Is Blogging An Artform???

This blog post is going to be a mix of an article I wrote for “Choice” magazine (and posted on my personal blog) with a bit extra at the end to bring it up to date.

I have to admit to feeling slightly puzzled by people’s responses when I tell them that I am a Blogger. This is usually because they seem to have this strange idea that I must be the world’s best writer, or the most eloquent and articulate person on the planet, in order to write a blog post (neither of which describe me).

Let’s face it – people have been “blogging” since before the internet was invented – they just called it “writing a diary”, or “Letters To The Editor”, or even “writing a shopping list”. None of the above need any kind of educational qualification (although – obviously – being able to write words is a good starting point).

Even though I started blogging as a “head emptying exercise” after being made redundant nearly 10 years ago – I now blog because I feel I am under-represented in the world we live in and I want to make myself heard in the general clamour for attention by the “normal, acceptable” people. Trust me – it is no fun feeling like you are in a “Minority of One” most of the time. I would also like to feel that I am able to teach people about my world as someone who (even though I don’t usually look it) is disabled – I am Registered Partially Sighted.

I suppose “Blogging” could be seen as falling between “Creative Writing” and “Journalism”.Both of these are an attempt to grab your attention and make you believe what you are reading. At the “professional” end of the scale of both “Creative Writing” and “Journalism” people get paid for what they write – but (in most cases) they try to avoid being the story themselves. “Blogging” works best when either you are the story yourself or you are passionate about an issue and you can write about that.

I prefer attempting to make other people think a little differently about Disability and Inequality – or anything and anybody else which inspires me when I am sat in front of my computer. (They do say “a word can paint a thousand pictures”.)

What I am trying to say is – we all have our own story to tell – be it personal or corporate.  Blogging can be seen as a way of introducing people to your Company – in addition to the “About Us” page.  The trick is to try to make your blog posts read as though you are talking to them one-to-one (yes – I do know how difficult that is).  It is your time to connect with your potential Customers.  If your website is the “window” to your Company then any blogging you have on your website should be seen as the doorway to get people in.

You don’t have to use “Corporate” language – in fact – I strongly advise you to stay away from jargon and acronyms which you need a PhD level knowledge of your business to understand.  Remember – you are trying to get people interested in who you are and what you do.

Just Because You Think It – Doesn’t Mean You Should Say It!

Unless you have spent the past week or two living in a cave deep underground you will have heard about David Cameron’s amazingly bad attempt at digging himself out of the hole created by his response to accusations of dodging the payment of Tax.

You will also know about the difference in the treatment recieved by Dennis Skinner when he referred to Mr Cameron as “Dodgy Dave” and Alan Duncan when he implied (or inferred) that everybody who is not as wealthy as he is is a “low achiever” who has “no idea about the real world”.

(If you want to read about my thoughts on the subject of the two MPs please see my personal blog.)

In my last job I worked for someone who made absolutely no secret of the fact he held almost everybody he came into contact with in the utmost contempt – colleagues, suppliers, even customers.

As you can imagine – this did not make for a pleasant working environment.

Whilst there are some remarks which you legally cannot and should not make about people (racial, sexual, disability discrimination, etc) – there are some comments which you are legally free to make but are highly inadvisable.

You may not realise it but – how you speak about people (as well as how you speak to them) can have a big impact on what they and everybody else thinks about you.

So – next time you want to badmouth a customer, supplier, colleague, someone in your private life, or even, a total stranger, think about the impact your words can have on how people see you.

How We Treat Other People Shows What We Think Of Ourselves

We all know that – when you represent a Company – your treatment of your Customers and Suppliers reflects on your Company (or even just the company you work for).  If either a Customer or a Supplier is treated badly it can have a detrimental effect on the business you do with them (maybe even to the point of them deciding never to deal with your Company ever again – or worse – discouraging other companies from ever doing business with you based on how you treat them).

It is surprising, therefore, how many people don’t seem to realise that how they treat other people (even in their “private” lives) can leave a rather unpleasant sensation in the mind.

In Say Unto Others What You Would Like To Be Said Unto Yourself (Or – Why Your Mouth Is Your Most Dangerous Weapon) I discuss the link between criticism and bullying – as well as why I think that how you treat other people is a reflection on your levels of self-respect.

Let’s face it – if you respect yourself you are hardly likely to try to drag everybody down to make yourself feel “bigger” or better, are you?

I am becoming more and more convinced we need “Self-Respect” lessons in schools.

