On Color Blindness

You know what one of my pet peeves is? When I tell people I’m color blind and they ask, “What color is THIS?”

Although I’ve always been color blind, I didn’t know I was for a number of years. I do recall marveling at my sixth grade school picture, in which I was wearing a red sweater–I KNEW it was red–but it appeared green in that picture. In the years since then, I’ve concluded that the picture was printed in just the right shade of red for me to see it as green. Who knows?

Once as a high school senior I was visiting in the home of a friend. His father was an eye doctor of some sort. I don’t recall what brought this up, but he got out a book of charts used to determine color blindness and tested me. Yep. Color blind. A red-green deficiency. Uh, okay.

That didn’t exactly wreck my life, but it did lead to a couple of interesting events several years later.

Before I tell you about those, however, let me explain that color blindness doesn’t mean someone sees only in black and white. I see everything in color. Well, except things that really ARE black and white. The problem is I don’t see them the same way people with normal color vision do. And in my case at least, learning of my color blindness made me distrustful of my ability to correctly distinguish the colors I don’t have problems with. For example, blue and purple.

After graduating from junior college, my parents and I failed to notify the Selective Service that I would be enrolling in a four-year college to finish my degree. That was during the Vietnam War, and I had to go for a physical to see if I was fit for the military. Although my flat feet  and the fact I had to avoid contact sports because of acute viral encephalitis in the eighth grade both should have been enough to fail me, surely color blindness would be a serious factor in making me unfit for service.

Don’t ask me how or why, but when they tested my color vision at the draft physical, they apparently thought I was faking. How I wish! I passed the physical! Thank goodness we got things straight when I got back home, but passing a physical I should have failed was scary.

The other interesting tale has to do with my learning to drive. I have NO problems telling the colors of a traffic light, but when I went to take my test–I’ll tell you some other time about what I went through learning to drive–the machine told the tester that I was too color blind to get a license.

But bless the State of Maryland DMV’s heart. I must not have been the first person the machine had falsely rejected. The tester got out a strip of wood with three colored reflectors fastened to it. I correctly identified the colors without any problem and received my license without any further problems.




I’ll admit it. Being color blind is a nuisance at times. Like clothes shopping. And getting dressed.

But I know what color my clothes are, whether they look like those colors or not, and I know what goes together.

What about you? Are you color blind? More guys than gals are, but not all of us. Do you have anything to share regarding color blindness? We’d love to see it in a comment.

I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,

P.S. I’ve gotten the rights to The Devil and Pastor Gus back, and I’ve just re-released it with this brand-new, more intriguing cover.

Links you might be interested in:


My Secret Fascination


I’d like to believe that each of us has a secret interest in something that’s not bad or wrong, but sufficiently out of the ordinary that we might be hesitant to share it with anyone. Even total strangers. Have I got your curiosity up?

Mine couldn’t be safer or less offensive. And it probably couldn’t be much tamer.

Drum roll, please.

Traffic lights.

Yes, you know what I mean: those devices that hang in the middle of busy intersections (or at the side of the street in some locales) and tempt us to go through on red when there’s not another car in sight and no place for a police car to hide and catch us doing it. A test of our willingness to obey the law even when there’s no obvious reason to.

But that’s not what fascinates me about traffic lights. As a former computer programmer, I have some knowledge of the way programs branch differently according to the conditions. Consider, for example, an email address field that rejects what you enter if you don’t put an “@” in it somewhere but readily accepts it otherwise, even if the address is incorrect. Or a telephone number field that rejects anything but digits–and just the right number of them.

Perhaps it’s not so much the traffic lights themselves that fascinate me, but the logic that’s built into them and how they interact with sensors. There appear to be two basic kinds of traffic light logic.

One I think of as the dumb kind. It doesn’t appear to have any logic. It keeps going mindlessly through the exact same cycle regardless of the flow of traffic. Probably an older traffic light, it doesn’t appear to be connected to a sensor of any kind. The dumb kind is the super-irritating kind.

The other kind is what I consider the smart kind. Obviously connected to one or more sensors, it won’t hold a car up forever when no one is coming from other directions. In fact, it may even detect that a left turner has arrived at the light and “see” that the only other cars coming from the other direction are so far away that it won’t adversely affect them to give this left turner an unexpected, out-of-turn chance to go.

