Why I explored and why I want to start again

Abandoned buildings have always interested me.  The stories they tell, the history hidden within, and the things you can find are all fascinating.

Some of my favorite local places have been torn down or have suffered fires since I last visited and I haven't done much exploring for a couple years now.  A new career (among other things) has gotten in the way but I need to get back to it.

I'm especially glad I've been able to preserve some of the content from my old site.  I will be bringing back more as time goes by, but two of my favorite locations made it here in the initial migration and that was important:

More than anything, one of the reasons preserving those was so important to me was the community that popped up in response to those articles.  I realize I don't owe it to anyone but I never could have imagined the number of comments and the number of people who would reconnect over their past at these places.  It doesn't surprise me anymore, after all those people are a part of the history of those places and those places were a part of their lives, but it still has an effect on me that I can't describe.

Getting settled here

This is a big change, but hopefully for the better (for me).

I'm hoping Squarespace will let me focus more on putting up content and having fun and less on maintaining the site which I just haven't got the time or desire to do anymore!

No Such Thing As Color

I was recently contacted by the creator of the short film "No Such Thing As Color."  In it she features a colorblind musician named Evans Forde as he tries to identify the color of things and explains how colorblindness affects him and how he understands the concept of color and its perception.  In some scenes Laura processes the colors to simulate colorblindness for 'color normal' viewers of her video.  It's a great 9 minute look at how colorblindness can affect someone and really touches on how it can feel to be colorblind.

At one point Evans is looking at a house trying to decide what color it is and he says "I just don't know."  I understand everything about that frustration!  To me it's really interesting to think about how other people look at objects.  Evans says he looks at an object and considers its shape, texture and any other attributes except its color.  If I know what an object is I assign it the color it should be for a normal observer but if I don't I might consider how warm or cool it is, its 'ish-ness (reddish, blueish, yellowish) or if it appears more or less saturated.  Perhaps that comes from my interest in visual arts such as photography.  Color can be an important element so maybe I've trained myself to try to be aware of it, as best I can.  With his background in music Evans tries to relate colorblindness to being tone deaf which is an interesting comparison (since I'm not really tone deaf) and one I'll probably be rolling around in my head for a while!

This video has made me ask myself people who can see color without difficulty look at and consider the color before everything else or whether it depends on what they look at?  Perception is a complicated thing and how much of our color perception is learned, such as when he talks about the red apple, is something I have heard asked many times (and is perhaps something worth going in to at a later date).  It's hard to imagine what perceiving colors must be like for the color normal yet at the same time you get used to how you see the world and don't even think twice about it most of the time.

I have to point out that she brilliantly includes a clothes shopping scene, every colorblind person's worst enemy!  Matching colors is NOT our forte.

You can check out the site for the short film here or click through the video to its YouTube page.

The grass is always oranger. (Answering a search query)

Since beginning this site I've always found it interesting to see what search queries drive some of the visitors to this site. Just the other day someone came here having searched for an answer to the question "do colourblind people see grass orange?"

An interesting question, and one that doesn't have as simple and straightforward an answer as most might think.  As Daniel points out on his site, he wouldn't be able to see an orange laying in grass.  Does that mean he sees the grass as orange, or the orange as green?  I'm sure people could argue over this for a long time but in some ways it's neither.

What's in a name?

As with anyone, when a colorblind person is a kid they learn the colors of common objects which serve as reference points.  Grass is green, oranges are orange and the sky is blue are some common examples.  Whether a colorblind person has trouble with those colors or not, they will still know what color those things are.  Color names are just words used to describe a particular range of spectral properties.  Something that is blue reflects more light in the shorter wavelengths whereas a red object reflects more light at longer wavelengths than it does at medium or short.  While it may seem like an arbitrary system we've all been taught to apply the same names to the same things which means that barring any color vision or cognitive issues, you should be able to identify most things the same way as other people.

Seeing is more than the eyes

The problem I run in to is that sometimes I can look at something and I don't even know where to begin to try identifying the color!  In the soft pastel greens, peaches and skin tones everything starts to blend together making it pretty much impossible to identify a color without any sort of contextual information.  This sort of problem is also exactly why I came up with the term blurple.

