It was a rather plain ranch-style house in a modest suburban neighborhood. Two car garage facing the street, basketball hoop centered over its door. Concrete path to the front door. Lawn out to the sidewalk. Nothing special, though the property did have one distinguishing feature.
In the front yard, a tall pine tree edged upon the large lawn. Its base was about a yard in diameter. An expanse of coarse bark stretched from gnarled roots up more than ten yards, without a hint of foliage. There, a branch reached timidly out to a yielding sky. Only a handful of other limbs, sparsely needled, followed its lead for another twenty yards. It was not a particularly attractive tree, but it solidly conveyed its place in a history longer than that of the suburban homes around it…
This was the second attempt by colorblindness to kill me…
It started when I began feeling oddly dizzy in the evening. I was recovering from a bug, so thought nothing of it. Two hours later, I collapsed to the floor, unable to get up. I was panting, and completely disoriented. My wife called 911. Not quite willing and able to process the seriousness of my condition, I tried to shrug it off and stand. The fact that I couldn’t even get to my knees was answer enough.
Several decades ago, colorblindness tried to kill me…
My fingers were bones. Nothing more. Thin, knobby, reticulated mechanisms that generally moved at my command, but… they didn’t feel at all connected to me. I touched my hands together… and felt no flesh. I looked at them. My fingers looked longer than usual… and more like claws than fingers.
Architecture… the assembly of materials by a variety of craftspeople into a unique building that becomes far more than the sum of its parts. Walter Gropius eloquently and romantically referred to architecture as frozen music. After eliminating several career options, largely because of my colorblindness, architecture became my path of choice. I was first exposed to it in a high school drafting course. I was good at drawing, and loved geometric puzzles… which seemed to be important skills of this profession.
My father drove up to a convenience store, handed me some change, then asked me to run in and get a copy of the latest “Green Sheet”, which I found out later was what locals called the San Diego Tribune. Based upon his description, I assumed that the paper would be green (which, I’m told, it was). Not wanting to seem silly by asking for a more detailed description, I was confident I’d be able to pick out the right paper. I was fourteen. I certainly didn’t need help buying a newspaper.
Regarding the spelling of the word “color”… I apologize in advance to those whose local dialect insists upon it being written as “colour”. My birthplace-biased opinion is that it looks and sounds perfectly fine without the superfluous “u”. And… I am quite drawn to the greater symmetry in the word “color”.
Most people diagnosed as “colorblind” actually see a moderately colorful world. Technically, we are “color-deficient”. To varying degrees, we struggle to distinguish between certain colors. Most of us are not blind to all colors. However, when a passenger in my car tells me to turn right, just past the blue car, the fact that I can see blue under certain ideal conditions does not change the fact that I am completely blind as to where I have been instructed to turn. So, I’m mostly sticking with “colorblind”, because that is how it feels.
I recently moved to an area near the ocean. It is a bit more rural than other places I’ve lived. A chance to get away from the hustle in an attempt to tame a tired and cluttered brain.
The house is adjacent to a large undeveloped area populated by an abundance of trees. An unexpected variety of wildlife shares the neighborhood. In my short time here, a backyard camera has captured visits by foxes, coyotes, skunks, raccoons, opossums, deer, and pumas.
My first position in an architecture firm was as a part-time runner. Long before the advent of electronic document distribution, my job was to shuttle drawings to and from assorted consultants and job sites. I was only in my first year of college, so doing any real architectural work was out of the question.
Once I chose to pursue architecture as a profession, I began looking for any related job to get me started. Architecture firms weren’t interested in hiring high school students, but I did find a job listing for a local company that specialized in building scale models for architects. In spite of my young age, I figured that my experience with graphics and architectural drafting would give me an advantage over most people that would pursue this part-time, low-paying assembly job.
Drafting (technical drawing) was my favorite class in high school. I took it all four years. While technically an elective, it was by no means an easy class. I enjoyed the challenge of meeting the high expectations of a very demanding instructor. I was something of a natural, and became quite good at drawing.
When a local businessman contacted the drafting department, offering some freelance work, the instructor recommended me. Continue reading →
Starting in middle school, I became a tropical fish hobbyist. Not one to go half-in on anything, I gradually accumulated more than twenty aquariums in my bedroom. I bred, raised, and competed best-in-show gouramis. I coaxed varieties of catfish to breed that hadn’t previously spawned in captivity, which enabled me to start a business selling them to local stores.
Duffy, our labradoodle, was enjoying his morning off-leash play in a field with seven other dogs. Always delightful… watching them interact. Every character is unique. Like people, but less inhibited.
Each day there is a slightly different mix of people and dogs. Regulars come and go.
One morning, a man I see about once a week was there. In the past, I had overheard someone talking to him, asking him what it was like to work at Google…
I was chatting with a relatively talkative woman whose dog I had just met, when the Google guy started walking away with his pooch in tow. She rather abruptly pointed his way and said, “Oh… he works at Google.”
This weekend, I purchased a retractible leash for our puppy, Duffy. There are places on walks where I want him to be able to roam more freely.
I was perplexed that the pet store had several different rows of the model I wanted, even though they all were labeled as medium. I read and reread the boxes, just to make sure that there were no subtle differences between them. Nope, they all said the same thing, so I picked one…