My favorite set of lights is found at the entrance to our nearest grocery store. They still go through an established pattern, one like this:

  • Cars going straight from both directions in the picture above–the right (Richmond) and the left (Ashland)
  • Cars turning left (from Richmond) into the grocery store entrance (where the camera is)
  • Cars on the opposite side of the intersection from the camera (a mall entrance) going straight or turning right or left
  • Cars going straight or turning right or left from the camera’s viewpoint (the grocery store entrance)
  • Cars turning left from Ashland into the mall entrance

All nice and tidy. Especially considering that if no cars are turning left into the grocery store,  the light logic automatically skips that part of the cycle and gives the people coming from the mall their chance. If nobody trips that sensor, it defaults to people coming out from the grocery store entrance. It’s still an endless loop, but an intelligent one.

And to make things even better, cars never have to wait more than two minutes for the light to cycle back to them. And the absence of right-on-red arrows permits u-turns.

I get tickled at people who go past the sensor and consequently fail to trip the light in their favor.

That’s it, faithful readers. I hope this post hasn’t been so exciting that it’s resulted in a rash of heart attacks. Thanks for letting me share my secret-but-safe fascination with you. How about leaving a comment and sharing one of yours?

P.S. The intersection pictured above is part of a series that–if approached at just the right time at just the right speed–allows the driver to have green lights for the next four or five lights. Depending on the speed of other traffic, of course.


I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested.  Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

If you enjoy my writing, you’ll find a number of things to read on my website. Also music to listen to and music-related videos to watch.

My newest novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Family Christian Stores. Go HERE for links to those places.
Best regards,

It Doesn’t Take Much to Interest Me

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My recent trip to Nicaragua was fascinating, and I could probably write a ton of posts about it. But I won’t put you through that. Much of what interested me wouldn’t interest anyone else.

Nonetheless, I want to share a few of the things that fascinated me. If you prefer to skip this post, I won’t be offended. Especially since I won’t know you’ve done it.

  • Small three-wheel bicycle taxis were everywhere—even out in the country. The driver pedaled on the single wheel in the back, and the passenger rode in a slightly enclosed area up front. I wish I’d had a chance to ride in one, if only just around the block.
  • I’m not sure I saw a street sign anywhere in Managua or the surrounding areas we visited. If there were road signs, I failed to notice them.
  • Not sure I’d ever seen a set of traffic lights that applied only to certain lanes rather than to everybody going a certain direction. Someone coming from the left could turn left into the far left lane of the street I was on while the two rightmost lanes on my street kept going through a green light. There was only a red light for that far left lane.
  • Billboards crossed the busy Managua streets rather than taking up space at the side.
  • • I knew that travelers are warned to avoid eggs unless hard boiled, but I didn’t know the reason: people don’t typically refrigerate eggs.
  • Taking malaria medicine before, during, and after a trip to Nicaragua is considered a must; seems strange I didn’t see a single mosquito that week, though. In the tropics, are the insects as seasonal as they are elsewhere?
  • We never did exchange American currency for Nicaraguan money. Why bother? Everybody willingly accepted U.S. dollars, and many places—especially restaurants—listed the U.S. price along with the Nicaraguan price.
  • The local police seemed to be on the lookout for foreign drivers. Our van got pulled over once for being too large to be in the far left lane, even though no signs warned of this law. Our host pastor talked the policeman out of taking our friend’s license. Our pastor then “thanked” the officer with a small gift of money, but only afterwards—to avoid the appearance of a bribe. Interestingly, we ran into the same policeman at a routine checkpoint later in a very different location. I think he recognized and remembered us. No problems that time.
  • The mall we ate at the first night was bustling with people. I wish our local mall was in such good economic health. Maybe it had to do with a fashion show or something of that nature that was going on.
  • Don’t know when I ever saw so many motorcycles. I didn’t notice many big ones like we have in the States, and the brands I saw weren’t familiar. Nonetheless, very economical transportation, even though motorcyclists drove even crazier there than here.
  • I can’t say I’ve ever been anywhere before where I could watch the vapor rising from an active volcano. I have no idea how far away that was.

Rather than say any more now, I think I’ll do one post about my team’s activities in Nicaragua, and then I’ll go back to just being a person of age rattling on about other things. *G*

In the meantime, though, what curiosities have you encountered in visits to other countries? Please leave a comment and share.


I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to the top right of this page where it says, “Follow Blog via Email.”

By the way, “On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on “As I Come Singing.” Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. Check here to see the list.

Because I’ve already used all of my songs, I revise and repost a previous post each Wednesday. If you’re interested, please check that blog out here.

Best regards,