A Confession

My fascination with robots began when I was a child. In the fourth grade gifted classroom, I watched with envy as the fifth graders got to play with the robot kits. These were simple machines that the students assembled as per the included instructions that performed simple tasks. There was one that would follow a black line on a white sheet of paper. Others would seek out light sources and waddle on spindly legs. They were only robots by the most rudimentary of definitions. I also took a great interest in the software conversational programs in the computer lab at school. I fully knew that all of the responses were pre-programmed, and that there were key words that they were coded to pick from user input that would prompt their selected responses. I also suspected that these could be written far more elegantly, although I didn’t have the know how to do any better at the time. Things quickly changed though.

I voraciously learned everything I could about robotics and programming. By the time I was in the robot unit in fifth grade, the kits in the gifted class were too simple for my tastes. I earned extra credit in that unit for building a robot from scratch that could measure out precise volumes of materials and mix them together in predetermined ways. I intended it to be a chemistry aid, but my parents found that it was a great automated bartender for their parties. That old thing is still in the back of a closet at their house, as far as I know. I kept building machines of various sorts, each one more complex, and yet more streamlined than the last. I sought to code a program that would not simply spit out a sentence from a list like the ones mentioned above, but one that would give genuine, intelligent responses to user input. Could a machine be programmed with philosophy?

I had a grand vision of one unifying machine that would bring together my interests in AI, programming, robotics, and sculpture. The kind of exotic hardware with the raw processing power that I was after was difficult and expensive to get my hands on. I was able to scrape together the funds I needed by delivering papers every morning, mowing every lawn I could, and selling my plasma and semen using a fake ID. Many sleepless nights were spent soldering chips to boards, programming, and silicone casting. I felt like Dr. Frankenstein, obsessed with my work. I was out to make a beautiful, living, breathing creature from the underpinnings of synthetic materials. I wanted the AI framework to have wit and learning ability and to exhibit genuine care for others. There were many failed attempts, but in the end I was successful. The Jennifer unit was my crowning achievement.

I have to admit that my internet handle is only guilty projection. When Jennifer first powered up, she was so perfect that I simply couldn’t hide her and keep her all to myself. I had to share her with the world, and so registered InJennifersHead.com so everyone could have a chance to appreciate the fruits of my labor. I’ve had very little to do with her website since then, and her interactions have been genuinely hers. She’s programmed to write very well and I took special care in writing her snark module. Those of you who have had the opportunity to meet her can attest to the fact that she looks as natural as you or I. In fact, the only ones who may have ever suspected that she wasn’t a human are those that were at that party back in 2001 when she glitched out and I had to reboot her. To the host, I’m still sorry about the curtains. At the time, I was terrified that I’d hit upon yet another failure, but with a couple of hardware and coding tweaks, Jennifer has been running smoothly ever since.

As I said, there were failed attempts. My Jennifer, the one that you all know and love, is actually Jennifer 2.0. Jennifer 1.0 was admittedly a mess. She was the very face of the uncanny valley, looking not quite like a genuine biological. She had a buggy system too. One night in a drunken rage, she burned a barn down, throwing herself into the flames. I nearly gave up then, but pressing onward, I was able to learn from my mistakes. There were a couple of fatal flaws in the first Jennifer’s positronic net, and I missed some small but distracting details in her case. I took my time with Jennifer 2.0, determined to get every detail perfect. She can drive a car, shoot a gun, work a job, sing, and do pretty much anything a natural born human can. She can even swim, although I’m always paranoid that she may get a leak and damage her circuits. Indeed, if I could do anything differently in her build, it would be to improve her coordination, if that’s even possible.

It seems that I completely broke the mold on her build. Soon after, I built Wee Bot 1.0. The Wee Bot series has since been replaced with the Teen Bot series, but both have been fraught with bugs. I still can’t get him to work right, even on the current revision, Teen Bot 15.0. He’s completely unpredictable. Sometimes, he does exactly what he’s programmed to, but other times he’s defiant and rebellious, and fails to perform even the most simple of tasks. I haven’t given up on him yet, but he’s certainly not a finished work. Especially with the relative ease of interaction with Jennifer, Teen Bot has been quite the frustration from time to time. It was admittedly a pretty scary decision to identify him as a ‘Bot’ to the rest of the world so early on. To my surprise, people have accepted him despite his surly attitude and questionable judgment algorithms.

