Sometime in early December, I spent a week in Hawaii. I bought that painting by local artist Doug Young, which caught my eye and credit card before I could think about the price. It was meant to be all about the fruit, but the Mac icons reminded me of what's good about OS X: The OS eventually fades away so you can focus on the "fruits" like my writing, photos and music. I know. I sound like a freaking commercial. I was having tech withdrawal, OK?
I took everyone's advice and didn't bring a smartphone, using a regular cellphone only once or twice a day. All I wanted to do was sit on the beach and swim out as far into the Pacific as I'd brave. Did I miss Gizmodo and my phones and TVs and whizzy wigs? Yep, a lot. Then again, I did run into a lot of gadgets I'd probably have never seen during my mainland life.
Lisa's uncle and aunt hosted us for the more meaningful part of the trip. He's an old ex-hippie/yogi guy who is spacey and down to earth at the same time. Lisa's aunt grew up in Tokyo and Hong Kong and decided she'd end up in Hawaii after watching Elvis's Blue Hawaii.
In their house were two outstandingly weird gadgets.
The first was the biomodulator. It is a medical device that "sends electrical jolts through your meridian points in the body using 7 frequencies of electrical current to jolt your cellular membrane into being charged." It is supposed to help with pain and overall health. I tried it. It felt like I had a battery hooked up to my neck and can confirm the different tingly sensations coming from the device, which looks like a Russian-built tricorder. It is also FDA approved to reduce pain, which a doctor (Doctor Arn who runs Macrumors; really, he's an MD when not running the site) that the simple concept here is technically called Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. In some tests, placebos were more effective, according to Wikipedia, but I met plenty of people on the island who said it had helped them. Who knows. I can't confirm or deny that it works.
Annie and Rick live in a really weird and wonderful Japanese-styled house near Diamondhead on Oahu, with an open courtyard in the center, sliding doors with rice paper shades, and massive massive open floor. There was a TV, and some computers, but this is not a nerd's house. Not in the typical sense, anyhow.
Behind a painting in a corner of a room, I spied some red and green flickering, looking closer, I found this PVC pipe with LEDs and a switch and a label that read "Total Shield." As well as a description that goes something like this:
This is a multipurpose unit designed to neutralize EMF's and/or Geopathic Stress. For EMF protection it produces a 7.83 Hz field (Schumann Resonance) which blankets a 20,000 sq. ft. area. This has the effect of overcoming the negative EMF fields. For Geopathic Stess the unit detects and then amplifies the waves REVERSING in phase by 180 degrees and retransmitting them which has the effect of neutralizing them (similar to noise cancellation technology).
If the thing is outputting a signal in 180 degrees to what it detects, it'll theoretically cancel it. I think the description above claims that the device neutralizes ALL EMFs, later saying its only in the 7.83Hz range. But the Wi-Fi in the house, and cellphones worked fine. It also turns out Schumann Resonance is a real thing. It is also over my head. I also make no judgements here, but the thing looks like a pipe bomb and that is kind of thrilling.
Zara Alpha Swim Fins
Zelda. That's what I thought of when I saw Annie's swim fins. We were swimming out to a flag about a quarter mile out off Kaimana beach, a local spot at the top of Waikiki. I was not drowning, but I wasn't really swimming very well, either, and Rick and Annie could tell. Being older but being very fit from swimming in the ocean every day, Annie lent me her fins. These were remarkable in the way that they were smaller and shaped in a way that suggested they were hydrodynamic in the way that rectangular fins aren't. Well, I am not sleeping with the fishes, so I guess they work pretty well. Bonus: they don't tend to tweak your ankles like normal fins.
So about that cellphone. I admit, it was a Sony Ericsson W880i, and it did have Gmail apps on it, so I was checking personal email once in a while when no one was looking. But having to click through 4 levels to get to my inbox was a bit of a deterrent, if that makes me a little more innocent.