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How To Light A Street With A Spoon (Or Why Looking And Seeing Are Completely Different)
7/2/2014 1:22:12 AM
I know I get wound up about my sight but even I have to admit there are times when I have fun with it.  These are usually the times when my eyes and my brain match up brilliantly and come up with the weirdest descriptions (and explanations) for things.

For example. a few weeks ago I was on a bus when I saw a lady who was dressed very smartly apart from one thing.  At first glance it appeared that she was wearing some kind of studded leather collar around her neck.  On taking a proper look it turned out that she was actully wearing a black scarf with metallic silver circles or discs printed on it.  The way part of it had folded over itself just made it appear like studs.

This afternoon I spent quite a large amount of time with an ex-army man - I would say it was one ot those "mutually educational" times.  It was also a very amusing time as we explained bits about ourselves to each other.

(Put it this way - you may remember that in my original blog I posted about one of my friends who I had felt like I had to use a metaphorical saw on so I could chop him into two separate and manageble pieces???  The ex-army man had apparently already put himself through that process which made me feel comfortable around him.  This was a good job because he was not exactly the most physically compact man I have ever met.)

We were discussing things like sight, etc.  He had even allowed me to put him through some "interactive demonstrations" without complaining at me.  This was fun for me.

Near the end of our time together I was feeling comfortable enough to let him have a peek into my world in a slightly different way.  I could see the perfect item to help me teach him about "sideways seeing".  It was a lamppost with a rather unusual shape to the top of it.

We had been disussing photography and sight (and how sight and photography are not equal) when I pointed towards the lamppost and asked him if he could see a teaspoon.

I had previously taken this photo from above the lamppost;

He hadn't got a clue what I was talking about (do not worry - this is not unsual).  Then I pointed out what I meant.  From the angle we were looking at it the top of it looked like a teaspoon.  He told me that he had walked past the lamppost several times but never noticed the shape of the top of it.

I then asked him what he saw when he looked at it.  His answer was along the lines of "you have made me think of it as a teaspoon".  Then I asked him to switch his "army brain" on and tell me what he saw.  After complaining about this he did as I asked and I got an eyeopening example of how different that single lamppost - which we were both looking at from ground level - could appear depending on how you looked at it to start with.  (I will never see that bit of Charles Street in Leicester in the same way again.)

Maybe we should all take time out of our day to see the unusual in everyday objects?  This may help us understand our surroundings a bit more - and expand our minds.

Nudity Versus Nakedness (Or How We Can See Ourselves Can Be Completely Different To How Other People Accept Us)
7/2/2014 1:18:00 AM
Public nudity (as in being seen in public without your clothes on) is only legally acceptable in certain places and certain situations.

Being physically naked in public is not exactly socially acceptable in more instances than public nudity - especially if you belong to a certain category of people.

Yes - I realise that I made public nudity and physical nakedness into two separate concepts.  I did it deliberately to illustrate a point.  There are instances when you can be fully clothed and still be physically naked.

In my case, I reach that state when I remove my glasses for some reason.  When I am not wearing my glasses I am in my natural state as a member of the Bat Brigade (Blind As A).  As I have had a lifetime's experience of not being able to see anything but fluffy cottonwool type blurs without my glasses I know what I can and cannot do without my glasses on my nose - I know how to get around familiar places, for example.  I also know that attempting to have any form of imnteraction with a staircase when I haven't got my glasses on isn't exactly recommended for medicinal purposes (as my Glaswegian friend says).  As for being let loose on a street??? Forget it!!!

Having been "Socially Trained" to find ways of hiding what other people see as my disabilty (and I see as their disability) - and not complaining as much as I would sometimes like when things get tough - I find it refreshing when I am able to give someone a glimpse into my world for a change.  It could be a simple case of letting you try my glasses on, or teaching you about steps or light and dark, etc.

Me being allowed to roam around in my natural - naked - state sometimes would actually relieve some of the pressure I actually feel when I am forced to conform to society's ideas about how I should deal with my sight.

You may not understand what I am about to say to you next but bear with me and I will attempt to explain it in plain English in a bit.

For me - the worst thing about my sight is the ideas that some bright sparks have about glasses.  According to the aforementioned bright sparks my glasses do not only help me see - my glasses have magical powers which result in me having the same level of sight as everybody else.

These bright sparks are the reason I have come to see wearing glasses as dangerous to my health - both physically and mentally.

