I can’t say enough good things about my Apple Watch. Mine has cellular service, so every time I get a phone call, it will be available to answer (or not answer) on my watch, as well as on my iPhone. That means I don’t have to dig into the nether regions of my backpack to find my cellphone, but can answer the call on my watch. I’ve spoken to many people using my watch when I’m walking on the street or am in a store. I always ask if the person at the other end can hear me OK. The answer is typically, “yes.”
The watch also lets me set alarms and timers. That feature has proven to be enormously helpful when I want to remember that I have a Zoom call or want to leave my apartment at a particular time, say, to pick up a grandchild from school or meet someone for dinner. Or simply to time a hard-boiled egg.
Probably the most endearing feature of the watch is its ‘fall detection’ sensor. The watch will pick up some signal when it thinks you’ve taken a bad fall. Then it will ask you if you need assistance. I’ve never had to activate this emergency feature but it’s an incredibly reassuring one.
I know it can summon 911 for me simply by my pushing on a side button. That feature has reassured me on several occasions when I’ve traveled on relatively empty subway cars or at night on uncrowded sidewalks. That’s also extremely reassuring.
I’ve recently started wearing the watch when I go to sleep, when it can give me some idea of how long I slept and in what sleep stages. I’ve been told by a sleep specialist that it’s definitely not as accurate as a full-blown sleep study, where electrodes are attached to various body parts. But remember it’s just a watch and not a spaghetti-like collection of sensors and cables. My general feeling about its nightly summaries is that they’re close enough.
My watch, which is a few years old now, can also monitor my heart rate at any time. I believe newer models can also check your blood pressure and oxygen saturation.
I’m sure there are other comparable products out there that do some of these things but, if you’re a senior citizen, and especially if you live alone, you should definitely look into buying one.
My spirits have improved immensely since I’ve decided that it’s time for me to resume as much normalcy as possible with my NYC activities. I’ve started to ride the subway again. I’m meeting family and friends indoors in restaurants. That activity, by itself, would have significantly raised my endorphins, since being together with people in person is so much better than seeing them on a Zoom screen. I did previously visit museums and pulled down my mask in uncrowded exhibit spaces. So that, at least, has been an ongoing activity.
The only pre-pandemic activity I still haven’t resumed is going to the theater or to a movie. Seats are close together in many NYC theaters and I’d want to wear a mask. Unfortunately, I get very uncomfortable wearing a mask indoors for more than about 60 minutes. I’m sure I’ll attempt that eventually, but I’m not quite ready to be maskless in theaters just yet.
I really and truly love experiencing New York City again. And, for whatever it’s worth, the subway does look cleaner. Unfortunately, homelessness persists. As does the presence, occasionally, of someone who seems a bit mentally unhinged. The good news is that there does seem to be a heightened police presence. So, at least for now, I feel relatively safe. Fingers crossed, NYC continues to improve and I can completely resume the life I (and maybe many of us) took for granted before March 2020.
It appears there are many ways people are navigating the Covid world now. I’m not talking about the under 65 crowd, many of whom appear to be socializing and returning to work, largely unmasked. I’m focused more on the 65-and-older demographic, where I belong. Based on many conversations with friends and family, there is still a decent percentage of us who are fearful enough of long Covid that we’re trying to minimize our Covid risks.
Under the heading of ‘reducing risky behavior’ would be eating outside at restaurants.
In New York City, in which I and this blog are based, there appear to be some interesting ways restaurants have created outdoor eating space. Many have the traditional outdoor cafes, where you sit at tables situated on the restaurant’s adjacent sidewalk in the open air.
A number of others have taken those outdoor cafes and put panels around them. Some of the panels are left open at one or 2 ends. That same configuration of mostly-closed-but-a-few-open-panels has been applied to sheds, usually located in the street adjacent to the restaurant.
And then there are the cafes and sheds that are completely closed with panels to form, in effect, another room of the restaurant. I would argue that the ventilation in those closed spaces could be worse than in the restaurant itself, which might have a central HVAC system to help move around the air (and Covid germ particles). Many of the outdoor restaurant sheds I’ve seen in Manhattan, where I live, have no HVAC. So when you close them all up, your air quality might not be so good.
So, folks, if you’re interested in safely eating outdoors, choose wisely.
Before the pandemic, I took the subway in NYC all the time. It was always my first choice for transportation. Then there was the pandemic. If I needed to leave my neighborhood during the pandemic (usually only for a doctor’s appointment or the occasional Covid shot), I would resort to a bus or, sometimes, a taxi. Taxis have a very reassuring plastic barrier between the front seat and the backseat. As a senior citizen, I really appreciated that. It wasn’t that I was that concerned about Covid transmission on the train, since I knew ridership would be way down. I was much more concerned about crime. Fewer riders to me meant more possibilities for criminal behavior.
Since March 2020, and with all the dramatic news stories involving subway incidents, that concern hasn’t dissipated at all. I’ve spoken to some friends and acquaintances, who are also senior citizens, who don’t have any problem riding the subway. Although some said they’d seen passengers on the trains and platforms who looked a bit “unstable,” they said they were “harmless”.
I’m not sure I can summon the courage to see for myself and am wondering what it’s going to take to get me to go down those subway stairs again.
With all the bicycles and scooters coming at you, from all directions, on city streets and sidewalks, you’d think it’s safer to walk in the park. Think again. It’s apparently the Wild West there, too.
A few days ago, as I was taking a morning walk along the east side of Riverside Drive, adjacent to Riverside Park, I forgot to look behind me when I moved over a few feet to the left to avoid a fallen tree branch. I heard a bicycle bell and and then felt the rush of air of the first bicycle as it whizzed by me, narrowly missing my left side by a few inches. A second bicycle followed, again narrowly missing me. These folks weren’t just leisurely pedaling along. They were going at breakneck speed.
I definitely think there’s a market in New York City for eyeglasses with rear-and-side-view mirrors.
I do worry that pedestrians are losing ground against cyclists here. I heard on the news this morning that Democratic Mayoral candidate Eric Adams is also an avid cyclist. Perhaps we also need full body armor.