Yesterday I had my annual physical exam, an event I anticipate with equal parts curiosity and nervousness. My primary care physician is a veritable wikipedia of medical knowledge, a walking nerd in other words, and it’s borderline comical to sit in an exam room with him as he walks through various rudimentary tests of my health.

He’ll note, for instance, that my pupils are round and react quickly to light, my eyes are white and don’t show any signs of redness or jaundice, and that I track well. My shoulders rotate well, offer no signs of popping or tension as they rotate, and my biceps react quickly when he taps on them with a small rubber hammer.

He says all of these things out loud, almost as if he is dictating to someone. It reminded me of how Japanese train conductors point to things and say what they’re doing out loud in an effort to be fully attentive in their work.

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