Thanks to them I can be left feeling that I should be able to function as well as someone with 20/20 vision when I have got my glasses on.  What they don't understand is that - even with my glasses on - I haven't got 20/20 vision.  Apart from that, my glasses are on the outside of my face.  My brain (which is inside my head) still sometimes operates as though I am in my natural state even when I am wearing glasses.  This means I sometimes rely on things like touch and hearing when other people rely on their optical viewing hardware (and associated software which is certainly nowhere near as defective as my optical software is).  It also means I sometimes need extra time to complete a task - or I may even go about it in a way which you find totally crazy but works for me.

The end result is that I find wearing glasses to be both mentally and physically tiring at times.  So much so that I want to be allowed to be naked in public and sit quietly in someone's company without my glasses on my nose and just be me.

Before you think that I wish I had 20/20 vision may I just point out that is the last thing I have ever wished for.  If anything I have a wish that more people would want to come over to my side of the fence.  I don't mean that I wish more people would have my level of sight with its associated problems.  It is more a case that I wish more people were willing to learn about my end of the sight spectrum instead of me feeling forced to join the rest of the world no matte what it costs me.
Why Ignorance Is Sometimes The Best Thing (Or Why You Can Miss What You Never Had)
7/1/2014 11:39:14 PM
I would be the first to admit that I am not necessarily the best person when it comes to trying to put my ideas into plain English at times.

There is one cliche which I really get angry when I hear people use it - "You cannot miss what you never had" - mainly because I can disprove it in an instance if you let me.

My experience of the world as most people would know it (and the advertising companies and media insist on portraying it) is nothing like the world as I see it.  I mean that both literally and metaphorically.

You only have to spend a few minutes in my company to realise that my view of life can be summed up in one word - sideways.  (Please do not try to use words like "Lateral" and "Outside the Box" and "Leftfield".  They leave me feeling somewhat disturbed.)

So, how can I disprove the cliche?  Quite easily as it happens.

I have never had a Driving Licence (something to do with the DVLA not being too comfortable with the idea of the virtually blind being left in charge of a motorised tin can with serious explosive potential apparently), I have never been able to write with my left hand, I have never been able to really enjoy going to a normal cinema (put it this way - the mental Risk Assessment I have to do whenever I consider going to a normal cinema is nearly as painful as I imagine bouncng down a set of steps would be if I missed my footing).

My experience of the world tells me that there are people who can undertake all the above activities without causing other people to derrange themselves as a result.  It also tells me that all three of the above examples are relatively easy for those who can actually do them. (Even though I am righthanded my writing is not exactly the neatest using my right hand - trying to write with my left hand jst makes my brain ache.)

To be perfectly honest - I really wish I could do all the above.  Most of the time I usually manage to convince myself that I am better off as I am but there are occasions when I get really upset about it.  This is usually when I am forced to remember my limits.  Sorry - I mean the limits which society has placed on me due to my sight.

Let's face it - the only way I am ever legally going to be able to get my hands on the steering wheel of a moving vehicle (without supervision) is when they bring out a car like KITT from the original "Knightrider" series - ie, one whch can steer itself.  Yet, I am bombarded with people telling me both consciously and subconsciously that I am in some way defective because the only thing I could use a car for is stationary storage space.  The fact I love cars and other motorised vehicles is beside the point.

People seem to think that being able to drive (for example) is the best thing you can ever decide to do.  Cars are designed for the comfort of the driver with all mod cons built into the top of the range models. Forget the idea of economy for a minute and just bask in the advertisements for the latest ranges of cars.  Whilst you are at it you might as well also ignore the fact that my sight could potentially turn me into one of the safest drivers.  (See if you can work out my reasons for saying that.)

The only way I could actually not miss what I have never had is if I was totally ignorant of the existence of those exact objects, experiences, etc, in the first place - instead of having their existence thrust front and centre nearly every time I turn around.

Sartre May Have A Point (Or Why Every Day Should Be An "Astigmatism" Day)
6/16/2014 11:32:09 AM
The most misunderstood quote I have ever heard of is by Jean Paul Sartre.  His line about "Hell is Other People" is usually translated as an excuse to withdraw from society as a whole - not unlike that actress (whose name escapes me at the moment) who famously said "I want to be alone".

The true meaning of the "Hell is Other People" quote is more along the lines of "Hell is Other People's Opinions, Fashions, Fads, and Judgements" especially when - no matter how much you attempt to conform to the ideals and conventions set down by someone who has never met you - you know you are going to come up short.

As someone who has a lifetime's experience of trying to conform in one way or another - with varying degrees of failure - mainly due to my sight, I wish we could all just treat each other as valuable humans.

The second part of the title to this post is a bit of a play on words.  The medical definition of "Astigmatism" is blurred vision caused by an irregular shaped cornea or lens which results in blurred vision.  I borrowed the word because it sounded a bit like it was along the lines of "asymetric" or not symetric (ie, uneven - as in Asymetric Bars now known as "Uneven Bars" in gymnastics).

