My “big” Christmas present this year — no, last year — is an Apple Watch. I told Alan it was too extravagant, but he didn’t have a better idea, so now I have Dick Tracy’s two-way wrist TV strapped to my arm, and I kinda like it.
A committed and unapologetic Apple cult member, I hadn’t felt the need to pull the trigger on the watch until recently. With typical master of the universe skill and timing, Apple has, in a pandemic, gone all in on “health” with the latest model, and I am SO THERE for it.
However. I have some thoughts.
First, what I like: The A.W. is the first fully immersible fitness tracker I’ve cared to own, and one reason I was looking forward to our trip to Florida was for the chance to test it out in our condo complex’s 25-yard pool (with two lap lanes!). It worked, well, swimmingly. As a lap swimmer who’s been deprived of water for months, it was frankly thrilling to, first, actually get in a pool, and then to be able to read all about it afterward. And boy, was I able to read about it.
This thing tracks the number of laps you turn and your total yardage — yes, all things you could carry in your head if you can keep focused enough to count while you’re swimming — as well as your heart rate and range. And it even knows what strokes I did. Sorcery! How do it know? (I’m sure J.C. will be forwarding me some links within a few minutes.) I mean, I can figure it out, a little — breaststroke has a distinctly different arm motion than freestyle, and I guess it can detect it — but backstroke is far more similar, and it picked up my single backstroke 50. Sorcery! Satellites! Spycams!
It also does a million other things: Tracks your heart rate and rhythm, your blood oxygen, your periods (shoved that one off to the side, crone that I am), and of course your movements. I enabled every notification, to see which ones I want to live with, and which I can do without. When I was drying my hands in an airport bathroom, it told me that I was in a 100-decibel environment and that wasn’t good for my ears. The hand washing timer is sometimes a pain, but not too bad. I’m reminded to take a moment every so often to do some deep breathing. It tells me to stand for one minute every hour. Needless to say, you can add apps for food and sleep and really dive down the rabbit hole of your own navel. And so on.
And that brings me to the thing I least like: The prodding. While the data can translate to real accountability — it’s a lot harder to skip a workout when you know your watch will be sending notifications like “you still have time!” — I also try to be aware of how it’s leading me around by the nose.
I subscribed to the NYT crossword about a year ago, because I like doing crosswords online, but I hate-hate-hate the “streak” feature, which keeps track of how many days in a row you’ve successfully solved the puzzle. My nature runs to good-studenthood, and whether it’s my watch or my crossword puzzle, anything that pats me on the back and says good job! is going to sucker me in. I don’t like to be like this. And yet I am.
That said, I should probably try to get a workout in later today. Also, let’s take a moment to savor the irony that many of the rioters who invaded the Capitol would refuse to get a Covid vaccine for fear of being microchipped, but willingly carried smartphones with them as they climbed through the broken windows; i.e., they microchipped themselves. LOL. Pro tip from every law enforcement officer in the world: If you’re gonna do a crime, leave your phone at home.
So much good journalism about the Capitol riot, but if I had one piece to recommend, it might be this New Yorker piece, but it’s the New Yorker, so you may face a paywall. Still, it’s very you-are-there:
When Babbitt was shot, I was on the opposite side of the Capitol, where people were growing frustrated by the empty halls and offices.
“Where the fuck are they?”
“Where the fuck is Nancy?”
No one seemed quite sure how to proceed. “While we’re here, we might as well set up a government,” somebody suggested.
Then a man with a large “AF ” flag—college-age, cheeks spotted with acne—pushed through a series of tall double doors, the last of which gave onto the Senate chamber.
There were signs of a hasty evacuation: bags and purses on the plush blue-and-red carpet, personal belongings on some of the desks. From the gallery, a man in a flak jacket called down, “Take everything! Take all that shit!”
“No!” an older man, who wore an ammo vest and held several plastic flex cuffs, shouted. “We do not take anything.” The man has since been identified as Larry Rendall Brock, Jr., a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel.
The young America Firster went directly to the dais and installed himself in the leather chair recently occupied by the Vice-President. Another America Firster filmed him extemporizing a speech: “Donald Trump is the emperor of the United States…”
Ai-yi-yi, these people.
OK, back to the Sunday papers and errands.