penny slots

There’s a concept in learning and conditioning called variable-ratio scheduling wherein the number of responses required to obtain a reward changes at random. It’s used most-recognizably in slot machines. Coin-greasy fingers slipping against buttons and touch screens under flashing lights and C-major chords beneath mirrored ceilings. Generic galaxies spinning beneath their feet. Blacked out windows. Not a clock in sight. With variable-ratio scheduling there the gambler will stay, suspended in their own perception of time and space, until they run out of money or some stronger stimulus comes along to distract them. Casinos do their damnedest to ensure that there is no stronger stimulus; cocktail waitresses are beautiful but unobtrusive providing everything from liquor to food to ashtrays and would you look at that? The ledge between the slots is the perfect size to hold all of it and a cup for more change (in the few places that still pay out cash rather than vouchers).

rlb 5.19.17

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Birthday Gifts

Today keeps getting better and better and I am telling you this without an ounce of cynicism or suave sarcasm. I woke up with the sunrise and my cat’s purring vibrating the pillow beside my head. I spent fifteen minutes taking pictures of bees among spears of lamb’s ear in the hopes of making a brilliant girl smile. The sun has been the barest kiss across my skin; she’s shy this spring but I do my best to encourage her. I spent another fifteen minutes smiling my own smile like a loon because of the smell of iron and sagebrush and salt beneath clean laundry and his arm around my shoulders. I could spend all day in the sun and I would never feel quite as warm and soft as I did in that moment. If I could I’d spend the rest of the day braiding my hair with honeysuckle and the scent of Earth I caught from him but instead I’ll smile and write and keep count of the gifts people don’t seem to realize they’re giving me.

rlb 5.18.17