Further adventures with colorblindness

For those of you who don’t know me and are stumbling upon this post via random search, I wasn’t born colorblind, although I hear most people have some degree of difficulty discerning subtleties between shades. It’s rare to find a person who is completely not colorblind. I am not certain at which age our ability to see color is at its peak. Apparently science is only now figuring out that our dogs can indeed see color. I think those of us who love our dogs knew this all along, didn’t we? I’d say I have known some dogs whose vision was  much better than that of other dogs. The differences between humans are vast. I’m guessing that our vision varies far greater than science realizes.

Have you ever thought of what it would be like to be a different height? If you are a tall person, imagine being a foot shorter. If you are six feet tall, imagine being my height, five foot one. My height translates to 155 centimeters, or about a meter and a half, for those of you who use metric.

If I stand next to another adult who is standing, chances are I am looking up at that person. If the person is six feet tall, I am looking way, way up. If we are walking outdoors, that means looking right up with the bright sky behind the person’s head. I can’t even see the person’s face because it’s nothing but a silhouette to me.  Because I am short, everyone looks down on me and that affects how others view me, but this is not something others are conscious of. I, in turn, might not quite be aware that I am more on the defensive than a tall person, and feel the need to defend or back up everything I say. When I am seated and my height isn’t apparent, these dynamics aren’t really there. In most classroom situations, the students are all seated. In college, it often took an entire term before someone would say, “I never realized you were that short.”  I felt on even terms with the other students and I thrived in college situations, but that wasn’t the only reason.

Wheelchair users tell me the same thing, that no one really understands what it’s like to have to look up at your peers. My former college advisor Kenny Fries, who is several inches shorter than me, often remarked that his height was never apparent while he was seated, but as soon as he stood, life changed. This was because he was born with missing bones in his legs.

You can see how height affects vision. A short person lives with the earth closer and a tall person has a far off view of the ground by comparison. I cannot imagine having my life so high up from the ground. Could I even focus on it? If I were six feet tall, that might make the sidewalk a blur for me. I’d be far more likely to trip if there was a bump I didn’t see. On the other hand, there are many things I don’t see because I am not tall enough. On a bus or in a crowd, I cannot see over people’s heads. But I can go into small spaces and peek inside while a larger person won’t fit.

There are myths about colorblindness. People think of it in black and white. That you see in color or you don’t. That’s not true. Most see some color but have a small degree of deficit. I think as soon as you call it by a name, “colorblindness,” it sets up expectations in others. Maybe they think they have to explain traffic signals to you.  Or they think you shouldn’t drive or are glad you don’t.  From what I have read, red/green colorblindness is only one of the many types out there. When you get tested for it, red/green is the one you are tested for because the concern is your driving. You won’t be tested for other types in a routine exam. I believe some states test for this when you renew your driver’s license or they ask for an ophthalmologist note.

However, there are of course all types of colorblindness. I became aware of mine two years ago. The first sign was my tendency to lose objects. I mentioned this to someone. She said, “Oh, that’s just a senior moment. That means you are losing your memory.” I knew that wasn’t true! I was confident that this wasn’t the case.  I sure was getting tired of these assumptions, so I decided to see why I was losing so many of my belongings.

First of all, they’d always turn up. Consistently. I can count the number of times things were truly lost and never recovered. It’s never been a cell phone nor a laptop nor a huge sum of money. I think I’ve dropped five or six coins on the pavement and not been able to recover all of them. A few things have been lost in the laundry, too, with no explanation. I dropped my keys once, and left them on the table at the post office another time, and both times they were recovered at the post office the next day. To prevent this from  occurring again, I have my keys in my pocket but they are also tied to my belt. I haven’t misplaced them since! When I go out running, I tie a housekey into my shoe. I have also put mad money into my bra but it ends up sweaty. I wonder: If I had to use the mad money, I can’t, really. What do I say? “I can pay you. Excuse me while I reach into my bra and get the mad money.” How do you say that wicked politely in español? It’s okay to put a key in your bra but don’t run like that. It’ll hurt.

So I solved some of the “losing things” problem, but not really. I noticed a pattern. Only dark things got lost. I never lost brightly-colored objects such as a white shirt or those white ankle socks I love to wear.  My floor is dark, maybe that’s why. I haven’t had a light-colored floor in years. I really want one if I can get one. Not a rug. A real light floor. A nice bright room, not this dismal color I have now.

I do prefer dark colored clothing. I don’t like to stand out and I hate wearing feminine colors such as pastel, pink, yellow, lavender, light blue, or bright green. I never wear flowers.  Ick. I don’t know why, I have always disliked those colors. I won’t wear lacy clothing nor anything with decals nor pictures of animals nor movie stars. It’s rare that you see me wearing anything with any of these extras. I do wear scarves now and then to stay warm or because I’m concealing messy hair or I’m in the mood for covering my body. I often wear a hat to keep my hair from blowing in my face, which I find super annoying. Or to keep the sun off my eyes, also annoying.  One exception is that if I feel like dressing up, I wear a man’s or boy’s necktie. Not a clip-on. I tie them.

You are not going to believe this. I’m sure I’m opening myself up for nasty remarks by saying this. But this is just too funny to leave out.  I was at the feria a few months ago. I passed by a table piled high with clothing priced to my liking. I saw these shirts that were my size. The other shoppers didn’t want them because they were seeking larger sizes. I saw so many of these, in different colors, all small, priced low, too, and I told myself that it was so rare that I found cotton shirts that maybe I should buy one. Alas, across the front of each one said the word, in inglese, something like “fantastic” or some such thing. No way was I going to wear a shirt that said “fantastic” right across the bustline. Sorry, Feria Dude, no comprar. Don’t you hate it when the writing on a shirt totally ruins it?

