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Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Best Things in Life Aren’t Necessarily the Latest iThings

I don’t have and don’t want the new Apple watch. No doubt it will be out of date faster than the latest fashion trends. And if you have an Apple watch that’s all any of your friends will want to talk about. I have plenty of other, more interesting topics for conversation. Such as my health—which I’m happy to tell you about shortly.

As all of you with smart phones know, not only is a smart phone a watch, telling the date and time, but it also rings an alarm when I’m running late, which too often is the case. To name just a few chores my cell routinely and exquisitely performs as my personal assistant:

 -Keeping my calendar, my contact list, my “to do” and grocery lists;

-Checking email, sending text messages, and calculating tips.

 -Connecting me to satellites with maps and directions that almost always get me where I want to go; and

-Supplying musical accompaniment when I’m bored.


In some ways this technology is perfect for older brains. When I can’t remember the name of an actor in a program I’m watching, or any other fact, I can quickly retrieve the elusive name or fact by typing in what I do remember. Voila--the name pops up as quickly as I wish it would in my head.  

But I promised to talk about my health so let’s take a short detour into that topic. I promise to tie it into the discussion of iThings. A couple of years ago my shoulder got “fixed” just before I got the iPhone 4S. Rotator cuff surgery was a big success, at least for my shoulder. Not so much for my neck, arms and hands, as I’ll explain.

When the tear to my rotator muscle was repaired and a bone spur removed, a pre-existing spinal problem was aggravated, making it difficult to use my hands. My iPhone 4S (which now is considered old, at least by iPhone standards) also was a big success for me, at least for awhile. Siri, who is able to hear and respond, came to the rescue.  And she takes dictation.

Unlike in the commercials by Martin Scorsese  (whose name I might add I just now retrieved from my brain without technological help, though it’s nice to know I have a smart phone to tell me his name if I can’t recall it) for Siri, she isn’t perfect. But then who is? Just keep that in mind if I send you a garbled message.

Nevertheless, I consider having a pocket device with these functions amazing. What else could I want?

Well, on occasion, I wish I could use my iPhone as, well, a phone. It seems the only thing my current iPhone doesn’t do is make or receive phone calls. The volume on calls is so low it’s hard for me to hear a caller. You could say my hearing is going. And maybe it is. But other people can’t hear me either.

I’ve had issues with the case as well as the phone. I originally bought an expensive shatterproof case for my new phone. That promptly caused my cell to overheat. So I replaced the case, and then--you guessed it. I dropped my phone a short distance. The visual display was kaput and could not be repaired.

As a thrifty consumer--you can call me a cheapskate--I opted to replace my broken cell with a refurbished iPhone 4S. Among other minor issues, such as the volume on calls, the case and the refurbished cell now are just slightly misaligned, so the case turns off the ringer.

Just as body parts are connected, so is my technology. Right now my seven-year-old Mac Air and original IPad are able to sync with my “old” iPhone 4S, though none of them can update with the latest software.

So what to do? Should I just throw out thriftiness and spring for a whole new set of iThings? Given my luck with replacements and repairs of any kind, I’m trying to live with the phone, its case and my repaired shoulder for a little while longer—who knows what amazing new abilities the next generation of I-Things or human joints will bring?


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

A Once in a Generation Achievement

Some things you only see once in a generation or once in a lifetime if you are lucky enough to see them at all. When a great achievement happens, as it did for American Pharoah, who took the Belmont virtually wire to wire, we should celebrate. In horse racing, it has been more than a generation—37 years to be precise--since we’d had a Triple Crown winner.

A few years ago, when it seemed we’d never see a Triple Crown Winner again, horse-racing pundits were saying we’d never see another Triple Crown Winner if we didn’t change the length of the race, the timing between races, or other requirements. But they were wrong.

Great Achievers come along in many fields, often separated by generations. We should not change our expectations when we go through a dry spell. But we should wholeheartedly cheer and appreciate just how lucky we are to see a Triple Crown Winner in any field in our lifetime.

- How many Babe Ruth’s and Lou Brock’s have there been in baseball?

- How many years passed between Beethoven and Mozart?

- How many generations produced a Rembrandt or Picasso?

- How many years separated Einstein and Edison?

You can add to the list. American Pharoah not only is a Triple Crown winner, but the second fastest Triple Crown winner at the Belmont since Secretariat. This year we saw a Great Horse, a Great Achiever.

Whenever we see a Great Achiever we should celebrate the achievement and also celebrate that we are alive to see it. We don’t know when, or even if, we will see this achievement again.


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

My Legs-Part 2 (Solutions)

A Flock of Birds On My Legs?

Recently I wrote a short essay about my legs, or more specifically, how humiliating it is to go to the beach with senior-citizen legs. They are lumpy and bumpy, certainly not the objects of beauty they once were, say fifty years ago. But now they are decorated with spider veins, bursitis swellings, bruises and other, ill-defined, non-decorative what-nots.

I’ve gotten a fair number of comments from folks, male and female, who say they can relate to my complaints. Some of my readers have been kind enough to even offer helpful suggestions such as wearing maxi-dresses, going to the beach at night, in the rain when no one else is there, wearing long pants. All worthy ideas.

Other thoughts have occurred to me, such as wearing leggings or tights. Those seem to be a fashion trend designed for my cosmetic issues. Though none of these ideas is the perfect solution in the heat of the summer. And then another idea occurred to me while I was at the gym getting ready for my thrice-weekly water torture, no--exercise, class. Note it also requires the wearing of a swimsuit. 

I have long been one of those old-fashioned people who had thought tattoos not particularly attractive unless sported by sailors or motorcycle gang members. But perhaps I should reconsider. While struggling into my swimsuit, I noticed a young woman in gym apparel with a lovely flock of birds on her back and shoulders.

Maybe artfully-applied tattoos could turn my imperfections into a lovely design of fish swimming on my shins? Or a flock of birds on my thighs. Something to think about while I tried to get my heart rate up in the pool and not otherwise injure myself.

Of course, I should add, and not as an afterthought but as a serious point, I realize how lucky I am my focus on spider veins and unsightly body parts is a vanity issue. Many of my contemporaries are dealing with serious issues; my complaints pale by comparison. Some have life-threatening conditions. Others are in the joint-replacement, bionic categories, using walkers or canes. And still other contemporaries are dead.

So what to do? Well, until I join that last category I’ll continue to try to find the humor in the situation many of us lucky enough to make it to the senior-citizen category find ourselves in.

I’ve even given thought to other body parts. If Nora Ephron could write a whole book, “I Feel Bad About My Neck”, regarding one relatively small body part, what could I do with my whole body?

For example, I have a wealth of funny material: the bursitis in my hip; the arthritis in my spine; not to mention the weird little pain in my left shin, which is the one small body part without any apparent disfigurement.

The good news about all these issues of ailing: I’ve found I no longer have to carry ID to get the senior citizen price at the movies. And the older I get the harder it is to remember what to bring along. But that’s another story.