Shifting years, gears and ears

Fri, 02/25/2022 - 3:15am

On 25 March, I’ll be shuffling into my 72nd trip around the sun and being the adaptable kind of guy that I am - ahem, do we actually have a choice? – I have come to embrace rather than despise the technology of the digital age. These extraordinary and life-enhancing changes are inevitable as the future rolls us all
assertively and indifferently forward to somewhere. So yeah, I’m riding the wave of change. I often feel that I’m up to my ears with all of the new accoutrement being sold to us on an hourly basis, but you must believe me when I tell you that I once truly resented the inventions of the high IQs of Silicon Valley, and MIT.
I was no pal of a guy who spouted on about Quantum Mechanics, AI, and algorithms. However, since the advancing years have begun in earnest to bash me around quite handily and on many levels I’ve acquiesced to some of these brilliant inventions because of their practicality.
In my 70s I have found myself the steward of prodigious pieces of gadgetry: an iPhone 10 (I think it’s a 10), a Smart Watch, an E-Bike, a laptop computer, a Roomba Vacuum cleaner, an I-Glow music tower, Alexa, and a Kindle Fire. Yup, I have all of the cool gadgets a guy my age could possibly need. Nota bene: Over the past several years I have won the Kindle Fire, Smart Watch, and the Roomba at the ferry Christmas parties. Subsequently, my wife and I are now ensconced in all the current electronics and it’s ironic, because she and I are very old-school ‘50s kids who needed to make our own mischief and entertainment while playing outside until the street lights came on - every day. Moreover, neither of us dove into the deep end of the wine-dark digital-age sea; we waded in with skeptical ‘tudes; however, when the rideable wave came by, we dropped in for the ride.
A couple of birthdays ago my son Liam hooked me up with these high-tech and high-end Apple ear buds. It took me a couple of months to figure out how to use them, but now just like the microwave, I can’t live without these things. The little black buds come in handy for listening to music and watching and listening
to various product on my iPhone, i.e. cable series, documentaries, and podcasts. Furthermore, the sound quality of these buds is outstanding. Liam is a practical guy and got his old man a good gift. These things get lots of use. Over the past month something shifted for me and I somehow veered into the realm of audio books. And, I merged that technology with the Apple buds. Upon some introspection I found the reason for this subtle shift. Because of my evolving age-related eye fatigue this technical merge has allowed me to increase the amount of reading I can do while doing other stuff like walking the dog, driving, or riding my E-Bike. After I learned about these audio books I had a ferry guy at the docks rig up the app on my iPhone and I was off to the races. Now I have the option to read a book or listen to one -both have their merits. Most important, by using my ears I can minimize the eye fatigue. It’s a win-win deal as I’m able to manage my eye stress while having a story told to me. This drill requires no heavy lifting and I don’t even feel guilty. Bonus!
I love reading and will still read books and magazines; however, when it comes to certain long fiction I’ll plug in the buds. When sampling an audio book I usually go by the actor’s voice. If it grabs me right from the jump I’ll probably go the distance with the narrative. Furthermore, I’m at the point where I enjoy just re-listening to things like “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” I love the show but I really don’t need to see the actors. I need the words that are on the page, the pauses, sub-text and punctuation. It’s all about the yuks. I need the yuks. Period. I already know what the actors look like so the verbs, nouns and modifiers will do. Being a realistic sort I know that the novelty of the audio book will wear off eventually, but for now I’ll enjoy driving aimlessly in my car listening to a story being told to me through my iPhone and glow tower. Additionally, I can see myself listening to books while I’m sailing somewhere aimlessly this summer in Narragansett Bay. The jury is still out on using this technology while I’m riding my E-Bike. Although I’ve tried this in the safe confines of Fort Adams in Newport, and at the old Charlestown air base, it gives me pause to do this activity while free ripping around on my bike in more heavily-trafficked places. Safety first, kids.
With this current shifting of the years, gears, and ears comes the acknowledgment and the extreme importance of movement. The word around the campfire of my aging demographic is that we must keep moving forward. We need to keep moving every day; this has never been a problem for this Type A guy. It’s how I’ve always rolled. (I’m an itch.) Circulation seems to be a key element and what better way is there for our circulation than riding a bike? I’ve ridden and logged some
serious miles on my E-Bike this winter. Without question, this is one of the best investments I think I’ve ever made in my adult life. The thing screams practicality as I can see it, in the back of my Jeep waiting to be unfolded and snapped together for an arbitrary blast, somewhere. Finally, biking is kind of like reading a good book in that it’s a meandering and unique experience while going down certain roads. It’s like reading a new chapter of a book. I know, I pushed that analogy to the snapping point. ‘Nuff said...