113) Of March Madness & Machine Malfunction

March 15, 2007

El Milagro:
I got in a little late today since leaving the office at 4. Of course, since it is the first day of March Madness, I get a chair with an off-color TV that makes the hardwood floors all neon orange. Debbie the Tech sticks me today and we talk briefly about her schedule and why she hasn’t been around much. I settle in to watching a show on Discovery that explains how zippers, blackboards, and some other common item of the post industrial age are made. Its all about computers now.

I watch the ABC News and then switch over to the first round games on CBS… VCU vs. Duke. Now this was a game that when I first reviewed all the data, I thought VCU might be able to upset the Dukies. But then, as always, I sleep on my pics for a few days and in the end I picked Duke, saying to myself, “Jack, you idiot; Duke never gets bombed out in the first round… pick Duke cause this is not the upset to look for this year.” So here we go and Duke looks good through the first half and VCU is tough and tenacious and keeps coming back until they wear the Blue Devils out… and Walla* ("Voila")... they win and I lose my second pick of the day. I had also picked Bobby Knight’s Red Raiders to beat BCU, and they failed me. Even though I lose a few, I don’t mind cause the whole March Madness is so great a TV event that I am happy as a clam anyway, just seeing all these b-ball games all the time.

Somewhere in the middle of the last half of the Duke game, I notice peripherally that my machine is beeping every few minutes. Gabe the Tech keeps coming by and pushing the “reset” button. And then, again, a few minutes later it beeps again. Usually when my machine beeps it means I have moved my poked arm in a way that upsets the balance of the machine, so as in the Pavlovian experiments, every time the machine beeps, I look down to see if I’ve moved my arm. But after about six of these occasions, I learn to ignore the beeps and continue focusing on the game, an example of reconditioning via a intrinsic schedule of reinforcement. The game is more reinforcing than looking at my arm, so it can overrule the direct reinforcer. If any of my old behavioral profs (Dangle, Duehn, or Polster) read this they’d probably roll their eyes and shake their heads at my confused understanding of behaviorism. But, be that as it be, the game is capturing my attention and I’m just barely aware that the beeping continues every few minutes.

Finally, Ron the Nurse comes over and says, “We’re going to have to cut your session short by half an hour tonight because the machine is crxroff gobble-de-gook robits de contrary” (<--indicating I have no idea what he actually said). I immediately thought, “What! I’m gonna miss the end of the game…” and then, “But wait, it’s on regular TV I can zoom home and get the end”, and so I said back to him, “Okay”. Then Debbie comes up and began to explain in detailed detail what was going wrong with the machine… turns out she is trained in the operation of these machines and understands them like a Volvo mechanic. According to her, the machine is just too sensitive and responds to minute changes in the clotting around the edges of the filter, causing it to sound it’s alarm, blah-de-blah. And Ron is decannulating me and my BP is fine and according to him it won't kill me to quit half and hour early (funny how if it's their idea to quit it's okay, but if it's the patient's idea to quit early, it's a no no).

So, they unhook me as I continue to watch VCU and Duke duke it out and I’m outa there with about 4 minutes left. I decide to rush home instead of watching the end at the center, and ultimately miss the final minutes, although I get to see them time and time again in the news clips.

Notes: In at 74.9 and out at 72.0 Kgs.
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*"Walla" is how we say it in West Texas. According to my international North Dallas wife, the word is actually "Voila" and its French, not Hawaiian.

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