So my former teacher, Dr. Bill Yates, suggested it might be time for me to write the “How My Smartphone Changed My Life” post. It might be a bit early for that yet, but I can definitely say it has made tracking my physical activity easier with the Health App:
The gadget tells me I climb 15-20 floors in a day’s work as a psychiatric consultant in a general hospital. I almost never take the elevator. The residents, medical students, and other trainees usually follow me as I drop a few pearls of clinical wisdom in my path–until I stop and look puzzled when I forget where I’m going because I can’t talk and walk at the same time. They get me back on track (“We were trying to find the Java House for coffee; remember?”).
Anyway, I hook it to my belt every morning before I go and put in a busy day at the hospital…then I pretty much ignore it until I have to call my wife to come and take me home. This differs markedly from what I see others do with their smartphones. They sometimes walk steadily toward me, their eyes fixed not on what’s in front of them but on whatever is mesmerizing them on the little screen in their hands. They’re often texting, something I refuse to do, even if it is easier on my new device.
As they creep forward (people always walk a little slower when they’re distracted by their smartphones), I often just freeze and clear my throat to alert them they’re about to blunder into me. They snap their heads up then, clearly startled, and give me that deer-caught-in-the-headlights look.
Speaking of freezing and deer-caught-in-the-headlights, my wife, Sena, luckily avoided a serious accident a couple of days ago when a large deer (frenzied buck; it’s that time of year) grazed the SUV as she was on her way to pick me up. That’s about $1,300 or so worth of “graze,” by the way. It’s a miracle she wasn’t hurt. I don’t have any recent figures but about five years ago, Iowa ranked 3rd of ten states for frequency of deer and motor vehicle collisions.
They seem to run into cars purposely, but the real reason is that they’re blinded by the headlights (hence, the origin of the expression), don’t know what to do and initially freeze–but then leap around crazily, often blundering into the path of the vehicle. Some accidents probably happen when drivers try to swerve away from the animal and it zigs when you think it’s going to zag. Deer are very near-sighted and, contrary to popular belief around December 25th each year, they’re more likely to run Santa into a tree than guide him unerringly to the Island of Misfit Toys.
My own experience with a change in my vision reminded me of my age about as much as the watershed event of purchasing a smartphone. Several months ago, I abruptly saw flashes of light with crisp circular edges followed by persisting floaters in my right eye. I still see the floaters and probably always will. When I finally went to the eye clinic to get it checked it out, the ophthalmologist saw a Weiss ring, evidence for a posterior vitreous detachment. Luckily I’m not really at high risk for a retinal detachment. If you consult Dr. Google uncritically, you might find out some believe stress can cause this problem, but I didn’t hear anything about it from my doctor and it’s pretty unlikely. They happen more frequently to older people (“gasp!”) but they can occur at any age.
The Health App came pre-installed on my smartphone. So far I haven’t gotten any others. I suppose I could get a NORAD Santa Tracker App for my smartphone. It’s free! I doubt it tells you how a seriously near-sighted deer can guide Santa around the world, even if its nose glows.