know is, for a brief while, valueable to people. These days, with marriage going well and all of this new momentum, I haven't been feeling disconnected. There's enough social in life to give me a sense of balance. Having a big project nicely underway feels very good. Maybe, at long last, I've really found my stride and this can be a lasting stable state of being.