The author was able to look at his new watch and see exactly what time the sun set so he could get to a location to photograph it. (Jeff Lund / For the Juneau Empire)

The author was able to look at his new watch and see exactly what time the sun set so he could get to a location to photograph it. (Jeff Lund / For the Juneau Empire)

I Went to the Woods: Watch and learn

Wrist-y business.

I got a 78 on my sleep test last night, which feels about right.

The night before it was an 85 and that felt right too. That means that my new watch is dead-on at assessing what happens when I hit the pillow as well as dead-on with telling me the time and date so the number of dollars I paid for said watch have been justified.

I’ve always been a lover of stats, even though they never tell the entire story. When I wrote recaps for basketball games in college, there was the final score, but there was usually a key stat behind it. As a coach that was my focal point in the postgame talk.

We won by five points because we scored the last six points. But the reason we scored the last six points was because the opponents missed their last three shots and we blocked out and secured the rebound. So the most meaningful stat was less about the offense and more about playing through the entire defensive possession, not just until the shot.

Basketball stats used to be a big part of my life. Game recaps. Stats. Finding the meaning in the right numbers. Shooting percentages. Turnovers. Rebounds. Runs.

Now I’m scrolling through steps, floors, stress level and my sleep score. It seems at the same time responsible and kinda old. I am clearly in the gadget phase of my life. When I was a kid, I was excited to have a multitool that could do a bunch of cool stuff like cut and take out hooks. As an adult I’m stoked to have an electronic device that can do a bunch of cool stuff like count and tell me the weather.

I’m more excited than I should be about a gadget I bought myself on Black Friday. I didn’t even have the patience to wait until Christmas to open it. In fact, I nearly demanded we drive all the way into town to go to the post office and pick it up on Saturday night when I got the delivery confirmation email.

My rational wife suggested one day wouldn’t hurt and of course she was right. The watch was waiting on Sunday and I was able to wear it on its inaugural hike.

I have written, often in this space, how it is foolish to believe that the simple purchase of a thing will solve our problems. We often spend money on things to tell us something that we might already know. Then what?

Companies are far less subtle in their declarations that you are $199.99 away from a better life. As far as my watch goes, I haven’t become anyone in the video on their website. There were no teachers making grand gestures and talking about Big Brother in the video. That would probably send the message that paranoid people who wear tinfoil hats at home are the type to buy the watch. Good call to not make an educator your protagonist.

Maybe there’s a subtle commonality that doesn’t make for good marketing copy but is at the core. Maybe it’s that the skier, cyclist, soccer player, hiker and runner are all the types of people who pay attention to particular stats. The ones that involve their health and fitness.

I care about my health stats too and I now have a watch to provide me will all the stats I could ever want to break down my daily activity.

If a student asks me which class is my favorite, I have a stress stat to back it up.

But I’ll probably keep it to myself.

• Jeff Lund is a freelance writer based in Ketchikan. His book, “A Miserable Paradise: Life in Southeast Alaska,” is available in local bookstores and at Amazon.com. “I Went to the Woods” appears twice per month in the Sports & Outdoors section of the Juneau Empire.

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