July 29, 2014 at 9:00 am EDT | by Kate Clinton
Having a fit over Fitbit
FitBit, gay news, Washington Blade

Our household was recently Fit-Bitten by a summer visitor, who stayed in the bedroom above us. (Photo by Steven Walling; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Once when I was looking at my dear gal pal’s collection of carved turtles, I opined, “I wish I collected something.” She acidly suggested I check in my glasses drawer. Emphasis on drawer.

I do have a lot of glasses.  If I could fit all my old frames into one of those cardboard collection boxes in the back of churches, and they actually did send them to Africa as promised, I probably could improve the vision of an entire village.

This summer my goal had been to upgrade all my glasses. Not so that they all have my current vision prescription — I can’t afford that. I wanted to retrofit all of them with a Fitbit knockoff I developed.

Our household was recently Fit-Bitten by a summer visitor, who stayed in the bedroom above us. For two nights, after everyone had turned in and had finished the corny but cute chorus of, “Goodnight, John-boy,” “Goodnight, Kate-boy,” we heard a sound like the pattering of feet. It is an old house, but it didn’t sound like spirits. It was a regular, metronomic sound and lulled us to sleep.

Over coffee, the morning after the second night, I finally remembered to ask our guest if she had heard the sound. She admitted she was running in place by the bed to reach her daily goal of 10,000 steps on her FitBit. She also admitted that once in a business meeting, as she leaned back into her chair, she felt a sharp pain in her groin and realized that her FitBit had unclipped from her waistband and gone rogue.

The original Fitbit uses a sophisticated three-axis accelerometer, unlike the old school single-axis pedometer. When attached to the body, the device measures movement that is turned into digital info. A finely tuned algorithm reads the data through a personally pre-set threshold for motion and tells you how many steps you have taken that day.

With my crack team of engineers, we developed a multi-axis, gyroscopic accelerometer and tweaked the Fitbit a bit to detect and record sudden jerking motions of the head. We then installed the prototype in one of my old glasses frames. A sophisticated algorithm reads the number of times during the day my head is whip-lashed around by daily data input and calculates just how crazy the world has become.

I know the danger of using oneself as a test case. I was raised on Marie Curie. I thought I had pre-set my personal threshold for double-taking incredulity at appropriately high levels. But after just two days of data dumps from the Mideast, Syria, Ukraine, Nigeria, our southern borders, our buffered Supreme Court and the coming Christian Caliphate, I am wearing a neck collar and have a call into my chiropractor.

Kate Clinton is a humorist who has entertained audiences for more than 30 years and a regular Blade contributor.

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