Monday, January 16, 2006

Pavlovian Conditioning Failure

As a younger man in University I took an introductory psychology course. As part of the lab requirements for the course we did an experiment to prove or disprove Pavlov’s conditioning theory. The experiment consisted in shocking a mealworm to cause it to curl into a fetal-esque position while at the same time turning on a bright light source. The theory was that doing this enough times would cause the mealworm to shrink back in terror when just the light was turned on. As it turned out my lab slot was at the end of the day, and while my mealworm was still alive, having spent a day being exposed to electrical currents and first-year students, he was not prepared to be conditioned into doing anything. Perhaps it was the first case of mealworm electro-shock lobotomy. My final synopsis of the experiment suggested that the mealworm had been over-stimulated. Perhaps I should have examined the possibility of fatigue.

Last Saturday we had a diner party at our house, as a result I did not crawl into bed till midnight. I woke up at 5:15am to take Liam to a hockey game the following morning. To say the least I was a little tired Sunday afternoon. This will be known as The Official Excuse.

It was then, in a sleep-deprived haze that I decided to make some chili for the week. As I was chopping the vegetables with my butcher knife (a knife I have owned for at least 15 years)

I managed to cut myself. It was just a little cut, more of a knick than anything else. It was the manner that I cut myself that is pertinent; see after I scooped the red peppers into the pot I ran my hand down the side of the blade to scrape of the extra clingy bits. No not the knife’s edge, just the sides. Something I might add I do quite often without cutting myself. This time I was not so lucky.

I then moved onto chopping the onions, scoop them up, drop them in the pot, and clean the blade using the technique mentioned above. This time I sliced my finger open, not deep enough for stitches, but deep enough to make me look twice.

Having just cut my fingers twice in a span of 5 minutes my wife very concerned that perhaps I am too tired to wield a knife she should finish making the chili.

HA!!!!, chili is my specialty, so I decline and continue cooking, at this point, informs me that I am an idiot.

I finish bandaging my fingers and back to the pot I go. I look down and see a bit of blood on the knife and so I wipe it off with my hand, by running it down the blade, cut 3. I really tried to keep this one to myself, it’s not like she could see what I had done, but the sharp in-take of breath, and the sudden clasp of the hand was enough to clue her in. Again I decline her stronger suggestions that she take over, to which she replies that my “stupid stubborn attitude is starting to really frustrate her”. I am not being stubborn; I just want to finish my job.

By now, the chili is done and on the stove simmering and I start to clean up. I take up the butcher knife to wash it. No sense in cluttering up the dishwasher since I had a few items I am going to wash by hand. I put the knife in the water and then grab some soap…. (can you guess) , slide my finger down the blade to clean it and… voila, cut number four.

Four cuts to two fingers in the span of 30 minutes. Apparently Pavlovian conditioning does not work for everyone, or perhaps I just needed someone to ring a bell every time I cut myself. Idiot


At 10:29 AM, Blogger DaniGirl said...

*cringing and shuddering*

Ordinarily, I would pout about not being invited to your house for chili, but I think I'm glad I missed the secret ingredient this time.

At 11:18 AM, Anonymous grandmaman said...

Don't start on the tongue. It could be genetic.

At 11:40 AM, Anonymous krys said...

just be grateful that you didn't follow in your fathers footsteps and become a butcher

At 12:33 AM, Blogger Yoda's Papa said...

Am still freaked out by the no matter what you write it makes me cringe...

At 5:25 AM, Anonymous The matriarch-grandmaman1 said...

How does one get their picture here?

At 12:59 PM, Blogger Garrad said...

you might have to have your blog at with a picture at your blog.

At 9:08 AM, Blogger DaniGirl said...

For the picture thing, you could set up a private blogger account and not actually write the blog, just have the profile with the image. You could even set it up for her remotely, oh geeky one...


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