Vision is a complicated system relying on the eyes and the brain and since the concept of color is a perceptual property of the human visual system I wouldn't say that a colorblind person sees the grass as orange.  They may not be able to distinguish the green of the grass from something that is orange, but they know the grass is green and the orange would just happen to blend in for them, such as in David's case.  If you showed him a colored patches that match grass and oranges in color he wouldn't be able to identify them but given the context of "this is an orange on a field of grass" he would "see" the colors.   Sometimes I would describe it as though there's a big tool tip hovering over things labeling the colors as I identify common objects and tell myself what color they should be.  Maybe David sees "GREEN" in bold hovering over every lawn he sees, hopefully he uses a nice font.

More searches

I had been thinking about sharing some of the more amusing search queries that have driven traffic to this site in the past, but I don't think I've put any thought towards that in the past year or so now.  This post will likely be the first of a never-ending series of posts that respond to more interesting (or amusing) search queries.

Here are a few other searches from way back, when I had originally been thinking about doing this:
screw the colored blind - October 31, 2008
screw with color blind people - August 23, 2008
being color blind as a white person - September 16, 2008
color blind test color blind people suck - September 17, 2008
blind photographer - September 19, 2008

Software for the colorblind: eyePilot works in Windows 7!

Since switching over to Windows 7 I hadn't thought to see whether I could get eyePilot to work. I never succeeded with Vista, even with the compatibility modes and everything else.  A week ago I was playing on my laptop (while writing the previous post) and decided to try installing it and was surprised to see it working.  Today I installed it on my desktop to verify that it wasn't a one-time fluke.  Success!  It works in Windows 7 without any need for compatibility mode or being run as administrator. It isn't 100% perfect (and those things don't fix it), but considering they may never update/release a new version (or may never do it in our lifetime) this at least gets it running and doing what I need it to do!

Software for the colorblind: Colorblind Assistant

While I'd still love to see EyePilot updated and useful since it offers a host of handy features, its creators seem to be content to sit on their duffs ignoring the world while claiming they are working on an update (they are still "working on a Vista compatible version" supposedly... riiiiight).  Until they (or more likely someone else) step up to the plate I am not currently aware of any other programs with the features EyePilot sported however that doesn't mean there aren't plenty of other little helpful programs.

colorblindassistant.jpg

Random web searching brought me across a nice little program called Colorblind Assistant which is in many ways an updated looking WhatColor which I have covered previously.  Feature wise they're basically identical so take your pick.  Both will give you a standardized name for the color under your cursor, as well as read out color data and provide a zoom of the area immediately around your cursor.  Both are built for Windows and will run on basically any version of said platform and require very little in the way of resources.  The Colorblind Assistant application is about twice the size of WhatColor but both are under a megabyte and will sit unobtrusively on your desktop reading out color data to you if you choose to leave them running.

Although WhatColor would like you to pay $8 to register it (it's a "fully functional evaluation copy" distributed as shareware), Colorblind Assistant is completely free.  So if you are cheap and have moral pangs over not paying for WhatColor, Colorblind Assistant will leave you with a clear conscience.

Newark State School

Rounding out the weekend of exploring, we visited the Newark State School, an abandoned collection of buildings which served people with disabilities.  Some of the buildings on the campus have been re-purposed and are being used but many remain abandoned and continue to decay.

The campus is quite large, and some of the buildings are equally enormous.  We only visited one of the buildings on the campus and there is so much still left in it that it really tells you a bit about the history of the place.  On the second floor there are even names of the people who once lived in the rooms still above the doors.  Because this "State School" was for the mentally handicapped there were some interesting contraptions in the building, such as a chair bolted to a scale for weighing patients; I have heard that straight jackets and other restraints can be found but I didn't see them.

The Newark State School has had many names since it was originally founded in the mid-to-late 1800s; originally the state school only served women however men were eventually admitted as well.  The school did more than house and care for the mentally handicapped, it also taught them skills; houses near the campus were used as a sort of group home for patients who had mastered a particular occupation and either worked at the School or other nearby jobs.  To read more about the Newark State School I'd suggest following these links:

Museum of disABILITY

The Newark State School

Being the first institution that I've explored, it was a pretty exciting day.  There is so much so see there and I'm sure so much interesting history buried in the rooms full of decaying relics.  While the building isn't terribly interesting architecturally, it still has an eerie presence and fantastic light inside thanks to all the windows.  I'm very hopeful to return and document more of the building and hopefully look a little deeper in to the contents of some of the rooms.

Other buildings on the campus also look incredibly promising; there is another much larger building with a more interesting looking layout and exterior that I'm sure would be well worth exploring.  I'm unsure of what the purpose of the building we entered was but it seems like it was used for both housing and recreation.