You must be wondering why I did it. The answer is simple. I was lonely. You don’t think that a guy like me could actually attract a woman like Jennifer do you? Not a chance, building one from scratch was the only viable option for me. And would I do it all over again? Yes I would, in a heartbeat. I do regret that I haven’t been truthful to my loyal readers though. Now that I’ve put all this out in the open, I hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive me. And, please don’t judge Jennifer for my actions. Please do keep reading and commenting on her blog. She didn’t ask for any of this. Well, except for that party where she glitched out and burned the curtains. Hopefully all those bugs are now behind us.

Jumping Spider

This one is for you, Rabid Alien.

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I found this guy on the front porch this afternoon.

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When I went in for the macros, he got a little camera shy.

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I’ve never known these creatures to be any kind of shy, but I might not appreciate a giant orange rectangle shoved in my face either.

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Once he felt like he was safe, he did turn around to observe, and I was able to photograph his face.

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The focus could have been better on that last one, but you can at least see his green jaws. It is probably about time to start thinking about a camera with more capabilities.

KTKC 2013 – The Day After

From September 1 through yesterday, September 30, whenever I was wearing clothing, I was wearing a kilt. I very literally spent September 2013 without wearing pants even once. Today, I wear jeans. Some of you stepped up to the challenge and helped me raise $705.00 for the Prostate Cancer Foundation. Thank you. Thanks to all of you for your generosity. The cumulative goal for this year’s drive was lofty, but my personal goal was admittedly unreasonably optimistic. And, I’d like to take a moment to talk about that.

I could point out the fact that this total is about a third of what came through my KTKC profile last year, but I’d rather point out that it is TEN TIMES what I raised in 2011. I’d like to pass out some virtual high-fives for that. I’ve had to carefully consider whether I will participate in KTKC 2014, but I keep coming back to an echoing yes in the hollow recesses of my brain. This year has been tough for a lot of folks, and I’m so proud that you all helped me out with your resources.

I’ve pretty well determined who is getting a holster named after them, but I have not yet contacted for details. You likely know who you are already and should expect an email from me shortly to sort out the details of the naming of the holster. I’m sorry I didn’t have more to offer in the way of prizes this year. We’ll try to step up our game for next year. To all of you who donated, I’m about to draw for the pauldrons. If you do NOT wish to receive them, please drop me an email and let me know to hold your name out of the drawing. Otherwise, you stand about a one in sixty chance of getting some delightfully random plate mail.

I’d like to take a moment to send congratulations to the top participants in this year’s drive. No, scratch that. I want to give a big congratulations to all involved, but especially the top participants. I hear rumors that in the cumulative three months of doing this, we’ve raised over $50,000 to benefit male-specific cancer. That’s not bad for a group of misfits and miscreants such as ourselves. In fact, that’s worth being proud of. Thanks again. Now, I’ve got to go prepare. We only have eleven months until KTKC, and I have some holsters to build!

KTKC 2013 Day 30

Unless you have been living under a rock, or you got here on a Google search for hot Japanese squid porn, because I just incorporated that phrase, you know that this month I have been Kilted to Kick Cancer. Again, I want to give huge thanks to all of you who have made donations to the cause. Here’s a picture of me playing a Native American flute.

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As I said in some previous post that I’m not going to link back to right now, in years prior, I have succumbed to the temptation to find an excuse not to wear the kilt during this magical time. Not so this year! Although I have worn leggings under my kilt for parasite protection in the field on two occasions, I have not worn a pair of pants. Unless you count this picture where I show how much weight you too can lose by simply wearing a kilt:

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But, I didn’t so much wear them as crawled into them and peek out the top. And in all fairness, I was wearing my kilt under the jeans when the photo was taken. But, my point is that I have been wearing a kilt. All. Month. Long. Ask the other participants if they have completely abstained from pants this month. I severely doubt it. Last I looked, I’m pretty sure I was in seventh place. I wonder if any of the six guys ahead of me has worn a kilt at the absolute exclusion of pants since the month of August. This is why you should be sending your money through my account. Well, that and this hunter safety orange head tube that I arranged on Teen Bot like a balaclava:

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As of this writing, we have nine hours until the close of KTKC. In previous years, it has really come down to the last minute on who took the most for the cause. I know that budgets have been tight this year. I also know that a lot of people get paid on Monday. So help a brother out! To entice you, here’s a pic of me doing my best Captain Morgan impression:

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Your guess is as good as mine as to whether I’d had more to drink than the photographer. I think we can agree that there have been some pretty good pictures this year. Truth be told, I’m looking forward to getting back into my pants. Tomorrow, I plan on wearing a pair of Wranglers. On Sunday, I’ll wear an Armani suit. But, until I shed my clothing to crawl into bed and go to sleep tonight, I will be wearing my 5.11 TDK. Please keep that in mind this afternoon and this evening. I will be kilted for the remainder of the month, as I have been for the entire month thus far. When you think of this, think of male cancers. It’s not to late to contribute. Please consider throwing some bucks at the cause for me. Thanks again.

KTKC 2013 Day 27, Recap from Yesterday

As you all know by now, the least sane of us have been kilted this month to raise awareness about male specific cancers, and to seek sponsorship in the endeavor to benefit related charities. Please feel free to throw some bucks at my Prostate Cancer Foundation page.

Sometime last week, we ran out of paycheck at the end of the bills. This happens more often in September than any other time of the year. Especially when we just upgraded phones. And, accidentally lost $500 to an embarrassing clerical error. Oops. On Wednesday, we ran out of coffee. Yesterday, I decided to use Coca Cola as my caffeine delivery system, but my body wasn’t having any of that nonsense.

For a while, my uncle was brewing green coffee, as he had read that it was the new, popular ‘superfood’ that would cure all that ails you. He got tired of drinking green coffee and gave me half a bag of green Brazilian santos that he no longer had any use for. Last summer was entirely too hot to roast coffee, as is produces entirely too much smoke to roast indoors, and consequently I still have quite a bit of this hanging around. So, yesterday, I dug out the roaster that I made out of a popcorn popper and a grill thermometer, and threw a pound of green santos in it on the grill’s side burner.

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Once the beans achieved the proper color, aroma, and sound, they went into the colander to remove the chaff.

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Update – sorry. I got twitchy on my publish button, apparently.

While the coffee beans were cooling, Jennifer and I put together a couple of smoked tri tip roast quiches with home grown parsnips, onions, and basil, topped with white cheddar. We baked one for dinner and threw the other in the freezer for next time. Over dinner we watched classic Doctor Who with Teen Bot. After Teen Bot went to bed, we pickled up jalapeƱo hybrids* and pear tomatoes from our garden with some garlic chunks. Although I’m a little disappointed at the anemic production of our garden over the last few years, yesterday reminds me that we really are producing quite a bit of our own stuff. As we sat and relaxed before bed, I commented that I wish my shoulder wasn’t bothering me so much because I’d like to get that couch cushion stitched shut finally.

Again, please do consider sponsoring me in this year’s KTKC drive. You can donate here. We only have three more days to go!

*Having planted our peppers too close together this year, they apparently cross-pollinated. Our best guess is that our jalapeƱos crossed with our habaneros, or possibly some kind of demon. They are bright red and wicked hot.

KTKC Day 24 – Goofing, Good Company, and Bad Jokes

There were two clouds high in the sky, just floating there and watching a more boisterous cloud lower in the sky. They watched it float this way and that, dart around, roll, and change shape.
Finally the one cloud said to the other, “He sure is nimbus, isn’t he?”
The other cloud groaned at the terrible pun and said, “Dude, are you cirrus?”

Yeah. I made that one up. Thank you. I’ll be here all week. So anyway, we made it out to the farm again on Saturday. Here is a game camera pic of the three of us with Mz. VRWC, who dropped in on us from out of town:

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And, Jennifer managed to catch me goofing off in front of her camera. If you can imagine that.

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Dance, dance, fashion, baby. Work it, move that thing, crazy. But, not all the kilted pics are of me goofing off.

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Alright, that one is actually from last week. And, maybe I was goofing off for most of this weeks pics.