Now You See It – Or Do You??? (Or – An Attempt At A Taster Of My Sight) – Taken from www.inkyworld.co.uk

Every so often I decide to try to give you a taster of what life is like with a sight problem.  Most of the time I use the medium of words for this attempt – which even I hve difficulties with sometimes – so now I decided to try something a little different.  See what you think of this.

I have written before about some of the difficulties I have which may not be immediately obvious.  I have even put some photos on my blog posts in an attempt to show you some of them.

Anyway – this morning I was standing in my hallway looking out of my “crinkle cut” window (it reminds me of “McCoys Crinkle Cut Crisps” whenever I look out of it) and it gave me a brilliant idea for a puzzle for you to try to solve.

I want you to ignore the crinkle cut glass in the photos (I couldn’t be bothered attempting to get the camera as out-of-focus as it would have needed to be in order to take the photo properly for the desired effect – so I cheated by using the window) and tell me what you can see in the two photos below;

(In order for this to work properly you have to imagine the glass in flat – do not alter anything else in the photo.)

Your job is to work out what is in the photos.  I am not talking about the house – that would be far too easy – concentrate on the bit before the house.

In fact – looking at both photos you have still got it a lot easier than I would have if I was looking at it without my glasses on.  There are too many definite edges for the second one to really be as difficult as I thought it would be.  You may have a bit more difficulty with the second photo.

Ignoring my front garden (the only truly blurred bit on both photos) what can you see?  As in – can you see anything which might pose any kind of danger???

If your answer is “Yes you idiot – I can see a car on each photograph” give yourself a round of applause.  (I admit I was also hoping the lighter car would not have the sun on it so it would look slightly more blurred into the scenery.)

Good luck with attempting to work out which way the cars are travelling.

Of course – you may be able to see some other hazards in those photos which are not usually so obvious to those of you with 20/20 vision.  One of them is a hazard I face even with my glasses on my nose.

Have a look at the grey stuff nearest the house on the other side of the photo.  Does it look like it is on one level in both photos???  Or does it look more like there could be a difference in height in one photo???

The photo with the white car in it has got slightly more definition in it – this tells me that there is a kerb and a pavement .  The one with the red car in it looks more like the “pancake-flat” surface I am used to seeing when I encounter shallow steps or staircases.  In my world – for “shallow” please read “flat floor”.

(I am not joking when I say that I feel like walking around with a can of bright yellow paint so I can paint the edges of kerbs and steps, etc.)

This next photo is a bit more realistic – even though I did cheat slightly.  If I had taken it from the angle I originally wanted to use you would have been able to see the answer immediately.

Your puzzle is – can I get to the building on the other side of the darkest fence without having to attempt to climb over it??? Or is that fence blocking my way???

(A clue – If I had taken the photo from the angle I originally wanted my question would not have been about the fence.  It would have been about the distance between the fence and the van some idiot had parked behind it.)

I will leave you with another puzzle.  Even I know you will find these photos as frustrating as I did – you don’t need to have seriously bad sight to have a problem with this poster.


Have Arriva decided to allow their passengers to participate in darts or archery whilst the bus is moving???  Or am I supposed to realise there is some useful information on that poster???  Just looks like Target Practice to me!!!


Nope – Still can’t see it.  Now the sun is obscuring half of it anyway.


Apparently Arriva would like to inform their passengers of changes to the fares in Leicester and the surrounding area.  Good job I have got a Disabled bus pass because I would need to almost have my nose touching that poster in order to be able to read any further information on it.  And that is with my glasses on my nose.

I know that this blog post only gives you a very small taste of some of the difficulties I face on a day to day basis.

I hope to give you a bit more of an insight in future.

Transferable Skills (Or – When Seemingly Unconnected Experiences Can Prove Useful)

There is a lot of fuss made about “Transferable Skills” – especially when it comes to applying for jobs.  What about “Transferable Skills” which – at first sight – appear to be anything but “Transferable” never mind actually being considered to be a “Skill”???

I suppose – what I am trying to ask is what about things which are second nature to one person but have no immediate connection with another group of people who they are trying to talk to about something???

A couple of nights ago I had that exact experience when /i found myself in the middle of a rather heated discussion on Twitter.

It can be quite frustrating when my life experiences are deemed to not to be very useful when it comes to understanding certain situations.  (I am not even talking about the interview question about “adaptability” either.)

In one of my recent blog posts on Inkyworld I explained why I felt I could speak (or should that read “Tweet”) intelligently on a subject which I have no personal experience of – merely based on my experiences of being in a similar situation even though the circumstances were – on the face of it – totally different.

