Saturday, January 05, 2008

1624 Recognizing Faces

Saturday, January 5, 2008

I caught a piece of The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet yesterday morning, a segment on people who have difficulty recognizing faces (prosopagnosia, also called face blindness - go to the link for a description).

It interested me because I frequently don't recognize people out of context, or if they've changed their hair or some other aspect. I mostly recognize people I've known a while by how they move, or by their voices. It takes a long time, long exposure, for me to recognize them by face.

I see a lot of dancers in costume, and I'll recognize them again by their style of costume and how they dance, but I'm very confused when I see them out of costume. I don't know who they are. Same with many women I met in dance classes. I don't recognize them outside of class.

When I go to Mensa regional gatherings, I am often warmly greeted by people who seem to be complete strangers to me. I have no idea where or when we met. If they tell me, then I remember the conversation or activity and I can place them - but rarely just by appearance, unless their appearance is very unusual somehow.

(I've always known I have a serious problem with names. It may be not a problem with names, but a problem attaching the name to a face. Or maybe not. I've actually forgotten my daughter's name, and I GAVE it to her - so don't tell me it's just a lack of attention!)

I've always been amazed by police lineups. I can't understand how someone can look at a bunch of people, and pick out one with whom they had a brief run-in. I know I would never be able to do that. I might be able to say "Not number 1, and not number 4", but I would never be able to say definitely anyone else. Ditto for police sketches. I have occasionally thought about how I would describe someone I know well, and I don't think I could do it. I'm not sure I could pick out my own eyes or mouth from a book of eyes and mouths.

There have been times that I've been with a man I've been dating for a while, and he looks different somehow, maybe tired, maybe just an expression I hadn't seen before, and I have a flash of paranoia, "Is this the same guy? Could this be his twin brother?" I actually suddenly don't recognize him. Really. I'm not talking virtually. It's scary. [Later update - Wow! Turns out that's an actual condition, with a name! Capgras Syndrome.]

Well, anyway, that's why I stopped and watched the show.

Mike, the male host, seemed to have difficulty understanding the problem. He thought the guests didn't see faces at all, like they saw a blank where faces were, or the faces were blurred. Juliet, to her credit, finally figured out that he was hung up on the word "blindness", and told him to think of it as "face amnesia". That made more sense. It's not that you don't see the faces, it's that you don't remember them.

I went to the prosopagnosia web site, where they have some tests to see how well you recognize faces (at - they do want your name and email address, but I think they're safe).

Actually, I didn't do that badly on the face recognition tests. I thought I did VERY badly, because I mostly guessed, I swear I never saw any of those faces before, in fact when they were repeated in the first part I wasn't aware they were being repeated, but apparently most of my guesses were good. I scored in the 40%ile on all, which means that about 60% of the people taking the test did better than I. That puts me worse than average, but not a lot worse. (Except the "famous faces" section, where I scored at the 30%ile, which means 70% did better than I. I was pretty bad on that.)

I'm interested in how others do, and how it compares to how you expected to do. Leave a comment. Remember, if you select "anonymous", a password is not required.

1623 A Walk by the Bay

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Yesterday's visit with Daughter was nice. It was relatively warm out, so we walked along the Raritan (sp?) Bay shoreline. I was amazed at how pretty the ice was on the rocks, and the two kinds of dried grass, one fine and feathery, the other making sharp ribbon arcs, and how beautiful it all was when the sun was going down and it all turned gold and pink and blue.

We walked along a beach that I remarked looked perfect for picnics. I was surprised by the number of shells. Daughter said it's not unusual to find horseshoe crab shells, too. I want one. I asked Daughter if it's good swimming, and she gave me the fisheye, so I guess not. After all, that IS Manhattan you see over there across the water.

I was surprised that there was no snow in New Jersey. It disappeared halfway down the NYS Thruway. I guess that explains why I haven't been getting much sympathy for my driveway woes. They just don't understaaaaaaaaand!

A couple things I don't understand - what's with the new male hairstyle? The one where they comb the hair from both sides into a point, a ridge, on the top. It looks stupid, guys! It reminds me of a dinosaur. Or the way mommies comb a baby's hair.

