Friday, December 07, 2007

What I Did in Jamaica

I'm writing a short story about AI. Which is fairly ludicrous because I can't even program TIVO. But that's why they call it fiction.

At this moment, I actually kind of like my story. So here's the opening.

At 3:17 EST, the lights at DM Kensington Medical did the wave. Starting at the east end of the building, the lights went out, and after just a couple of seconds, came back on. The darkness went down the hall. Staff looked up. It was a local version of a rolling blackout, a kind of weird utility-weather event. In it’s wake, IV alarms went off, monitors re-set. Everything critical was on back-up but not everything was critical, some of it was just important, and some of it wasn’t even important, unless you consider coffee a life-or-death substance. Which for a resident, might be true. It was not life-threatening in the immediate sense, but it wasn’t trivial and it interrupted pharmacists counting meds, a CT Scan, a couple of X-rays, and it derailed a couple of consultations. The line of darkness washed across the buildings, leapt the parking lot, split into two parts and then washed north and south simultaneously across a complex of medical offices.

At 3:21, the same thing happened at UH Southpoint Medical. UH Southpoint was in Tennessee and Kensington was in Texas. At 3:25 it rolled through Seattle Kellerman, although there is started in the north and went south. The three hospitals were all part of the Benevola Health Network. Their physical plant—thermostats, lights, hot water and air filtration—were all handled by BHP DMS, a software system. Specifically by a subroutine called SAMEDI. SAMEDI was not an acronym. It was the name of a Haitian Voodoo loa, a possession spirit. A lot of the subroutines in BHP DMS were named for Haitian loa. The system that monitored lab results and watched for emergent epidemiological trends (a fancy way of saying something that noticed if there were signs of say, an upsurge in cases of West Nile virus, or an outbreak of food poisoning symptoms across several local ERs) was called LEGBA, after the guardian of the crossroads, the trickster who managed traffic between life and the spiritworld. Someone had undoubtedly been very pleased with themselves.

The problem line lit up in BHP DMS IT.

“Sydney, phone,” Damien said.

“You get it.”

“You’re the least Aspergers person in the department. It’s that having two X chromosomes thing.” Actually, the only people in the department who were clinically Aspergers were probably Dale, who was a hardware guy, and their boss, Tony.

“In the kingdom of the blind,” Sydney said. “The one-eyed girl is king.”

“The difference between see/not see is a lot bigger than the difference between one eye and two eyes,” Damien said.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


More, please?

December 08, 2007 12:19 PM  
Blogger Mr. Cavin said...

Y'know, I learned it was Samedi who was the trickster--spirit of the graveyard and politicians, right? spirit of uncle knapsacks--and that Legba was our guiding father--spirit of portals and doorways and the right choices if you treat your papa right. May be Erzuli Dantor fits nicely for diseases, she of spiteful love and a fool for sparkly trinkets and wine? May be I need to draw up a heart in some meal for just saying that, eh? I am married after all.

December 08, 2007 3:39 PM  

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