The Surprising Mantis Shrimp

So, sometimes when I see something that I want to write about, I’ll open a new blog post, put in a link to that thing, and save my draft so I can come back to it later and expound on the idea. And sometimes, I hit the “Publish” button when I mean to hit the “Save Draft”. So, some people got an unintentional preview to this post.

mantis_shrimp_the_oatmealFor the rest of you, please take a moment and check out this amazing page about the Mantis Shrimp, as presented by The Oatmeal.

Did you read it?


So, now I don’t feel so bad about my color blindness. In comparison to the Mantis Shrimp, we are all terribly colorblind. I mean, sure, a few of my cones are defective so I have trouble differentiating certain shades of red and green (and occasionally blue and purple). But is that anything to the fact that humans see variations of 3 primary colors and the Mantis Shrimp sees variations of 16 primary colors?

That’s 13 primary colors that we can’t even imagine! Not to mention the variations of mixing all those primary colors.

Forget the fact that the Mantis Shrimp is possibly the world’s most frightening killer (a nightmarish mix of an aquatic centipede (arguably the most terrifying bug in existence) with Wolverine from the X-Men). Let’s just focus on their ability to see colors we can’t even imagine.

I’ve mused in the past about the existence of some sixth sense, not like ESP, but another way of experiencing our present world in addition to sight, smell, sound, taste, and touch. I mean, can a person born blind really understand what people mean when they say that something is red, or bright, or beautiful to look upon?

So what if there was another sense that humans lack? One that, to us, would be like red to a blind person. I’ve wondered what life would be like if we could be granted that mysterious extra sense.

And now I find out that there is a creature on this planet that already experiences life in a sensory way that humans can’t even hope to experience. I’m kind of jealous.

But maybe I shouldn’t be. After all, those same creatures are terrors that people won’t even risk putting in aquariums because they will kill all of the other fish and then break the glass of the aquarium tank to get out. Maybe I am happier because I don’t experience the world in such detail.

Maybe I’m even luckier because I’m colorblind, and experience less than even most humans do. After all, dogs only see two primary colors and they are usually pretty happy as a species. Did I really just compare myself to a dog as a proof that I am happier than most people? Sure did.

Anyway, have you ever thought about what kind of thing we’d experience with a sixth sense? Share those thoughts in the comments! I’m dreadfully curious (and I need some reassurance that I’m not the only one who thinks of such things).

Thanks for reading!

Jokes at My Expense

I love my old roommate, Adam. I do. But when I went to visit him a few years ago, he made fun of my disability. Maybe he didn’t even mean to do it, but he did.

He wore this shirt.


You see, I am colorblind. I had no idea that there was a message in the circles. I just see a bunch of circles within a larger circle. Adam ended up telling me that it had a message on it, but he refused to tell me what it said.

I hadn’t thought of that shirt in a long time. That is, until I saw this.

I can see the message in this shirt. It says “Secretly Loathe” inside of the heart. Funny stuff.

And since I could read this shirt, it made me think of the other one, the one that Adam wore. I thought, why did I never try adjusting the colors on that shirt to find the message? Good thinking, Self! Only a few years late.

So I did.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANow I can see that it says “I ♥ Color”. Finally.

I am here about a diamond?

I saved for months, and that was kind of a big deal in itself. Part of every paycheck had been set aside as cash hidden within a book that I never read until I had enough to go ring shopping.

I knew that DeAnne wanted to be surprised, so she and I never went out looking at rings together. In the times when other people’s engagement rings came naturally into conversation, I tucked away as much knowledge as I could so I would get it right when the time came. I knew that she wanted the question to be popped in private, not in a restaurant and not surrounded by loved ones. I knew that she wanted something simple and elegant, not gaudy or glitzy. I knew that I needed to have the blessing of her parents before anything else.

I did my homework on the 4 C’s of diamonds: cut, color, clarity, and carat. To break that down for the uninitiated, cut means shape (and the angles used in the actual cutting of the diamond), color means color (along the scale of white to yellow), clarity means brilliance (more imperfections in the diamond means less brilliance or fire), and carat means size (pure and simple). I went out to a number of jewelry stores and looked to see what I could afford with the amount that I saved up.

And then a friend of mine mentioned that his boss knew a diamond broker.

“He’ll be in town in a week or so,” said my friend Dave. “You could buy the diamond separately and then have it put into a setting.”

“Is he legit?” I asked.

“My boss has worked with him before and he trusts him. I’ll come along if you want me to, since you don’t know him. The broker normally sells his diamonds to jewelry shops, but he’ll make exceptions for friends. You’ll get a lot more diamond for your money than you would anywhere else.”

“Okay,” I said. “Sounds good.”

And so we met up on a Saturday morning and headed off to some guys house near Holland, Michigan. I had a set amount of money to work with, so I saved some out to cover the actual ring setting. After looking at a few different options, I settled on a round cut with good color and great clarity that was big enough to see, but not so big as to be ostentatious.

“What should I do about the setting?” I asked Dave.

The diamond broker overheard and told me that if I went to downtown Holland, there was a jeweler who would give me a discount if I mentioned his name. The jeweler was Jewel-Tec, he said, and they have a door right next to DeVries.

“Just buzz them on the intercom,” he said, “and tell them that you need a setting for your diamond.”

“Thanks,” I said.

Time was getting close to when I needed to head into work, but since we were so close to Holland already, we decided to head over to Jewel-Tec.

jeweltec_2None of us had been there before, and with the vague directions that we had, we wandered around downtown a little before seeing a business called Devries that had a nondescript door with a buzzer next to it. I stepped up and buzzed the buzzer.


I buzzed again.

“Hello,” said a groggy voice. “What do you want?”

“Um,” I said. “My name is Josh and I have a diamond.”

“What?” said the voice, possibly belonging to a well hungover person.

“Um,” I said again. “I have a diamond and I was told you could help me?”

“Get out of here.”

jeweltec_1And that was when Dave noticed another business on the next block named DeVries & Dornbos. You see, in Holland, Michigan, the chances of throwing a stone and hitting someone with a last name like DeVries are pretty good. We headed over and sure enough, there was another door, but this time the door had a nameplate that said “Jewel-Tec”. I buzzed the intercom, told them I was interested in a ring setting, and headed right up.

After some time looking through various settings, I described to the jeweler what I had in mind and he told me that he could make something like that himself. I would have to come back in a few weeks with the diamond, but it shouldn’t be a problem.

A few weeks later, I had a beautiful engagement ring that I helped design in my hand, and all I had to do was ask DeAnne to marry me (you can read how that day went here). It was a successful venture, but I still wonder what the guy on the other end of that first buzzer thought of me.