And I've been seeing something weird on young women, too, where a palm-sized patch on the top front is teased into a pouf. The higher the better. It doesn't blend into the rest of the hair, it's separated from the sides and back, just sits there in an isolated bump above the forehead. Weird.

My mother's theory was that all high fashion is designed to be unattractive on purpose. "The most influential designers and stylists are all gay, and they're perpetrating an enormous joke on heteros. And the heteros eat it up. It's the funniest, longest-lasting, joke ever." You know, I almost buy it.

Another thing I don't understand - how are we fighting terrorism by creating it?

Thursday, January 03, 2008

1622 Nothing

Thursday, January 3, 2008
Nothing day. Cold, almost zero out there. Nothing happening. My plants are dying because I'm not watering them. Ho hum.

Going to NJ to visit Daughter tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

1621 It's got nowhere to go but up

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

My friends are not having a good start to 2008.

I was awakened this morning by a call from a dear friend who was fired this morning, no severance. Just bought a house.

Then I got an email from another close friend whose father had died yesterday morning. Not unexpected, but doesn't make it any easier.

A third friend had a project cancelled unexpectedly ten days before Christmas, and with no project, there's also no job and no paycheck. A new job has been found, but in the meantime, other things crashed and debts built up. Recovery will take a while.

Last week I had lunch with a friend who had just lost a major (as in multi-billion dollar) client, thereby reducing commissions, and therefore income, by more than half - AFTER the separation agreement, which had assumed a certain income level, had been approved by the court.

I'm afraid to go visit Jay's father.

I'm afraid NOT to go visit Jay's father.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

1620 Happy New Year

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

More than four hours clearing snow yesterday. The other tire on the snowthrower went flat, but this time the compressor worked. Snow again overnight. Another 7 inches. This time it was light and fluffy, and easy to clear. Took only a few hours. More predicted tomorrow and Thursday.

This has been around the internet for a few years, but it's the first time I've seen it, and I like it:
May peace break into your house and may thieves come to steal your debts. May your pockets become a magnet for $100 bills. May love stick to your face like Vaseline and may laughter assault your lips! May your clothes smell of success like smoking tires. May happiness slap you across the face and may your tears be that of joy. May the problems you had forget your home address. And may 2008 be the best year of your life!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

1619 Birth Announcements

Sunday, December 30, 2007

I've been reading the hospital birth announcements in the newspaper again. I shouldn't. They make me sad.

In over half of the announcements where the mother and father are listed, the mother and father have different last names. That's mostly meaningless. I didn't change my name when Jay and I married. But in many of those cases in the paper, I suspect it wasn't that kind of choice.

The ones that bother me most are the one third or more where the father's name is not listed.

Repeat - one third.

It makes me sad.

1618 Saturday

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Yesterday I took a load of cardboard and paper to the recycle center. I knew that since it was the first time it was open since Christmas, the bins (construction dumpsters) would fill up quickly, so I went early.

It was a mess! They're putting in some paved access and parking, so more than half the area is blocked off, and the construction vehicles are taking up a lot of the remaining space. People try to park as close as possible to their target bin, and there was no room to turn around to get out. The mud and puddles were ankle deep.

Well, I didn't beat the crowds, had to wait in the line of cars to get in for a good 20 minutes, but at least there was still room in the bins.

Then I spent the afternoon helping a friend and her husband move her dressmaking business. I remember all the machines, cutting tables, and fabric supplies she had when she was working out of her home. Then she moved to an industrial space, and now she's moving to another, and I had to laugh. It looks like business equipment follows the same rule as computer software - it will expand to fill the space available.

When I got home I found some bad news about New Year's Eve plans. I was angry and sad, and didn't feel like I had a right to my anger, and so I did what so many women do when they're upset - I hacked at my hair. I'd trimmed my bangs a few days ago, and they were unevenly cut and not well tapered. Last night I started out trimming, and ended up hacking, and now they're WAY too short. It's pixied. That means the top wants to stand straight up, and there's too little hair on the sides. Mere wisps. My ears are exposed completely, and I noticed with horror that my earlobes are getting longer. I'm expecting them to start flapping when I walk any day now.

Well, at least it's now well cut, no chopped spots, and will eventually grow out.