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And just for funz, here’s an almost nightmarish game camera pic of Jennifer apparently getting ready for her impending machete massacre.

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There are reasons I want her at my back for the zombie apocalypse. So, we’re now well into the final week of KTKC 2013, and the donation totals are honestly looking pretty sad right now. Before I go any further, I want to send out a *huge* thanks to the few of you who have made donations to date. To the rest of you, come on, don’t make me call you bitches! You can’t let me finish this deal in seventh place! The KTKC crew is cumulatively not doing as well as we had hoped, but my recorded total is under $300 right now. Please don’t let it end like this. Hit the link and give to the cause as you can. I know that I originally set the donation goal unrealistically high, and I didn’t really expect to drag in totals like that, but I absolutely expected to top last year’s total of $2,263, at the very least. But, we’re not done yet. As long as you get your donations in by Monday, we can still do this. Again, here’s the link. Let’s kick cancer together!

KTKC 2013 – Day 16 – Hunting and Scouting

Click here to donate to my KTKC fund.

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Deer Archery season starts on October 1, along with Fall Turkey and Rabbit season. Squirrels are in season currently. Jennifer and I decided to do some pre-season scouting on Saturday. We stopped at Tractor Supply to buy some salt licks for the deer. It’s a little late in the season for this, and the bucks have long since eaten the last mineral lick as their antlers have grown in this spring and summer. A four-pound mineral lick, about the size of a brick, costs around $5 at the local sporting goods store. By comparison, a fifty-pound block is about the same price at Tractor Supply. They had a few variations, so I got a plain white block, a sulfur block, and a trace mineral block. We shall see what the deer like the most.

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I put small game heads on my arrows, in case we crossed paths with any squirrels, and finally got to try my bow sling that Tanner Hann from Slogan Outdoors hooked me up with.* I may have to write a fuller review of this excellent product, but I thought I would mention it here.

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From the pictures we collected on the game camera, it looks like the deer herd is at least twice as big as it was last year, with several bucks, quite a few does, and a couple of fawns and yearlings.

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If I understand correctly, we’re going to want to cull out a buck or two to keep the male to female proportion properly balanced. Here’s the young one that looks like good stock to leave for next year:

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It’s so funny how they sometimes seem to pose for the camera.

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Of course, there are babies.

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Daaawwwww! Almost too cute to eat!

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And, one gregarious turkey.

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Last year and the year before, I may have fudged the kilt thing once or twice. This year, I’ve made a hard and fast commitment to not wear pants for the month.

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In the spring, the ticks and poison ivy were so bad that there was no way I was going out with uncovered skin. So, I donned my black leggings under my 5.11 TDK and combat boots. This had mixed results. My cousins had mowed and baled in the west field, but it’s been so rainy that the grass has grown up tall and thick again.

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Much of the grass is actually taller than the round bales at this point. And, the stickers are terrible this year.

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Jennifer and I picked no fewer than a jillion stickers out of our clothing. Incidentally, they stick really well to leggings under a kilt.

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The golden orb weavers have been prolific this year, guarding their distinctive webs with the Jacob’s Ladder zig-zag up the center.

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We’re also seeing a whole lot more thistles than in previous years. They were in full bloom this weekend.

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We spotted this on the ground. Does that look like a pheasant feather to you?

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I hadn’t ever seen pheasants on the property, but I wouldn’t rule it out completely. Overall, I’d say it was a good trip, and I’m feeling quite optimistic for deer season here in a couple of weeks.

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The Slogan Outdoor sling performed exactly as I have wished for a bow sling. It was comfortable and secure for all of our hiking. The stabilizer fell off my bow at some point in time. I knew that the chances of finding it in the grass were slim to none, so I ordered a replacement on Amazon.

Again, please do support me on the Kilted To Kick Cancer drive to fight male-specific cancers. Click here to donate. And, huge thanks to those of you who have already so generously donated!

*Tanner at Slogan provided the sling at no cost, for the purpose of review.

Answers When Someone Asks What’s Under The Kilt…

We’re in Day 5 of KTKC, and I was going to upload some pics for you. But, the internet connection speed sucks around here today. So, no pics. I’ll try to make it up to you later. Please do donate to the cause, and here is a list of fun things to say to those who have the gall to ask about the underwear situation with a kilt.