You can read the blog post here – Why Dinosaurs Are Not As Extinct As You Thought We Were

I was actually very surprised when someone else decided to share my blog post on their Facebook page – as well as picking up on one major thought I had stated in it.

I know that there are some instances when people who have no practical experiences of certain jobs should just sit quietly whilst those with the relevant experience argue about the jobs among themselves.  However, sometimes it is a good thing when someone like me comes along and puts a slightly different twist on the discussion.

So – maybe next time you will listen when someone with a “sideways” idea about the topic under discussion speaks up.  After all, whilst their experience may not immediately appear relevant, they may have the solution you are looking for without you realising it.

I remember a Wise Owl telling me that there was no way I could have the same experiences as them – what the Wise Owl didn’t realise was – although they were correct in one sense – it didn’t stop them asking me for advice on the situation they found themself in because I did have experience of it from the other side.

It is not only “Skils” which should be seen as “Transferable” – it is also “Life Experiences”.  If you ask me – “Life Experiences” beat paper qualifications anyway.

Language Difficulties Around Disability (Or – Why You May Have To Choose Your Words Carefully)

There is a term which I find frustratingly ambiguous when it is applied to Disabled People.  It used to be one of those “Politically Correct” terms which were used to disguise the difficulties the “able-bodied” members of society had in facing up to having Disabled people in their surroundings.  Would someone please explain to me exactly how “Differently Abled” is supposed to cover Disability adequately???

I would classify myself as “Differently Abled” as a result of being able to speak and understand the Dutch language, being able to write eloquently on a wide variety of subjects, being able to cook my favourite dish of “nasi goreng” (an Indonesian rice dish), etc.  Having lousy eyesight is definitely not something which I feel falls under the classification of “Differently Abled” – in fact – it is what renders me Disabled (more in certain situations than others).

But what really upsets me is the thoughtless words, phrases and terms which some people use without reaiising the offence they cause me merely by doing so.

“If you can’t see that you must be blind”.

“Should hae gone to Specsavers” (nice idea – apart from the fact they don’t deal with my prescription – or any prescription anywhere near it).

and my particular favourite;

“Everybody else can do…. so why can’t you???”

And that is before ou get round to the nasty habit some people have of misappropriating terms for (sometimes seriously debilitating) conditions such as Mental Health problems, or other physical difficulties.

After all, how many times have you heard someone talk about another person being “OCD about their record collection”, etc???

On the flip side to that – I have one particular friend who admitted that – on finding out about my sight problem – they ended up “self-censoring” in order not to cause me any offence.

This means “Do you see what I mean?” turned into “Do you understand where I am coming from?”.

Sometimes I wonder how I am supposed to react when someone says “its like the Blind leading the blind”.  Am I supposed to take major offence or am I allowed to laugh it off.  Most of the time I will come up with my own version “its like the Blind leading the Seriously Shortsighted”.

Seriously – the best way around language and Disability is to let the Disabled person take the lead and follow them.

Of course there are terms I would use to describe myself which I would be seriously offended if anyone used them to describe me – unless they knew me very well.  One of my favourites (which has appeared on “Inkyworld” occassionally) is – a Member of the “Bat Brigade (Blind as a)”.

Most of all – listen to the Disabled person and allow them to educate you about their limitations and what you can do to make their life easier.  We are an open lot and we like educating those of you who are willing to learn (at least I know I am).

Glasses – Or Spectacles – Through The Ages (Or – Be Amazed At How Lenses Have Changed Even Through My Lifetime)

I was looking through some more stuff at my Dad’s house today when I found a pair of my old glasses.  This gave me the idea of giving you a bit of a tour of how lenses (and frames) have changed – even during the 40 odd years I have been on this planet.

I hope you find this post interesting and informative – even if you have never worn glasses in your life.

Glasses – Half of the time it seems I cannot live with them but I certainly cannot function without them.

I could bore you to death by discussing the practical differences between a Lenticular lens, a Blended Lenticular lens, Fresnell lenses, and Contact Lenses.  But I thought I would attempt to show you instead.

First off I think I should tell you that – if you are hoping to find any photographic evidence of me wearing contact lenses in this blog post you will be extremely disappointed.  Luckily for me – the selection of photos I had to choose from did not include any of these offending photographs.  (To say I hated wearing Contact Lenses is an understatement – the only thing worse is having to look at photographs of myself during either of those periods in my life.)

I am going to start with two photographs which may shock you.


Trust me – it is me.


