I'm afraid of CES

I'm afraid of CES

Summary: The giant Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is an annual pilgrimage for those of us covering the tech world. At least, it used to be, for this tech writer.

TOPICS: Mobility, CES

Early in January each year, thousands of tech writers converge in the desert for a grueling but exciting week at the CES. It comes right after the holiday season, so those making the trek to Las Vegas are often exhausted from the end of year festivities when they jump into the madness that is CES. It's a fantastic week of seemingly endless demos of new tech, while jostling with colleagues and seldom seen friends for floor space at press events.

(Image: Sarah Tew/CBS Interactive)

It's a wonderful time and I enjoyed every year I attended. It was the one week I looked forward to each year and an absolute blast. Given how much I like going to CES, many are asking why I haven't been in a few years. The answer is simple — I am afraid of the CES.

To put this fear in perspective, I attended the CES every year without fail for quite a few years. The show in January 2008 was like those before it, I had a wonderful time seeing friends and colleagues while walking miles each day in Las Vegas. I ran all over town and up and down exhibition aisles so long you couldn't see one end from the other.

I was in Vegas for a week at that show and when I finally headed back home I was exhausted as usual.

I arrived back home and settled in for a brief rest before I intended to finish up CES stories in the hopper. In spite of my good intentions, writing those stories wasn't going to happen. The day after returning from the CES I had a transient ischemic attack (TIA), sometimes referred to as a mini-stroke. It's the same condition Kara Swisher, then of All Things Digital and now of Re/code, suffered a couple of years ago, and that recently caused Houston Texans former coach Gary Kubiak to collapse on the field during a football game.

I wrote about what having this stroke was like at the time and I won't rehash it here. I had a fast and complete recovery so it's a story with a happy ending, except for the CES.

The specialists who treated my TIA felt confident that my grueling, exhausting week at the CES played a major role in triggering my stroke. There was no way to prove that but it made sense that in a physically weakened state bad things can happen.

I haven't had any problems since the TIA in 2008, but once you've had one you are more likely to have another than those who haven't. That's the reality I live with.

I went back to the CES once after the TIA, you could say it was a getting back on the horse sort of thing. I was terrified the whole time and didn't enjoy it at all as I kept looking over my shoulder, so to speak.

That's the reason I haven't been back to the CES regularly, even though I desperately want to do so. Each year I duly register for my press pass and check out travel arrangements to go. I come so close to pushing the reserve button for those arrangements but pull back at the last second.

All you folks regularly asking me why I'm not going to the CES, now you know. I'm a chicken.

The fear that a fun week at CES might trigger another stroke just won't go away, and it keeps me from making the trip. I'll bet the CES officials wonder who this person in Houston is who keeps getting a press pass each year and then doesn't show up. I suspect I'll keep doing it every year, just in case. I do promise myself that one year I'm going back to the CES and have a good time like the old days. Just not this year.

Topics: Mobility, CES

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  • Well, your health has to come first!

    I certainly miss your perspective on CES items, but can understand why you can't (and shouldn't) do it.

    Perhaps you can program your trip out there to cover a few things so that it doesn't pose a threat to your health, but you can still get your CES-fix. Maybe you can do "just tablets" and spread your agenda a bit over the week as to not exhaust yourself.

    Whatever you do, make sure you stay healthy though :-)

    Happy new year!
    • I was thinking the same thing......kinda

      How about exercising some and getting your heart into better shape? And only cover one or two things.
      digital riverrat
  • Health is important

    Do you excercise regularly? Do you eat a balanced meal? Do you get enough sleep each night? If you answered no to any of these questions, then CES should be the least of your fears!
    • to further that thought

      Sign up for, train and commit to completing a Sprint Triathlon in the fall. Anyone should be able to do this and the level of exercise needed to do it will get you fit, I speak from experience after a similar episode.

      You can do it! Keep one thought, Finish!

      See you at CES next year and manage your activities while there so you're not exhausted at the end. The triathlon training will give you the discipline, self awareness, and confidence to be comfortable doing it.
  • Yeah, you gotta watch your health

    That said, CES is a waste of time. Lots of hype and made up stress for little in return. I am surprised any companies attend as it is easier than ever for them to get their message out.

