Inversions, Schmersions


We’re currently trapped, although not in an unusual way. No different than bad weather, say, or the road construction that has dwindled but still continues. This isn’t a curfew, or martial law. There’s a lot of smoke in the air. Best to stay inside if possible.

And as serious as it must look in other parts of the country, this is actually just weather. Our current poor air quality has nothing to do with the fires in northern California, for instance; this is from over 500 wildfires burning in British Columbia, serious but not unusual for this time of year, and some over in eastern Washington. The winds shifted, and fronts or lows or inversions or something else happened. We get smoke. It’s bad, but it’ll go away soon. In the meantime, we’ve got soupy skies and we walk at the mall.

Or we did last night, anyway. Both of us were feeling our joints stiffen, sitting around, commenting on the smoke, so we chose our Designated Senior Citizen Zone and had to laugh about it. We don’t climb hills or maintain a brisk pace walking around the inside of Alderwood Mall, but then we don’t have to dodge cars, either. And the air quality seemed fine, even with Mrs. Fields wafting over everything (or whatever; pretzels seem to be a big deal these days).

We both glanced at our Fitbits as we moseyed along, trying to get a decent number for the day, which cheered me up. I have days when I’m completely disgusted with my reliance on technology, my mini-panic attacks when OhmyGodwheresmyphone inevitably happens. As I rode up the glass elevator in our Portland hotel last week, I could look down at the hotel bar and saw all four or five customers, drinks in front of them, staring down at their phones as I stared down at them. There was nothing remotely social about this, which is kind of disturbing in a bar. If you’re not socializing, you’re just drinking alone.

And then there’s the Fitbit, which is a pretty simple but impressive piece of technology, and remarkably useful in a very human way. A lot of our data, particularly the biometrics, feels pointless and inspiration to obsess over irrelevancies. But data is useful when it provides feedback, assuming we adjust our behavior (or want to), and the Fitbit is all about feedback.

What is 10,000 steps a day? Would have sounded goofy 40 years ago, and even now we don’t really know. People say that’s a good number to aim for, I guess. The point is, though, that if I notice that I’m walking 8000 or 5000 or 12,000 steps a day, and that’s different than, say, last week, I have useful information. At least if I’m interested in moving more and sitting less.

So maybe this will all work out. Maybe we’ll start looking up again, keep what we can use and wean ourselves off the silliness. Some things I really don’t need to know.

Speaking of technology losing its luster—my big monitor gave up the ghost the other day. It’s been giving me problems, refusing to wake up and requiring some manual intervention to work, and when I got back from Oregon it was just blinking helplessly. It was inexpensive but I appreciated the real estate, 27 inches of screen that my eyes need.

I moved my smaller, secondary monitor over (I really just use it for what we used to call widgets, clocks and weather and CPU functions, etc.), but it wasn’t the same.

So I went out and picked up a new one, this model with one of those curved screens but not much else in terms of specialness (not 4K, in other words, whatever that is). I’ve done this many times, picked up that package at BestBuy, excited to get home and unbox, but that was then and this is now.

Just as with my new phone a few weeks ago, this is a big meh. You know what will make a difference? Yeah. Getting new glasses. That’s the kind of high tech I need right now. I’m so over bells and whistles.

There’s no escaping it when you can’t see. Or hear. Or you can, but not that well, not nearly as well as just a few years ago. I’m aware that I exist at a neutral stage of life, nearly at the peak but not quite ready to slide down the other side. I’m 60, I’m as healthy as one could reasonably hope for at this point, I have no complaints, but my senses are slipping and there’s no way around it. I’m old for a human being. Just not that old, not yet, but what I can see isn’t blurry at all. I know what’s coming.

And I know what’s passed, too. As happens every summer at this time, I look back a dozen years and remember. It’s so long ago now that I really can’t relate all that much, and I just remain grateful that I wrote down so many details contemporaneously. I had my last drink on August 24, 2006, and headed for the hills, and help. So many years.

I wrote a column about this yesterday; every year I think about it, but never really find anything new to say, something I haven’t already said. The subject is mildly boring, except when I consider the alternatives.

So my eyes are getting worse; it happens. I can’t hear very well out of my left ear, but it’s really more of a discrimination issue and most of the time it’s not a problem; I just have to move around a bit to get into better position. Teeth, ugh. Gonna be ugly.

But you know. We’ve got smoke but no fire. The mall is open. I went to a bar in Ballard the other night and listened to some contemporary classic country-western music, a genre I have little love for, and I loved it a lot. I still seem capable of growth.

And I stopped drinking, once, 12 years ago, and I turned around a sedentary lifestyle into an active one, a miracle no one could have predicted. I quit smoking, another miracle. I lost 110 pounds, and I can no longer work up the energy to get pissed if you think I’m too skinny. I fucking transformed myself, not through strength of will (ha) or discipline or the power of prayer, but because I got a second chance and I think you need to take that seriously.

So I’m OK with a little haze on my day, because I’ve got the day. There was a time when I wasn’t too sure I would. We’re all good here.

Chuck Sigars2 Comments