Sunday, June 04, 2006

Going Blind

I can't help being repeatedly reminded that I am going blind. Well, probably. Certainly my vision is deteriorating, and has been for some time, apparently because of demyelination caused by radiation therapy, a process which medical science is unable to halt or reverse.

My field of vision gradually but inexorably gets dirtier and dirtier.

Sunday 4 June, I went out for a walk with my wife and daughter, and I, too, could see the zeppelin in the sky, a gray air machine in a gray sky above the gray of the city of Yokohama.

But I could not make out the word emblazoned on the side of the blimp, which was, apparently, Nissan.

Nissan, my wife tells me, has bought the naming rights for the stadium in Yokohama, and there will be an audience in the stadium this morning for a baseball game.

Later, after we had visited the rabbits and the chickens at the local elementary school, my daughter discovered a tiny caterpillar which my wife described as "chichai", i.e. tiny. She told me, correctly, that it was probably too small for me to see.

The experience of going blind is, quite simply, terrifying, and I am reminded, repeatedly, of some junk TV I once watched. It was footage of houses falling into sinkholes somewhere in America, big two-story houses, obviously worth a lot of money, sliding down to destruction.

I feel that my life has become like one of those houses, teetering toward the edge of absolute destruction, with no way to stop it.

This morning I fired up Outlook Express, deleted nine pieces of junk mail then went to my Yahoo account, where I found just one e-mail message waiting, a longish e-mail message from Melvin, who wrote, in part:

"I started this email after I read your blog entry about being legally blind."

At this writing, 4 June 2006, it is not clear that I am legally blind. I went and saw an eye specialist who made a report on my condition, and I got some medical paperwork touching on the subject of my prior medical history, and tall this paperwork went to the ward office, the local government office.

In three months or so, the bureaucracy will deliver a decision, and if I am legally blind then there may be a payoff of sorts, a kind of "discount book" which, like the community services card that we have in New Zealand, entitles you to a range of discounts in a number of places.

(That's all I know about this "discount book" at the moment.)

As Melvin rightly points out, regardless of my legal status, for the time being I can still see, up to a point, otherwise his e-mail would have been written for no purpose.

But how long is "for the time being?" I have no idea. My eyesight was okay back in January, but the right eye was effectively out of action by March, and the left deteriorated alarmingly just last month, in May.

Melvin writes that he has been reading the books in the CHRONICLES OF AN AGE OF DARKNESS series, with the exception of THE WEREWOLF AND THE WORMLORD, which has somehow eluded him.

If anyone is looking for a copy of this book, it is on sale at amazon.com at:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0861403991/ref=sr_11_1/103-6308757-6993456?%5Fencoding=UTF8

On the site amazon.co.uk the same title is listed at:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/search-handle-url/202-0643888-8768642?%5Fencoding=UTF8&search-type=ss&index=blended&field-keywords=wormlord%20hugh%20cook

On the UK site, the book is said to be from Colin Smythe Ltd. This paperback will be a rebadged copy of the original Corgi edition, Colin Smythe having bought remaindered stock, rebadging the paperbacks with new ISBN numbers.

On sale for a price stated, in British pounds, as 6.99 plus a "sourcing fee" of 1.99.

The writer, then, trumps the cancer patient, giving me more things to think about than houses sliding into sinkholes.
Amazon reports that this is available new and that, additionally, there is one used copy on sale.

As what I've just written demonstrates, the writing business very naturally comes to the fore of my thoughts, the question of the availability of the books trumping, for the moment, thoughts about eyesight problems.

Melvin writes, in part:

"I also enjoyed BAMBOO HORSES, and look forward to reading more of your works."

I, for my part, look forward to writing them, if I am granted the time.

Meanwhile, on the periphery, there is the issue of a job to be addressed, and I am continuing to think about getting my own private students, of setting up my own business as an English teacher.

I have found, on the www.eslcafe.com site, a useful page of links, which is:

www.eslcafe.com/search/index.html

If you were looking for esl material on the Internet, this page would save you a lot of clicking around on Google.

This morning I thought some more about paying for an ad in METROPOLIS, the free give-away magazine which says that it is distributed in 600 sites in Tokyo, Yokohama and Chiba. I can buy an add for 2000 yen for 35 words, with extra words available at 75 yen each.

The number of teachers advertising private lessons was small but they exist. The only quoted price was 2800 yen an hour, with group rates available.

As I was studying my copy of METROPOLIS, my two-year-old daughter, having finished her cornflakes, her bread and her pieces of orange, laid claim to eh magazine, which contains a lot of small colored photographs, which appealed to her.

She commented on a car and asked about another photo, which I said was of a woman. And so it was, a woman advertised as follows:

"AIKO HIGH CLASS ESCORT for the most sensual experience in Tokyo. Introducing beautiful ladies from Japan and from all around the world for good times you will not forget. Now hiring girls." (Phone number given.)

Ads in METROPOLIS can be purchased online. I haven't been to the site yet, and, in fact, I am still thinking about whether I want to go ahead with the experiment of purchasing my own ad. But, for the record, in the copy of METROPOLIS that I have in my hand, the link for buying ads is stated to be:

classifieds.japantoday.com

It seems that, as well as paying by credit card, you have other options, such as going to the post office and making a payment into an account. A lot of people in Japan either do not have credit cards, or have them but prefer not to use them, so online payments are often made at, for example, a convenience store.

My wife shops online but does not have a credit card. When we bought our rice cooker online, we were sent a form by mail, which we took to a convenience store to pay. And, when we bought Norton
Antivirus 2005 from Norton here in Japan, we were offered not just the option of paying by credit card but, also, of paying at a convenience store.

Tomorrow, Monday, the Immigration Department. Later in the week, the eye clinic at Meijin Hospital. And sometime during the week I plan to check my revised Japanese-language advertisement with my wife, and think some more about buying an advertisement on METROPOLIS.

I might also find the time to think some more about the question of learning braille. So far, I have acquired a braille alphabet which someone sent me by mail, and maybe acquiring some braille learning materials might be a smart next move.

As far as my writing is concerned, I have three things planned: to continue preparing a new edition of THE SHIFT and to write the next two books in the TALES OF OOLONG MORBLOCK series, these books being COMRADE RAT MUST DIE and INTREPID GIRL REPORTER. I have also, as I have noted elsewhere, come up with an idea for the fourth book, which is planned to be OCEANS OF WEALTH.

Closing note: as I mentioned earlier, on the offchance I looked for the blog saddamhussein.blogspot.com. And there it was. Encouraged, I went in search of georgebush.blogspot.com. But George, evidently, has been too busy with other things to sign up for his own blog.

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