During Gallaudet’s long winter break — with the campus empty, the gym shuttered, and the cafeteria closed — I’ve taken to walking around the athletic track for exercise. It’s boring. Around and around and around and around.
A few days ago I discovered my iPhone’s earbuds in my desk and thought, Hey! What if I stuck these in my ears?
I could do it, too, because the mikes of my implants are cleverly situated in the shell of the ear. The earbuds fit in just fine, nestled right against the mikes.
But what to listen to? After some fussing around, I figured it out: I could download just about any radio show to my computer via iTunes. Syncing with my iPhone automatically transferred the files over. Then I could pull up the iPod program, which played them.
What I find so remarkable about the iPhone is its sheer completeness. It can do just about anything a desktop computer can do. It is a calendar and a camera and a newspaper and Google Maps and a GPS locator and a notepad and a voicemail manager and a tape recorder and a video player and a contact manager and a calculator and a clock and an email client and a Web browser and a cellphone.
Because of the Web browser, it is also every single Web page on earth. It is every page of the New York Times and the Washington Post. It is every picture Cassini ever took at Saturn. It is every play Shakespeare ever wrote.
It’s also an extraordinary radio. I downloaded about a dozen episodes of NPR’s Fresh Air and WNYC’s Radiolab. I’ve been listening to them, one at a time, while orbiting the track. Around and around, but now listening to Brian Greene explaining why an infinite number of parallel universes exist, to a lawyer explaining how Bush & Co. could be tried for war crimes (yes please!), and to Oliver Sacks explaining why people get auditory hallucinations. (In listening to that show, Pop Music, I had to laugh as I heard my own voice coming out the earbuds.)
So my long quiet walks around the track have bloomed, and as if in synchrony, the campus is waking up too: students are drifting back in and the cafeteria is open again. Some signing deaf students can’t communicate very well with their families, so they come back as soon as possible, here, where their real families are. The sports teams have come back, too, to play games. Signs of laughter and life, in the dead of winter.