    This year's line up is really boring. How many different kinds of tv's can you make? How many things can you make "cloud enabled"?
    • How many things can you make "cloud enabled"?

      I'm waiting for the genetically modified fruit that's cloud enabled and self identifies when the determined ripeness is achieved. Not sure if this will be from Samsung or Dole.
  • Don't be afraid of CES

    I'm not sure what your doctors told you, but the CES did not give you a TIA. In fact TIA's are not caused by exertion of any kind. It was more likely caused by all those Krispy Creme donuts you had over the years.

    You were lucky. Many people have TIA's and don't even know it. You are probably under a aspirn regimine now to decrease your chances of getting another TIA.

    I was also diagnosed as having a TIA, but I got educated. Take care of your health and go back to enjoying the things you do.
    • Nice to know...

      ...that you know more than the doctors.
      • Just so you know

        My Mom also had TIA's which were diagnosed at the Mayo Clinic - but not diagnosed by her own doctor. Her TIA's caused dementia (vascular dementia) although her regular physician and so called local specialists had her diagnosed as having Alzheimer's.

        The nice thing about the Mayo Clinic is that they really explain things well. So when I had my own TIA I knew what was happening and got straight to the hospital.

        So the fact still remains that CES did not cause Jim's TIA. Without taking a blood thinner such as aspirn, Jim would have eventually had a TIA whether he went to CES or not.
  • Book worth a read

    Hi James,

    May I recommend you this book: The Story of the Human Body by Pr Daniel Lieberman
    This book also exists in audiobook format.

    I think you will like it.
    • Downloading to my kindle now

      Thanks for the recommendation.
  • And now...

    The giant Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is an annual pilgrimage for those of us covering the tech world. At least, it used to be, for this tech writer.

    And now... It's just a fools errand.
  • Wishing you good luck, James

    I hope you get to fulfill your wish and go back for another CES without any fear. In addition to my good wishes, I have a selfish interest because I always enjoy your balanced, detailed and informative device reviews. All the best!
  • Your Concerns are very healthy

    Sorry to hear about your health issue.

    Although the published reports on effects of electromagnetic radiation say there are little to no risks, I saw a picture of a rat’s brain that was exposed to cell phone radiation a few years back. I no longer need to read any “safety” report because that picture was as bad as looking at lungs of someone who smoked for decades.

    Given this, I would avoid the CES and any place where there is a high concentration of electromagnetic radiation. This includes only using your cell phone if it’s equipped with a hard wired head set.

    Next, read the book: Magnetism and It’s Effects on the Living System. This book was written before there was billions of dollars to be made off of cell phones so the research is probably the most bias free.

    If Steve Jobs proved one thing, none of us will live forever. If you haven’t given much thought to God and Eternal Life, now is good time to start.
    • Don't go outside either

      Lots of EM radiation to be found there including non man made radiation.

      Oh wait, better not go inside either, there is lots of man made radiation there too...unless you are living in a faraday cage.
  • Suggest you try high intensity circuit training

    Say two 8-minute circuits (in your home), four or five days per week for six months before CES next year.
  • Eat better, exercise and go to CES if you want to. And fire your doctor.

    Suggesting a visit to a tech convention is the trigger for a TIA is ridiculous.
  • Sorry

    Sorry to read thus James. I really enjoy reading your stuff, so I agree, don't risk your health over this. There's clearly plenty for you to write about even without attending CES, so enjoy doing what keeps you busy but doesn't risk your physical well-being!
  • TIA's

    I had my own brush with them (2 in one day), about 20 years ago when I was an IT consultant. It turns out I had/have atrial fibrillation and had plenty of warning signs which I ignored. Well, after 5 pacemakers, a failed ablation and lots of meds, I made it to retirement.
    I lost 40 pounds, mostly by eating healthier. My wife and I are visiting with our first grandchild.

    Take care of yourself and live smart!
  • Health

    Guess what everybody dies. Enjoy life, take it easy at the CES and don't overdo it. D