We live in amazing times. I’m typing this on a computer, it is, in turn, hooked to a box we have in the corner over there, and it’s being stored on another computer who-knows-where. I will, using this same computer, send an alert to some guys down in North Little Rock here in a bit, they will get the alert, and find they have all the words and pictures to make a newspaper.


They will then, sitting at their computers, but the words and pictures on pages so it looks right (an art more than a science, by the way) and send a signal to another computer. They guy at that computer will see it, mash his own series of buttons, and the paper will come off the press. Alerts, more buttons, and the newspaper is loaded into a truck and taken to Van Buren County. Other alerts, and (barring unforseen) you have a paper in your hands Wednesday.


It’s pretty amazing what we can do with these computers any more. Speaking of my heart….


I’m pretty sure I’ve brought up in this space in the past my relationship with my heart. Which is to say it’s one of those, shall we say, strained relationships. My heart doesn’t work right, almost killed me back in ‘07 when it quit working for several minutes, and is now powered by a pacemaker. Speaking of computers…..


It’s a pretty neat little rig, my pacemaker, about the size, and maybe a little smaller, of a pager (kids, ask your parents) implanted by my left shoulder. It’s a smart device, it pays attention to the workload on my body and adjusts my heart rate to match (which took a surprisingly short time to get used to) and will even, if it thinks I’m working my heart too hard, throttle things back a bit less I but a strain on the ol’ thing. For that matter if it thinks I’m way overworking, or otherwise everything’s gone to pot, it has built in paddles, like you see doctors use on those medical shows, to reboot my heart. (Thankfully this, the final step in the machine-keeps-me-alive thing has yet to take place, and may never.) Speaking of alerts….


So I’m in the office last Tuesday. Tuesday in the morning is a big deal around here. It’s when all the flailing takes place as the words and pictures are turned into some digestible format to the benefit of the guys down in North Little Rock. It’s, as we call it in the trade, “deadline day” and is a time of considered focus, if not typing skills.


And last Tuesday, I’m on deadline, at the computer, elbows up, flailing away, and something starts beeping. And the reaction is “What? What is that infernal bee……” and I realize it’s coming from my chest.


Now, the kid’s been around. I’ve got about 800 skydives, I’ve seen the Sphinx, I have seen things in waterfront bars I would never put into a family newspaper and I’ve danced to amazing music, and yet I was … well I didn’t know what to do. Meanwhile Carrie, she works in the front office (as opposed to the Post-It Note cave of editor-boy) hears the noise, comes back to see what the racket is (so yes, heard if from the other room) sees me staring at my chest and “Are you okay? Do I need to call 911? What?” and I stare at her.


Then I remember. This happened before, about five years ago. It was Labor Day and I was, in the great tradition, lying in bed when I beeped. Some phone calls, some checks, and they had to bring me in and swap the thing out, my battery had gone down. This was that sound again.


“No,” I told Carrie, “I’m fine.”


Call to the doc’s office, had to send a data link upload there that evening (using a little paperback-sized machine, because it’s a computer you can do that) and yeah, my battery was low. It beeps a warning when you have a low battery. If it’s not an emergency it just beeps at a certain time of the day (so as not to be confused with those emergency times when your chest beeps) and it was my day, my time, low battery.


Long story short I’m going in May 18 to get the thing swapped out. Should go home that night. May be moving a little slow for a day or two, but, you know, life goes on.


There’s no moral here; I just thought it was a good story.