I’ve always wanted to explore virtual reality---you know, where you put a gismo on your head and you walk around looking stupid because you’re seeing things that others in the room can’t see. A walk in space, a visit to Buckingham Palace, a roller-coaster ride, taking part in a boxing match or driving in the Indy 500 are just a few examples of things you can do in virtual reality. I finally got my chance to try it out this week. Our senior hall sponsored the event and it was so popular they added two encore sessions. Translation: I wasn’t the only one who wanted to do this, the RSVP wait list was so long they were able to book slots for sixty of us instead of the expected twenty they thought would signed up. Unbeknownst to me, there’s a business in town that books parties where they hook up all your guests to virtual reality. How cool is that! Now, for $30 an hour I can travel and never have to leave the city, never have to worry about getting a passport or being held hostage at the airport by a terrorist or a coronavirus quarantine or worse yet, a terrorist coughing coronavirus germs all over the place.
We didn’t get the full menu of virtual reality choices like you’d get if you went to their place of business but we did get to “visit” the Basilica of Notre Dame, St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, the Taj Mahi and the Palace of Versailles. If I ever do it on my own I’d go to space in Apollo 11 or to the bottom of the ocean or try Google Earth. When I got my haircut yesterday I was telling my hairdresser about the experience and she said she’d want to play Blade and Sorcery or Space Pirate Training. Who would have guessed that a pregnant little thing like her would be a blood thirsty little thing who is going to quit her job in April and leave me searching for someone else to cut my locks? She said quitting her job to be a full time mom is bitter-sweet. “Yes,” I told her, “sweet for you and bitter for me!” I hate changing hairdressers but I’m going to try another girl in the same the shop. I knitted her a hot pink pussy hat back a few years ago when Trump was elected. She was thrilled and personality-wise we’ll get along great. Wow, did I get side-tracked here!
Back to virtual reality. When they first handed out the head gear it reminded me of an old stereoscopic from the 1890s that I sold recently with its viewing lens lined up with two separate images of the same scene on its viewing cards. But the VR viewers actually have two feeds/images per eye (one set hidden behind the other) and you’re viewing videos that were photographed with cameras that can take 350 degrees photos. Utterly fascinating how they can make you feel like you’re actually walking around inside the places that are being fed to the VR head gear viewers from a computer.
And VR is not just for entertainment. An article I found on the web said: “Virtual Reality is widely utilized in both mental health and medical training, and is used to treat post-traumatic stress, anxiety, phobias, and depression. Both medical and dental students have taken advantage of this technology, as it enables them to practice surgeries and other procedures…Military forces use VR for flight, battlefield, and vehicle simulations, as well as medic training and virtual boot camp. It also helps them reduce training costs and recreate training conditions safely.” Would I do it again? In a heartbeat! And I might get the chance someday at the continuum care campus where I’m moving. Their last newsletter had an article telling about how they are using virtual reality in their memory care building.
Speaking of bringing the coronavirus to the U.S.A.---yes I was, a few paragraphs ago---one of my Gathering Girls pals who I have brunch with twice a month is on a cruise to the Mediterranean and will be in the area where a hotel has hundreds of people on lockdown because of the coronavirus. I can’t say I’m looking forward to having brunch with her when she gets back. Do you think anyone would notice if I wore a face mask and drank my lunch through a straw inserted in a hole in the mask? Would it be wrong of me to hope she self-quarantines for two weeks after she gets back? The world of germs is a scary place. I ought to know, I’ve been a bit of a germaphobic starting in this century when I had to spend so much time around medical facilities after my husband’s massive stroke and it ramped up big time the winter of 2019 when I got the flu so bad that I literally thought I’d die all alone and no one would find me until the stench got so bad a safety officer from the police department was called. That episode and the five day power outage that same winter lite the fire under me about moving to the senior friendly community where someone will check on me if they hear moaning through the walls. Ohmygod, I hope my future neighbors wear their hearing aids more often than I do! I can't even hear myself pee when I'm not wearing mine. ©