Friday, May 24, 2013

Sweet Simulacrum and the Protruding Overhangs

Another unseasonably spring-like day in the land of the 1-week spring! 60s and rain. Our transplanted dogwood, Hukura and Black Eyed Susans thank the high heavens.

I had a few experiences recently that tie into my wonderful new view of the world. New wonders don't come day to day now, hence the slower pace of blog updates, but when they come they are still exciting and worth talking about.

It actually started earlier this week, when I went with my good friend Sully to see the new Star Trek movie in IMAX 3D. Sully had said previous to my surgery that he had dibs on my first 3d movie. At the time I thought that was a bit silly, thinking that if I got depth, the whole world would be a 3D movie to me. However, now that I've seen one, I can say that the experience is uniquely noteworthy.

In fact, the kind of 3d you see in movies is pretty much exactly how I saw depth the first few weeks I had it. Since then, as I've detailed before, it's become more subtle, another vital but embedded layer of data in my overall view. I'd say having double vision gone and a single field of view has been as impactful as gaining depth, but depth is now pervasive but quiet, implied more than expressed.

I understand that the 3d as rendered in movies is exaggerated, and more so in Star Trek's case, as it's a big blowout Hollywood blockbuster. But that's how it was for me when depth first revealed itself after surgery. Exaggerated, dazzling and distracting to the eye, bigger than life. I loved that about the movie, and pretty much only want to see 3d movies in the theater from now on. Movie cinematography, lighting and effects bring something completely new to it as well. Lens flares that would never exist in even film photography floated in space in front of me. Blurry objects in the foreground of deep focus shots loomed in my view. Buildings reached toward me, warp trails squirmed in my near focus, and shuttles cruised a trajectory like a person on the street. It made me feel nostalgic for the days of early discovery, even if they were only a couple months ago. I really enjoyed the days of exaggerated experience. In the end, I'm glad for the state under which my sense of depth currently operates. It works, it's a huge help, and it's a frakkin' miracle. I really enjoyed the sensation in the theater, though, and I understand that this movie is one of the best present day uses of the 3d technology. It certainly added an additional element of spectacle to the proceedings, and I will definitely be seeking out future 3d features to savor that same experience.

I ooh'd. I aah'd. I moaned aloud a couple times. It was a fun popcorn movie. I am not a Trek purist, so I am not rankled by the artistic choices. I want a good story with good performances and good production elements, and that's what I got.

Interestingly - when I left the theater, the walls seemed to bulge toward me more. The exaggerated experience returned, just a little. It didn't last, but I could tell that my brain was definitely excited about it.

Of course, 3d movies are not perfect. They are blurry around the edges. There is a big hotspot on the screen. And it doesn't have the same sensory level of real life, obviously. There's still more of a sense of levels than real life. But in terms of the relative difference between a sense of depth or not, 3d movies are the best analogue yet. I feel like there's a way to share the difference of my experience. Imagine a movie being a crude simulation of real life. Then add that layer of depth that 3d adds to it. What is that difference to you? How do you describe it?

Truth be told, I actually saw Trek twice this week. Eliza and I recently played hooky for the day and went to see it again (she's as big a sci fi nut as I am), had dim sum for lunch, and then went to the rock gym to do a few hours of climbing. What a feast of a day this was, in terms of a lovely day with my lovely wife, and all other respects. And then on TOP of all that, it was a dazzling day of visuals too. I am a junkie for that level of exaggerated depth of my first few weeks post-surgery, so savored once again the hyper-real eye candy. We then dim got sum' at Empire Garden, and I enjoyed the huge interior space. I cannot live without some periodic administration of pork buns to my face.

We then spent the afternoon to MetroRock.  Eliza has really immersed herself in rock climbing, and is quite a joy to watch dance up the wall. I'm still a relative n00b at this sport, but love its mix of physicality and problem-solving. This was my first time at the rock gym since my surgery, and in a lot of ways I feel like I was starting all over. It really took me a while to get used to being up high in rock climbing. To trust the rope, and your belay partner. I have a really strong irrational sense of danger when I get up the wall. It makes me clench and tires my muscles out. It makes my head swim and makes me curse. And that was before. Now, when I can look around and see all the pieces swelling off from the wall, see the rope stand out from the wall, look down and see HOW FAR DOWN ELIZA IS. And how those overhangs looooom. I ... got burned out really fast. I couldn't focus or concentrate. I did note that thanks to all the yoga and working out I have a lot more strength available this time around. But man my brain tilted like a cheap pinball machine very quickly. It's going to just take me a few trips back to get my head around it. I'm not sure if depth or aligned eyes will have an impact on climbing long-term. It's too early to tell. It might be easier to look around to find where to put my hands or feet.  I certainly have more of an instinct about heights now, that's for sure.

I have my final post-op checkup on tuesday. Hopefully I will be cleared to wear my left contact lens. I have noticed that the more I make a point of trying to look with both eyes, not just concentrate on my right, that two do work together better. With the left eye clear instead of blurry, even with its very limited optical power, I think it will give my vision another critical lift. As always, we shall see.

See well my friends, and I hope you all have or had a wonderful Memorial Day.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Familiar Perspectives

My goodness how the time does fly!

I go back to my regular routine and like that two weeks have passed. Phew!

I just got back from a 2-day business trip to Atlanta, which always gets me knackered, but it's been so long since a post I had to check in with an update. I even have two other blog posts in the works that I just haven't finished yet, so those will come along soon enough. But in the meantime, let's catch up.

It's been six weeks since surgery. My left eye is still reliably straight, and the white of the eye has more or less turned to normal. I look in the mirror and see straight eyes looking back, which still gives me a jolt, but not all the time. I'm starting to forget what it looked like to look in the mirror and see the lazy eye. I think I spent so little time looking at my eyes that it just didn't lock into the brain. But it is also an interesting testament to the fluidity of memory and priority of real-time experience in the mind that it's hard to remember.

Another thing that's getting hard to remember is what my double vision looked like before. I am so used to my current wonderful view now. And that's a good thing as far as I'm concerned. I've embraced and adjusted to my new reality to the point where it's starting to be second nature.

And that's the case for depth too. More and more often I don't think about it. Sometimes, like in an airport terminal, I get a nice visual sensation of the size of the interior place, the drama of its geometry. I  get a good sense of the layering of objects in front of and behind each other. Far distances have more of a sense of away-ness. It's really integrated itself into my day to day life now. I still have a couple more weeks before I can wear my left contact lens and enjoy the hope of one more big push to depth.

I'm planning to see the new Star Trek movie in 3d sometime next week, and we'll see if I get anything new out of that experience.

Interestingly I had someone who I had just met ask me if there was something different about my eyes. She said she was an artist and was very used to observing faces, and noted what she called a ring or crescent in my eyes, that caused a strange reflection. I do still have cataracts in my eyes, which I call the clouds in my eyes. But I don't think that's what she was talking about, as they are definitely not reflective. I think maybe the light at that odd moment was reflecting off the scar on my eye left behind from the cataract surgeries.

So, vacations done, back in full home-field swing, apart from the occasional business trip. I'm feeling like I'm starting to run the risk of "had a ham sandwich for lunch, it was in 3d" level blogging. I want to make sure to keep this blog relevant and interesting, and so will likely be posting less often, now that my surgery is a bit behind me and things have leveled off. Like I said I have a few I'm still finishing up, and lots of topics in mind for future posts. I also might expand the subject area a bit to keep it fresh. I really like the writing habit and want to maintain it, as I'm also trying to write a lot of songs nowadays. So we'll see what kind of verbal trouble I can get into, and I hope you'll come along for the ride.