SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Making a 'Spectacle' of Myself



February 26, 2013
Tuesday PM

(SitNews) Ketchikan, Alaska
- Geezerdom arrived on February 8, 2013.
jpg Dave Kiffer

That was the day my first real pair of glasses arrived.

You see, I have always had what an early doctor called "fighter pilot" eyesight. Growing up it was around 20-16, which in some circles (especially those that involve maximum G forces) is considered better than 20-20.

Of course, I combined "fighter pilot eyesight" with "three-toed sloth" reflexes, which explains why I am not a Full Bird Colonel in the Air Force or leading some carrier group in the Pacific right now.

I've never been exactly sure what "fighter pilot" eyesight meant in the real world anyhow, but I have clearly always been able to pick out individual trees on far, far away mountains. I have also been able to detect suspicious ripples on the water a long, long way off. These are important life skills, I am sure, although I have yet to find a way to make out of those skills. I think I am two hundred years too late to do that.

Anyway, things have changed just a bit since I steamed past 50 a few years ago.

First of all, they started printing the instructions on electronics in a really, really, really small print type.

In order to save space someone clearly decided it would be more efficient to approach “fine print” from the perspective of seeing how many angels would fit on the head of a pin. It like those weird displays you see where someone claims to have written the Declaration of Independence on a grain of rice. Really? Why? Is that any more impressive or relevant than the Constitution on a potato chip?

Suddenly, I found myself trying to extend my arms just for the simple pleasure of being able to focus on incomprehensible instructions.

You know the kind: The ones that are in a form of English that is not the one that most of us are familiar with?

There's a reason for that.

You remember that marvelous Mark Twain story "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County?"

Great story. Full of satire.

Anyway, Twain was interested in how his work was being translated into other languages. He was also aware of how things got "lost in translation." He found a version that had been translated into French, which he then translated back into English using the changes made when it was translated in French. Needless to say, back in English, things had changed a bit in his original story.

And that's the way it is with electronic instructions. They start off in the language in which everything is created these days, Chinese.

Then they are translated into either French or German to appeal to the largest European markets. Then, finally, they are translated into English.

The original meaning (if indeed there was one) is totally lost by that point. Not that it matters, because the answer to all modern electronic and computer puzzlements is the same. It is in “intuitive.” And you would understand that, if you weren’t such a stupid Luddite.

Of course, I digress.

At any rate, it has become impossible for me to read either electronic information or the information on medical packaging. That, of course, has led to more than one unfortunate morning in which I have "taken" two Triple A batteries with water before eating breakfast.

While that energizes me significantly, it doesn’t do much for my high blood pressure.

So Mmy options are limited. I really don't want to buy extenders for my arms in order to push the offending print into focus farther away. Orangutan arms are not the end game here.

I tried for a couple of years to compensate with reading glasses, like the ones my father was always buying at the Five and Dime when I was growing up. I used to always think he looked pretty silly with then on his nose as he made fishing line repairs and fiddled with hootchies and flashers.

But when I put on “reading glass” and then slide them down my nose in order to see beyond the page, I look I Ben Franklin peering over his glasses. Not a pretty sight.

And it is also a problem because I started out at +1 one and have gradually increased the level to the point that I am now approaching the “plus sized” eyeglass section. I like most things associated with pop bottles. But not pop bottle lenses.

So it was finally time to visit the eye doctor and get a sense what I was up against. Of course, I needed reading glasses. But did I also need full time glasses?

You know, those things they call “progressives.”

I was a little puzzled because “progressive” has always been a good word to me. It means having a positive outlook and thinking things will get better if you work at it. Unfortunately, in my case it meant my vision was only going to get “progressively” worse over time.

So we tested how I would do in glasses that brought the bottom of the lens right up to my nose while keeping things farther up the lens a bit farther away. This was a bit of an adjustment because I have always been used to not having to make those sorts of adjustments.

But unfortunately the only other adjustment would have been a set of Red Baron special Fokker Tri-plane tri-focals. And that wouldn’t have looked good on my face at all. I do not look good in red, even it it does afford we with a stylish way to see things at three different prescriptions.

So I got a pair of not so “progressives.” They arrived on February 8. (Repetition is also a sign of aging!)

Did I really need them?

Turns out the answer was probably.

I could still see the trees on the mountainside.

But the mountain itself was getting pretty danged foggy.

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Dave Kiffer is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
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