Barry Smith: The slide guy |

Barry Smith: The slide guy

Look, I never wanted to be an AV Guy. One thing just led to another and before I knew it I was duct-taping cables to the carpet.

Since I have gone to the trouble of becoming an AV Guy, I think it’s only fair that I occasionally share my AV hijinks and shenanigans in this space, because I know that there’s nothing more chuckle-inducing than hearing about, he he he, focusing slides.

The slides that I focus are usually being shown to a group of doctors in town for a convention. Occasionally they are images of horrible disease or carnage, which can be kinda cool. Usually, though, they’re just MRI films or X-rays or other obscure medical images. Often I can’t even tell if they’re right-side-up or not, much less if they’re in focus. Luckily, someone always lets me know.

“Focus” is an important word in my job, as it’s generally the only one I understand. Everything else (“Arterial thrombosis of the bezafibrate anticoagulants,” for example) I’ve learned to tune out, so that the speakers all sound like one of the adults in “It’s A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

“Wunh wunh wunh, wunh focus, please wunh wunh wunh.”

At least I thought that was the case, but last week …

The meeting had so far progressed in a typical fashion. I was at the back of the room at my little AV station, surrounded by boxes full of buttons and knobs and blinking lights and slide projectors, all of which I had stacked up in such a way as to hide the fact that I was reading the newspaper.

The slide show part of the meeting had concluded, and the speakers had now gathered at a table at the front of the room for a question and answer session. I was deeply engrossed in trying to understand the complex humor of “Garfield,” paying hardly any attention at all.

“It has been my experience,” one of the panelists said, “that denervation of the laser-drilled channels improve myocardial conduction substantially… “

“Oh, sure,” I muttered to myself. “If you’re willing to sacrifice ventricular blood flow directly into the myocardium.”

“Excuse me?” said the moderator.

It was then that I realized that I hadn’t really muttered my comment to myself, but snorted loudly and announced it to the room. The gathered heart specialists had all turned around to see where the comment had come from.

“Excuse me?” the moderator repeated. “Am I hearing correctly that the AV Guy thinks there’s some way of not sacrificing ventricular flow?”

Needless to say, I was a little embarrassed, as making smartass comments to the speakers during meetings can be considered unprofessional. I stood up from behind my AV fortress and attempted to offer my sincerest apology.

“Attempted” is the key word here, because instead of saying, “I’m very sorry for interrupting” I said, “Look, you morons act as if the Optimal Atherectomy Restenosis Study never happened. What about the IVUS guided PTCA using exact-sized stents? What about biocompatible coatings in thrombolytic therapy? Do the words ‘local heparin infiltration’ mean anything to you losers? Jesus, do I have to do everything around here? I guess so.”

I grabbed the slide tray from earlier in the session, slammed it down on the projector, switched it on, turned down the house lights and stomped my way to the front of the room, whacking a few of the more clueless cardiologists in the back of the head on the way up.

I shoved the stunned moderator away from the podium, clipped the lavaliere microphone on my T-shirt and grabbed the laser pointer. I took a quick sip of water before beginning.

“Ahem!” I bellowed. “Gentlemen, I need to ask that you forget what you think you know about interventional cardiology. Transmyocardial revascularization and ischemia, particularly in regards to adventitia atherosclerosis, is my topic for this afternoon.”

I pushed the slide advance button, and the 12-foot screen was quickly filled with an image – slightly blurry – of a huge human heart.

“Now, as we can see here,” I said, indicating the left ventricle with the beam of the laser pointer.

“Uh … could somebody focus this slide, please? Hello? Focus? FOCUS!”

[Barry Smith’s column runs in The Aspen Times on Mondays. His e-mail address is, and his very own Web page is at]

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