"Stigmatism" is s something we all face in one form or another (and to differing degrees).  It seems like not a day goes by without someone somewhere deciding to have a protest or campaign against inequality of some kind.

So - my definition of "Astigmatism" would be not having (or being subjected to) any kind of stigma.

There is a dangerous flip side though.  If we concentrate on removing stigma from sections of society, ie, women, disabled people, homeless, unemployed, etc, how are we going to treat them as fully paid up members of society?  More to the point - how are we going to "empower" (you really have no idea how much I hate that word) them to realise that they can achieve anything everybody else can???

As a "Disabled" person myself - I really hate it when people decide what I need without asking me, or judge me on what they see before they allow me to show them who I am.  Yes - I may do some things differently to how you do them but I work on the assumption that "as long as it gets done that is all that matters".

You can have all the "Anti-Ism" Days you can fit into a year, you can even hold focus groups about how you are going to fight discrimination against every section of society you can think of.  However, if you don't listen to the people affected by discrimination when they telll you what they want to be done about it, you are just wasting your time on a "Look At Me - Aren't I brilliant?" mission which helps nobody.

Richie Sambora wrote "If God Was A Woman" 
http://youtu.be/9EJMduFhgqM talking about exactly what I have been discussing in this blog post.
New Website - Fresh Start
6/9/2014 2:46:54 PM
Hello and welcome to the new "Inkyworld" blog section.

If you are a reader of my original blog you will know what to expect.  (Unfortunately the original blog posts didn't survive the move to this website.)

For those of you who are new to my blog - this is where I write about anything and anyone who interests me.

I intend to keep to the same headings as in my original blog (and add one extra one);

"Visions on Inequality" - where I discuss inequality and marginalisation of certain sections of society.

"Inspired by the News" - this is self-explanatory.  If I see a news story somewhere and I am inspired by it it will be written about here.

"Inspirational People" - Anyone who has inspired me.  I make no apology for the fact that most of the individuals on this list are people you have never heard of - I hope you will find them as inspirational as I do though.

"Being Me" - Here is where my quirkiness is most likely to make an appearance.  It is allso where you are most likely to learn about what really goes on in my brain.

"Sightlines" - This new section is where you will find my thoughts on sight (in all its forms).  (Warning - this section could get very dark and difficult to read at times.)

"Oddities" - This is a catch all for anything which doesn't fit in any of the other blog categories.

I suppose the only thing left for me to do now is to thank the heroes who supported the original "inkyworld" - scraped me off the floor when I felt like giving up blogging completely - threw advice and suggestions at me - and - most of all - convinced me that I am honestly good at writing.  A few of the slightly crazier ones managed to convince me that I am good enough to attempt to take up writing professionally (they are the people you can blame for a small blog being turned into a website which I hope to use to showcase my talents).

I hope you enjoy reading my ramblings.
Photography As A Way Of Seeing What Is In Front Of You (Or Using A Camera To Help You See)
6/9/2014 2:46:54 PM
This may sound like a daft question but why do you take photographs?

Is it so you have a reminder of the nice scenery you saw on your recent travels?  Or as a record of important events in your life (wedding, parties, etc)?  (This can also turn into a game of "Guess Who" - as in "Guess Who on Earth is that gentleman standing next to Aunty Maureen in the photo which was taken at some random event in the late 1960's.  Someone forgot to write a list of the names on it - or maybe they did then promptly stuck it in an album so you can't read the names anyway.)  You may even want to use the photos to illustrate an article or a news item???

I usually take photos for a slightly different reason to all the above.  Which might go some way to explaining why I was taken aback when someone at a "Media Training" event I attended informed the room at large that they couldn't understand why people used photo-editing software to polish up or alter their photos.

According to this individual - when you take a photo you should leave the resulting image alone.  This is all well and good if you are photographing events for a news story.  However, the individual forgot a couple of things.

They had obviously forgotten about the zoom function on cameras and telescopic lenses.  Both of these alter the image before you take the photo.  Would they like those banned from all future cameras???

Cameras alter the image even before you press any buttons on them at all.  They seem to shift the focus of what you are looking at - so - if you are not careful - that nice family portait can end up looking like various heads and miles of wall above them.

My reason for taking photos is usually to help me see something.  The object could be in the distance or the lighting may not make the object easy for me to see even if I am standing close to it.  For example when I am looking at something which has the sun behind it.

Admittedly there are occasions when I see something from a different angle and think it is too interesting to ignore.

Have a look at these photos of the outside of some stained glass windows on a sunny day;


There is no way my eyes could have seen the exact colours on their own - I just saw the pretty patterns made by the frames around the pieces of glass.

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