I’m so clumsy.
“How clumsy are you?” I can almost hear the heckler planted in the studio audience answering me back.
I’m so clumsy that I once broke a toe walking around this poorly lit apartment of mine in search of… my own shoes (I tripped over them). I’m so clumsy that I once knocked a contact lens out of my face on the elliptical at the gym while trying to adjust my iPod’s earbuds. I’m so clumsy that I once fell into a lake — clothes and all — because I got just a little too close to the edge while spying on a bullfrog. I’m so clumsy that I once bumped my noggin on an I-beam while trying to climb to a roof and fell down about 10 feet of vertical stairs.
Luckily, aside from the ill-fated toe, my bones seem to be pretty resilient (knock on whatever variety of wood the particle board that makes up my desk used to be). Otherwise, my hospital inpatient hours logged might be pretty long.
I’m the anti-Weeble. I wobble and I do fall down. Repeatedly. Wherever I am at the moment you’re reading this sentence, I’ve probably fallen over twice during the time it took you to get to the end.
So I take precautions to counterbalance my freakishly abnormal lack of agility. I’ve shelved my favorite Guinness pint glass safely out of reach so that it’s more of a museum artifact than a piece of glassware for practical use these days. I slowly shuffle rather than taking full strides when I’m walking around in the dark (or without some form of corrective vision to which I’ve been shackled since the third grade). I keep a close eye on the ceiling as I enter the dwellings of Dwarves, Hobbits, or Jawas when I’m visiting strange lands in the middle or far, far away. The rule of thumb in most of my interfacing with the real world: Slow and steady wins the race. Even still, I’m not without more than my fair share of self-inflicted bumps and scrapes from misadventures seemingly beyond my control on a basis more regular than I’d like.
I was having one of those mornings where I tripped over every obstacle, spilled every beverage, bumped into every doorway, and dropped every object in my care — which means it was the beginning to a completely average day, I guess. But it made me wonder what sorts of technology might help a clumsy oaf like me make it through a day free of bruises and broken belongings.
Fellow LockerGnome writer Sherman DeForest wisely advises: “Since the kitchen and bathroom are where most accidents happen, avoid them.”
I posed the question to the good Gnomies, and we came up with the following short list. I hope it’ll help some of you folks out there who — like me — find the navigation of everyday life a little more dangerous than most!
It may be stretching things a bit to call duct tape “tech,” but as everyone from MacGyver to the A-Team can attest, it’s an essential addition to anyone’s toolbox. Aside from being the fix-all solution to… well, frankly, probably a lot of things that it has no business fixing, duct tape can be used in at least a few ways that might aid the dexterity impaired.
You can duct tape cables to the floor so they’re less likely to be tripped over. You can use a patch of duct tape to dab your clothes free of cat hair after you’ve tumbled onto the carpet or thoughtlessly plunked down on your couch after donning your dapper duds for a night out on the town. You can affix delicate belongings that are easily dropped or knocked over onto safe perches (also a good idea in earthquake zones).
And while an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, you can always duct tape back together things that you’ve broken in moments where you’ve seriously erred. Eyeglasses, your car, furniture, windows, and so on. Alternatively, smaller breaches can be repaired in a less visible fashion with Krazy Glue, though I initially hesitated to mention this simply because, as my fellow clumsies at large can confirm, it’s way too easy to get your fingers stuck together with the stuff. So there’s your fair warning!
If the butterfingered cellphone user is lucky enough to not absent-mindedly leave his or her device in a place where it will never be seen again (like restaurant tables, DMV counters, on the elliptical at the gym, etc.), chances are pretty good the thing’s going to be dropped onto all sorts of surfaces both hard and soft over the course of its lifespan.
The smart thing for the serial clutz to do in order to ensure that their sizeable investment in mobile technology is covered in case of inevitable mishap is to get some kind of insurance for it, first and foremost. But getting a case that will keep it as safe as possible no matter where it gets dropped, hurled, flung, chucked, cast aside, thrown, catapulted, or dumped should help decrease any unforeseen downtime. Something like the OtterBox Defender is a good call with its bump, drop, and shock protection, but if you’re among the unluckiest of souls with a phone that likes to take frequent swims in unsavory places we need not mention, then something a little more waterproof might be a better ticket.
For seem reason, in spite of countless emails to the manager, the light in the lobby of my apartment building never likes to stay on at night. Right now, at 1:50 in the afternoon, it’s shining brightly and mocking me. It might stay on for a little while after the sun goes down, giving me just enough of a false sense of security to step outside for a neighborhood stroll. I could buy a falafel wrap or browse a bookstore without a care in the world. But when I return, there’s a good chance the damned lobby is going to be as dark as the heart of a Sith Lord.
Oh, I forgot to mention: There are a lot of stairs to climb back to my place in the dark. From what I’ve already established, I’ve not had much luck with stairs or darkness. But combine the two and it’s a surefire recipe for my demise!
But rather than toting around an actual flashlight with me everywhere I go, I opt to use one of the many flashlight apps that exist for my iPhone. While I have no preference beyond whatever’s going to light up the stairway and guide me to safety, LockerGnome staffer Matt Ryan recommends a free one called, appropriately enough, Flashlight.?.
Solid State Drives
Obviously, no hard drive is immortal like Connor MacLeod (of the Clan MacLeod). But one with less moving parts is probably more ideal for survival in the lair of the accident prone. While you still shouldn’t go around dropping them on purpose just for the fun of it, solid state drives (SSDs) store and recall data in solid state memory without the need for spinning magnetic disks common to most traditional hard drives. Again, this is not a foolproof way to save your data, but it probably evens the odds in your favor a little more if you mildly bump or drop the things. (Remember that all hard drives eventually fail, so this does not give you a license to be reckless! Back up! Back up! Back up!)
Break one of ’em, and the aforementioned duct tape — while generally efficacious in solving so many of the world’s problems — is probably not going to save your bacon.
I’ve written before about how G-Form cases have been tested to protect portable computers from drops of up to 1,300 feet, but even more recently, the crazy mad scientists at the company found out that G-Form cases can protect portable computers falling onto hard surfaces all the way from motherfreaking space!
Using the same medical grade vibration dampening gel technology that it uses to keep tablets and laptops safe from harm, G-Form makes protection for human beings, too. Elbow pads, knee pads, insoles, and other armor for the modern athlete (and, I guess, accident prone) are offered for very reasonable prices.
Anyone have any additional suggestions for tech that can help the accident prone? It could save my life — and the lives of other LockerGnome readers so afflicted!