All the news that’s fit | Chuck's World

Jan 04, 2017

The word “flinder” in Dutch refers to a butterfly, apparently, although I gather it’s not used very much anymore.

It’s also a word I grabbed out of thin air a few years ago, having dinner with friends and talking about what people of a certain age like to talk about, which is mostly being a certain age. Since I’ve known several of these folks since we were teenagers, we have a shared sense of just how weird it is to have been around so long.

I was trying to make up a word that had nothing to do with butterflies. It was just a combination of syllables I slapped together to stand for some new thing that we wouldn’t do, wouldn’t understand, wouldn’t relate to, wouldn’t be interested in. The new Facebook or Twitter, in other words. Something all the kids were doing, and we’re not kids.

Snapchat would be a flinder for me, for example, although you can’t do everything, and nothing’s for everybody. I’m still in the technology loop, if a little skeptical these days.

Five years ago, I was skeptical about smartphones. Why would I pay an extra $30 a month so I could browse the web from my phone? I could actually do that anyway, if I wanted to, although it was awkward and would be expensive if I did too much. I just couldn’t find a reason.

I found one eventually, or at least a rationale that I could live with, and I’ve never looked back. Or up, sometimes. I try to be responsible.

One of my reasons happened in the late spring of 2011, when batteries died in both my digital camera and my video camera at the same time, which was not a convenient time. There was also the annoyance of wanting to listen, sometimes, to music while I walked, but keeping my phone in a pocket just in case. Which, should it ring, might be impossible to hear give that I’m listening to music, and so on.

I consolidated technology, in other words. That’s what the iPhone was, and the ones that followed, and I took full advantage. It was a phone, both kinds of cameras, an MP3 player, and a Swiss Army knife without the blades. It could do a lot of stuff.

And as we moved through the iterations, more bells and whistles were added and it became a fitness tool, something I appreciated. It tracked my walks via GPS and kept records of miles and steps and theoretical calories burned.

But that was something I got for myself, working through the pros and cons, and was overall happy with the way things turned out, even if life has become something of an obstacle course. Avoiding people walking directly toward me with their eyes on their screens is a 21st-century skill.

This is my technology baseline, then. If there’s a way to combine several things into one thing, I’m interested. If it’s just a different and maybe easier way to do something, I’m less interested.

I would note that a couple of weeks ago, I somehow lost my wedding ring. I’m assuming it got caught on something and tugged off without me noticing. I keep thinking it’ll eventually show up, but since it was my second wedding band, bought on a whim in Santa Fe one summer, I put on the original from 1983 and I’m all ringed up again.

I only mention it because my wedding band is symbolic, which is why I wear it. Otherwise, I’m not a jewelry person. I don’t like things around my neck, can’t think of even a stupid reason to get anything pierced, and I live in a world of clocks so I’ll skip the watch, thank you.

Yet now I have this thing on my wrist. It tells the time but so much more, and I’m sort of on the fence about it.

My daughter and her husband gave me a Fitbit for Christmas, something that always struck me as a little overkill, a gadget for people who love data about their health, numbers and graphs documenting every step they take. These people can’t seem to get enough information about what their bodies are up to.

This describes me, as it turns out, something my family knows very well, and on unwrapping it Christmas Day I felt my pulse rate quicken a little. Good thing I can track that now.

Again, it’s not something I would have bought for myself, so nice gifting strategy. It’s fun, I’m enjoying it, I don’t mind wearing it, and it actually gives me information that might be useful. It tries to gauge my sleeping patterns, for one thing, although it gives me extra credit, assuming I’m sound asleep when really I’m just being kind of lazy. That’s good to know, I guess.

But I’ve been down this road before. Last October I left my phone in the car when my wife dropped me at the airport, and I went through security twice just so I could run back outside and meet her to pick it up. That’s my situation with the phone. I’ve accepted it. I’m not entirely comfortable, but accepting.

And now I can see a situation in which I have no idea what my heart rate is, because somehow I’ve lost my Fitbit. This slope is awfully slippery, and I have a feeling I’ve already started downhill.

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