Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Talking Beds

Talking Beds

People often ask writers where they get their ideas. Ideas are ubiquitous. That’s a fancy way of saying ideas are everywhere.

For example, last weekend I attended an open house for our newly-built multi-million dollar hospital. Over $30 million in new technology alone. Part of this money was spent on washable (as in dunked in water) computer keyboards and talking beds.

Mainly, I went to see the talking beds. Imagine. Beds that speak 12 or more languages and provide music or soothing sounds, like the songs of humpback whales. At the push of a button, the bed will say things like “Hello. I’m your nurse for the day.” The patient can then respond to questions—like “Are you hurting anywhere?”—with yes or no answers.

Unfortunately, patients aren’t allowed access to the control panel at the end of the bed. Which means if you’re unlucky enough to be hospitalized, you’re at the mercy someone else. And, no, they don’t play AC/DC or Led Zeppelin (yes, I asked), though the beds can be programmed with more musical options.

“So, theoretically,” I asked a surgical nurse, “if you have a patient who’s giving you a hard time, you can get even by playing music they hate?”

“Theoretically,” she answered, without pause. “But then I’d have more problems. Like getting the patient back into bed.”

My mind had already slipped into writer mode. Dog Nanny Goes to the Hospital—young woman with pet therapy dog meets handsome doctor. Then someone steals a talking bed. Or a talking bed that won’t shut up. A talking bed that holds a clue to an unsolved murder.

At the end of two hours, all sorts of ideas for a setting had popped into my head. Now all I needed was to figure out how to tie in the washable keyboards.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Fast Woman

Fast Woman Stops Time

Two things about me.

1) Maybe it’s a writer thing, but I spend lot of time in AnnWorld.

2) When I have things to do, I move at warp speed.

Yesterday, as I waited in the grocery check-out line, I vowed I’d be faster than the two women in front of me. After the checker rang up my purchases, he asked if I needed help. Me? Did I look as if I needed help? He must be kidding.

I gave a little snort and laughed. “Thank you, but they (meaning the carry-out kids) aren’t as fast as I am.” With that, I tossed my purse into the child seat and took off.

It wasn’t until I reached my car and hoisted the case of water into the back that I realized the other $60 worth of groceries was nowhere to be seen. How could that be?

Here’s how. The weight of the water had deceived me. And, being in AnnWorld, I’d neglected to look inside the cart. I could have been pushing a dead body and not known it. But I’d proven my point—I was fast all right.

As I rolled my cart back to Aisle 13, I was met with several smiling faces. Not only was my checker grinning, so were other checkers, sackers, and customers.

Trying to maintain what little dignity I had left, I smiled at the girl holding my grocery bags and asked, “Couldn’t you catch me?”

“We didn’t know what happened to you!” she said.

By this time, everyone was laughing. Even me.

Then I saw the woman who’d stood behind me in line. Still there. Had time stopped? Or had she merely hung around to see if I’d re-materialize.

Later that evening, my husband suggested what I should have done—strolled nonchalantly back to Aisle 13 and asked, “Got ’em bagged yet?”