I was busy doing other things yesterday and suddenly ran into a tech emergency. Of course, that’s when these tech emergencies happen. When you’re busy trying to use your computer and it dies on you. So I stopped in my tracks and fixed it, which took a few hours, but in the process I discovered a few new tricks that might help others who are colorblind like me.

You folks know I use f.lux to help cut down on blue light after sundown. This helps with insomnia immensely, in fact, in my case, cured it completely. I had the worst case of insomnia I’d ever heard of. So while I had this tech emergency I went and double-checked to see if f.lux had perhaps caused the problem. I can assure you that this had not caused the problem and there don’t seem to be any viruses nor toolbars nor adware associated with this program. This isn’t the same as the flux dot exe virus.

So I kept on doing my detective search for the cause of the problem. I looked into extensions. I found out just out of random curiosity that Google Chrome offers a blue light blocker on its browser. I would NOT suggest using it if you are already using f.lux. However, if f.lux isn’t working for you, or if you are having compatibility issues, try the chrome extension instead. It will only work for chrome and won’t block blue light from other programs. F.lux will change your entire screen. Keep this in mind. F.lux is a powerful program, entirely free.

For me, I have terrible trouble seeing the screen no matter what. I can’t read text the way it is. I cannot understand why they decided to make text very light gray with a white background. That was just plain cruel. I can’t see it. It’s like barely there. I struggle too much. I have had trouble distinguishing periods from commas and colons from semicolons for years.

I found the solution yesterday. At least when it comes to my browser. I use Chrome, and you can find this if you look in the Chrome store. It’s free. The best option seems to be “Hacker  Vision.” What it does is to replace the colors. You can try it and you will find it’s a lot easier to read text in the Chrome browser.

If you find you need to enlarge your view quickly, here’s a quick way to do it. Press your control key, hold it, then press the + sign. To quickly reduce, press the control key, hold it, then press the – key. Sometimes this will enlarge the entire screen and sometimes just the text. You can make it do just the text, or everything, depending on what application you are in. Usually this means going through “settings.”

Do you want to know what my tech problem turned out to be? These darned Win8 screens are a bitch. They crack if you breathe on them.

So one day, I looked into my Win8 touchscreen, and said, “Mirror, mirror, on the wall….” Well, why not? These screens are far too shiny. Might as well put them to practical use.

I got the rude response. I didn’t know it, though. I can’t see well enough to see some tiny microscopic crack. It’s most likely been sitting there for a week just to annoy me. Yesterday my whole system went manic. Windows closing, windows opening, programs jumping around. I tried giving my PC some Haldol. It gave me a line about forced drugging. I was so pissed. How dare it! Insubordination! Oh well, it takes after its mama. I trained it well. I got a junior activist here.

I had to disable the touchscreen to make the machine at all usable again. You can do this via “pen and touch” settings in “Control Panel” if the updates haven’t obliterated this option, or do it the way I did, through device manager. It’s too expensive to replace the touchscreen and just think: if I did, it’ll crack again as soon as I say, “Mirror, mirror.”

I might say, “Google” and be misheard, after all. They say in this day and age, you gotta watch what you say. Big Brother is cracking the whip.


Why can’t I see dark colors? I’m stumped on this one….

A quick google search didn’t get me any answers. Not yet. I found out the basics, but my own ophthalmologist gave me some info that I didn’t see in the “colorblindness basics” articles I read online. One thing he said was that many people who are as nearsighted as I have become end up also developing colorblindness. My nearsightedness, he says, is most likely hereditary. He said extreme nearsightedness in itself can bring on a host of other problems, so it’s good to at least be on the lookout for them.

He said at one point that my vision was changing rather rapidly. He was so concerned that he said that surely, something else was going on, that these changes were indicative of something else going on internally. He asked me to see to it that certain tests get done, for instance, my thyroid. I told him that I’d just had it tested and was waiting on the results. After all that got cleared up, I was still having one vision problem after another.

After I got completely off meds, my eyes stopped changing rapidly. My doctor said I didn’t have to come back for a full year! However, I’m now noticing this colorblindness and it’s awfully annoying.

People ask me, “What’s the big deal? You don’t drive, so….” Well, that’s not the problem. The problem is that every single thing I own is freaking black. Yep, every charge cord, every tech item, half my bags, half my containers, all my chargers, some of my pens and pencils, many of my clothes and hats and jackets….and so on. Never mind the colored things are so dark I can’t see them, either. There doesn’t seem to be a name for this type of colorblindness or even if it is colorblindness but I can’t distinguish these things and they literally “disappear” on me. If I had my way, I’d give the whole world a bright white background so I could clearly see all my stupid black objects. Or, I’d continue what I’m doing, that is, labeling every single black object I own with this obnoxious yellow duct tape. I hate yellow, but it’s the only color bright enough that I can see.  I’ve had lost dark objects go missing for months, in the dark never-never-land. There should be a junkyard for black tech stuff people like me can’t see.

God bless those shiny white labels everyone else hates that won’t come off. Without them, my stuff is forever lost. I love those obnoxious laundry tags that say, “Here I am!”  I hate bright colors but now, I’m forced to buy them. I won’t wear them, though. I like to hide. The good thing is, I can’ t see myself anymore. I can only see the bright shiny mirror.

I guess I got a bright future, though. That means it’s visible. On the horizon. I can’t see the damn rainbow, but that’s okay, I can see somewhere over the rainbow. Way up high. There’s a land that I heard of. Once in a lullaby.