If you see the current version of this creature wandering around in public unsupervised – get help immediately – or take it to the nearest optician.  It will probably inform you that it has either lost or broken its glasses.  A photo showing what it looks like now will be at the end of this blog post. (This photo was taken in my favourite place on Planet Earth – Schiebroek in Rotterdam.)

The second photo is my favourite photo of me without glasses.

Did you notice something strange about the above photos???

You are correct – no glasses.  I will go one stage further and say – no form of corrective eyewear whatsoever (including contact lenses).

I can imagine what you are thinking now – “but you keep telling us you have been seriously shortsighted all your life.  Have you been lying to us all this time???”.

Nope – I am not too sure about this but I get the general idea that I only started wearing glasses when it was obvious that I would be let loose in public without any member of my family being around.  As in – when I started at playschool.  I know I was definitely wearing them when I started at Primary School.

Until I started wearing glasses I was never allowed out of the sight and supervision of members of my family – life at that point was literally a blur.

I have seen the first pair of frames I ever wore – I just cannot find any photographic evidence of them.  They were gold metal with springs around the ears so they didn’t fall off.  (Springs around the ears would have been very useful for the next several pairs of glasses I had, as would metal frames – I went through frames like they were going out of fashion when I was in my first few years at Primary School.)

The next two photos will give you some idea of what my first few frames looked like.


Side view of one of the first pairs of glasses I wore.  (The lady in the photo is mt Grandma Great – my English Grandma’s Mum.)


If you want to know how bad the NHS frames I was made to wear when I was at Primary School looked just imagine the frame worn by the lady bottom left of the photo in pale pink or a strange blue colour.  (Four generations of my Dad’s side of the family – Clockwise from top left; Granddad, Dad, English Grandma, Grandma Great, me, Grandma Phyllis – Granddad’s Mum)

If you want to make me feel jealous just sit me in an Optician’s and make me watch the Primary School age children choosing frames.  I know this is going to make me sound elderly but – when I was their age I had a choice of one frame and two colours – insipid pale pink and a horrible blue.

The lenses I was forced to wear didn’t exactly do me any favours either.  Whether it came to people looking at me or me trying to look at people I was on to a loser both ways.

Here now follows a quick crash course in lenses for you;

A Lenticular lens is the worst lens ever invented – both from the point of view (excuse the pun) of those looking at it and those attempting to look through it.

Looking at it you will be reminded of glass Coca Cola bottles – the bottoms of them.  The eyes behind them will look not unlike currants – and the glass around the perimeter of the lens will look awful too.

What you will not realise – unless you have experience of trying to look through them – is they are not unlike blinkers for horses.  You can only see through the middle of them.  If you want to look left or right you have to physically move your head in that direction – what appears to be waste glass at the sides actually is waste glass because you cannot see a thing through it.

If your optician attempts to tell you they (or the next lens we will come to) are the cheapest option I would suggest you fire your Optician (preferably via a Cannon) and send them back to school to brush up on their Maths – with particular attention to proportions and averages.  They may be the cheapest lenses in theory but – trust me – they are the most expensive lenses for what you can actually see out of them.  Experience tells me Lenticular lenses are a waste of good glass.  They are also extremely heavy because they are hardly ever made of plastic.

Next we have an invention called Blended Lenticular lenses.  Whoever came up with this idea should be parked in front of a Firing Squad if you ask me.

The “Blended” bit of the name is a bit of a con.

It is still a Lenticular lens but – instead of the obvious “step” between the side walls of the lens and the useful bit (as in the Lenticular lens) – they blended the sidewalls into the middle.  This still leaves you with limited sideways vision compared to “widescreen” lenses like the ones we will come to next – just not quite as limited as the Lenticular lenses.


Now this is a view of a Blended Lenticular lens which you hardly ever see.  The outside edge around the frame.


A view you are possibly more used to seeing – as in the front view.

Between going from Plastic Frames to metal frames I was encouraged to try Contact Lens.  I was between 9 and 12 years old at this point.  As a result I can understand why the age limit has now been set at either 16 or 18 years old – I was way too young to try them.

I would not recommend Contact Lenses as a way of finding out you suffer from Photophobia – also known as your eyes being sensitive to bright lights.  Put it this way – Contact Lenses were brilliant at night but next to useless during the day.  My Mum kept telling me to open my eyes – what she didn’t realise was my eyes were open just enough to see what I was looking at.  The other drawback to the first dose of Contact Lenses was that they were small and clear.