Nothing is worn, everything is in perfect working order.
No underwear. Thought it was such a nice day I’d take the boys our for a walk
My back-up claymore.
A second, even smaller kilt.
Just my friend, and his buddies who are a couple of nuts!
A few English peasant girls.
At the moment, grass. Soon there will be pavement.
The “usual.”
All the nasty stories you can only read about on the internet.
String. I kind of had to tie it up so it didn’t hang below the kilt.
Good thing I got a clean shave. Want to see?
It’s the smallest airport in the world…..2 hangars and a night fighter.
Good girls don’t ask and bad girls just check for themselves.
Latex. (keep them guessing)
FREEDOM!
Haggis.
A katana. Didn’t you see “The Highlander?”
Nothing but lipstick.
The emperor’s new underwear.
The loch ness monster.
Why, Did something fall off?
If you don’t know by now, what’s the use of me telling you?
A lacy, pink thong with cute little bows.
Same as you’ve got under your hat.
A lady doesn’t ask and a gentleman doesn’t tell!
Socks and boots.
The future of Scotland.
My feet.
If you were man enough to wear a kilt, what would you wear under it?
Can you keep a secret? Yeah, so can I.
Why would you ask anyone about their underwear?
Got warm hands?
Answers are free, demonstrations are gonna cost you.
Depends… not the adult diapers, but on the situation.
I killed the last man who asked me that question.
Just what God graced me with.
What’s under your pants/dress/skirt?
Usually it’s the ladies who ask that question.. you know I’m straight, right buddy?
How badly do you want to know?
You guess!
A blue ribbon.

I hope you found these amusing. Of course, nobody is laughing at prostate or testicular cancer. Again, I would greatly appreciate it if you could spare a little for KTKC. Thanks!

p.s. – My connection is so bad right now that I can’t even preview any of this. So, if something is broken, I apologize in advance.

KTKC 2013, Day 3

Please go here and donate to the cause. You probably all know that this month I will be wearing a kilt to help raise funding and awareness for male-specific cancers. In 2011, the first year for KTKC, my efforts raised $60 toward the cause. Last year, my total came in at $2,263. That is nearly thirty-eight times the previous year’s performance! If we could realize another gain proportional to that, it would put the donations at $85,352.82 this year. Even as awesome as you people are, I’m just not holding my breath on that.

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Honestly, if we can expect anything remotely resembling the same increase from last year to this year, there’s no reason that we can’t hit that $50,000 group goal. Therefore, I’ve set my personal goal at $50,000. Frankly, if we can do half of that, I’m going to be really proud of you all. If you help me make that $50,000 goal and I still don’t finish in the top three, even better yet. Again, please make your donations here. Thanks in advance!

Erin’s Big Day

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Many of you have probably by now learned Erin’s long-standing secret. If not, I would rather you read it in her words than to give it away here. I’ve known about Erin’s situation for a bit now. We had started to chat online and had gotten to be friends. One day, she said that she had something that she wanted to talk to me about that she was nervous about. When she did her big reveal, I remember asking what else she had for me. But that was it. I was a little surprised that she’d gotten so worked up about telling me. I told her that I didn’t think that her differences were such a big deal. Really, I felt bad for her that she thought I might reject her for it.

I don’t think of myself as politically correct in the least nor particularly tolerant, but I just didn’t see Erin’s big secret as… …well… …all that big a secret. And, it isn’t. There have been several occasions that I thought she was going to blow her secret and regret it after the fact. I remember one evening in IRC in particular when she kept dropping hints in the room. I just knew she was going to do it. I felt like I was running both sides, hitting up Erin in a back channel to say, “don’t do anything you’ll regret tomorrow!” and hitting the main room to announce something along the lines of, “Erin is my friend and I’m standing with her.” So, although I do feel for Erin’s inevitable and obvious discomfort for her current situation, I’m actually a little relieved that it’s all out in the open now. I hope and I do believe that this will prove to be positive for Erin. And, as I said before, I’ll stand with my friend Erin. She’s still the little sis that we have known.

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