Thursday, September 15, 2005

What's your frequency?

Apologies on the delay in updating…I was going to write yesterday, had all kinds of ideas (now forgotten) but…uh, well, good news – implants work regardless of blood alcohol level. Actually, I'm not convinced on this point and will do more research –I'll let you know. I did notice last night that with an implant it's less likely I'll say "a chicken burrito" when the waitress asks what I want to drink.

Meanwhile, with some exceptions, sound gets more distinct every day. Female voices are much clearer then male ones at this point, as they are in the higher frequencies of which I have some auditory memory. Men sometimes sound like electronic gorillas hooting and growling over bananas, but that is changing. I'm noticing subtleties and inflections to voices that I never noticed before – for example I found out on Sunday that Becky, my cousin the film director/maestro normally sounds like she smokes three packs of unfiltered a day. I had no idea and spent the first ten minutes after we got together looking through my bag for a cough drop.

"Are you sick?" I asked her.
"This is what my voice is like," she said.
"Wow," was all I could think to say. "Does your mom know?"

Becky and I went to Prospect Park that afternoon and while she filmed I sat and tried to discern what things I was hearing which is a little like trying to improve your vision by staring directly at the sun --- this city is LOUD. Horns were honking, trucks were trucking, kids were crying, radios were playing, cicadas were doing whatever cicadas do and, no lie, jets passed directly overhead every thirty seconds.

"What are you hearing right now?" Becky would ask from behind the camera.
"Describe the noise?"
"Uh…loud noise?"

Computerish loud noise, I should say. The cicadas sounded like a kettle coming to a boil, and passing strollers made a noise like an old hard-drive grating painfully. And at first it seemed like whenever Becky laughed a bank of elevator doors dinged. Between that and her growly, smoky voice I barely knew who she was. It really was bizarre listening to this person I've known my whole life speak in a stranger's voice. It's like looking in the mirror in the morning and having some weirdo look back at you -- actually, bad example considering my family, but you get the point.

Anyway, the word for the week is megahertz. I'm not sure if that's the correct spelling, and I barely understand them but they are the key for the next phase of programming the implant. Phase one of programming is training the brain to take in more noise. Phase two (and of course there's overlap), is increasing the frequency that information is sent to the brain every second – which is measured in megahertz. I started at 500 mh per second, and at the last session was boosted up to to 1200 per second. The increase in information gives voices much more depth and inflection. Eventually, the implant could be upped to 3500 mh per second.

It's facts like that blow my mind: a two centimeter coil in my cochlea is firing off 10,000 pieces of information (20,000 in Sam's case) in the time it takes to read this sentence – that's just…dang. I mean, if they can do that, rocket backpacks can't be that far off, right? And hydrogen cars?

Speaking of Sam -- some have noticed that updates on the Sammy have disappeared. This is true. He claims he's been really busy with this thing called "work" which I think is code for "the mets have lost seven of eight, what do you want from me?" But I bring him up because as I write -- at this very moment -- he is sitting in an office in DC (might be Baltimore, I keep forgetting) getting his implant turned on. I am eager to hear how it goes and to welcome him to the matrix. I am sure he will have an interesting take -- Sam has handled deafness with much more grace and wit then I ever could. As an example, once, a few years ago, I asked him, how do you follow the conversation at a dinner party with a lot of people? He said, easy, just don't stop talking.

Good advice. But that was then.


Blogger UncaJonny said...

So, how does your voice sound to you and how is telephony?

11:28 PM  

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