Let’s just say that I was in school on more than one occassion with the left lens in the right eye and vice versa.  The first thing I knew about it was – instead of my vision being improved by the addition of contact lenses to my eyeballs – it was actually made worse (due to my left eye always being a lot weaker than my right eye).  Good job I was used to wandering around reasonably safely on flat surfaces without my glasses on.  That is before you consider the dangers of the lens wandering around the eyeball if they were either not put in correctly or decided to go walkabouts after you put them in.  Another pain – literally – was dust and sand.  Get either of those in your eye when you are wearing Contact Lenses and everybody in the surrounding area will know about it very quickly – it hurts.

Around the time I was 18 years of age the same optician talked me into getting another pair of Contact Lenses on the pretense that they would be cheaper than buying another pair of glasses.  To cut a very long story short I fell out with the optician as a direct result of that and took my business elsewhere.

This pair of Contact Lenses had two minor (and – to my mind – pointless) differences compared with the first lot.

The first difference was the size of them.  Instead of merely fitting over the pupil they fitted over the iris.  (If you ask me they should have been made so they could fit over the entire eyeball – that way I might have had a chance of seeing them when I dropped them on the floor.)

I could have lived with the second difference if it had been taken one stage further (so it could have been more useful to me when I was wearing them).  The bright spark decided that he was going to issue me with a blue contact lens for my left eye and a grey one for my right eye.  Now – had the tints been like sunglasses instead of purely “decoration” – I might not have given up on them so quickly (I might even still be wearing them now – but I doubt it somehow).

If there was one glasses wearer who I was always slightly jealous of it was my Mum.

Her sight was better than mine so she got to choose nicer frames (at least until my lenses started to get slightly thinner – I only got to choose really nice frames when I got my “widescreen” lenses).


See what I mean??? My Mum is wearing a nice pair of frames – which my lenses would never fit into at that point – whilst I am wearing horrible lenses and frames.  (Mum is on the left of the photo.)

What a difference a few changes of optician and a upgrade in lenses makes.

More to the point – what a few differences they make.


Up To Date photo with current glasses on my nose.

Fresnell Lenses have opened up a range of possiblities for me.

My glasses are lighter for a start.  The lenses are nowhere near as thick as either the Lenticular lenses or the Blended Lenticular lenses.

This means that I can wear them all day long without my nose (or my ears) complaining about excessive weight being parked on them.

I can also choose almost any frame in an Optician I so desire.  No more having to worry about the ratio between the size of the frame and the weight of the lenses.  (I was sick to death of having to opt for smaller and smaller frames to keep the weight down – it got to the stage where I felt like I was looking through a letterbox).  Trust me when I say Fresnell lenses are “widescreen” lenses – I can see nearly as far around as everybody else now just by moving my eyes left and right (OK so the end point of my lenses is still the end point of my clear vision but I have to look a lot further left and right before I hit that extreme.)

However – the best bit about Fresnell lenses as far as I am concerned is the fact my last few pairs of glasses have been Transitions (or “Reactolite”).  Gone are the days when I saw really nice prescription sunglasses which I had zero chance of wearing because my prescription was too strong.

Oh – yes – I was going to show you an up to date equivalent of my favourite photograph wasn’t I???


Different country but luckily for you I knew exactly where I was when I decided to take this photo today (otherwise I would not have dared to attempt such a stunt in public view).  I was on my way home when I took it.

Well – that concludes the lecture on “Spectacles Through The Ages”.

If you have any more questions feel free to ask me.

Welcome To Our Newest Team Member

If you have taken a look at the “About Us” section of this website you will have noticed a new name and Profile photo has appeared as part of the team.  So I thought I had better introduce myself.

My name is Ineke Poultney and I am a Blogger with a background in Administration.  My rather unusual first name stems from the fact that I am half-Dutch.  That combined with the fact I am Registered Partially Sighted has given me a rather “sideways” view of life.

As you can possibly imagine – I am passionate Equal Opportunities and Disability (particularly regardin educating people about sight problems).

So, what can you expect from me???  Well, you have had a couple of “sneak previews” already – but I hope to give you interesting content to read.

If you like the posts I put on here (and you want to find out more about me) please visit  my personal blog at Inkyworld.

I really hope you enjoy reading my writings on here

Whoops Wi-Fi Outage

Today (Sunday 14th) workmen fixing a power outage to other properties were tracing underground power cables on the SMPL premises when they severed the fibre-optic cable serving the team. This has led to issues in replying to emails, posing updates and so on.

Please accept our apologies, a ‘work-around’ has been achieved but a more permanent repair will need to be put in place.

 

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